10/04/2007 12:53PM

Pace, Rice, Dimes, Teddy


We'll get to the weekend's busy and crowded final round of Breeders' Cup races over the next couple of days, but first there's some some catching up to do on your recent questions:

sun_g says: What speed do you think will be forcing the issue on to Hard Spun at Monmouth? If pace pressure were to cook HS don't you think after running 6 panels at 1:08 and change (faster than Fab. Strike did Sunday) that he would have folded in the Kings Bishop in the final furlong and lost?

Hard Spun is a nifty racehorse I have no desire to knock, but I just can't see him getting away with a 48.18 opening half in a full Classic field the way he did in a four-horse race at Turfway. Here are the opening half-miles (and who set them) from previous Breeders' Cup Classics. The four pacesetters who held on to win are listed in boldface:

1984: 45.70 Wild Again
1985: 46.90 Track Barron
1986: 46.10 Herat
1987: 46.50 Judge Angelucci
1988: 47.90 Waquoit
1989: 46.30 Slew City Slew
1990: 45.90 Beau Genius
1991: 48.50 Black Tie Affair
1992: 45.90 Thunder Rumble
1993: 46.90 Bertrando
1994: 46.70 Bertrando
1995: 48.30 Star Standard
1996: 46.50 Atticus
1997: 46.30 Honor Glide
1998: 47.70 Coronado's Quest
1999: 45.76 Old Trieste
2000: 47.55 Tiznow
2001: 47.04 Albert the Great
2002: 46.62 E Dubai
2003: 46.35 Medaglia d'Oro
2004: 47.00 Ghostzapper
2005: 47.68 Sun King
2006: 46.60 Brother Derek

hammer says: Love that photo of the Four Horsemen. Can you name them?

Not without looking it up, but I did. Left to right, the four Notre Dame football players on horseback are Don Miller, Elmer Layden, Jim Crowley and Harry Stuhldreher.

The posed picture was taken several days after the Oct. 19, 1924 Grantland Rice column in the New York Herald-Tribune about the Notre Dame-Army game, which began, "Outlined against a blue, gray October sky the Four Horsemen rode again. In dramatic lore they are known as famine, pestilence, destruction and death. These are only aliases. Their real names are: Stuhldreher, Miller, Crowley and Layden."

It's widely considered the most famous "lead" in sportswriting history, though I'm personally more partial to Joe Hirsch's "Once upon a time there was a horse named Kelso. But only once."

steel says: I find myself in a situation sometimes where there is a big field that is offering a lot of value, and there is one horse at big odds that I feel will hit the board, maybe even win. For example, in last year's breeders cup Sprint I loved Friendly Island [at 58-1].... I ended up placing a pretty good win place wager, and keyed him in a $1.00 exacta with the field first and second. Now I am not complaining because I came out extremely well that race, [but] felt I could have been smarter in wagering the tri or even the super since I had a key horse that I thought would hit the board.

Your question goes to the heart of decision-making on BC Day: It's not only which horses you like but which pools you choose to get involved in. Unless you have a monstrous bankroll, you really can't play a Friendly Island to win and place, wheel him in exactas, key him in tris and supers and use him in pick-threes, pick-fours and pick-sixes.

Between a $50.00 place price and a $955.40 exacta, I think you did pretty well. The tri with a 29-1 shot third was no bargain at $10,611.80, though adding 4-1 Bordonaro in fourth blew the super out by another factor of 10 to $113k for $2.

Having dime supers on the BC this year for the first time will make things more interesting, and a little superfecta action a lot more affordable. Let's say you had wanted to key Friendly Island first and second with seven other horses in a dime super. Each ticket (1x7x6x5 and 7x1x6x5) would cost only $21 for a dime.

mark_s says: I wanted to ask if you have ever been involved in racing as an owner. I don't recall you ever mentioning anything about this. I have a Twin Spires credit card with a photo (ostensibly) of the Derby. Sometimes a cashier will ask me if I own racehorses. The first time this happened, my answer (which surprised and disappointed me) was "No. I'm just a fan." Apparently, the world feels that being an owner is a prestigious and good thing, while being "just a fan" isn't. I was annoyed that I somehow fell prey to this mentality in my response. Regardless, if you have a chance to comment about your experiences and/or designs on ownership, I'd like to hear from you.


I've never had designs on being a racehorse owner, partly because of the conflict-of-interest possibilities with being a journalist and partly because I preferred the "time-share" ownership available for the duration of a race by being a bettor. Having said that, the Cristblog household does now include a Thoroughbred (not literally -- he lives on a farm farther out on Long Island) named Three Steps Ahead (pictured above), a 6-year-old Kayrawan gelding who some horseplayers may remember for his six career victories at River Downs, Churchill and Keeneland from 2004-2006. Mrs. Blog took a shine to him during a chance meeting at a Kentucky farm in 2004, and we somewhat nervously followed his career as he changed hands repeatedly over the next two years, moving from Derek Galvin to Kevin Aubrey to Tom Amoss to Barbara McBride to Ron Shenofsky. Finally, we had a friend claim him at Hawthorne last December so we could retire him, and Mrs. Blog is now trying to turn him into a riding horse.

I have a secret fantasy that if that doesn't work out we could put Teddy, as he is now known, back in training and point for the '08 Display Coyote Lakes and Gallant Fox Handicaps at The Big A, but I don't think his new trainer is gong to allow him back on a racetrack at this point.

