09/25/2009 8:45PM

Grade 1 Catchup


Just a few more days to goof off before the serious fall racing begins, and I'm planning to make the most of them. I'm headed to Las Vegas for the NTRA's Marketing Summit at the Red Rock Monday and Tuesday and, as long as I'm in the neighborhood, I suppose I'll play a few hands of poker.

There hasn't been a Grade 1 race since Sept. 12, but the famine tuns to feast starting Oct. 3, with 20 Grade 1 races in an eight-day span at Belmont, Oak Tree (which opens Wednesday) and Keeneland (which opens Oct. 9.) With 72 Grade 1 races in the book (and 42 left to go) for 2009, here's the scoreboard, which I finally got around to updating today:

While I'd stopped keeping score, Bob Baffert rocketed to the lead among trainers, winning seven Grade 1's since the 4th of July to take over the national lead with eight for the year, two more than Christophe Clement. Steve Asmussen is next with five, followed by Bobby Frankel (who hasn't won one since June) and Saeed bin Suroor (who didn't win his first until Aug. 2) with four each. Next come John Shirreffs and Jonathan Sheppard with three apiece.

Rachel Alexandra leads all horss with five Grade 1's, three of them -- the Preakness, Haskell and Woodward -- against males. Gio Ponti is next with four, followed by Zensational with three, and seven other horses have won two apiece: Einstein, Informed Decision, Magical Fantasy, Seventh Street, Stardom Bound, Summer Bird and Zenyatta.

Four jockeys have each won six Grade 1's, combining to win a third of the 72 run so far: Calvin Borel, Kent Desormeaux, Garrett Gomez and Mike Smith. Ramon Dominguez and Julien Leparoux are next with five each, one more than Victor Espinoza, Alan Garcia, Rajiv Maragh and John Velazquez. Those 10 riders have taken down 50 of the 72 Grade 1's.

--I'm usually all for anything that puts a few more dollars into horseplayers' pockets, but the state law that is forcing NYRA to pay off on both a correct and incorrect superfecta combination in Thursday's 9th race seems just plain silly and should be changed.


The placing judges, through human error, posted #13 rather than #10 as the fourth-place finisher and that was the "official" result for two minutes and 49 seconds before they caught and fixed the error. That should have been the end of it, with congratulations to anyone who cashed in a ticket on the wrong numbers during that tiny window. Instead, on Friday, due to a rule designed for disqualifications days or weeks after a race, NYRA found itself in the Alice-in-Wonderland situation of being legally bound to pay off on the initial "official" order of finish -- the wrong combo instead of the right one. At that point, it had no choice but to honor the law by resuming payoffs on the wrong combo, and to do the right thing by also paying off on the right one.

The pool was "only" $111,978, potentially putting NYRA on the hook for an additional post-takeout $82k in duplicate payouts. Once the error was caught, however, there is simply no defensible reason to require NYRA to pay off on a non-winning combination just because it was posted for less than three minutes. If it had been a $1 million pick-six where a wrong digit was posted for 2:49, would NYRA have had to pay out an additional $740,000? That $82k would be far better spent on a down payment for a Trakus system.

