01/03/2009 2:22PM

First Saturday in January


The first Saturday of 2009 isn't a bad one to get back in the game: There's an interesting opening-day card at Gulfstream, a $118k double-carryover on an Aqueduct card with a pair of odds-on favorites, and the second and third graded stakes of 2009 -- the G3 Hal's Hope at Gulfstream and the G3 Monrovia at Santa Anita.

Gulf09 The Gulfstream opener is a playable nine-race card with two stakes. The Spectacular Bid at six furlongs has a trio of newly-turned 3-year-olds who don't look like classic prospects but have already established themselves as very promising sprinters: You Lucky Mann and Notonthesamepage ran triple-digit Beyers as 2-year-olds, and Silent Valor won the Sapling before failing to stretch out in the Norfolk and BC Juvenile.

The Hal's Hope presents a real dilemma for me because I'm itching to bet Bribon at anything close to his 5-1 morning line. He's just plain faster than this field, is at his best at today's one-turn mile distance, and he comes off a fine closing third in the Cigar Mile. The problem? He ran three of the worst races of his career in his three starts at Gulfstream last winter.Is he a Floridaphobe or just a better horse now? At 3-1 or better, I'll pay to test the latter theory.

The Aqueduct carryover sequence consists of four wide-open races and two where favorites have towering Beyer advantages on the competition. Toulouse Latrec ran a 94 finishing second to the sensational Quality Road in his debut, which gives him a 21-point edge on the figs. And in the featured Count Fleet for nominal classic aspirants, Haynesfield comes off a Beyer 101 winning the Dqamon Runyon and faces four opponents who have yet to muster anything better than a 77.

There are drawbacks to both, however. Toulouse Latrec went short in his debut and stretches from six furlongs to a mile today. Haynesfield won at today's mile-and-70 distance, but through much slower early fractions than some of today's opponents have set. Compare the times, both run over the Aqueduct inner, of Haynesfield's Damon Runyon and Pitched Perfectly's maiden score:

Haynesfield (Dec. 7): 48.03, 1:13.63, 1:42.95

Pitched Perfectly (Dec. 13): 46.80, 1:11.98, 1:43.10

Obviously the track was much quicker Dec. 13 for Pitched Perfectly to get a 77 while Haynesfield received a 101 for running just 0.15 seconds faster, but Haynesfield seems unlikely to get loose here. He's probably so much better that he'll get the job done, and I'll lean on him in the carryover, but it's going to be an interesting run to the first turn.

Greatbarrierreef --Barrier Reef made an impressive return to the races Friday at Aqueduct, winning by 2 3/4 lengths in a visually impressive performance.

Barrier Reef was switched from Darley to Godolphin after winning the Whirlaway last February, where he beat Great Emperor (who later beat Da'Tara in the race before that colt won the Belmont.) Barrier Reef, however, floundered and quickly fell off the Derby trail and delivered three poor efforts last summer.

Back in the Darley colors and reunited with trainer Tom Albertrani, Barrier Reef came off a 4 1/2-month layoff Friday and trounced a decent N2x field, circling and drawing off at will like he might be ready to become a very serious racehorse. His winning time of 1:45.34 for a mile and a sixteenth may not look very quick, but it was 2.59 seconds faster than the only other race at the distance and earned a Beyer of 100.

Update 3:00 pm: Bad news: I'm deader than a doornail after a B-C-C start. Good news: There's a decent shot for a triple carry and a seven-digit pick-six pool at Aqueduct tomorrow as 2-5 Toulouse Latrec just finished third in the third leg following victories by Professional Woman ($13.80) and Banking Holiday ($23.80) in the first two legs.

Toulouse Latrec went to the front and got a fairly soft opening quarter of 24.32, but then second choice Haitian Sensation went up after him through a very quick second quarter (23.14) and the two of them went at it tooth and nail while opening 10 lengths on the field. The two of them staggered home leaning all over each other through a final quarter in over 28 seconds, and 6-1 Tranquil Manner chugged up and went past them both nearing the wire.