John Mitchell More than 1 year ago
I have always enjoyed your columns and really enjoy this blog. I respect your handicapping and thought that your book about wagering was very logical. Having said that, are you a lifetime wagering winner? I will disclose to pretty much anyone who asks that I am not. A few winning years based on some big hits, but overall no dice. I ask the qustion because the Saratoga season looked rough for you and I have had more than my share of bad days since incorporating some of your betting strategies in my wagering. I freely admit that both bad application and sloppy handicapping may be the problem, so I take full responsibiliy for my own mishaps. It is also very obvious that far fewer folks care about my results than yours. Second question: Do you know many lifetime winners?
Bob More than 1 year ago
Biancone suspension. Too bad the ban wasn't for 5 years or life. No room for his likes. Now we will have to see if this is a New York type ban where he is in constant cell phone contact with the barn, etc.. The real proof will be if his owners pull their horses and go elsewhere. Maybe I'm a bit skeptical, but something tells me most of the owners will stay because they like to win and wink/ wink "We don't know what happens in the Barn."
E/L More than 1 year ago
Market Movers courtesy of www.eurohorse.co.uk Prix de L'Arc de Triomphe - Sunday October 7, 2007 AUTHORIZED continues to shorten and is now being found at "even money" at some firms. SOLDIER of FORTUNE has been on the drift since early Thursday and can be found as high as 4/1. ZAMPESI SUN remains steady at 9/2, while the markets saw DYLAN THOMAS drift up as high as 8/1 in places as the rains fell, has now shortened again to 6/1 as the rain has stopped and the ground is drying steadily. Current generally available industry odds in Ireland and the U.K. (Friday): Authorized 5/4, Soldier Of Fortune 7/2, Zampezi Sun 9/2, Dylan Thomas 6/1, Mandesha 12/1, Saddex 20/1, Sagara 25/1, Getaway 33/1 Breeders' Cup Classic 2007: (Top Ten Runners) Lawyer Ron 5/1 (from 3/1, then 4/1), Curlin 5/1 (from 7/1, then 4/1), Any Given Saturday 5/1 (from 9/2), Street Sense 5/1, Hard Spun 10/1 (from 12/1), George Washington 16/1, Asiatic Boy 16/1, Tiago 16/1, Student Council 20/1, Awesome Gem 20/1 more at www.eurohorse.co.uk
b christensen More than 1 year ago
Whatever happened to Paul Cornman??? I enjoyed his insight on the Harvey Pack show. Even Andy Beyer seemed to hold him in high esteem...
Sun G More than 1 year ago
Teddy is a great looking gelding, and while it is certainly possible to make an ex-racer a riding horse, I am with you 100 percent on putting Teddy back on the training trail one last time and pointing him at a couple of stakes at the Big A... After all, if Roger Clemens can still hurl a fast ball at age 45, I do not see why Teddy cannot train back to form, as fit as he looks. Of course, if Mrs. Blog isn't up to the job of training him, well...forget about it. You probably would have as much luck getting him on the track as you would your two ex-greyhound racers turned lapdogs! In any event, thanks for responding to my query about HS...you may be right about the pace, and whoever goes with him may be toast late (good point Yuwipi), but the race is already setting up to be a fascinating one one many angles...now, to find the right angle to make some money. With the top 2-3 older horses and the top 4-5 3 year olds assured to spread the public's money by post-time, even the odds on favorite at post may still be a bargain... As a horseplayer or handicapper, it does not get much more competitive and lucrative than this.
steven_crist More than 1 year ago
Van: You may be thinking of Paul Cornman, a principal owner of Win, who did some work for The Racing Times and later appeared as a commentator on the NYRA simulcast show.
Van Cushny More than 1 year ago
For some reason I thought you owned a small piece of Win, the NY-bred gelding that won the Man O' War and was trained by Sally Bailie. Maybe it was another journalist.....
Michael Thomas More than 1 year ago
I'm pretty sure that was Jorge Chavez, sometime between 1988 and 1992 in the Display. And good luck to Mrs. Blog on the conversion process. He's a beautiful gelding and probably wants to be ridden.
cjsluckyboy More than 1 year ago
Biancone gets a year ban for cobra venom, and then his horses run 7th, 5th, second last and last at Keeneland. Hmmmm..... The one that ran last was Irish Smoke, the prohibitive favorite in the Alcibiades, and she didn't run a lick. After viewing the race, she did not appear to be snake-bitten. The one that ran 5th as the favorite in the 7th at Keeneland was named, get this, Quasicobra. Looks like, for this race, he got the Quasivenom. Seriously, as a fan and a bettor, a heartfelt and a wallet-felt thank you to Kentucky. They may actually be serious about catching and punishing the cheaters. Wow.
Van Cushny More than 1 year ago
I spoke with former trainer Ross Pearce who confirmed it was John Velasquez who misjudged the finish of the Display Handicap while riding a horse he trained for Buckland Farm. The horse was Southern Sultan and the date was December 31, 1985. Gasper Mouchera had a rabbit in the race; when the rabbit started to run out of gas at the 3/8th pole the jock went to the whip to keep him going a bit longer. When Velasquez saw that he forgot there was another turn to go and put Southern Sultan into a drive. Velasquez (who had just set the record for most stakes victories by a jock in a single year) put Southern Sultan back in the race after he realized his mistake, but the damage had been done as Southern Sultan finished 6th beaten 40 lengths. Velasquez was later fined $1,000 for his gaff. A NY Times article (penned by Mr. Crist?) about the incident can be found at http://query.nytimes.com/gst/fullpage.html?res=9A0DEFDA1430F937A35752C0A960948260