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Sunshine Millions Day
4:43 pm: They don't make it easy to play this game, do they?
Just barely got my tickets in for the Magna 5, which starts in a few minutes. I do most of my betting over the Internet through NYRA Rewards and was delighted to see the bet was available online this year for the first time -- in previous years you had to phone it in for reasons that always eluded me. But there it was today, right on the Laurel Race 9 betting menu. I even checked early in the day.
One small problem: When I went to make the bets, the choice of increments at the top of the page began with $2, with no $1 option. I tried putting in $1 under "Other," and got the message "$1 is an invaild bet amount." Great. The big change in the Magna 5 this year was lowering the minimum to $1. Fortunately, I still have a telephone and just finished painstakingly dictating my six partwheels.
More good news: Aqueduct finished in time for Nassau OTB to show all the Magna 5 races but with three minutes to post their four screens are dedicated to SA, FG, GP and....Golden Gate, where it's 20 minutes until the next race and two races until the Golden Gate race that's part of the Magna 5.
Brilliant: Three of the four screens are for Magna tracks, and there are flashing messages on each that the Magna 5 is about to start with race 9 from Laurel. But OTB's not showing the Laurel race.
4:48 pm: I guess they're off and I have no idea if I'm dead or alive. Couldn't one of the three other tracks -- where the next race is either 6, 14 or 21 minutes away -- show the Laurel race or at least put up a Leg-1 result?
4:54 pm: A friend just called and tentatively asked if I used anyone except the odds-on favorite in the Laurel race because some 19-1 shot just ran down the favorite at the wire. Good news: The 19-1 shot was one of my two C backups behind that heavy favorite I virtually singled, The bad news: I'm thinned down to $40 worth of only-A's action (from a $600+ play): The live ticket now goes 1,4,6,9/7,8/1/1,3,7,9,12.
I actually feel better about that single in the Golden Gate allowance race than I do about having only 4 of the 12 in the upcoming Sunshine Millions F&M Sprint. It's a skullbuster where the most talented fillies are almost all one-way frontrunners, and there could be a wicked pace and a big meltdown.
5:15 pm: Do I get paid extra for running 1-2-3-4 in what I thought was such an impossible race? Granted, I managed to smoke out the four favorites as my A's, but at least it was 5-1 third choice High Resolve who proved the speed of the speeds and won it box-to-wire. High Resolve was a new-classic play -- the ol' frontrunner-going-synth-to-dirt angle.
Next up: The $500k S.M. Turf, where I've got two classy easterners (Soldiers Dancer and Icy Atlantic)against a big posse of Cal-breds.
5:32 pm: Phew. Soldiers Dancer came flying late to nip Presious Passion, the third classy easterner in the race, who I used only as a B.
The first two finishers are both pretty neat horses. 5- and 6-year-old geldings with a combined 63 career starts and over $2.4 million in career earnings.
Three minutes to Leg D at Golden Gate, where my single is currently 1-5. Oh, and why exactly does Golden Gate do the countdown to post times on a headache-inducing spinning display in tenths of a second?
And commenter Matt asked a good question below: How in the world is this 1-5 shot even eligible for this race? Perhaps someone more familiar with NoCal allowance conditions can educate us.
5:42 pm: Eligible or not, Beaming Babe went to the lead under a hold, the jock was looking around after a quarter of a mile, and she cruised home an easy winner at 2-5. So I'm alive to five of them in the S.M. Classic: Finallymadeit, Macho Again, Dry Martini, Hey Byrn and Delightful Kiss. I have no idea what these things are paying, and I'd take 2-5 the probables aren't going to be posted on any of the four tiny pictures I'm watching. The four-race win parlay is $927 but who knows how one winning 2-5 shot and one losing 2-5 shot might render that meaningless.
5:57 pm: Oh well.
NYRA simulcast host Andy Serling liked It's a Bird off a bad trip last out and a major rider switch, but couldn't talk me into using him as more than a C. He won by daylight and I ran a distant second and third with Dry Martini and Delightful Kiss.
The Magna 5 paid $52,709 for $2, about five times the parlay, on a disappointing pool of $431,780.
That clinking sound you hear in the background means that it's time for a cocktail.
I don't know where in Long Island you live, but subscribe to Verizon Fios TV. You can receive TVG or HRTV. They do a better job with info for the Magna 5.
