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Thursday, August 30, 2007

Where's That Confounded Bridge?

- Only one of the eight races on opening night at Presque Isle Downs filled to the maximum of 12, which is a bit surprising considering that the total purse money being offered totals $581,000. The inaugural eight-race card attracted 78 entries for an average of 9.75 entries per race. [Thoroughbred Times]

The backstretch at Presque Isle Downs has room for just over 500 horses, but as of Wednesday only 168 horses were stabled on the grounds. Another 20 shipped in from local farms and training centers to train on Wednesday.

"Quite a few of the bigger outfits are waiting to see when their horses get into races, and then shipping in," said racing secretary Joe Narcavish. [Daily Racing Form]
One of those could possibly be Highland Cat. We're at the point at which many of the partners, including yours truly, are ready to throw in the towel, cut our continuing losses, and sell him to the highest bidder (which thus far values him at $5,000, oh man). But the suggestion was made to try him once at Presque Isle Downs, where he could possibly like the Tapeta Footing, and earn a decent chunk even if he finishes second or third.

Michael Dickinson invented the Tapeta surface, and there's an article providing the background by Dick Jerardi in the Philly Daily News. Dickinson is quoted as saying that "There will be no dirt tracks left [in 10 years]." That's a statement that, besides making our Green Mtn Punter cringe, may have been more credible a year ago before problems started to surface at tracks like Woodbine and Turfway (not Del Mar, where the only problem seems to be the slow times and the fact that Baffert and John Shirreffs don't like it). And it will of course be some more time before potential issues such as more subtle injuries and health hazards from ingesting the dust become apparent. But we're certainly looking forward to this particular new surface and seeing how it fares over the next month, and later at Golden Gate.

- I was just going to write that I can't believe that people are actually bridgejumping on Hesanoldsalt....but he's already finished out of the money in the 3rd at Saratoga...big surprise, eh? It was a small bridge, with around $100,000 bet on him to show (at least with a minute or so to post) but still created some nice payoffs. I picked Nkosi Reigns in the Special (and my analysis unfortunately never made it to their website, though you can see it if you download the pdf version of the paper [er, pdf, and registration required blah blah] in its entirety), and this adds to my usual plethora of second place finishes to longshots amongst my picks over the last week. Nkosi Reigns ran second to 25-1 Sleek John, an improbable beginning to an impossible carryover Pick Six which includes three four maiden races and a steeplechase, eek! Even Steve Crist wanted no part of this one!!

And speaking of bridges, here's a story from Bangor, Maine that's rather scary in the light of the tragic bridge collapse in Minneapolis earlier this month.
Tractor-trailer trucks carrying the concrete components for the parking garage now under construction at the Main Street site of Hollywood Slots at Bangor’s future home will have to use two of the three bridges spanning the Penobscot River.

The pre-cast blocks and columns, weighing between 45,000 and 65,000 pounds each, began rolling into the city on tractor-trailers last week. [Bangor Daily News]
Over 800 truckloads over the next two months will be required to complete the delivery, and those carrying over 80,000 pounds will have to wind through local streets. I'd like to see the delivery bill for this one. I don't think it qualifies for Amazon's Free Super Savings Shipping.


ljk said...

Baffert & Shirreffs shouldn't be completely discounted. I watch these races from Del Mar and when they come down the stretch it's hard for me to see anyone who loves the surface. It's almost always a "staggerfest" home.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Dickinson can say what he pleases (he's hardly an objective observer), but it could just as easily be that in ten years artificial surfaces will have gone the way of the Edsel.

Alan Mann said...

>>Mr. Dickinson can say what he pleases (he's hardly an objective observer), but it could just as easily be that in ten years artificial surfaces will have gone the way of the Edsel.

It certainly would be fascinating if we could look ten years down the road and see what our horses will be running on, wouldn't it? I agree that at this stage it could go either way. But I still think it's a worthy venture, and just maybe his Tapeta Footing will be the nirvana of fair and safe racing that we'd all like to see, whether it comes on dirt, wax, or whatever.