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Thursday, September 03, 2009

Not As Easy As It Looked?

Pursuant to the last post, I just want to make clear that I hope I'm wrong about the crowd. NYRA's marketing department is doing everything they can, and deserve a break after a tough one with the weather last week. And, I'll put my money where my mouth is, and contribute to the attendance tally by paying the three bucks admission rather than using my owner's pass (if I'm still in a good mood)(and why wouldn't I be, walking into Saratoga on a beautiful Saturday afternoon!?).

But though you guys make some good points about the lack of buzz about Curlin and his not having beaten any horses to that point with the prestige of a Kentucky Derby winner (and, in fact, having run twice in Dubai. Do you think that Jackson will go after the bucks and send Rachel Alexandra out there too?), I agree with this commenter regarding the ways in which Labor Day weekend is not conducive to a big crowd at the upstate track. But I'd be happy to eat crow (and the three bucks) on this one.

I read some smart guys today seriously discuss betting against her, and Haskin proposes one of his typical mythical "I don't really mean it" cases against. And I have to say that, in retrospect after the running of the Travers, I'm no longer thinking so much about this being such an easier spot like I was before. There are a couple that I think could run well, though not, as I'll discuss below, the horses considered by the morning line-maker to be the top challengers.

But when I went back to watch the Haskell, I got the same impression of Borel and his filly simply toying with that field that I did watching the race live. Four wide on the first turn, they pressed Munnings through six furlongs in 1:09 4/5, a full second and a half faster than any other two turn race that day; and still, Borel was the picture of confidence, if not outright cockiness, cruising merrily along while a full three wide on the final turn before skipping away from Summer Bird, who saved ground all the way (on a rail which seemed to be fine towards the end of the card), and came back to dominate the Travers with a 110 Beyer. (That despite running the final half mile in 51.70; this was a race that fell apart pretty badly it seems, thus my change of heart about its quality relative to the Woodward.)

So, even though those three-year colts she's been beating just ain't that much, the way she dispatched them means that I just don't see her getting beat here. Getting back to the competition, Bullsbay is the 6-1 morning line second choice (Rachel Alexandra is 1-2 if you haven't seen). I think he's a horse that just caught lightning in a bottle with an absolutely dream trip in the Whitney; and I find it hard to believe that this five year old, who doesn't have a layoff line since a year ago today, would suddenly run a career best (by seven points) 107 Beyer. (Not that the fig wasn't the fig, but more that the horse just had a really good day.) I also don't care for third choice Macho Again (8=1), on the grounds that I don't think he's that good; and ditto Cool Coal Man (12-1).

More interesting to me would be Past the Point, at 15-1, surprisingly, to me, the longest shot in the field. This horse has never been close to the same, especially in the speed figure category, since his wrenching second to Curlin in this race last year. However, his comeback race at seven furlongs earlier in the meet was solid, and he certainly seems to love this track. (Note that though the Form shows trainer Eoin Harty as being 15% sprint to route, he's 1 for 25 in the category over the last 12 months.) And It's A Bird (10-1) has won his last three two turn races on fast tracks, all with 107 Beyers. He has the same running style as Rachel Alexandra, so we could see early on if he has what it takes. My feeling is that he won't, and neither will anyone else; maybe these two can spice up some exotics which will really need some spicing up! And I must admit that, though I still think her owner is being a jerk about the Breeders Cup, I'm not rooting against her anymore, OK? (At least in this race.)

- On Wednesday, Bonavento (Speightstown) ($13.40) was the 4th debut winner for the Toddster (from 28 starters), and 16th overall thus keeping pace with Linda Rice, who has started less than half as many starters. Pletcher's first-time winners have paid off well at odds of 5-2, 5-1, and 6-1; and he has three close second (within a length) at odds of 4-1, 6-1, and 11-1. Certainly wasn't like that here a few years ago.

For Linda Rice (Canadian Ballet, $7.20), it was her 16th winner from 48 starters, an even 33%. I've seen Andy Serling tweet tweet about how overbet her horses are, and indeed, she's had many starters in that category, especially some first timers in the last week. However, none of her winners have been less than 9-5, and she had enough price horses earlier in the meet to give her an impressive ROI of $3.61 and an average win payoff of $10.80 (coming into Wednesday).


Nick said...

I believe Jess is on record somewhere saying that he will not run Rachel in Dubai due to the new synthetic surface there.

El Angelo said...

Are you insinuating that Da'Tara has no chance?

alan said...

>>Are you insinuating that Da'Tara has no chance?

That's a fair assessment of my opinion.

El Angelo said...

Good call. Some rainy day I want to do a post on the worst winners of TC races in the last 20 years. What's shocking is that Sarava probably isn't in the bottom 5.

Anonymous said...

You seem to have an anti-Macho Again bias, Alan. I noticed it when we got together on Louisiana Derby day. You hate this frigging horse!

alan said...

>>You seem to have an anti-Macho Again bias, Alan.

A mistake I shall not be making again.

Anonymous said...

Da'tara was a simply a fluke however however he was running against the weakiest triple crown contender to date and even weaker divison!!!!!