Update 4:00 pm: Haynesfield got the job done from off the pace at 1-2, leaving live tickets covering 7 of the 10 runners in the finale. We need a 5, 7 or 9 for a triple carryover; otherwise it pays a minimum of $63,905 and a maximum of a pool-scooping $383,435.

Haynesfield rated kindly enough as Aswaaq and Mike From Queens slugged it out early, moved up on the far turn and looked ready to win at will. Mike From Queens proved resilient, though, making a race of it until the final 100 yards, when Haynesfield finally got clear and Jess Not Jesse got up to nip Mike From Queens for second.

Update 4:40 pm: A horrible beat for those who either needed or got stuck with firster Rightly So, the 2-1 favorite in the finale who rocketed from the gate, looked home free in upper stretch, but got worn down by second choice Gold For The Queen at the wire.

At least Rightly So got beat fair and square. But the six people alive to second-timer Hooked on Money were switched to Rightly So seconds before the race when Hooked on Money was scratched after injuring herself in the gate. It's part of the game but doesn't have to be and maybe someday the industry will gets its technological act together and either offer a designated-substitute option or figure out how to switch people to a horse they don't already have, as they do in Hong Kong. If you were alive to Rightly So and Hooked on Money, you ended up getting Rightly So twice instead of being switched to the second choice.

The four winning tickets were worth $95,858; consos, including the six tickets alive for $63,905 apiece to Hooked on Money, paid $495.

