07/13/2009 6:03PM

Powerhouse Performances

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Each of the weekend's three Grade 1 stakes races was won with a fast, powerful and dominant performance. Rail Trip and Gio Ponti assumed leadership of their older-male divisions in victory, and Game Face ran the race of her life to join the discussion of who the nation's best filly sprinter might be:

Rail Trip's Hollywood Gold Cup victory was the breakout performance of the year among an otherwise subpar group of older main-track males. His three-length victory was good for a Beyer of 111, the highest of the year on a synthetic track and one which has been equalled in Grade 1 route company this year only by the 111's earned by Quality Road in the Florida Derby and Rachel Alexandra in the Mother Goose. Big figures often go hand-in-hand with perfect trips, and Rail Trip certainly had one: Sitting second behind the mild pace of a lone, likely-to-stop leader in Tres Borrachos. Still, it was a stronger and faster performance than any turned in this year in comparable races such as the Donn, Santa Anita Handicap, Met Mile or Stephen Foster.

Gio Ponti joined Rachel Alexndra as the nation's only three-time Grade 1 winner this year with his victory in the Man o'War Saturday, where he was more impressive than his 1 3/4-length margin of victory over Musketier might suggest. Gio Ponti was wide on both turns and stuck behind a dawdling pace, but appears to have a push-button turn of foot and mowed down the leader when asked. He has now turned in sharp turf Beyers of 104 (Kilroe Mile), 107 (Manhattan) and 105 (Man o'War) while winning three straight Grade 1 races and moving up from 8 to 10 to 11 furlongs. Unless a legitimate Group 1 killer from Europe shows up in Chicago next month, he's the favorite for the Arlington Million.

Game Face ran by far the fastest of the four graded stakes on Calder's Summit of Speed card Saturday, winning the G1 Princess Rooney by 6 3/4 lengths. Her time of 1:10.74 may look pedestrian, but not in comparison to those recorded in victory by First Passage (1:11.22 in the Azalea) and the males Eaton's Gift (1:11.25 in the Smile) and Not For Silver (111.91 in the Carry Back). Game Face's task was made easier by the scratch of Indian Blessing and the absence of Informed Decision, who still has to be considered the division's leader off two Grade 1 victories in Kentucky. Informed Decision skipped the Princess Rooney to stay on synthetics and run a week earlier in the Chicago Handicap at Arlington.


---There's a one-day $63,720 pick-6 carryover into Wednesday's card at Belmont, the second in three straight days where the Belmont finale was won by a very long longshot: Slick Wheelie ($97.00) on Friday, Skyebay ($96.50) on Saturday, and Kaz Dear ($55.00) on Sunday.

The common thread? All three nightcaps were turf sprints.


---TicketMaker, the new tool in DRF Formulator that constructs multirace tickets based on your A-B-C designations, is now available as part of all Formulator cards and plans through the end of July. (After that, it becomes a part of Enhanced or Deluxe cards only.) Please let us know what you think of it and share any suggestions for improving it in future versions.

