01/02/2008 4:46PM



We finally get a bicoastal breather today on Jan. 2, the first day since Christmas that Aqueduct and Santa Anita have both been closed. It's a brief but welcome respite before both reopen Thursday, when it's also Opening Day at Gulfstream Park.

Happy new year, fasten your seatbelts, and let's get caught up:

--Aqueduct: The 2007 season ended Sunday and the mandatory-payout pick-six chalked out as I needed it to, though Shuffling Madness would have made the ticket worth more like $10k than the $2675 that 97 of us got after Naughty New Yorker prevailed. Jean-Luc Samyn could not have ridden the winner more perfectly, while Shuffling Madness seemed to take an unnecessarily overland route, but Naughty New Yorker usually comes out on top when those two hook up and maybe he's just a little bit better.

It took until early Monday afternoon, less than 12 hours from the expiration of its franchise, for NYRA to get the official green light to open on Tuesday, under a short-term deal with the state that runs through Jan. 23. The state legislature reconvenes Jan. 9, leaving the political combatants two weeks to hammer out a deal. For those seeking in a fuller explanation of the stalemate in Albany between Gov. Eliot Spitzer and senate majority leader Joe Bruno, which has paralyzed state government in general as well as the franchise resolution, this long but interesting piece from the Dec. 10 issue of The New Yorker is recommended reading.

So Aqueduct reopened Tuesday, though chalkhounds probably wished that it hadn't. A procession of bombs (Of All Times at $56.50 in the 5th, Tzipi at $49.20 in the 6th and Judge William at $46.80 in the 7th) meant nobody picked six or even five, and there's a $46,068 carryover into Thursday's card. Control System ran her record to 5 for 7 winning the Interborough H., earning a Beyer of 105 for her six furlongs in 1:11.55 on a slow, sealed and muddy track. That's a bigger fig than Maryfield or River's Prayer, the likely 1-2 finishers for the new Eclipse as champion female sprinter of 2007, earned last year. Control System, a 4-year-old by Lion Hearted, is being pointed for the Barbara Fritchie at Laurel next month.

Santa Anita: A near-frenzy of pick-six betting surrounded the last card of 2007 and the first card of 2008. After nailing the first three pick-sixes of the meet, the crowd missed on Sunday, and a $153,466 carry into New Year's Eve drummed up another $782,600, pretty impressive for a one-day carryover with no mandatory payout. Maybe everyone tried to get out for 2007 with one final stab. I contributed all of $192 for a little pre-champagne action, neglecting to use any of the first three winners. The sequence proved too tough for anyone, and a $587,644 carryover into 2008 generated $1,598,097 in additional bets Tuesday, when 27 seers connected for $54,536.80 apiece. Forunately, I had decided life was too short to spend New Year's Eve trying to dope it out, because I doubt that any expenditure of time or bankroll could have gotten me to put all six winners on the same ticket. To me, the toughest winner in the sequence was Crown of Thorns, a Mandella second-time starter who won by 7 lengths in 1:20.65 for seven furlongs, good for a Beyer of 91. He paid "only" $18.60, but I would have had to go five-deep to have him.

Santa Anita may have cost itself a triple-carryover and a $5 million Thursday pool by keeping the co-featured G3 El Conejo out of the pick six, instead running it as the fourth race. The thinking was that Idiot Proof was a cinch and he would make the pick six too easy. Oops. Idiot Proof ran a weary third at 3-5 behind 3-1 In Summation, and the pick six instead kicked off with a winning universal single in La Tormenta, who cruised at 4-5 in a field where no one was else was lower than 8-1.

Florida: Calder closes after today's stakesless card and ran its final graded stakes Tuesday when Cowboy Cal stayed unbeaten in three grass starts, winning the G3 Tropical Park Derby by two lengths over Pletcher stablemate Why Tonto. Cowboy Cal, a Giant's Causeway colt out of a half-sister to Behrens, earend a 93 Beyer, close to his 95 for winning the Laurel Futurity by 6 1/4. He's obviously got a bright future in 3-year-old grass stakes and it won't be a surprise to see him try the dirt again, given the (relative) paucity of 3-year-old classic prospects in the Pletcher arsenal at this point.

The pp's are up for Gulfstream's first three cards. The opening-day feature is the South Beach Stakes for statebred turf fillies, where Quite a Bride looks more like 3-5 than her ML 9-5 taking a sharp drop. The graded stakes action begins Saturday. The G3 Mr. Prospector H. for older sprinters drew a field of eight, with Keyed Entry (3-for-3 at GP including the '06 Hutcheson and '07 Deputy Minister) adding blinkers and making his first start since June in a contentious field that also includes Mach Ride, Noonmark and Grand Champion. The G3 Hutcheson for 3-year-olds at seven furlongs drew a field of 10, half of them turning back from defeats in route races, including Halo Najib and Cool Coal Man, who finished 5th and 7th afdter duelling early as the favorites in the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.

