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Monday, January 23, 2006

Notes - Jan 23

- I suppose at some point they want people to start to actually come to Gulfstream, right? Less than 10,000 turned out for the two weekend cards combined, less than what a single such card used to attract. More facilities are supposed to open for the Sunshine Millions program next weekend, and the crowds will presumably return. It was a pretty quiet weekend there, with only one stakes race, and that a Grade 3 sprint.

Bedford Falls, Darley’s $1.1 million ¾-brother to Harlan’s Holiday ran second as the 6-5 favorite on Saturday. He was wide on the turn and was no match for the second choice, Justa Streak, yet another winner from Todd Pletcher. This colt, adding yet another winner to the record of his sire More Than Ready, was another Pletcher horse winning his second time out of the gate. That’s a 34% category for the barn, and Justa Streak is the fifth such winner at this meet for the barn. (Another is Keyed Entry, a very impressive winner in his last; he worked a half in :47.80 at Palm Meadows. It was a bullet work out of 53 at the distance.)

On Sunday, Darley got into the winner’s circle with another expensive three-year old, this time a filly. Burmilla (Storm Cat) is a $850,000 yearling out of graded stakes winner Nannerl (Valid Appeal). She’s a full sister to graded winner Magicalmysterycat, and she was real impressive. She recovered after a bit of a shaky start, was 3-4 wide all around the turn, changed leads professionally and drew away in the stretch. The tote board told the story in this race; the winner was bet on the nose in the win pool. While watching the board on this race, I thought about what I wrote the other day about passing most races in which the odds don’t differ from what I would make them. That doesn’t always mean that I’m looking for horses higher than my projected odds. In a maiden race loaded with first-time starters, I’m actually often looking for horses bet below its morning line. Southern Stepper was 12-1 in the morning line, but was bet solidly from the start, finally drifting up a bit to 6-1. If she’d went off at 21-1, like Zito’s first timer Prism, 6-1 in the morning line, I’d never had paid any attention. But since she was bet down for a barn that in my experience has done well when the money shows, she became worthy of attention. Indeed, she ran third after hitting the gate and racing wide, and Prism ran tenth.

- As Walter mentioned, Frankel’s Latent Heat (Maria’s Mon) was extremely impressive crushing a maiden field at 3-10, and completing the seven furlongs in 1:23. He’s a half to a couple of stakes horses on the grass in France, and his dam True Flare won stakes on the turf as well. You figure he should love the grass, but he looked just fine on the dirt. Besides flattering Cindago, the winner of his second place debut, remember that the third horse was Point Determined, and that Point Given colt was quite impressive winning his subsequent start.


Anonymous said..., what a treat!...i mentioned that i'll be heading to Santa Anita on Wednesday, my first-ever trip to any ractrack other than Sam Houston...well, i just got a look at the entries, and POINT OF IMPACT is entered in Race 1...what a way to start the day!... 8^)

Alan Mann said...

Walter, man, I can't believe you haven't been to Santa Anita! That's like Peter Gammons saying he's never been to Fenway Park! Well, have a fantastic day, and we expect a full and detailed report, especially of your impressions of Point of Impact.

Anonymous said...

...not only haven't i been to Santa Anita, i've never been to California, period...i grew up in Houston, and was bitten by the horseracing bug after a trip to the newly-opened Sam Houston Race Park...i was too naive at that point to realize the horses there weren't any good, and i really enjoyed watching them run...not long after that, the simulcasting craze kicked in, and i started watching races from all over the country...i also had something of a mentor who took me under his wing and showed me how to handicap, paying particular attention to fractional times in an attempt to identify horses with pace advantages...that's probably why i gravitated to the SoCal circuit, as speed tends to hold pretty well out there, and the three tracks are pretty close to interchangeable as far as running times...i moved to Vegas about 6 years ago, and since it's pretty close to L.A. and San Diego, i've been meaning to get down there, but still haven't done it buddy Ken (a fellow horse guy i know through fantasy baseball) arrives tomorrow for the DRF/NTRA, and he's renting a car and heading down to Santa Anita, so there ya go...incidentally, he mentioned something about shooting for $120 per day ($240 total) in combined mutuel prices for the contest, which he figures would put him in the hunt...not sure how many races that involves, though i believe it's somewhere between 20 and 30?...plenty of big races next weekend with the Sunshine Millions taking place, so there should be no shortage of large fields, and decent-type horses going off at long odds...i believe the format incudes a handful of "mandatory" races that everyone must play, but after that you're allowed to pick and choose...myself, i don't care for handicapping contests at all, because i find them very other words, you can't bet horses you would back with REAL money...for instance, if you have a strong opinion on a 3/1 shot, you can't even bet him, because a 3/1 shot isn't gonna help you any (pretty much you need minimum 10/1 in every race)...and the kind of wild longshots you're forced to bet in the contests, do you think a good handicapper would risk REAL money on those losers???...probably not...occasionally you might run into Dinner Magic @ 15/1 or whatever, but 12 times a day??? way...that's also the problem with those "live bankroll" contests, which SUPPOSEDLY are realistic because you actually ARE betting real money...the problem is, they're forcing you to bet 15 races in a single day, because that's what the contest, if you're a good, solid handicapper who only bets races when he has an edge, how many races are you betting per day?...One?...perhaps 2 or 3, on a BUSY day? sure as hell aren't betting FIFTEEN! bankroll contests are nothing more than a ploy by the casinos to get a bunch of people pumping $750 each through their anyway, with hanicapping contests, you basically just close your eyes and pick wild longshots in every race, and whoever gets lucky and hits the most of them wins the contest...and out of a few hundred people or whatever, a few of them are bound to get REAL lucky...there really isn't much skill involved at all...and yet you'll read in the Form about how all these guys are "great handicappers" wanna know the REAL truth? (i know this because i live in Vegas, and work in the race and sports industry)...the real truth is that the casinos don't even WANT the DRF/NTRA contest, because most of the guys are $2 bettors, and shutting the book down all day to accomdate these guys results in a net loss...that's why the contest isn't being held @ MGM anymore, and i've heard it won't be @ Bally's much longer either...from the hotel's perspective, it's mainly done for advertising purposes (trying to bring exposure to their racebook, and the hotel in general)...i'm looking forward to going, because i wanna see my friend do well, and there's a lot of money up for grabs...but truth be told, i hate contests...yuck...

...oh yeah, one other thing...i tried to walk into the Bally's book during the contest last year, because i was passing by and needed to pick up a Derby sheet...and some joker with a badge jumps in front of me and says, "CAN I HELP YOU???"...they wouldn't even let me down there, can you believe that???...i hope somebody pulls that sheet again this year...i'll whip out MY badge and say, "GET THE FOULKE OUTTA MY WAY"... 8^)