03/21/2009 12:22PM

First Saturday of Spring


The first Saturday of Spring starts a relatively light racing weekend, with just seven G2 and G3 races around the country including a single Derby prep, today's Lane's End at Turfway:

On the multirace-wagering front, unlike last Saturday, there are no carryovers in either the Aqu or SA pick-six or the Magna 5. There's the usual $250k guarantee on the Aqueduct late Pick-4. Turfway is running five straight stakes from races 6 through 10, but there's nothing more exotic than rolling pick-3's linking them; the Pick-4 is on the usual last four races, which today are the Rushaway, Lane's End, and two firster-loaded maiden sprints.

Hats2 The Lane's End kicks off ESPN's scaled-back 2009 racing coverage with a one-hour ESPN2 telecast from 5 to 6 pm ET. (Racing got bumped to The Deuce by the Juan Carlos Gomes-Vitali Klitschko heavyweight fight.) ESPN, which is behaving like it's sorry it ever signed up to broadcast horse races, recently announced it was dumping its scheduled coverage of the Kentucky Oaks, which will instead be broadcast by Bravo in what is expected to be hat-centric coverage.

The Lane's End is widely perceived as a two-horse race between Bittel Road (5-2) and West Side Bernie (3-1) in a weak renewal that drew only one of the 23 individual betting interests from the Pool 2 Derby Futures crew -- West Side Bernie closed as the 16th choice in last weekend's betting at 43-1. Bittel Road comes in off a pair of fourths (beaten 3.5 and 2 lengths) behind Pioneerof the Nile out west against what look like better horses than he's facing today, but his future is probably on the grass.

The Lane's End is the first of 12 final opportunities for Derby aspirants to pick up graded-stakes earnings:

The list above does not include grass races (such as the G3 Transylvania at Keeneland April 3), foreign races (such as the $2 million Group 2 UAE Derby March 28) or races restricted to fillies.

Rutgers More than 1 year ago
Steve, There has been a few comments of late about the small payouts on some NYRA Pick 6's of late. It appears to me this also coincides with a shrinking field size at NYRA as well. The field sizes will probably start to increase as some of the outfits return from the south, but it appears it will be a situation that will repeat itself in the future, especially if New York has a mild winter. What are your thoughts on NYRA and the horsemen planning a week off in mid to late Febuary next year or going to a 4 day race week in Feb and/or March, with a provision that if they lose a lot of race dates next year due to the weather they can add dates. It seems the week or so break around Christmas, does boost field size for the first few weeks of the year.
Tyke from the Cackalacky More than 1 year ago
Steve- In the past you have taken the time to answer questions from the field. Here's one: How can you really determine when the rail is fast? A lot happens in any given horse race before the stretch drive but I often hear someone say that a horse won because he was on the rail in the stretch. (That seems like a stretch.) Anyway, I'd like to hear your opinion. Thanks in advance.
Walt More than 1 year ago
As for the comment about Oaks Day coverage "going to the dogs:" While it's bad for us the Oaks won't be airing on ESPN/ESPN2 (again, in my opinion because NASCAR probably demanded that time slot be kept open in case the Nationwide race at Richmond had to be moved up so it could be shown live before any NBA Playoff games on ESPN that became necessary that night), airing on Bravo should help as the telecast likely will bring in women in particular who normally would never watch ESPN/ESPN2, so there actually could be some benefit in that regard.
Stork More than 1 year ago
Steve, The late pick 4 at Turfway paid $7,909.80 on Saturday. I calculated the parlay would have been $10,234.89 with payouts of $16.40, $20.20, $33.40 and $7.40 on races 9-12, respectively. Is this unusual? Thank you.
Silver Charm More than 1 year ago
Is the picture implying ESPN's OAKS coverage or Non-OAKS coverage is going to the Dogs?
C More than 1 year ago
Jeff, About 2-4 times a month, there is a new complaint about some race here. I love checking out the replays of these races because the vast majority of the time, the stewards' decision (often a non-call) is immediately justifiable to me. I've seen exactly 1 instance raised here in which I could not understand the stewards' ruling. That was the race at Hawthorne about 2 years ago... remember that one? There have also been perhaps 4-5 rulings that I felt could've gone either way. But most of the time, as a neutral, objective observer, I can at least see why the ruling was made. In this case, I immediately noticed the bad patch of turf on the first viewing when the horses were entering the first turn. It is quite obvious in the pan shot; it's plainly visible. I said to myself, "I bet that's where the trouble is in the stretch", so I cued up to that point, and voila, the big stumble. On the second pass, I watched Saez's hands in slo-mo. His timing was unlucky, as he was trying to move his mount off the rail precisely where the sandy patch is. The horse lost his footing while trying to respond to Saez. Also, Shytoe Lafeet was not winning that race, barring a rarely-seen sudden burst that would've been talked about all weekend. Just my opinion. He was already passed and put away by the winner even before the incident. Yes, he was only beat by about a length, but he wasn't a threat in the stretch. I'm sure many might disagree with that, but I can only call it like I see it. It's fun playing steward, even if I'm sometimes unpopular.
Brian McLean More than 1 year ago
$220....Is that the lowest Pick6 ever?
Jim More than 1 year ago
Hi Steve, I just read Marty McGee's article http://www.drf.com/news/article/102434.html. Wagering on the Lane's End card was down 26%. Do you think this has anything to do with Turfway PP's not being in the version of the form Sold in New York? I would think no PP's for a major racing hub could cause some dip, not 26% but something.
prozacjack More than 1 year ago
Well yesterday at Santa Anita my ol friend Bob Baffert had 3 horses, " uncoupled" in a race,so if you are inclined to play trainer's M.O. it just cost you 3 times the amount you would have to spend if they would run as ONE. Of course it was part of the pick-6, you know that guessing game created for the masses and now turned into a game for the rich. Oh sure we have a chance to get the "fat cats money" but management wants to keep the little man CONTRIBUTING while the whales put in their "big" tickets, all to the demise of this sport. A thinking man's game turned into a four legged lottery...Please don't misunderstand me, I have done very well myself with my big tickets, but feel sorry for the little guy trying to use his skill, when MANAGEMENT wants to create all the carryovers it can muster up.What the hell is wrong with carding at least 2 times a week a pick-6 card that contains 6 races that have horses with "FORM" so that the little guy has a REAL chance at hitting one in the neighborhood of 10 to 20 grand. This would have a very positive impact on the horse player's in the long run. Get MANAGEMENT out of the BUSINESS of manipulating the race cards to MAXIMIZE wagering. Management should have ABSOLUTELY no interest in the outcome of a race or pick-6 carryover. I know this is a rich man's game but it's being DESTROYED by the GREEDY.We need another million dollar race for a BILLIONAIRE owner like, Prozac Jack needs words of encouragement from my "ex-wife" This great game continues on is destructive path of being MISMANAGED,and it's a crying shame. I tried to enter the contest at XPRESS BET over the weekend, and they said they do not post a leader board until the contest is over, so you really never know if you should look for a long shot or take short money to increase your numbers, This is yet another group of "Knuckleheads" Put on earth to annoy the Horse player's.. So remember these words of wisdom from Prozac Jack..It's better to play and lose, than NOT play and win......LOL
steven_crist More than 1 year ago
dale, ernie, greg, saratoga_mike: WHOA! Those are NOT the even-handsomer Donnie (yeah, it's still Donnie) and Popeye, just a picture I found online while searching for something wacky to illustrate "hat-centric coverage."