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Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Ho Hum, Another Weekend at the Spa...

Back again from Saratoga, again the usual harrowing drive through storms on Sunday night. Seems to always work out that way. But regardless, we again had the usual great time, and did virtually the same things we did last time - the hike and swim at Lake Moreau, the bbq dinner in Saratoga State Park (where we had to convince a skeptical Saratoga cop that our intentions were purely culinary, and not to avoid the $10 parking fee for the Godsmack concert at SPAC. "Do we look like we're going to a Godsmack concert?" I asked, knowing full well that I'd seen Fucked Up just a few weeks prior. "Look at these people," he replied, pointing at a group walking by. "Do they look like they're going to a Godsmack concert?" Actually, I figured from the fully tattooed necks that they probably were. But I just went along and he let us in); the farmer's market, the dinner out (at Limoncello's, and we both liked it quite a bit), and a pre-rain Sunday morning walk around the art district, where we scored the same living quarters as we did a couple of weeks ago. And, oh yeah, the track.

Those of you who were following my Twitter feed on Saturday know that I had an eventful day. Not particularly profitable (though not unprofitable either), but a fair amount of frustration, both bad luck, a bad decision, and an unfortunate decision that didn't work out. I was alive in the early double after Green Monster ($8.20) held off 10-1 Ground Force, who I didn't use. Nor did I use third-place Cribnote, a good effort in his first race in almost two years. Used three in that race to get to Unbridled Command in the second.

That two-year old son of Master Command was making his turf debut in his second start, for trainer Tom Bush. As you know if you've been following, I've been following the trainer, who's been live with virtually every starter he's sent to the post, but has suffered a string of tough losses, and at very good prices. That was really about it as far as the reasoning went; I just bet the barn. The horse didn't show much in his debut at 37-1; and had OK though not spectacular breeding for the grass. Unbridled Command was well-placed the whole way, opened up some lengths in the stretch, and it was "where's the wire?" time. Unfortunately, it was a couple of strides too long....and it was a 22-1 FL shipper who beat him. Double would have paid over $100, and I had it enough times to pay for the whole weekend. It was a deflating beat.....a signature loss for the meet I fear, along the lines of Teufelsberg in the Sanford in 2006 and First Defence in the 2007 King's Bishop. Stretch always seems a bit too long for me.

After dropping a few more bucks in the next race on Gypsy Warrior, second at 14-1 for Bush, his 4th second in a row, I did bounce back with B Shanny ($14) in the 6th. This was kind of a lark. For one thing, I'd already let a horse named after a Ranger (albeit, just briefly in this case) go by without at least a token bet. He was also quite live on the board. And, despite a huge disparity between the Beyers for B Shanny (37 vs state-breds) and Grandpa Len (76 in open company), one of two others who had a race under its belt, B Shanny had a better number adding the DRF speed rating plus the track variant. I do still look at that sometimes, when I get in the mindset of "who would I have had 30 years ago," when the less detailed information seemed to work just fine. Also a good way to just get past the Beyers sometimes, when a race demands more imagination than just looking at hard figures. (And a good excuse to discard the Beyer when you just want to.) Usually, any horse with a big Beyer advantage will also have a higher DRF number, so this one seemed unusual. Used him on top with three in the exacta, was disappointed when the overbet Pletcher first-time beat out Granpa Len for second, but was pleasantly surprised at the $61 return with the third choice over a 9-5 favorite. Nice! B Shanny is by Street Cry, the first foal from Nothing But Fun, and didn't she just run a a year or so ago? Jeez.

Things fell apart in the 7th though. High priced maiden claimer might have been the best of that class I've ever seen! Couldn't decide amongst the main contenders, but noticed that Tapaway, 12-1 morning line, was taking a lot of tote action in his first off the claim for Michael Maker and the Ramseys. Even tweeted about that. Further inspection of the tote showed him getting back squarely on the nose in the win pool. Don't usually bet these to win since, almost by definition, they are overbet. Didn't even really like him on form, but played Tapaway ($14.20) on top in some triples; which did not, unfortunately, include second choice, and third place finisher, The Laurels. In retrospect, I simply missed that one in the course of making a last minute wager. Maybe on another day, would have had the exacta for $105, or the double with Fantastic Song in the 8th, who I liked at the time, but then went off because the Chad Brown first-time starter was dead on the tote. But not on Saturday. (Really need to get into the habit of reflexively considering doubles now that they're offered on every race.)

