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Monday, August 13, 2007

Final Jeopardy

- I fell for what I perceived as being a big betting move in the final race at Saratoga on Sunday. First-time starter Bardot was getting bet on the nose in the win pool; an angle I adopted long, long ago from Tom Ainslie, as my more entrenched readers know. Briefly, the theory goes that the public bets horses win/place/show in roughly the same percentages; so when I see a horse like this getting pounded to win, but lagging badly in the show pool, I figure that it's the so-called "smart" money. Especially when the horse is from a trainer like Tom Bush, who, I've noted in the past, does not necessarily keep his good things a big secret.

Anyway, Bardot was just 4-1 in the morning line, so it wasn't as much the fact that she was 3-1 as the way she was 3-1; around 20% of the win pool money, but only 12% in the show pool. Often, the disparity will narrow as post time approaches as the more mathematically inclined amongst us take notice. But in this case, the money kept pouring in on top, including a late flash re-betdown to 3-1 after drifting up to 7-2, my favorite tote board move, and one that has sent me scurrying to the windows many times over the decades. This time it just sent me to the NYRA internet site, which has happily accommodated my last second betting in spots in which I'd have had no chance to make it with my old OTB phone account. I wonder how that will turn out in the long run.

Bardot showed absolutely nothing; I have no excuse to offer whatsoever. But I'll stick her on my watch list anyway just to make sure she doesn't slip by me at 10-1 next time.

But it was a good day for the trainer anyway, who conditions the tremendously talented Posted, whose dominating win I wrote about in the prior post. I also mentioned the gelding's unusual pedigree which features 2x2 inbreeding to half-siblings. That reminded me of Stevie Wonderboy, the retired juvenile champ who sports a similar pattern in his pedigree; he's inbred 2x2 to the half-brothers AP Indy and Summer Squall.

And that of course brings us to Stevie's owner Merv Griffin, who passed away over the weekend from prostate cancer. Merv didn't seem particularly sophisticated when it came to racehorses, but he obviously loved the animals and the sport, which is what really counts in my mind. So my guess is that he'd be very sad to learn that his involvement as a horse owner did not warrant a single mention in his obituary in the New York Times. His only connection to the sport that was discussed there was his early investment in the Teleview Racing Patrol, which he built into the leading source of closed-circuit broadcasts of horse racing to off-track betting and intertrack wagering sites in the country. Instead, the Paper of Record chose to mention the rumors of his being gay, including the ultimately dismissed palimony suit filed against him by one Brent Plott, said to be, among other things, a horse trainer. In a 2006 interview with Rolling Stone, Merv responded to questions on the subject by saying: 'You're asking an eighty-year-old man about his sexuality right now....Get a life!''

Well, Merv had quite a life I suppose, even if he never did make it with one of his horses to the Kentucky Derby as he so dearly desired. One certainly couldn't say that he was in the sport for the money - here was a man who claimed to have made $80 million in royalties just from that little jingle they play during Final Jeopardy! Even if Stevie Wonderboy had won the Derby before going off to stud, he would have been hard pressed to equal that amount (though he could have one day been an answer question to a Final Jeopardy question answer). Makes me think that it might better pay for us all to be tinkling around with a piano rather than with the past performances or pedigree charts. Merv Griffin was 82.


Anonymous said...

Unlike many successful individuals Merv was by all accounts a very nice man.

A relative of mine worked for him for many years and told me he was always a gentleman. Pure class.

Wanted to win the Derby in the worst way, probably the only goal he failed to achieve.

John said...

As a long time internet bettor, let me just say that being able to get that bet in at the last second is no advantage at all.

For me those kind of bets are usually driven by desperation. Why a two dollar bettor like me should ever feel desperate is something that I really should see a therapist for . . .

John said...

And by the way will you find a way to work a Diana Kraal video into a posting, I love Mrs Costello.

Anonymous said...

Tiz Wonderful will run the Travers, would be great if he could pull the "upset" and win it for Merv.