08/17/2009 1:41PM

Day 18: 8/17/09


1:45 pm: Pick Six, Pick Schmix. Set lifetime personal bests today making the drive from Saratoga to Belmont in 3:16 and to home in 3:29. No stops, obviously, as the greyhounds slept straight through from  Coxsackie all the way to Franklin Square.

This was a scheduled trip back for mid-meet mother and horse visits, not a mission to find a big enough bridge to jump off after yesterday's fiasco. I'll do a little autopsy later, but first I want to watch the return of Gayego in the upcoming 3rd at Saratoga (he opened 4-to-5) and craft a little late pick-4 play for the last four races of the first half of Saratoga 2009.

2:00 pm: Just read that Mine That Bird will be making the same trip I just did some time tonight, stopping at the Ruffian Equine Medical Center across the street from Belmont where he'll undergo surgery tomorrow morning for an entrapped epiglottis. Horses have come back quickly to race after the operation, most famously Alysheba in the 1987 Kentucky Derby, but the 11 days to the Travers will be cutting it close. 

3:30 pm: The post-mortem on Sunday's pick-6 play:

Here's an old-style "matrix" rundown on my tickets. I couldn't alter the TicketMaker graphics yesterday to illustrate a slightly new wrinkle I employed -- two more categories than usual, called AA and D:

It's not that big a departure. D's are just like C's, in that you only get one; the difference is that the five other legs must be AA's, which are sort of super-A's that function as plain old A's in every other respect except that if you get a D, you need five AA's. It's a way to cut down on the cost of single-backups, that can get very expensive if you're backing up in a race where you've singled.

For example, the ticket that almost made it yesterday was a $432 single-backup AACAAA ticket (8,9/1,2,8/1,3,8/1,2,4,9/7/7,8,9). But in addition to using the 1,3 and 8 as backups to Siren Serenade in leg 3, I wanted to use a little bit of the 5 and 7 as well. Adding them to that ticket would have been another $288. So I used them, and my D's in other races, with a slimmed-down version of the A's -- singling One Note Samba instead of going two-deep in the first leg, and using only two of my four A's in the fourth leg. That made the cost of each D horse only a quarter of what it would have been had they been straight C's.

This turned out to be entirely academic, since I went to a C in leg three and was AAA the rest of the way. But suppose that Siren Serenade had won the photo to win leg 3. Because One Note Samba had won, and because Citifest in the next leg was an AA, I would have picked up three more backups in the Banrock race, including 16-1 Pennington, who almost won it. Granted, I still would have gotten blown out in the finale, but I've been experimenting with ways to stay on track if I can really, really hit five races correctly and not get beaten by a very marginal longshot who might otherwise be a last-minute cost-cutting toss as a pure C.

As for hedging, normally I'd empty out my account hedging when alive to 3 of 10 horses for $50k+ on a $2k investment, but it's hard to hedge when one of your seven leave-outs is the 2-1 favorite. So I just made a pair of big insanity-insurance doubles from Banrock to the 3 and 5, the two B's I'd no longer be alive to, but big deal -- the Banrock/Smart Trade double paid a whopping $15.20. Between that and a buck of the late pick-4 and four consos, it was technically a profitable day, but of course I'll always remember it as the day where if I'd used the favorite in the last leg I would have collected $119k (okay, $105k if there had been eight winners instead of seven.)

When you're talking about only 7 or 12 tickets being alive from a pool of over $1 million, there can be anomalies. But here's a striking one: There were only seven tickets alive to Smart Trade, the 2.10-1 favorite, but there were 12 alive (including me) to Latest Secret, who was 11.90-1.

3:50 pm: Back on the horse. The late pick-4 play:


4:30 pm: Between Sky Fever at $29.60, Top Lass at $30.80, no carryover and two contentious races still to come, it's odds-on we'll have a carryover when racing resumes Wednesday.

Sky Lass completed an unusual-looking 10-10-10 pick-3 worth $586.

5:05 pm: Despite another turf-sprint victory for The Queen, with favored Awakino Cat in the $70k Troy Stakes, no live tickets in the pick-6. Linda Rice will be Saratoga's leading trainer at the halfway point with 10 victories in 18 days, one more than recent training-title winners Bill Mott and Todd Pletcher.

