04/24/2008 10:28PM

Mandatory Sayonara


If you weren't already planning to say goodbye to Keeneland by jumping into the closing-day pools, perhaps a $375,412 pick-six carryover -- into a likely million-dollar pool that has to be paid out even if nobody picks six -- might tempt you?

I'm planning to get involved, to the tune of exactly $2 less than my current modest three-digit profit for the meeting. I want to remain a gruntled horseplayer and show at least a $2 profit for Keeneland Spring 2008. (That cause was helped when I was credited this week with $336 in refunds on my $672 April 16 play. It appears Keeneland took the high and generous road amid the confusion of whether a gate scratch counted as a refund or a switch to the winning post-time favorite, and paid out on both.)

The Friday pick-six races are a strong and crowded lineup, with two 3-year-old maiden races, three allowance races and a Grade 2 stakes:

Race 5: 3F, MdSpWt, 7f-poly (field of 12)
Race 6: 4+, N2x, 1 1/16m-turf (12)
Race 7: 3M, MdSpWt, 7f-poly (12)
Race 8: 3F, N1x, about 7f-poly (8)
Race 9: 4+, G2 Elkhorn, 1 1/2m-turf(13)
Race 10: 4+, N1x, 1m-turf(13)

There are some strategic considerations when playing a closing-day carryover because of the mandatory payout. Since the top payout will be the same whether it's 5-of-6 or 6-of-6, it may make sense to single in a race where you think that if your choice doesn't win, anyone could. If an impossible horse wins, it's a miss for almost everyone, 5-of-6 may be good for top honors, and you've spent your money going deeper elsewhere.

The first leg goes off at 3:10 p.m., and I'll keep you updated here race by race.

---There are two excellent articles on pace and the Kentucky Derby by Randy Moss that you probably haven't seen unless you've clicked through to the Derby section of this site. The first one is a look back at how pace influenced the last 10 Derbies, and the second is a preview of possible pace scenarios in this year's race.

Also worth a click is the relatively new blog Colin's Ghost, which describes itself as "bring[ing] to light racing's past through primary sources and contemporary news accounts." Early entries include accounts of Opening Day at Belmont Park in 1905 and Dr. Fager's 1967 world-record mile.

Kevin More than 1 year ago
HI Steve: Thanks so much for the mention of Colins Ghost in Crist Blog yesterday. That really meant a lot to me. Your blog inspired my first positive feedback. I am looking forward to compiling future posts. I also have a thanks here: http://www.colinsghost.org/2008/04/thank-you-steve-crist.html
JTW More than 1 year ago
I guess I look at the Derby entries a little differently than many. I see a race with 20 which is 6 more than the common max of 14 or 8 more than 12. For me, these "additional" horses cover any perceived inequities in graded earnings or the need for also eligibles. If one or two scratch, we will have a large field (some would say too large). By the time you get to the first horse out of the Derby you are a high 20 something or 30 something in earnings considering the drop outs which is waaaay down the list. I'm not saying one of these horses couldn't win the Derby, but good grief, if you want in then do a little more. I also like the fact that the final 20 is set Wednesday rather than Thursday or Friday which gives me time to handicap both the Derby and the Oaks before Friday morning. I really don’t want to juggle another 2-4 horses that may get in considering that handicapping this once a year large field is challenging enough. 20 is plenty.
EJS More than 1 year ago
This thread, with its references to the history of Belmont Park is as good a time as any to recommend The Honest Rainmakers, by AJ Liebling, to those who enjoy a good yarn about hustlers and touts and track operators circa 1930. AJ Liebling, for my taste, is one of the great American writers, period, but I'll accept his humble assessment of his own abilities as the final judgement in that regard, "I can write better than anybody who can write faster, and I can write faster than anybody who can write better.” Now, the Honest Rainmakers is not a book devoted completely to racetracks. Its narrative pretty much tracks the life of one Col John R. Stingo who in his youth sold insurance policies to California farmers guaranteeing that rain would fall during the growing season. And that leads him to selling a rain prevention policy to Belmont Park sometime in the 30's. That's all I'll tell you about the book, but I should note that Col John R. Stingo's real name was James A MacDonald and he was a racing columnist for the NY Enquirer back in the day.
Blue Horseshoe More than 1 year ago
Steve, Can you please help me out in understanding the CURRENT methodology around Beyer Speed Figures?? Using data from Simulcast Daily, on April 17 at Aqueduct, R4 –$35K N3L going one mile on turf was won in a time of 1:38.28 with the winner receiving a BSF of 75. Same day, R-9 NYB MSW-f also going one mile on turf was won in a time of 1:38.66 with the winner receiving a BSF of 61. Since when is a .38 second final time difference at one mile (2 lengths) a BSF difference of 14 points over a turf course that couldn’t possibly have changed in speed between these races? The final time differences between these groups of horses makes sense when pace is considered but are BSFs now making pace adjustments?? I always thought Beyer was concerned about FINAL TIME! Naturally variant adjustments could be made within a race card if there was a reasonable belief (supported by analysis of prior form and race outcome) that the speed of the track (dirt) had been affected (as we know a maintenance crew can do if they want, particularly an issue with changing weather and/or maintenance). What was done at Aqueduct looks the part of a pace adjustment. I have a few problems with this: 1.) How do I know when they are adjusting/projecting or whatever you want to call it? If I didn’t know better, I might have looked at the winner of R4 next time out and appraised his performance above what it was by thinking he got a 75 BSF in spite of the slow pace. At least the Ragozin figures have notations for these figure manipulations. 2.) What about the horses in R4 that actually are slow and finished closer to the winner than they otherwise would have if not for the slow pace and slow final time? Do they enjoy figure inflation?? All I’m looking for is consistent and simple speed figures that ONLY quantify final time adjusted for the relative speed of the track. This is what I thought Beyers were and the reason that I’ve preferred them to Ragozin and others. When did this change? Did I miss a press release? And why not put an asterisk by figures adjusted for anything other than a responsible appraisal of the relative track speed? Steve, I know that you don’t and can’t possibly answer every question posed to you but isn’t this a very important question for handicappers that rely on Beyer Speed Figures?? I’m rattled right now as I’m experiencing cognitive dissonance….
John More than 1 year ago
I thought so Steve thanks
steven_crist More than 1 year ago
john, There are no also-eligibles in the Derby. There should be. If two horses scratch, it goes with a field of 18.
John More than 1 year ago
Question////When they draw entries for the Derby and two horses scratch do 21&22 draw in?
jim More than 1 year ago
Steve, since im home today and underbudgeted..i am going to try out some p-3's off some of the picks here. playing ny and pimlico as well.
kelso13 More than 1 year ago
the Collins Ghost article on Belmont Parks opening day in 1905 was excellent.Looking forward to more articles from days gone by.I am now completely ready for Belmont Park opening day this Wednesday.Unfortunately the crowd wont be any where near where it was in 1905 and that is a shame.However , Belmont is still the most beautiful racetrack in the country and among the most beautiful in all the world.New Yorkers are so fortunate to have this gem right in our backyard.
Brooklyn Backstretch More than 1 year ago
Thanks for the link to Colin's Ghost; I found it recently when I got some traffic from it. One of my driving interests is recording the history of racing in New York using the very helpful NYRA webpage and the pretty substantial amount of information published when the races were run--in the days when newspapers extensively covered racing. I found great stories about Busher, about Comely, and about the Toboggan. Where, I wonder, will all that great information about racing come when, in fifty years, historians find that coverage has disappeared from the papers?