06/22/2008 2:29PM

Prize Package


I went back to Belmont yesterday for the first time since the Big Brownout, and in a new capacity: Human Prize Package. DRF Press ran a promotional contest this spring where anyone who ordered a copy of Best with The Best 2: Longshots online at drf.com in its first two weeks of publication was automatically entered in a random drawing to win a trip to his favorite track -- plus lunch with your choice of available BWTB authors. The winner, who didn't even know he'd been entered until he won, would have preferred Brad Free but chose Belmont over Hollywood, which meant he instead got Garden Terrace sandwiches with me and Mike Watchmaker along with two nights at the Garden City Hotel, roundtrip airfare for two, and a $100 betting voucher.

We had no idea if the winner would know a fork from a furlong and what kind of a lunch was in store, so were pleasantly surprised to meet an enthusiastic and knowledgeable fan, who not only understood what a pick-4 partwheel is but also has published two books on somewhat more complicated economics, which he teaches at the university level. He had invited his wife to join him, but the saintly woman said he'd have more fun with his gambling buddies, so he was joined by a fellow economist from Memphis who has been studying predictive markets and has four online betting accounts, and a horse-owner/golf pro/inventor friend from Pennsylvania. No explanations of furlongs were necessary.

(But how about an explanation for the $3.50 per-person "seating charge" on the lunch check? I can understand a food-and-beverage minimum if NYRA is concerned about someone nursing a single cup of coffee at a clubhouse table all afternoon, but a $17.50 chair surcharge on a party of five eating $14.95 sandwiches seemed like an oxygen tax.)

Anyway, after I took the prizewinners down with me in the opener by singing the virtues of 9-1 Big Bold Place, who backed up gamely through the field after a perfect trip, they were more interested in Watchmaker's subsequent selections, and played the early pick-four to get alive to his longshot special, 20-1 Cherokee Speed in the fifth -- who came flying a little too late for the pick-4 but got up for second to get them well as the bottom half of a $206 exacta under a $10.80 winner.

There was brief discussion of playing the new Sixty Minute Pick Six, but neither the DRF authors nor their guests knew or were able to find out much about this pretty well-concealed new wager. It seems to be being promoted only half-heartedly but apparently met its $100k guaranteed pool. I can't find the handle or payoffs in the charts for either Belmont, Delaware, Monmouth or Philly, whose races made up the sequence, but according to NYRA's website there's a $64,477.55 carryover to next Saturday so maybe we can get it figured out by then.

Mauralakana was very good winning Saturday's featured G2 New York under top weight of 123 by a long neck over Dynaforce, with Hostess another neck back in third in a tight finish among the three 5-year-old mares. It was Dynaforce's first start since finishing a close third to Satwa Queen at Deauville last August, and she's eligible to improve. Hostess has now finished behind Mauralakana in three if their four meetings, handing Mauralakana her lone defeat of the year going a mile and a half in the G3 Orchid at Gulfstream.

Mauralakana's victory at $3.30, combined with the triumphs of Veritable at $4.70 in the 7th and Bontempi at $3.50 in the 10th, produced a paltry $109.50 late pick-4 even amid the defeat of the day's heaviest favorite, 0.55-1 Mucho Macho in the 8th. Mucho Macho, who earned a 103 Beyer winning his debut May 17, recovered from an awkward start, went head and head with second-choice Goldsville ($9.30) until upper stretch, then had no response as Goldsville spurted away and drew off by 4 1/2 lengths.

Not that I did, but one could have turned that $109.50 pick-4 into an $11,398 pick-6 if you had prefaced the last four winners with $10.80 Big Al and $22.00 Optimistic Steve, the latter a haveable winner in a tough race if you're as fond of turnbacks as I am. Optimistic Steve was cutting back from a mile and a half to seven furlongs, and Saturday's distance was the shortest of his entire career: All 23 of his previous starts had been at 8 to 12 furlongs, including a sixth-place finish in the Street Sense-Any Given Saturday Tampa Bay Derby last year.

