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Thursday, February 02, 2006

Futures For Fun

- Walter goes off on the futures pool odds in this comments section and who can blame him? His point is that three months before the race, one probably has around a one in 40 chance of picking the Derby winner, so how could anyone accept odds less than that? One can quibble over that one in 40 number I suppose, but barring extraordinary circumstances, it’s gotta be in the ballpark. Just my opinion, but I don’t think I’d accept 7-1 on First Samurai to start in the Derby at this point, no less win it. Would you?

That brings me to a column by Steve Klein in the Daily Racing Form entitled Inflating your wallet, not ego, the goal (subscription only). (His number for Pool 1 is half of Walter’s at 20-1.) He writes: Making money should be the number one goal of futures bettors, but some players let their egos influence them to make bad decisions. I couldn’t disagree with him more. To me, the Derby futures pool, particularly the first one, is strictly a fun bet and all about ego, and the only “bad” decision would be to bet a horse with single-digit odds, as well as horses like Private Vow (14-1) who hadn’t even had a workout this year when the pool closed; or Your Tent Or Mine (21-1), who hasn’t had a workout since his last race. I would consider it a win just to have my selection start in the race and be able to brag that I have so-and-so at 35-1 whereas he’s expected to go off around 10-1. If you can generate that kind of value, you’ve made a great bet whether you ultimately win or not. And since I wouldn’t consider the futures pool appropriate for anything approaching a major investment, even winning it would lend itself more to the ego satisfaction of saying “I had it!” than a life-changing score; it’s not like there are going to be any lottery payoffs on a straight win bet, and I think that if you do win enough to buy a new house, you probably bet too much!

- I haven’t yet written much about the Derby contingent at Oaklawn – no Afleet Alex or Rockport Harbor types there this year. I guess Lawyer Ron (21-1) is currently the top prospect there, and the only one listed in Pool 1. The Southwest Stakes is the next Derby prep there, and Lawyer Ron’s next scheduled start. He worked out last Friday, getting five furlongs in 1:00.40 (2/48).

His splits, according to official clockers, were : 11. 95 for the opening eighth of a mile, : 23. 98 for the quarter-mile and : 36. 45 for three-eighths of a mile.

McKee shook the reins near the eighth pole as Lawyer Ron responded with a final quarter in : 23. 95. The 3-year-old son of Langfuhr galloped out threequarters of a mile in 1 : 13. 16 and seven-eighths in 1 : 27. 31. [Arkansas Democrat Gazette]
Note that his final quarter was faster than his first; you don’t see too many speedy types that come home as strongly as this one does. That can be a dangerous combination if he can keep it up as the distances increase. However, this horse has been in training straight through since last July, has run 11 times, and his trainer Bob Holthus is planning the full Southwest/Rebel/Arkansas Derby regimen. His breeding for a mile and a quarter is questionable to start with, and it would be quite an achievement if he was still in peak form come May. Nonetheless, he should be quite formidable in the one mile Southwest.

Tim Ritchey’s top prospect may have been Menacing, at least before his 10th place finish in his seasonal debut. He told the Arkansas Democrat Gazette: “I think there is [an explanation ], but I’m not sure yet.....I’m just going to train him a little more. But I think I’ve picked up on a little something. Hopefully, his next race will be a little better.” John Servis’ best hope may be with the regally-bred Jostled and Jolted (Storm Cat-Jostle), a two-turn maiden winner despite a very wide trip on opening day. Servis told the Louisville Courier-Journal: "He keeps getting better, but for right now I'm just sitting tight....The horse will let me know if he's good enough to go." He's also pointing for the Southwest.

On Friday, there’s a first-level allowance race that has attracted a couple of three-year olds that are considered by some to be dark horse contenders. Mr. Pinstripe (Yankee Victor) was a sharp allowance winner at Arlington last summer, but ran a distant 4th in the Iroqouis and Arl-Wash Futurity. Those were against good horses, but he’s never been around two turns, and I think he’d be a bad favorite if he’s bet to his 9-5 morning line. Steppenwolfer (Aptitude), won his last around two turns against moderate competition at Louisiana Downs with a 78 Beyer. Either of these would have to make a big impression to get on my Derby radar screen.

- At Santa Anita on Friday, Bob Baffert rolls out his impressive maiden winner Point Determined (Point Given) in a one mile allowance; as well as his maiden Royal Legacy (Monarchos), a troubled second to his stablemate, at the same distance in the sixth and seventh. As Walter pointed out: “assuming both horses run (and win), it'll be very interesting to compare the times of the two races, over the same surface and just a half-hour apart...nice measuring stick...” No matter what happens though, it's still possible that Point of Impact could be Baffert's best three-year old down the road.

3 Comments:

thecalicocat said...

Menacing is no menace -- a real disappointment if that's the best Kentucky Fried Derby hopeful that Ritchey has.
I like J&J, but needs to be in a tougher race.
An old racing guy here in Philly, Stan Hochman, thinks a lot of Lawyer Ron.

Walter said...

...closest i've ever come to a big score on a Derby Future (i've never cashed one) was Peace Rules @ 200/1...he took the lead entering the turn and had a length on them at midstretch, and i thought maybe he was gonna do it...but he ended up missing by a length and a half to Funny Cide and Empire Maker...i also had Afleet Alex @ 16/1 last year (bet him after the Arkansas Derby), and we all know how that turned out...nice of him to miss by a length, then come back and destroy the field in the Preakness and Belmont...good grief...just goes to show you how hard it really is to pick the Derby winner...even if you're lucky enough to have the standout best horse, that don't mean he's winning the race (Holy Bull is another fine example of that)...in fact, the only Derby winner i've EVER picked was Silver Charm...i was on his bandwagon way-early, but unfortunately that was before i moved to Vegas, so i had to settle for the 4/1 on race day...of course, Vegas probably had him @ 4/1 back in December... 8^P

...on the subject of Oaklawn, and the fast final quarter of that workout...i know that was just a workout, so who knows where he was finishing up, but it's rather well-known that the stretch at Oaklawn goes ever-so-slightly DOWNHILL...Davidowitz did an article on that several years ago, and the evidence backs it up...take a look at Afleet Alex's final furlong in the Arkansas Derby last year, it was 11 and change...good as he was, i don't think he's getting the last furlong of a 1 1/8 mile race in under 12 seconds...sorry Alex...same deal with Cherokee something-or-other a few years ago...his final quarter or final eighth was extraordinarily fast as well...i can't remember what Smarty did down there, but if you can go back and check the final fractions of all the Arkansas Derbys or Oaklawn Handicaps, you'll definitely notice the trend...just something to keep in mind...

alan said...

Walter, thanks for that info on the Oaklawn stretch....never said I was a know-it-all! I do remember thinking that was awfully quick for Alex to come home. Lawyer Ron has come home pretty quickly in his races too.

Got beat out on the exacta with Jazil in the 6th at Gulfstream, damn...