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Monday, March 07, 2011

Odds and Ends

I saw Figless' comment about the objection in the Gotham, and that was the first I'd heard of it. I actually didn't stick around for that race, the 10th on Saturday. 2 1/2 hours is about my shelf life at the Big A this time of year, especially in the new crowded version. Of course, when the weather's nice, twice, even three times that time period just flies by at favorite tracks like Belmont, Del Mar, and Saratoga (strictly in alphabetical order). But I'm done after a limited time at the Big A; good thing it's close enough to warrant the trip for an abbreviated stay.

Not much controversy as far as the Gotham though in my opinion; some light mutual bumping before Stay Thirsty crossed over in front of longshot Norman Asbjornson while drawing clear late. On the pan shot, it looked like a bit of acting on the part of jockey Julian Pimentel. Pretty nice return for the winner, who earned a Beyer of 89, in his first start since the Breeders' Cup; and of course, the Mike Repole - Todd Pletcher team will try to replicate that on Saturday with Uncle Mo. Reading this article by David Grening in the Form, an overpowering return by the two-year old champ could produce something akin to a walkover in the Wood.

I have to agree with Figless' comment about Sunday's third, and the total non-explanation provided in NYRA's Stewards' Corner. serves solely as a list of inquiries and objections without providing any enlightenment in which case it is useless.
Can't put it any better than that.

Back for a moment to the Big Cap; I mentioned Baffert's quote dismissing the hecklers after the race as harmless compared to those at Belmont. Some readers not familiar with the tracks might have thought he would cite Aqueduct instead. But trainers there never have to come in close contact with the crowd, which is either indoors behind glass or kept at a safe distance overlooking the sunken paddock. They can walk in and out through restricted areas in the building. But at Belmont, there's only one route from the paddock to the track, and at one point the path bottlenecks at a point where the grandstand paddock viewing area hangs directly above. It can be way too close for comfort for trainers and jockeys alike. Wait until we have some of the colorful OTB characters added to the mix.

- Harness horsemen are touting the "stretched stretch," - the 1 and a 1/16th mile races at Yonkers that were instituted last month. Standardbred Owners Association of NY president Joe Faraldo noted that there were a "possibly unprecedented" four winners from the dreaded eight post on Saturday night.
Clearly, the word is out: outside post horses at Yonkers are no longer to be discounted as outsiders at the mutuel windows. This new competitive racing phenomenon has assuredly helped Yonkers once again approach 7-figure handle numbers unseen since the recent closure of NYC's Off Track Betting Corporation. [$934,000 on Saturday night.]
I would think that the addition of Yonkers (and it's live stream) to NYRA's wagering menu has helped as well.

- A couple of follow-ups to my post from Sunday morning. I mentioned there that our friend DiscreetPicks had an excellent day on Saturday; he followed that up with a one-for-one Sunday when Hard to Resist ($12.80) rallied from far back to take the 6th at Santa Anita.

And the Rangers, wearing their road white uniforms, crushed the Flyers 7-0. jk wrote that I had some splaining to do; but this is a very young team that competes hard every night, and has lost a lot of close games. The main splanation for their recent woes is that they don't score many goals, particularly with Marian Gaborik having an off season even when he's not injured. Still, they are very good defensively - second in the conference in goals against despite having played the most games - have solid goaltending and have shown grit and character throughout the season (I believe they still lead the league in points earned when trailing after two periods). I think they could make for a very dangerous first round opponent should they get in, which I believe they will.


Anonymous said...

I bet Discreet hit the exacta too. I crushed it (look at the payout). Easy money.


And going back to the previous comments section - I firmly believe Misremembered will win BC classic this year.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Kilograeme.

DiscreetPicks said...

I didn't bet the exacta. I generally stay away from exotics altogether, you know that.

Regarding the Uncle Mo scenario that Alan referenced, i think Uncle Mo has the potential to go into the Derby as the worst-prepared raceday favorite i've ever seen. He only ran three times as a juvenile, and he still hasn't made a single 3yo start yet. And when they do finally run him, they're cutting him back to one turn? Potentially followed by a tiny field in the Wood???

