06/01/2010 4:40PM

Quantities and Quality


We keep hearing that movies are bigger and better than ever while Thoroughbred racing is a dying sport on life support, but both Belmont and Hollywood Park outhandled "Sex and the City 2" over the four-day holiday weekend:

Here is the breakdown on all-sources handle for Belmont, Hollywood and Monmouth (which did not race on Friday) for the four days:

Monmouth continues to show strong year-over-year gains with its sharply higher purses -- this year's $24.9 million was up 122 percent over last year's $11.2 million -- but Belmont has outhandled Monmouth each of the five days both tracks have been open. Monday was the first time Belmont's total purses were higher -- $942,000 vs. $885,400 -- but more than half of Belmont's total came from the $500,000 Met Mile. Even so, Belmont's handle nearly doubled Monmouth's at $14.5 million vs. $7.4 million.

--Belmont's Monday handle benefitted from a two-day pick-6 carryover of $187k that attracted $902,685 in fresh wagers, about $1200 of them mine. I was alive briefly, when I used first-leg winner Auric's Girl ($84.50) as a C, but my remaining skimpy backup ticket did not even make it through the second leg. A CBBAAA result left me with three consos at $184.50 apiece and a mild case of the grumpies because I would have had it if Auric Girl had been disqualified in the first leg and 10-1 runnerup Officer Flirt had been put up.

It looked like that was going to happen right after the race, as Auric's Girl took a sharp right-hand turn in midstretch and cut several paths across the field, but after a long inquiry the stewards left the results alone. The pick-6 paid $77,332 to nine winners. I think it would have paid a lot less with Officer Flirt than the 4-1 disparity in their win odds would suggest. It was a wide-open race in which I suspect almost everyone spread as far as he could afford, and Officer Flirt would have been on many tickets that went three-, four- or five-deep. Auric's Girl was only useable if you went eight-deep in the eight-horse field.

--Saving the best for last: Quality Road. His Met Mile victory, where he turned back three challenges en route to a 1:33.11 mile off a 114-day layoff, stamped him as the best male racehorse in this country since Curlin retired. Next stop: possibly the Suburban July 3, or straight to the Whitney Aug. 7, then possibly the Woodward, Jockey Club Gold Cup and Breeders' Cup Classic.

His Met clocking equalled Langfuhr's from 1997 as the second fastest ever behind Honour and Glory's 1:32.81 in 1996. It's a little tougher to be as precise about a speed figure: The Belmont track was not particularly quick earlier in the day, and then there were four straight grass races before the Met, by which time the track seemed much quicker. If you gave the race the same variant as the earlier ones on the card, the Met would get a Beyer Speed Figure of 123, which would leave runners-up Musket Man, Tizway and Convocation with implausibly high career tops. Instead, the race has been given a preliminary BSF of 114.

Virgin Queen More than 1 year ago
" there is an old saw in racing that there are a hundred ways to win a race, but the only one that works is to get there first." the new saw of the 21 century is there is only 1 way to win a race and 99 ways to lose.
Derby Dew More than 1 year ago
I echo Prizboy's comments on the Breeders' Cup pre sale. I also wanted two seats for Friday and Saturday and found that the only single sale seats available were grandstand bleachers. Every seat that involved a chair were in box sections and were being sold in lots of 6, 8 and 10. When I attended the 2006 BC at Churchill, this policy did not exist. With interest in horse racing on the decline, the Breeders' Cup has the audicity to come up with this block party ticket mentality. Count me out - No Breeders' Cup for me.
Dogs Up More than 1 year ago
There is an old saw in racing that there are a hundred ways to win a race, but the only one that works is to get there first. Much talk about firt time jocks new to the the Big B mile and a half oval having trouble negotiating the turns, or misjudging where they are in the race. That's why they have quarter poles, bulls eye even a fence around the track so no on gets lost. The final run to the wire always seperates the winner from the also rans. In the mathamatics of racing the jockey and the trainer at best account for about 10% each of the horse's final success. At the end of the day, the horse's input of 80% will more than likely determine the black type for this year's Belmont. Many say Borel moved too soon on Mine That Bird in the Belmont, but still doubt the horse's now engraved trophy that says he won the Kentucky Derby. I still say he won. With that said, if you went to the dictionary and looked up 'gave it my all' you'll see a group picture of the Belmont horses and connections. So, with the best of the best on the planet fighting for a common wire, please don't get taken up with the saws that a jock who never raced on the track is going to blow a turn or get lost. Two of the world's best jocks in the history of racing are on the long shots this Saturday, namely Gomez and Borel. They will want the wire first as well. Racing is what it is. You bet before the event, handicap the horse's chances, not the butterflies in the new jock's gut. Usually, new jocks to the Belmont are as good as it gets. See Lookin at Lucky winner of Preakness after two bad trip races ridden by emerging jockey Martin Garcia. See Joey Talamo on scratched favorite (I want revenge), very possibly would have been youngest jockey ever to win Kentucky Derby. And if the soup isn't thick enough, what about the two best jocks riding the long shots in this edition of the Belmont. They won't get lost either.
Brian More than 1 year ago
@prizboy: No doubt, the BC ticket situation is off the charts screwy. First of all, I am a pretty tech savvy guy and that website was unusable. And they seemed to know it (there was a "before you start" tutorial that still didn't help). Second, the pricing and minimum purchase requirements are ridiculous. We went to pretty much every BC from 1997 until 2007, but skipped the last two years because we didn't want to go to California and will now skip a third straight (this one in our own backyard). Racing has enough issues without turning off what few fans are left.
pat More than 1 year ago
Congrats Richie on a great Career!! IF YOU DON'T HAVE A "fig" BET THE "mig"!!!
Gary C More than 1 year ago
... The quality of Belmont's cards when compared to years past was horrible. I think you should attempt to estimate what Belmont's handle would have been if they offered a card as attractive as Monmouth's. To be fair Churchill's cards have become quite weak as well.
Joe Appelbaum More than 1 year ago
You make a very good comparison about the movie gross. Buried in the hyperbole about racing's decline, is that $12 billion in handle is a real number... Shouldn't we be supportive and encouraging of the Monmouth pilot program?
mike More than 1 year ago
Dangerous when a possible life changing score ends up in the hands of the sometimes inconsistent stewards.Bad call imo, as the 6 horse(i believe)may have lost a placing when taking up to avoid the swerving winner(cost me the pick 6 also worth app $10k)While not a life changing score, I placed a call to the stewards for clarification,it was not taken.A suggestion I once made, amongst others, for live coverage of steward reviews was just dismissed by NYRA. So much wrong with the game as to transparency yet the same racing execs remain in their fifedoms, insulated and disinterested in what the customer has to say. Mike
george quinn More than 1 year ago
TO prize boy, I share your frustration with Breeders Cup ticket purchase. I am not an ebay seller but I guess I should be as that is exactly where all these ticket boxes ended up. As well as brokers. I have the money to buy a whole box but I just do not feel as if it is my job to sell 4 in order to buy two. I clicked on right at 12 oclock and by 2 oclock everything was gone and I had no tickets. Your not the only one. George in Tampa P.S I have been to many Breeders Cups even up to Woodine in 96, thinking about just staying home now instead of paying 600 for a decent seat. plus airfare, plus, plus, plus, I am trying to make money and it would be around 2k just to show up. WHEW!
Andy Scoggin More than 1 year ago
If anyone is going to MTH this Sunday, I got selected as the MTH Fan in 50 contest winner. One of the perks is that I get to handicap the card and the selections will be listed in the program. I have always wanted to be a public handicapper. Should be fun, I've been going to MTH for 40 years!