02/06/2008 4:09PM

Q&A 2/6/08


oweyouadollar says: 4: 0-2-1. That's Hystericalady's record on synthetics. Yes, I know she Beyered a 104 on synthetics once. But this is a mare who is 7 for 12 on dirt, lifetime. She loves to win. Just not on synthetics. I realize it doesn't fully explain how badly she ran in the Santa Monica. And I realize there was nothing in the field. And I didn't play the race. But I thought beforehand, when I read your blog: why buy into her as a sure thing, given that she has so clearly been a horse who prefers dirt? Given that this is effectively a new synthetic surface she is trying, couldn't she just hate this one even more than the others?

Interesting points all, and a good illustration of how confusing these new surfaces can be.

My quick answer is that Hystericalady still should have beaten this field running backwards. As you note, she did run a 104 Beyer on a synthetic, and her three previous synthetic starts were a second and third in G1's and a second in a G2. So how much does she really "hate them" and why shouldn't she have trounced four much slower and less accomplished rivals?

The bigger and more interesting point is whether we can make any predictions at all about how a horse who may or may not appear to like one type of synthetic surface will fare on an entirely different synthetic. Does performance over the synthetic Polytrack at Del Mar, where the G1 Pacific Classic was run in over 2:07, have any predictive relevance to how a horse will run over a Cushion Track producing half-miles of under 43 seconds? Is the key point natural vs. artificial, or fast vs. slow, or bouncy vs. tiring? Beats me.

el_angelo says: Stupid question: if the Magna 5 is such an abomination (and I agree that it's a terrible bet) why are you playing it at all?

I was asking myaself that very question after passing up what turned out to be a haveable, overlaid Gulfstream late pick-4 last Saturday for my 2-for-Magna 5. (I didn't want to play both because of the overlapping Donn.) I guess my best answer is in the question posed by jcp, who asked "Am I missing something, or wasn't the Magna 5 pay-off pretty generous considering the prices of the 5 winners?" It sure was: The parlay of the five winners ($18.00, $9.40, $5.40, $14.00 and $8.60) was $6,873.44. The Magna 5 payoff was $16,956.40.

jlwood says: In watching the LaHabra, I see that SA posted a final time of 1:14+ while DRF and Equibase charts have a final time of 1:13.52. Any idea about the discrepancy? The internal fractions in print match up with those on screen.

Santa Anita briefly put up a final time of 1:14.19 for the La Habra, but it was quickly corrected to 1:13.52. The original time would have meant the field came home in a slow 6.57 final sixteenth instead of the more plausible 5.90. It wasn't the day's only posting error: The six-furlong time of the Robert E. Lewis was initially posted as 1:14 and change and then corrected to 1:11.41.

vegan says: Didn't Teleprompter run the first 6f. in 1:27 or so in the Arlington Million ? Even mighty Greinton could not run him down after that.

Since the final time was 2:03 4/5, I don't think they went 1:27 for the first six furlongs and 36 4/5 for the final half-mile. But maybe someone else can find the actual six-furlong split for the 1985 Million -- the chart's not in the 1986 American Racing Manual, presumably because the Million was not a graded race yet, and I can't find it in anyone's pp's in "Champions" because it doesn't appear that anyone who ran in the '85 Million ever won an Eclipse Award. Can anyone help?

[Update: DRF Senior Editor Irwin Cohen informs: The ¾ time for Million (indexed in the 86 ARM charts as the Budweiser-Arlington Million) is 1:16 3/5. Also, I think the Arlington Million was a G1 every year but the first, in 1981.]

otbtony says: Is Barrier Reef legit? His maiden win, though slow, awed me.

Barrier Reef ran just as well winning the ungraded Whirlaway as Crown of Thorns and Eaton's Gift did winning G2 races last Saturday, and his performance had a few other things to commend it -- he made an explosive middle move during the race, was wide on a track where the inside may have had the better footing, and he ran down a perfect-trip, rail-hugging leader. He needs to take a big step or two further forward but he could impove with more distance.

steve_davidowitz says: I have said and written in several forums that I think all of the new track and world records' that have been set at Santa Anita on the laughably named 'Cushion Track' should be labeled with an asterisk, and/or completely disregarded for a set of new track records yet to be set when the Pro-Ride-Cushion Track mixture comes into play, we think, sometime soon. What do you think about these records and how would you handle them if you were running Santa Anita, or posing as an arbitrator of track and world records for the American Racing Manual and other statistical reference works?

