12/13/2007 3:00AM

Out at First


Sorry not to have weighed in on Wednesday's double-carry at Aqueduct, where a $205k pool and two days off attracted $851k in fresh bets, but I got a late start and really wouldn't have been too helpful. I didn't have a good feel for several of the races and made a tiny play that didn't use either of the first two winners. Had I played more heavily, I don't think I would have collected more than a few rotten $135 consos. I might have added Lion's Maddy ($16.00) in the opener, but I was against Ricardo A. ($6.40) off two straight bad races and an outside draw.

The $12,922 payoff was healthy and it looks like about half of the 50 or so winners singled Wishful Tomcat in the finale, since the next shortest will-pay was $28,560. (Only two others were under $100k.) Since Wishful Tomcat led every step of the way and widened his margin to 17 3/4 lengths at the finish, it wasn't exactly a stressful last leg for those who needed him or a tough beat for anyone who went deeper or left him out.

The snow is supposed to start at noon tomorrow, turning to sleet by 4 p.m., so if the jockeys don't cancel, it could be a hurry-up card with accelerated post times. At least we don't have to stay up all night handicapping a $690,000 triple carryover only to see the card scrapped after the early double.

--NYRA finally announced its 2008 stakes schedule Wednesday, 19 days before its as-yet-unrenewed franchise expires. The biggest changes involved shuffling the major summer grass races to create better spacing among them: the Man o'War has been shifted from September to July, replacing the now-cancelled Bowling Green, and the Sword Dancer has been moved from the third to fourth Saturday of the Saratoga meet, where it will be run the same day as the Alabama. The biggest dirt change is that the orphaned Brooklyn Handicap has been lengthened from 9 to 12 furlongs and moved from September to June, making it an early showcase for candidates for the new Breeders' Cup Marathon.

The moves look like smart ones, with one weird side effect: The featured race on the third Saturday of Saratoga will now be the ungraded $100k Yaddo Handicap for statebred turf fillies. A Saratoga Saturday without a Grade 1 seems vaguely sacrilegious. It will be interesting to see if other stakes races, or perhaps an additional folding-chair or t-shirt giveaway, are added to that Aug. 9 program.

robert from queens More than 1 year ago
As I recall about Peat Moss, he was dropped into 35K claiming race; Elliot Birch was the trainer. When Gilbert Puentes got him back to the stable he was injured. They chose to put 5 screws in his injured leg. They put him on the farm for a yr or more. He came back in a 18K claiming race with Chris McCarron and he won easily. A week of so later a 25K claiming race at 1 1/8 mile again with McCarron he won easily. Then showed up in a 35K claiming race; won again. 2or3 wks later an allowance race with Ruben Hernandez closed for 4th and was flying in the stretch. As a bettor I saved my money for the next race Peat Moss was to run. I waited a few wks and he showed up in the 2mile Kelso Handicap w/ Frank Martin entry ring of truth and ring of light as the 1.2 favorite. This time Frank Lovato jr was on Peat Moss. Peat Moss was 25-1; He blew them out of the water; and I made one of the biggest scores of my life at 18 yrs old. So in '81 when he ran against John Henry in the deepest jockey gold cup fields, I bet Peat Moss at odds of 60-1 in a race that he should have won easily. He was 3 lengths ahead of John Henry after the wire. If anyone has information on Peat Moss's pps & breeding backround please email me at rkf0215@yahoo.com
kevroc More than 1 year ago
Utah: If you meant me.. yeah, i was kidding.
patrick b More than 1 year ago
Excellent post by Tom. I would also note NYRA's poor stewardship of such venerable races as the Fall Highweight and Ladies handicaps, races which at one time decided championships but are now shells of their former selves thanks to inadequate funding and/or poor positioning on the calendar. Strangely, the Fall Highweight was usurped several years ago at the Belmont fall meet by the Boojum (aka Forest Hills), a race NYRA no longer bothers to run.
utah1100 More than 1 year ago
Is this guy kidding us or what?
picky p More than 1 year ago
Steve! Moving the Sword Dancer and abandoning that card makes sense b/c this is the one day of the year you really should be in Chicago. Arlington Million card!
John Manley More than 1 year ago
Re dirt marathons and the Breeders' Cup -- those of you who were following the sport back in the early 1980s probably remember a gelding by the name of Peat Moss. A well-bred sort, he never really lived up to expectations for trainer David Whiteley. Trainer Gilbert Puentes claimed him for owner Murray Garren. Eventually, Peat Moss found his way into starter handicaps at marathon distances during the Aqueduct inner track meeting. He dominated this group and ended up carrying weights in excess of 140 pounds while still winning. He improved to the point where Puentes tried him in graded stakes events at 10 furlongs or longer. In 1981, Peat Moss ran a pretty close second to John Henry in the Jockey Club Gold Cup (run at 12 furlongs then) and finished in front of Relaxing, the Phipps mare, which I believe dropped Easy Goer years later. The upshot is that sometimes horses need time and a different game in order for their natural talent to surface. I imagine the intro of the 12-furlong Breeders' Cup race will unveil several more horses in the "Peat Moss" mode in the years to come, many of which, hopefully, will be geldings.
Kevroc More than 1 year ago
kchris... It stinks that you got shutout of a couple nice signers but, your handicapping is spot on, so keep your head up and next time you have bold singles like 7:1 Lion's Maddy.. let a brother know!
ljk More than 1 year ago
A $100,000 NY bred restricted race as a Saturday feature at the Spa? Please. Humorous that the NYRA press release touts "historic pride" when they simply eliminate races like the Bowling Green and last year the Saratoga Cup, a historic race if there ever was one. Inaugurated in 1865 the list of winners of the Saratoga Cup is (was) a who's who.
Tom More than 1 year ago
It's curious how NYRA's own press release mentions how they're "maintaining its sense of pride in the history of racing in the Empire State". Yet in the last three years, they've canceled and removed the Lawrence Realization (run from 1890 to 2005), the Cowdin Stakes (run from 1923 to 2005), the Astarita Stakes (run from 1946 to 2005) and now the Bowling Green Handicap (run from 1958 to 2007). I can understand that the decisions are made based on the fields they attract and on the current racing environment of infrequent starts by top horses and NYRA's usual budget issues. But their stabs at "protecting history" sounds quite disingenuous when some traditions are just tossed aside. Are any of the above cited races Grade I legacies to be preserved? Perhaps not. But isn't there a need for them on some scale? I think certainly they do. But then, I'd rather protect history myself, and that's why I'm only a fan. These races, even if they remained only listed affairs, should have remained on the schedule where feasible; it's tough to find a place on the schedule for the Bowling Green, but certainly the 2yo stakes could fit anywhere and be useful for late-developing horses, and the LR could have stayed a good race for a late-growing 3yo to step into stakes action without drowning against elders. NYRA has made some good decisions with their calendar, but elimination of races has been more random than helpful. Just my $0.02US.
ml/nj More than 1 year ago
Sad to learn about the cancellation of the Bowling Green. It was Buckpasser's only turf try (with smooth shoes anticipating an Arc run) and also the race that ended his winning streak at 15. Stablemate Poker saved the day for those of us who thought Buckpasser could never lose.