07/30/2008 2:36PM

Day 7: 7/30/08


2:20 pm: Week Two began with the first steeplechase of the meet, the Ninepins Novice S. delayed from last Thursday, and the National Steeplechase Association tried a novel if ethically questionable way of increasing journalistic support for its races: On Wednesday morning, its representatives handed out $50 betting vouchers, good only for this race, to members of the press, along with a letter that began "Your first bet's on us." I applaud the public position taken by Andy Serling of our Siro's seminars and NYRA's "Talkin' Horses" tv program, who announced over the air he would donate any proceeds from his voucher to the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation.

I've changed my tune on steeplechasing over the years. I used to object to the placement of such races in the middle of the card because they interfered with multirace bets, but now that they are almost all harmlessly carded as the first race of the day, they're simply skipped by most bettors. They do offer a glimpse of an old tradition in a place that celebrates tradition, provide a showcase for a different type of horsemanship, and most importantly they provide a second career for flat racers.

Dynaski ($4.80), a 5-year-old Dynaformer gelding, won the Ninepins for Amata Stable and Tom Voss, but the most interesting part of the race was watching 5-1 third choice Look at Him: The 6-year-old Pape/Sheppard homebred lost his rider at the seventh fence but finished the race on his own, jumping the remaining fences without a rider as his saddle and irons flapped up and down.

The problem with today's $42k carryover pick six is that it's awfully hard to find even a shaky single to hang your hat on. Not to mention the eight firsters among the 10 statebred maidens in the turf sprint that kicks things off at 3:15. I'm still debating whether to play or to root for for a double-carry into tomorrow.

3:30 pm: Who am I kidding? Of course I played, but not too wisely, as Double Domino won the turf-sprint opener at 4-1. That'll teach me to make a Pletcher-firster-at-Saratoga a B instead of the automatic A it used to be.

Here's how I decided to invest $864:

Under this scheme, I am permitted one more B, but the C's are gone, meaning stakes favorites Stormy West and Ice Cool Kitty both must win. Arrrrr.

The live combos:

5:10 pm: Oh well. Got through the second and third legs with A's at $7.80 and $8.50, but then my first single, Stormy West, could do no better than finish on the short end of a four-way photo for third as Carriage Trail ($8.60) nipped Trouble Maker at the wire in a very tight photo. Stormy West was not helped by a bumpy trip from far behind a slow early pace, but Carriage Trail (Giant's Causeway-Manoa, for Janney-Phipps/McGaughey) overcame the slow pace and was probably best.

5:55 pm: Looks like it's going to take a Joe DeMola firster -- Baby Thinker, currently 36-1 -- to get a double-carryover, as the NYRA Rewards site lists that pick-6 payoff as $354, which I assume is for 5/6, while the others range from $3310 on Valiant Humor to $85,083 on Catsatiger. The pick-4's, however, are paying surprisingly well for a 5-2/3-1/8-5 start -- a range of $341 to $7211. DeMola is 4 for 28 with firsters over the last five years, including a 16-1 and a 27-1, so I suppose it's not impossible.

Co-favored Talking Treasure was a runaway winner of the Fleet Indian, sitting third in the garden spot early as Precise Action, usually a pure stretch-runner, was bizarrely sent after Ice Cool Kitty through an opening 22.95. [Update: Turns out Precise action had a broken rein.] I.C.K. eventually drew clear, but Thad nothing left when Talking Treasure went after her around the turn. Morning Gallop arrived late on the scene to get second from I.C.K. Talking Treasure, a 4-year-old Catienus filly, is now 6-for-12 for owner-breeders Ken and Sarah Ramsey and trainer Charlton Baker.

6:00 pm: Ah, the joys of playing Saratoga from Long Island: At precisely 6:00.01 pm, with four minutes to post for the finale at the Spa, Nassau OTB TV was switched off for Cablevision's nightly presentation of Italian-language programming. They're making chicken.

6:30 pm: Valiant Humor, a $341 pick-4 and a $3310 pick-6 it was. Yes, I know I used all six winners on different tickets. Before somebody comments that this proves the superiority of one-ticket caveman plays, remember that a ticket using all my A's, B's and C's would have been a 6x6x4x3x3x5, a $12,960 play that -- even with one 6 and 21 conso's -- would have lost over $8500 as opposed to my $864 debit.

