11/21/2007 2:21PM

Q&A 11/21/07

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While the rest of the nation slips into a long, lost weekend of tryptophan-binging and football-viewing, horseplayers have a far more stimulating menu, with 17 graded stakes over the next four days at Aqueduct, Churchill and Hollywood. So let's move Question Time from its usual Thursday spot to today so we can look at some of the Thanksgiving Say stakes races tomorrow.

mike says: Curious why you were so light with Bailero, short rest comeback by Dutrow, a rather deadly move.

A few people thought I'd made a clerical error when I posted my Sunday pick-six tickets at Aqueduct: How could I relegate Bailero in race 7 to B-/C+ status in a race where so many people picked him and he ended up winning as the 3-2 favorite? I wish I could say it was a slip-up and sentence myself to two hours of Brain Spa as penance, but the truth is that I downgraded him deliberately because I thought he would be a massive underlay. He won, I lost, but I still think he was a play-against on paper.

Bailero once would have been legitimately 3-5 in this spot, but clearly isn't the horse he once was (he even ran in the Cigar Mile two years ago, albeit finishing 8th at 58-1.) He spent most of this year climbing down the claiming ladder, failing repeatedly at Sunday's $25k level, before finally winning his last start at the conditioned (NW in six months) $16k level. If he'd been impressive that day, I would have said maybe the old Bailero is back, but he beat a dismal field in subpar time and I thought he was vulnerable stepping back up to the open $25k level.

I also let myself fall in love with a longshot in the race, Reaffirmed, who was coming off two bad efforts in the slop but had a previous string of fast-track figures that were better than what the field had been running lately. I probably allocated too much of my play to Reaffirmed (who opened at 30-1, was bet down to 10-1 and was outrun), but I'm not sure what other lessons I can take from Bailero's desperate neck victory over an 11-1 shot. When you play against horses who you think have a 20 percent chance of winning but are bet as if they have a 40 percent chance of winning, you're going to get burned 20 percent of the time.

I'm just glad I didn't like Fahrenheit Wild in the finale, since then the omission of Bailero would have been the difference between a $91,741 pick-six and a $192 conso. And speaking of Fahrenheit Wild:

allen_klayman says: I am curious if DRF has any plans or even a way to notate first time geldings in the PP's? and unitas says: I have asked a lot of people, some who are affiliated with DRF, why this very relevant, "ultimate", if you will, equipment change has not been listed as an equipment change, and no one can give me an answer.

DRF would love to alert readers to first-time geldings, but the information is simply not available to us at entry in any reliable or consistent manner. Rules on if, when and how this information is announced vary widely from state to state, and the tracks are haphazard at best about ever announcing it. I had the NYRA simulcast feed on all day Sunday and not once (amid daylong announcements of raffle winners by people dressed as Pocahontas and Tom The Turkey) did I hear that Fahrenheit Wild was a first-time gelding.

He ran like a different horse. He hit the gate at the start and came out far behind the rest of the field in Sunday's finale, usually a death sentence in a 5 1/2-furlong race, but circled from last place to win by 4 1/2 widening lengths.

Ironically, there probably would have been a correction announcement if he had been erroneously listed in the program as a colt. There needs to be a mechanism instituted at all tracks that would automatically pick up on a change in official gender since a horse's last start and list it at entry time along with other equipment changes.

arazi says "I do not exactly remember when I last heard of the retirement plans of a 2 year old upon the conclusion of his racing career but I sure will remember this one. Breeders Cup juvenile champion War Pass will stand at Lane's End after the end of his racing career. The question is why didn't they simply say that War Pass will be retired after his 3 year old campaign? ... what I read between the lines is - It is almost certain that War Pass will not be in the starting gate on the first Saturday in May. Anyone taking a bet on this one? I'll even take 1/9 odds :)

We won't hold you to that offer -- 1-9 would be a much worse underlay than Bailero's 3-2. The right price on any prominent 2-year-old making the Derby is closer to even-money, and I don't think the sale of War Pass's breeding rights will affect that. My take on the sale is that it's a pre-emptive gamble by Lane's End: If War Pass were to stay undefeated and win the Derby, he'd be snapped up the Maktoums for a lot more than he went for now, and a lot more than anyone else would pay.

