09/28/2014 1:49PM

Super Saturday 2014 Notes

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Some notes on yesterday's two Super Saturday cards at Belmont and Santa Anita:

Beyers: As the chart above shows, the Belmont races got slightly higher Beyer Speed Figures in the three comparable Grade 1's (Jockey Club Gold Cup/Awesome Again, Beldame/Zenyatta, Flower Bowl/Rodeo Drive) This is at least slightly misleading in the first two cases because the two champions who narrowly won their races at Santa Anita clearly are capable of running faster.

Shared Belief was less impressive on dirt than he has been on synthetics, but the aggressive riding tactics used against him forced him wide and cost him momentum. He is more than a neck better than Fed Biz. As for Beholder, her losing ground late to the front-runner she had already passed was somewhat alarming, but she had not been out since June and looked like a textbook case of a horse's needing a race. Reasonable handicappers can look at the Awesome Again and the Zenyatta and marshall arguments for or against the two winners in the Classic and Distaff.

Guaranteed Pools: The Belmont all-Grade 1 late pick-4 was "guaranteed" at $500,000. The pool passed that mark with 14 minutes to post and ended up doubling the guarantee with a final total of $1.09 million. At Santa Anita, the late daily double is now "guaranteed" at $100,000, an unimpressive sum for a pedestrian bet. Both guarantees are superfluous and do not make anyone's blood run faster.

Race Placement: Belmont had the opportunity to offer an all-G1/G2 Pick-6 -- Kelso, Beldame, Flower Bowl, Vosbugh, Joe Hirsch, Jockey Club Gold Cup -- that might have gotten some more casual players to take a small shot (and gotten the likes of me to play instead of sitting on my hands). Instead, the track broke up the stakes action by carding a turf-sprint allowance between the Beldame and Flower Bowl, on the theory that a nine-horse allowance field is more compelling and draws more action than a seven-horse Grade 1.

This field-size mantra is frequently trotted out to justify carding stakes races early on cards and to break up stakes sequences on big days. Only problem is that the entire premise is false.

Look at the handle on yesterday's 4th (Kelso), 5th (Beldame) and 6th (allowance) and see if you can still argue that the seven-horse Grade 1's had to be kept out of the pick-6 because bettors will wager more on the larger field:

WPS Pools: Kelso-$668k, Beldame-$648k, Allowance-$499k.

Exacta pools: Beldame-$448k, Kelso-$423k, Alowance-$382k.

But surely the trifecta and superfecta pools were larger on the nine-horse field, right? Wrong again:

Tri pools: Kelso-$272k, Beldame-$257k, Allowance-$213k.

Super pools: Kelso-$137k, Beldame-$127k, Allowance-$104k.

As constructed and even with a 15 percent non-carryover takeout, the Belmont pick-6 handled a paltry $125k, about half of one percent of the day's handle. And if the goal was to create a carryover, that didn't work either, as Grand Rapport nosed out uncovered Make a Decision in the finale for a $13k payoff.

At Santa Anita, it appears that winning pick-6 tickets were handed out with each paid admission. It paid $309, and there are no missing digits in that payoff. This after a day that began with a $146 winner and a $142k pick-5.

Superfectas: When is New York going to end its ridiculous prohibition on superfectas in races with coupled entries? Belmont had to scrap superfectas on the 1st and 9th races yesterday because-- and I'm not making this up -- regulators believe the betting public would be confused if two parts of an entry both ran in the top 4. The horseplayer has yet to be born who can not figure out that a 1-2-1a-3-4 finish means a 1-2-3-4 superfecta.

Diminished payoff: The willpays posted after the Joe Hirsch at Belmont said that a victory by Tonalist would result in a pick-4 payoff of exactly $1,000 for $2. When the race became official, the payoff was only $638. What happened? It was the late scratch of Prayer for Relief with just 7 minutes to post. Tonalist ended up a slight favorite over Wicked Strong in the Jockey Club Gold Cup, so all the tickets ending with Prayer for Relief were transferred to him.

