05/01/2009 11:09AM

Oaks Day Live


12:09 pm: Zenyatta's out of the Louisville Distaff and the Churchill Downs track is listed as sloppy(on tv) or muddy (in the charts)but doesn't look too bad -- yet. The first three races on the marathon Oaks day card were run pretty formfully on a sealed main track that has some water sitting on top of it, but forecasters are calling for 2 to 4 more inches by Derby post time.

Zenyatta was one of eight scratches in the six stakes races that comprise the Oaks Day pick-6. I've noted the scratches in the pick-6 grid in the previous post and am reconfiguring my tickets. Turns out there's a tiny $12k carryover at Churchill today -- for whatever reason, Equibase did not report either the pick-4 or pick-6 results at Churchill on Thursday, and that info is currently missing from everyone's charts of yesterday's last race.

The agreement reached last night between TVG and Tracknet Media has restored Churchill coverage to TVG today, a boon to those of us who can't get HRTV on our local cable systems. Churchill racing didn't exist on TVG yesterday but overnight the odds and field slates are back, along with "video streaming" of the races on the TVG website, and there's a countdown box in the corner of the tv screen telling me there's just 5 hours and 45 minutes until the Oaks.

I'll update the results box below as the day goes on. Time to start reconfiguring those Pick-6 tickets.

1:02 pm: For whatever it's worth, which probably isn't much, Friesan Fire is the 4-1 favorite in the very very early Derby betting. I Want Revenge, Dunkirk, Pioneerof the Nile are all 8-1 with General Quarters 9-1 among those who felt compelled the bet the Derby 30 hours before post time.

1:18 pm: The expected big thunderstorms haven't hit yet and the CD track appears to be getting much quicker. After three slow routes to open the card, all won by horses running 1st or 2nd early, the 4th, a sprint for maidens, ended with a 1-2 finish by colts who were running 11th and 12th early. Then the 5th, a N1x allowance featuring the return of Munnings, Warrior's Reward swept from last to first to beat Munnings by 2 1/4 lengths in a snappy 1:21.60 for 7f. Warrior's Reward, second to Dunkirk in a Feb. 17 N1x at Gulfstream, was coming off an 8th-place finish in the Tampa Bay Derby, in which he was the co-third choice with the victorious Musket Man. 

1:37 pm: Chamberlain Bridge ran down Smart Enough and then held off Cannonball to win the G3 Aegon Turf Sprint as the sun came out on a tuf course labelled yielding. The winner's time was 57.06, 1.48 seconds off the course record of 55.58 he equalled last fall. 

Here's the final Pick-6 play:

2:15 pm: Oops. Couldn't have used Miss Isella ($19.40) in the Louisville Distaff without hitting the All button. On to the late pick-4.

Miss Isella, who won the G2 Falls City over this track next fall, was beaten 10 lengths by heavy favorite One Caroline in the Sabin at Gulfstream, but came up the rail under Calvin Borel (ever seen that before?) today, muscled her way through, and edged off to score by a length.

3:08 pm: Laragh ($7.40) scampered to the lead, was never pressed, and held off Magical Affair's late rally to win the Edgewood for 3-year-old turf fillies. Laragh, last year's Hollywood Starlet winner, had a huge class edge on the field but it's going to be interesting to see how major a player she'll be going much longer than today's mile. Magical Affair, far back early and very wide turning for home with no pace in front of her, was gaining strongly despite running a bit werratically through the stretch.

3:22 pm: Justwhistledixie was just announced as a late scratch from the Oaks. She was the 5-2 second choice on the morning line and it now seems likely that Rachel Alexandra will go off at 2-5 or less.


4:12 pm: Bullsbay, crushed from 6-1 ML to 3-1 at post time, slipped inside Cool Coal man and prveailed to win the G3 Alysheba on an ever-changing Churchill track. The surface now looks wet-fast at worst but the time of the race -- 1:44.29 for 8.5f -- was 1.54 seconds slower than the Miss Isella/One Caroline Louisville Distaff (1:42.75) in muddier going. The pace was similarly slower -- 1:13.57 vs. 1:11.72.


