10/28/2008 2:56PM

Lost in Cyberspace


LostComments Sorry about this business of your last 60 comments on the "BC Saturday Live" post not showing up yet. I've read and approved and posted them, but for whatever reason, Typepad isn't displaying them. I'm going to try changing it from "show oldest first" to "show newest first" and maybe at least that way we can get #'s 63-112 to show up, replacing #'s 1-50. Those of you in the 51-52 zone may be forever obscured. And I'll just start posting a little more often, even if I have nothing particularly scintillating to say, until it's straightened out. If my reversing the order doesn't work, please feel free to resubmit any lost comments to this post.

---I'm still slicing and dicing the BC numbers, which as expected have made for unwieldy comparisons with previous years. The quick version:

    1. The two-day Friday-Saturday handle was up slightly from 2007, in the neighborhood of 5 percent. That's a good thing, but a larger increase was expected, despite the economic downturn, given the addition of three new BC races.

    2. The filly races moved from Saturday to Friday did not handle as much as they did when run on Saturday .

    3. The Saturday handle was down $10 million from a year ago, despite a change from a dismal sloppy day to a sunny and sparkling one. BC Saturday handle was down an alarming $34 million from $136 million on a 10-race card in 2006 to $102 million on an 11-race card.

---Thanks for your many kind (and largely unpublished) comments about Saturday's good fortune. The pick-6 haul was $66,003.60 (one 6/6 at $55,920.80 plus 13 5/6 consos at $775.60 apiece for another $10.082.80), before IRS withholding of $13,980.20 for a net payout of just over $52k. How did I end up with 13 consos? In addition to the six other horses I was alive to in the Classic (Henrythenavigator, Tiago, Curlin, Go Between, Duke of Marmalade, Student Council), there were seven earlier horses who could have won and kept the same tickets alive (Kip DeVille, Bushranger, Westphalia, Bittel Road, Fabulous Strike, Eagle Mountain, Soldier of Fortune.)

If anyone ever saw the pick-6 willpays, please send them along, just for curiosity's sake. I ended up partially hedging by making $1000 in win bets on the three longshots ($400 on 23-1 Champs Elysees, $300 on 40-1 Fairbanks an 49-1 Smooth Air) among the five horses I was uncovered with, and decided to let 9-1 Casino Drive and 10-1 Colonel John just beat me. 

Capitol OTB purchased the identical eight-ticket $5,000 play as the one I put in, and announced today that 40 qualifying patrons are getting $1200 each.

---The decline in BC Saturday pick-six handle, from $4.7 million in 2006 to $3.2 million last year and a below-the-guarantee $2.88 million this year could be attributed to the economy, though I think the inclusion of the BC Juvenile Turf might have had something to do with it as well. I just took the two Euros and who I thought was the best American and hoped for the best, but I can understand others deciding to skip the bet entirely with a new and largely formless event in the sequence. Obviously the payoff would have been a lot less with Zenyatta at $3.00 rather than Donativum at $13.60 in the mix, but I think the handle would have been at least what it was in the slop last year had the lineup of races been the same.

My dream schedule:

Specialist Friday: Marathon, Turf Sprint Juvenile Fillies Turf, Juvenile Turf, Dirt Mile, Mile.

Championship Saturday: Juvenile Fillies, Juvenile, F&M Sprint, Sprint, F&M Turf, Turf, Distaff, Classic.

