08/07/2011 1:36PM

Spa Day 15: 8/7/11



1:30 pm: It's steamy, temporarily sunny, muddy and off the turf for Day 15, the day after the Whitney, the Test and perhaps the most controversial non-takedown of the year.

I preferred Flat Out going in but have no quarrel with the outcome of the Whitney, and found it satisfying that it was the winners of the Metropolitan (Tizaway), Suburban (Flat Out) and Donn (Giant Oak), who crossed the wire in that order ahead of the rest. There were legit questions about Tizway at two turns and more than a mile, but he answered them nicely, at least up to nine furlongs. Trainer Jimmy Bond was the first to say that Tizway has something left to prove -- winning at 10 furlongs, and he'll give him a chance to do that in the Jockey Club Gold Cup and Breeders' Cup Classic. As it should be.

Tizway got a preliminary Beyer Speed figure of 111, which may surprise those who glanced at the final time of 1:52.43 and pegged it a stinker. The track, however, was really slowing down towards the end of a card where rain was expected throughout the day so perhaps the track was not watered as much as might have otherwise been. Clearly times were quicker earlier than they were for the Whitney and the Test, where Turbulent Descent needed 1:24.17 to win the Test by 3 3/4 lengths. She's more than two lengbths better than the older maidens who ran 1:24.53 earlier in the day.

As for the non-takedown of Bound by Humor in the 11th, I completely get why people are upset: Horses have been taken down for less in New York, and it's teh lack of consistency that drives horseplayers crazy. Also, the incident looks like a no-brainer if you watch the head-on in iisolation -- BBH clearly moves over from the rail and tightens things up. I think what makes it a closer call than it might first appear is that this happens so close to the wire -- the riders are standing up in another two strides -- that I don't think the stewards' decision that it didn't affect the outcome is entirely unreasonable.

That may also reflect my own prejudice that results should almost always be left alone. What I dislike more than this non-takedown is when a clearly-best horse is dq'd for a technical infraction tat costs no one a placing. I don't think you redistribute the public's money to punish a rider. In those cases, fine the rider and leave the result alone.

In any case, the owner of runner-up Wee Freudian has appealed the stewards' decision and the State Racing and Wagering Board will adjudicate the appeal. 


1:45 pm: Palooza ($8.80) in the off-the-turf 1st and Victory Island in the statebred-maiden 2nd ($9.60) produced a $47.20 early double. Victory Island, yet another winner for leading owner Mike Repole, was the 8th 2-year-old winner at the meeting for Pletcher.

Amusing myself with a little early pick-4 action from the 50-cent seats. I threw in one absolutely crazy horse for totally hunchy reasons: Kaydeross, who is 30-1 on the line and 22-1 on the board for the upcoming 3rd. I could tell you her two-turn form at Aqueduct last winter gives her a chance if all three favorites misfire, but the real reason I used her is that she's trained by Bob Dunham -- the father of the bride, Amy Dunham, at last night's wedding to trainer Phil Gleaves. I'm just not going to let her run in on me.


2:15 pm: Kaydeross ran to her odds, finishing 9th as the 9th choice in a field of 9 at 40-1. So much for hunches.

Just got a text from a goofy horseplayer I know saying that there must be a "wicked" outside bias today at Saratoga what with numbers 9, 8 and 9 winning the first three races. Putting aside that the winners were perfectly logical 3-1, 7-2 and 5-2 shots -- should I remind him that numbers 1,2,3,4,5,6 and 7 were scratched in the off-the-turf 1st so the "9" actually started from post 2?  


2:55 pm: Never fails: The second you make fun of someone's goofy theory, it works. Beautifulnightmare ($24.20), outside post in a field of 6, just beat five fancy first-time starters to win the 4th.

Beautifulnightmare, beaten six length in $35k maiden-claiming company last time out, had the look of a horse hustled into a maiden-special to make it go. But the Mitch Friedman trainee put blinkers on, forgot to stop, and beat a $375k Augustin firster, a $550k Terranova firster and a $275k Southern Equine firster.


