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Triple Carry Day
2:00 pm: Today's last six at Belmont are terrific gambling races, wide-open events filled with shaky favorites and live longshots. It' s a great day for fooling around dollar tris and pick-3's, not such a great day for the biggest pick-6 carryover of the year in New York.
Of course you never know. I thought yesterday's card was cut and dried and the biggest problem was going to be finding something interesting enough to make the pick-6 pay more than $5k. It turned out to be filled with surprises and unhittable. Maybe today will be straightforward and there will be 150 winners at $10k and I can be one of them. That's how I'm playing it, more out a sense of obligation to play for an overlay opportunity through the magic of the $608k carryover than from a position of confidence or optimism.
Every single race is a skullbuster. The bookend maiden races are filled with either firsters (4th) or dropdowns and surface-switchers (9th). The two claiming races each have at least half a dozen entrants who can win, many surrounded by questions of fitness. Maybe the featured 8th has two stickouts in Diverse and Impressionism -- if your idea of reliability is a pair of fillies who are 1 for 9 and 1 for 14.
Oh, and it just started to rain.
Of the 56 betting interests remaining after scratches, I have big red can't-win X's through only 16 of them. The cost to caveman the remaining 40? 8x9x6x6x6x5, which is 77,760 x $2 or $155,520. As this is at least $153k more than I'll be putting in, I've got some serious trimming, stabbing and guessing left to do.
2:50 pm: One down, five to go. I made an unusual $2592, single-substitution, five-ticket play with no singles, no B's, and only one deviation allowed from the A ticket:
In the first leg, the statebred juvenile-filly maiden turf sprint, my A's were the two-ply Rice and Albertrani entries. The former, sent off at 9-5, was running 1-2 much of the way, but both faded late as Albertrani third-timer My Magic Moment ($6.00) took over and held off Donk firster Paraiba by a length, while the Rice duo faded to run 6-7. So I can still go the backup tickets once. Here's the ticket breakdown:
1. AAAAAA: 1,2/3,9,10/3,8,9/1,5,9/2,10/7,8=$432
2. CAAAAA: 5,6/3,9,10/3,8,9/1,5,9/2,10/7,8=$432
3. ACAAAA: 1,2/1,8,11/3,8,9/1,5,9/2,10/7,8=$432
4. AAAACA: 1,2/3,9,10/3,8,9/1,5,9/1,7,9/7,8=$648
5. AAAAAC: 1,2/3,9,10/3,8,9/1,5,9/2,10/2,9,11=$648
The pick-6 handle today was $1,466,218, so about 55 percent of that will aded to the $608k carryover, meaning roughly $1.4 million is available to those who pick 6/6 -- or we'll have a $1.4 million quadruple-carry into Saturday's Noble Damsel-Matron-Futurity-Gazelle card.
3:15 pm: Didn't like the 8-5 favorite in leg 2 one little bit, and he just won easily. That's why they call it gambling. Good luck to those of you played more sensibly and are still alive.
4:45 pm: It would probably take a My Little Dragon/Dark Ripple late double to get a quadruple-carry at this point, and maybe not even then. After four highly logical (except to me) winners, the 99 remaining permutations to divvy up $1.4 million might all be covered.
After My Magic Moment at $6.00 and Dirty Water dog at $5.40, even the smallest players probably stayed alive and might even have singled Missile Motor ($4.70), a violent dropdown who was going to win if he still had three and a half good legs after an 8 1/2-month layoff. Contessa got the win by 7 3/4 lengths (over a 44-1 shot who might have made things really interesting), but lost the horse to Eddie Barker.
American's Cruiser's $12.20 win mutuel in the 7th will inflate the parlay and give some hope of a big payout, but I can't imagine he was as high as 5-1 in the pick-six.
5:05 pm:They're all covered in the finale, at payoffs ranging from $1,987 (about 700 winners) on Analyze Cat to $358,391 (four winners) on Court Appointment.
I'd be alive to five of them if I'd used Dirty Water Dog as a main, and to two of them had I used him as a backup, but I'm not kicking myself too hard. I just didn't like the horse at all in what I thought was a wide-open race teeming with high-priced possibilities. Clearly this was a bad opinion, and I was punished for it, but I'd rather lose straight up that way than with a borderline call, a tough trip or an unlucky photo, and at least it didn't deprive me of a life-changing score.
And my stubbornness persists. I wish you luck if you're singled to Analyze Cat, but I didn't use him and still don't like him as the 9-5 favorite here in the finale. He did no running in his two starts against statebreds and now he's "dropping" to maiden-claiming but also meeting open company.
5:45 pm: So not using Dirty Water Dog turned out to be a $9,048 mistake after Messa Nera won the finale at $10.00 to leave me with six consos for five A's and an omitted 8-5 shot. I have to think it would have paid $20k to $40k had Victory Sign or Youbethecan won the 5th. As it was, it looks like 158 of you had it.
The six consos at $78 apiece didn't do much for balancing the ledger, but the $1,051 anti-Analyze Cat (who finished 10th) tri in the last helped out.
It's been an exhausting and expensive carryover-centric week, but tomorrow the focus returns to racing, with the four graded stakes at Belmont, Big Brown's reappearance in the $500k Monmouth Stakes Presented by IEAH, and some interesting 2-year-old races around the country. I'll be back in the morning with some thoughts on it all.