Driving back up in the morning, spouse and hounds in tow. I make myself 6-5 to get there by first post, the 1 pm steeplechase, and 3-5 to get there for the first flat race at 1:35 pm.

Evan gewirtz More than 1 year ago
I loved the smashed TV image in the day 7 blog referring to the the last race blackout for Cablevision subscribers. It is truly maddening to see RAI pop up when you are eagerly anticipating the last race. NYRA could solve the problem by shaving one minute off post for races 2-10. Post time today, Saturday,for the 10th race is 5:45. Why does it have have to be 6:04 on a Monday? Of couse that is the quintessential rhetorical question. EG
zapper27 More than 1 year ago
While I await a potential answer to West Virgina's pick-3 rules I am pondering why in the world I would take my money to West Virginia anyhow. Regardless, a look at today's 3rd race at Saratoga. To me the standouts in the field look like HATTA FORT and REDEFINED with the latter 'nosing' the former last out going 6F. I'm looking for HATTA FORT to turn the tables today. Another I'll also be using at a big price is 1st-time turfer GEORGETOWN out of Storm Cat. G'TOWN's 2 best beyers (87-90) to date have come on Polytrack at 6F. Poly' figs have been transferring well to turf so far, and he shows a decent move over the local sod just five days ago. Can you say "HOYA PARANOIA?"
mattruther More than 1 year ago
Steve, Another question (I've got a thousand more. When you wait your tickets on a pick 4 do odds play a role in it. If I've got a b or c horse and he is 2-1 and as it works out I only have it once it does not pay much. I would like to get your opinion on this because I will often put my base ticket down and then rebet the lower priced horses so that I might have them two to five times. What do you think? Matt PS I've been reading this blog since inception and never posted so I guess I'm coming out of my shell.
Dan MacKenzie More than 1 year ago
July 31 Linda's Kisses: Led the way until the eighth pole at a mile last time out. Goes at 5 1/2 furlongs today. Interesting.
ccpdpio More than 1 year ago
The proposed elimination of withholding for scores over $5,000 isn't going to benefit anyone. How many of us would churn back over $5,000? Besides, you either pay the tax via withholding on the day you win or you pay when you file at the end of the year. What would REALLY help would be raising the $600 threshold for triggering reporting via W-2G. Steve, any chance of THAT happening?
mattruther More than 1 year ago
Steve, Thursday's third race would seem to be a spread race to me but more than half the time when I think it or I hear others say it the favorite invariably wins. In the third it looks like there is speed just to the outside of Redefined but it looks like he can also come off the pace. The runners in his last two have done nothing that I could see to distinguish themselves. I don't know if you or anyone else reads this but its good for me to have an outlet. Thanks, Matt
dfwbuck More than 1 year ago
steve, don't know if you have any contacts/connections with amtote or whoever programs self-serve machines, but i had an idea that will help horseplayers a repeat ticket times nine button (times four for flipper) so that instead of betting a dollar super we can easily play ten dimes (five 20c for flipper) and avoid the $600 tax implications should we hit a nice super, then we would have say ten 70$ dime tickets instead of a 700$ signer... i know you can just hit repeat nine times, but why not make it easier?
mattruther More than 1 year ago
Steve, I see your point. you can play a lot of $800 tickets for 12 grand and have a legitimate shot to make a big score. I think maybe in my pick 4 play my tickets are too small but every time I put in a big pick 4 ticket I get clobbered and I just feel like I'm chasing and hoping when I include that many horses. I've read your books and studied ticket making from yourself, Dave Liftin, and Brad Free but I need a more discipline approach and a good sense of what an appropriate ticket size is. I know it varies from situation to situation. Any thoughts?
SamG More than 1 year ago
Steve.a belated NICE HIT!Isn`t there often a little luck involved in a pick 4 or pick 6? Bob,if I somehow make it out there I will happily buy you that beer.As far as a 10-1 I have to confess I`ve been a little baffled so far,especially by those New York breds,but if I think I`ve found one I`ll let you know.
jcp More than 1 year ago
Those of us who have been properly converted away from the caveman ticket still have to cringe at the prospect of of having all the winners, but not on the same ticket.