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New York Showcase Day: 7 races at Belmont for NY-breds. Total purses: $1 million. West Virginia Breeders' Day: 9 races at Charles Town for WV-breds. Total purses: $1.875 million.
It's an appealingly weird Saturday of racing around the country one week before the Breeders' Cup. The seven richest races from coast to coast include five statebred events and a steeplechase: the $500k West Virginia Breeders' Classic and $500k WVBC Distaff at CT; two $400k Florida Stallion Stakes for 2-year-olds at Calder; the $250k Empire Classic at Belmont, and the $250k Grand National Hurdle Stakes at Far Hills. The only open graded stakes on the flat are at Keeneland: the $300k G2 Raven Run for 3-year-old sprinters and the $150k G3 Sycamore at 12f on the grass.
Not enough weirdness? There's also the Living Legends Race at Oak Tree, where eight Hall of Fame jockeys are briefly coming out of retirement to ride Cal-bred N1x sprinters going six furlongs in the 4th race. From the rail out (before scratches): Jerry Bailey (age 51), Sandy Hawley (59), Pat Day (55), Jacinto Vasquez(64), Gary Stevens (45), Chris McCarron (53) Julie Krone (45) and Angel Cordero Jr. (65).
I'll be putting my time and money into Belmont's Showcase Day,and not just because the all-stakes pick-six starts with a $120k two-day carryover. For those of us who play New York regularly, this is sort of a family reunion of a card and a very localized version of what will happening at Oak Tree next Friday and Saturday. As discussed in a previous post, Banrock will be trying to become the first horse to complete a sweep of the season's four major grass stakes for statebred males. He has already won the Kingston, West Point and Cole, and is the 122-pound topweight and 2-1 favorite in Saturday's Mohawk.
One odd aspect of NY Showcase Day is that the five richest races are all handicaps, which is not the case with most statebred-showcase cards and seems like a relic that someone forgot to change. These races would be in no danger of attracting less than full fields if they were run under weight-for-age conditions, as any race purporting to crown champions should be, whether at the statebred or Eclipse level.
But it's sort of a moot point this year because this is a Showcase Day that doesn't showcase the very best New York-breds of 2008: Not one of the 11 NY-breds who has won an open graded stakes this year is running at Belmont Saturday. Give yourself an enormous pat on the back if you can name them without peeking at the answer below.
As for the riches at Charles Town, there's a strong favorite in each of the $500k races and they're homebred stablemates, both sired by the Seattle Slew stallion Eastover Court. In the Distaff, it's 12-for-23 Julie B., trying to atone for her defeat at 2-5 in last year's edition. In the Classic, it's the remarkable 10-year-old Confucius Say, who won the race as a 4-year-old in 2002 and then was away from the races for 3 1/2 years:
Answer: The 11 New York-bred winners of graded stakes this year are: Big Truck, Bustin Stones, Commentator, Doremifasollatido, I Lost My Choo, J'Ray, Pays to Dream, Sherine, Sweet Vendetta, Tin Cup Chalice and Z Fortune. Regardless of what happens Saturday, it's safe to say that Commentator, winner of the Whitney and Mass Cap and runner-up in the Met Mile, is the New York-bred of the Year.
Update 10/18 4 pm: Pick up some midnight oil on your way home from the track today. After 75-1 maiden Stormy's Smile upset the Maid of the Mist Stakes in the first leg of the pick-6, there's a huge chance we'll be playing a triple-carry tomorrow. It starts with three turf sprints. Oh joy.
You could argue that Stormy's Smile was an underlay at $153 for $2 based on her pp's: Two no-excuse double-digit defeats in two starts and taking on multiple winners today. After showing neither early speed nor any ability whatsoever in those two races, she led every step of the way today under Jose Lezcano Jr. to win by 3 1/2 lengths.
I found the result particularly exasperating because I virtually singled the runner-up, Sneakin Up, who I honestly thought would be 9-5ish but somehow went off the third choice at 4.80-1. And no, I didn't backwheel her for the $935 exacta.
Update 10/18 6 pm: It's official: three-day, $394,437 pick-six carryover into Belmont's impossible-looking Sunday card..
Update 10/19 6 pm: You don't have to wait until Breeders' Cup Saturday to play a seven-digit pick-six pool: There's a four-day $1,019,102 carryover into Wednesday's card at Belmont.
It looked impossible going in today, and it was. I somewhat reluctantly played a token $640 caveman ticket just in case, and was alive for a single conso into the finale to the two favorites -- Dirty Water Dog, the only covered horse for 6/6, and Tobruk. The former ran nowhere and the latter was a painful second to Prime Obsession. My other miss was not 23-1 Munition, who I thought had a little chance off a big rider switch, but 9-1 Counting House one race earlier, in a race where I singled King Carter, who ran 6th.
Wednesday's pick-six lineup includes four turf sprints, the new signature race of Belmont Park, and only one dirt race: a statebred maiden-claimer with seven first-time starters, which of course was positioned as the finale.
Great stories, Flipper.
