- Made it to Aqueduct on Saturday, and there are no outward signs of the financial perils ahead (other than the meet-long closure of the grandstand). I’ve been hearing that some people expect that the track will not reopen as scheduled on Dec 28 after the Xmas break due to lack of cash. This anticipates that the state will prevent NYRA from selling the land near Aqueduct and take over operations; and that the Big A will reopen after a few weeks. I’ve also been told that horse owners are taking their purse monies out of their accounts immediately.
But NYRA chief Charles Hayward told the Racing Form that racing can continue even if they end up filing for bankruptcy. Earlier, he conceded to the New York Times that bankruptcy is the likely outcome.
There's nothing that has happened to date to indicate that anyone has an interest in changing their positions. I don't want to be inflammatory, but one way to be successful in business is to read the past performances. The past performances so far seem to be dictating what the outcome is going to be here."But with all of the turmoil, it seemed like just another day at the races. There were no additional cutbacks in services, and the employees seemed their usual cheerful selves. The track even seems lively now, with the entire crowd of 3,825 "crammed" into the clubhouse. I’m just nowhere these days as far as my handicapping and betting goes. I don’t even have any good close call stories because I didn’t have any close calls, and haven’t had any of late that I can recall.
I also got distracted from my handicapping in the morning by a website called Cal Racing (http://www.calracing.com) that a friend called to my attention. If you go to this page and do the free registration, you can access the race replays page (with Internet Explorer 5 or higher and Windows Media player). Then if you go to the ‘Horse’ tab, you can type in any horse, and instantly get a list of its races going all the way back to last year, all available for viewing in their entirety!
This seems too good to be true! Are they allowed to do this? I know of at least one site that you have to pay for this stuff; and I believe they have something like it on You Bet, but only if you have an account. I feel like I’ve entered a new era of my handicapping life! In doing Saturday's races, there wasn't one race on the pp’s that I couldn't watch if I wanted to. I was so excited that I couldn’t concentrate on handicapping and instead starting watching races like Saint Liam battling Ghostzapper in the 2004 Woodward, and Afleet Alex somehow losing to Proud Accolade in the Champagne. I needed to get out of the house for sure.
I was down in the paddock for the 5th and eavesdropped on trainer Leah Gymarti’s instructions to Pablo Fragoso before he rode Fighting Speedy for Castle Village. “She’s got speed, but she shouldn't get mixed up in the pace....but not last either.” In other words, "please give her a perfect trip." I imagine that these instructions or ones quite similar are repeated hundreds of times throughout the country on each racing day. Fighting Speedy was actually further back then the trainer probably had in mind, but railled for the place at 33-1, giving the partners (of which I am not one) a big thrill.
I didn’t start betting until after that, and I was all wrong. I bet some Pick 3s and 4s based on singling Bank Audit in the 8th, who ran third in the Garland of Roses Handicap. This filly has been baffling me ever since I picked her in a stakes at Aqueuct last March, but it didn’t matter anyway, because my bets were also based on beating favorite Genuine True in the 7th, and she won by almost five. Both races were won by Channing Hill, and in a statistical oddity, he was among four riders, along with Elbar Coa, Pablo Fragoso, and Kyle Kaenel, who had two winners on the day. I also managed to lose in the two juvenile stakes on the Calder program.
Well, a few observations anyway. In the second, a two year old maiden filly affair, Pletcher had the 7-2 morning line favorite Coach Kent. You may recall during the summer that the trainer had a slump with these, but that’s not the case at the Big A. Coming into this race, he’d hit with four of them out of seven starters (and five out of eight if you go back to Belmont). Coach Kent is a $450,000 yearling by Forestry out of Reach the Top, a stakes winning Cozzene mare who is also the dam of graded turf stakes winner Changing World. However, she went off second choice at 4-1, and the hot money came in on another first timer, Concert Conductor for Dale Romans – 6-1 morning line, but the 5-2 favorite.....and the winner. The winner is by Storm Cat son Bernstein, out of a Halo mare.
The sixth was another two year old race, this one for colts, and again, Pletcher had the morning line favorite with a first time starter. This one was Throng (Silver Deputy), a $160,000 yearling purchase who is out of an Easy Goer half sister to stakes winners Jenkins Ferry and Vanlandingham. He wasn’t the only expensive colt in the race; Darley had an entry of a Storm Cat and a $550,000 Old Trieste colt; Clement had Hither Lane, a Mr. Greeley half-brother to Day Trader. However, none of these horses really got bet – the Pletcher horse was 6-1, and the Darley entry was around 8-1 when half of it ran off and had to be scratched; Hither Lane was second choice at 5-1. All the money went to the eventual winner, Laptop Computer (Notebook), 4th in his debut at 10-1. It’s probably more accurate to say that nobody else got bet, so the logical form horse kind of defaulted into the 6-5 favorite.
And in the ninth, Richard Dutrow had the morning line favorite in Frank’s Fuse, who, in a familiar scenario, won by four in his first start for the trainer, exceeding his previous high Beyer by 19 points at even money. Though that fig made him more than competitive in his first try against winners, he lagged at 7-1 before a late flurry of money made him 5.90 to 1, and he ran 4th. Sometimes you need to look no further than the tote board. However in this case, nothing would have helped as hopeless-looking longshot Fast Iz A Turtle swept by them all at 45-1. The comical look of shock on peoples’ faces as I headed to the exit made up for my selection finishing sixth on another futile afternoon at the Big A.