I don't think "completely disregarding" what's happened on (No-)Cushion Track is an intellectually viable option. It happened. There are stories of unusual weather or maintenance issues that could be cited in connection with plenty of other track records. (As I noted in a recent column, Download 020208column.doc
the track surface at Turf Paradise was actually faster when G Malleah set the previous 6f world record than when Bob Black Jack broke it at Santa Anita Jan. 26.) The best solution in this case is probably for Santa Anita and the ARM to list both dirt and Cushion Track track records, and the fastest time regardless of surface as world records.

Lacy More than 1 year ago
A very useful article..Thank you.
Scott More than 1 year ago
What is a caveman ticket? I haven't heard that term before. Thanks.
RichP More than 1 year ago
I think it's a bit early to be crowning Pyro as the Derby Winner, or eliminating him becasue he lags so far back early. It might be a prudent idea to see a few more derby preps, and have idea how good the rest of the field that lines up on the first Saturday in May is.
George315 More than 1 year ago
Many posts on here are based on biased opinions, jaded view points and understood loyalty to a favorite and comfortable region. HOWEVER, there is 1 constant that cannot be ignored... Without handle, this game dies. That we can all agree on. How many BIG fish do you know, who will not spend a dime (pun intended) on any race that is run on an artificial surface? The answer is A LOT. Why do you think they don't bet that GARBAGE Steve? Because it is NOT formful, horses where not intended to run on it and you just can't make a $2,500 WP bet on any horse that runs on that GARBAGE. I'm shocked that people on this blog are blind to what's really happening here!!!! It's a business. 2 parties have made money on Polycrap.... The creators who sold it and the politicians who mandated in California. THAT'S one of the reasons why all of my $3,000,000 in yearly handle goes to NYRA. I am not biased like all of you California cronies, I just like to bet formful races, where with my high intelligence level I can make 4% a year. 120,000 for you rookies out there. On polytrack, I would have to file for Chapter 11.
mark c. More than 1 year ago
Rich p you make some valid points.NYRA needs to take some responsibility for the state of NY racing.Long ago at a "fan forum"( since dropped) I was laughed at for asking why I had to "tip" a parking attendant to park closer in a nearly empty parking lot. I was laughed at for asking why I had to wait for a clerk to make HIS bet before he took my wager!( before clerks were banned from making their own wagers) sorry,but customer service at aqueduct and belmont are ZERO.Lastly there is NO excuse for broken benches at belmont.
C More than 1 year ago
SteveT, Peace, man. I'm just saying there's no reason to get so defensive about California. I can't speak for others, but for me, it's not a regional thing. You might be more open-minded than most, but you have to expect that a good chunk of the horseplayer population are going to get pretty vocal about the word "polymer" entering the racing lexicon. Hey, I hear what you're saying, but you can't dismiss people as 'stuffed shirts' because they resent 'change'. I know lifelong horseplayers (50+ years) who have walked away from the game because of it.
RichP More than 1 year ago
To mark_c I go to all the NY tracks, and frequently visit tracks all over the country, when I get the chance. It is sad that Aqueduct and Belmont are not in the same condition Saratoga is. But alot of the blame for that lies with the fact that NYRA is forced to race when it's unprofitable. They've put more money into their most profitable track, that's a suprise. Everyone forgets that the last time the franchise went up for bid no one but NYRA submitted a proposal. The reason no one thought they could make money under the current legaslative structure. All this outside interset for the NYRA franchise is all about slots. If there we're no slots no one else would be bidding. I'm not suggesting that NYRA was blamless in the mutual clerk fiasco, but the situation wasn't black and white either. The union and the clerks had as much to do with it as management did. I think the reforms Spitzer has forced NYRA into are positive. I think he was a little overzealous in his prosecution. Notice the charges against the scale clerks were thrown out of court. I believe the only one in management that went to jail was Clem Florio the head of the mutual department, who probably didn't have the clout to change the system. I find it hard to believe he was the only one in management who had any responibility. A little publicity before a campaign never hurt anyone except maybe Clem Florio who got sentenced to 6 months. If this was such an egregious criminal case why didn't Spitzer bring anyone else in NYRA management up on charges. A bit curious. The Mutual Clerks in Kentucky are a delight compared to the NY clerks, but I'd rather deal with a few surly clerks than have the drug controled racing that they had in Kentucky. Try and make speed