4:45 pm: Here's the betting so far on the Derby, with the usual caveat that day-before betting is a tiny slice of the pool and probably represents a preponderance of small and casual bets. I'll keep updating this chart and move it into tomorrow's Derby Day Live blog. The column headings are the Morning Line and then the number of hours before Derby post time:

5:01 pm: Orthodox, who was prominently featured in the Animal Planet series "Jockeys" as rider Jon Court's hope for a revived career, was reunited with Court today for the first time since October and just won the G3 Crown Royal American Turf at $93.20. I had only two x's (throwouts) in the race -- the winner and third-place finisher Turfiste. Yeesh.

I'm guessing we'll have a Pick-6 carryover into Derby Day even if Rachel Alexandra wins the Oaks. 

5:05 pm: Over to Bravo's "Ladies First" Oaks coverage for as long as I can stand it. Co-host Nancy O'Dell just advised picking horses by "looking at their tushes."

5:20 pm: The $1 pick-4 probables are $1602 to Rachel Alexandra, $11k to Flying Spur, $14k to Gabby's Golden Gal and $50k and up on the others, including $563,295 on Stone Legacy. The pick-6 will-pay to Rachel Alexandra is $666.80, which must be for a 5-of-6 consolation.

The sun is shining bright and the track's been upgraded throughout the day from sloppy to muddy to good and now fast.

5:35 pm: Still watching Bravo, with few complaints about the telecast. Though billed as a kind of reality-show mishmosh, it's mainly been a traditional network racing telecast, with the familiar NBC talent that will be working the race tomorrow (Neumeier, Mike Battaglia, Tom Hammond, Gary Stevens) doing most of the broadcasting.

6:00 pm: Now THAT was spectacular. 

Rachel Alexandra's official margin of victory in the Kentucky Oaks was 20 1/4 lengths in one of the most dominant performances you'll ever see at a racetrack.

Whoever was alive for that pick-4 to Stone Legacy can spend the rest of his life saying he ran second for $563,295, leaving out the part about the 20 1/4 lengths.

I expect that regardless of what happens tomorrow, everyone will be debating whether she could have won the Derby. Maybe, but maybe she gets jammed up and bounced around in the first turn in a 20-horse field and we never get to see what we saw today. Her connections seem to have no inclination to run her against colts any time soon, if ever.

That $666.80 payoff was indeed for 5 out of 6. The carryover into tomorrow's all-graded-stakes pick-6, ending with the Derby, is $137,981. Get to work, get some sleep, and my Derby Day pick-6 analysis will be here to greet you in the morning.

All this....AND it's my pick-4 night at Emerald Downs too. 

8:40 pm: There are some big differences between the Derby odds from Friday's betting and the implied odds of the Oaks-Derby double will-pays. The double odds are usually closer to the truth than the Friday win-pool odds, given the larger pool ($1.51 million in the DD vs. $463k in the Friday win pool this year) and the casual nature of those customers who place their win bets on Oaks Day. On the other hand, the DD bettors are probably too far in front of the evntual win-pool curve. There are five horses who were so lightly touched in the double betting that their DD willpays translate to odds of over 100-1, and all will almost certainly go off at shorter prices than that.

Also, the favorites are probably coming up a little short in the implied DD odds since there was a 3-to-10 shot in the Oaks considered a virtual cinch. You would think that a lot of people saw the Oaks-Derby DD as a way to take a free bingo square and make one or two cold punches rather than combining Rachel Alexandra with a raft of Derby horses.

In broad terms: The win-pool odds are probably higher than they'll end up on the favorites while the implied double odds are too high on the longshots. Still, there are some big bridges to gap. General Quarters is the most glaring -- 5-1 in the win pool and 26-1 in the doubles. And it's still not clear who's going to be the post-time favorite. The win-pool says Friesan Fire at 9-2, while the doubles say it's 3-1 ML favorite I Want Revenge at 5-2 (actually 2.80-1).