- It's obvious who's running the show at Philadelphia Park:
“We were asked (by casino management) if we could finish the live racing card by 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, because it would help.” [Bloodhorse.com]So weekend cards there will commence at noon, and end with the 8th race at around 4 PM to alleviate congestion. And while the track says they'll add a race each onto the Monday and Tuesday cards, that doesn't help those racing fans only able to make it on the weekends. Maybe the jockeys there should appeal to casino management to get their on-track insurance increased from the current paltry $100,000 from which the track refuses to budge despite the slots bonanza that has already begun.
- Nick Zito has checked out the slots at Gulfstream, and he told the Miami Herald: "It's like they're robotic. It's like they're hypnotized."
The track "estimated" its opening day crowd at 8,000. In 2004, the opening-day crowd at the meet was announced at more than 21,000.
- More bad news for us Direct TV fans - Oaklawn has signed up with HRTV, and though the agreement is not exclusive, the track's deal with TVG has expired. Continued broadcast of the races on TVG is the subject of negotiations. If no deal is reached, then HRTV would be the only place to watch Gulfstream, Santa Anita, and Oaklawn, and perhaps TVG will ship Todd Schrrrrmmmmppfff and Frank Lyons east to set up shop at the Big A. TVG treated Oaklawn rather shabbily last year and decided not to carry many of their races.
- Sheikh Maktoum's son Sheikh Rashid has purchased probable Eclipse winner Thor's Echo for an undisclosed price, and he'll bring him to Dubai.
- Bob Baffert is losing Downthedustyroad and Point Ashley. They've been sent to Kentucky where they'll be sold at auction later this month.
- Dick Powell, writing on BRISNET.com, says to keep an eye on the placement of the rail on the turf course at Gulfstream.
Last year, we had a lot of difficulty handicapping the turf course until some research turned up some trends. What we found was that when the rail is out at its farthest lane (84'), wide closers seem to have an advantage. We also found that when the rail was down or at 12', inside speed did very well.The results charts on BRIS do note the placement, which was 84 feet on opening day. All three grass races were won by closers, two of them definitely of the deep variety. Powell explains that: Gulfstream stays with the same rail placement for an entire week, but sometimes inclement weather or major turf stakes races might force a one-day change.
According to BRIS' Track Bias Stats, closers do well on the Gulfstream turf course regardless of where the rail is placed. In 77 races going a mile last year, the speed bias was only 32 percent and only 13 percent of the races were led gate to wire. In 137 races going 1 1/16 miles in 2006, the speed bias was 44 percent with 17 percent going gate to wire. And, in 40 races going 1 1/8 miles last year, the speed bias was 42 percent and only 8 percent went gate to wire.
But if you follow the rail placement, especially at the outer extremes of 72 and 84 feet and the inner extremes of 0 and 12 feet, you can fine tune your handicapping, giving an edge to deep closers when the rail is far out and inside speed when the rail is on the inside of Gulfstream's expansive turf course. The rail placement is not going to be listed the next time these horses run back so you are going to have to keep track of where the rail has been placed.
I see that Powell also had Dug In on Wednesday, and Vanquisher closed from way back to win first time on the grass for Mott. Going back to last year's meet, Mott has won 6 of his last 18, or 33% in that category at the Gulf. He has one in Sweet Smile, who has particularly poor dirt form, going in the 5th today, and he's Illman's horse of the day. I haven't really been following his daily spot plays, so I don't know whether that's good or bad. Barclay Tagg has a first-time starter in the race - Pastel Gal is by Lemon Drop Kid out of a mare by the turf champion Theatrical. She's a half-sister to the stakes winning Lyracist, and is inbred 4x3 to the Euro champ Nureyev. She's out of a half-sister to the Haskell winner Lost Mountain.