Handle: Despite similar cards -- 11 races, six stakes races, five Grade 1's and an average of nine starters per race -- Belmont's Super Saturday outhandled Santa Anita's by a tally of $20.01 million to $13.48 million. Belmont drew more wagers in 60 of the 68 pools offered by both tracks, and that includes two Santa Anita races where there was serious bridgejumping in the show pools. The one major exception was the pick-6, which attracted $125k in New York and $325k in California. Here's the pool-by-pool comparison:

 

 

charming idiot More than 1 year ago
I've been playing the races for about 50 years. I probably wager at least 300 days per year. I'm not a big better and seldom play the pick 6 because it seems like a very bad proposition unless you are willing to play several hundred combinations. I will usually make a moderate bet if there is a double carryover or a guaranteed payout. a guarantee in a multiple race wager is of no interest to me. Why would i care if the guarantee was $100k or $500k or $1 million? i certainly do not expect to the the sole winner. If i can hit a $5 pick 3 or pick 4 that pays $400 for $2 that is a successful day. I play the horses because i have been doing it since i was in the 9th grade and i love it. I certainly enjoy watching graded races but they are not always the best betting races. The lone exception being the Kentucky Derby which is the race in which i know the most about each entrant and where there is a great deal of uninformed wagering. If my roi on all my wagering was a good as my roi on the Kentucky Derby i would be on that Forbes list.
harpharper . More than 1 year ago
Bettors are broke by the time Santa Anita gets going. Only way to compare handles is to have them run at the same time. By 6 pm eastern the bankrolls of bettors are diminished.
Bob More than 1 year ago
East coast will always out handle west coast. By 5 pm were done and leave or sign off online wagering. Not a mystery..
Cameron More than 1 year ago
I wonder how that's possible that Belmont outdrew SA in the pools when they have "the biggest and best pools" in America?
erdistler More than 1 year ago
I had the pick 4 from Belmont. The will pay was supposed be $ 776 for $ 2 . I also believe if NYRA wants to give smaller players a break they would lower the minimum on the pick 6 to $ 1.
PalmMeadowsFarm More than 1 year ago
Steve - Pick 6 in NY has been dead for years - what do you think of a jackpot 20 cent for the Saratoga meet with the pay-out on the last day?
Nathan Rice More than 1 year ago
Steve- I had the p4 will pay to Tonalist @ 194 for 50 cents and made hinges contingent upon that, When the race was being run they had WS @ 2/1 and Tonalist @ 3/1. Had it many times. Are you positive that WS wasn't PT fave? Thanks
edb More than 1 year ago
Great info and a fun day playing Belmont at wonderful odds. SA was not rewarding anyone trying to beat the favorite. I have never had a day where two of my jockeys fell off in different races. Very bad ju ju. Hopefully we don't lose anymore big names before the BC races. Shared Belief even money in Classic? Maybe Victor tries to rough him up again and get another 7 days for careless riding and riding without a care.
Bradley Loveless More than 1 year ago
while foremost im glad hes ok beside broken arm, as bad as rajiv is as a jockey, please dont call him a big name!
edb More than 1 year ago
I meant big name horses. So many dropping out and now Wicked Strong too. I agree that Rajiv is not a big name. Classic is going to be a strange race without so many old faces.
Juan DE La Cruz More than 1 year ago
I believe the man running NY comes from Santa Anita and learned a lot running the S.A. track. I think he implemented a lot of changes therefore the increase of handle. It was not perfect at all for some cases & probably will correct it. I do find Belmont tract nice track to to put some wager. I live in Northern Calif. but I bet on east coast track. I had a great day also playing the Belmont last saturday though I didn't a lot.
Nicholas Briglia More than 1 year ago
Not sure if I'm a "reasonable" handicapper but I am going to take the negative road with Shared Belief. I would not have much interest in him in the BC unless he somehow slips into value territory of 4-1 or better. As the favorite I would definitely bet against.
Brian More than 1 year ago
Interesting and helpful.