06/01/2010 5:40PM

Quantities and Quality

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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.