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Saturday, July 01, 2006

Real Reporting

- I spent the day on Friday, or at least the latter part of it, at the twilight card at Belmont, but didn’t do much betting at all. In fact, I was kinda working instead. I suppose I should come clean and tell those of you who don’t know that I was canned from my day job, and I can’t believe it’s been about six weeks now living with this dirty little secret. They say that things sometimes happen for a reason, and is renting a place in Saratoga for the racing season reason enough? It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, and with some severance pay in hand, some extra cash from the Barron’s article and some recent consulting (a nice way, in this case, of saying ‘temping’), and the Head Chef’s clients flocking to the East End of Long Island for the summer, why not now? Seems a good time to finally live a dream, don’t it? I’m certainly not finding myself getting much younger of late.

However, 36 days of Saratoga, with nothing else to do but toil at the betting windows and write of the carnage on this blog, is probably not a great idea either, so I’ve been in the market for a paying gig. So on Friday at Belmont, I was fulfilling a request to do a sample race day report, complete with getting off my butt, away from the computer screen, and actually – gasp – getting some quotes. Eek! Like a real reporter! So instead of doping out the triples, I was taking a look at the more interesting races, and figuring out in my mind who to ask what depending on who happened to win. And this all presents its own little challenges far different from the usual handicapping.

Including actually doing the interviewing deed. I’ve quickly learned that this is largely a matter of lurking around and stalking people, neither of which really comes naturally to me; and I’ll freely admit that I was pretty nervous. I’ve found that winning trainers are apt to be talking on their cellphones after the race, sometimes as they disappear down the tunnel into the barn area. And at Belmont, it’s a short sprint for the jockeys from the weigh-in to the jockeys’ room, and most of them spend it informing the trainers why they lost. And after all of that, there’s the little matter of putting it all together in coherent form to meet a deadline just a few hours afterwards.

It wasn’t easy, but it was fun, and it kept me away from the betting windows (though also from here, sorry), which I guess is good and bad. If I end up doing this up there, it will actually assist with the harsh betting discipline that I’ll need to get through the meeting without blowing my wagering budget too early, and likely steer me more towards the multi-race wagers.

So anyway, I got through it all. I spoke to Kiaran McLaughlin, who is as nice of a guy as we read he is, about his horse Museeb, a beautifully-bred four-year old who took the third on the grass at six furlongs, cutting back from a mile and an eighth. He mentioned that the horse is a half-brother to Elnadin, who was a champion sprinter in Europe, thus he was happy to find this grassy sprint opportunity available. (He also told me that Like Now will pass on the Dwyer, possibly for the Leonard Richards at Delaware on July 16, which goes at a mile and a sixteenth and for $300,000. “The Dwyer has a lot of speed in there, a lot of early hitting that we don’t want to get involved with.”) Cornelio Velasquez told me, of Chief Officer, a two-year old NY-bred half brother to Ready to Please, who may be favored in today’s Mother Goose, that “the trainer told me she could run a little bit” after she did so, destroying her field by ten lengths as the surprising third betting choice in her debut race.

And Richard Migliore, despite literally running to catch a plane, was nice enough to take a minute to talk to me about the extremely impressive three-year old filly Any Limit, who held off Frankel’s favored California invader True Flare to take her third in a row. She’s one of those horses that showed an improved Beyer for each one of her starts, so I also had her singled in an ultimately unsuccessful Pick 3. This filly has really turned things around since coming up from Gulfstream for Allan Jerkins, and dare I speculate that she’s another possibility for the Darley Test? (I guess a really good reporter would have thought to ask the trainer about that!) She’s by Limit Out, a graded stakes winner at three who was also trained by Jerkins, out of a Forty Niner mare; her second dam is the Grade 1 (John A. Morris) winner Personal Business.

Any Limit breezed to victory her last two starts, but showed class and heart here, as she was pressed virtually all the way by True Flare, and had to hold her off in a desperate late drive, finishing the 6 ½ furlongs in 1:16. The Mig told me “even though the other filly was pressing – and she’s a fast filly – I had a pretty good hold and I was confident. Every time I needed more, she responded.”