3:30 pm: Just for the record, I'm playing the pick-6 today. "Playing" may be putting it too seriously. I am purchasing one (1) Paleolithic ticket. I am singling three horses on that one (1)  ticket. And my total investment is $210 (1x3x5x1x1x7).

It doesn't deserve the TicketMaker treatment or graphics. So here's the ticket -- 4/2,8,10/1,5,6,8,9/4/8/1,2,4,5,6,7,13 -- and here was my thinking:

I like three pretty obvious horses to win in the sequence: Buffum in the upcoming 6th, Champagne d'Oro in the Honorable Miss, and Trappe Shot in the Vanderbilt. Buffum and Trappe Shot could be in the even-money territory; I'll be betting CDO at anything over 2-1. So just in case they all win, I thought a little pick-6 play with some happy upsets in the two open races where I went 5x7, might get me an effective 15-1 to 50-1 on a three-horse parlay that might otherwise be much shorter. I rarely use the pick-6 as a lark or a flyer this way, but today it seemed like a good idea.

If we'd had a triple-carry, something resembling this ticket would have been my "A's" with thousands of intricate backups. But since we're looking at a pool of $100k instead of $2 million or more, the $210 seems like a good number.

Track looks completely dried out though still listed as "muddy." Weather guys who called for intermittent thunderstorms all day are taking the collar.


3:45 pm: Buffum (Bernardini-Storm Beauty) made $4.40 look like a gift as he split the leaders on the turn, rocketed away from the field, and won under restraint by what Durkin called 9 lengths in 1:23.14. (One race earlier, statebred maiden fillies ran the same distance in 1:27.30.

The 3-year-old Godolphin colt, rushed into the Remsen, UAE Derby and Bay Shore off a maiden victory last fall, could still make the King's Bishop 20 days hence.


3:50 pm: Track just upgraded to "good." And I seem to have overlooked the favorite in the upcoming 7th, Gambling Geraldine at 5-2, going instead with horses currently 7-2, 7-1 and 11-1. I thought there was a host of early speed, which is why I downgraded GG and was looking for an off-the-pace type from the outside.


4:25 pm: Well, that was slightly annoying. Had the right idea tossing Gambling Geraldine and trying Page by Page at 8-1, but none of the speed showed up and Funky Munky Mama ($29.80) wired the field. Page by Page chased FMM all the way but settled for second. At least I made a rare win/place($9.30) bet on PBP.

And this is definitely Goofy Gambling Day because I also played what I think may have been my first Grand Slam -- the bet where you have to pick a 1-2-3 finisher in each of the first three legs and then the winner of the feature. The idea was to get PBP to hit the board and GG out of the money, and get alive to not only Trappe Shot but also my preferred possible upsetters (Apriority and Bank Merger) in the Vanderbilt. So I made a 1x1x1x3 $20 partwheel for $60: 10/1/4/2,7,8. So far so good as the first three finishers in the 8th were 13-1, 8-1 and 13-1 and the four favorites were all out of the money, which should have killed a bunch of tickets.

My selection of the "1" to show in the upcoming 8th was a complete stab in a firster-filled race but at least it's an entry that just opened at 5-2 (a Tony Dutrow and a Rusty Arnold for the price of one) so I've got two of the nine warm bodies going for me and just need either one to run 1-2-3.

So to recap: Today I have bet on a hopeless 40-1 hunch, played a cheapo caveman pick-6, made a place bet, and played the Grand Slam. No, I haven't been drinking. But maybe I should start.


4:50 pm: This Grand Slam thing is kind of fun -- just got beaten five lengths but it was close to the best possible result.

My two firsters were no match for 7-1 Michael Matz firster And Why Not, but they ran 2nd and 3rd behind the winner with the 9-5 Pletcher fave out of the money again. If I understand this bet correctly, the entry's running 2-3 means that there were only two "winning" Grand Slam numbers in this race, and I'm guessing the Matz firster was not a very popular selection given Matz's 2-for-47 record with firsters in 2010-11.

And Why Not, a Street Cry-Alchemist filly, was a $775k buyback for breeder Helen Groves at last year's Saratoga yearling sales and looks like a Spinaway candidate after winning her debut so decisively at 6.5f. I'm pretty sure there's a $200k bonus for the first graduate of that sale to win a graded Saratoga stakes race as a 2-year-old. 


