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Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Hot and Cold

An up and down weekend at the Big A for trainer Kiaran McLaughlin. He did have a stakes winner with Winning Point in the Am Capable on Sunday. Four-year filly beat just four modest rivals in an F&M restricted stakes for non-stakes winners, but it counts nonetheless as a stakes win for she and for her sire Point Given. Third place Shining Sea was coming off a NW2x allowance at Philly Park, where Rap Tale had won at a level above that..

McLaughlin also scored with Counter Move ($15.60) in the 6th on Saturday; and like I Want Revenge, this horse found the synthetic to inner-dirt move to be quite appealing.

But the barn also had four losing favorites on Saturday; at least a couple of them of the highly dubious variety. In the second, Flat Bold was 4-5, an incomprehensible price on a horse making its dirt and two-turn debut (as I did mention before the race on this particular occasion). I'm presuming there was the usual large West Point contingent on hand, as I was not at the track myself. Actually, he ran pretty well, and looked a likely winner when he drew alongside Go Swiftly ($7.10) in upper stretch, but was soundly beaten for second from that point on.

Scott's Choice did look like a legitimate favorite in the 4th, though I just can't see how anyone can take 4-5 on a horse who was 0 for 9, losing ground from the stretch call to finish in every race....even if he was dropping for a tag.

In the 7th, McLaughlin's first-timer Not Ja Mama, 7-2 in the morning line, was hammered down to 3-2. Not a West Point horse, but maybe the partners got the word and thought they were in on a good thing. Good speed, but not much to offer in the stretch, fading seven lengths back to third. Banker's Boy ($8.80) was bet herself for Shug in her debut; three-year old daughter of Distorted Humor shipped up from Payson with Imperial Council and was the barn's first entry here since December 5. Things must be looking up.

Mr. Fantasy was the 2-1 favorite in the Gotham, and that West Point money must have been pouring in there. First-time in stakes company off of two state-bred races of highly questionable quality; just can't see that, though I'm red-boarding here. He ran his race too, but I Want Revenge stormed by on the way to a sparkling Beyer of 113; coming home in an impressive 29.92 (23.75 and 6.19) after pressing the pace from the outside all the way. Though he will run back in the Wood, Jeff Mullins needs to ship him back to Hollywood due to licensing issues for his help.

If you feel that Mr. Fantasy, after providing some for his West Point investors, should now go back to his own kind, guess again...big surprise there. This stable will certainly not pass on any possibility to take advantage of the ultimate marketing tool - a horse in the Kentucky Derby. It's a basic conflict of interest between the best interests of the business and the best interests of the horse. So it's on to the Wood or Illinois Derby. Don't get me wrong, he ran a fine race in the third start of his career. But if Stardom Bound now requires a "reality check," don't you think this colt does too?

- Friendly Pocket ($14.60) won the 10th for trainer Carl Domino. This barn hasn't had too many entries of late, but has been clicking with the ones it has had. This was Domino's 4th winner from his last six starters, which takes us back to Jan 31. Friendly Pocket was claimed for $7500 by trainer Ralph D'Alessandro, who won a three-way shake over Greg DiPrima, and trainer Bruce Brown for Kasey K.


DiscreetPicks said...

Has anyone noticed the severe East Coast bias from the Beyer people regarding this year's 3yo crop? It seems that if you win a 3yo stakes race on the East Coast, you receive a 110+ Beyer (Notonthesamepage 114, This One's For Phil 116, Quality Road 113, I Want Revenge 113).

Meanwhile, The Pamplemousse destroys the field in the Sham Stakes (in fast time), and receives a 103. Pioneerof the Nile didn't even break a hundred for his impressive win in the Bob Lewis Stakes, receiving a 94. I Want Revenge received a 91 for that race, btw.

So now I Want Revenge wins a stakes race on the East Coast, and his Beyer jumps by 22 points? That's bull. While it's true that he probably moved up on the dirt, he's not suddenly 20 points better than he was before. And there's NO WAY that he's suddenly 20 points better than Pioneerof the Nile.

Are the East Coast horses that much better than the California horses? Absolutely not. Are they better at all? Highly doubtful. I Want Revenge took a big step towards proving that.

Anonymous said...

Agree there is a bias, pre synthetic it was the opposite with the West Coasters consistantly getting 100+ and the east struggling to break 95.

These guys can not help themselves, they must be comparing to the times of these races to prior years when doing their figs. How else can they arrive at par?

How many two turn races have been run for straight three year olds over the new surface, about three? Can not compare to prior years since a totally new surface.

Bottom line, you need to revert back to traditional class handicapping , and not rely on figures in these races.

It is clear that I Want Revenge is a top contender now that he has proved it on dirt, and Pioneer beat him twice which validates him, not that he needs it. Ignore the figures, or add an arbitrary ten points to the CAL figures if it helps.

That's what I used to do with the CAL horses shipping East, subtract ten points.

It's a crap shoot anyway with three year olds in the spring, quite common for them to take huge jumps forward in form this time of year.

There is money to be made throwing out huge fig horses like Mr. Fantasy, who was bet to favoritism despite a huge jump in class not by the West Point players, but rather by figure slaves which include some of their partners.

A questionable big fig horse with legitamate negatives, like Mr. Fantasy, is the best money making opportunity in the game.

El Angelo said...

The difference, IMO, isn't East/West Coast, it's dirt/synthetic. For years, dirt horses have been getting higher figures than turf horses, and this is no different. It does mean comparing the speed figures between a dirt horse and a synthetics horse, though, is pretty much an exercise in folly, much like comparing the speed figures between a dirt horse and turf horse is a waste of time.

steve in nc said...

