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.