- A bit more on Museeb (Danzig), and his royal breeding. Besides being a sibling to the aforementioned Elnadim, his dam, Elle Seule, is a stakes winner herself, and a daughter of the Grade 1 winner Fall Aspen. That makes Elle Seule a half-sister to four Grade 1 stakes winners – two of them in the U.S., Northern Aspen and Preakness winner Timber Country, and the other two, Hamas and Fort Wood, overseas. She’s also a half to the Santa Catalina winner Prince of Thieves, and to Colorado Dancer, a Grade 2 winner in France, and the dam of Dubai Millenium. So this colt certainly has the breeding to go long or short, though McLaughlin said he would stick to the latter.

- Quickly, in the Suburban, I can’t really get past Invasor with his 108 Beyer in defeating Wanderin Boy in the Pimlico Special. It’s a test for class for Frankel’s undefeated-in-the-U.S. Rathor, who would have to exceed his 7-2 morning line in order to be a worthwhile investment. And Wilko, Noble Causeway, and Andromeda’s Hero? Not today. A step-up by Wild Desert, or a reversion to last year’s form by Tap Day seem more likely.

In the Mother Goose, Joint Effort seems vulnerable with the extra furlong, and perhaps Ready to Please will catch her this time, as she wasn’t able to do in the one mile Dogwood. Lemons Forever comes off her bombshell close in the Kentucky Oaks, but her best races have all been around two turns. Shug McGaughey’s Pine Island (Arch) is making only her third start, wins on the turf and in the slop. We don’t know how good she is, but we’ve seen stranger things in the three-year old filly division, so perhaps she’s worth a flyer at 12-1. Her dam, by Seeking the Gold, is a full sister to Pleasant Home, Shug’s upset winner of the Distaff on this track last fall.


Anonymous said...


Go to Saratoga! Here's why. To pit yourself against the crowds at the grave yard of favorites is stuff legends are made of. Your only source of income comes from handicapping.
Like the commercial says:

36 days at Saratoga rent and living expenses: chump change
36 days Saratoga with my last nickel on the line: PRICELESS

Remember that English dude who sold everything he had and went to Vegas?

Anonymous said...

Following a maiden who looks to graduate today.

4th Hollywood MSW 9f on the grass.

Seize Command 6-1 or higher.

Bank Check

Anonymous said...

Christening runs 4th

Off the grass, right to the front, set a slow pace for a deep 5f then faded. Off at 7 1/2-1

Overall, not that bad a race and a $1,000 check

Anonymous said...

Vicar on the grass.

Let's see how Vicarage does in the Poker Stakes. A win would double his offsprings turf earnings.

BAnk Check

Anonymous said...

Little blurb on Long Range Missle in today's TT web news. Looking for an added $$ event at Ellis Park this summer.

Didn't notice he's now a gelding. Snipped then sold as a show horse.Wanted back to the track.

What a shame.

Bank Check

Anonymous said... Alan, i'm sorry to hear that you lost your job...i can certainly relate to that, as i've been out of work for 6 months sister told me that "things happen for a reason"...i'm not sure i buy that, but in any case, judging from the way you laid it out for us it would seem like a perfect time to make that Saratoga move...hey, you only go around once dude, if you really wanna do it then i think you should go...particularly so if you're trying to find a journalism might contact the Thoroughbred Times, btw...i did that myself, however they informed me that they wouldn't hire anyone without journalism experience...i think your long-standing blog and your Barron's article might be enough to qualify...anyway, in the grown-up world we don't often find ourselves with an oppurtunity to pull off a Summer at Saratoga...especially being a married guy (that would tend to make it nearly impossible, i would think)...if you're worried about the gambling aspect, that's valid of course, but just remember you don't have to play every race...just pretend you're there on business, as a professional handicapper, and be VERY selective...either that, or just bet very small...whatever you decide, best of luck to you my friend... long as you're stalking trainers/jockeys, i need whatever hot Discreet Cat info you can dish out... 8^)