02/09/2008 1:43PM

The Lineup 2/9/08


There's plenty to keep a handicapper busy this sixth Saturday of 2008:

*The third and fourth Grade 1 stakes of the year, the Santa Maria and Las Virgenes at Santa Anita, and seven other graded stakes at Fair Grounds, Gulfstream, Oaklawn and Santa Anita;

*A Fair Grounds card featuring appearances by last year's #1 juvenile filly (Indian Blessing) and #2 juvenile colt (Pyro), races that are part of an all-stakes pick-four and pick-six;

*A $181k pick-six carryover at Santa Anita that has ben gathering dust since last Saturday;

* A Magna 5 consisting of one from Laurel and two each from Gulfstream and Santa Anita

Here's the lineup:

3:55 pm ET: FG race 6, G3 $150k Mineshaft Handicap, 4+, 1 1/16m
The FG all-stakes pick-four starts here (the pick-six starts two races earlier with a pair of ungraded hundred-granders, the Pan Zareta for sprinting fillies and the Col. Power for turf sprinters.) The marquee names and likeliest winners in the Mineshaft are Magna Graduate (2-1 ML), whose six graded-stakes victories are six more than the rest of the field combined; and Grasshopper(5-2), unraced since running second in the Travers and Super Derby.

4:25 pm ET: FG Race 7, G3 $150k Fair Grounds H., 4+, about 1 1/8 m-T
Better Talk Now (3-1) carries top weight of 121 pounds making his season debut as a 9-year-old. his first start since running 4th in the BC Turf. He has fired off the bench before, winning the '05 Ft. Marcy and '06 Dixie in seasonal bows. Daytona(IRE), next in the weights (119) and ML (7-2) has won three straight graded stakes in California while Inca King (117/9-2) has won three straight ungraded stakes in the midwest.

4:31 pm ET: SA race 3, G1 $250k Santa Maria H., OF 1 1/16 m
Tough Tiz's Sis faces the softest field she's met in almost a year, with only 18-for-32 Somethinaboutlaura (who's better sprinting) appearing capable of making a race of it. Their four opponents are all seeking their first graded stakes victory.

4:39 pm ET: Magna 5
Leg A: Race 10, Laurel (3yo, N1x, 6f)
Leg B: Race 4, Santa Anita (OF, Msw, 6.5f-T)
Leg C: Race 9, Gulfstream (G2 stakes, see below)
Leg D: Race 5, Santa Anita (OF, N1x, 7f) -- also start of SA pick six
Leg E: Race 10, Gulfstream (OF, N1x, 1 1/16-T)

4:55 pm ET: FG race 8, G3 $200k Silverbullerday S., 3F, 1 1/16m
Indian Blessing(4-5) and Proud Spell (7-2) meet again after running 1-2 in the BC Juvenile Fillies. Everyone seems to be trying to beat the favorite off her narrow survival at 1-10 against lesser last time out, but she may just be a better filly on real dirt and can put these away early.

5:13 pm ET: GP race 9, G2 $150k Forward Gal S., 3F 7f
Keep the Peace is 2-1 making her stakes debut after easy, front-running maiden and allowance scores and appears to be the lone speed breaking from the rail. Second choice Bsharpsonata, the lone Oaks Futures entrant in the field of seven, turns back off two turf-route stakes victories but will need a strong pace to be effective and is unproven on dirt.

5:28 pm ET: FG race 9, G3 $200k Risen Star S., 3yo 1 1/16m
Champagne and BC Juvenile runner-up Pyro makes his 3-year-old debut against Z Fortune and 10 others and seems unlikely to be as high as his 3-1 ML odds. Z Fortune has the advantages of tactical speed and a race over the track, but Pyro may just be the best horse, and a strong performance would also boost the stock of War Pass. Check It Out is an early scratch.

6:02 pm ET: OP race 9, G3 $100k Essex H., 4+ 1 1/16m
A contentious and tricky race on two counts: Jonesboro and Spotsgone are one-way speeds who may compromise each other, and contenders Silver Lord and Prom Shoes come out of a Louisiana Handicap where the first three finishers all earned suspiciously high career-best figures. At 4-1 or better, I might try Gouldings Green, who should get an inside trip and a pace to run at late.

