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T Minus 13
And so it begins. Sorry to be so quiet the last few days, but I was trying to freshen up a bit before nonstop Breeders' Cup handicapping and scribbling begins. Here are the key dates ahead:
Sunday 10/12: In what appears to be the final prep race any of the 200 or so BC pre-entrants will run, Casino Drive will make his third career start, and first since winning the Peter Pan May 10, in an OSA N2x allowance going 8.5f on Pro-Ride (TVG, 7:12 pm ET.). He's even-money on the ML but seems likely to be 3-5 or less against an undistinguished field. A good effort by the Japanese-based half-brother to Jazil and Rags to Riches and he goes in the BC Classic.
Monday 10/13: Curlin will work between races at Santa Anita, after which a decision will be made on whether he'll run in the Classic -- or maybe not made. He might be pre-entered Tuesday as a placeholder while a final decision waits another week.
Tuesday 10/14: Pre-entries are due for all 14 BC races. It's going to take a day and a half for Cup officials to certify the entries, figure out who's in and who's on the bubble, and rank the AE's in order of preference, so the pre-entered fields will not be announced publicly until....
Thursday 10/16: Pre-entered fields announced, past performances posted.
Tuesday 10/21: Final fields entered and drawn for both the Friday and Saturday BC cards.
Friday 10/24: BC F&M Sprint, BC Juvenile Fillies, BC Juvenile Fillies Turf, Juvenile Fillies, BC F&M Turf, BC Ladies' Classic (a/k/a Distaff), probably but not definitely in that order. The five BC races will be run as the 3rd through 7th on a 10-race card and televised on ESPN2 starting at 3:30 pm ET with the Classic scheduled for 6:15 pm ET.
Saturday 10/25: The first four of the nine unladylike BC races will be broadcast on ABC starting at 1 pm ET. The order is subject to change but is currently leaning toward: BC Marathon, BC Turf Sprint, BC Dirt Mile, BC Mile. Coverage then switches to ESPN for a likely lineup of the BC Juvenile, BC Juvenile Turf, BC Sprint, BC Turf and, at 6:45 pm ET, the BC Classic.
Cup officials are trying to alternate grass and, um, main-track races both days. As for why the relatively new BC Juvenile Turf, rather than the BC Mile, will be the fourth-to-last race Saturday, kicking off the $2 million guaranteed late Pick-4? That's because the Juvenile Turf is sponsored by Grey Goose vodka, and the Walt Disney Company will allow a hard-liquor company to sponsor a race on its cable network ESPN but not on its broadcast network ABC. I swear I'm not making this up.
--I've passed on three carryovers at Belmont in the last week, which I probably haven't done since dinosaurs roamed the planet. The cards just looked completely impossible to me, largely because they were laden with my beloved turf sprints -- four on Thursday and three on Saturday. Amazingly and commendably, there were two winners of Sunday's sequence at $112k each, and two of Thursday's sequence at $76k each. As for today's card, no one could do better than 4-of-6 in a sequence where the winners paid $14.60, $22.80, $43.80, $16.40, $49.00 and $9.90 -- a $3.6 million parlay. So there's a $161k double-carryover into Sunday's card, which mercifully has only two turf sprints in the sequence, one of them a $100k stakes. I'll be burning that stored-up midnight oil.
If it carries again tomorrow, we won't have to wait until Wednesday to play for a million: Belmont's open Monday for Columbus Day, then dark Tuesday and Wednesday.
Update 10/12 6:15 pm: No million to play for, but don't blame me: I was not the lone winner of $460,138 in the Belmont pick-6 Sunday, nor did I have any $1,718 5-of-6 consos. Three A's and three C's gets you a handful of fours, and I was out early with a C-C start. Can't blame the turf sprints -- got through those with a 1x2 on the main, but had trouble liking Fast Tigress ($25.80), Swept the Series ($17.80) and Magic Show ($40.80) more than a little:
The performance of the day came before the pick-6 began: In the second race, McLaughlin firster Elusive Heat, a 2-year-old daughter of Elusive Quality and champion Xtra Heat, made a sensational debut, winning by 5 1/2 lengths in 1:03.26 for 5.5f off fractions of 22.19, 44.95 and 56.81. She was flattered half an hour later when the 3-year-old fillies J Z Warrior and Pelinoe, who routinely run low-90's Beyers, ran 1-2 in the $75k House Party Stakes in 1:10.13 off fractions of 22.73, 46.00 and 57.73. This was a brilliant debut by Elusive Hear, and an almost spooky one: It came on the same card where the feature race was the $100k Xtra Heat Stakes, named for her dam.
Sure Sign of The Apocalypse: Steve Crist hits big BC Pick 6 the same day Andy Beyer picks the BC Classic winner. Congrats to you both from a long-time fan.
Steve - love reading your blog. After your 10/11 post I sent congrats to a contact at West Point on the Elusive Heat win. Turns out that she is not a West Point filly, though McLaughlin does train her. Thanks again for your insights. JBS
To Unitas--you are a little mixed up. I play the Super High Five at SA with the help of a turf writer. I play the superfecta for 20 cents at WO--last race for both wagers. Except for today at WO--I played a $20.00 Double on Jimmy Simms trained by Asmussen onto Victory Guaranteed. Both won to bookend a Double of $50.10. Anybody could have picked Victory Guaranteed, as he was in the entries for Sat., but was a scratch around noon hour. Then he runs a day later and wins at $10.80. For some reason, I find the last 2 races very easy to snag. Want the winner at WO for Monday in the nightcap? Initials are E P.
