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Friday, June 09, 2006

An Early Pick Three

- It was just a few years ago that I recall a day before the Belmont spent at the track. It was a 3 PM twilight card, and War Emblem was to go for the Triple Crown the next day. So there was a buzz at the track. NYRA hired what they called ‘street performers’ for the occasion, and there were jugglers, magicians, and mimes sprinkled throughout the backyard. It doesn’t take that much to make a day seem a little special, and distinguish it from all the other days, especially in these days of sparse attendance.

It wasn’t quite just another day today. There are tents and food stands set up in the backyard and extra beer stands inside. The well-dressed crowd in the paddock anyway, was as large as you would generally see on a weekend day with a big stakes. Matt Carrothers and Todd Scrhrmmfff took up residence in their tent. A blimp hovered over head, flashing ads to the crowd of 4,612. Perhaps someone thought that it would be like Oaks day and that there would actually be a crowd there. Watching a race from temporary stands on the grandstand apron, I actually ducked when, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a prehistoric creature flying towards me as the horses came down the stretch. It turned out to be a moving camera stand, the operator apparently practicing his timing.

I didn’t hear anybody actually talk about the Belmont. Though NYRA was obviously gearing up for a big day, the expectations seem to have dropped throughout the week. Charles Hayward, contradicting his always optimistic VP Bill Nader, said he’d be happy with a crowd of 50,000, and that seems to have become the unofficial over/under.

Anyway, I got there just for the last few races, and hit the 7th race triple with my only bet of the day. It was my favorite kind of race to handicap and bet – the one in which I can identify the favorite as a bet-against almost immediately upon viewing the Form. Monsoon Rain, the 8-5 morning line favorite, was bet down steadily to even money by post time. This Darley colt ran an OK 3rd last month here in his first race in this country, first on the dirt, and his return after and absence of a year and a half, earning a field high Beyer of 96. It wasn’t a bad race, but now, he was stretching out from six furlongs to a mile and a sixteenth against a pretty decent field, and he seemed like a big underlay

And I finally listened to myself – I’ve been writing that Zito seems poised to break out, and I went with his Regent Spirit (Concerto), even though he was going beyond seven furlongs for the first time. 5-1 and the percolating trainer made it worthwhile to play him on top. He sat behind the two leaders, and seemed ready to strike against 9-1 Meniscus midstretch. But the latter dug in determinedly, and it came down to an excruciating head-bobbing finish which, in this case, went in my favor, yay! Would have been nice if the favorite ran out (I had the 4th and 5th horses for 3rd), but I’m certainly not complaining about the $225 payoff.

I bring this up not only to satisfy my urge to bring it up, but because there are two somewhat similar situations on the front and back end of Saturday’s Pick 3 in races 3-5. In the third, Godolphin’s Safsoof (Gilded Time) is listed as the 5-2 favorite. Like Monsoon Rain, he ran third in his first US race, and earned a field high last-out Beyer of 96. He’s only stretching out to seven furlongs, but it’s worth noting that he’s 1 for 5 lifetime on the dirt, and that win was on a Polytrack surface in England.

In the 5th, it’s Godolphin again (and Walter is going to yell at me for throwing both of them out), this time with Afrashad (Smoke Glacken), also listed as the 5-2 choice. He’s even harder for me to buy; it’s his second career race, first in this country, and first in almost two years! Yes, he’s working well, and his trainer has good stats with limited starters off layoffs and first time North America. But still, he seems to demand a stance against at low odds.

So here’s the Pick 3. In the third: Marco’s Tale (Tale of the Cat) is the only horse that has come out of the Wood and won. (He ran last in the Wood.) He returns to allowance company after running 4th in a stakes against a very good field featuring winner Fabulous Strike, a dark horse for the Woody Stephens; Dontfearthereaper, a nice looking sprinter for Dutrow, Saint Daimon, who won here the other day, and Lafayette runner-up Laptop Computer. He meets no such foes here. Freedom Isn’t Free (Fly So Free) has been knocking on the door with consistent 90+ figs. His trainer, Dominic Galluscio, is only 1 for 34 at the meeting. But that win came on Thursday with 9-2 Shady Lane. Later that day, his Organizer ran second in a state-bred stakes at 12-1. On Friday, he sent out 9-1 Meniscus, the horse that nearly beat me out of the triple. The question is whether Freedom Isn’t Free will get enough of a pace to close into, but he’s consistent and sharp, and his trainer seems to be heating up.

The 4th is a fairly dismal state-bred race, and I could almost single Precise Action (Precise End). He showed an excellent pattern of Beyer improvement before having a rough start trying a mile. He cuts back to seven furlongs and should pick up where he left off with a cleaner beginning. But I’ll also use He’s A Lumberjack (Prime Timber). He was well bet in his first start shipping in from Florida, and ran a field high Beyer of 88 in running second at a mile.

Then in the 5th, a six furlong entry level allowance, I’ll use Saratoga Jet (A.P Jet). This NY-bred is trying open company for the first time. But he changed tactics and rallied from off the pace to win his last (as a restricted allowance race, excluded from the conditions of this race), and that style could suit him well in a race filled with speed (including perhaps the Godolphin entry Afrashad). I’ll also use Cool Springs Saint (Sweetsouthernsaint). Even though he’s never raced shorter than seven furlongs and seems to prefer a mile; I’m not letting Bruce Levine beat me with a layoff horse, with which he hits at 24% over 180 days.

