08/10/2011 11:28AM

Spa Day 17: 8/10/11


11:30 am: Today's Saratoga pick-6, which begins with a two-day $232k carryover, is an unusual sequence: It starts with a stakes race (at a mile and a half), moves on to a four-horse field (five of the nine entered in race 6 have been scratched) and does not include a single race for 2-year-olds.

I find those all to be good reasons to play, not that I was going to sit out what should be a $1 million pool. It seems a relatively manageable sequence without as many blind alleys as usual. Now watch me go 2 for 6.

I'm still working on it but I'll put up my play before the sequence starts with the 5th race, currently scheduled for 3:13 pm. It's warm and sunny, and a little rain last night blew out the oppressive humidity that made yesterday's dark day a swelterfest (and kept the hounds inside sleeping in air-conditioned comfort instead of going to town as planned.) All five grass races -- four of them in the pick-6 sequence -- are still on the turf. The forecast:


2:00 pm: I don't know who that cocky dude was who sat in my chair at 11:30 and typed that this pick-6 was "relatively manageable," but now that I'm crunching the play it's looking a lot tougher than he thought. My first pass at what I thought was a conservative ticket came out to $7,680, more than thrice what I'm looking to put in. Lots of whittling to do.

I'm finding what perhaps should be the "easiest" races -- the four-horse field and the five-horse field -- to be the hardest. I can see 3 of the 4 in the 6th and 4 of the 5 in the 8th winning, and am having trouble visualizing how either race will be run.

The Waya Stakes, which kicks off the sequence, is a classic handicapping puzzle of what to do with a clearly superior favorite who is a complete unknown at today's distance. Snow Top Mountain would be legitimately 3-5 if the Waya were run at a mile or a mile and a sixteenth -- she's been a close second in three stakes including a Grade 1, and most of today's opponents are fillies who have trouble finding the winner's circle in allowance company. But STM has never gone longer than 9f and today's assignment is a mile and a half. Fillies such as Emerald Beach and Dyani wouldn't get near STM in a shorter race but at least have handled distances up to 11f with some success.

It ain't easy. But what fun would that be?


3:05 pm: Here we go:

Total investment was $2880, more than a conventional TicketMaker ABC because I did the all-A's-and-B's thing and then four 5A/1C backups:

All A's and B's: 2,4/3,9/1,2,3,5/2,3,5,6/2,5,7/1,2,3,4,6,11 = $2304

CAAAAA: 8,10/9/1,2,3,5/3,5/2,5/1,2,4 = $192

ACAAAA: 2/6/1,2,3,5/3,5/2,5/1,2,4 = $96

AACAAA: 2/9/6,8,9,10/3,5/2,5/1,2,4 = $96

AAAACA: 2/9/1,2,3,5/3,5/3,8,9,10/1,2,4 = $192


3:30 pm: Phew. Emerald Beech ($14.00) just held off 8-1 Senada to start the pick-6, Snow Top Mountain handled the distance okay but got outmoved by the winner entering the turn, swung wide, and flattened out late.

I made Emerald Beech my lone B behind the favorite because she seemed to me to have perhaps turned a corner in her last race, running an 11-point BSF career top. I thus preferred her to second choice Dyani, who finished in front of her when they met last year but who seems to run pretty much the same race every time without much potential for improvement. I looked long and hard at Senada, who came within inches of winning, but just couldn't take a filly who had failed four straight times at the N1x level in a stakes.

So all the C's are dead but the cavemannish all-A's-and-B's lives on.


4:30 pm: Halfway home but the second half is always the hardest. I'm 4x3x6 but the one horse I left out in the upcoming 8th race (Cat Sweep) is worrying me a little because he's getting all sorts of support to be 4-1 instead of the 14-1 his pp's would seem to merit. It took him eight tries to win a maiden race last year and his career-best fig is a 72 against four other 3-year-olds who have all fired 85's or better. He's also been off since February. There's got to be another reason for his low price besides the crazy catladies who bet every horse with "cat" in its name.


5:00 pm: Good news: Cat Sweep, who eventually drifted to 7-1, showed no reason for that low price. Not-so-good news: Dawly, no standout to me in a race where I went four deep, won by daylight at 4-to-5.

Note to NYRA: Please stop covering up the odds and pools on half the horses on the (otherwise beautifully legible) infield toteboard with ads for "Mardi Gras Day" and "Fan of the Day" and other promotional announcements. It can easily mislead fans into thinking a nine-horse field is a six-horse field, and a lot of players like to see the first flash of odds.

