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Monday, October 29, 2007

Slop Yields Stingy Payouts

- I mentioned that I was sitting in the APB next to Matt Gardner, who won Horseplayer Magazine's blogging contest last year, thus earning a trip from his hometown of Seattle to New Jersey. You can check out his blog here.

Matt was nice enough to send me a spreadsheet of past BC day payouts, and, despite all of the (my) complaining about the slop, this was one of the more formful days in the event's history. The average win price (Sat only) of $11.55 is well below the all-time average of $21.62, and the 4th lowest ever. The average exacta payout of $91.50 is the stingiest ever, well below the previous low of $103.83, and the all-time average of $221.19. I could throw a lot more stats at you, but they're Matt's numbers and I don't want to step on his toes. Not too much, anyway.

However, that doesn't mean that the track condition didn't have a profound effect on many of the entrants. Steve Crist, having a ball with his Google Spreadsheets these days, compared each entrant's Beyer with their previous number. It shows only 20 of 77 comparable horses matching or exceeding their most recent effort. Though we don't have anything to compare that to, that comes out to what seems like a lowly 26%, and doesn't even include horses like Smokey Stover and Teammate, who were eased. And Crist, celebrating his birthday today by betting horses at Great Lakes Downs, correctly points out that the huge gaps from front to back present further evidence of the problem the footing presented.

Paul Moran, who I had the pleasure of meeting at the event (and who gave out the Pick Six if you had $6,720 to spend), points out the dominance of horses who prepped in New York. Indeed, seven of the eight winners (again, Saturday only), had their last races in NY; the first three and five finishers respectively in the Juvie Fillies and Juvenile prepped at Belmont Park.

So, since Kip Deville, the only exception, prepped for the Turf Mile on the grass at Woodbine, no horse that ran last on a synthetic surface won a BC race. However, due to the track condition, I don't think you can really draw any conclusions about how top horses transfer their form from the fake stuff to the real. And some of those runners ran very well, especially Hystericalady and Idiot Proof, who both ran second (but who had both run at Monmouth over the summer). Hard Spun, who I ended up betting in the Classic, also ran extremely well; he prepped on the Poly at Turfway.

Back to the juvenile day at Churchill, I mentioned that Mott had two winners - he also ran second with a 10-1 shot. So he obviously warrants continued watching in Kentucky. Despite having been at the track for four full days, floating around as I was, I feel like I haven't really played the horses in ages, and I'm anxious to get back to hot trainers, class jumps and drops, pedigrees, and noteworthy action on the tote board (though that was quite an impressive punch on Indian Blessing, dropping her from 5-2 to 8-5 with two minutes left). I will of course get to more discussion of the BC races at some point...

Dead closers won the two stakes at CD (both Grade 3's run at a one turn mile, and both ridden by Leparoux, who will need to find new friends with Biancone out of action), so bettors must have felt like they were still at Keeneland. Court Vision won the Iroquois for Mott; he graduated in his prior start. He's a son of Gulch, out of Weekend Storm, an unraced daughter of Weekend Surprise by Storm Bird, and thus a half-sister to AP Indy.

In the Pocahontas, Pure Clan, trained by Bob Holthus, was dead last in the field of 14 after having trouble at the start, circled the field (ten wide according to the race chart!) and got up with a late surge to win by 1 1/4 lengths. This daughter of Pure Prize is now undefeated, and ran her first two career races on the grass. She's a half to the trainer's Greater Good; her second dam is the champion sprinter What A Summer. Not that I'm bitter or anything (nah), but let's see how War Pass and Indian Blessing will fare at a route next year against closers of this sort!