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Day 35: 9/1/10
With about 145 minutes to post (3:13 pm ET) for the start of the Pick-6 with a $443k carryover, here's where I am with grading the 53 horses remaining in the sequence after scratches. From all the question marks and only 12 complete X's so far, you can reasonably conclude that a)I think it's a tough sequence and b)I've got a lot of decisions left to make:
A caveman ticket using everyone I haven't completely x'ed out yet would go 5x5x10x6x7x8 for a cool $168,000 investment. I'm looking to reduce that by a factor of about 60.
The first time I handicap a card, I hide the morning-line in Formulator and don't look at anyone's selections. So I was briefly excited when I saw that the closest thing I could find to a potential single A on the card, Sumfun in the 9th, was 6-1 on the morning line. Then I saw he's Dave Litfin's Best Bet in DRF and it's probably just a bad price on a potential favorite.
A two-day carryover of $443k is gigantic by New York standards, and a sort of perfect storm produced it. Sunday's no-carryover pool attracted a larger-than-usual Sunday handle of $160k, probably because of Rachel Alexandra. Then on Monday, bettors spent an off-the-charts $617k chasing a $100k carryover, largely because Saratoga now owns the national market on Mondays with no racing at Arlington, Calder, Del Mar or Monmouth.
Don't forget to watch the 4th, one race before the pick-6 starts. It's a Grade 2/3 stakes masquerading as a $62k allowance race, with seven entrants who have combined to win $4.8 million and 18 stakes races, seven of them graded:
Giant Moon was a late scratch, possibly to find an easier spot in stakes company somewhere.
3:05 pm: Whittled away to get the contenders down to 5x4x5x6x5x6, which would be a $36,000 caveman play, which I reduced another 90 percent with the following ABC play:
It's a straightforward ABC play -- 6 A's, 5A/1B, 5A/1C or 4A/2B allowed -- with one $48 addition: a ticket combining the B's in races 6,7 and 10.
Peat Bay is currently 7-5 with 7 MTP in leg 1. Good luck to us all.
3:20 pm: Peat Bay ($4.80) and 7-1 Stroke ran 1-2 around the track to keep the entire world alive through leg 1. This oen was run like a two-speed-number dirt race, with each quarter mile slower than the preceding one (23.41, 23.64, 24.16, 24.66).
3:55 pm: Devilish Due ($8.60, second choice) got a nice trip behind the speed and then outfinished the two longest shots in the field, a pair of 27-1 shots who would have knocked out almost everyone.
I'm a little surprised Talk to Nick was such a clear favorite at 8-5. I know he was dropping, but you want droppers who have back races that would win today's event, and Talk to Nick had never cracked a Beyer 69 on a fast track in a race where the next three choices have been running figures in the mid-70's.
With two A's in the bank, I'm going to play mainly just "insanity insurance" pick-4's as tiny hedges -- the combos that would be infuriating zizags within the ticket structure, like a BABB or any 2A/1B/1C result. I'll also protect myself with a little bit of Knock Quietly, the one firster taking some action I didn't use, in the first leg. I fear that a Scott Schwartz firster at 7-1 is every bit as live as a Linda Rice at 4-1 and a Michael Matz at 7-1.
4:30 pm: Knock Quietly (12-1 at post time) did run best of the firsters, but third-time starter Power Dreams ($10.60) beat all the debut runners, scoring by three lengths. Clearly best of those who had started, Power Dreams could have been an A instead of a B but I just thought one of the firsters would prove better.
So the C's are gone, and I'm down to 30 live combos the rest of the way:
In the upcoming P. G. Johnson Stakes for 2-year-old filly turfers 8-1 ML Believe in A.P. (#9) has opened as the 6-5 win-pool favorite, is the narrow favorite in the 7-8 double and the second choice in the pick-3. Huh?
5:05 pm: I didn't expect to see my three live horses running 1-2-3 into the first turn, but the way the hard turf is playing these days, probably not a bad thing. Fortunately for me, they were still running 1-3-4 at the finish, with only longshot Kathmanblu closing any ground to be second. I still have no idea what was going on with the betting on Believe in A.P.
I have to think FancyPoint, who was 12-1 ML, was better than $9.70 in the pick-6, given that she was a maiden in a stakes race trying grass for the first time. That's the good news. The bad news is that the next two races are wide-open and treacherous affairs where I wish I had more coverage than 3x3 and 1x1. Sumfun (who would get me that one extra horse in the finale) opened as the slight 3-1 favorite but very close to Winthrop House and Sly.
