08/02/2007 4:40AM

The Return of The Bard


I have got to start looking at tomorrow's Saratoga pp's a little earlier.

The problem tonight was that I started my homework not with Saratoga but with Saturday's Claiming Crown races at Ellis Park, for some things I'm writing and taping tomorrow. It's easy to get lost in those old warriors' lifetime pp's, and the next thing I know it's getting nearer to dawn than midnight.

Meanwhile, something had been bugging me about Fantastic Shirl, the winner of Wednesday's De La Rose, who I wrote about in my last two posts. Her dam's name, Lady Shirl, looked really familiar, as if I'd typed it a few times but not recently. I finally looked her up and figured out why: Lady Shirl is the dam of Shakespeare, the meteoric grass star of 2005 who went from winning a N2x allowance at Saratoga that July to outduelling a pup named English Channel in the Joe Hirsch Turf Classic that Oct. 1. I remember watching the race with Joe in the box area at Belmont and that he was rooting for the undefeated colt. Four weeks later, Shakespeare was 7-2 in the Breeders' Cup Turf won by Shirocco, finishing 12th and disappearing from the racing scene.

So after finding out that Fantastic Shirl is Shakespeare's half-sister, I finally crack open the Thursday pp's, get to the eighth-race optional claimer, and -- there he is! Shakespeare! Making his first start since Oct. 29, 2005. Spooky.

I don't know what's happened to him since then, and it's a little late, or early, to call anyone at 4:22 a.m. to find out. Internet searches keep leading me to Shakespeare quotes about horses ("A horse! a horse! My kingdom for a horse!"), so all I know is that the 6-year-old by Theatrical has moved from Bill Mott to Kiaran McLaughlin; that he's coming off two bullet half-mile grass works at Belmont; that he won that 2005 Saratoga race off a 16-month layoff; and that he's got to beat Art Master, coming off a big victory in the G3 Poker.

But it's another reason to get up in the morning, which is just about here.

RichP More than 1 year ago
Check out Sean Clancy's inetrview with McLaughlin about Shakespeare in the Saratoga Special before you make any decisions. McLaughjlin say's Mott stopped on him beacuase of a tendon injury, and he did it at the right time because he was in great shape when he got him.
Sir Perl More than 1 year ago
Why is ART MASTER going from winning a Grade 3 to an optional claimer?
Phil C More than 1 year ago
Steve, If you're wondering about the trainer switch on Shakespeare, Mott got him back in February, didn't like the way he was training, and sent him back to the farm. The owners shipped him off to McLaughlin in late April, who thinks he's been working well apparently. I'm a little leary of him considering Mott was not happy. Maybe I can get 5/2 on Art Master? 2/1? Anything above 7/5?
Steven Crist More than 1 year ago
Nick: Devious weaselminds think alike. When i posted about net-pool pricing, I had the same thought about how this affected the old dutching-the-minus-pool scheme. I remember Steve Cady, my two-back predecessor as the NY Times racing writer, doing a column about a guy with literal suitcases full of cash who dutched a minus pool on Davona Dale circa 1979. Thanks for doing the math, and I think you're right that net-pool pricing would make this slightly more favorable. As I understand it, net-pool pricing will create larger minus pools. So why don't tracks prohibit it? One thing a lot of people don't know is that the host track is NOT responsible for the minus pool -- it's the responsibility of wherever the bet is placed. With 85+ percent of handle coming from offtrack nowadays, it's not such a risk for the people putting on the races.
Nick More than 1 year ago
This may be a little off topic, but the comments a few days ago about net pool betting got me thinking. In Andy Beyer's book The Winning Horseplayer, he talks about a bettor named Doc who would bet the only true lock at the race track in minus pool situations with 5 or 6 horse fields. If the percentage on the favorite were high enough you can proportion your bets on all horses to obtain and advantage no matter who wins. (courtesy of the bridgejumper). In today's 3rd Race Gold and Roses had 90% of a 209,852 show pool. According to my calculations, with a $10,000 bankroll under normal circumstances, you would need close to 92% bet on Gold and Roses to effect a lock. With Net Pool however, it would have been a lock at 90, if you bet 8836 on the fave and 291 on the rest of the horses your return was 10,383.60 and if the favorite missed the board the show prices would have covered the $10,000. Anyways, since the theme of the blog was 'weasels' I thought it would only be fitting to come up with the "chalk eating weasel" play of season.
Van Cushny More than 1 year ago
I hope some of you who read this blog had a few quid on the 5-1 winner (Rum Squall) in the 1st today that I touted in this forum yesterday. Given his odds, my guess is that (thankfully) my advice fell on deaf ears.