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Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Clip Clop

- Wedensday was another day with a solid cover of clouds, but no rain, and pleasant temperatures. This is apparently about to change; in fact, the impending warmup is quite apparent in the more humid air tonight. It's supposed to be 90 on Friday, and the chance of passing storms will persist through Saturday, at least according to the forecasts.

It was also another day of restricted claimers, state-breds, and maiden claimers. The quality of the cards has not picked up just because it's Travers week. If you think about it, the way horses have their races spaced out longer and longer these days, the ones that ran in all the good races during the first two weeks of the season shouldn't be expected to return before the last week, if not at Belmont or Presque Isle Downs. And NYRA needed to save some quality for Travers day, on which there will be 12 races without a NY-bred in sight until the finale.

And it was another day of futility for Todd Pletcher, whose cold streak has steadily progressed from curious to downright bizarre. This is not a matter of a string of bad luck, losing close photos and encountering legitimate excuses. His horses are just running awful, plain and simple. And amazingly, the betting public has not made much of an adjustment, continuing to bet his horses as if it was 2006. A couple of weeks ago, I mocked the suggestion that Pletcher is an automatic throwout, but after Wingspan, at 1-2, couldn't even get up for second over Omeya in Wednesday's third, I'm starting to wonder. There's a premium being offered in nearly every race he has an entry in. Is Wait A While a complete throwout in the Ballston Spa, or what? (She'll probably win by ten now that I said that.)

Bobby Barbara got off the schneid in the first with Half A Note, first time on the turf. Another second for the Weaver barn; returnee (and favorite) (and one of my crummy selections) Eddie C. held gamely for second, albeit a distant one. Barbara knows where the winner's circle is here, and is worth keeping an eye on during the balance of the meeting.

We noticed before the 2nd that the Toddster was wearing a suit as he gave Johnny V a leg up on his first-timer Smokin' Stephanie, as opposed to his more casual outfit on Monday; so perhaps he was expecting favorable results on this day. The public piled on this one, sending her off as the 5-2 second choice despite his futility with first-time juveniles on the dirt, which has been the case here for the entire meeting, and going back to Panty Raid on Aug 10 last year, his last such winner. Smokin' Stephanie pressed the pace to the turn, but feebly faded to 6th. Syriana's Song, 8-5 morning line, was an overlay at 9-5 after lagging early in the wagering.

The third was the aforementioned race with Wingspan, who looked like a cinch on paper to get Pletcher that elusive 10th win once Frankel scratched Argentina. Tejida, the third winner of the meeting from ten starters for Michael Matz, is by Rahy out of Batique (Storm Cat), a multiple graded winner on the grass.

Madam Commander was impeded by a wall of horses down the backstretch in the 4th, and settled for second best to Beam of Love. The winner is from the Contessa barn, and though he's still under 10% wins, he's picked it up a bit with three winners in the last four days and five in the last week. Pletcher's entry Desafinado, 6-1 morning line trying dirt for the first time after running up the track on the grass, was bet down to 7-2, and was never a threat after a stumble at the start.

In the 5th, oh man, Love Cove was a glaring overlay at 14-1, and I'm not redboarding, I mentioned her here on the blog. I was discussing her before the race too, marveling at the odds, but using her everywhere on my tickets except on top. I thought Stag Dancer would be overlooked, and instead she was overbet and empty on the track, yuck, a lousy selection.

The 7th featured the best finish of the day, as Jazzy came from out of the clouds and out towards the outside rail to nail Stormy Kiss in the 7th. What had looked to me like a wide open race on paper became a one-sided betting affair with Smart and Fancy pounded to 6-5, and I passed on the race. Sometimes I get scared away by that kind of action when I don't expect it, and in a case like this, my initial impression was the right one. Jazzy was certainly amongst those I gave a shot to.