coyotebait More than 1 year ago
One Racino’s Reality Just how much trouble are we in? Mountaineer Casino Racetrack and Resort attendance for the West Virginia Derby was reported at 21,218; on-track handle was $355,265.00. …So wagering averaged less than $17.00 a head? The erosion of fan base is startling. Using pre-slot traditional betting averages of $100.00 per head, that means the attendance of *racing fans* would equate to 3553 ($355,265.00 divided by $100.00). Instead of "saving the industry" it is obvious that slots and casinos at racetracks are destroying the fan base. Racetracks have proven they don't know how to use the immense reach and potential of TV and Internet technology (and the windfall of profit thereof), to bring new fans to horse racing. Racetracks run racing and have sole responsibility for its presentation and promotion. The problem is, because they have too little appreciation for their partners (horses and horsemen) they have run it into the ground beneath the bottom-line of slots and casinos. Unless racetracks learn to see the sport through the eyes and ears of horses, horsemen and fans, their efforts to grow the fan base will continue to fail, horse racing will be reduced to the top 5% or 10% of a once glorious pyramid of public support, where racinos will thrive long after horsemen are stripped of unsustainable life support. With on-track horse wagering at $17.00 per head at Mountaineer Park, you have to wonder how much per head was bet on the alternative forms of gaming by the 21,218 in attendance. It's time for a wake-up call, or the end of a glorious era.
C More than 1 year ago
Walt, Night racing is probably not going to make THAT big of a difference in handle. There is a reason why casinos have oriental rooms and why MGM Grand had to build a side entrance as an alternative for those who refused to walk through the lion's mouth (true). The region you are targeting is responsible for the biggest gamblers in the world by a mile. If there is good action, they (as a whole) will be on top of it, no matter what time of day it is offered. In other words, most of that market may already be included in the pools. We also can't ignore the possibility that some may frown upon American racing to some degree.
bochalls More than 1 year ago
Pardon the second post...in the 'Winning Techniques' page located under the Tools/Fan Education box on the DRF homepage lists an example of trainer angles using the pp's of Roanoke River Rain. My favorite Pimlico week super special play. It illustrates how R Bailes won with Roanoke at 74-1 a few days before the Preakness in 2003. If my memory serves me right, didn't Roanoke appear for two more years on Preakness week and win at nice odds? I recall him winning at 15-1. Do you, or anyone, have his lifetime pp's? These lil gems are great and I would love to see his entire career. Thx
bochalls More than 1 year ago
For Mark...the state bred adjustments are approx 2/5 second in sprints and 3/5 second in routes. This must be equated into Beyer figs. I make Quirin style speed figs and the adjustments are as stated above. That being said; state bred adj. in Alw company may be different from Clm (nothing's easy!!). Only par research will tell if Alw adj are different from Clm adj....now that the Ass-man is suspended I guess it's time for our semi annual Scott Blasi guest appearance as trainer!...Evan G, have no fear. NYRA will hammer out a treaty with the OTBs in time for SAR. They simply HAVE to. The backlash would kill 'em.
yuwipi More than 1 year ago
Mark: Following a hint from a Dave Liftin column several years back about using NYSN Beyer #'s as a rough sifting tool in handicapping I began recording them from the "Winners Book" section of the Saratoga Players Guide that DRF publishes. I have the NYSB Beyer #'s from 2004 thru 2007 (don't have the 2008's as the paper isn't out yet). I would be glad to send you the text file if you can figure out a way for me to do so. Or I can just put them in a series of comments to Steve's blog, if he doesn't object. I have found them quite handy on several occasions almost every year. A quick example: NYSB 2YR Old Fillies - 5 1/2 F Dirt 13 races High Beyer: 86 Low Beyer: 45 Par: 64 Let me know.
Walt More than 1 year ago
C: With regard to a nighttime BC, you have to remember that the BC in the daytime here is in the overnight hours in Japan and Hong Kong. The culture in those countries I believe is such that aside from the diehards, people are not going to be up in the middle of the night, even for the Breeders' Cup. A night BC here (running on Friday from 8:00-11:00 PM on ESPN2 and Saturday from 5:30-8:00 PM on ABC and 8:00-11:30 PM ET on ESPN) would likely mean handle at the very least in the low nine figures from Japan, Hong Kong and Australia and more likely considerably higher. There is a reason the purses in Japan dwarf anything we offer, and it is the handle.
Virgin Queen More than 1 year ago
unitas, wrong,b.c races run on pro ride not polycrap.learn the different synthetic surfaces.
george quinn More than 1 year ago
To Minj, you will love Delaware, anyone will. 100 foot Oak trees in the paddock. A racebook that I would say is the countries best. Plenty of family stuff to do (kid freindly) good food. And Sunday anyway, solid racing. They have in the past been plagued by small fields but it has improved since the purses have been boosted. Have fun and enjoy a track that is on the improve not decline. George in Tampa
bochalls More than 1 year ago
.....In response to Paul's comment about saving racing by bringing someone to the track, bragging about winning, etc...the only problems are: A) i don't win enough!! and B) when i take newbies to the track they don't wanna learn HOW to pick winners; they just want me to tell them who to bet. Imagine that pressure. Hard enough to get winners for myself, much less tutor some me me me microwave, ipod, get it now youngster. If a newbie doesn't win in the first 2-3 races many will chuck it. I haven't stopped trying to intro new people though Paul.
george quinn More than 1 year ago
Peak of the summer racing season and Asmussen gets sacked. Your medication blogs were full Steve, what have you taken from the hundreds you have received? George in Tampa