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Friday, July 15, 2005

Freedom to Choose

- The Choose Six debuts at Delaware Park on Sunday, and Dick Jerardi likes the options it will give bettors.

The pool grows all day - until there are five races left. If you get knocked out early, you can get back in. If a few favorites lose early in the bet, you may decide to get involved because there is "dead money" already in the pool.
Handicapping is the grunt work of horse racing. There really are no shortcuts. Betting is art. Once you know what you like, you must decide where and how to invest your money. The key to successful wagering is to know your options. The Choose Six is the ultimate option. [Phila Daily News]
You may recall that the concept originated with former Prairie Meadows track announcer Ken Miller, who was then fired by the track over a dispute over ownership of the idea. They made up though, and the track and Miller, who is back as a race analyst, will share in the royalties.
Miller conceived of the bet a few years ago while in Las Vegas and looking at football parlays at the Mirage casino. In football, gamblers can pick the games they're most confident in. It struck him that horse racing fans might like the same option.

"It gives the fan the thought that they finally have the edge over the track," Miller said. "I think tracks are missing out on a lot of people who don't have an unlimited budget but want to play a multiple-race bet."

One knock on the choose 6 is that if fans concentrate on races with small fields and a standout, the payouts could be small.

"Some say that they'll all pick favorites; I say go at it," Asher said. "It's hard to pick six winners on any day, regardless of the odds." [Des Moines Register]
- On the racetrack at DelPark Saturday, there’s the G2 Delaware Oaks, in which Sis City will try and rebound from her disappointing 4th at 3-5 in the Kentucky Oaks. She may vie for favoritism with Acorn winner Round Pond, making her first start for John Servis since that Grade 1 race.
"The horses that have come back out of that race and won showed that it was a very good race," Servis said. "And the way she did it. She stalked a very fast pace. You've got three very good fillies battling through the lane and she ran around like them they were in the way."

Servis has big plans for Round Pond, but horse-racing plans are never set in stone. Too much can go wrong. If everything goes right, the rest of Round Pond's year will consist of the DelOaks, the Alabama at Saratoga, the Cotillion at Philadelphia Park and the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Belmont Park. [Phila Daily News]
It’s not just a two horse race with Dance Away Capote and G2 Hollywood BC Oaks winner Brooke’s Halo entered as well.

Since ‘choice’ is the theme of the weekend at DelPark, I choose to watch this race, and bet instead on the $300,000 Robert G. Dick Memorial for the distaff set at 11 furlongs. Todd Pletcher has Honey Ryder, the morning line favorite. She won two graded races at Gulfstream this past winter, but her only effort in the last 3 1/2 months was a disappointing 5th as the favorite in the Sheepshead Bay at Belmont at this distance.
"She's at her best from a mile and three-eighths to a mile and a half," Pletcher said, noting that Honey Ryder won back-to-back graded stakes at Gulfstream Park at those distances in March and April. "But at Belmont," he noted, "that's a two-turn race, and she seems to do better around three turns." [DRF]
I’ve never heard the “prefers 3 turns” excuse before. In any event and despite the fact that Edgar Prado rides, I’m taking a shot against her. Mike Watchmaker in the Form makes a compelling case for the stretch-out possibilities of Natalie Beach, discussing her last two races, wins at shorter distances at Belmont.
The first of those was an optional-claiming event, in which Natalie Beach made a sustained run - she ran her second quarter-mile in approximately 23 seconds, her third quarter in 23.20, and fourth and final quarter in around 23.60 - to get up over a next-out winner. Last time out, Natalie Beach finished powerfully to win the restricted England's Legend Stakes. She went her fourth quarter in that 1 1/8-mile race in 22.80, and her final eighth in approximately 11.60, meaning she went her last three-eighths in an excellent 34.40. [DRF sub. Only]
Still, she’s never been more than a mile and an eighth. So, how about a stab with 15-1 ML Joyful Chaos? This always-trying 4 yo by Rahy has been this distance, running a closing 3rd and missing by just a length in an allowance at Belmont last fall. She seems to have really come on for the hot Christophe Clement barn as a 4 yo, with two easy allowance wins at shorter distances in her two starts. Now she steps up from N2X allowance company and gets tested for class. But note that Clement also trains Relaxed Gesture, one of the choices for Saturday’s Bowling Green at Belmont. Relaxed Gesture was similarly moving up from that same level (though she admittedly was graded stakes placed previously in Ireland) to the Grade 1 Manhattan when she ran a close second at 13.80 to 1, so Clement is capable of moving these up. Joyful Chaos doesn’t have to improve nearly as much as that to compete in the Dick.

- The Bowling Green is a wide open affair, but you certainly can’t overlook anything from Tom Albertrani these days – he’s hitting at 41% at this meet! I’ve mentioned his distance loving Salic Law before, and he tries graded stakes company for the first time after his impressive win over Dreadnaught, also entered here. Salic Law has overcome his prior problems with the starting gate.
"I couldn't believe what I was seeing,” Albertrani said…. "He trained like a really nice horse and showed lots of talent. He'd get to the gate and waste all his energy. He was a real problem. He's still not perfect but he's obviously a lot better. Now he puts most of his energy toward running and he's a lot more focused." [Newsday]
- Scrappy T is out of the Leonard Richards on Sunday. "He's about 90%, which is not where we want to go," Bailes said. "It's nothing major. It was enough to throw up the caution flag. We want him right before we run him." [Bloodhorse]

- The G3 Hollywood Juvenile Championship tomorrow drew just a field of five, and it seems like a two horse race between Baffert’s $1.9 million 2 yo What A Song (Songandaprayer) and Bashert (Tiger Ridge), as they both come off maiden wins with Beyers of 93 and 99 respectively. But before you put your money down on one or both, heed the words of the Form’s Brad Free:
In a typical spring meet at Hollywood, only a handful of 2-year-olds earn Beyer Figures of 90 or higher . Some of those - including Came Home, Tempera, Golden Ballet, and Squirtle Squirt - develop into important Grade 1 winners.

Over the past six summers, however, more than three-quarters of the 2-year-olds that soared past a 90 Beyer went backward in their next start. And not by just a little bit - 22 of the 29 that regressed did so by an average of about 10 points.

The regression factor among 2-year-olds stretches across the country. Since the start of the 2000 spring meet at Belmont Park, 21 of 23 2-year-olds that earned Beyer Figures of 90 or more went backward next out. [Daily Racing Form]