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Sunday, May 15, 2005

Bad Favorites

- Had a nice day at Belmont yesterday, though not successful betting wise. Any thoughts that my bad luck had been swept away by couple of winners last weekend were quickly dispelled when I was nosed at the wire in the 3rd with 4-1 shot Philadelphia Jim. Short fields, especially on the dirt, continue to plague the early stages of the Belmont meet, which is not a good sign. Usually the short fields come in the last month of the meet before Saratoga, so I shudder to think what awaits us then.

Nonetheless, there was some interesting racing yesterday. The 4th race brought the debut of a 3yo colt named Harbor Master, a Todd Pletcher-trained colt by Seattle Slew out of Harbor Springs, making him a 3/4 brother to millionaire and current Japan-based sire Boston Harbor. (The dam Harbor Springs is a half to the millionaire sprinter Groovy.) He was knocked down to even money, and certainly looked the part in the paddock. But he continued Pletcher’s Belmont 0-fer (temporarily), checking in second to another first timer, Pleasant Fiction (Mazel Trick). Pletcher then got off the schneid in the 5th with his 3yo Confederation, a $525K Dixie Union colt who broke his maiden at 1-2 at Gulfstream.

Then there was the G2 Genuine Risk, one of the two stakes races, along with the Lone Star Derby, that I’d posted about yesterday. They both featured favorites that seemed extremely overbet, with the results confirming that observation. The Genuine Risk looked wide open, but the bettors pounded Bob Baffert’s Friendly Michelle to 9-5, despite the fact that she hadn’t started since last October. She did take the G1 Prioress over this track last July, but had two poor efforts after that and before her layoff. Weird. With all the sharp horses in the field, no one else was less than 6-1! It was such a plethora of value, that I couldn’t decide on anyone and watched as 8-1 Bank Audit stormed through the stretch off a suicidal pace and nosed 9-1 Sensibly Chic at the wire.

Then, in the Lone Star, Awesome Twist, who I highlighted here, was sent off at an unconsciounable 8-5 - it was his first start beyond 7 furlongs! Again, that left a lot of value on the rest of them - the next highest price was 9-2 on Storm Surge - and it was Southern Africa (Cape Town) at a generous 7-1. He may be headed for New York. "I really think the farther he goes the better he is," [trainer Mike] Puhich said. "We'll definitely look at the Preakness [on Saturday] and see what happens there, but the Belmont is a possibility." [Star-Telegram]

Good job by those who, unlike me, took advantage of one of these overlays. The problem was that the prices on the remaining horses in both races accurately reflected the fact that you could make a good case for virtually all of them. But winners were well-rewarded - when’s the next time you’ll see 8-1 on Bank Audit at her favorite 6f distance?