It's an interesting gamble. There's plenty of doubt over whether War Pass will prove tractable or successfully stretch out in distance, but there's some possibility that he's the real deal, a budding Seattle Slew. In both the Champagne and the BC Juvenile, he was a running machine, setting strong paces and running extraordinary Beyers -- his 113 was the fastest BC Juvenile ever.

War Pass is by Cherokee Run, a solid but unspectacular sire who stands for $40,000 at Darley: War Pass is his first champion from 478 starters in 11 crops, and he's had just two other millionaires, Chilukki ($1.2 million) and Zanjero ($1.1 million). His 2007 graded-stakes winners are War Pass, Zanjero, Chelokee and Indian Flare.

Due to the syndication, there's more pressure to keep him unbeaten for as long as it lasts, but I think his likelihood of running in the Derby is at least as good as it was before the sale.

Floppydog More than 1 year ago
Appropriate someone named Arazi ponders the development/Kentucky Derby plans of a runaway BC Juvenile winner.
Clinton More than 1 year ago
Am coming on board late with the NYRA fiasco but one thing is apparent. No racing entity can function in NYS with the laws as they are constitued. The bidding that just took place for the franchise should serve as an example of how the bureacracy can screw up any process. The present administration under Charles Heyward's leadership has done more to improve the game and the relationship between management and the players. The one thing that shouldn't change right now is the present administration.
Car Loans More than 1 year ago
Thanks for information
C More than 1 year ago
Arazi, The morning line has nothing to do with betting action. The ML is just someone's guess about how the public might bet the race. I kind of cringe whenever I hear someone say a horse was 'bet down' from the ML. Another problem with the ML is consistency... each track employs a different public handicapper to set the ML odds. Perhaps 'first flash' odds would be a better choice, but that's incredibly misleading too, because the pools are too small at that point in the betting, especially at the smaller tracks. Besides, when exactly do you declare the first flash anyway? after $200 is bet in the win pool? $500? I also cringe (to a slightly lesser degree) at the theory of a 'bet-down' from first flash to final odds... the concept of 'late money' is vastly overrated and overplayed, in my opinion, particularly at the larger tracks. I'd love to see some data of when most money pours in during the betting cycle of the average race. I'd guess that the first 5 minutes see relatively little action and that the majority of the handle accumulates in the last 8 minutes to post. I'm willing to say that most of the odds drops/rises are the result of the pools building during this time, similar to counting votes in an election... you can't project a winner by looking at a sample of only 10 ballots. Besides, who cares if the connections are betting their horse? They don't own every other horse in the field, so why should their betting action translate into the horse running better than the rest of the field? Trust me, owners are usually not the sharpest handicappers in the room. I've known quite a few over the years. The majority of them know almost nothing about handicapping, believe me. In fact, many of them had no interest in the sport until they were talked into buying a horse at their retirement party... some of them had never been to a racetrack until they were 50 years old. Obviously, that doesn't apply to the Godolphins, Tabors, and Whitneys of the world, nor does it apply to MOST trainers. The bottom line is, horses have no idea who's betting on them... and if you knew who was betting on the 'hot' horse, you probably wouldn't want to follow their advice anyway.
Bob More than 1 year ago
Steven: How can we Horse Players rise up as a strong voice on the New York Racing Franchise Fiasco that is developing before our eyes. Our elected leaders are all self serving and useless, I believe, only listening to big money. In my opinion, NYRA is the right answer. But that answer doesn't suit Joe Bruno because (1) It is the recommendation of Gov Spitzer, and (2) Joe's silent slots money doesn't want NYRA. I write Joe Bruno to give him my opinion and ask for his detailed reasons and positions and what response do I get - an e-mail proudly proclaiming the Governor retracting his drivers license program for illegal aliens, and now the latest, Joe Bruno asking me to sign a petition saying he is the only voice of leadership on the racing franchise, when he is the stumbling block holding it up. How can we get our voices and frustrations heard?
Mike More than 1 year ago
