Here's a picture of horses galloping in the ocean that's hanging at Del Mar. Who knows, perhaps if this Polytrack thing doesn't work out, we can try dirt again, but this time submerged under an inch or two of sea water. We still wouldn't have to worry about the track getting sloppy.
They give away Polytrack samples at Del Mar, though I'm pretty sure that they don't really intend for one person to take five of them; but chalk it up to the news gathering process. I was able to construct my own little Patch of Poly, and it looks like this.
It feels more or less like it looks - like cookie dough that's been rolled around in sand, dental floss, cat hair, and patches of cloth in various colors. I could almost describe it as being gooey. And I mean, seriously, what the hell is that light blue square thing?
Forget cancer; a jockey or horse could freaking choke to death if something like that flew down their throats!
At Keeneland, the races were going slow early, as riders feared being in the lead, and fast late. Some derided the races as 'European' or turf racing; personally, I didn't mind it at all. But at Del Mar, the horses are going slow early, and even slower later. Now I don't at all disagree with people like reader mutaman, who wrote: I'm tired of seeing racehorses break down. That trumps everything else. I can adjust my handicapping. I've been all for the synthetic track experiment, and I'm not all that concerned with final times. But it's the way the horses here are finishing - or I should probably say, not finishing, is what makes this racing seem ugly to me. It's said that the track is tiring, and a look at some of the closing fractions from Thursday would seem to bear that out. 27 seconds for the final quarter of a one mile $75,000 allowance race; as well as in two six furlong races (for cheaper horses).
What seems to be bugging horsemen like Ahmed Zayat is track management's refusal to water the surface in the afternoon sun to try to maintain the same "tightness" as in the cool mornings. I've always been fascinated by the fact that the stuff doesn't get sloppy, so I ran my own experiment on my private Polytrack.
Man, this is some wacky stuff to be sure. I washed my hands quite thoroughly before having dinner. The water does roll off, but the Polytrack does get wet, and I could feel why some argue that moisture makes it tighter. Del Mar has made it clear that they will not tamper with the surface, and Mike Mitchell is one trainer that supports that decision:
"To change it for just one person would be terrible," said Mitchell, who has been part of the horsemen's committee that has been meeting with Del Mar's management about the Polytrack on a continuing basis. "I'm glad Joe stuck to his guns and whatever happens, happens.Joe is Joe Harper, the DMTC president, and for him, safety is the number one issue. "We'd all like to see the track a little faster in the afternoon, little tighter, but I think it will probably get there as it settles in and horses run over it."
"Everyone's pulling up good. I haven't had any soundness problems. As far as I know, Bob Baffert hasn't had any soundness problems. His horses just won't run.
"So far it seems like this track is very safe. I think it would be a joke to change this track for one person. As far as I know, Baffert is the only one complaining and he probably wouldn't be complaining if his horses were winning." [North County Times]
Thursday's card was the first one that I didn't much care for. I went for a few races, and spent most of the day at the beach as our vacation starts to wrap up. No major bets today, though I was alive in the late double with Mommy Jean, trying to give Jeff Mullins his third winner of the day. She took the lead in the stretch, and continued in front to deep stretch before succumbing to 34-1 Gabby Lane in a final furlong of 14 seconds (and thus creating a Pick Six carrover of some $632,000).
- And I know I missed the thing about Lawyer Ron, his time and Beyer figure, but I just wanted to mention Dick Jerardi's defense of the 116 fig in the paid DRF+ section of the Form (and in Wednesday's print edition). Jerardi writes that Lawyer Ron's calculated figure based on the track variant was 123. But Mark Hopkins, who calculated the number, simply felt that the number was impossible based on his prior high of 109, as well as on the inflated numbers that the other runners would have then been assigned. So he came up with 116.
Beyer and Hopkins both pointed to a similar situation in the 2005 Whitney. The raw data suggested that the winner, Commentator, got a 123. Saint Liam was inches behind. Hopkins accepted the data at face value.I find it interesting that there are times that all the par times, variants, split variants and even the final time of the race seem to go out the window, and they just come up with a number that fits all the competitors in retrospect; one which you or I could have similarly come up with based on the historic figures of the horses. The concept of projected figures has always been a bit of a problem for me to accept. But that will have to be the subject of another post; I have to handicap the Test for the Special, and then get to Friday's card here. And the Haskell, is that this weekend?? (Any Given Saturday looks pretty nice there, don't he?)
"And it was probably wrong,'' he said.
Commentator has not been close to that figure since then. And Saint Liam, the 2005 Horse of the Year and a really good runner, was simply not a 123 horse. [DRF]