The Head Chef was a late arrival, after going to the Farmer's Market. But she arrived in time for the 7th, and was hepped up after Jazzy's win; she didn't have him, but she thought it was cool the way she won. So she went to the paddock for the featured Albany Stakes, determined to use her power of observation to determine the winner, as she has done on a few occasions that she's reminded me more than a few times. She was really intent this time, and took notes on the program. Bayou Timber was heavy, a comment which the Head Chef wouldn't take kindly to if written by the horse about her. Dr. V's Magic was thin; Stunt Man a bit slender; Stopbluffing was prancing, and Good Prospect was clip clop. I don't know what that means.

These notations were not very definitive as far as determining a winner went, but she had one other observation. Todd Pletcher was paying keen attention to a horse....but not to his own Doctor Freud. The object of his admiration was Stunt Man. He sized him up and down, and didn't take his eyes off him except to give Johnny V a leg up on his 4th of five losers on the day (including The Ag, inexplicably sent off at 2-1 and running 5th in the finale). And after that, he turned to look at Stunt Man again. The Head Chef took this to mean that Stunt Man was a winner, and wondered why, after his two length win over the thin horse, she didn't have $100 to win on him given how easy it all was. I bet him in some doubles, but stubbornly insisted on leaving out the two morning line favorites; The Ag was a sure loser, but the other was the eventual winner One in a Romp, just the second winner of the meeting for Allen Jerkens

As far as the Toddster goes, he's certainly the center of attention at Saratoga whether he's winning or losing. At least we know he can pick out a winner before the race, even if it's not his own.


Anonymous said...

With all due respect, I don't really believe in the benefits of a blind bet-against Pletch right now. There are ebbs and flows. The numbers say Pletcher is cold. So you have to ask why? Surely there must be a reason for it. In the absence of any major conspiracy theory (someone on the inside telling him to stop juicing or they'll expose him) I don't see how you can take a big stand against his horses. You have to assess each horse and each race as they come to you. If WAIT A WHILE runs crappily today, it's not necessarily because Pletcher is cold; maybe it's just because she's not the same horse she was last year.

Alan Mann said...

I don't entirely disagree, and had my tongue at least partly in cheek when I suggested he's a blind bet-against. But I do think that one could justify such as strategy as long as the public doesn't adjust their expectations, which I think is the case.

As far as Wait A While goes, I'm planning to leave her out entirely mostly because I think she's not the same horse as last year. But I'd be lying if I said that the cold streak doesn't give me an extra boost of confidence. Especially if she's the 2-1 favorite as the ML suggests (I don't think she will be.)

Anonymous said...

I have a newbie friend at the track today, so I actually did a quick handicap of the card because the idiot wants my selections (as if that will help him). I totally agree VITRUVIOUS is a big bet-against. He might not want to go this far and the last quarter of his last race was sluggish. I think this race sets up for the closers - MONOPOLY PRICING, EXTREME SUPREME and even DEPUTY INDY. Race 7 needs to go deep. Race 8 I agree MY TYPHOON is razor sharp, perhaps a champion in the making. I'd use VACARE as well. Then in the 9th, I'd use first time FANFIRE, along with AUNT TEREE and MIZZENKEY at a price. $144 p4 if I use 8 in the 8th.

Anonymous said...

In the 6th, I like Extreme Supreme. In the 7th, I like Metro Meteor and in the 8th, I am going to use a flyer, Dance Away Capote, who I was in love 2 years ago and never showed her true talent I thought (perhaps she did and I am too blind to see). For what they are worth, Byanose

Alan Mann said...

agreed re: Aunt Teree and Mizzenkey; also check out Too Much Zip, who had a horror show of a trip last time.

Anonymous said...

Well Alan, I hope ou are right again today in the 9th. I have a pick 4 with my two pick singled in the 6th and 7th and the whole field in the 8th and the 1-5-7(your picks) in the 9th. Good day all ready!!

Valerie Grash said...

Well, she didn't win by 10...but she did win :) Mightily disappointed in My Typhoon :(