Last time i checked, the Derby was still a 1 1/4-mile race with 20 starters, right? And it's not exactly kind to frontrunners, either. I can't find fault with anything that Uncle Mo has ever done on the track, and he does own a big two-turn win @ Churchill Downs in front of a monster crowd (ala Street Sense). And the fact that Stay Thirsty (who had worked heads-up with Uncle Mo in 3 of their last 4 drills) just won the Gotham bodes well also. But the way things are going, it's going to be very hard for me to like Uncle Mo in the Derby. Right now, i think Brethren represents Pletcher's best shot to win, not Uncle Mo. I really wonder what these trainers are thinking sometimes. It seems like they're more concerned with simply getting to the race than they are with winning it.

Anonymous said...

I thought you made a good point about the configuration of Aqueduct versus Belmont in regards to hecklers and even the general public at large. It has an interesting set-up. In fact the entire layout is such that after making my way to up Equestris on Saturday, I joked that it almost feels like there is a caste system in place at Aqueduct.

El Angelo said...


Your points are all true, but wasn't this also true of Big Brown? Who of course faced one of the worst Derby fields ever.

DiscreetPicks said...

Perhaps to a point, but Big Brown did score a highly impressive win from the outside post in the Florida Derby, a post from which no horse (or only one horse?) had won from at that distance over a pretty large sample size. That's not quite the same thing as an easy prep in the Wood vs. a tiny field.

Some similarities though, for sure. Big Brown made his 3yo debut around one turn (though i think it was originally scheduled for two turns before being rained off the grass), then had only prep thereafter. It should probably be noted however that Big Brown was known to have bad feet, and his light campaign was at least partly by design. Not the case with Uncle Mo, at least as far as we know.

El Angelo said...

To me, the question with Uncle Mo is going to be if there are any halfway decent horses that can challenge him. That's why Big Brown broke all the rules in 2008, there was no real competition. Take a look at the results chart--the best dirt horses in that field were a bunch of sprinters that had no business running 10 furlongs (Tale of Ekati, Visionaire, Pyro, Gayego). The most successful horses besides Big Brown were Cowboy Cal and Court Vision, who were really turf horses. Just a horrible field all around.

So Uncle Mo can be underprepared and untested going into the race. The bottom line is that unless there's a good horse or two that can beat him, it may not matter. So far the only horses we've seen this year that might approach that level of good are Soldat and The Factor.

Voy-tech said...

Dialed In will run them all down.

steve in nc said...

Thoroughbred ranks are so thin that you can accurately dis almost any horse and/or race with the "who did he beat" or "what did they do after" line of reasoning.

That's why the speed figures and the pattern of them matters more to me than the rest. I'm not trying to handicap who will end up in the Hall of Fame, just who will win the race in question.

Mo has been running unreal figures, and if he keeps it up, it won't matter in the Derby how few run against him in his preps. If he runs a mediocre figure in preps, regardless of how many he wins by, I'll be happy to jump off his bandwagon.

Given Pletcher's success, I'm not abaout to question what he's doing with the horse.

Anonymous said...

Mo hasn't run in 4 months. The fact that Pletcher has waited this long with him is somewhat of a troubling sign. I understand the path to the Derby has changed dramatically in the past 15 years and it's possible Pletcher knows he has the goods and just wants to keep the horse sound and in one piece. But jeesh, it's less than two months to the Derby and the horse has yet to make his 3yo debut. Who knows if that massive effort in the BC knocked him out. Two year olds that run such a fast number very often can never run back to it. Also, Uncle Mo's sire ran out of juice after running a sizzling SA Derby. And he never ran again after the Ky Derby.

Uncle Mo could be a superstar, but I'd say he's a bet-against this coming Saturday and probably a bet-against eight saturdays after that. And picking the Derby winner right now is silly, though if you do, more power to ya. -jp

Figless said...

This is a much better 3yo crop than Big Brown's, no comparision.

Stay Thirsty, Brethren, The Factor?, Dialed In, To Honor and Serve (every right to bounce back), even Dutrows horse, deep and talented group.

Anonymous said...

Hey Alan what is wrong with the colorful character's from OTB. You seem to be a colorful character yourself. You will fit in perfect with the OTB crowd.

steve in nc said...

Anyone ever hear of RTN - Racetrack Television Network? Just got an offer from Dish Net to add it (a mere $50/month), and get 50 channels of live race feeds from tracks around the country. It names Woodbine, Meadowlands, Hawthorne, Santa Anita, Balmoral, and GP on the ad - no NYRA.

Anonymous said...

The San Felipe is gonna be a great race this year. Many talented sorts, early developers, late developers, fast fucking horses and great pedigrees too. I'm very excited, but it looks like a tough spot for Albergatti.