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Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Tuesday News and Notes

Hope everyone had a great holiday weekend. Haven't posted in awhile....busy last week with a great show by Elvis Costello at the Beacon, watching hockey games, catching up on some sleep and stuff. And I dunno, what do you wanna talk about anyway (other than the results of the special election in NY's 26th CD?) Would have liked to have spent some time at Belmont on a gorgeous weekend, but only was able to do so on Monday; and only for the first six races at that. Had a big BBQ to go to last evening. Probably have mentioned before that I wish these holiday cards would start and end early to accommodate that stuff. 5:46 PM seems awfully late to run the feature race on a family and friends-oriented holiday, and I imagine I wasn't the only one of the 9,144 in attendance who wasn't around for the Met Mile.

Speaking of which, it was a fantastic race on paper. Not so much on the track though with a lot of spacing between the first four finishers, not exactly the ideal result of a handicap race with assigned weights intended to have them all, in theory, hit the wire together. Lukewarm favorite Tizway ($8.20), third place last year, has two smashing stakes wins over the track and distance since, and earned an explosive career high Beyer of 113. A little redboarding here on the 36-1 runner up Rodman, who was previously two-for-two, with competitive Beyers, at the one turn mile route. Great training job there by Mike Hushion, as this six-year old has affirmed the improvement he showed before going on the shelf for 14 months before returning in February. Another disappointing performance by Haynesfield; now out of the money twice this year, and on his favorite track too. I imagine there's some concern in that camp.

It was the last day of state operation at Monmouth, where Morris Bailey will take over operation when racing presumably resumes there on Friday. Horsemen still have to agree to a cutback in racing dates from 141 to 71, with purse levels around the same that they have been thus far this spring, around $400,000 per day (though we'll see how long that lasts).

In the 6th on Monday, Christmas For Liam was 1-9 in the Skip Away despite never having run around two turns. I was all in against him. Unfortunately not with Ponzi Scheme ($25.20), but that's not the point, which is that you just gotta jump in and take a shot when the favorite is being asked to do something it's never done before. See that all the time, especially here in the synthetic age, but wow, 1-9, not often to that extent!

There was a back page ad in the Form from Del Mar, trying to attract some out-of-town stables with the higher purses resulting from the controversial takeout increase instituted on some exotic wagers earlier this year. One of the main criticisms of the effort was that it would be difficult to lure horses west no matter how high the purses are due to the usual geographic barriers as well as the synthetic tracks that remain at most of the state's racetracks.

In addition to the purses, which do seem extremely enticing - $65,000 for entry-level allowance races; $63,000 for maiden specials, down to a minimum $24,000 for 20K maiden claiming races - any owner who starts a horse who last ran out of state gets a guaranteed $1000 for making the trip, "plus a bonus payment of 20% of whatever purse money that horse earns in its first start*" with *certain rules applying. The ad promises over $550,000 in average daily purses, a 20% increase in overnight purses, perfect weather, beautiful facilities, and the opportunity to "run your horses in front of an average of 18,000 people a day." What is not mentioned anywhere in the ad is the Polytrack. Guess it's still not a selling point even though Del Mar is surely one of the surface's relative success stories thus far.