Arcstats More than 1 year ago
Richp, thanks for your description of a compulsive gambler. If this description is in fact correct, then they are getting entirely too much attention and consideration from everyone concerned in the gamimg/gambling industry. Because quite frankly, in my 35+ years of active gambling, I've never ran into such a character as you describe. I'm not saying they're not out there, but again it they are, by your description I have to believe they are too limited to merit all the attention being paid to the "compulsive gambler". I'll continue to maintain that most "compulsive gamblers" in the eyes of the industry are simply bad gamblers.
RichP More than 1 year ago
arcstats That you haven't run into a compulsive gambler consider yourself lucky. They're not fun to be around. I've known a number in my 35 or so years at the track. You see fewer of them at the track these days because there is so much more gambling around. When I started playing horses there was the track and Vegas if you wanted to gamble legally. You probably run into more of them a a casino now then you do at the track.
Flipper Dawson More than 1 year ago
Superfecta Race 8 (20 cent units) 3,8--1,8--2,6,15--5,7,11,13 Late Pick 3 for $2.00 6--#3 7 #6 8--#8 Total spent $5.60.
Burt Shapiro More than 1 year ago
Anybody have a link to the Jeremy Rose incident. I am a fan of his and want to see if I believe it was an accident or intentional
John More than 1 year ago
If you are winning consistently at the racetrack, then you are probably not compulsive. I would take compulsive to mean that you walk into the Spa 30 seconds before post time and bet the 3 because you must have "something going." You never looked at the form, and have not even looked at the PP's. To use a Steve Crist quote many years ago in the Racing Times...."the problem isn't gambling, the problem is losing." I tell my wife that all the time, but I don't quite have her sold on it yet after 30 years of marriage.
Brooklyn Backstretch More than 1 year ago
Justin: Was the Desormeaux horse Latitude Forty, in the Yaddo? Paid $48.00.
Diceman More than 1 year ago
Hi Steve, Thanks for your interesting article on the Congressional hearings last Thursday. Your article in general, was on target, but I thought your were too tough on the Committe Members and Witnesses and too soft on the culprits and criminals who populate our beautiiful sport! In response, I am submitting the following recommendations to revitalize the Racing Industry and give a long over-due break to the betting public: 1. Reduce the dollar cost to buy and sell horses in the USA. The Arabs and Japanese buyers, and their deep pockets, are gone forever. The US economy cannot support the inflated cost of raising, selling and buying horses to race! 2. Track managment must reduce the inflated purse structure. Reduce purses at the high-end but increase the low end purses to give owners, trainers and jockeys a decent chance to make an honest living! 3. State juridictions and Track Management must reduce the untenable and unsustainable take-out rates on all racing wagers. Implement the recommendations 1 and 2 above and the take-out could be reduced to a 10% to 15% range for all wagers! 4. Track management must clean up and beautify their racing plants. Except for a few venues, like Keeneland, Churchill, Arlington, Gulfstram, and the West Coast major tracks, most race tracks are a disgrace and insult to the betting public. 5. Track manaagement must emulate the Casino Industry and provide their patrons with decent facilities, courteous employees, food and drinks at reasonable cost, free parking, free programs and Racing Forms and improved security! 6. Last but not least and probably most important. All Race Track Officels and Employees,including Senior Management, the Racing Office, Stewards, Gate Starters and Crews, Owners, Trainers, Jockeys, Veternaries, Placing Judges, Outriders, etc., must be required to testify under oath, whenever a racing incident affecting the Betting Public is under investiagation! Steve, if you and our wonderful blogging friends, would get involved in pushing the above recommendations, we may be able to save our great sport and watch it prosper and grow in the next several decades! If Congressional oversight or Federal intervention is required, let's collectively support their efforts to save our fantastic Sport! Good luck to all my racing friends and bloggers!
Flipper Dawson More than 1 year ago
Without naming the track, key to superfecta is #8, with Sunshine in for 2nd. Complete play here on Wed.for you if interested.
Arcstats More than 1 year ago
I've always wondered about the term "compulsive gambler". What does that term actually mean? If someone is a winning gambler on a consistent basis, it makes sense to create as much action as possible (as most good ones do). Does he qualify as a compulsive gambler, or someone who just knows what he's doing? On the flip side, if someone loses on a regular basis, is he a compulsive gambler, or just a bad gambler? Why do most consistently losing gamblers are almost always labeled as compulsive gamblers? Maybe their intentions are under control, but their methods are flawed. I maintain that most individuals who would qualify as "compulsive gamblers" by scientific guidelines are in fact just bad gamblers. Webster defines compulsion as "an irresistable force" and compulsive as "caused by psychological compulsion". Most bad gamblers are not a product of some irresistable force - but it makes for a neat and tidy excuse.
Tyke from the Cackalacky More than 1 year ago
Gomark- Blogs are nice because everyone can participate so thank you for the informative statistic; which, as mike_c notes is consitent with the divorce rate of the general population. That said, please forgive me when I post the correct sequence for the late Pick 4 on tomorrow's Belmont card on your right wing Christian blog.