12/17/2007 1:14PM

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.

Greg More than 1 year ago
Steve, in a recent drf-plus article, Steve Davidowitz wonders why NYRA a) takes until 11am on raceday to announce the scratches, and b) doesn't provide blinker information for first-time starters. Along the same lines, why are they one of the last racing operators to take entries 48 hours before raceday? Why can't they take them at 72 hours, which would not be an inconvenience for the horsemen (they already have the condition book and workouts are usually complete by this time), and yet be a nice advantage for the players and public handicappers?
Dan MacKenzie More than 1 year ago
micclay has some very insightful comments. However, his wish to get rid of political patronage is a pipe dream. That is part of racing in all juridictions regardless of the type of organization that operates the track - be it government, private or a blend of both. When it comes to any type of gambling business, the mafia-like style of government operates at an intensity that cannot be suppressed. Political supporters get scarce licenses and franchises. Friends get favors. Hacks and hangers-on get bird brain jobs. My hope is that you folks in NY do not allow the politics to cut into the 14% take on straight bets.
george quinn More than 1 year ago
The holy bull stakes is now after the florida derby on april 2 and is a mile and 3 sixteenths. someone help me understand any logic that magna entertainment uses. I just want to walk away from this sport when I see stupidity everywhere. What owner will run a mile and 3/16 only 4 weeks from the derby? frank stronach ugh sickened in lexington george quinn
rfb0318 More than 1 year ago
SC--what kinds of pools do you think that this bet will attract? No consolations and at $1. Also, a 10 cent super will be eliminated. Here's the DRF story: Five-horse bet aims at jackpots Santa Anita is launching a new bet at its upcoming winter meeting that will require bettors to select correctly the first five finishers of the last race in the exact order of finish. The Super High Five, a $1 bet, is designed as a jackpot wager, which track officials hope will result in massive payoffs. The bet will have a carryover provision in the event that no one correctly selects the first five finishers. The bet will not feature a consolation payoff. Santa Anita track officials have privately said they do not expect the Super High Five to attract huge pools at the outset until a carryover attracts public attention. The bet will frequently be offered on maiden claiming races that draw fields of 14. Because of the addition of the Super High Five, a superfecta bet will not be offered on the day's final race, according to a statement from the racetrack.
arazi More than 1 year ago
Even with supposedly-fair and safer artificial racing surfaces, as it was claimed, it appears the debate of bias will continue forever. Polytrack at Keeneland is blamed to have replaced one bias with another, Del Mar's polytrack was constantly critisized for its anti-speed bias, whereas SA and Hollywood Parks' cushion surfaces are labeled as speed crazy. I can understand that maybe there are ways to transform traditional dirt tracks to perform in a certain way but with artificial surfaces..?? How'd they make it faster or slower? Rain is not an issue, it doesn't require million of gallons of water, and the track renovation shouldn't be as challenging as the older dirt tracks. Its difficult to accept the reasoning of tweaking and lack of experience dealing with the track because these surfaces are in existence in Europe, Australia and other countries for long period of time. How one would define the term "fair surface"? We know California racing has always been about speed which is considered the best quality in a race horse along with stamina. Maybe they have better quality speed horses and the trainers (such as Bob Baffert) are more skillful in development of speed in a race horse. I remember somebody quoting Eddie D. saying about a 2YO that he didn't want to rate the horse because he didn't want to break his spirit. Apparently, the genius had it.
BillM More than 1 year ago
Steven, Help!!!I'm trying to compute 10k pars for Belmont(from DRF Sim. Weekly 2004-2007), but I can only come up with seven qualifying races(@ 6F.) since 2006. Belmont cards a few more races in the 16-14k range but still not very many...anyway I came up with these figs for that level: 22.66/45.91/1:10.67, sound close?? What level might you suggest to start for a baseline? Any advice is greatly appreciated!
meadow tern More than 1 year ago
Should NYRA agree to the one-year extension? Politically, will they compromise their chances if they say no? How about granting a one month extension as a counter proposal? That would at least show a little flexibility. If NYRA gives Bruno a year, we will be at the same place this time next year. I wonder what Spitzer's positon on the extension is? Hayward has America's toughest job and he has done pretty well, I believe.
Micclay More than 1 year ago
As I check the various sites daily for the latest NYRA developments, non-developments, and the usual 'off the way' comments and ideas from Joe Bruno I have had time to analyze and think the whole mess over from a distance and offer up the following points and comments. I hate to say it, but Joe might be right, nah, its an accident, that the entire NYRA Board should resign. These lofty individuals allowed NYRA management to let the Tellers commit tax fraud by reporting their drawers short and then withholding the shortage out of their pay and counting the withheld shortage as non-taxable income. Probably the most damning of the items in the deferred prosecution. Anyway, why reward an inept NYRA Board of Directors with the extension? They should resign and be reappointed if approved by all three parties in NY Govt ( Spitzer, Silver, and Bruno). I know, I'm creating a monster that already is a monster. Let each group have 1 free pass to apppoint a candidate. The other Board Members have to be agreed to by all 3. NYRA has become a much better Organization from going through the deferred prosecution. But I don't trust them in the long run without something/ someone wathching over them. I don't trust the politicians and we don't need the 781st quasi Govt oversight committee of polictical hacks to watch them. There should be a review and reaffirmation every 3 or 5 years. Gets gooey in setting up the criteria and other factors. Can't be audited by the State Auditors. If you want to feel quesy, read the state audit on the NYRA Franchise Fee. Its 21 pages, but very little of substance and fact. I am a CPA by profession, so as I read it, I kept waiting for the quotation of the NY law on the franchise fee's calculation. There is none, so I have concluded that rather than saying in the audit the law is ambiguous, they play politics and come up with their suggestion disguised as fact. NYRA's response to the audit is more definitive and to the point then the entire audit. The Comptroller's only reference in the audit is a statement that NYRA responded to the audit draft. The OTB's and the racing organization need to be combined. Get rid of the redundant cost duplication and politcal patronage. Maybe the reductions in cost and streamlining will result in some actual dollars going to the State via franchise fees and the equivalent, or God forbid, with reduced operating expenses, reduce the takeout and then see the handle increase and make even more money for the track, horsemen and the State. I doubt the politican's have any stomach to fix this problem, that will continue to plague who ever runs the track. It will come back to haunt the situation down the road. NYRA as a non-profit is the best solution for New York racing. I trust Joe Bruno more than Magna or Churchill. I have no respect for Capital Play. Can you see these guys in charge trying to squeeze the last dollar out of everything? Take out for Saratoga pools would increase by 5% each. No chairs in the backyard unless you rent them from the track. Picnic tables via lottery - $25 to enter. Raise the price of programs by $2, and on and on. No food or beverage can be brought in and so it goes. Unfortunately, not as far fetched as it sounds. I'll stop writing as I'm getting more depressed. Oh well, just remember that someday we will refer to these days as the 'Good Ole Days'!
Stefan More than 1 year ago
I've noticed that you've been discussing some recent one-ticket "caveman" pick four plays. Why the change of heart from your message in "Exotic Betting"? Do the lower minimums at some tracks lessen the importance of those ideas for multirace bets?
str3268 More than 1 year ago
Steve: Your partner -- Uncle Sam -- was probably happy about your $1 bet as well!!