The player-unfriendly sequence of the Pick 6 (and late Pick 4) at Belmont is yet another example of the NYRA's screw-the-handicapper, self-destructive nature. A formerly avid Pick 4 player, I have been driven back to concentrating on Pick 3s. A sad day for regular, serious-minded horseplayers - and a celebration for mindless, number-playing idiots who now populate OTB establishments.
After you chronicled culinary curiosities from Saratoga the past few weeks, I am surprised that you deleted from your Pick 6 ticket a runner named for one New York City's beloved street delicacies. Nobody likes a short favorite--it is always best when the ends of what Ignatius Reilly called the "weenie" protrude from either end of the bun. I've bashed NYRA recently but will grudgingly give them credit for having a 10 race card with "only" two NY state bred races. New York State's entry into a 25 year commitment to NYRA shows one of the quirks of a democratic system of government-- a representative is elected for 2- 4 years, yet can bind the state for a quarter of a century.
That was an incredible performance by Big Brown - normal horses just don't go that fast early and stay going 9 furlongs - Big Brown is a total freak on the grass. There are plenty of horses with his speed, but they can't stay. There are plenty of horses who can stay, but they have no speed. Big Brown has the magical combination of speed & stamina. It's incredible that a turf horse won the first 2 legs of the Triple Crown - he was that much better than the rest of his crop until the quarter crack and Big Sandy did him in. If I owned Big Brown, there is no doubt that his next start would be in the Arc.
floppydog - I proudly proclaimed my failures in public during the Saratoga meet. Now all I need are some victories. And now that the NYRA 25-year extension is official, could they please bring back live streaming audio ?
Funny, Steve, the dirty dog was one of my singles, and if you knew why I liked him, you would not have been so keen to leave him out. Trust me on that. Still, I think your skills are amazing, an inspiration. The people I admire for their work in this game is growing, but my favorites are Mr. Ramsey (if I could model what I do on anybody, it would be him), Mr. Bone (using race replays effectively, to say the least), and the person who was responsible for claiming Tanzanite, in my opinion one of the great "finds" because it required an ability to think and see outside of the box. There is nothing that will replace smart, hard work in this endeavor, and these are some of the people who inspire me in my quest.
Steve, Your comment on Missile Motor was factually accurate, however, I think you missed an opportunity to point out what a truly remarkable horse he is. I claimed Missle Motor a little less than a year ago along with Winning Move Stable. He promptly won a 50k claimer with a 111 Beyer and then ran an excellent 4th in a very tough race and he was in an terrible position in that race. He then convalesed for about 6 months and trained for few months. MM has many physical problems, nevertheless, he leaves it all on the racetrack every time. He now has 9 wins in 16 starts. There are certainly faster horses out there, but there are very few that are as game as mm. After his current string of races is over, I hope he gets the retirement he deserves.
That's a very intimidating dunce cap in the photo. I have to say I take mine off to all you P6 folks. The bet is way too ambitious for me financially and psychologically. I do find it fascinating to follow along at the end of the day. Your stand against the Tagg chalk was a nice play Steve, and although you mention it cost $9k, imagine the payoff if you had buried it with one of your A's or B's. Hence the moniker "king of the pick 6." Was saddened to read in your column about the passing of Art Kaufman, the Tomlinson number developer. If there's a big race track in the sky on the other side of this veil of tears it'll be awful tuff to get a grandstand seat with some of the great characters this game has had.
Maybe because California racing is becoming more european, or maybe because I have a greater sense of confidence in my handicapping, but whatever the case, I have really come to find great amateur-professional pleasure, if you will, in New York racing. I always appreciated the quality of it, but its vagaries often left me wanting in the handicapping department. This year, well this past few months, actually, but I will always remember it as Saratoga, 2008, the period of time over which I discovered that it was possible for ME to do this thing, to do it - at times - exceptionally well, and profitably for the rest of my life (anywhere in the world with Internet access) - I imagine it's a feeling one might have after spending 10 years in a PHD program (in a subject for which they hold great passion), but in my case, it came 21 years after opening my first Daily Racing Form and going, "wtf?" It came years and years after I called it quits, discovering that it was an impossible task (and it was, the way I undertook it), not believing that ANYONE could do it, just not believing. That 21 years included a failed marriage ("Not those tickets! No!!!"), 7 days without the consumption of food, after which I weighed 123 pounds, transient hotel after transient hotel, one bar after another, year after year and lots of losing tickets, lots of self-flagulation, and a few gambler's anonymous meetings (to please someone else). Like tired, worn-down racehorses, if you give certain people time, give them a safe environment within which to heal, they can be set right, come back into their truer selves, back on form. They can shock the world, even if just for a moment, but often for many long moments. And so it is that I have been thinking about my recent play at Saratoga, and how far I have come - to know that I can break down the most difficult races at the most difficult track in the world, and put it to the test against the best. And survive! At no other venue, within no other discipline, can I imagine redemption smelling any sweeter. It's not just me. There are many with this story, both equine and human. This is the greatest game.
Any chance at ALL the Big Brown race may come off the turf? I live not too far from Monmouth and its been raining here steadily for a few hours and the forecast is for more rain, or do you think they will leave it on the turf at all costs to appease the owners/sponsors? BTW: thanks Steve for the great blog during the Spa meeting, glad you are keeping it alive.
steve, could you explain why in your opinion pick-4 payoffs seem consistently to exceed the payoff for a parlay on the same horses to win? Is this strictly due to the different amounts of total takeout over the four races, to small bettors overplaying chalk in the pick 4 (as you suggest in your book), or are other factors at work?