Wednesday's carryover: $41.301.

alanh More than 1 year ago
Regarding Linda Rice: In this era of supertrainers, you have to do something pretty dramatic to attract owners who will send you good horses. Winning turf sprints just might get a few people to look deeper into Rice's overall training abilities, which happen to be pretty darned good. Wesley Ward is employing a similar strategy by concentrating on two-year-olds -- his accomplishments at Royal Ascot were the toast of the racing community for weeks. A couple of other trainers come to mind. Remember how Ronnie Werner put himself on the map by "assaulting" Keeneland with his modestly-bred babies a few years ago? Or how about the "Great Rehabilitator", Michael Dickinson? We'll see how well Rice's strategy works over the next few years. I, for one, wish her nothing but the best.
Diceman More than 1 year ago
Steve, A new day and a new opportunity to win betting the most beautiful Sport on the Planet! Takes a positive attitude like yours to get over the unfortunate bad beat you had on Sunday's Pick 6. You deserved better! You had the tough winners but somehow decided to not include the obvious chalk horse, an A, in the key race! Ugh! Steve, just my personal opinion and handicapping skills, if I am playing 3 Horses in a Key Race, and the payout is going to be huge, I have got to include the Chalk! Have a great week at the SPA! The Big One is still there for you to Hit! Good Luck and Good Health, The Diceman
KY Crusader 75 More than 1 year ago
c- yes, I am subtracting all bets from both scenarios. As I set up the hedge bets (again barring any change in the odds due to Steve's bets) Steve would have bet approximately (rounding off) $44,000 ($2,000 on P6 & $42,000 on hedges)to cash for a minimum $57,000, or a profit of $13,000. I haven't taken tax implications into account.
Jason in Thailand More than 1 year ago
Norberto Norberto... Again, we are reminded of the tremendous value of your blog Steve. Had Mr. Arroyo been a regular reader, he would have remembered prescient advice from you, given on your getaway day 2 summers back, when traffic was sludged over seat belt street checks!
Joe Davis More than 1 year ago
Well for all you jealous folks that didn't cash on each and every one of Rices winners, it's not as if she came out of nowhere. Obviously she's got the mojo and its very likely as legit as it gets in this game. From 2007. http://www.nydailynews.com/sports/more_sports/2007/09/03/2007-09-03_trainer_linda_rice_wins_sixth_race_in_as.html
Arcstats More than 1 year ago
Dutrow_fan, I have to agree that the Linda Rice turf sprint situation is starting to make you wonder.... A 40% win clip from 25 starters is more than just statistical noise. But Brian has a valid point in the fact that her record to this point is squeaky clean. Look I understand that it's not unusual for a trainer to point their stable for a meet like Saratoga, but how many trainers actually bang home winners in this environment like she is currently doing? Maybe the 2009 meet is all about the ladies. Between possibly Rachel, Linda Rice, and Janet Elliot, the only thing missing is Julie Krone. However with all due respect to Ms. Elliot and her accomplishments, she being in the Hall of Fame and King T. Leatherbury not is simply wrong. Julian Leparoux is currently working on an 0-35 streak since winning the feature last Wednesday. Considering only 11 of his mounts during this streak were less than 5-1, it's hard to say that his non-winning riding has been a major factor in the wacky results over the past five days.
Casper's Ghost More than 1 year ago
Steve: Jog our memories, wasn't Starforaday (last to first on Sunday) the key to a big Pick 6 score 2 years ago and the byline of your blog. I noticed it was subsequently disqualified from the purse money and thus showed no actual wins at Saratoga before Sunday. Can you re-post a pdf of that handicapping feat!
Art More than 1 year ago
Steve, Your new additions to the matrix look all too familiar. It looks like the family greyhounds have influenced your thinking. Which ran grade AA and which ran grade D? Art
Walt P. More than 1 year ago
Just a heads up: Looks like Saratoga got some badly needed rain this evening. Whether it's enough to take anything off the turf is anyone's guess, however.
George Quinn More than 1 year ago
Match race is what everyone would want to see but how could speed ever get beat by a deep closer in a match race? For what it is worth, I could never see Zenyatta beating Rachel. She is one tough cookie George in Tampa