6:36 pm ET: SA race 7, G1 $250k Las Virgenes, 3F 1m
Indian Blessing would have been odds-on had she stayed home for this shorter, richer G1; it's a testament to how much Baffert thinks she hates Cushion Track that he sent her to Louisiana. In her absence, the field of seven makes a strong case for downgrading the event. Golden Doc A, the 5-2 ML favorite, has not won beyond six furlongs and was 9th at 40-1 in her lone previous G1 attempt. Lovely Isle, the 3-1 second choice, comes off a 19-length defeat and makes her fourth career start for four different trainers. At 7-2 I'd try Tasha's Miracle, who had excuses in her last two juvenile starts and may have the most upside among these.

7:07 pm ET: SA race 8, G2 $250k San Antonio H, 4+ 1 1/8m
Postponed from last Sunday, the redrawn San Antonio features a rematch among the Pacific Classic 1-2-5 finishers -- Student Council, Awesome Gem and Big Booster. The question is whether any of them will be fully cranked as they make their seasonal debuts while prepping for the the Santa Anita Handicap three weeks hence. Your alternatives are the closely-matched and cut-below crew that contested the Native Diver and San Pasqual -- Zappa, Well Armed, Heatseeker and Racketeer; Sweetnorthernsaint, the '06 Derby favorite and Preakness runner-up who hasn't done much since; and Rathor, who's not the worst idea in the world at double-digit odds in a race that anyone can win.

