RSS Feed for this Blog

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The Final Week

- Hey, how's it going, eh? It's my last few days in Saratoga, and I'm only a little sick of it. Travers weekend was a lot of fun, with friends and family in town, and a gourmet BBQ feast courtesy of the Head Chef, but little time for blogging. I've been busy this week writing the handicapping columns for the Saratoga Special for Wednesday and Thursday. It's funny that that's what I ended up doing for them, as I hardly consider myself an expert handicapper. However, picking a winner one or two days in advance is far different that wagering decisions made in the heat of battle, and it's the latter at which I'm particularly poor. I just try to make it interesting and informative, and hope to get lucky and pick a few winners.

I actually have a chance to come out ahead in betting here if I can nail something nice this week, though this is only due to bets on out of town tracks. So I don't know if that counts. If not, than I have to say that I've done horribly. I've cashed more tickets on a couple of my one weeks visits than I have the entire time here this year. Hard to believe that I could be so engrossed in the races each day, following the trainers, watching replays, and do so poorly.

One of the many stories that I've seen since I last posted was the reaction of the horsemen at Woodbine to the Polytrack which will debut there on Wednesday night. The praise for the surface seemed enthusiastic and universal, though note that the stories carried by the industry trades were actually the Woodbine press release. Nonetheless, to hear horsemen be so effusive as to how much the horses themselves seemed to appreciate the surface is encouraging.

With the recent rash of breakdowns at tracks like Arlington and Del Mar, especially coming after Barbaro's injury, the switch to synthetic surfaces has become a foregone conclusion. They're on the way in California, and the bidders for the NY franchise are all expected to include Polytrack at Aqueduct in their proposals. A lot of people will be watching the upcoming Woodbine meeting to see if it duplicates the success of Turfway. We could be on the cusp of a new era in the game in which horses are able to stay sounder and race more often and longer. And perhaps that would even lessen the incentive to cheat with drugs.

I hope you all got to see Discreet Cat's race on Friday. As exciting as Bernardini and Henny Hughes were, it was Discreet Cat that really dazzled with the sheer effortlessnes with which he ran seven furlongs in 1:21.53. Loyal reader Jim was in town, and took some photos for posterity.

Man, they gotta be kidding about the freaking Cigar Mile, don't they? Walter wrote somewhere on one of these blogs that it would be madness for them to not run in the Breeders Cup if he wins in spectacular fashion in the Jerome - how often do these opportunities come around, and what guarantee is there that he'll be sound next year? The summer racing season is coming to an end, but it would seem there are some intriguing possibilities for the fall.


Anonymous said...

Pretty incredible display put on by Discreet Cat...his connections say he wont go Breeders Cup competition. Shame. Reminded me of Hoist the Flag in the Bay Shore. Too easy for words. In this business hyperbole abounds, but I doubt if words could overstate the case for this horses ability. The way he left on top and Gomez took him back without so much as a raise of the head belies this horses on track experience. I dont think Gomez so much as clucked to him when forged up to the lead. This is a very special horse. Nick

Anonymous said...

You know maybe its the angle of the picture, or maybe just not close enough, but when I look at that picture of Discreet Cat's front left foot up in the air...I see what might be a horse with slightly contracted heels. The shoe comes a long way up to the rear of the foot. Generally a foot is wider, more space over the frog between ends of the shoe. Foot problems could explain the some of the reluctance to have raced this horse more than he has, now and in the future. And the reluctance to go to Churchill, Churchill will be hard and fast on BC day. Saratoga has been a little deeper than in the past this season. Just thinking out loud. Nick

Anonymous said...

I thought that Pletcher was going to unveil The Green Monkey before the end of the meet. What's the latest news?

Alan Mann said...

The Green Monkey had a slight setback a couple a while back and the latest word was that he wouldn't run until at least Belmont. Who knows, we could be up here next year wondering if he'll make his debut.