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Sunday, May 15, 2005

Sunday Night Notes - May 15

- Jeremy Rose has been generally praised for his ride on Afleet Alex in the Derby, but Steve Klein of the Form feels that he moved too soon:

The difference between those two performances is directly related to the fractions of those races. When Afleet Alex ran six furlongs in a leisurely 1:12.78 in the Arkansas Derby he was full of run late, and ran an optimal race while covering the last three furlongs in 36.02 seconds, and average of approximately 12.01 seconds per furlong. But when Afleet Alex was just five lengths behind the 1:09.59 pace in the Kentucky Derby, the extra energy he used to run more than two seconds faster to that point was not available to him late, and prevented him from capitalizing on the slow 53.16 final half-mile, an average of 13.29 per furlong. If Afleet Alex is ridden more patiently in the Preakness, he will be formidable. [Daily Racing Form]
Alex was actually a rallying 9th at the 3/4s, but only 5 lengths back. So he was rather close as Klein says. Closing Argument was even closer, however, and was wider on the turn than the ground saving Alex. His performance in the Derby flies in the face of the accepted logic for the race - that the pace was suicidal and anyone close to it was dead. If you use that to explain Afleet Alex, Bellamy Road, or High Fly falling short, how do you explain how Closing Argument almost won the race?

- I got home from a beautiful day with the Head Chef at the NY Botanical Garden in the Bronx, and of course immediately picked up the Form and switched on TVG. I'd done the good boyfriend thing for the day, and it was after 4 and time to play. The 8th at Belmont was a NY-bred stakes on the turf, the Kingston. It was another wide open stakes, but this time no false favorite. I made a small bet keying the 2 horse, No Parole, who was 11-1. Meanwhile, I’d noticed in the background that Matt Carrothers was apparently having a good day on TVG. He’d picked the winner of the 7th, Shaniko, Pletcher’s second winner of the day, so much for the detention barn theory. Then, just before the Belmont race, he nailed a 17-1 shot in the 7th Churchill.

Yet, I wasn’t thrilled when he mentioned that the 2 was his pick. For one thing, what were the chances of him hitting 17-1 and 11-1 shots within a couple minutes of each other? Also, I don't like when I hear someone not an acquaintance saying that he/she likes my horse. My first racing mentor, Jake, would actually get off line and not bet if he heard the person in front of him betting the horse he was going to. It wouldn’t matter how much he liked the race, what the price was, or how much effort he put into coming up with it, he would just come walking back shrugging his shoulders. “The guy in front of me bet him.” His reasoning was that such a small percentage of bettors win, what are the chances of two of them standing front-to-back in that line? Even the very few times I remember the horse winning, he would be undaunted. He stuck to his handicapping principles, however quirky they might be. So I started to do it too, though I would qualify it somewhat by looking at the person and making an admittedly condescending judgment as to whether or not he looked like a loser. I don’t ever remember going off a winner, not once. Now, I always bet on the machines so I never hear what anyone is betting. And I restrain myself from looking. No Parole finished 6th. You see?

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