09/10/2008 4:03PM

Out at First


Why couldn't I have woken up with a toothache and required emergency dental work instead of playing the carryover and the early pick-4 at Belmont today? Even without novocaine, it would have been less painful.

4:00 pm: I didn't even last the 1:10.67 it took Valid Threat ($13.60) to win the first leg of the pick-6, a race in which I ran second(by a head) and third with probably-best Annies Wheel at 10-1 and Five Cases at 33-1 among my five that did not include the winner. This proved extremely unfortunate for pick-4 purposes, since I would have had a $3 pick-4 through Annies Wheel to Kettle Two($19.80), the winner of the next, and it would have paid better than the $1649 it did.

It made no difference in the pick-6, because I would have been singled to Tobruk, the favorite in the 5th, who got off in a tangle behind the field. While a refund would have made no difference for pick-6 purposes, those who bet on him straight up probably deserved the courtesy of a stewards' inquiry into the start: the one full-screen head-on I saw, and repeated viewings of the tiny-screen head-on at racereplays.com, make it look like a starter at least had a hand on the horse as the gate opened. I'm in no position to say whether Tobruk should have been declared a non-starter, but it was well worth an official look.

The Valid Threat race intrigued me because the four favorites were lifetime veterans of this statebred maiden-claiming condition, a combined 0-for-45, making it seem a ripe spot for strangers such as Annies Wheel (two races against much better nine months ago/good works for return) and Five Cases (third off layoff/improving/nearly as fast at 2 as the faves are at 3,4 and 5.) Annies Wheel gave it a gallant try, winning an early duel with Mr. Destiny and then fighting back bravely after being collared by Valid Threat, but came up just short at the rail on the rerally. Arggggh.

As for Valid Threat, I thought he was the slowest of the four career maidens, and have no idea why he was 5-1 instead of 12-1. But congratulations to trainer Tim Wickline, 0-for-11 the last five years, and jockey Cruz Berrios, 3-for-144 in 2008.

Favored Dr. Decter ($5.60) just won the third leg to complete a $497.50 pick-three. Feels like we're about 50-50 for a double carry into Thursday.

5:00 pm: Get to work. We're now 100-0 for the first NYRA double-carry since July after Catch Up Chris ($25.20) wired the field in the 8th. Catch Up Chris looks like he was a lot better than 11-1 in the multirace bets, as he capped a $758 pick-three where the parlay was just $285, and the pick-4 will-pays are similarly generous. I used a little Catch Up Chris (as a B) to get alive in the pick-4 to 6 of the 9 in the finale, and the way today's been going I think I'll hedge it out and bet the other three to win.

Catch Up Chris had made all six of his previous starts on grass or poly, running the same mid-70's Beyers as the rest of this N2L field has been on dirt, and while it's sometimes dicey to equate those figures, the fact that he'd been showing speed and tiring in those generally closer-friendly races raised the possibility he could wire the field. He did, lasting by a whisker over 9-1 Estimator in a closer photo than the one I lost in the 4th.

5:30 pm: Phew. War Echo ($18.40) ran like she was expected to when she was hammered to 3-1 against stakes-caliber Miss Ocean City in her Saratoga debut, leading all the way to complete a $5374 pick-4. There were three main-track-onlies in this off-the-turf field and two of them ran 1-2 for a $379 exacta as 34-1 Stone Legacy ran second. The third MTO, State Treasure, faded badly at 6-5.

The carryover's $202,044. Here's the lineup, which begins and ends with a statebred turf sprint:

Race 4: 2FNY MdSpWt -- 6f-IT -- Field of 10 (4 firsters)
Race 5: 3+FNY AlwN1x -- 8.5f-WT -- Field of 10+6 AE's
Race 6: 3+ MdSpWt -- 8.0f -- Field of 10
Race 7: 3+ Clm35000N2L -- 8.5f-WT -- Field of 10+1 MTO
Race 8: 3+FNY AlwN2x/OC25k -- 6f -- Field of 10
Race 9: 3+NY MdSpWt -- 6f-IT -- field of 11+1 MTO

The forecast is clear and sunny for the next 24 hours, so I'm assuming all four grass races are staying put. Rain or shine, I'll be getting involved.