But the horse I’ll really be rooting for is 12-1 Lively Up Yourself (Littlebitlively). Yes, he’s drawn the outside post and goes for low-win percentage trainer Joe Lostritto. He also seems to need the lead. But in his last, a five furlong stakes at Monmouth, he changed tactics and was last early (and watching the race, I didn’t see much to merit the “shuffled back” comment line, and it seemed like a legit change of tactics). He then rallied nicely for third, getting the last furlong in 11 seconds. He finished just four lengths behind Slam Bammy and Terrific Challenge, two very nice sprinters who would both bury this field.

So the Pick 3: 2,6 / 8,9 / 1,2,9 $24 for a $2 bet.


Ruben Bailey said...
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Ruben Bailey said...

-I think Zito is having a pretty fine meet, actually. Even just comparing him to the trainers in this race:

Zito (15-3-4-3) 20% win, 67%itm
Klanfer (24-2-1-4)8%win, 29%itm
Galluscio (32-1-6-7) 3%win, 44%itm

His stats look ok, don’t they?

Meet trainer standings currently have (before today’s card) as 15/25 in win%, 8/25 in total earnings, etc.

-I hit the triple in the 6th. I had what I guess you could call half-betting Friday, making a few select runs to and from work and the OTB.

Started the day off on the wrong foot having the front end of the early double, but touted the 2nd(before the 1st) as if it were on grass. Duhy!!!

The triple in the 6th kept me alive for the last race which I thought I thought I had covered pretty well.

In the finale, I wound up deciding between Mr. Silver (6) and Outperformance (7). I liked the former b/c of his form coming off of two other layoffs. I thought the Tampa season produced some quality horses this spring – showing solidly at a smattering of tracks. Plus, I loved the fact that Plesa had him down in Monmouth training for a while and then he decides to ship him up for this race. I like using that angle when it applies.

I was feeling pretty good for a while when Mr. Silver went out on top in fractions of 24/48/112-4, but Outperformance kept his form and closed hard after a nice second on the Belmont grass on 5/18. Looks like the layoff was a bit too much for the horse that less than 6 months ago finished fourth to Barbaro in the Tropical Derby at Calder.

Oh well, I felt good about my decision, but should have been closer to the triple.

Lookin forward to tomorrow, actually. It’s in the form of curiosity for me, though. Between the TV coverage, the crowd, and the actual race, I still think it’s a great day for the racing fan. We’ll see how the general public decides to contribute.

Anonymous said...

...that's funny, i came here to talk about Afrashad and you beat me to the punch...Afrashad immediately caught my eye in the PP's, and i checked to see if he'd been working in company with Bernardini...he has not...i also compared him to Discreet Cat, no luck there either...incidentally, Discreet Cat hasn't worked since June 1, and that raises an eyebrow with's probably weather-related, but who knows...anyhow, the reason i stopped in is that i'm wondering if Alan (or another of you East Coast guys) knows who Godolphin has run @ the meet...Suroor is showing 1 win from 4 starters, according to the Racing Form...i find it curious that Godolphin/Suroor are being named here, and not Darley...obviously they plan to run Discreet Cat later on in the meet (perhaps with an appearance from Suroor and/or Sheikh Mohammed), so maybe that has something to do with it...but anyway, who was Godolphin's winner at the meet, and has Afrashad been training with him?...a thought just struck me as i'm writing this, i need to check Afrashad against Dubai Escapade as well...she hasn't run at the meet, has she?...last i saw she was flying the Darley flag anyway... find it strange that Godolphin debuted this horse on the dirt over in Europe...i mean, if you're gonna keep him on dirt, why not just keep him in the USA?...or at least run him in your home base of Dubai...why trot him out in a maiden race @ Lingfield where he was 50 cents on the dollar?...seems very least Dettori was aboard for the ride...i wonder if he made a special trip, i'm not sure if he generally rides there or not, though i tend to doubt it...

Alan Mann said...

Walter -

Godolphin's winner at Belmont was Ashkal Way, on the turf on May 25. It doesn't appear as if he's worked with Afrashad. Their other starters were Safsoof (in the third today), Testimony in the Peter Pan, and Crimson Sun, 4th in an allowance.

Alan Mann said...

Ruben -

Nice going on the 6th. The Hill Prince was one of the most wide-open, difficult races I've seen in quite some time. Now THAT's a wide open race! The Belmont is more of a race that you can make a case for a lot of horses if you try, and stretch a bit IMO. I didn't even end up betting the Hill Prince; it was too hard. I almost bet Carnera at 16-1 just out of value principle, and he looked like a possible winner midstretch.

Anonymous said...

...thanks alot, Alan... just watched Gorella's win on, she was certainly rolling late...but that jockey didn't leave any margin for error...good grief... 8^P friend from Japan bet Deep Impact to win the Arc earlier this week @ 7/1...i advised him against it (i think he'll be around 3/1 on raceday, and the race is almost 4 months away), but i thought you guys might find that somewhat interesting...btw, the Arc looks exceedingly tough this year, as usual...Hurricane Run, Shirocco, Heart's Cry, Deep Impact, probably Ouija Board, and that's not even counting the 3yo's...

Anonymous said...

Myself and Lively Up Yourself are forever bonded by a 48-1 maiden score on the Wood undercard in '05.

Everytime I've bet him since, I swear he's run 4th.

I gotta ask though...what's with the ear cones??? He must have a real hard time keeping to task because I've never seen a horse come out with a full head wrap before, and I laugh my ass off everytime I see him! Maybe he's the next great AOC superhero of the NYRA circuit?