jeff39 More than 1 year ago
Just catching up on the story about the wrong order of finish being official at Belmont. Seems to me the real winners that day were the guys at the track who go around picking up the tickets on the ground. To reward those dregs with an $800+ payoff, while the person who rightfully bought the ticket gets zero, makes me sick. Unfortunately you know what happens.....but seeing the honest bettor getting ripped off doesn't make it any easier to swallow.
ml/nj More than 1 year ago
"This will be our fourth Keeneland visit. Incongruously, KL's sales are down "41%" at the same time that our hotel is sold out on the weekend of our visit. Will we be stampeded by a KY football home-game mob in the lobby?" I also wondered what is going on down there. (I'm going for opening weekend. Look for me and my group smoking cigars on the porch beginning at 11 AM.) I suspected UK football, but they will be away next week.
ml/nj More than 1 year ago
"I hope that you enjoyed that "juicy" $4.40 payoff after sweating out the entire stretch drive. Keep pounding those "obvious" horses at the windows- your money is greatly appreciated." And I hope you keep ducking them. Those who blindly bet even money shots lose about 7% as opposed to the average 17%, or even more if one chases exotic payoffs. I don't know, because I didn't bother to update things after the meet was over, but I'm pretty sure odds-on horses showed a flat bet profit through the first four weeks this year at the Spa. There's a reason why those others are 17-1.
Gharza More than 1 year ago
Andy Serling is a handicapper who gets paid to give his opinion. Nothing More, Nothing Less.
Alex More than 1 year ago
Steve and others, While you’re at the NTRA event....Can anyone tell me what in the world the NTRA does? Accredit tracks? Who cares, they passed Pimlico which is the biggest dump in the world which discredits the entire process. Racing continues to kill itself with disputes and conflicts within; such as scheduling, simulcasting, television and a genuine ignorance towards the patron. NTRA any interest in tackling these issues?
Walt P. More than 1 year ago
Evan: I do agree that Better Talk Now deserves to have a race named after him (and not just an overnight stakes event) in the near future, especially given the longevity of his career and the high level he raced at through most of it. Perhaps for 2010 renaming the (Grade 2) Bowling Green Handicap as the Better Talk Now or creating a new race worth $150,000 at 1 1/2 Miles on turf for older horses that could be run in late April in Aqueduct (with the Fort Marcy, which traditionally is the first grass stakes of the year in New York either moved up to the Wood Memorial program in early April or run where there is a gap on the schedule for mile grass horses that the Fort Marcy could easily fill).
John C. More than 1 year ago
Sea Hero: Andy Serling merely stated that Indian Blessing had not been running of late like the great 2 an 3YO that she had been. Given that IB was going to be around even money, why not try to "beat" her with the impressive, fresh Rachel-"conquerer", Sara Louise? You see, Mr. Serling usually looks for the best VALUE in a race; mathematically, that's the only way to make money in the long run. Of course, he'll typically cover horses like IB as a saver in a Pick-4 or Pick-6 to get some kind of payoff from a low-priced winner. I used to play the "best" horse in a race no matter what the price- how foolhardy. Now I can laugh along with the real horseplayers who shrug and chuckle when they get beaten by an underlayed favorite. It happens; no big loss especially when there wasn't much to gain in the first place. As a racing fan, I'm elated that IB won as she showed more heart and maturity by far than she's ever shown before. As a bettor, I hope that you enjoyed that "juicy" $4.40 payoff after sweating out the entire stretch drive. Keep pounding those "obvious" horses at the windows- your money is greatly appreciated.
Evan Gewirtz More than 1 year ago
Although I have stated that Better Talk Now was my nemesis, it is a shame that his career had to end with an injury. It was absolutely a remarkable achievement for him to have competed at such a high level for all the years he did. He was a true war horse. He certainly deserves to have a race named after him in the near future.
bobm toga More than 1 year ago
to andy, you do not need to defend yourself to this blog or anyone else for that matter. i was at toga for 2/3 of the meet and listened to the seminar every day as well as the little snippets you do before each race. not only do you do your homework and come up with good reasons for your selections (many of them at nice odds) but you are a funny guy and racing selections are supposed to also be about having fun and making bold and brash predictions. keep up the good work.. you made me rethink and relook at my own opinions which is has helped me out in my own way of thinking.. special thanks for your thoughts on es mia early in the meet as well as gun rock as they both helped me cash nice tkts.
Sidetrack More than 1 year ago
While I'm not sure if it had any bearing on the decision, one problem I see with not paying out on the incorrect "official" order of finish is that it could create a rush to cash tickets by some of the trackgoers after every single race - especially the dime super bettors - which could be a nightmare for others trying to get their bets in during the last few minutes before post.