With the local forecast calling for a low of 16 degrees Friday morning in New York, I won't mind getting on a plane a few hours later for opening weekend at Gulfstream.

John O' More than 1 year ago
Joe Bruno is practicing the same extortion tactics Shelly Silver used on the jets .These guys are morally bankrupt crooks.Give him 5 noshow jobs at nyra that he can dish out and he'll be on board. The new and not improved Gulfstream is a joke.Why would anyone go down there to have to sit in a teletheatre to watch the races ? Its a real tough place to get a feel for.
Wayne More than 1 year ago
Did anyone but me notice that there are 8 bug riders scheduled to ride in the field of 10 that makes up the finale of the big P6 carryover at the Big A. Has anyone ever seen anything like this before? Gonna be an ugly race of 10 uninspiring fillies going two turns in frigid temps.
cayman01 More than 1 year ago
to unitas, Welcome to Tampa Bay Downs! The fields are full, and the payouts fuller. A guy took the whole Superfecta pool the other day for a dime. $36k. Nice return. The turf racing is very good here, competitive. Stay away from the $5k "farm pet" races and you should do okay. Pound any horse that comes down from delaware or CD. c, THe HIgh Five is a nice concept, but at Tampa we've had at least eight payouts of over $25k and 20 of at least $5k in the first month of racing in the Super. Yes you get more shots at it, but you only have to invest a dime at a time (see above).
Kevroc More than 1 year ago
To c: I haven't played the Super High Five yet but, watching intently. Do you think it will carry less because of the $1 minimum? Handicapping for 4th and 5th is very strange to me but, I have seen a few strategies on this blog already. I'll stay on the sidelines for now.
Michael More than 1 year ago
You still can't wager on NYRA through TVG. The cheery lass who took my call in response to the question of when this will be resolved told me that they are "hopeful" that they can take wagering on Aqueduct by the end of the day. After witnessing the disgraceful politicians the last few years, I'm no longer hopeful of anything that has to do with New York racing anymore. Thanks for the link to that article Steve.
Brooklyn Steve More than 1 year ago
Hi folks. Just wanted to let you know about my website www.eveningattire.net It's the ultimate source on Evening Attire's career. Any horse who is going to be 10 soon but can still win a Grade 3 deserves his own web site. Enjoy.
C More than 1 year ago
Why is everyone so surprised at the low quality of racing at Gulfstream? It's been going downhill for several years now. Am I the only one who thinks Santa Anita's High5 is quickly becoming the best big-money bet in racing? First 7 days: 1 carryover, 2 ~25K payouts, 3 >7K payouts, 1 payout just under 6K. Like the P6, I wouldn't play it on a daily basis, nor would I play it small. But geez, what's not to like here? Does anyone seriously have an objection to ditching 1 dime super for a daily jackpot?!?!? I don't see many dime supers paying like that. Oh, and the 2 ~25K payouts were without the aid of a carryover. Imagine when this thing rolls its entire pool for a few days. These are P6-like payoffs and you don't have to sweat out 6 races. Finally, racing does something right! Sure beats Churchill's absurd over/under anyway.
Unitas More than 1 year ago
Been anticipating the opening of Gulfstream since Belmont finished for the year, and after taking a look at the "quality" racing they are offering on opening day, I am very disapointed...Opener is a $12.5 Mdn Clmr, with one MSW and a $75K small State bred stakes sprinkled over a card filled with cheap claimers and a weak starter allowance...with the disgraceful situation still brewing with NYRA, the small fields & drainage problems plauging Santa Anita, and the woefully inferior horseflesh being offered on opening day @ Gulfstream(hopefully their product will not reflect opening day the entire meet), I will now concentrate on Tampa Bay Downs(Gosh, I never thought I would EVER be uttering these sentiments!) I realize that the product there(TBD) is inferior to Gulfsteam, Aqu., and SA, but this is what they(TBD) are, not a major venue turning out an inferior product...with large fields, and a healthy mix of routes, sprints & turf events, I will look for opportunities & value offered at TBD, while ridding the bad taste left in my mouth by the aforementioned "Major league tracks" ...Happy & Prosperous New Year to all,
Floppydog More than 1 year ago
Be nice to Big Steve or else.. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PYuUgEgP-e4&feature=related
mlnj More than 1 year ago
And BTW, even though I assume that you will get one of the few hundred seats with an unobstructed view of the track. I think it's too bad that you support the "new paradigm" of racing at Gulfstream with you attendance. Why not go to Tampa or New Orleans instead?