10/04/2008 1:26PM

First Saturday in October


The final Saturday of Breeders' Cup preps includes nine Win And You're In Races, four of them Grade 1's. Two of those, the Champagne at Belmont and the Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland, will strongly influence the lineup for the BC Juvenile three weeks hence. Both look like excellent betting races, for different reasons. The Champagne is the best and deepest field of 2-year-olds assembled this year, including the first four finishers from the Hopeful and the impressive debut winner Hello Broadway. The Breeders' Futurity is a scramble of shaky quality, including three undistinguished Europeans and three horses emerging from a slow and bumpy Arlington-Washington Futurity.

It's interesting that the Alcibiades and Breeders' Futurity came up relatively weak races compared to the Champagne and Frizette, given the theory that some trainers would want to try a synthetic surface before the BC races this year. But no one knows yet if Santa Anita's new Pro-Ride surface plays more like dirt or Keeneland's Polytrack, and it's also no cinch that today's dirt winners will head west to try it.

Today's wagering enticements include a $150k guaranteed pick-6 at Keeneland, which includes five stakes races starting with the Phoenix, and an intriguing all-stakes pick-4 on Woodbine's four WAYI races. In Belmont's late pick-4, the Frizette and champagne are bookended by turf routes, one for $35k claimers and one for maidens. Today's Belmont card includes five turf routes, while yesterday's had five turf sprints.

--Speaking of horses who do or don't like synthetic surfaces, Arson Squad is exhibit A for the latter category. Nothing tells the story more concisely than his past performances:

Download ArsonSquad.pdf

Back when California raced on dirt, Arson Squad won 5 of his first 11 starts, including the G2 Swaps at 3 and the G2 Strub at 4, and ran six triple-digit Beyers. After the Strub, though, the synthetic switch began, and Arson Squad failed to run 1-2-3 in his next seven starts, showing equal disdain for Del Mar's 2007 and 2008 versions of Polytrack, Hollywood's Cushion Track, and Santa Anita's old Cushion surface.

His connections had seen enough and finally sent him east to return to the dirt in last night's Meadowlands Cup, where he snapped back to top form, taking advantage of a hotly-contested pace to win by 2 1/2 lengths over the last two Pennsylvania Derby winners, Anak Nakal and Timber Reserve. Here is Arson Squad's career record on the two types of surfaces:

True Dirt: 11: 6-0-3 $765,450
Synthetic: 7: 0-0-0 $ 72,400

Not surprisingly, Arson Squad will skip the Breeders' Cup and point for the Clark Handicap on dirt at Churchill Nov. 28.

It does make you wonder: How many of the horses trying a synthetic surface for the first time in the Breeders' Cup, including Big Brown and possibly Curlin, will dislike the footing as much as Arson Squad clearly did?

--Having chronicled a week of my dismal carryover failures, honesty compels me to report that I got well, if not entirely even for October, on the Meadowlands Cup card last night. The Cup was the third leg of a pick-4 that began with two other stakes, the Eillo for sprinters and the Princeton for 3-year-old turf routers, and concluded with a wide-open field of turf claimers. I made a caveman 2x2x4x5 pick-four partwheel, and then went back and pressed it 2x2x1x5 through Arson Squad.

When Roi Maudit ($4.20) and Picou ($3.60) won the first two legs, it didn't seem like a worthy payoff was possible, so I bet Arson Squad ($10.80) to win as well. That was nice enough but then I got lucky in the finale when A Nice Splash won a five-way photo at $32.60. That made the four-race parlay $665 but the $2 pick-4 somehow came back better than twice as fat at $1,382.80.

A Nice Splash is a pretty cool horse, an 8-year-old gelding who has now won 17 of 69 career starts while racing at 18 different tracks, winning at 11 of them:

Download ANiceSplash.pdf

He's won at Med, Lrl, FG, CD, Kee, Bel, Mth (5 times), FE (3 times) WO, Haw and PrM, while also racing at Pha, GP, TP, AP, OP, Tam and Cby.