burt More than 1 year ago
I also had the eight horse at Aquaduct and could not believe he got DQ'd but the worst was Torres in the second at Fair Grounds when he stopped riding the horse at least the stewards if you read the Asmussen story down the bottom fined him 500 dollars at least I was watching the same thing as the stewards in Louisiana but, watching a different thing than the blind mice at Aquduct
OTM Al More than 1 year ago
Hi Steve. We went on about some of the caveats of the P6 bet a few months ago. Personally, I'm neutral to the alternates for the P6. To me the danger of a scratch always exists and the rule clearly defines what will happen, so I believe a good bettor should account for that before placing the bet. Different set of rules should make for a different strategy, so either way is good by me. My question to you though if alternates are available, how should the will-pays be dealt with? Don't think it would really be possible to flash through all possible permutations before the final race, but I would be concerned with a bettor's reaction if his payoff after winning the bet suddenly gets a quarter or third or even less than what he was expecting due to a gate scratch in the last leg. While such an instance would probably be rare, it does have a positive probability of occuring. If alternates were allowed, how would you deal with this situation where the integrity of the bet taker would be questioned?
Jeff Tatus More than 1 year ago
George 315... I totally agree with you. We had the same type tickets and took the same exact beating. I was sick to my stomach and I absolutely hate the NYRA stewards. I had the late pick 3 with the 8 as well. The only consolation I got on Saturday was hitting the Pick 6 at Santa Anita. I thought that the 2 horse was also going to "come down" for a late bump on the 10 horse. Don't get me wrong... it was still a good day... but it could have been a 20K day instead of 11.5K I still feel I was robbed and have not returned to play.
jcp More than 1 year ago
I have a recollection of filling out the cards for the P6 plays at the track where the clerk would actually feed the card into the machine, and for a while, you could make a substitute choice in the event of a scratch. I think this was at either AQU or BEL. Anybody else remember this?
jerichoginny More than 1 year ago
The Temporary Saint race really bothered me. He had a ton of horse, but more importantly he was obviously willing to fight it out, his ears were pricked like "come on m/fers!" and the jockey just eased him out, "ooh, I was bumped" "stop it" "owie". I get sick watching a perfectly game horse, a horse showing every sign that he has "it", eased out of a race just at the deciding moment. Pick your own metaphors. Sore loser? Sorry. No. Simply not a fan of the timid jockey and you gotta be in it to win it, right? Get in there and fight. If I was the trainer I would have been a bit ashamed when the rider came back, probably wouldn't have been able to look at him.
Greg More than 1 year ago
Steve, I had a scratch at Santa Anita a couple of days ago on a pik 3 and 4 and I did not no the rule on scratches. I looked up the SA website and under the HOW TO WAGER section I scrolled down to scraches and it explained I could make a substitution in pik 4's 6's and all ( I assume all means place pik all ) wagers. I had left the otb and was considering going back to make a sub in my bets. I decided to let it ride since the rule stated if no substitution was made you will get the favorite again. Steve, am I reading this rule correctly ( that I can substitute at any part of the sequence in a pik 4 or 6 at SA? I had never heard this before and what about the online players? What would they do at SA for a substitution. Part of the reason I didn't rush back to the otb for a substitution was the thought that kept rolling in my head "how in the world is that 72 year old woman ( the one teller at otb ) going understand what I am talking about?" Even if I eventually got the point across to her, would she have a clue how to change it? It would all take too long, so I stayed home and watched. I feel I must be misunderstanding this rule, please help?
C More than 1 year ago
How exactly was "Luzzi finishing 3rd anyway"? He put his nose IN FRONT at the 16th pole before losing stride after the 8 knocked him into the 6. He wasn't going as fast as the 8, but certainly appeared to be heading for a 2nd place finish. It might not have been the worst foul I've ever seen, but you can't sit here and say that nothing happened or that it had absolutely no affect on the outcome. It clearly cost Luzzi's mount 2nd. What are the stewards going to say? Sorry, Mike, we saw the crowding, but we just think you were acting. Yeah, OK, prove it.
kelso13 More than 1 year ago
To any of you commenters that have been to Gulfstream Park , I would appreciate hearing from you.For the last 9 years I have been leasing an apartment on Ocean Drive app. 1 mile from G.P.Since the old G.P. was torn down and the new G.P. built I have been spending less time at G.P. and more time on the beach.I just hate the new facility.Every year when I go down, I am more disapointed in the so called improvements.Last year on several occasions ,weekends in particular I drove a half hour past G.P.and spent the day at Calder.I would appreciate any updates.I wiil be in Florida from Jan.21 to March 21.
Dave Bruder More than 1 year ago
Scott Ragovin: Sounds like you got DQ'd!! But you're correct, Luzzi was finishing third anyway, so there should have been no action taken. There is no accountability for stewards.They seemingly don't answer to anyone. Ridiculous!! Say hello to the real handicapper in the Ragovin family!!
sero More than 1 year ago
I too, was Dq'd in the 7th for another nice score (in addition to getting justifiably dq'd on Harlem Rocker because it was close enough to cost a placing). Lets face it.....The order of finish in the 7th wasn't going to be any different coupled with the acting job by Luzzi. The 9 in the 5th should have been taken down even though it was unintentional and incidental....2 horses were fouled and lost position. There has been way too much discretion(or lack thereof) in stewards decisions in these situations weighing the severity of the incident contrary to public opinion. Sometimes I think the Stewards are watching a different race. We wouldn't want to break up the good ole boys club...would we? This all needs to be addressed. Also noticed the IRS loophole has been taken away on my ADW site. This involves using a $1 repeat wager to hit a pay off just shy of $1200 where a $1 ticket would not generate a taxable status since it falls $599.90 or under. Received multiple IRS mailing for the Northern Buster score on 12/28 (42-1) to my complete surprise. These antiquated IRS rules don't take into account how much was wagered to hit the bet resulting in a less than 300-1 return. This along with a correction to the scratch rule(as mentioned) suggesting a conso percentage, refund (1st leg), or alternate selection is the only fair way. Instead of punishing players for not immediately cashing tickets over $300 in NY, Why not have strict internal guide-lines/integrity at each racetrack in key areas ie.. parimutuels/operations where these events originate and are taken advantage of.