01/06/2008 1:30PM

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.