12/17/2007 12:14PM

A Starlet and a Police Horse


--Country Star's impressive, looping victory in the Hollywood Starlet Saturday won't be enough to deny Indian Blessing the Eclipse Award as champion 2-year-old filly, but she'd probably be favored if the Kentucky Oaks were run next month instead of in May. The daughter of Empire Maker (who has two of the nation's top five 2-year-old fillies in his first crop, between Country Star and Mushka) earned a 92 Beyer setting a track record of 1:40.54 over the ever-faster Hollywood surface. She finished a fine second in her career debut on the grass at Belmont, then won the G1 Alcibiades on Polytrack and now the G1 Starlet on Cushion Track. She clearly can run on anything and should only get better with age and distance.
Earlier on the Hollywood card Saturday, the 3-year-old filly Zenyatta ran a bit slower winning a N1x allowance in 1:40.97 to earn an 87 Beyer that matched her sprint debut last month, and did it more impressively than the figure suggests, recovering from a slow start and winning under a hammerlock.

The Street Cry-Vertigineux filly is half-sister to Balance, who got her name because Vertigineux is French for "dizzy." Zenyatta got her name because her owner, Jerry Moss, produced albums by The Police (Sting, Stewart Copeland, Andy Summers) for his A&M Records, including the 1980 release "Zenyatta Mondatta." Moss has done well with Police horses, having named Giacomo for Sting's son. "Zenyatta" sounds like it should have something to do with Zen and a balance of mind and spirit, but according to a 1987 interview with Copeland, the words "Zenyatta Mondatta" are gibberish, "syllables that sounded good together."

--Thanks for your concern, parfour and cayman01, but for once I managed not to botch things up on Saturday and survived my bad opinion about Electrify to catch a buck of the Grand Slam II pick four.

Maybe I shouldn't have had it at all, and I definitely shouldn't have had it for more than 50 cents. I cooked up a $240 play where I planned to put in a 50-cent spread ticket that went 3x3x8x4 for $144 (288 x $0.50), plus $96 worth of bigger punches singling Dalvina, Stream of Gold or both. When I went to click in my bets from home about 10 minutes before post time, I was pretty annoyed to see that NYRA Rewards was not offering the 50-cent minimum on the bet. Since they had finally gotten dime supers added to the menu at the end of October, I assumed that meant the platform now supported 50-cent pick fours as well, but no. I realize they've got bigger fish to fry over there these days, like fighting for their very existence, but maybe somebody's nephew could come in over Christmas break from high school and make the necessary software fixes.

Forced to play for a $1 minimum, I could easily have pared down the spread ticket, but with no NYRA racing for the next 10 days and nine minutes to post, I just doubled the whole investment, grumbling all the way.

After Electrify won the Hooper, where I'd gone eight deep to come up with a 5-2 favorite, it somehow didn't register that I was alive for anything interesting, since the sequence had begun with a fourth choice, an even-money favorite and a 5-2 favorite. So instead of watching the McKnight live, I took the hounds out for a long walk. When I got back, these was a phone message waiting from a friend saying "You probably [messed] up the pick four but I hope you got something out of your opinions." Only then did I see that Presious Passion had won at 67-1 for a $10,879 for $1 pick four return.

Darn that NYRA, forcing me to bet the whole dollar.