Greg, On the subject of hedging.I am totally against it.If you are alive in any bet to the horse/horses that you obviously like, why bet against yourself with a hedge on a horse that you do not like only to protect yourself against a tough beat.Tough beats are part of the game and you must not let them effect you.In the long run hedges will only dilute your profits on winning bets.I never ,ever hedge.My goal is to come into the last leg of a pick 3/4 alive to the horse/horses that I think are the most logical winners.Why would I then bet against myself with a horse that I originally tossed?It never bothers me when I get beat by a horse that I eliminated in my original handicapping process.
One more thing. Are the best bred horses coming from Kentucky now? Or have the Arabs succeeded in returning the greatest thorouhbred stalions to the Arabian Peninsula? All it took was some oil money. The people we silently counted on to hold this sport together, to keep what is righteous about it true, each of those families died out, not in name surely, but in conviction, in meaning, they are surely dead, just as dead to us as the sons and daughters of the Great Stallions, who now roam Dubai and outposts similar, servants to the whims and pleasures of the king. But unless Kentucky itself is auctioned, or we ship to the Orient all the soil that burns under the Kentucky sun, we can redouble the conviction, renew it, and restore the breed that has been torn asunder by nothing but hollowness and greed. It takes more than great stallions to build a Kingdom - who shall breed to whom? How to reproduce the best ones in spirit and being? Nobody does that better than we do still. The loss of the Great American Thoroughbred will be symbolic as hell.
Bochalls: I'll answer a couple of those for you. (1) 5 year olds have done fine in the Classic (Pleasantly Perfect, Cigar, Saint Liam, Alphabet Soup, Arcangues and Black Tie Affair), but 6yo and up are winless. (2) High Chapparal was a 3yo. Before him, you have to go all the way back to Tikkanen. (3) I can't fully answer the 3yo one, but I think it's mixed. I know Tiznow, Curlin and Cat Thief tried older first, unsure if others did.
I think we should be trying to get new blood in the game, and thank goodness we have people like Randy Moss, who has some crossover appeal and respect, and shows every willingness to fight for the game through his connections to ESPN. I'm not saying he's Mother Teresa, but somehow, someway, we have to recruit fresh bodies into this game, and if it means letting go of a few old things, things we may have strong ties to, well, no one said that there wouldn't be sacrifices, and horseplayers know all too well about that sad state, but at some point soon - if we do nothing - racing quality will deteriorate to unrecognizable levels (are we there yet?) Imagine that! Here! America. Did we not ressurect the thoroughbred, did Kentucky soil not put true grit in their veins, did dirt racing not challenge them in ways that cooalesced with the natural spirit of the beasts? By 2020, the best racing in the world will be in Europe and Dubai - on grass and synthetics. We've got deeper concerns to worry about than "Distaff" or "Ladies Classic", we have greater threats to our survival than which exotic is offered where. I'm not trivializing those things, I think they matter, but how do we most effectively channel our real anxieties about the future of this hobby/endeavor/livliehood, whatever it happens to be, into positive change? I guess it depends where one lives. In reading about NY's travails over the years I have always thought Albany would be the place to get liquid? The legislative answer. In California, our Governor, who is from Austria (?), has given away all of our gaming rights to the indians in a compact that, when its effects are finally clear, will cause him to be the most reviled character in the history of the state. He's no friend of racing or california. The end result, however, is that I think the tracks here will have to be taken over by the Reservations (so help me god). Welcome to the New World. (a lot like the Old one)
Greg, In 1991 I got 4-1 on Atlanta winning the World Series(100.00 bet). I kept betting Minnesota when Atlanta was up 3 games to 2, and actually made money on the bet,even though Minny ended up winning the Series. So, my advice is to hedge if you can get good odds on Philly and/or Philly goes up in the Series.
Perusing the early BC Pp's I can just not get a feel for these races from a handicapping viewpoint, and from a sporting perspective they all seem below par in talent. Even the turf races lack the Euro stars. The Distaff is the only true G1 race top to bottom, and I am more comfortable playing maiden claimers at Aqueduct than I am any of the 2yo races. I will throw in some dime supers for fun, but my BC allocated bankroll is going toward Wed's carryover at Belmont.
Fliper, What a wonderful story about trainer Frank Merrill from the good olden days. Did PUSSNBOOTS win in its next or any other subsequent race after the unscheduled dip in that lake? And congrats on selecting Sandy Hawley and his mount in the SA classic. Sounds like you bet the jockey, which is fine if he winds up in the winner's circle. Also have played your jockey angle in the race following a win in the big stakes of the day _ carryover energy _ and have hit only once or twice. Most of the time, however, the jockey who wins the biggie doesn't have a mount in the next race. If you have tips for the BC please include them in this blog. Ray
Come on Kelso, it's different strokes for different folks. My dear sweet grandmother always bet the horse that pooped in the post parade and never a horse who had just taken a pee. I told her how foolish that system was and that every decent handicapper knows it is the exact opposite. She never listen to me.
Kelso 13 I think the luck of the draw had something to do with Hawley's geat win. I also thought that Tom Durkin may also been able to win with Hawley's mount, or at least hit the board. Sandy had to be grinning from ear to ear after Sadler told him what he was sitting on and gave his instructions. It not bad when a good trainer tells you I got this one wound up, just go to the front and improve your position, music to a riders ears.