kelso13 More than 1 year ago
kellsboro jack, "The Killing" was a great movie ,as most of Kubricks earlier films were(Paths Of Glory and Spartacus ,just to name a couple).One of the all time great endings to a film.Johnny Clay did his home work but he should have bought a better suit case.Any of you bloggers who have not seen it ,go out and get it.
Kellsboro Jack More than 1 year ago
Slightly off topic but Seteve did you see the DRF story "Teen charged in Ellis robbery" and not think of the movie "The Killing" by Stanley Kubrick? Ah if only that kid had done his homework like Johnny Clay.
RichP More than 1 year ago
NYRA got a 30 year extension because there wasn't going to be any racing otherwise. If you go look at the history of the of the land under the race tracks you'd come to the conclusion the the politicos's did, that NYRA owned the land, and if they didn't give them the franchise racing would stop while the court decided. But I don't think that Steve Wynn, Magna Etertainment (Picture Saratoga looking like Gulfstream) , Churchill Downs ( their drug problems dwarf what's happening in NY), or the horse owners group was a better choice (talk to some trainers at charlestown). Even worse would be if a governmant appointed committee was in charge ( think what a fiasco NY OTB is) So we're stuck with NYRA, and hopefully when the slot money comes in we'll start seeing some improvements in the racing and tracks, and maybe the criticisms from groups like on this blog will help. As for the complaining about the stewards and nefarious motives behind their decisions. I had the pleasure of spending a day at Belmont with one of the stewards that was involved in one of the worse blunders in New York Racing. I don't know how many of you remember when they took the wrong horse down at Sarartoga a couple of decades ago. I took a tour of the backstrech with one the the stewards involved, and was amazed at what high regard he was held in by owners and trainers. He'd had a long career before the unfortunate incident. Banished to a minir track afterward. His explanation was that it simply was a mistake. All three of them misidentified the horse causing the foul and after they made it official it could not be changed by law. The silks of the two horses were similar but I remeber the incident well being on the wrong side of the dq for a big chunk of change, and I didn't see how it could of happened watching the replay. Admittedly at the time I thought fix. But I believe his explanation, since I don't see how he could have been held in such high regard afterward if it wasn't just that a mistake. So yes the stewards make some huge mistakes but I tend to give them the benefit of the doubt about motives now. I still yell and scream though, I was on the wrong side of that DQ at Saratoga where Chavez got taken down.
Van Cushny More than 1 year ago
I used valid Threat mainly because he had a bullet work on Tuesday, one of my favorite angles. That plus the fact that he had the highest Beyer at the distance and he finished a good second in his last start made him a logical choice for me, but even a blind squirrel finds a nut once in a while. Tobrul getting held in the gate was a tough way to go down, but not as painful as when I got nosed out of a 4-diget P3 (Races 7-9) by Catch Up Chris in the 8th.
Stefan More than 1 year ago
Steve, While I can certainly understand your bias against the longtime losers (I only added Valid Threat to my pick 4 play after seeing that Fort McCoy was scratched,) I'm very surprised that you'd put any money on a horse that hadn't yet run a Beyer fig over 35 when the other reasonable contenders had all run 50 or better at least twice. Also, where was Kettle Two in your pick 6 array? I thought 8:1 on her was awfully generous. She was one of three As (along w/ Triple Bogey Blues and Tobruk) in this part of my pick 4 play (my first multi-race signer.)
Joe B. More than 1 year ago
Steve, I could be wrong, but I think Cruz Berrios is the jockey's last name, not full name. I think it's Joseph Cruz Berrios or something similar. Hope you enjoyed your daily nitpick, good luck tomorrow!
cjgrant More than 1 year ago
callmetony Don't know if it was my comment you were referring to but count me on your side in this one.Anytime you have a political subdivision involved in what should be a private enterprise your going to have problems. Locally our OTB is run by the county and you couldn't ask for a more mis-managed operation.I feel for the fans in New York because the only the only thing politics and horseracing have in common is their respective by-product!! cjgrant
mark c More than 1 year ago
Tony..get ready for a whole slew of NYRA apologists to post now. "they are doing a great job! I get rewards! I get a free lunch! " etc etc oh yeah and the obligatory " charlie H is doing a fantastic job!"
callmetony More than 1 year ago
Horse stuck in the gate @ NYRA ??? no your kidding !!! now you know how I felt this summer at the Spa when they didn;t give us our money back on the Contessa horse who got stuck in the gate @ 3-5 or whatever he was . I for one have not spent one dime on NYRA racing since the move back . I just feel a little burned as a fan of the sport because of the quality and the product in general that NYRA is giving us the fans and bettors . Its like one of the bloggers said a few weeks ago . Someone should write an article on "the downfall of NY racing " and ask some strong questions as to the reason why ? we all know they are a bankrupt run company . And this hayward cat comes on TV at the end of the meet saying it wasn't that bad considering all the rain ??? Is he kidding? Some one please tell me why do they get a 30 year pass to keep it up ? It sure smells like politics to me. I just don't understand, somewhere besides our little blog here NYRA should be made aware that there are a lot of unhappy people out here . And the only thing that is going to suffer is the sport itself . it's starting to remind me of what happen to boxing. Were not stupid we are the ones that make this sport go . GET YOUR ACT TOGETHER NYRA. The cards have been a joke . Everyone is saying it , everyone .