4:55 pm: Yup, there it is, in the condition book for the Saratoga Special next week:

"A bonus of $200,000 jointly sponsored by Fasig-Tipton and NYRA will go to the owner of the first two-year-old purchased at the 2010 Fasig-Tipton Saratoga Selected Yearlings sale to win a graded stake at Saratoga (The Schuylerville, The Sanford, The Adirondack, The Three Chimneys Saratoga Special, The With Anticipation, The Spinaway or the Three Chimneys Hopeful)."


5:05 pm: NYRA just announced that three of Monday's five grass races have been taken off the turf: The 1st and 7th remain on the grass but the 4th, 8th and 10th will be run on the main track. If we get more rain, 1 and 7 could still come off as well.


5:20 pm: Perhaps I missed my calling as a show bettor.

Champagne d'Oro was awful at a juicy 3-1, not responding when asked and never getting close to runaway Honorable Miss winner Tar Heel Mom. But she managed to hang on for a very distant third behind the winner and Beat the Blues, just edging out Irish Gypsy, the 9-5 co-fave I was trying to beat. So now, for the first time, I eagerly await Grand Slam willpays.


5:25 pm: Holy Grand Slam, Batman! The $2 willpays are $137 to Trappe Shot, $278 to Apriority and $317 to Bank Merger. So for my $60, I'm looking at $1370, $2780 or $3170...sorta like that 15-1 to 50-1 I was hoping to get on the long-dead caveman pick-6.

Cool. Oh wait, one of them still has to win. 

Kinda surprised the payoffs are so close -- $137 to a 3-5 shot and $278 to a 10-1? Is this what Grand Slam willpays usually look like?

However it turns out, the propect of getting $137 for $2 instead of $3.20 for $2 if Trappe Shot wins, just for picking three horses to show, makes me think the Grand Slam is a more interesting bet than I previously had thought.


5:55 pm: Oops. Trappe Shot had it half a stride before the wire but front-running 17-1 Sean Avery got him on the bob-back to win the Vanderbilt by a nose in 1:09.71. Grand Slam paid $1,359 for $2.

Still, that's the most fun I've had for $60 in a long time.

Out of action for the day. Unless someone wants to give me 1-5 there's going to be a Pick-6 carryover into tomorrow.


6:00 pm: There's actually one live ticket: $69,444 to #4 Knockout, Pletcher entrant in finale.


6:30 pm: Hurling ($13.80) won the finale to complete a $10,988 pick-4. Pick-6 carryover of $69k into tomorrow. Don't feel too bad for that one person who was alive for $69k in the pick-6 to Knockout (3rd): He or she had the lone winning 5-of-6 ticket and gets consoled to the happy tune of $23k.