figures for Churchill downs some time. John Vietch has made some really positive reforms and tried to clean the mess up but I still prefer NY. NYRA has done some very good things as well as some dumb ones. I don't see anyone else in racing using detention barns for day to day racing, and this has helped with some of the super trainer form reversals. I don't want Joe Bruno and his cronies, whose main interest seems to be sweetening the pot for whoever gets the slot franchise running NY racing. My point isn't that NYRA is perfect, but too take the stance that they're completely incompetent and everything wrong with NY Racing is they're fault isn't reasonable. There's plenty of blame to go around, and lets not even talk about the ludricous OTB system in NY. Do we really want the same politicians that created this monstosity having more say in racing than horse people. Please I'd hate to see Saratoga rebuilt and made to look like Gulfstream if Magna got the franchise. Gulfstream is a good example of what happens when casino interests run a racetrack. Those that are so certain that NYRA should be replaced should be careful what they wish for. The devil you know is sometimes better than the one you don't.
RichP More than 1 year ago
As far as customer service, I have to agree with you. I started using SAM machines as soon as they came out because I got tired of the mistakes mutual clerks made. So the clerks don't affect me much. Race Track in general have never figured out who there customers are. NYRA has always thought that the owners and trainers were there only customers. We bettors were just an annoyance. As bad as the customer service is down state, I put up with it for the racing product and the great experience when they move up state.
Steve T More than 1 year ago
Clinton, Let's rock! I doubt you have ever stepped foot at Santa Anita, I have - a little over 1,000 times in the last 40 years, so what would I know about the track... Your statement about the fact that the three tracks have missed more days since installing synthetics is absolutely inaccurate - the fact is that Hollywood Park has raced MORE days since installing the track, Del Mar has run the same and only Santa Anita with the drainage problem has run less. The track with the most frequent shut downs in the last three years? That would be Aqueduct. Do yourself a favor and look at all the posts and count the number railing against the California tracks and then all the other tracks combined - about 10 to 1. And they consistently use terms like "garbage", "joke", "half-assed", yada yada. That is not a discussion, it is an attack. And I respond to attacks on something that has been a part of most of my life. What is the big deal about the track? Because they run faster? The horses that are running a 1:07 at Santa Anita will be running a 1:12 this summer at Del Mar. SO WHAT! They would run a 1:09 at Monmouth and a 1:10 at Saratoga. Exactly how is this sport supposed to move forward without making changes? This sport is in horrible trouble and we are about to lose two of the major California tracks, Bay Meadows and Hollywood Park - not because they didn't make money, but because the land under them was more valuable. Golden Gate is the largest tract of undeveloped land in the San Francisco area - it won't be long until they find a way to sell it off. Bloomberg has made it clear that Aqueduct would make a perfect port holding area for JFK. And the most important discussion we can have is about Cushion Track??? C, Kleenex? Wow, somehow I thought you had more class, guess I was wrong.
Steve Davidowitz More than 1 year ago
For Kyderbysealot: This is Steve Crist's blog and the subject of my comments here were on what he wrote about pertaining to the clockings at Santa Anita. So, in the future, I would suggest you E-mail me directly at davidwtz@aol.com for answers to questions about other matters of interest. (My E-mail address is widely cirulated on many forums). For the sake of expediency, in this one case, here is a direct response to your query: * I believe Etched is scheduled to race at the end of the month in a Nad El Sheba prep for the Dubai Derby. * Todd Pletcher had gone back and forth about where he was going to run Cowboy Cal and is now most likey to run him next on grass as you suggest, followed perhaps by the Blue Grass stakes on the synthetic Polytrtack at Keeneland, which was effectively used by Street Sense---the same way Polytrack at Turfway Park used by Hard Spun. At the botttom line, if Pletcher were convinced Cowboy Cal could not handle dirt at all, he would not have nominated him to the Triple Crown (Also, the fact that Churchill put him in Pool #1 suggests also that the Derby is in the gameplan.) At the bottom line, this is a colt by Giant's Casueway (who ran strongly in the Breeders' Cup Classic on a dirt track, so if you like the way Cowboy Cal is developing, if you think he is a true Derby type, that should be factored into your decision, especially if the Pool #1 price reflects how far away from the Derby we are in early Feb. My Apologies to Steve Crist for this digression/Regards/Steve Davidowitz