Hammer More than 1 year ago
Hawthorne used to have a Gray Ghost/Halloween Handicap race that featured only Gray/Roan horses. I always was liked Gray/Roans. I was trying to think who was my favorite gray of all time.
Larry Thiel More than 1 year ago
Steve, You've got to share some of the blame for the decline in pick six handle. You've certainly convinced me that since I can't afford to throw more than $100 at it, that I shouldn't be playing it.
Allen Klayman More than 1 year ago
I want to know how Santa Anita has the audacity to claim the attendance figures they stated for at least Saturday and probably Fridays. The seating capacity of the track is 26000 which was not even close to being filled on either day, there was a very minimal amount of people in the infield, the arial shots showed empty parking spaces in both the infield lot and the main lot. There was almost no one in the backyard and apron of the track and yet they claimed 51331 on Saturday and 31257 on Friday. I might believe the Friday number, but there is no way there were 20,000 more people there on Saturday. If we are to believe the numbers, the per capita handle on Saturday with 11 live races and virtually no simulcasting was $230.52 and $219.22 on Friday. Yet the two days before the Breeders Cup with 8 live races and competition from simulcast dollars with $256.78 on Wednesday and $279.85 on Thursday. This number pales in comparison to the last two Breeders Cup Saturdays. Last year at Monmouth in horrible conditions they averaged $304.60 and at Churchill the year before it was $243.04 with one less race.
Sean More than 1 year ago
Steve, I could not agree more with your splitting of races on Friday & Saturday. There was all this talk of Zenyatta gets publicity from racing on a day to herself...but how many non-racing fans actually watched the race? I at least heard some casual or non-racing fans mention Curlin at some point over the weekend or Monday in the office. I heard ZERO comments about Zenyatta, except from a coworker who said it was stupid since she was stuck at work and couldn't make it to Mohegan Sun in time that afternoon to gamble. And I think the pro-ride was a huge factor in the decline. Why plunk down huge amounts of money on the unknown? Like Curlin...he would win that race on dirt...why put any money on the best dirt horse in the world when he's running on plastic?
Bernard Downes More than 1 year ago
Harry Lime - you are correct in saying that my knowledge of the economics of US racing is not great. However, I suspect that like British racing, yours is financed by betting revenues. Therefore I accept that racing can't do without betting. That was not the main point of my badly worded previous post. What I meant to suggest was that for just one weekend a year it should be possible to go racing, not to get rich by betting your multiple Pick 4s, Pick 6s and Daily Doubles, but instead just to watch some great horses racing hard for big purses, and perhaps betting a couple of bucks on your top choices. Regards - Bernard
Steve Breen More than 1 year ago
Why such a good showing by the euros: 1. They consistently come over and buy our best stock. 2. A surface that plays more like grass than the hard pan most of our best horses are used to. 3. No roids. Some of our beefcake ran like a former 50 homer guy who's off the juice and all of sudden can't hit 20.
kelso13 More than 1 year ago
To Prozackjack, I agree that the "easy" part is handicapping the race.The difficult part is constructing the bet.Most of my mistakes occur when trying to put together the bet.I can isolate the contenders in most races fairly easily,deciding how to bet is where I often fail.You can have , in some cases,as much as 2 whole days to study the P.P.s,but you have , maybe about 10 minutes,after seeing the odds , to decide how to bet.With so many possible types of bets this can be a problem.I like the idea that the modern player has so many choices, but at the same time it is in this area that we can make the most mistakes.
C More than 1 year ago
There is no question that the 3-week old ProRide surface was a major factor for the decline in handle. Maybe not the only factor, but a major one. To me, the mud from last year at least partially balances the current economic woes. The ones who bet Monmouth because they didn't want to waste their handicapping efforts at least scaled their bets back. Santa Anita's ProRide is the only such surface in the world to my knowledge. Prior to the BC, it had been in use about 1 month. Sean is absolutely right: many big players are/were simply not going to throw down major money on such an unknown. I know at least 2 big bettors (who send in over $100K/year) who stayed home, and I bet there are many more like them. PS: What do people mean when they say it "played fair", was "formful", or that the "best horse generally won"? Who makes that determination? It's all a giant unknown. Let's see what the owners and trainers say next year. I don't think there will be many contenders from the East, as many will follow Zito's lead.
gofor broke More than 1 year ago
Bruce Brown deserves some props for the job he's done with Flibberjibit. A 4 year old claimed out of a $20,000 claimer for non winners of 2 races lifetime at Saratoga in August, where she ran 5th. And she's now won 5 straight races and well over $100,000.
Dan Baedeker More than 1 year ago
Steve - Congrats on a two days of superior BC handicapping - you did a fine job of sorting out the major domestic and imported contenders. Even with a lifetime involvement in and continued fascination with horseracing, I found the two-day marathon a bit too much, too long. Could not keep up with my 94-yr-old father Jack, who collected 3 large bets on the BC days, and then continued to win on Sunday! Someone asked about the BC Beyers, which were recently posted by your colleague Dan Ilman. Here they are in descending order: Turf: Conduit 116 Eagle Mountain ? Sprint: Midnight Lute 112 Classic: Raven's Pass 110 Henry The Navigator ? Tiago ? Curlin 108 Mile Turf: Goldikova 107 F-M Turf: Forever Together 105 F-M Sprint: Ventura 105 Ladies Classic: Zenyatta 103 These numbers indicate the great quality of the European 3-yr-olds, and make undefeated Arc winner Zarkava the reigning monarch of world racing in 2008 (and now retired by The Aga Khan}. Zenyatta did not need to run anywhere near her best Beyer (108) to dominate her worthy opponents. She is a thrill to watch. Curlin was far off his best race. Still, for his accomplishments for the year, and his owner's willingness to run him anywhere for the sake of the sport, he should indeed be honored as America's Horse Of The Year.