07/25/2007 8:56PM

Opening Day Notes


a 75. Even if you split the variant to "help out" those later races, it's impossible to give the Schuylerville better than an 80 -- this in a field where five of the entrants had run figures between 85 and 97 winning maiden races. And how much do you really want to improve the 70 or so a non-split variant would properly give the finale, a chaotic affair that ended with a cavalry charge, a blanket finish and a dead-heat?

Was it a "closers' track" or is that just the way the races unfolded? I tilt toward the latter, given that the fast-paced races were the ones that slowed down, and that some pace-pressers and front-runners were right there at the end, including near-miss runners-up Westwon at 42-1 in the eighth and 11-1 I Promise in the Schuylerville.

--NYRA President Charlie Hayward asked me before the Schuylerville and the 10th-race dead-heat between a 16-1 and a 27-1 whether it looked like there could be a pick-six carryover into Thursday. I told him it was a cinch. Sorry, Charlie. There was one winning ticket for $57,228, and unless the Drexel boys are back in business, it sure looks like one person whose Social Security number must look something like 11-1-12-10-5-12. Not only was the parlay somewhere north of $300,000, but there were only eight 5-of-6 consos, suggesting the winning ticket was a small one, and it's hard to imagine a serious handicapper hitting the thing for less than a five-digit investment. But if was you and you're simply that smart, please accept my heartfelt apologies and congratulations.

--Todd Pletcher had a miserable opening day, running 5th, 7th, 3rd, 5th and 6th with his five starters, but the most surprising thing involving his horses was that his Lady Chace was 4-1 and not 40-1 in the Schuylerville. Lady Chace was the weaker half of an entry from which he scratched the stronger New York City Girl, and it was as if the announcement had never been made. In a race where, as mentioned above, five entrants had previously Beyered in the 85 to 97 range, Lady Chace was coming off a 65 winning a five-horse race at Monmouth. Lady Chace finished sixth beaten a predictable 10 lengths, even in a slow renewal.

--A few people complained after the finale that the pick-4 payoff was the same regardless of which of the dead-heat winners you used. They're absolutely right, and this is yet another of the long, long overdue rule changes that the state Racing and Wagering Board needs to address for all multirace wagers. Let's say there's a pick-six where there's one live ticket for $500,000 to a longshot and 10 live tickets for $50,000 each to a heavy favorite. If there's a dead heat, all 11 tickets pay the same $45,000 or so. The pool should instead be split, with the longshot ticket paying $250k and the chalk-eaters getting $25k each.

I haven't even cracked open the Thursday pp's except to glance at the Sanford, and it's almost time for the unmissable Rescue Me which I have to watch live since I haven't figured out how to work the DVR in the house here. I also haven't figured out why the landlords have a new HD tv but a cable box that doesn't get the HD channels. Maybe the picture is still so much better than their old one that they actually think they're getting HD.

I am similarly technologically challenged about responding to all these nice comments that y'all are leaving. So until I figure that one out, along with the tv situation and tomorrow's nine (well, eight excluding the steeplechase) at Ye Olde Spa, please accept my blanket thanks for your kind words. Don't ever change.