09/20/2007 1:48PM

Question Time


gary says: Being from Florida I just started noticing this Grand Slam bet, what exactly is it?

The Grand Slam, currently offered only at NYRA tracks, is a four-race bet dreamed up by former NYRA VP Bill Nader. Think of it as a pick-four where you only have to pick a horse to show in the first three legs, then a winner in the finale. Hence the name: You "load the bases" with the three show picks, then hit the round-tripper by picking the winner in the last leg. The bet usually concludes with the day's featured race.

You can use as many horses in each leg as you like, but while it may help to think of it as a pick-four I don't think the optimal approach is to play it like one. This isn't a bet where you want to spread out and catch a buck of it. I think there are two reasons to play the bet: 1)To capitalize on the possibility that a favorite you really don't like will finish off the board and 2)To improve the win price of a horse you like in the last leg at fairly low risk. These goals are not mutually exclusive.

Travers Day, when the Grand Slam carried a $100k guarantee (pools usually run in the $20k-$50k range), showed one way that the bet can provide exceptional value. The Grand Slam sequence consisted of a maiden race, the Baruch, the King's Bishop and the Travers, where Street Sense paid an unappetizing $2.70. The Grand Slam ending with him, however, paid over 10 times as much at $28.20 even though the favorites won (and thus obviously showed) in the first and third legs. The key was getting Cosmonaut off the board in the Baruch, where Shakis won at an overlaid 5-1 while longshots Big Prairie and Drum Major ran 2-3.

mikethedog says: If you owned a horse and could have any trainer in the world train your horse for only one race with the biggest purse ever, who would you want to train your horse and why?

That's such an intriguing question, I'm going to give you about a half-dozen different answers, because it all depends what kind of hypothetical race this is.

If it's a mile and a half on the dirt at Belmont Park, I'll take Woody Stephens. Same distance on turf out west? Charlie Whittingham. If it's the Kentucky Derby, I'll go with Bob Baffert, D. Wayne Lukas or Nick Zito. Get my drift? You can't go far wrong with any of these Hall of Famers, but I'd want whatever tiny edge they bring in their areas of greatest success.

tony says: In recent Litfin article he mentions Beyer pars for each race . Can you explain further how he comes up with that par number for the race .

Pars are simple historical averages and easy to compute if you have a sufficiently large sample size. You simply look at all the races of a certain class/type/distance over a broad period, average the winning figures, and there's your par. Where it can get a little tricky is in dealing with seasonality: There's no single maiden-special-weight par for "New York" because those races are stronger at Saratoga in August than at Aqueduct in February. Also, 2-year-olds and 3-year-olds are developing and improving, so you use different (higher) pars as the season progresses and they age or improve.

andyscoggin says: The SHOWdown contest is back, a lot of action for very little money!

The SHOWdown is a single-elimination 20-day contest with a $10 entry fee where you try to stay alive by picking one horse a day at NYRA to show. You can get the details here. The game begins next Wednesday, Sept. 26th.

scout2 says: Do you see any conflict of interest on the part of the two main sheet makers,and there greatly expanding client advisory business?

I don't see any conflict of interest. The Ragozin Sheets and Thoro-Graph have both long been in the business of recommending bloodstock purchases to owners and trainers as well as selling their products to handicappers. I'm personally not a fan of sheet numbers, because I disagree with their inclusion of ground loss and weight carried and their system of quantifying these factors, but other people swear by them. The more differing opinions, the merrier the game.

bob_cordaro says: Don't know if you can conclude that New York's dirt racing surfaces in general, and the Belmont Stakes in particular, have shortened the career of yet another great horse[Rags to Riches]. But it is a question worth researching. It would be interesting to do some research to see if there is some correlation here.

It would indeed be interesting, and the industry is in fact belatedly launching a comprehensive breakdown-reporting system so that we can all have more than anecdotal numbers about surface safety. In the meantime, I don't know of any reason to consider the dirt surfaces in New York unsafe. This summer, there reportedly were two racing fatalities on dirt at Saratoga and four on Polytrack at Del Mar. Yet Polytrack proponents and salesmen continue to insist that dirt is dangerous, Polytrack is a miracle, and that anyone who disagrees with them is a callous gambler opposed to animal welfare.

ml/nj More than 1 year ago
While I'm not as concerned one way or the other about Polytrack as some, I would point out that in a comparison between Saratoga and Del Mar the number of dirt races does matter. It seemed to me that this year had the fewest Spa dirt events since the meet expanded to six weeks.
steven_crist More than 1 year ago
t_marin: I asked today and was told "We're still waiting on the programming."
Teresa More than 1 year ago
Another horse fatally broke down at Presque Isle yesterday, bringing the total to, I believe, four. It does not seem, however, that the track there is getting the same degree of scrutiny that Belmont is. I am all for surfaces that will help to reduce equine injury, but as has been noted, those of us who express any kind of skepticism about synthetics are vilifed in most racing forums.
BombsAway Bob Grant More than 1 year ago
any info on Dime Supers coming to NYRA?
Pritchard More than 1 year ago
Why,do people forget Bobby Frankel,when they talk about great trainer's? This is the most accomplished trainer on earth,When he arrived in Calif, in the 70's he made monkey's out our local trainers.This guy was the absolute king of the claming game,only to transfer that talent to high class stakes horses.There is not one trainer around that has accomplished both at his level.
T Marin More than 1 year ago
Any word on those dime supers? From Crist Blog | August 06, 2007 The March of Dimes Rolls On --Starting soon, you won't have to be a Rockefeller to play a 3x5x7x9 superfecta partwheel in New York. All it will take is $36 and a dream. "We are hopeful to have 10 cent superfecta wagering for the start of the Belmont meet," writes NYRA CEO Charlie Hayward in an e-mail. "We have not had any further discussion internally about bet minimums beyond that but would be willing to entertain those conversations." ============================ From a an Email I received form NYRA on 08/25/2007... I don't have any official word but Dime Superfecta is starting sometime during the Belmont fall meet. You will be able to bet Dime Superfecta on the Breeder's Cup races, no other bets will be offered lower than dollar. Thanks Raspal Singh
SamG More than 1 year ago
I could go on and on about polytrack but I can`t say it any better than you did Steve.I`m all for making tracks safer for horses but I think it can be done without turning the game upside down and without total disregard for horse players as usual.
Andrew Carpenter More than 1 year ago
You make the comparison of 2 breakdowns on dirt and 4 on polytrack, which is factual, or roughly twice as many breakdowns on the heralded polytrack. You know what, I'm tired of all these polytrack vested interest parties knocking the historical aspect of this sport and once again ucking things up with their propaganda machine. Where in nature is polytrack formed like dirt and grass. Once again man has to mess with something natural because they "know better". I'm all for horses staying healthly, but you know what, horses getting hurt is part of the game. 40,000 people die on the roads every year, that fact isn't going to change. 2;07 and change in the Pacific Classic, now that is a tragedy!!!
Art More than 1 year ago
David's recollection of the Meadow Star race is right on. The race was a classic and so was the race call!
Davey700 More than 1 year ago
Steve, I have a question on betting pools. Are the ten cent superfectas pooled in with the dollar or two dollar superfecta pools? That question also goes for all the new ten cent bets. Is there, in fact, only one pool to pay everyone from for each type of bet?