RSS Feed for this Blog

Thursday, April 28, 2005

Prime Number

- The Head Chef was off to a seminar tonight, so I was off to the Meadowlands. There was racing from Lone Star, Penn National, and Charles Town, and the tracks were fast. I resolved to concentrate on those three. I was outside on a humid but comfortably warm evening with lightning in the distance, and there were horses warming up on the track. Harness horses warm up on the track about 4 races before theirs - a bit more than an hour there. They wear saddle cloths with a color indicating what race they’re running in so you can identify them. I wasn’t paying any particular attention, kinda just admiring the trotters on the track; I enjoy watching their gait; it’s far more graceful than that of the pacers. Suddenly, this horse comes whizzing by, trotting up a storm - the 2 horse in the 5th. I went back to handicapping a race at Charles Town, and a couple minutes later, I hear a horse storming down the track, and I looked up, and it was once again, the 2 horse in the 5th. He looked terrific. His name is Prime Number, and he was listed at 12-1 in the morning line for the 5th.

Looking at his form, one didn’t have to stretch much to make a case for him. He had raced well just last month against much tougher, then had a string of breaks. (I won’t usually touch trotting races because they break far more often than pacers.) However, in his last two, at half-mile tracks, he ran pretty well if not that fast, but more importantly, he stayed flat. Now he was back on the big track at a level he looked competitive in. I was getting pumped about him.

After a futile bet at Charles Town, it was up to the 4th at the Meadowlands, and I had some time because the flats tracks all had maiden claiming races, which I don’t like to bet. The 3 horse in the 4th, Unspoken, is a 3 yo filly who ran in stakes company last year and earned $71K, more than the rest of the field combined. Her last race on 4/20 was her first this year; she started from the bad 8 post, went off 61-1, just ran around the track on the rail evenly at the back of the pack, and the comment line was “needed race." I’ve seen that comment at that track before in situations just like this, and what it really means is “wasn’t trying.” The chart-caller didn’t need the trainer to disclose to him what was going on. Sure enough, now Unspoken had the 3 post, was 8-1 morning line, but was 3-1 on the board. As post time approached, she drifted up to 4-1, but she was getting bet squarely on the nose. I bet her as the first half of an intended parlay with Prime Number. About halfway through the race, I noticed she got slammed to 5-2 on the last flash, and she survived some traffic problems in the stretch to win handily. EZ Game.

When the trotters came on for the 5th, I was curious to see if Prime Number would still look so good. They came out , and sure enough, there he was, leaving the post parade behind, full of run. The tote board read 19-1 with about 6 minutes left; this one was dead on the board. Then I hear the guy doing the race analysis at the track going “Take a look at the 2; he’s 19-1, and he raced against much better here last month, then had some breaks, but in his last two at half-mile tracks he raced OK in slow times, but more important, he stayed flat and now he's back at this level......” Gee, thanks! With my brilliant reasoning now broadcast to the track, the odds descended steadily, reached 9-1, but then drifted up to 12-1.

He got off well, sitting second behind a 41-1 shot, took over the lead around half way through - the half was fast, at 56.4. He led the field around the last turn, and the favorite, Shaggy, pulled to launch a bid. But he broke stride, and I pumped my fist in a rare show of emotion. Suddenly, I’m turning for home with a 3 length lead; the third quarter having been slowed down to :29.2! He’s still up by 2 and looking good passing midstretch!

Man, that stretch is long. I saw someone coming up on the rail and then you could see that Prime Number would come up as the null set, and he broke stride while tiring in the final 50 yards. This is just so typical for me - I’m just not that lucky at the track; my near miss stories far outnumber the happy endings. Fortunately, I can laugh about them - most of them, anyway.