As far as Fantastic Time ($20.40) goes, I honestly don't have any regrets. He's wonderfully bred for the grass, was 5-1 morning line, picked second by Litfin (though unplaced in the Form consensus box), a debut runner for the high-percentage trainer Chad Brown, who has a reputation for winning first-out (even though I was surprised to see afterwards that he'd only won 5 of his last 57 in that category). He was simply dead on the board and I passed the race. I think I have a pretty good feel for the tote board, and it's really not too often that a horse that I dismiss for that reason wins. This time, it did. Sometimes I'll still bet a few bucks just so I don't feel stupid, but not this time.

I think that was about it....didn't bet the Alabama. Read a lot about Royal Delta and how impressive she was. And don't mean to be such a party pooper....but this was yet another case of a North American graded stakes race which was simply too long for its participants. The final quarter of this race was run in 26.08, right after one run in 23.93. So these fillies stopped cold, Royal Delta five lengths less so than the others (25.63 for the last quarter, the only one in the race under 26.34).

Sunday's rain wiped out most of my handicapping, and between that, problems getting settled after the torrential rain (and handicapping the weather incorrectly), and those short post times in order to beat the rain (and a solid Boo! for that), I didn't do much wagering, at least at Saratoga. Threw away some money in the simulcasts; but in fact, my only Saratoga bet was Wholelotofshakin in the last race - 2nd at 11-1 in his debut for, yes, Tom Bush. Unbelievable. Determined to get out for the meet on that guy; he's just gotta break through at some point, right? Had a lot of live horses at big prices that fell a bit short during both weekend visits. Don't generally bet place, but would have made some money had I done so. (Of course, the one time I did, on Sunday, Zubani ran 3rd in the 6th at Monmouth at 14-1.)

7 Comments:

Marty said...

Tom Bush is a very overlooked trainer. Not great first time but really improves 2nd out. Hope his big turf runner Banrock is ok. I also think Get Stormy is OK and ready for a big race.

ljk said...

My place is about a mile from SPAC. I don't know if it was the wind direction or not but the Godsmack concert was loud. I assume your BBQ was finished by then?

alan said...

Marty, Bush has had tough luck with those two runners this meet, keeping them healthy. Hopefully Get Stormy is ready to go as you say.

ljk - We could hear some music, but not all that loud, guess we were upwind!

Figless said...

Get Stormy is in on Friday, I assume a win there will partially ease the disappointment of all these placings at the meet.

But all those horses that ran second will probably get another shot during the last week, so he may finish very strong.

steve in nc said...

Look for Tom Bush's Gone at Once if he goes tomorrow. The drop to MClm after a blinker switch is a move he does well with. The outside post is tough, but should be a price.

I think you should have asked the SPAC security guard if Fucked Up was also on the bill just to see what kind of response you'd get.

Godsmack? Fucked Up? Cheap WWE-style names. Are the Meat Puppets still around? Now that was a disgusting name with class!

Figless said...

Gone At Once does appear live at a price but I suspect he may have to again settle for a minor award here.

Chad Brown's Sasta Go Lucky takes a similar drop, ran a tad better than GAO at the MSW level, and draws favorably looks better than these. Will box those two with reliable money finisher She Drives Me Wild.

In Race 9 Bush the switch to Dominguez may finally get Grace and Courage (16-1-5-3) her second win. Only 7-2 on the ML so not getting anyone out for the meet but should get the trainer to the winners circle after a run of touch luck.

In race two going to try Finger Lakes shipper Missysmoonlitmagic, a daughter of Freud making her grass debut.

Stretching out in a field lacing any obvious pace, this filly will likely try to take them wire to wire at a big price, and the barn is 50% in the money at this meet with similarly overmatched (on paper) runners. Will box with the logical faves (2 and 8).

Good luck playing the NY Breds today at the Spa.

alan said...

Meat Puppets are actually still around these days!