10/14/2010 11:27AM

Pigeons and a Double Carryover


The sun's shining brightly on the old Long Island home at the moment, but storms are supposed to hit Belmont Park before the end of today's $128k Pick-6 double carryover, so post times are being accelerated in an attempt to end the program by 4:45 pm rather than the originally scheduled last post of 5:15 pm.

Here's the lineup for the sequence with the final column of the table below showing the chance of rain during each leg, according to the noon forecast at weather.com:

The day's first two races have been moved to the main track, but the three turf races in the Pick-6 are still scheduled to go on the grass. They're the bulkiest and toughest races in the sequence -- the three dirt sprints have fields of 6, 7 and 7, and two of them have potential odds-on favorites in Palooza (4th) and Cinco de Mayo Mio (8th), both even-money on the morning line.

Am I playing? Do birds fly?

Speaking of which:

"Pigeons Have the Urge to Gamble," according to the U.K.'s Daily Telegraph. Reporting on a study by University of Kentucky researchers writing in the Proceedings of the Royal Society, six of eight brids presented with a slot-machine set-up of levers that released food pellets chose taking a 20 percent chance of winning 10 food pellets over a guarantee of receiving three pellets.

''The results of these experiments suggest that pigeons show a tendency to make maladaptive decisions similar to those of humans," the researchers wrote. "That is, pigeons prefer a signal for a low probability, high payoff alternative over a signal for a certain low payoff alternative that on average provides 50% more reinforcement.''

I'll be back in a couple of hours with my maladaptive decisions on today's low-probability/high-payoff challenge. 


2:10 pm: And away we go:

I'm clearly leaning on the two shortest favorites on the card, but spending more than I wanted backing up Palooza in the opener. I wasn't planning to use Pletcher second-timer Julene at all: She was't bet in her debut and while she had a disastrous start she showed nothing thereafter. But she's being bet like a good thing at 2-1 into Palooza at even-money, so I'm being a sheep and a pigeon and adding her to the mix.


2:35 pm: Palooza shook off an early challenge from Shoe Penny and romped at 1-to-2, with 13-1 Chive Blossom a clear second and Julene a distant fourth. Palooza, dq'd from her winning debut at Saratoga Sept. 3, went the 5.5f in a sharp 1:03.94.

The public's finding the second leg as difficult as I did beyond recognizing Jazzy Moves as the 3-2 favorite: 8 of the other 9 runners in the race are currently between 7-1 and 11-1.


3:00 pm: Nice when your two A's run 1-2, less so when the 4-5 collars the 10-1. Jazzy Moves, 9th early, looped the field and reeled in Mordecai Jones to complete a $40.40 (for $2) early pick-4 and keep everyone alive after two legs.

The 5th was the first grass race here since Monday and the course is labelled "yielding," which seems about right: Jazzy Moves, timed in 1:24.36 today, won a race at Belmont over a firm Widener course in 1:22.38.


3:25 pm: Well, things just got interesting with 32-1 Black Pen running down 8-5 Calibrachoa. I'm not going to pretend I particularly liked the winner, but I didn't trust anyone in the field and used everyone as C's. I'm a sucker for turnbacks (Black Pen was cutting back from 9f at Saratoga to 6f today) and thought Jacobsen (who claimed him from Pletcher for $25k out of that race) must have liked something about him to step him up to $50k today.

In any case, it's all A's the rest of the way: 1,5,8/6/1,2,4,7,9.

The track is still dry and looking very fast: Black Pen ran the 6f in 1:08.06.


3:55 pm: High Cry, 2-1 ML favorite but 5-1 or better through most of the betting, was finally pounded late and then wired the field through soft fractions at a $6.50 mutuel.

The sky is darkening and the wind is picking up but no Nor'easter  yet. Of course if Belmont wants to cancel the rest of the card as a precautionary measure and pay the last two legs as alls, I'll take it.


4:20 pm: Cinco de Mayo Mio pressed the pace and drew off by herself at $2.70. I have no idea what to expect in the way of pick-6 willpays with three odds-on favorites, a 2-1 fave and a 32-1 shot, but here's hoping.

CDMM was timed in 1:10.93, casting further doubt on that 1:08.06 clocking for Black Pen in the 6th. Looks like that race should perhaps be retimed.


4:30 pm: Here are the willpays:


 I've got 5 of the 6 shortest ones, ranging from $5k to $29k. And here comes the rain. With 259 live combos going, if they cancelled the finale, each of those 259 combos (including my 5) would pay $1,604. But with 3 MTP, looks like the show will go on.


4:58 pm: Only in racing can you simultaneously win $11k and "lose" $18k, which is what just happened when Scotchmallow ($11,551) outbobbed King Prada ($29, 708.) On the other hand, 61-1 Unforgettable PJ  only missed by a couple of inches, and at the sixteenth pole I was resigned to Miss Hanky Panky at $5,007.

The Miss Hanky Panky Pick-6 willpay was posted as $5,201, but the late scratch of Ommadon's Reign transferred the three live tickets to her to the favorite. By my ciphering, that would have meant 83 rather than 80 live tickets, knocking the payopff down to $5,007, a brutal number since it's just $7 over the IRS withholding threshhold.

I'm pretty sure King Prada (the gray) had a nose in front just before the wire and just after the wire. Yay. Argggh. That's racing.