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Thursday, August 25, 2005

Back at the Track

- I’m back in Saratoga. Well almost in Saratoga; another budget stay in Albany. I was at the races today, I stayed on my feet almost all day, and I showed more discipline in terms of sitting races out (and avoiding simulcasts), but I got blanked again. I really suck right now. It’s fortunate that I didn’t get there until the 3rd. At this rate, the next time I come here I may have to stay in Vermont . I dunno, I think I’m doing the same things I was doing when I was doing OK, but I’m not even coming close. I need to find another place to watch the races. I’ve been watching up in the clubhouse, around midstretch, and it’s close enough to the turn that I can tell that my horse is finished as soon as they straighten away for home. At least if I’m on the finish line or watching on TV, I can get the visual illusion that my horse actually has a chance until the eighth pole anyway!

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 4 weeks since I came up for opening day. In the old days of 4 week meets here – and it wasn’t really that long ago – this meeting would be over. 6 weeks seemed like a long time when they first extended, but now it seems to go by just as fast. Labor Day used to be a huge day at Belmont – the Jerome Stakes and a crowd of 40,000 usually guaranteed. Now, there’s no racing in the NYC area on that holiday at all; not even at the Meadowlands anymore.

The third was a 2 yo maiden turf race, and Dale Roman’s first timer North East Storm, a Fusaichi Pegasus half brother to graded turf stakes winner North East Bound, was taking a ton of money when he dumped Gary Stevens and ran off and had to be scratched. It was very reminiscent of when Performing Diva head butted Jerry Bailey when she was taking a lot of tote action. When she returned, she was dull on the board and ran that way. I was thinking of betting North East Storm just because of the action, so the scratch likely saved me money. Harrigan was left a horrible 7-10 favorite, and he promptly ran dead last with no excuse. The George Weaver stable has tailed off considerably and is 2 for 22 after getting both winners in the first 4 days of the meet. The winner, Smoke Em Again (Two Punch) is another grassy winner for Graham Motion and he won impressively, taken in hand late, winning with something left. The 25-1 runnerup Para Rider (Exploit) finished well, and his dam is a half to Artie Schiller, watch.

The 5th was a wide open $35K claiming event on the turf at 1 1/16 – an excellent betting race, unlike the putrid 5 ½ furlong races that have been carded here. Form (Arch) was 15-1 morning line shipping in from Delaware off a couple of disappointing allowance tries, got hammered on the nose to 7-2, and ran 5th. The smart money isn’t always smart. There was a lot of value and I landed on 8-1 Defrocked; he had a great record closing on good and soft turf courses, and this course was labeled as good. It didn't seem to play that way though. The pace was lively, and they still came home in a snappy :30.59, with Defrocked doing well to close for 4th. Not a terrible betting decision, just a bad result. Peace Emblem won it for Dutrow, his 12th winner of the meet, and the more I think about it, the more ridiculous his “suspension” seems. Some punishment; it was more like a reward - like a vacation in which he had people like Bobby Frankel looking after his horses while he slept late every day.

In the 6th, a state-bred 2 yo race, first timer Red Hot Rose, 5-1 in the morning line, opened at 8-5 and went off at 6-5! His trainer Joseph Imperio is not one who usually has hot horses; perhaps it was the fact that sire Boundary scores at 25% with 2 yo first timers according to the Form. I was going to sit it out until I noticed some late tote action on firster Bella Dorato (Goldminer’s Gold), showing sharp works at Finger Lakes for Anthony Ferraro and John Grabowski in to ride. He went off at 5-1 and ran a fine second as the favorite ran dead last with no excuse. It’s nice to see some these absurd favorites going down. No way I would have had the winner, Follow My Dream, who actually was bet himself at 7-1. Another OK decision with a bad result.

In the 7th, well, I posted about Comacina earlier in the day, and she was a miserable 7th at 5-2, so that took care of the late Pick 3s (which I wouldn’t have had anyway). The winner, Seeking the Ante (Seeking the Gold), really did figure to be best if she wasn’t weary from a long campaign against the best of the 3 yo filly division. I was betting that she was, but she was dead fit for John Kimmel. She’s a nice filly, and hopefully her connections will keep her spotted in a more reasonable fashion. She’s a half sister to Friends Lake, being out of Grade 1 winner Antespend.

I ran dead last with Accountforthegold in the state-bred Albany stakes, as Naughty New Yorker got enough of a pace to rally for the win. Blue Sunday was sent off as the 2-1 favorite despite the fact that he’d never been beyond 7 furlongs and was trying 9 here; another awful favorite - he ran a distant 5th - but I didn’t take advantage. Blue Sunday’s trainer Thomas Albertrani, was on fire at Belmont, but has just one winner in 8 starters here.

And I lost the 9th too, OK? I lost! I tried to beat the Mott/Bailey Tar Heel Dime, who went off the 3-1 favorite. It’s been said that you get better prices on favorites in the 9th because people try to find longshots to get even for the day. I tried various combinations and permutations of three contenders, but none of them made the top three. I suck.

But I ended the day with some discipline, as I didn’t make a bet on the three races I was at the harness track for, nor the simulcast 6th from Del Mar. My handicapping and decisions throughout the day weren’t terrible, even if the results were. And I stood and walked a lot and got a lot of exercise. It was still a great day.

- Have I mentioned that there are a lot of Red Sox fans here this year? A lot.

- Way back those four weeks ago, when there was grass on the ground, I’d mentioned the problems with the betting lines and machines. Those glitches have long since been remedied, and I haven’t had to wait on any line at all since the second day. The track has easily handled the crowds this year; a day like today, with 19,531 on hand, seems downright mellow.