ozzie More than 1 year ago
About the time of the mid 1990's the STEWARDS at SARATOGA dq,d an odds - on, runaway, MSW, FTS. The only thing the horse did that you might say was wrong was running tooooo fast. The real culprit finished in a stretch duel with the third place finisher. They were so far back the FBI could not find them. STEWY dq'd the first runner and put the culprit up as the winner, in an exacta with the runner he interfered with and kept from finishing second. The polite crowd of neophytes and fancy patrons were mildly upset. I wonder what would have happened if that incident occured in January on the IDT at Aqueduct. The hard core, knowledgable gamblers of the frozen tundra of the railbirds, would have necessitated a SWAT UNIT emergency call...
Forego76 More than 1 year ago
Mrs Forego76 LOVES the grand slam and she's pretty good at it. She only plays it at the spa and only for a buck a day. Last year she hit it 8 out of 10 days that we were there and had a remarkable $240 profit. This year she only hit it twice out of ten days but took home a $53 profit nonetheless. She just gets the program as we walk in--after I have spent the whole night and morning doing my own picks, by the way--spends maybe the first two or three races while we're at the paddock or sitting out front in lawn chairs making her selections and that's it. She refuses to bet any other race or gimmick. Calls it a waste of money. But the grand slam to her is an investment and she considers it part of her annual inclome now.
Charlie Lee More than 1 year ago
After losing thousands of dollars in horses being taken down, (Vineyard Haven) was the most costly one. I have to believe the New York stewards have an axe to grind when it comes to who to disqualify and who to let stand. I am so glad I do not put my money in harms way any longer. Between the huge take out and the stewards, there is no way to beat this game.
Jeff T. More than 1 year ago
This discussion regarding night racing intrigues me. We have had these discussions before on this blog (or another DRF blog). Even though I'm located out West, I play mostly dirt race tracks and no longer even "handicap" Del Mar or Hollywood. Especially since Saratoga is open, I don't see the need to worry about whether or; what the bias is at Del Mar. While I have always been supportive of California racing, this latest incident of awarding the BC to California in 2012 (again) is f_cking ridiculous. How can anyone justify (for any reason) ignoring New York for over 8 years? Speaking of a biases, there is obviously a bias here that cannot be explained. Sorry for this rant... I will return to the topic of night racing. I have always felt that the horses are creatures of habit and do not like their "schedules" being altered. I have witnessed night racing in CA (mostly; Hollywood Park, but some Del Mar) and the horses do not run according to their "Form" when they are forced to run at night vs. running during the daylight. A good friend of mine (who cut his teeth in CA and had 50 years of experience watching CA racing) and I bought a Form and decided to use my online account (Pinnacle) to play some of the Friday night races at Hollywood Park several years ago. After the first four races, we were confounded by the results and were down at least $150 bucks between the two of us. He then said to me, ".... there is NO logical explanation for McAnally's #3 horse not running (he ran fourth in a six horse field)... let's pack it up right now; what do I owe you?" The other races had just as confounding results and we eventually reasoned that the night atmosphere and time differences were confusing the horses. The performances were ALL suspect; where all our horses were running 15-20 Beyer points lower than what they normally would run during the day. To this day, this was by far the most confusing outcome for any handicapping I've performed. So, to sum this up; when horses are taken out of their normal routines and asked to perform as they were trained, you need a paranormal investigator to figure out what happened.
Johnny F More than 1 year ago
Steve, love your blog. I also really enjoy listening to you when you appear on Talking Horses with Andy S. up at the SPA. In a typical horserace player (a P6 player, to boot) fashion, I wanted to share with you my last five days Pick 6 play stories . . . and these are the honest to God's truth and documentable with copies of tickets via your Grand Slam ticket . . . so that people who think they have endured tough beats recently (such as the one's who were somehow affected by the non-takedown of the the 6 in the last on Saturday) can take solace in the fact that they are not alone in their misery. Here goes, I started my "fun" last Wed night with a 5 of 6 cash for $1,592 on a $1,200 play with my only loser the giant fave in the 2 yr. old stake with R Bejarano up - Sherman Bartlecourt - in the fifth leg (at Del Mar) which paid one winner in the P6 of $100,000 plus, next day at the SPA I was singled to the #1 Getinitaltogether in the last (Castellano up) "will paying" $35,000 plus who runs out and I get 5 of 6 for $1,983 on a $900 plus play, same story only incredibly tougher to swallow on Friday as I was sitting with Dale Romans' #10 Little Dale up by four with half the stretch to go and a $107,000 plus payoff only to get beat after lugging out twenty paths and losing by 3/4 of a length and getting me $6,890 for my 5 of 6 on my $2,112 play, sit 5 of 5 with 8, 11 in the last on Whitney day only to watch the scratch of Green Monster limit me to two tickets on