I know everyone's hepped up about Monmouth. But those races - large fields of horses shipping in from a variety of racetracks (including a pretty fair number from New York) - are just too hard for me! Why expend the mental energy when I can handicap races which not only include horses and trainers with whom I'm familiar, but which also don't require nearly as much guesswork as trying to rate horses who've been running in different classes over different surfaces in different jurisdictions. Not that I don't enjoy handicapping a contentious race; but I find
these enough of the races here challenging enough. And I also like to cash once in a while. So I'm sticking around close to home.
They'll be wagering on Belmont at NYC OTB too, but the bettors there will have little choice. The NY State Racing and Wagering Board cracked down on OTB's out-of-state simulcasting and ordered all of the out-of-state signals other than Golden Gate pulled after having "only just yesterday" discovered that the individual simulcast contracts with the tracks were not approved. Matt Hegarty reports:
In addition to accusations that New York City OTB did not receive approvals to offer the tracks, the board notified OTB three weeks ago that it would not approve any other simulcast contracts until OTB "assures us that they are able to meet their financial obligations," according to Joe Mahoney, a spokesman for the board. [Daily Racing Form]The spokesman is referring to the fact that it's the statutory payments due to NYRA on these out-of-state simulcasts which are the ones being "deferred" by NYC OTB. So one might presume that those payments are also behind the Board's sudden discovery that the contracts were not approved.
Whatever its motive, and inadvertently or not, the Racing and Wagering Board, a neutral arbiter, is coming down on NYRA's side here. Presuming that bettors with money burning holes in their pockets are going to bet on Belmont instead, NYRA would at least get the money since they are currently getting paid by OTB for its own product. The percentage difference isn't that great though - NYRA gets 2.69% of bets on its races, as opposed to 1.96% for all non-NYRA races. Every little bit helps, though this surely won't stave off closure if Albany doesn't come through. (And bettors like reader Figless Anon who will go to Belmont to bet on races from Monmouth would further help, as NYRA collects its full on-track cut of over 9% on those wagers.)
- In the 8th at Belmont, Nobody Like Mike (6-1), first-time out for Greg DiPrima, has worked extremely well for his return to the grass, a surface over which he's run twice and done quite well - a third with excuses and a win. DiPrima, 20% off the claim, has had just one winner in 13 starts at the meet; but he's been live with a second and six thirds, and that one winner was also on the grass and with this jockey. Fit (5-2) goes for the sharp Alan Goldberg barn, but I think he doesn't want to go this far.
In the 10th, Mighty Tuff (6-1) - that one winner for DiPrima I mentioned above - had shown improved speed with blinkers added two races back, and then switched to turf, where he proceeded to drop back to 9th. The above-referenced Victor Santiago showed patience saving some ground behind a wall of horses turning for home before he rallied down the center of the track. The chart comment Caught battling pair may give the impression that he ran down tiring horses; but, according to Formulator, he got his last two furlongs in 11 2/5 each, and earned a solid Beyer for this level. Steps up to face winners, but gets Ramon and there's not much here. Eire's Run (3-1) cuts back a bit after a fair effort first off the claim for Linda Rice; note though that he graduated on dirt. Look for that one to be particularly overbet if the other half of the entry (first-time turf Abilio) goes. E.P. Bombay (7-2) ships in from the west coast; may be overbet off a win on synthetic against maiden claimers.