I didn't play that day, but from what I've read on the Ragozin bb, they had Revenge's last race slightly faster than Mr. Fantasy's, so not everyone is underrating the CA poly races.

I do agree with El Ang's point about turf races generally getting slower #s, and trying to compare dirt & poly #s is still a big question mark for me. And since there is guesswork involved, I'm more inclined to demand higher odds.

Anonymous said...

I Want Revenge showed by one length in a Graded Stake behind a top five contender, yet received only a slightly higher fig than Mr. Fantasy did winning a State Bred NW1.

Indicates Ragozin is underrating the synth, albeit not as much as the Beyer folk.

Anonymous said...

just announced, DelNorth pulling out of Aqueduct bid. Now what?

Anonymous said...

Another example of the government can't run anything. All polititians belong in jail.
Aqueduct Casino Deal Collapses
By Danny Hakim
ALBANY — Scratch those plans for the first casino on a subway line. Plans to build a casino at the Aqueduct racetrack have collapsed, the latest victim of the financial turmoil that has stilled the credit markets. Delaware North, the Buffalo Company that was contracted to build and operate the casino, has not been able to get the financing to raise $370 million it was due to pay the state.

That leaves the state with yet another hole to plug in its ever leakier budget. "


Anonymous said...

I don't get the last post about the government being at fault? It's a private company Delaware North that is defaulting under the terms of its agreement with the state. Good for governor Paterson not letting them dictate to the state under what conditions different from its original handshake under which it would proceed. maybe David has a set of brass ones after all?

Anonymous said...

Boycott Brisnet! They have pulled access to free PPs. They should be FREE! There will be a day when you can't even go online to get a free list of who's in which race, then they will start charging for the stable thing. Sell ads on the top or bottom of the PPs, get an alcohol company to fund it. There's always promoting Frank's Energy Drink.

steve in nc said...

Anon 404:

You may be right about Revenge's # relative to Mr F's, and if you make your own figs and you are right, you must be enjoying a big edge. But the class angle doesn't convince me.

There are maiden and allowance heats faster than stakes races at times. A long time ago when I did my own Beyer-style #s for NYRA tracks, I found that 2YO MSW races at Saratoga had a significantly higher par than did allowance races because the good ones went right into stakes off their maiden wins.

Lord knows there are some awful NYB horses out there, but the Ragozin 6 Mr F got in the NYB NW1x race is not unheard of.

Anonymous said...

Steve, I since I am such a proponent against figs I certainly do not make my own. They are a tool, given a value that I presume is well below what most others assign ( I do like Rags the best).

I agree with you on the 2yo's, the Spa maiden races would have higher pars than 2yo alw races for the reason you state.

But there is something awry when a quality Graded Stake which is won by a universal top five derby candidate gets a figure only slightly higher than a nw1 state bred race. Can it happen, sure, but I immediate question that fig instead of relying on it. I will let that horse beat me based on my 30 years experience doing this excercise.

Its not that I just do not trust the accuracy of figures, I do not trust the individuals making them.

They are not highly paid relative to the value placed on the figs, and in a century where "if you're not cheatin' you're not tryin'" is the motto, I simply do not believe the creators of the almighty figs are uncorruptable, much less unbiased. Most folks question the results of some super trainers, but bow before speed figs, which are after all a subjective opinion of mostly anonymous individuals. They trust these folks, with little to lose, more than they trust a professional trainer. Why?

Are they bonded? Are they screened for criminal records? Who are these folks?

So at best they are sometimes unreliable, at worst they may be intentionally manipulated.

I'm just saying...

steve in nc said...

Anon, I appreciate that post. I hadn't thought of the purposeful manipulation angle, but I do see your point. With the high-priced figs, though, I suspect they make more money advising owners, and probably feel that a good reputation will make them more money than a score here and there. A lower level employee making variants? They swear they don't do that, but there are a lot of tracks to cover.

I do agree there's a lot of bad methodology out there, a lot of subjectivity, and plenty of resulting poor figs. But there are all these times when I'm ready not to believe a fig because it looks too good to be true (or too bad), and then after they run the race, I'm reconverted. I guess one's opinion here is a function of subjective appearance. Hope you banged Revenge pretty well.

Anonymous said...

Steve, they make excellent money advising owners, which is one reason I find figs suspicious. Wall Street brokers made excellent money advising investors, but they cheat anyway, correct?

What is the value to those owners of artificially inflating a figure on a maiden winner? Seems to be a conflict of interest there, doesn't it?

Let's see, you advise an owner to buy a horse, will you artificially up that horses figure in its first start for the new owner? (See "Phil" for instance).

Or a partnership spends a ton of money on a young horse and wants to justify their purchase, so they call their freinds who make figures and twist their arms a tad to up a figure a few points. Are the figure makers so squeeky clean that they will not tweak a figure to appease a client?

Pure speculation, of course, but once they crossed the line into "advising" owners they lost me as a horse player due to appearence of lack of independence, whether real or not.

Bottom line, if I am playing a NY Bred NW2 alw at the Big A, I do not need figures to tell me who to bet. Strummer was a stand out to me yesterday, because I have followed the horse for years and know its tendencies. Baxter was a throw out. And the Assmussen horse was overbet because, surprise, it ran a big fig against much lesser quality. Easy money.

To me, figures are mostly useless in claimers, which are like betting on poker, and in maiden races due to the first time angle, so its really only a few races a day that I would use them even as a tool.

Their biggest advantage is supposed to be comparing horses from different circuits, but now many feel there is a bias against certain surfaces or circuits.

And even when they happen to be right the horse usually is an underlay due to the widespread distribution, unlike in the beginning when only a few used them. So where is the advantage?