01/06/2008 2:30PM

Wet Saturday



Santa Anita wasn't the only track where the weekend racing was compromised by rainfall. I arrived at Gulfstream just before noon Saturday and was shocked to see the sloppy track pictured above and found out, 20 minutes before my handicapping seminar started, that the day's four grass races had been switched to the main track. Apparently it rained intensely late Friday night right near Gulfstream while many surrounding areas didn't get a drop.

So the track was sloppy all day long even without any more rain, but seemed to slow down as the day went on, making it difficult to evaluate the times of the races with any precision. For example, the Marylou Whitney/D. Wayne Lukas 3-year-old Legacy Thief looked good winning a 3yo N1x in 1:09.71 in the fourth race, but it's hard to believe that was really as fast a race as the G3 Mr. Prospector for older sprinters, where Noonmark beat Mach Ride in 1:09.72 in the seventh. The Beyer Speed Figuremakers split the variant, giving Legacy Thief a 99 and Noonmark a 105. An hour later, Smooth Air upset the Hutcheson in 1:23.21, taking the lead after six furlongs in 1:09.96, and that race got a 95.

I'll write more about the Gulfstream facilities in a day or two. The place is still a work in progress, confusing to navigate and in the midst of perpetual construction, but there have been some improvements over the first two meets in the new facility.

As for my apparently brilliant selection of Cricket Miss in yesterday's 5th race, I liked her trying grass for the first time because she's a half-sister to Outofthebox and to two turf winners. When the race was taken off the turf, I switched my allegiance to Ay Papi, who held a huge lead in mid-stretch...before Cricket Miss ran her down to pay $72.60. What an easy game.

As for Double Colico on Friday at Aqueduct, whose plausibility a couple of commenters have questioned, I liked him because he was taking a sharp class drop off a freshening for a high-percentage trainer (Steve Klesaris) with an even higher percentage off that move. He had spent his entire career facing a superior caliber of horses (and had won a $50k stakes at Calder) and now was facing $35k claimers -- and not the truly open variety, but a field restricted to newly-turned 4-year-olds.

Everyone understandably complains that certain types of horses pay less than they did a generation ago due to the wider availability of speed figures and pedigree information. It has been my anecdotal experience, however, that old-fashioned class-droppers like Double Calico are underbet nowadays. Handicappers sometimes are so focussed on a horse's last two or three running lines, even if they were when the horse was clearly tailing off and in need of a break, that they often overlook the possibility that a horse coming off two poor efforts may still simply be the best horse in the race.

mike c More than 1 year ago
Steve said, "Last year's champ, Stanley Bavlish, was one of nine players who finished the day tied for 269th place with a total of, well, $0. I mention this not to knock Bavlish, an excellent handicapper and genuinely good guy who wore our equivalent of the Miss America tiara with grace and honor this past year, but to show what a hit-or-miss proposition any tournament can be' Steve, I could not agree more re the randomness of these contests. Mike
henry vincent More than 1 year ago
you may disagree with the one dollar bet but it is very popular for the guy with a small bankroll.
Flip Dawson More than 1 year ago
Dear Steve: There was more to the Cricket Miss race than met the eye. She was originally entered in a tough allowance race in race 4, with a purse of 44G's. Next thing you know, she is in race 5, which was a claiming race for a purse of roughly $16000.00. So, she drops and is the longest shot on the board, paying $72.60 to win. I played all 4 selections at 50 to win. I was happy when the last 2 were scratched, leaving me with 2 nags to play to win at $50.00. The return of $1815.00 was well appreciated. It gets better--I had just had a surgery the day before on my digestive tract. So, it was a quick ride to Kawartha Downs, where I placed the 2 bets in 2 minutes, and then took off to be put out to pasture again.(pasture being a comfortable field, complete with my favorite mare.)
Kevroc More than 1 year ago
Fun With Oxymorons: Jumbo Shrimp True Love Civil Disobedience All Weather Track!
rawlawltd More than 1 year ago
Isn't it great that the synthetic track at Santa Anita has prevented racehorses from breaking down. Oh, sorry, it's also prevented horseracing!
ARCstats More than 1 year ago
It's a shame the 2008 Breeders Cup was not scheduled for this past weekend at Santa Anita. I would have enjoyed watching all the California execs who mandated fake tracks being installed for the "safety of the horse" squirm while the rubber and wax puddles grew deeper. These are the same executive positions who endorsed permissive medication use for the last thirty years while the breed fell apart, but that was OK in their eyes (similar to the model used by baseball). You can replace the pool of sloppy fake stuff, but not the gene pool.
olrailbird More than 1 year ago
Rain, rain, rain. Los Alamitos cancelled half the card, tonight. I'm about to handicap Monday's Santa Anita while wondering if the third time is the charm and whether or not I'll be refunded my data costs for races that never happened. I'd also like to lament the death of the last race 10 cent superfecta to fund another "dentist bet" -- the $1 pentafecta that no small-time player can afford to play properly. The "Super High Five" is obviously a salute to Santa Anita's richest patrons -- giving them yet another play that can be won only with massive investment. I wouldn't begrudge their indulgence if it didn't cost a bet that small players hope to win. The asinine focus on big carry-overs is a huge part of what is killing this sport. Don't try to compete directly with the lottery -- offer an alternative to lottery and casinos where the small player has a chance to win. Why can't we make a dime the lowest common denominator for any bet? Twenty cents if you're a traditionalist! I hit (and posted at horsecalc.com for free) a $294 superfecta for a $2.40 (box) investment last Thursday (03 Jan 08). Between Thursday and Friday I hit 5 Superfectas at Santa Anita averaging $110 with 4 horse dime boxes. I want my dime box back in the last race! This penta-sucker bet is costing me money!
C More than 1 year ago
olrailbird, Why not go down to a penny for every bet? Perhaps we should also go back to WPS/DD only. Where will it end? Most tracks now offer 10 cent supers in virtually every race. Is 1 more going to matter? And about the casinos... No house edge for ANY casino game can match a racetrack's takeout plus breakage... and how are most players approaching the dime supers anyway? If boxing 7 horses for $84 isn't a lottery mentality, I don't know what is. Puh-lease. There has to be something for everyone. I'm not a whale either, but I know a lot of big players who would find another hobby if the $2 P6 suddenly disappeared. Without the big guns, the pools will shrink to nothing and that $294 super you caught the other day would be worth about $40. You can't win money that isn't in the pool. Turfway Park offers a $1 P6... it only takes in about $600 a night. BTW, the dime supers you love were actually put into play for the whales, not the little guys.
Jose Rivera III More than 1 year ago
Steve, With all the bad weather going on out west I was wondering your opinion on something. What about building domes around tracks....ya know like the old Astrodome. I heard that mentioned tonight and I thought it was by far the dumbest thing I have ever heard. I mean....who in their right mind would come up with such idiocy. Whoever came up with the idea or even mentioned it must be a few cards short of a full deck. Anyways...curious to your opinion. Keep up the great blog. Jose
rawlawltd More than 1 year ago
Santa Anita cancelled again for the third straight day because of track condition or lack thereof. The hard data is now in! Synthgetic tracks do prevent breakdowns!!!!! Unfortunately, they also prevent racing!