- Almost as amazing as the amount of money he was purchased for, is the amount of money that has been wagered on The Green Monkey in his three futile starts. Previously beaten at .45 to 1 and even money, the expensive son of Forestry was 6-5 on Wednesday despite nothing to indicate that he would improve much on the grass. He surrendered meekly after getting to the lead for about a nanosecond turning for home, but he did hang on for 4th, thus earning $2,460 for a career total of $10,260 in purse money, as Smith/Tabor & Co. try to scrap their way back to getting even. At this rate, it would only take another 4,678 races. If they had any sense of humor whatsoever, they'd put him in a 50K claimer and bask in the self-deprecating irony of the moment.
The horse sure does remain popular with the betting public at least. Hard to understand the logic strictly from a handicapping standpoint. But he's certainly a curiosity, and may even become a sympathetic figure - the world's most lovable $16 million horse. Why, people may even take up collections to ensure that he finds a nice retirement home. Or, maybe not.
- The Fair Grounds opens on Thanksgiving day, and there are 245 slot machines stationed in a temporary facility which has been open since September. The permanent facility is supposed to open next fall, and it will have 700 machines.
[Churchill VP Steve] Sexton said the company is pleased with the early performance of the Fair Grounds' slots, which through October were generating $155 of revenue per machine per day.However, for this year at least, the purses will be around the same level as in 2006. A surplus of OTB revenue built up during the shortened meet conducted at Louisiana Downs after Katrina helped purses achieve a record average level of over $385,000 per day; this year, they will start at $350,000.
By law, 15 percent of slots revenue goes toward purses. Soth said he expects the Fair Grounds' operation to add about $200,000 per month to purses. [Times Picayune]
The Thanksgiving Handicap is the feature race, and I'll resume my attempt to break my losing ways with this race. I can't believe I'm actually going to pick Going Wild, making his second start off a long layoff. It's kinda amazing that he's still in training after the way Lukas tried to run him into the ground in the classics two years ago. He runs now for trainer William Bret Calhoun, and ran a nice second in his return, at Keeneland. The son of Golden Missile put in an excellent second, to Silver Wagon, at this distance at Saratoga last summer, and shows a bullet work over the track for this.
I was going to pick Wheaton Home. This five-year old son of Wheaton (Alydar) has really improved this year at six furlongs, with three close seconds in overnight stakes. Looking at the running lines, it appears that in his last, the rider moved too soon, getting to within a half length of the lead at the half mile pole before fading at seven furlongs. But watching the replay, that past performance line is just plain wrong. I don't know what the chart caller was looking at, though he got the comment right (saved ground, not a factor). This horse was nowhere near being second, and was never within several lengths of the front. It was just a plain dull effort, and though the cutback to six furlongs may help, I'm discouraged after watching that performance, and wondering if it's wise to always assume that the running lines in the Form are correct.
I was also going to pick Stormin Baghdad. This one has improved nicely after transferring to the care of Steve Asmussen, including an excellent third in the G3 Kentucky Cup Sprint two races back. His 15-1 morning line is a bad one, in my opinion. But I'm just not going to select a horse who is named in such poor taste. It may fit (Stormin Fever - Skip to Baghdad), but given the human suffering that has taken place in that city over the last 4 1/2 years, I find it extremely inappropriate, especially on this Thanksgiving day. Who would name a horse like that?
Oh. He's owned and bred by the jailbirds at Midnight Cry Stable, of Curlin fame. That explains that. I wonder if the phen-fen plaintiffs are getting a piece of this one too.
Have a safe and happy holiday everybody!!