My three in the 9th do not seem to include the current 7-2 favorite En Fuego. Wouldn't mind having him and a couple of other C's but you can't use them all. To the person who will inevitably ask "Why don't you just put everyone on one ticket instead of this ABC stuff," that would have cost me $32,256 instead of $2,880 today.


5:50 pm: Double phew. Colonialism held off El Crespo to leave ,me alive to 6 of the 10 in the finale: $6k to the 6, $9k to the 1,3 and 4, $24k to the 2 and $88k to the 11. I'm going to be a hedge weasel and bet the other four to win to get my money back.

The next time I whine about losing photos or getting bad trips in a pick-6, remind me that Emerald Beech/Senada and Colonialism/El Crespo not only could have just as easily gone the other way but that I probably got lucky with both of them.


5:55 pm: Just got luckier: Jake's Shake ran off in the post parade and was scratched. He was one of the four I didn't have, and the one who was scaring me most -- a Carl Domino firster being bet down to 8-1. So with the three I don't have at 25-1, 9-1 and 22-1, it's a pretty easy hedge.


6:15 pm: Obviously Tuesday (for $9k) and Cincinnatti Kind (for $24k) came down to the wire in the finale and that somewhat gracious stuff I said half an hour ago about getting lucky clearly did me no good with the karma gods. Kid looked like he was going to win at the rail but just couldn't get past Obviously Tuesday ($10.00).

Yay! Bah. Nice to hit one, but still.



Walt P. More than 1 year ago
Alydar and Easy: I remember when the Maskette was renamed the Go For Wand (which is back on the NYRA schedule this fall in November at Aqueduct), which I thought was a mistake, as NYRA should have simply created a new stake to honor Go For Wand, who did deserve to be honored. The idea of renaming the Bowling Green in honor of Mark Haines simply comes down to two things, pop culture and a case of timing: The race is scheduled for Sept. 10, the eve of the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. That day is considered the best work of Haines's career. NYRA probably would draw a lot of outside attention, particularly from the financial industry for renaming the Bowling Green to honor the late Mr. Haines...
jerry More than 1 year ago
Not for nothing but this Thursday card is terrible. Playing anyway, but hoping for better on Friday
Jim More than 1 year ago
Steve, What no splash page announcing you hit the p-6? Whats going on with the marketing department? I think you gotta start cracking the whip! Congratulations by the way. Did an 0 fer on sunday and monday up there. Those races are tough. As far as changing the format to cater to the asian market I have a simple solution: Open the pools early to them, maybe the day before. When i work on a big racing day i simply put my bets in early.
fort marcy More than 1 year ago
Good job Steve. I thought the duece was going to win as well. One of the bloggers' brought up the "silent partner", do you have a betting account where you have all your wagers documented so at end of year you only pay taxes on actual profit for the year? This is a becoming a problem for me. For example yesterday, had early pick four multiple times but since the .50 paid over $600- I had to sign. This happens to me quit a bit and at end of year I end up paying taxes again on all the reported signers. I can not get a account, due to area I live. So my options for signers under $5000 are A) get a 10 percenter, and B) sign and at tax time pay taxes regardless if I won or lost money for the year. I'm certain I'm not alone here, if any one has any advice, sure would appreciate it. Good Luck to All
DietDP More than 1 year ago
Walt, I'm sure you are sincere, but we long ago got your point.
jerry More than 1 year ago
Dutrow dropping radio in for 50 today. Desperate for a victory? Are there less turf sprints this meet than last years? Seems like it.
erb More than 1 year ago
Emerald Beach,{out moved} would have been a{dqed} .had it been in the stretch.Solis is still costing me pick 6"s coast to coast. Don"t get run over Alex!
George E More than 1 year ago
Steve: Love your blog. Makes Spa even more fun. I am a 2x3x2x3x2x3 cavemanish for my budget, pick-6 seeker, who has not drank from the well just yet. Your insights are great, keep em coming. I am not using A-B-C method, but will consider it, since money mgt is not my strong suit.
Sloughi More than 1 year ago
Mr. Crist, Allow me to echo the sentiments of your commenters and shout bravo to you. Not just for the win, but for taking us on your journey to the win. It was both educational and entertaining, and you can't get better than that. Plus: it didn't cost us a cent. I'd say you made us readers winners as well. Carry on!
Bernard Downes More than 1 year ago
Steve, delayed congrats from the UK for your win. I plugged in to your 9th race picks to win a few £s for myself. I am interested in your hedging decision in the last - can I ask a personal question? Presuming that the DRF/other writing puts meals on the table for you and the family, you probably bet (like me) for fun and a bit of excitement. Wouldn't the excitement be increased without the hedging?