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Sunday, May 26, 2013

Sunday Morning Notes

 - The Derby runner-up Golden Soul was supposed to have his first official workout since then on Saturday, but it was delayed for at least one more day by trainer Dallas Stewart. 

  “I’m still working on his appetite. The work could be any day, when I feel that is 100 percent.” [DRF]
  Oh, well, that's really not good, right?  I'm hardly an expert on equine dining habits.  But we always read a trainer tell us about how a horse "ate up" after a race to show how well it recovered.  I don't know that I've ever, in all my long experience, read a statement like this....probably something that a trainer generally keeps to him/herself. 
  "He ran a great race in the Derby, but it was a hard race on him and his appetite is still coming back."  [Miami Herald]
And remember, Golden Soul took the absolute shortest route home, while Orb ran 80 feet more in the wide path.  So, perhaps, this should add a little perspective and make one more forgiving of Orb's lackluster performance two weeks later.  Sure, we've seen Derby winners come back and run big in the Preakness.  But not, according to my aforementioned really smart co-worker, horses who have closed from far back to do so, at least in the last 25 years.  These are the stats for their next races, with Barbaro and Grindstone excluded: 
Those positioned less than 5 lengths back: 8-6-1-1 (75% wins, 100% ITM) Avg win mutuel $7.70

Those positioned 5 to 10 lengths back: 6-3-1-0 (50% wins, 66.66% ITM) Avg win mutuel $7.30

Those positioned more than 10 lengths back: 9-0-4-1 (0% wins, 55.56% ITM)
Now, some of this may be attributed to the human factor, a determination on the part of trainers and jockeys to not reproduce a meltdown pace that may have caused a horse to win the Derby from far back.  And conversely, I don't think any of us expect Oxbow's rivals to allow him to skip away to an uncontested lead again; which would surely bode well for Orb and the other closers.  But whether due to physical or competitive factors, these are interesting stats worth keeping in mind.

 - I was watching HRTV early on yesterday, and Jeff Siegel was all giddy about the holiday weekend and the extra day of racing it produces.  The problem, as I see it, is that most tracks don't have the quality stock on hand to produce three weekend-worthy programs of racing.  If you don't believe that, just take a look at Belmont's card today, which is barely worthy of a Thursday.  And anecdotally based on my scanning the various cards yesterday, I don't think it's just a local problem here.  I was in a gambling mode....I was just dying to lose some hard-earned cash - PLEASE, TAKE MY MONEY! - yet it seemed that any upcoming race I turned to, if it wasn't on a sloppy track, was a maiden claiming race or a six or seven horse field with a lopsided tote board.  And then you get Memorial Day at Belmont, and we get the four graded stakes race card and, other than the Met Mile which looks dandy, the short fields and poor betting contests that that often denotes here in NY.  So, the weather situation has turned around and I'm excited for a gorgeous day at the big track tomorrow, but here's hoping that there are some attractive betting contests to play elsewhere on the simulcast menu.

 - Well, General Election indeed took to the turf and won the Arlington Classic.  When I wrote yesterday that I would play him underneath and curse my fate should he win, that was based on his 5-1 morning line.  When I looked at the tote around eight minutes to post, I was stunned to see that he was 17-1 at that time.  Just as he was a huge overlay in the Lexington, he was similarly overlooked here....and at least this time he was coming off a great effort as opposed to the clunker he'd thrown in before the Keeneland race.  Some horses often go off at overlays like that, hard to determine exactly why.  But at that price, I had to throw a few bucks on him to win.  He got bet down a bit to 13-1, but still not complaining about that.

 - In the 8th at Churchill today, Gentleman's Kitten (4-1)  returns off a 228 day layoff and tries winners for the first time.  Hmm, that doesn't really sound that appetizing at that price, and consider too that he goes for the Ken Ramsey stable, which likely won't help as far as value goes.  However, on the plus side, trainer Wayne Catalano is sharp with a couple of winners yesterday, including Oscar Party, who won off a layoff of 204 days.  True, that horse is a stakes winner, and Gentleman's Kitten beat an uninspiring maiden field when last seen last fall at Keeneland.  However, adding blinkers and stretching out to a mile after getting left at the gate in his debut, in which he was bet to 4-5 at five furlongs, this son of Kitten's Joy battled for the lead on the inside throughout, and looked like he would be swallowed up in the stretch before battling back gamely to get the win.  Here, he faces what appears to be a highly favorable pace scenario with the main contenders of the plodding variety; and he comes in off a series of sparkling works, including what appears to be a heads-up drill with the aforementioned Oscar Party on May 19 at Churchill (they both are listed as having gone 5 furlongs in 59 4/5).  So, gotta keep to one's principles as far as value goes, but think he's set to run a good one here, and Rapacious (5-2) has been burning a lot of money from rapacious chalk players and will hopefully do so here.  Greengrassofyoming (5-1) closed well for second in a similar situation in his last - off a layoff and facing winners for the first time - but lost to the money-burning Film Making despite a perfect pace set-up that he's unlikely to see here.  Best of luck and have a great day.


El Angelo said...

Can someone explain why the Met Mile goes off at 5:45? Who wants to be at the track that late on Memorial Day? If a day cried out for an early start and finish its tomorrow.

Alan Mann said...

Angelo - No doubt. I'm planning to go for the early part of the day, but have mom and kids coming for bbq and will be long home by that post time.

Teresa said...

Possibly because it's being broadcast on MSG+? Hour-long show starts at 5:00.

Alan Mann said...

Possibly, but I have news for MSG+ - I ain't gonna be watching it at that time tomorrow either.

Joe Jonash said...

Me either. I don't have time to watch it. Anyway, nice blog post.

Figless said...

I'll be there for what is always one of the best races of the year, guess it means I have no life.

Traditionally a decent crowd this day, so it must appeal to some.

steve in nc said...

Figless, if I were in NY instead of NC, I'd be there too. I think the last time I saw a Met Mile was Holy Bull's win, with a forgettable longshot who had a good speed # holding second by a hair and sending me home not caring at all that I wasn't going to a BBQ.

It does hit home on the issue of racetrack vs. rest of your life, even from afar. The BBQ I will go to today starts 15 minutes before the late P4, so I'll have to miss post parade and toteboard info, bet in advance, and watch later.

If they started at 10:30 a.m. to finish by 3:30 today, I'd get to see it all, AND, probably have an excuse to scam out of doing the grunt work in my wife's garden that I'm about to do.

Since you didn't ask, here's my gorilla no-value pick 4:
all-Joyful Victory-Midnight Lucky-Flat Out