Back home in Queens from Saratoga, where obviously I didn't have too much to keep up with the blog, except for some pretty decent picks if I don't say so myself. Saturday was particularly special when I spent time to make cases for three horses who all subsequently scratched. Nice hat trick there. We were busy and had a great time, and scored a cool rental with an awesome screened-in porch with a ceiling fan, yeah! Not that we did anything we haven't done many times before (other than a hike I'll come back to, sure you can't wait). Just that we never seem to get tired of it. The air is so clear (when it's not pouring rain but even when humidity hangs), that it's like your seeing everything - the trees, the lakes, the view from a mountain summit, and yes, even the horses - in HD.
I'm pretty damn proud of myself - was at the track for at least a portion of nine racing days, and came out with a small wagering profit; not too shabby! I also however suffered a string of frustrating, at best, to horrible, at worst, beats; four 2nds in particular that stick in the craw, any one of which would have easily put me over the top for the trip. Two were horses I picked here; the very first day, had a cold double going with the two horses selected. Jitney ($17.80) took the 7th, and I had a cold double, paying around $80, going with Native Wave, the favorite in the 8th. This wasn't a close loss, but I'd warily noted the Toddster-first time getting sneaky bet before Ravi Maragh stole it with a nice rating job. Then on Thursday, again hit the first of two blog picks; but then, in the finale, Ambit, at 6-1, encountered all kinds of traffic on the inside after being taken down there by Irad Ortiz Jr., finally got out and closed with a rush, only to fall 3/4s short to a 29-1 shot. Argh!
The other two were out of town, a 9-1 shot at Del Mar, Jerry'shoneycarol, who grabbed the lead at the 1/16th pole but couldn't last. And, worst of them all, on our last day, Strawberry Scarlet, who rallied wide in the 4th at Woodbine, looked like a winner at the 1/16th, but somehow couldn't pass the 1 horse (who I had underneath in exactas) until a couple of inches past the wire. The official margin is a "head," but it was a pretty small one in my book; the chart comment of "just missed" sums it up nicely.
However, and on the bright side, if you're betting horses at those kinds of odds who are just missing, you're at least picking live horses with good value. And I think you can't really ask for much more in this game than being able to do that consistently. If you're selecting horses that are involved, you're gonna have your share of winners....but you're sure gonna have your share of losers too. (Especially if you're not betting to place or reversing all your exactas!)
So I'm feeling pretty good and confident, and it's funny how that comes and goes. The horses all look about the same on paper when I'm going bad; nothing seems to make sense. Now, I can find a simulcast race with 8 MTP, digest it thoroughly and be down with plenty of time to stop in the bathroom before the race. So, hoping to make it back up there one more time, at which time I'll surely pay the price for writing the above.
- On Tuesday, we headed up north to a hiking spot off the southeast shore of Lake George. Took a dirt road for 7.9 miles with some particularly narrow and winding stretches. The Head Chef seemed uncomfortable. (She has more on this excursion, as well as some photos and comments on the Saratoga Farmer's Market....and a particularly delicious [as I can attest] recipe inspired by it, on her Grapes and Greens blog. Please check it out!) We walked down one trail and found ourselves walking along the edge of the lake....a quiet, unspoiled (if you will) section where recreational boaters were taking refuge from the tourist havens.
Then we hiked back up and found Shelving Rock Falls, a gorgeous setting on a beautiful day....especially in HD. Here, there were some great swimming holes, and one rock formation in particular which had formed and smoothed into a perfect chair-like spot in which to set down one's butt and enjoy the water.
- Not often one sees a horse win and pay $40.80 with Ramon Dominguez, but that's what Synthesizer paid in the 4th on Monday, one of four winners for the jockey on the day. I suppose I could make a red-board case as to why that was an overlay, but I suppose you can do that for most such winners at a racetrack. Most of them. It was the first winner for trainer H. James Bond since he took the opening race of the meet.
Another first-out winner...and another winner...for Pletcher, now comfortably on top of the trainer standings with 20 winners, from a whopping 81 starters. By comparison, second-place Chad Brown has started 49 (14 winners). The Toddster has 11 debut winners from 28 such starters. Coconut Shrimp ($6.60) won on the turf; she's a 2yo daughter of Distorted Humor, out of Weekend in Indy (AP Indy) who in turn is a half-sister to the trainer's graded stakes winners Bohemian Lady and Any Given Saturday.