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Sunday, March 06, 2011


I've taken up yoga at my advanced age, and I absolutely love it. Tried it for the first time at our resort in beautiful Grenada, where we practiced in a pristine outdoor setting amongst the sounds of nature in the early morning hours. Wasn't quite sure that it would have a similar effect on me in a studio in Queens. But even here, I find myself completely relaxed afterwards, both physically and mentally. I've long sought a (non-drug induced) means of alleviating tension and stress (not that you'd ever noticed me being uptight by reading this blog), and this seems to be the ticket. On Saturday morning, I even refrained from passive-aggressively muttering obscenities under my breath at the guy in the gym who regularly wears an Obama-Worst President Ever t-shirt; instead, I forgave him for being a moron. (How can one even make such a statement only two years into his eventual eight years in office?) (Well? Which one of the losers being mentioned as a GOP hopeful is going to beat him?)

So, it was in this state of euphoria that I arrived at the Big A on Saturday afternoon (even after dropping a check off to my ex-wife)! I was literally floating around the first floor (aided by the hypnotic sounds of Fever Ray on my Ipod); a nonchalant observer of the mass of various and sundry characters surrounding me in a sea of not-entirely hygienic humanity. Quite an accomplishment because, let's face it - the Big A, in this post-OTB and pre-Resorts World era, is a fucking zoo on Saturdays. I don't say that entirely in a bad way of course; it's great to see a NYRA track other than Saratoga alive and vibrant these days. But those of you nostalgic for the good ol' days of seedy OTB parlors can recapture all of their glory with a trip to Ozone Park.

That was quite clear just bemusedly observing the crowd jammed in a mass in front of the overhead monitors watching the third race from Gulfstream on the overhead monitors. Might as well have been at the now forgotten parlor on Queens Blvd; just about 100 times bigger.

But really, the fact is that Aqueduct really is nothing but a giant OTB parlor at this time of the year. The live racing there is merely one of a plethora of tracks available....and, out of the 7,114 in attendance there on Saturday, how many do you think actually took the time and effort to see a single live animal (of the four-legged variety) during the day? I'd guess no more than a few hundred; what do you think? I admit that I didn't, at least after a brief visit outdoors upon arrival (and that mostly to view the debris of the old grandstand lying in rubble on the apron).

And though I can't attribute any ingenious handicapping success to my yoga on this day, I was an active and happy horseplayer. My concentration level was very high, and that's really 90% of the game, don't you think? My good days and bad days at the track (with good and bad being measured by my enjoyment level and not my ultimate financial success) depend enormously if not exclusively on how well I can shut out the everyday distractions of life, and instead elevate predicting the outcome of a horse race to be the supreme challenge of the day. I don't know about you, but I found that to be far easier when I was far younger. Guess I had less things on my mind (unless it was just the quaaludes).

I did have some success on Saturday though, thanks to one of my other new distractions - my smartphone. This allowed me to look up the day's selections by our good buddy DiscreetPicks. It was shortly before the 5th at Gulfstream, and he had a pick for that race. Wish I still had the text here to reproduce, as it was a brilliant piece of handicapping. First-time starter Ninety Schllings was 10-1 in the morning line, and he wrote that he might go off higher. I'll say. He was 35-1 when I put down a few bucks with a few minutes to go; and I couldn't believe that he was 60-1 when his number flashed on the screen. He was in excellent position close behind under a confident hold by Emma-Jayne Wilson. You know how when you bet a 60-1 shot, even if it's looking good, you don't really think it has a chance, instead you wait for the inevitable fade. But this horse swung three wide into the stretch, and came a-running, wow! I think he might have briefly gained the lead in deep stretch before Shug's favored Break Up the Game ran by to win by 3/4's. Still, the $28 place price (a rare WP wager for me) was enough to pay for the day....and what a rush!

DisceetPicks had three winners, albeit modestly priced ones, on the day, including the Race 7-8 DD at GP, good for $15.50. He also gave a good mention to Big Cap winner Game On Dude ($31.60); though he liked Twirling Candy, he wrote that he'd run well and create good exacta value. The latter was correct.....if, that is, you liked 25-1 Setsuko for second. The day was marred by two fatal injuries - bringing the total on the new dirt track to 12, a fact we of course don't hear trumpeted by the mainstream racing press as it would if it was a new synthetic track - and controversy in the race itself. I'll have to try to get to that in more detail, but for now, getting ready to take off for today's Rangers-Flyers game. The Blueshirts are in their usual position of scrambling for the final playoff spot after a 4-10-2 downturn. They are one of the best teams in the league on the road, and one of the worst at home, go figure. However, the Rangers will make the playoffs this year, you heard it hear first. No prediction yet on how far they will or will not go.

One technical note - a few readers have complained to me recently that their comments weren't getting posted. I was tooling around the LATG back office, and found a spam section for comments, and voila, mystery solved. Gee, I wonder why Dirty's comments would be deemed as spam? :) So, I will make it a point to check that list regularly, but please email me if you're having problems.


jk said...

A few more Rangers' wins like today and you will not need yoga. Serenity now, serenity now!

Teresa said...

Got word last week that both my playoff package and 2011-2012 subscriber renewal information comes this week. Can't wait to see how much I'll be contributing to the "Transformation" before my seats get moved.

Coulda practically guaranteed a win today...I wasn't there.

And as for the yoga...oh, no, you too?

Figless said...

Well there's a concept for a fresh new handicapping book, Handicapping With Yoga.

Quite the controversy at SA, did not see the race and had not read any stories when I posted my Setsuko comment in the prior thread, I now officially change my beat from "close" to "tough", FD should have come down.

Stewards explanation makes no sense when you watch the head on.

steve in nc said...

A character in one of Mark Cramer's books got his best handicapping insights walking or running. IMHO, yoga helps everything. Caribbean climate helps even more, and the combination...

Glad you're not bummed out to be back. You were missed.

Anonymous said...

Bummer. Not my worst beat, but I had Setsuko and Twirling every which way in the triple. When they were moving in tandem, I was licking my chops. But then Twirling remembered jp had wagered on him and decided he needed to get pinballed around and make sure he didn't hit the board. -jp

Figless said...

Had three runner up finishes at big odds this weekend, and all three times they blinked the winner to no avail.

Norman A in the Gotham, Setsuko in the SAH, and Saratoga Tiger in Sunday's 3rd at Big A who I needed for a 450+ P3.

They are teasing me, made money in 2 of 3 cases but a LOT more if they take down the winner.