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.