rich More than 1 year ago
the stewards at santa anita are the best in the country. they make every attempt to let the result stand, unlike at tracks like fairgrounds where they routinely DQ horses for doing virtually nothing. i agree that in that race, a DQ was possible, but i think it was still a close decision. why not lean to leaving the result alone if there is any question?
Flip Dawson More than 1 year ago
I must say I enjoyed myself on Sat., at one of Woodbine's off-track shops. I sat through the whole Gulfstram card with my calculator looking for the Illich Secret Play. He owned horses back in the 40's and wrote a book of betting. The color is green abd yellow, if you are hunting for one. I then played the Magna 5 for the first time ever, for one ticket with a nag in each race. For some reason, I played it $5.00 cold. I managed to snare 3 of the 5 winners. I was very happy to see the large carryover for next weekend. I think it is great when the $500 grand is not reached. That simply means that there are less people betting it, and free money comes from owner Frank Stronach.He has to top it up and this money is not bet--it is given free to a small group of bettors. I ended my weekend by betting $100.00 on the Kentucky Derby Futures. I bet at 5:55 PM on Sunday, just 5 miutes before closing. I found only one horse that passed my very fussy rules. Rather than sit all afternoon bleary-eyed from TV's, I find it better to do most of my work on the computer. The Laurel website explaining the Magna 5 is full of info. Anyway, a nice relaxing day for me. There is a way to play the Magna 5 for $1.00, by the way.I'll be spreading out this coming weekend.
rawlawltd More than 1 year ago
Did anyone else get burned by the scratch of Cizi from the 5th at the Big A on Sunday? As I'm putting in my like 20th of 40 P6 tickets, all of a sudden, Cizi shows as a scratch. Now, with less than 10 minutes til post, I'm trying to refigure my bet. I was able to put in 2 big (caveman, per Crist) tickets, but just knew I was doubling some of my previous bets. Got thru the first two & then tried to figure what I was alive to. Made P4 bets covering the ones I missed & hoped. Got lucky to have 2 consos & the P4, but still think 50K was burned. You never can be certain of what you WOULD have done, but I did find a ticket that would have been alive to the post time favorite in the 5th that had the other 5, (ran 2nd). Also, is there a way to see your winning tix on the NYRA ONE accounts that I am unaware of? Sorry, just venting!
Rich More than 1 year ago
Time to downgrade BOTH Grade 1's from this past weekend from Southern California. With 4-horse and 6-horse fields and a definitive lack of true Grade 1 performers, it's starting to feel more like the tracks farther North in that state. With NYRA under watch of shutdown this week, and Cal Graded Racing at its current level of quality, what will we have left?
john oberzut More than 1 year ago
Steve, As my designated protector of the "little guy", can you please tell me the reason online users cannot cancel or change bets. Saturday's Forward Gal was part of a pick 4 at Gulfstream that changed dramatically after a rainstorm hit the Fort Lauderdale area. Two of the races in the pick 4 were moved from the turf to a sloppy main track, distances were changed and horses were scratched, including a couple of mine. Even the 2 dirt races needed to be reevaluated because of the slop. Unfortunately, I was stuck with my earlier pick 4 bet on Twinspires betting site. I was a lifelong Information Technology worker and can think of no technical reason these sites cannot allow cancellations. Even if they send the data to another site, the next batch sent can contain the cancellation. Can you help me with this frustrating circumstance. John
Pete More than 1 year ago
Rich, I have to disagree. They are not the best in the country as there have been numerous problems with them in the past. One only has to look back at the situation with the Christopher Paasch horse last year that was DQ'd in a grass stakes race. That was another horrendous call. The sad part is that stewards are not held accountable for a thing. Unlike in other major sports when an official makes a big mistake they are reprimanded, these guys have free rein to do whatever they want with no worries. You cant tell me that their isnt a chance that perhaps one of these stewards needed that horse to stay up. One only has to look to the NBA to see that officials do at times bet on their own sports. I would love to hear their excuse from the race I mentioned. DO yourself a favor and go watch the head on. It's a no-brainer. The lead horse came out and interfered with Rockella. I really hope you never run into this situation and have money stolen from you by the inept/corrupt/clueless stewards out in southern cal. Like I stated in my previous post I am done betting. While I am not a "whale" when it comes to betting, I put more than the average horseplayer through the windows. And sure the money I dont bet wont have much of an effect.....but if more bettors like me continue to get screwed and start 2nd guessing the honesty of those in charge, there will be more and more people leaving the betting aspect of the game.
mpm101 More than 1 year ago
Steve, just curious if there is any way to find out if there were any live tickets in the last race of the Magna 5 on Saturday. I had the 2 and 3 place finishers for 4/5 and wonder if I would have gotten anything if they had won. mpm101
jeff_tatus More than 1 year ago
Steve... It looks as though they have done some great work repairing the Poly at Santa Anita. Just observe the times of the races and it reminds me of the old time S.A. racing instead of the "concrete" they have been running on. This must be a relief for the owners and trainers; not to mention a handicapper can now determine a level of consistency from the fractions set in sprints and routes. For example, the first race: Times in 5ths: :224 :454 1:10 1:362 1:431 Times in 100ths: :22.93 :45.96 1:10.03 1:36.56 1:43.30 These are exactly the fractions that Mc Anally's Roy Jones was used to chasing for many years during the winter meet. What a relief !!
Jim Brown More than 1 year ago
I just finished reading your Sunday article about the Breeders' Cup. There was an interesting acticle in the current issue of Horseplayer's Magazine concernig the Breeders' Cup. The author suggests permanently having the Cup at Hieleah. He makes many good points and I agree. I would encourage you to read the article and post your thoughts.
Pete More than 1 year ago
Hey Steve, Not sure if this is the right place, but wanted your opinion on what I thought was an absolute horrible non-call at SA today in the 7th Race, Wishing Well Stakes (Sunday). I have been a big fan of the game for about 20 years. Obviously the better days are way behind us with all the drugs/nonsense going on with some of the top trainers, synthetic track disasters, poor winter race cards (see NY inner dirt, Gulfstream)...etc. These things I can deal with, although I am not happy about it. What I can't deal with is when the stewards take it into their own hands to try and decide the outcome of a race. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn't their job to "referee" each race and make sure that if a rule is broken/infraction happens, they take action? Watch a replay of the 7th today at SA. In deep stretch the horse on the lead comes out and interferes with Rockella way before the wire. Yes I needed Rockella to win for a decent score on the pick 3. After about 5 minutes of an inquiry they leave the horse up. Now I watched the race many times, and it's pretty damn obvious its a dq. The lead horse comes out, makes contact with Rockella causing her to take up. Now I know stewards are not the brightest group of people and with a pulse rate, 20-60 eyesight, and the ability to stay awake on the job, one can become a steward. I understand one of the stewards out there is Luis Jaugeri (not sure of spelling). Now I am not against having former jockeys as stewards, but can they hire a guy who has won more than 3 races in his career ? It's frightening to think that a guy who has ridden so many last place winners is now a steward and actually has a say in things. He really has no experience of being involved in bumping incidents as his horses were usually 8 wide on the track or 40 lengths back. I think it's a VERY VERY dangerous precedent being set here letting these guys decide what they "think" would have been the outcome, vs having them look at a race and if an incident did happen acting on it. These geniuses in the stewards box can not tell me that there was no doubt that Rockella wasnt going to win the race. If there is ANY question, it should be an automatic take down due to contact. Way too much room for for dishonesty to take place. Anyways...I am done venting. You are one of the guys at the DRF who's opinion I feel is great and would like any thoughts on my rant here. As far as I am concerned, I am done betting. I would rather put my gambling efforts back into poker or other games where at least if I lose, it's my fault and not some crooked steward who is costing me money. I never thought I would stop betting horses, but this is the final straw for me.