07/03/2010 1:15AM

Quiet Fireworks


The holiday weekend's 15 graded stakes include three Grade 1's, but the most intriguing races are the pair of Grade 2's featuring the seasonal debuts of Mine That Bird, last year's Kentucky Derby winner, and I Want Revenge, who would have been favored if he hadn't been scratched the morning of the race:

(TV coverage is limited to the racing channels: Arlington and Churchill on HRTV, Monmouth and Hollywood on TVG, Belmont on both.)

I Want Revenge and Mine That Bird are the respective ML favorites in today's G2 Suburban and tomorrow's G2 Firecracker, but strike me as very different propositions. If I Want Revenge is close to where he was two Aprils ago, the Suburban should unfold perfectly for him, with plenty of suspect speed to set things up for a closer. You could say the Firecracker seems to set up similarly for Mine That Bird, but he is only running on the grass as a last-minute fallback after a dirt allowance race didn't fill for him. Given how dull he was in two starts over the Santa Anita Pro-Ride last fall, he doesn't saeem like a great candidate to fire his best shot on grass. It's fun to have a Derby winner return to the races, but that doesn't mean you're not allowed to bet against him.

Of the weekend's three Grade 1's, the United Nations is by far the strongest, and a nice betting race with three virtual ML co-favorites in Take the Points (3-1), Winchester (7-2) and Acclamation (7-2). Note to Monmouth and Belmont: How about some cooperation on the stakes schedule next year so that there's not a G1 $750k 11-furlong United Nations just seven days before a G1 $600k 11-furlong Man o'War at Belmont? There are barely enough G1 turf routers to fill two such races from coast to coast, much less in the New York-New Jersey area.

The American Oaks at Hollywood is a shell of what it has been in recent years and a G1 in name only. Once a $750k race that drew top 3-year-old turf fillies from around the country and abroad, this year it's a $250k version of the Senorita or Providencia, with just seven locals entered and only one graded stakes-winner in 2-1 favorite City to City. Sunday's G1 Prioress at Belmont drew a field of just five, with Acorn winner Champagne d'Or facing G2 winner Franny Freud and just three others.

Twenty days until Saratoga.

ML/NJ More than 1 year ago
For the record, I an NOT a fan of late starts in Saratoga or anyplace else. In Saratoga, it disrupts dinner or whatever anyone might be doing with their Friday evening. Here, closer to home, I didn't go to Monmouth this past Friday BECAUSE of their late start. If I'm going to go to the track, it's an all day thing for me. Starting the races after 2 PM (Yes, I know that 2PM used to be post time for the first at the Spa.) just means hanging around someplace an extra hour and a half waiting for the races to start.
ML/NJ More than 1 year ago
What a shame that one of the all-time greats of the sport has to go get a job as Clerk of Scales in Louisiana! I know the NYRA is in trouble and maybe has egg on its face from attempting to destroy the man, but Baeza deserves better.
Walt P. More than 1 year ago
Didn't realize I said April when the clocks changed (as that has been March for the last few years), so with regard to sunset racing, I'd still say in April, but beginning with the Friday before the Wood Memorial and then going twilight every Friday after that all the way through the end of the Saratoga season.
yuwipi More than 1 year ago
Steve, here's hoping you can help me make sense of the Belmont P6's of 7/8 and 7/9. 7/8 Win Selection Rank Field Size $3.10 chalk 6 $5.30 chalk 7 $8.70 3rd 6 $10.60 4th 7 $3.60 chalk 5 $14.60 5th 8 P6 = $7,594 7/9 Selection Rank Field Size $8.00 3rd 6 $7.10 2nd 5 $11.20 3rd 4 $4.70 chalk 6 $5.50 2nd 5 $7.10 chalk 7 P6 = $37,396 Am I missing something? How can two parades of short prices lead to such dramatic differences in payoff?
ponyman More than 1 year ago
Sour grapes again--Lopez ride on Mr. Short Pockets--These jocks got a ton of horse-they stand up real cocky&get blocked instretch.So instead of winners circle.They make excuse. Only winning jock should get paid in race.No glory coming in second..Getting Po,d-winning only will bring out the best.
Diceman More than 1 year ago
Racing has just taken another mortal blow! Turfway Park, located in Northern Kentucky and owned and operated by Keeneland, has announced they are cancelling their Kentucky Day Card due to recent financial losses! Their action reinforces the critical need for "Racinos" at Kentucky Racetracks. Racinos produce additional revenue to keep live racing viable. Otherwise, you can predict with certaintly that Turfway and Ellis Park will be closed permanently in the next couple of years! CD and Kee are not in financial danger yet because of their solid business models and other revenue producing activities! How ironic, when Simulcast Racing was first introduced 25 Years ago, all the greedy Racing and State Officials thought the concept mwould grow and ultimately save their Racetrack Investments. Just the opposie has occurred! Simulcasting, Internet Wagering and OTB's have actually destroyed Live Racing. The Racing Game will never recover from the poor decisions made in the past! Racing's future appears dim and hopeless after Turfway's fatal announcement and mortal blow to the Heart! Turfway's Kentucky Day Racing was always a good prep and steping stone to the Breeders Cup Races!
george quinn More than 1 year ago
Hey Steve, Why don't you get a few boys together, maybe Watchmaker and Davidowitz and be a bidder on the Big A slots. All you need to do is overpay by about 200 million and cover NYRA on eveything they do. Sounds logical huh? George in Tampa
trkuzdal More than 1 year ago
I hear how great the Monmouth meet is but it looks like Jersey racing to me. Yeah, there are some opportunities but, c'mon, without the infusion of additional cash, fields would be small and, uh, their usual. Monmouth per capita hovers around $75; awful. And, with numbers just released for June (down 6% v 2009), it looks like MP may have shifted some of the money toward their races while failing to draw any new bettors to the game. Bad news all around.
Walt P. More than 1 year ago
One thought: With the weather the way it is, wouldn't it make more sense, especially with no rain in the forecast if you're NYRA to push first post at Belmont back tomorrow (Wednesday) to 4:00 PM? Doing so would get the card out of the most intense portion of the sun and it would not be quite as bad as the card progress, especially if it maintained its normal time between races and the last race going off at 8:15 PM instead of 5:15. I would suspect there would be little objection to that especially since Yonkers currently is not running on Wednesday nights. Also, anyone know why NYRA did only the one twilight card on Friday this year as opposed to the last several? The one card this year seemed to have much bigger live attendance and a considerably bigger overall handle, and it probably makes sense to consider going twilight on Fridays (and next year, also possibly Saturday 7/2 and Sunday 7/3 with 3:30 PM post times those days assuming 10 races if fireworks can be scheduled following both cards at Belmont similar to what Arlington did this past Saturday) starting with the Friday after the clocks change in April (at Aqueduct) all the way through the opening Friday of the fall meet at Belmont.
Robert Slifer More than 1 year ago
What is Arlington's % of winning favorites up to now? No matter what I look up and 4-5 wins again.