05/24/2009 2:30PM

Personal Ensign & Zenyatta


Now that Zenyatta is undefeated in 10 career starts, I don't think it's sacrilegious to start thinking of her in comparison to the greatest undefeated filly or mare of the 20th Century:

It's hard to compare perfection to perfection, but it's sort of fun. Obviously, Personal Ensign's accomplishments remain a bit more impressive overall -- 13 vs. 10, and the victory over males in the 1988 Whitney -- but Zenyatta's not done yet and might make four more starts this year. A start in New York would broaden her resume and give her victories in three time zones, whereas Personal Ensign never raced west of Louisville, and maybe just maybe a race like the Whitney could kill two birds with one stone, giving her a start against males.

I didn't list a category of "Triple Crown race-winning fillies beaten" but that's another place she could draw even, if she faces and beats Rachel Alexandra. Personal Ensign beat Winning Colors , the 1988 Derby winner, in both the Maskette and the Breeders' Cup Distaff.

Interesting scenario: Let's say Zenyatta wins her next three starts and heads into October with a 13-for-13 career record. Do you go for victory # 14 winning the Distaff a second time, or try her against males in the Classic?

--Finally got a decent little ($65k) one-day carryover at Belmont today but I played tiny, making a lame little All-Star-Announcer type of play: A $144 caveman ticket, just in case.

My problem was that in the first two legs, there are standout favorites in whom I have little confidence but also no obvious alternatives. So I singled Averymerrymoment in the 5th and Collegiate in the 6th and went 3x2x4x3 the rest of the way:


If I get through the first two legs, I can then play against my pick-6 tricket in the pick-4, skipping the AAAA ticket and only playing the sub and backup tickets as insanity-insurance.

Averymerrymoment just got the job done, barely, at 6-5. On to Collegiate, 9-5 at the moment and heading south.

For personal parimutuel purposes, I'm glad the featured G2 Vagrancy wasn't part of the late pick-x sequences, because I wouldn't have used Carolyn's Cat ($13.00), a 3 1/4-length winner over Porte Bonheur, as favorites Game Face (3-2) and Any Limit (6-5) ran fourth and fifth in that order.

Aesthetically, though, I think NYRA is overdoing it by running a graded stakes race at 2:30 just to keep it out of the pick-6. At least when California tracks run featured races early on the card, you can argue it's giving an important race more exposure to a national audience. In New York, though, it's burying the best race of the day for venal and perhaps unnecessary reasons.

There's a misconception that every single leg of a multi-race sequence must have a full and contentious field to be appealing to bettors. The opposite may well be true: Players with modest bankrolls prefer a sequence with what they perceive as a free bingo square, turning a pick-4 into a pick-3. Nor do whales  go fishing elsewhere because of one heavy favorite.

Look at yesterday's pick-4's at Belmont and Hollywood: The late pick-4 at Belmont attracted $490,032, and paid $3207 for $2, despite the presence of and victory by Criticism at 4-5 in the Sheepshead Bay. At Hollywood, they bet $497,350 into the sequence and it paid $530 for $2 despite Zenyatta winning at 1-to-5.

Besides, there's a difference between a tiny field with an odds-on favorite, and a contentious five-horse field like today's Vagrancy, which was a perfectly good pick-4 or pick-6 race.

Collegiate just blew a five-length lead at the top of the stretch and ran second to Beam of Love. Oh well. On to the late pick-4, where at least I won't get blown out by Carolyn's Cat.