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Monday, February 27, 2006

Board Watching

- Made it to the Big A again on Sunday, this time unaccompanied by the Head Chef, who was only able to stand it there for two more races after Highland Cat’s race on Saturday. The good news is that I lost. That’s actually progress, for when I’m really off, as I’ve felt lately, I’m just unable to concentrate, get no handle on the races at all, and tend to just not bet at all. I have no problem going to the track or spending hours watching on TV and not making a single bet if I’m not feeling it, though that's certainly not the preferred outcome. In the past, I’ve actually taken months off at a time when I’ve felt this way, turning to high culture instead, and not so much as picking up a Form. But since I enjoy writing this blog so much, and because I figure that you’re not much interested in the latest retrospective of mid-20th century Japanese cinema screening at Lincoln Center, I’m forging on.

I got into it a bit more on Sunday, and even though I lost, I at least observed some interesting tote board action, which I always love to write about. The 4th was a state-bred maiden race, and a couple of first-timers took the money, one expected, the other one not. Anthony Dutrow, hitting at 35% at this meeting, sent out Ferocious Fires (Lite the Fuse), 5-1 in the morning line. However, he was a solid 2-1 favorite throughout; the tote board just said “winner.” No value in the win pool, so I looked for a horse or two for exotics. New Testament (Testimonial) was 12-1 morning line for trainer John Candlin. Not only is this guy a low percentage trainer (6 for his last 254) he has zero debut winners with 62 such starters over the last five years, and his best finish has been third. Whatsmore, the lowest odds any of his debut runners went off at was 9-1, and all but one of the rest were over 20-1!

Yet with just four published workouts and nothing special in his bloodlines, this horse hung around 7 or 8-1 the whole time, and then got slammed down to 6-1 on the last flash for good measure - oh man, I love that last flash confirmation! Candlin owns the horse, so it’s not like it was some big-pocketed owner throwing money away; there had to be a reason. So I boxed New Testament with Ferocious Fires in the exacta. They’re off, you lose! Yeah, New Testament was left at the gate, but Ferocious Fires ran to his betting and crushed the field by eight. We’ll watch for New Testament next time; had to be something going on there.

The fifth was a dismal $15K claimer for non-winners of two, ugh. But here, another low percentage trainer was taking the money. Thomas Walsh doesn’t do much these days; he has one winner in 38 starters going back to the beginning of ’05. Here he sent out I’m All In, 10-1 morning line, winless in six lifetime dirt races, and double digit odds since his one win on the grass last spring. He was dropping in class though and did figure to have a shot, and someone else apparently thought so too. Not only was he 4-1, but he was bet on the nose in the win pool. For new readers, that’s when a horse is bet disproportionately to win as compared to the show pool, an indication that it’s getting the “smart” money. It’s one of my favorite tote board angles, so why I stood and watched as he rallied for the win ($10.60), I can’t say exactly. Except that it was a pretty putrid race, after all.

Another hot money horse in the 6th at Gulfstream. Rich Sense was 5-1 morning line in this 50K turf claiming event; he’d run 5th in the same class last time, and was claimed by trainer Mike Mitchell. Talk about hot – Mitchell was 6 for 14 at the meet coming in. Whatsmore, he’s high percentage in all the applicable categories – 29% first off the claim, 34% 2nd off layoff, 28% blinkers on. So I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised that he was 5-2, and again, bet squarely on the nose. And not only did he win, he was fairly monstrous – last AND widest on the first turn (I HATE that, and was cursing Bejarano), five wide on the final turn, but up in time in a :28.4 final 2 1/2 furlongs. But no, I didn’t cash, as I tried to nail a cold one with post time favorite Spiritual Drift.

And finally, just to show that nothing really makes much sense at the track, consider Gulfstream’s 9th race winner Handlewoman (Elusive Quality). This first time starter was 10-1 morning line for crack conditioner Steve Asmussen, who has sent out 35 debut winners in the last 12 months; light on workouts, dull on the board at 9.50-1, she wins by a length and a half. Unusual for Asmussen to score at a price first time out? Usually, yeah – in fact, 14 of those 35 winners in the last year were less than 2-1. But consider that four of his last five such winners paid 8.50-1 or more, including bombs of 14-1 and 23-1. So go figure. Chinese cinema, anyone?

- Bobby Frankel’s impressive New Regina, now two-for-two in the U.S. after her rousing come-from-behind win on the grass in the 6th at Santa Anita Sunday, is a close relative of GP Handicap winner Einstein (Spend A Buck). The latter’s dam, Gay Charm, is the second dam of New Regina. New Regina’s sire, Royal Academy, is inbred to Menow, from whom Einstein descends directly in his sire line (5th sire).

- It took about ten seconds for the Head Chef to observe Frank Lyons and Gary Siebel on TVG yesterday and deduce that Lyons absolutely despises Siebel and couldn't stand to be on the same set with him. I'm not quite as adept in interpreting body language, but Frank certainly didn't look too happy. Maybe he was just having a bad day. I'll take his job if he doesn't like it.

4 Comments:

Dave said...

Great post.

2 questions-

1. How disproportionate should the win pool be vs. the show pool to indicate a horse being bet on the nose?

2. Some of us may be interested in the latest retrospective of mid-20th century Japanese cinema screening at Lincoln Center. What might we be able to catch?

Tote Board Brad said...

Yeah, I too can watch racing for hours on end without needing to place a bet. Unless I'm at the track, that is. I usuall want a little action, and am willing to throw a few bucks away on most live races and a few imports to have cheering interest. Even when I lose every race, it's cheaper than going to a Niners or Giant's game.

alan said...

1 I don't have a set rule, but I look for something that really sticks out. You'll see a horse getting bet at say, 5-2, but his amount in the show pool is significatly less than the 3-1 and 7-2 horses and more like the ones that are 8 or 10-1. When I'm home I use the 'percentages' tab on Super Tote and that makes it really easy. I look before it gets too close to post time, when the pools sometimes evened out by bargain hunters. (This all applies to the bigger tracks in which the betting with eight minutes to go is meaningful.)

2. OK, you got me. There is currently no Japanese cinema retrospective at Lincoln Center; consider it artistic license. But as luck would have it, there actually is one at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. It includes Woman In The Dunes (1964), definitely worth seeing.

tigers1901 said...

Gary Siebel was/is an excellent color man on Harness Racing productions of the past.He now is going through some kind of mid-life crisis on camera at TVG.His comments are of distain for something, he goes off on tangents and attempts at some kind of very wierd inside irony humor schtick.He is as hard to listen to as the insufferable Ken Rudolph.Just image what it would be like to do 3 hours side by side with a hangover that Lyons frequently has.