Just read Grening's article that they retired Big Brown with a foot injury. (Or was it that CHRB steroid testing was going to be too stringent for them to get away with their juice.) Looking forward to the Breeder's Cup being settled on the up and up. Way to go California! Unfortunately we will now get depressed odds on the other contenders when IMO Big Brown was going to be a stand against in the win position.
Bombs away Bob- Heard you get a shout out on TVG Sat. night, those 2 guys were very entertaining, a little different than the usual talking heads. to all: Also did not get a chance to see Casino Drive or check replay yet, but to think with only 3 lifetime starts he can make an impact on BC Classic, is at little much in my estimation, in fact I would be amazed. If not for any other reason than just plain lack of racing experience. Time may very well prove him to be the best of his generation but I think he needs "seasoning". Don't get me wrong, I would not be bothered if he did win, I will enjoy the day no matter who gets the sugar.
I don't have time to complain about what the BC has evolved into. I'm just ecstatic about the opportunity to bet the best of the best in big pools and hope my handicapping and betting are in sync. Street Boss in the BC Sprint is my best bet so far.
Pgm: As far as the sponsorship, I think it has to do with Disney not want an ad of any kind for Vodka on its main network, ABC, whereas ESPN is on cable and is more of a "niche" network with some (even though ESPN is of course where most people go for sports), where the rules are likely a lot more loose in that regard. As said before, if I were at ABC, I'd be looking for the BC to push that part of the Saturday window back to 7:00-9:30 PM ET so ABC could get the Classic with Curlin and Big Brown (with ESPN's window remaining 3:30-7:00 PM ET), putting the Penn State-Ohio State football game ahead of it at 3:30 PM ET to the entire country and making 9:30 PM ET/6:30 PM PT the regional window on Saturday night with a Big 12 and Pac-10 game splitting that spot (and if necessary, adding a game at Noon ET on ABC to accomodate the ACC portion of the contract or for one week the ACC agreeing to also be part of a 9:30 PM ET window). Since many people have said the BC should be Saturday-Sunday, even though I don't think that is the best of ideas because of the NFL, I do think IF Churchill does not install lights before it gets the BC next in 2010, then that might be when it may be time to try a Saturday-Sunday BC, especially if the entire BC telecast were moved to ABC by then in this manner for most likely the weekend of November 6-7, 2010, assuming Disney can also get NASCAR to schedule the fall race at Fontana (CA) for that weekend (which could easily happen since NASCAR's date are expected to undergo radical shifts for 2010 anyway): Saturday would be from 3:30-6:00 PM ET (following a noon college football game) with the five Saturday BC races, giving ABC stations 6:00-6:30 for local news before airing their Saturday night game 90 minutes earlier than usual at 6:30 PM ET and the NASCAR race at Fontana after that at 10:00 PM ET. The Sunday BC telecast would then be Noon-6:00 PM ET. That could work only because most ABC stations know they are going to get crushed by the NFL anyway, so they might relent for that.
Totally agree with Jeannew from Capital OTB. Incorrect surface and distance while diluting the cup on a Saturday where the fans could see the original format and watch the Distaff(the correct name as referred by longtime fans) on what was a truly championship day may be no more. It will be interesting when handle declines for this event and blame is placed on the economy rather than lack of fan support for these Breeders' Cup changes. In no way are the players of this game affected by tough times. It is their passion as a fan to wager unless they are completely turned off.
With regard to a permanent host for the BC (from the previous blog): If BC, Ltd. were to buy a track to make the permanent host, I would actually look at purchasing Atlantic City Race Course, which for the last decade has been running very short, turf-only meets during the early spring in order to keep simulcasting. It is a 1 1/8-Mile main track with a one-mile turf course that is still considered to be one of the best in the sport, and it was a track that had the capability of running at night. The weather at Atlantic City would be closer to ideal for the Euro runners, and the slightly larger turf course would help as well. If BC, Ltd. bought Atlantic City and made it the permanent host, besides re-installing lights for night racing, the other things I would do with the BC would be the following: 1. Lengthening both the BC Classic and BC Turf to 1 3/4 Miles around three turns. This would be much more of a true "test of the champion" than the current distances. 2. Changing the BC Dirt Mile to the BC Middle Distance, which would be at 1 1/8 Miles (while still worth $1 Million), while at the same time lengthening the BC Ladies Classic back to it's original 1 1/4 Mile distance. 3. Lengthen the BC Marathon to 2 3/8 Miles. 4. Set up such a couple of short meetings a year (one in the spring before Monmouth starts, the other around the BC) where ALL races (other than any for state-breds) would carry BC Premium funds for horses nominated to the BC. That can serve as a major incentive to nominate more horses to the BC. That I think is something that could work.
Flipper, I am not mixed up, I read what you posted word for word...what difference does it make who you bet it with? Is it supposed to impress me that you make your wagers with a turf writer? Please.