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Monday, August 03, 2009

Catching Up

Thanks to the readers who posted about the developments in Albany while I was away. In the next post we'll catch up on Aqueduct and the racino bidding. However, as I was sharing a single laptop and a balky wireless connection with the Head Chef and the two teens, I didn't get to respond to comments or emails during the trip and just wanted to catch up on a few things.

An anonymous reader wrote:

Alan - Curious how you felt about sight lines at Del Mar. I was there Thursday for the first time.
I agree - I loved the direct access in the tunnel. But on the apron itself I felt like it was hard to get a good view of the race on the backstretch.

That is true at Saratoga as well but at least at Saratoga you can see them over there even if not real well. I felt like races starting on the backstretch were a rumor unless you were watching the video board.
It's true; the apron is low, and you can't see the backstretch even over the tote board, no less the giant video screen and the structures in the infield. However, unlike this reader, I did not find this track to be "compact." Maybe that's because, after ten months of tracks that are more than half shuttered, any track with three full open levels seems spacious. I found that there were many places to watch the races without having to pay - free seating sections, and nobody hassled anyone for standing behind the boxes closer to the finish line. It was real laid back in that regard.

Not going to get into the Del Mar vs. Saratoga thing - they are totally different scenes and each track and locale has its advantages and disadvantages (though I can't think of any of the latter for Del Mar right at this moment). (Other than you can't see from the apron [though the Trakus screens are cool]).

Another reader wrote:
Wooohoooo! Lisa Lewis in the 6th at 22-1. Singled in P3's and on the nose makes for a great meet.
Thanks for the diligent value hunting, and hope you had this one too. We all certainly owe you a beer if you are up at Saratoga next weekend!
Awesome!! I mean, I didn't pick that horse here (though my daughter did). But maybe you were just inspired by the blog in general, or picked up on some tidbit that I probably forgot. In any event, I'll take that beer!

McCarron wrote:
Full field results are often more formful than short fields, as 5,6,7 horse fields, etc., tend to produce plenty of unforeseen pace scenarios.
That's an interesting comment; instinctively, I'd think it would be the other way around. For example, with a bigger field comes a better chance of an unexpected challenger on the lead. I suppose it would be true though in the case of a speed horse being able to get away with slower fractions. I wonder if there are any stats.

The Knight Sky writes, regarding synthetics:
It's just that there are too many people who have embraced it as the cure-all end all to what really ails thoroughbred racing: The perpetually weakened breed.

At a cost upwards of $80+ million at various racetracks around the country you would think that by now (in 2009) we would have incontrovertible evidence that it works while preserving the integrity of American main track racing.

It does no such thing.
A couple of points here. I think that it's now become accepted that synthetic tracks are not a cure-all end-all to problems with the breed. But should we still be judging them on those early lofty standards? Or is it time to temper the expectations and decide if the advantages they do bring, even if the always-fast tracks is the only one (which I don't believe to be the case), make the project worth continuing and expanding. I betcha there were plenty of people at Monmouth on Sunday who might have liked it there.....and I know, grass races still come off, but I betcha far less of the runners would have scratched.....not to mention we could do without the speed bias there too.

Secondly, I don't agree that it doesn't preserve the integrity of main track least not in every sense. I just spent a week at a synthetic track, and if you didn't know about it, you wouldn't even know the difference. And I thought the races were quite integrity-filled integrity-ish integrityful....y'know, had a lot of integrity. As I've said, 99% of racing do not have championship implications. They're just horse races, and they're just fine on synthetics as far as I'm concerned.

- Closed out with another losing day on Saturday at Del Mar, but easily profitable for the trip. Got nosed out of the late Pick Three when Starlacks nailed Strawberry Tart at the wire of the San Clemente, ouch. However, as you might have noticed, I did have the late Pick Four at Saratoga. My winnings on the dollar bet were modest but still highly satisfying, particularly my specific dis of Charitable Man, whose rabid and misguided cult made their hero an improbable 6-5. An anonymous reader wrote:
Cant wait for CM to run again against lesser so I can play against.
We're certainly in agreement there.