Happy Thanksgiving to racing fans. But what do the racing aficionados in New York (and beyond) have to give thanks? NYRA is on its deathbed. Its only flicker of life stems from blackmail, viz., its threat laying claim to the land on which the 3 tracks rest. But even if NYRA were to prevail in bankrputcy court on the land issue, the State could award the franchise to another entity who would finance the purchase of the franchise along with the land. The State could allow development of VLTs at Aqueduct and even at Belmont, that massive empty cavern. Why allow a bankrupt and corrupt organization to blackamil the State? Take Bloomberg at his word and let the State take over the NYC OTB's and merge them with NYRA and sell it off entirely, or for a given period of years. NYRA took money from the horsemen's account, and let the tellers take money from their cash boxes. The money was only returned when the misdeeds were discovered, just like the Drexel crew who masterinded the Breeders Cup Pick 6 fiasco. Those guys are in jail, but where is NYRA? NYRA was so dumb that they didn't realize how dumb they were, and needed Getnick's firm to tell them. Why is NYRA so revered? The Albany political process is so inept that it plays into NYRA's hands by the delay. The State can take the land via eminent domain or condemnation proceedings even if NYRA's land claim is successful. Pending determination by the Court, the State could get an injunction to permit racing to proceed under its aegis, even while NYRA asserts its land claim. I'm all in favor of term limits. George Bush only has 8 years in office. Why should NYRA have another 30?
Aaron More than 1 year ago
Steve- Why doesn't the drf include mud caulks in the past performances ? The NYRA Post Parade program does include this information.Also on the DRF quick sheet report,key races are listed,but are not listed in the form. Also,this report lists hot trainers,but does not designate the track they are hot at.For instance Bill Mott was winning at Keenland and Churchill but still might be listed as a hot trainer at Aqueduct,where he was not winning.
EJS More than 1 year ago
"God grant me the serentiy to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference." While I understand the reasons why the Racing Form can not readily provide information about first time geldings, I do think they could do a better job of indicating when a horse appeared on the track as a gelding for the first time. After all, they do have a data base indicating the sex of each horse which they must change when a horse is gelded. Why not then add a notation, "Horse appeared as gelding," in the running lines when appropriate. Not only could such an addition explain initial or sustained improvements but also might, by shining the spotlight, have the serendipitous effect of forcing the various racing jurisdictions to provide more timely gelding information. However, maybe there are some variables in play here which make providing gelding information impracitcal. So let me bring up another area where I think the Racing Form had been slow to act: Simply put, there is a major class difference between Starter Allowances qualified for in maiden claiming races from those of their open company cousins. A difference as stark as that between a 50,000 open company race and a 50,000 maiden claiming race. To let these races just meld into each other in Form, as they presently are doing, just doesn't seem that "on top of it" to me. Especially when the solution to the problem is as easy as adding an M to the purse line for the ever increasing amount of starter allowance races dependent upon maiden claiming tags. Alw 50,000Ms. Problem solved; integrity of the PPs restored.
margi More than 1 year ago
Regarding the early announcement of the stud plans for War Pass, it did happen once before to my recollection back in 2000, when A P Valentine was heavily syndicated after his victory in the Champagne. It seems coincidental that Zito trained that one as well, and that particular business deal didn't turn out too well. A P Valentine proved to be virtually sterile, which was an abberation, of course, but speaks to the dangers of putting your eggs in the basket way too soon.
Arazi More than 1 year ago
In case DRF is willing to entertain ideas to incorporate into the PPs, I have one. This idea will give handicappers a much better picture of any 'betting action' on a horse. Currently, only the post-time odds are listed in the PPs. How about stating both the Morning Line as well as the Actual Odds? Compelling evidence is Reaffirmed in your post who opened at 30-1 and closed at 10-1. If DRF PPs lists both odds, the next time handicappers encounter this runner, they will instantly notice the curious descent.