03/08/2006 12:00AM

A day not to bet - but to remember


PHILADELPHIA - When I have to jot down post times on the past performance printouts, it has to be a serious day. Last Saturday was one of those days when you just did not want to miss anything.

I did not have one good opinion so I disproved the theory that nobody will watch races without a wager. Normally, that would be a good theory with me. In this case, I was just interested in seeing quite a few of last Saturday's races. And if I saw something of interest, I figured there would be a time to make use of it.

With so many important college basketball games ending at the same time and so many results in doubt, it became difficult to manage the switching to the races at the correct times. It was like the Breeders' Cup with horses and hoops, but without bets.

As soon as the horses began to sort themselves out in the Richter Scale at Gulfstream, it looked just like the Breeders' Cup Sprint. There was a big battle for the lead and BC Sprint winner Silver Train, favored this time, was sitting the perfect trip, in the clear, just off the speed, just like in the Sprint. I said to myself, "This race is over. Silver Train can't lose."

As soon as I said the word "lose" horses started to pass Silver Train. Jockey Edgar Prado was asking Silver Train and getting no answer. This was the pre-Richard Dutrow Jr. version of Silver Train, the one that got a 52 Beyer Speed Figure at Gulfstream in an allowance race almost exactly a year before.

Silver Train never fired, finishing seventh. The winner, Mister Fotis, got a 102 Beyer, a figure Silver Train topped in three of his final four starts of 2005. Where was the 114 Silver Train ran in the Sprint? Where was that horse?

A half-hour later, they ran the Swale. I wasn't expecting much, and I got exactly what I was expecting - not much. Favored Noonmark had all the bloodlines, but had not run all that fast yet, making him the kind of horse I love to bet against. But I was just watching. If I had been betting, I would not have come up with Sharp Humor, the 13-1 winner. (Is there a rule now that there must be a good 3-year-old New York-bred by Distorted Humor every year?) Sharp Humor got a 97 Beyer. Noonmark ran decently to be second. No Derby horses here.

I had the same thought as everybody else had in the Gulfstream Park Handicap. I did not know who would win, but I knew it would not be Funny Cide. Somehow, $78,578 was bet on the now 6-year-old gelding to win. Why? The $2.8 million yearling Harlington won it. Given his history, he could get better. And to be a player, he will have to. Harlington's Beyer was just 100. Funny Cide was nowhere, beaten by 10 lengths. He has not hit 100 on the Beyer scale since the Pimlico Special last May. I think there is a message in that.

I switched to Santa Anita in time for Brother Derek to toy with an overmatched field in the Santa Catalina. I can't say anything negative about a horse that has already won four graded stakes and got a triple-digit Beyer for the third straight time. And I won't.

I had a theory on the Fountain of Youth. If First Samurai was all that great, Jerry Bailey would still be riding. He was always the smartest guy in the room. The only thing Bailey hadn't done was win the Triple Crown. If he thought this was the colt to do it, he would still be working. He got off. And so did I.

My reaction to First Samurai was the same as everybody else's. How did this horse lose with that trip? He ran second and the stewards put him up to first, but they won't be able to help him down the road. Corinthian, who hit the wire first before getting disqualified, got a 96 Beyer. First Samurai got a 94, down dramatically from the 107 he got in the Hutcheson and the 103 he got in the Champagne. As signs go, these are not good.

Has a favorite ever gone wider on the final turn than Cacique went in the Frank Kilroe at Santa Anita? I have no idea which horse won or why. I do know Cacique finished fourth and had to be five lengths the best.

I had to wait another 90 minutes for the Big Cap. There was only one question: If Lava Man could duplicate his form from last summer, he was a cinch. He did and he was, getting a 113 Beyer. Favored High Limit was stuck between horses and never looked comfortable. He gets another chance from me.

I met Jerry and Ann Moss at the Derby last year. They are lovely people who certainly paid their dues in racing. And no matter what anybody thinks, me included, they will always have their Derby. And they deserved it. But the reality is that their horse Giacomo, as the result of the race falling apart, is one of the most fortunate Kentucky Derby winners in history. Giacomo is now 2 for 12 on merit. He finished fifth in the Big Cap, 11 1/2 lengths behind Lava Man. Giacomo is a bet-against every time he runs. I risked no money Saturday. I had some opinions re-enforced and formed a few others. The winter rubber band is coming off the bankroll shortly.