Steve T. More than 1 year ago
Fashionslipper, I ran under Serpentine Kennels. Started at Raynham and Lincoln and then moved to Arizona. I still remember all of the "hot" greyhounds" from that era (I also graduated in 1973 and started into dog racing in 1980). EP's Yar Yar, Tyler's Style, Downing, Perceive, Understood. I tried hard to buy a bitch by the name of Mintage from the Rink's. The fastest dog I ever saw (when he held together) was Jam's Olson. Now it is really a second rate sport, and like you, most of the trainers I know went elsewhere.
fashionslipper More than 1 year ago
Steve T Re: post of Oct 5th 3:26 pm I'm just curious under what kennel name you ran your dogs and if you ran them in new england. I "broke in" at RAynham Park back in 1973 right after high school. Back when greyhounds would fly in from all over for the Wonderland Derby etc. I was at Hollywood Park the infamous night when Rooster Cogburn fell asleep in the starting box in his prefered 8 hole at 7 to 5. If you remember the race was won by Couort Dancer and the tote board lit up like the fourth of july. Sports Illustrated ran feature coverage of Downing winning the Irish AMerican Stakes in 1977. Major exposure and the industry couldn't ride that opportunity. I think going year round hurt. It was probably good for trainers who wanted to lead a normal family life instead of moving every time a meet closed but it took AWAY a lot. For example the betting angle that you had when raynham closed. Taunton was on the AA, A, BB, B grading system so if a greyhound was grade B at raynham and now 2 months later he shows up at taunton in grade B he was really a double drop. But it goes hand in hand with the dumbing down of america. Now instead of Rever Course at wonderland, which you and i both know is 680 yards 20 yards longer than a true 3/8ths, it says 680 yards. How generic. Botom line is, the greyhound industry should be left alone to die as some people predict it will. I'm still in touch all these years later with trainers who i befriended over the years and they treated there dogs great. one lives in colorado and they just went under this past summer. Fortunately he has other skilss in construction and essentially swithed jobs seamlessly. The mantra y2k etc use is about the abuse of the dogs, so we must punish everyone. What if the government decreed that starting in 2010 no one is allowed to procreate anymore because two kids up the street are being abused? I wonder how that would go over. I was at wonderland park early on a sinday morning with my friend who trained for the Ed Souza Kennel out of lakeville ma. We had two greyhounds with us who needed some excercise. We hand schooled them with the intent we'd let them go around twice. Keep in mind there was no rabbit in use just two dogs going around. Well, the dogs had other ideas and went around 5 times and then once more the other way before we couild reel them in. These dogs were having fun and couldn't have been happier. Attention Y2K: THEY LOVE TO RUN AND YES SOME GET HURT LIKE SOME PEOPLE GET HURT SKIING AND SKYDIVING" Sorry for the rant....but I feel better. I don't post much but find this blog very informative and entertaining....keep up the good work all of you fashion slipper
buffalo joe More than 1 year ago
Flipper- Great call on the Champagne,I was busy with family stuff all afternoon and did not check blog, I would have used him in contest on Dan's blog if I had time to look. I'll be watching football Sun but did picked up Canadian form(I was in FE last night), so let us know if you like anything up there.
Medi More than 1 year ago
david_florida_nick.....you must tell! Here in Brooklyn just blocks away from Hoyt & Schemerhorn we need to know the secret. @_@
buffalo joe More than 1 year ago
Davie Florida Nick- Sir you are a real gentleman, not to spill the beans. I was 12 years old, 53 years ago, sitting in the grandstand at Fort Erie, with my father and his older cronnies on a sat. afternoon when Roy, an older gentleman taught it to me. I have used in on an off since then. It is sometimes so good it is spooky, but sometimes it is so bad you laugh. I remember how I couldn't wait until saturdays days when I was a kid. Sometimes my dad would take 1/2 day off on Fri and go over to the track. he always brought his program home with him for me to look at. Dave, if you ever go over to Calder in the winter almost every day on the second level of the grandstand sitting inside in front of the TV's in the 1st row there is always a group(3 to 6 or 7) oldtimers some well into their 80's play it all day long. There is one guy who does all the figuring and bets with his frieds they sometime due very well and all you have to do is ask and he will give you the #'s. I've never been there in the summer, but I imagine they are there all the time, but I have not seen them at Gulfstream since Stronach ruined it, but I very rarely go there myself either.
jim More than 1 year ago
Steve, Bel- 5th...Estimator or Mclovin (or zito). Im cashing this p-6 or a bunch of threes today. Has anyone interviewed channing hill ever? He sure rides like robbie davis in disguise. Like him in the 4th on the 7 horse
El Angelo More than 1 year ago
I disagree with the poster who thinks a prime-time BC event on Saturday would be a success. On the East Coast, running a sporting event on a Saturday night is asking for it to be ignored.
AndyScoggin More than 1 year ago
The SECRET PLAY is no big secret, it is something that every good handicapper is aware of, but doesn't keep close track of! I, too, will let FLIPPER, share it if wants to.
KYL Syndicate More than 1 year ago
Steve, Any particular reason the big races in America does not have the same pageantry as the Europe races? Forget the crowds since we can't compete, but just the tv coverage, camera angles, etc is wonderful to watch. The images make you feel more like you are at the track than it ever does when watching the Derby, Breeders Cup, etc. Thanks KYL Syndicate
vegan More than 1 year ago
Well done, flipper. A ten-bucker, as I recall. NICE! If "finsterny" is aboard, GREETINGS! (:Thumb up.)