Marty Wolfson has definitely gotten better stock lately. In the Sunshine Millions he displayed the art of how to prep a horse for a specific race (i.e. he used a $100k race Hal's Hope run Jan 3 as a hidden prep for the $1M race). Unfortunately, as usual it was done at the expense of the betting public. Wolfson made a comment on the poor showing of It's A Bird in the Hal's Hope was due to a bad start. That's BS. Watch the replay of the Hal's Hope. I noticed It's A Bird when despite finishing 6th he galloped out past the winner Delightful Kiss who had blown by the field in late stretch. If you review the pan shot replay of the Hal's Hope, It's A Bird does not break sharply but up the backstretch trailing a decent pace of 46 and 2/5 he moves up nicely between horses in advance of the winner Delightful Kiss and the eventual 2nd place finisher BullsBay. Despite reaching this advantageous position jockey Jermaine Bridgmohan does not move his hands and ask It's A Bird to go on at the turn. He is practically standing up as the rally horses go past him. At the top of the stretch Bridgmohan is able to split horses but still has not moved on It's A Bird. The top finishers have gone by and reached the lead. If you watch the head on film you will see Bridgmohan finally ask and whip It's A Bird at the 1/8th pole and he responds but his rally is way too late for the finish line but as previously mentioned he gallops out past the impressive winner. I also noticed the very late betting drop the odds on him. Also, I thought the $1 super of $1,800 was awful skimpy. It was a 12 horse field. The winner was 11-1, place went to the third choice at 4-1, show the favorite but not odds on at 2-1 and a 48-1 4th place finisher. I was expecting a mid to high 5 figure return. The betting coup was probably orchestrated by the replaced jockey Bridgmohan to recover the unrealized purse from the Hal’s Hope. I predict It’s a Bird will not go on to be a top handicap horse. While he is game, if you watch film of his Calder races he has no explosiveness but is a plodder able to carry a sustained rally against lesser competition.
Steve - If you did typical array and were alive to 5 in last in Magna, that woudl imply you had a CAAAA ticket. Did you really play 5 As...or did you play it differently due to having de-facto two singles and converted some Bs to As when looking at array of tix? Just curious how you played the tickets....
Isn't it possible that Wolfson simply upgraded his stock and clientele in the past couple of years, allowing his true acumen to shine through? Someone mentioned the luster being taken off the sport, but one of the sport's charms has always been that undercurrent of the unexplainable, pulling and tugging upon our common sense like a dangerous undertow, and often in this spastic game we are left stranded in the middle of a vast sea of uncertainty, with terra firma now but a speck on the horizon. A good handicapper, like a good swimmer, doesn't fight the undertow, he or she traverses it until he or she is reaquainted with a measureable degree of control over the circumstance(s). Until very recently, we couldn't explain the crazy win percentages of trainers like Pletcher, but then the rules changed and so did the stats. All of a sudden his charges, who were making a mockery of the laws of trip handicapping by continually zipping through torrid, early fractions and then miraculously pulling away in the stretch, are now more likely of running 3rd under trying circumstances. The win percentage has dropped. I find that to be compelling. While the margains shifted percipitously in one direction for some, it drifted in the opposite direction for others. Like a Wolfson, for example. And until someone can show me the suspensions, fines, etc. (which were common for the super-trainer set) that we associate with nefarious training methods, I'm going to be of the opinion that what Wolfson and others (Duggan) are doing is, simply, the remarkable training of very fine stock, and until such evidence is forthcoming, I back these men and their horse's form with great confidence. In the case of It's A Bird, his last race gave him away and made him a surprise contender. Don't forget that this race has given us many strange results in the past, in any event. I am of the opinion, however, that unlike many of those strange winners, It's A Bird actually has a chance to make some noise in the handicap division this year. When I came into the game (1987), there was still, I think, a consensus that the thoroughbred did not peak until six. The game has changed a lot since then, particularly with the emergence of two-year olds and non-claiming three-year olds. It's A Bird may give us a reason to celebrate the old axioms, the old ways, and maybe he has the perfect, modern, 'old-style' trainer to take him there? That's an exciting possibility to me, not unlike the 'possible' late emergence of Slew Of Damascus, an emergence that is repeated annually in this game by some unknown horse or another, and just the possibility of it is enough to make me wake up every new morning, every new racing day, with a spring in my step. I'm guessing I'm not alone in that joy.
Flip Dawson: Nice Tout!!
Steve, I am very very curious to know what was going through your mind as the Handicapper of the Year was making his speech at the Eclipse Awards as you were standing on the stage. It seems as they panned through the crowd that it was not very well received by the crowd that was in place. Seems to me he was barking up the wrong tree in that setting.... Your thoughts? prizboy
To give credit where credit is due, NYCOTB has the one dollar minimum AND showed the LRL race live. Wish they did neither.
Mr. Crist, You may want to think about getting the Dish Network. On the basic subscription I get both TVG and HRTV.
Reducing the minimum to $1 and taking away the guarantee sure worked well. Sunshine Millions and great weather resulted in $431K? Just wait till one day the races and weather are horrible.....they'll hang up $280K.
Hey Flip, Your two "insider" tips at Gulfstream didn't pan out. Palladio ran last and Fleet Appeal barely made it to fourth. My favorite poet, Robert Burns, once said "There is no such uncertainty as a sure thing." Still love your input here though. tact65: Sure looks suspicous on the big odds drop on It's a Bird, who figured as an X (toss-out) on most handicapper's sheets. More "inside" information at play here? And finally to Matt: They have the same law here in AZ as Michigan about betting by phone or internet services. Our only outlets are Turf Paradise or very poor OTBs that show up to four tracks at the same time on the same little screen. No will pays on anything and the tvs switch to a new track just as the first two horses pass the finish line. .