Southbeachsandy (a nemesis of mine to start with given a take down earler in her career) and another 5 of 6 brutal beating with 2 $318 conso's and a tearing up of my form . . . leaving me yesterday, which I took off for my sanity only to handicap a ticket that would have gotten me 5 of 6 . . . again . . . with only the Sean Avery beat of Trappe Shot as my loser (I'm quite certain this all sounds like a bunch of malarkey but I swear on all that is holy these are absolutely dead on truth's) which of course would have yielded me a piece of a sweet 5 of 6 pay-off and at least some feeling of satisfaction and redemption from the previous four days brutal beats. I am good friends with the former head of Gulfstream Park, Bill Murphy, who happens to be up at the SPA this past weekend and he was following along with my tickets as I tend to give him some NY horses from time to time (I typically only play the New York circuit unless there is a big P6 somewhere like Del Mar or Hollywood or Santa Anita or CD or GP) and offered that HE was nautious watching this carnage unfold. I would go on but . . . I need to use Ticketmaker and put my ticket together for today's carryover. I'll close with "I wish I would have listened to Little Andy on Saturday when you offered that if you got to the final race of the P6 sequence and were alive to the 8 and 11, you would feel like a winner and he implored you to consider adding the 6 which would then lock things up". Shoulda, woulda, coulda . . . keep up the fantastic work, I love reading your blog and watching you give the insight you do on Talking Horses. Thanks from all of us horseplayers.
Diceman More than 1 year ago
Hi Steve, Today's Saratoga Card is extremely disappointing but remains playable! Let's recap the Card: One Stake Race - 1st Race; Why is this race carded as the 1st when fans are still arriving and struggling to get to their seats? 4 Maiden Races; 4 Claiming Races; 1 Allowqance Race - State Bred. Keeneland Race Course, my favorite Track, would never offer a Card as dismal to the betting public. including simulcasting. In addition, KY does not have Restriicted or State Bred Races as does. CA, NY. IL. FL, NJ, OH and a few smaller tracks! Restriced and State Bred Races are a waste of valuable purse money and difficult to handicap. Ironically, as mentioned above, today's Saratogo Card is bettable in the following gimmicks: the Pick 6, the Late Pick 4 and the Grand Slam. Time to crack the DRF and go to work! Diceman
eric More than 1 year ago
for some reason ive been betting workout horses @ spa....turf course favors asphalt front runners...why dont they water turf course.....more rain ?been missing gulfstreams 10 pick 6.....who really cares about breeders cup since they ran it 2 times @ sa on a track that wasnt fit for cal bred claimers months after it was over.....ky a good breeding state..as for wagering on horses derby day is good for me.....any way get a cam shot of del mars track maintenance parking lot before and after synthetic.....toyota to a hummer?
Rocco47 More than 1 year ago
Speaking of Grand Slam bets, on Saturday my wife had a live one going into the 11th with Green Monster,which was a late scratch, anyone know what happened?
john oberzut More than 1 year ago
Steve, Thanks for the help on the status of Monday's turf racing. A couple of us living in Maryland and Kentucky have been sitting on the form waiting for an update from NYRA site. You beat them to it...thanks...we can handicap now.
Disappointed Fan More than 1 year ago
Steve, i am still furious about the stewards decision on the last race on Saturday. Check out their decision. The reason is said to be that the foul did not affect the order of finish. Tell me, where in the rule of racing do they have that jurisdiction to forgive a foul? The relevant wording of the rule is: "A horse crossing another may be disqualified, if in the judgment of the stewards, it interferes with, impedes or intimidates another horse, or the foul altered the finish of the race, regardless of whether the foul was accidental, willful, or the result of careless riding. The stewards may also take into consideration mitigating factors, such as whether the impeded horse was partly at fault or the crossing was wholly caused by the fault of some other horse or jockey. " There is nothing in there about forgiving a foul if it did not affect the outcome of the race. Last thing. These decisions should be fair and should appear to be fair. There does not appear to be actual bias. But there is an appearance of bias. One steward is appointed by the state, another is from the horsepeople, and the last is from NYRA. Stewards should not comefrom special constituencies. In my home of Ontario, all three are knowledgeable people appointed by the province. There is an appearance of impartiality there - no one represents a constituency there. If the 6 was taken down in that race, people would be screaming that the NYRA appointee wanted another carryover on the pick six.
Tim More than 1 year ago
The fact that the 6 horse was not taken down really means no horse should ever be taken down for anything in the future. They got this so wrong and this sets a very bad precedence for all future inquiries. Its sort of like when the umps miss a call in baseball and they know it...then the next call they give to the team that got screwed. But the problem in horse racing is they cant do this because the next incident will be an isolated one. I am very disappointed too. Kind of rough to stomach as a loyal NYRA follower and avid bettor...well I use to be anyways.