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Monday, July 27, 2009

A Skimming Special

When we were here a couple of summers go, I posted this picture which showed the spectacular view we had from the bedroom. This year....well, suffice to say that we were not quite as fortunate in that regard. Oh well....but still, it's just a short walk over to the bluffs and the hypnotic sight of the Pacific Ocean and the relentless surfers down below.

We do have a lot more room this year though in a spacious unit which features an odd variety of art and photos on the wall. One of them is of a horse.

Skimming (Nureyev) .....not exactly a household name, though most appropriate for this area considering that he won the Grade 1 Pacific Classic two years in a row (as well as the San Diego Handicap) (as I was reminded when I looked it up). He started his stud career in California in 2003, and he seems to have had a modest career, with ten stakes horses as of last November before being shipped off to British Columbia where he stood this year for $4,000 Canadian. It's not too surprising then that Skimming is not a name which I've at all noticed from my handicapping and perusal of pedigrees.

So, I found it to be a curious coincidence when, while handicapping before Sunday's Cal-Bred California Dreamin' Stakes, I noticed that Dewey's Special, one of my top contenders coming off two solid wins following a long layoff for Ron Ellis, was sired by none other than the stallion featured in our condo. Better yet, when I mentioned this to the Head Chef (joining me, along with the two teens in a surprise appearance), she pointed out that Dewey's Special was the #7 horse, and that we are staying in unit #7.

OK, well, that's just weird. I'm not at all a hunch-bet guy; in fact, I probably never would have noticed without the Head Chef's help. She's good with stuff like that. But sometimes you just have to go with the flow, I mean, c'mon. Unfortunately, there seemed to be a lot of people there that were staying in a room #7 with a picture of Skimming on the wall, because Dewey's Special, 8-1 in the morning line, was the second choice at 3-1 behind Bold Chieftain, one of several favorites that seemed like total throwouts to me during the two days of racing I saw here over the weekend. When you're right and those horses are running out consistently, that's like the batter who's seeing grapefruits at the plate. Doesn't mean you're gonna win, but it does mean that you're taking some good rips and getting an inherent overlay on nearly any other horse in the field.

Times like these when I wish I was the type that could just throw $1000 bucks on a horse like this and have a great story to tell along with having paid for most of the trip. Of course, most of the time, it's a good thing that I'm not that kind of bettor. So, I had to depend on exotics to make some real money, and I got extremely lucky when 12-1 Nitro Active won the random back and forth head bob from longest-shot-in-the-field Bert's Law to complete an exacta worth $83.60. You gotta win some of those some of the time, right?

My daughter picked out Millennia ($46) in the paddock, so I guess she'll be back, right? She and the Head Chef's daughter do enjoy the action, and are possible for future degeneracy, though hopefully not too much. Misinjennuous, the fastest horse in the world at 4-5, ran big to be second. If I had read Brad Free's analysis before the race, I would have known that she was "touted as something special..." and all, for just $90.000 this past March. She's a daughter of Tapit, out of a Mt. Livermore mare, and a half-sister to the morbidly-named Fatal Bullet; and given that that fact was right there in black and white in the Closer Look column in the Form, I'm certainly surprised that she went off at that price.

This is the paddock at Del Mar. To me, it's the center of activity at this racetrack. Crowds gather early on both the grandstand and clubhouse sides; others gaze down from terrace restaurant/bars on either side, and more still from other vantage points from high above. The tiered viewing area surrounding the walking ring and its modest size help to make it probably the most intimate paddock I've ever seen.

I saw that Charlie Hayward mentioned the concept of a tiered viewing area at Saratoga, and one reader reacted with revulsion - Upstate Belmont. UGH !.

Seems to me that it would be quite an undertaking; at least assuming that they just would not just line the paddock with tiered stands - that would be just plain ugly given the large circumference you're dealing with here. If they did construct a concrete hill from which the viewing area can scale down like the one at Belmont, it would eliminate a lot of picnic space and change the entire character of the backyard and douse any remnants of memories of the days when the horses were saddled under trees amongst the backyard crowd.

Besides, the paddock is not the center of the Saratoga universe in my view. Most people don't go there, and, other than a few select races, there's plenty of room for those who make the effort....not to mention that you can get an unusually intimate and unique look at all of the horses on the path as they make their way over to be saddled. So, I'm going to stick with tradition on this one and vote no.


Glimmerglass said...

Alan not hijack the topic but I'm still dumbfounded by this remark in a NY Post piece on Summer Bird:

Kerrison "Rachel Alexandra, Summer Bird clash in Haskell"

Quote: "Another who likes him is trainer John Mazza, a Monmouth institution. Summer Bird is in Barn 3, where Mazza has stabled his horses for 42 years.

"Most of the great ones — Seattle Slew, Spectacular Bid — have been in my barn," Mazza said. "None of them have looked better than Summer Bird.", End Quote.

Did someone who actually has any type of credentials that are valid within racing cite in the same breath Spectacular Bid with .... Summer Bird? Yes he was only remarking on "looks" but why in gods green earth would anyone utter The Bid in the same context as SB?

Has your man been dipping into the Lasix too much? I've heard some rather dumb comments, but that one is up there.

Anonymous said...


Off topic but something your site follows.

First day of interviews of the bidders in Albany yesterday for the Aqueduct VLT development. Seems both Penn National and Delaware North feel like a destination resort at the Queens site is not possible and that a down and dirty slots parlor would be more appropriate. How can this be given its proximity to NYC, JFK and a host of affluent suburbs and states within a few hours drive? Doesn't make any sense to me.

NY Breeders made their mark at the Capitol yesterday also. Sounds like they just want a good decision
made and the promised money flowing into breeding and racing as quickly as possible. They have indeed been waiting 8 years, almost comical if it weren't so sad!

jk said...

In April, the state reopened the bidding. Governor Paterson was later quoted as saying that a bidder would be chosen by Aug. 1. Not surprisingly, no dice.

“I’m not going to put a date on it,” Morgan Hook, a spokesman for the governor, said Monday. “There needs to be a consensus agreement between the governor, the president of the Senate and the speaker. They will make that decision as quickly as possible, but obviously they have to do their due diligence ...”

DiscreetPicks said...

Saratoga weather update for Opening Day:

According to, there's a 30% chance of showers in the late morning and early afternoon, climbing to a 60% chance of scattered thunderstorms towards the end of the card.

Incidentally, i've uncovered what i think are a couple of very live first-time starters (at good prices) in the two juvenile maiden races.

Anonymous said...

Re anon and Aqueduct VLT development:

Del North and Penn Nat strike me as having the more realistic approach. Something more than “down and dirty,” and something less than the Bellagio. Think about it: Why would people drive two or three hours to play VLTs when they could play slots and table games at a nearby casino? They also get better comps at the casino because of lower tax rates. But hey, just pick one and get on with it. Horsemen need the money.

Anonymous said...

A "dumb downed" Aqueduct has been discussed before with the grand development over at Belmont Park. All presumptions change if new casino games are introduced in NY and Speaker Silver gives in to permit gaming at Belmot too. With Steve Wynn back in the hunt, my guess is he senses Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver might change his bet on no games at Belmont. Fascinating politics, but bad for horsemen & breeders immediate needs.