5:40 pm: Well, this just got interesting with Crowned General ($21.40), the longest of my three in the 9th, getting through on the rail and outfinishing Rocketing Returns. I'm alive to Stream of Gold (#1), Sharps Island (#2) and The Roundhouse for 6/6. The respective payoffs look like $56k, $169k and $72k. Yes, I'd like to have more of them but it beats being dead.
5:55 pm: Kind of hard to hedge when you've only got 3 of 9 covered, but at least I've got live pick-4's to three of them ($2 to El Doktori for $3797 to get my money back, $2 to Slick Wheelie for $7k and $1 to Hurricane Heat for $8k) so I guess I'll bet the three others to win: Cinder Cone at 9-1, Beneath the Crown at 10-1 and French Transition at 23-1.
6:01 pm: Three minutes to post for the biggest carryover of the meet and....Nassau OTB switched to RAI Italian Programming! Argggggggh.
6:15 pm.: So I guess I picked the wrong day not to put in an all-A's and B's ticket, which would have cost me an extra $1,000 or so to hit for $377k.
The only good news is that I was looking at $1 pick-4 payoffs, so I get $14k for the "insanity insurance" pick-4 and a handful of $983 consos, but still....
There was a moment in the stretch when I really thought Sharps Island was going to power past Slick Wheelie and Cinder Cone for $169k, but the instant he ducked to the inside he seemed to lose all interest in the proceedings.
But at least I get to go into the city and visit my mom tonight. And that's better than winning $169,264, right?
Turn the page day Thurs.
Steve, sorry about the close call, nice to see you pick up some consobucks with the p-4 x2. hope you had a great nite with Mom!
Wow! That was exciting. I was pulling for you Steve. I dont think I would have had the courage to make Wheelie a 'B ' in the final leg with Castellano doing so well on turf at this meet. I defintely would have thrown caution to the wind and gone 5 deep.
Speaking of Friday 13th themes, it’s time, the moment, today, to give up on The Roundhouse (particularly in races with a P6 /P6 carryover). What a shame. What seemingly unlimited promise when he won big early in his career at Monmouth. Now he’s trapped in the seedy, dilapidated merrygoroundhouses of claiming races, and I’m just waiting to see who will be foolish enough to claim him.
Expecting solace, Steve gets into Manhattan, only to get hit with, “So, Mr. Ivy League, we send you to the best brain joint and you only hit the Pick Four?!?!?!” (No, she didn’t say that. But it did remind her of the Friday 13th flicks!)
Steve I think that taking the time to visit MOM is priceless!!! It's only money. Great job with your selection's yesterday and every day. Great to read about Saratoga. I went with dear old Dad for many years in a row until he passed 6 years ago. I am a Dad today, and will take the trip with my 2 daughter's when the time is right. Best of luck to you and yours over these final days. My little one's want to adopt 2 female greyhound's. They want girl's and they have picked out 2 names already. Dolly and Molly. Sad news to report from Suffolk Downs this morning. They handed out 80 pink slips and did some paycuts on another 120 full time employees. This is according to a report on WBZ. If this place goes down, this will end all racing in the New England Market's!!!!! What are the people going to do???? They keep chopping legg's from the table Steve. Once the last one goes, the table hits the ground and gets hauled off to the dump!!!!! Whackymacky out!!!
former bookmaker and pro sports player 80's and 90's -since reading your book have hit numerous pick 4's-love your insite and formulater, etc.-also been following andy serling for more then 15 yrs-keep up the good work
Steve, this blog is the best reading since [i]The Brothers Karamazov[/]. Thanks for keeping up with what must at times be drudgery. I love reading the blog on days like this. Also, I've seen WAY too little protest about the unconscionable takout hike that just got rammed through the California legislature. Are you, the feraless leader of all us handciappers (I won't say King of the Idiots) going to tear those Cali weasels a new one? Two and three percent hikes in exotic wagers are outrageous, and there's been far too little made of it. Let 'em have it, Steve!
Winning at the Spa nice, seeing your Mom priceless.
Steve, our little syndicate has to thank you for the Pick 4 hedge score today. We just missed the Pick Six, as well going A/A/A/B/X/A getting beat a head in 5th leg (we had Rocketing Returns as a B). But you saved us we saw you had Crown General and we included him in our hedge Pick 4, so had that for $1 and the 5 of 6 inj Pick Six three times. Long way from $350K, that I assume Slick Wheelie would have yielded us, but better than losing. Thanks again.