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Saturday, July 15, 2006

Twilight Zone

- The Friday twilight cards at Belmont seem to be slowly gaining in popularity; it’s becoming like a cult. You hear people saying things like: "This is the best kept secret in New York." There’s something about an early start to a weekend on a gorgeous summer late afternoon that creates a mellow, yet exhilarating buzz. Add in the sport of kings, and people can get downright delirious. The crowds have gotten a bit bigger each week, and NYRA announced that the Sept 1 card at Saratoga would be a late post as well, with VP Bill Nader said “There is a different energy at a twilight Friday and there is a real upbeat feel to the day.” [Times Union]

And there really is, especially when the card is as interesting as it was on Friday. I walked in 20 minutes before the third and Yolanda B Too was the 4-5 favorite. She was scratched at the gate in the Missy Mirage last weekend, which helped contribute to the two horse field in that race. Frankel had one of his TNT Stud/Brazilian specials in Notre Dame, who broke into the win column in her last. She was around 2-1 when I got there. But in the final minutes as post time approached, the money poured in on Notre Dame, pounding her to even money favoritism, as the shaken Yolanda B Too floated up to 3-2.

But on the last flash, it was Yolanda B Too getting slammed to 6-5. That was still good enough for only second choice in the five horse field by a few thousand dollars. The show pool told a different story though – over $19.000 on Notre Dame, but only $4500 on Yolanda B Too, which wasn’t much more than the show money on the 5-1 third choice. According to my theory, this would indicate that the “smart” money was on the second choice.

And in this case, that money was right. Notre Dame made a run leaving the turn, but Yolanda B Too won pretty easily. It’s her second win in a row since coming back off her very distant 12th in the Distaff, which is not just a key race, nor just a super key race, but a super-duper key race! I mean, the last three finishers, about a mile behind Pleasant Home, were Yolanda, Healthy Addiction, who’s won a Grade 1 and ran second in another, and Happy Ticket, who has run her eyeballs out even in the two of her four subsequent races in which she just got beat. Imagine if the first three finishers hadn’t all been retired. Or maybe the were retired because they ran too damn fast!

The 4th was a baby maiden special race, and Allan Jerkins had an entry of well-bred first time starters (fillies by Elusive Quality and Pulpit). They were bet right from the start on the way to 4-5 at post time. But Magical Ride, the 5-2 morning line favorite, languished at 4-1. This despite the fact that right there in the Closer Look column, in plain English for everyone who shelled out the money for the Form to see, was the fact that this debuting daughter of Storm Cat is out of Victory Ride, who not only won the Grade 1 Test at Saratoga, but won her debut by 14 lengths.

Yet she only drifted down a bit by post time, going off a shade under 7-2. Dead on the board? Not for me in this case. I think that sometimes bettors can get a little nutty with betting entries, even if its components are unknown factors, as was the case here. It’s like a crowd psychology of “two for the price of one”, and in the exactas in particular, people figure that ‘well, one of them has to at least run second.” So in this case, I checked out the exacta payoffs, and did something right, putting Victory Ride on top of the 3rd-4th-5th choices (including Cherokee Shiek, who Walter was following here), leaving the entry out. Victory Ride won by four despite Jara dropping the whip. When Five Star Daydream came up for second, it was a rare win for me; and, with the entry out of the exacta, a solid $50 payoff for the second and third betting choices in order.

Well, it was my only win of the day, but I made sure to leave myself with a slight profit just for the psychological benefits. Good things can start with small steps.

The fifth race is no doubt what racing secretary PJ Campo had in mind last year when he started carding these turf sprints. I didn’t like them at the time. I found the races unbettable since the horses had no relevant prior form. But I was being shortsighted, and the races continue to be popular, and for good reason. With some history to them now, they’re becoming great to bet and to watch. This one was wide open, but the bettors settled on Sweet September. I posted about her last race here, noting that she had a picture perfect trip that day. So I took a shot against with Smart Crowd, first-time turf for Lisa Lewis.

Unfortunately, she got hooked up in a speed duel with Sweet September; setting up a rousing three horse finish, with 32-1 OK To Pay overcoming repeated trouble in the stretch to get up in her turf debut for Richard Stolkosa.

And Melhor Ainda graced us with her presence in the Capade Stakes, making her first start since running 7th in the Flower Bowl last October. She was facing some pretty nice horses with good recent form, but was 3-5, and held Bright Abundance safe by a length. It was a classy effort to be sure. She was fifth behind a pace that was as slow as that of the subsequent state-bred maiden race, and rallied three wide in a final 2 ½ furlongs of 30.13. I imagine that graded stakes company will be next.

- Jazil will skip the Jim Dandy and train up to the Travers. Kiaran McLaughlin told the Form: "With this particular horse it's not a big deal.....He's a light-framed horse who doesn't need a lot of racing or training." Not only that, but the trainer added: "He won't work that often because he doesn't require a lot of work." Well, then what exactly is he going to do all summer? YOU CAN’T JUST HANG OUT ALL SUMMER AND DO NOTHING!! (Oh, the kids are here and I got confused.)


Anonymous said...

Sent an email out to about 15 friends yesterday saying, " Let's get togethar at the final Sunset Racing at Belmont next Friday before the action heads north". Already received 8 positive replies. People love it once they experience it, and the fact that they are hiring bands that actually have talent helps the atmosphere, even if they are a bit loud for the horses in the paddock.

The horsemen hate it, otherwise I think they might even expand to Thursdays next year.

Anonymous said...

...just got done watching Too Much Bling in the Carry Back...he won easily, as expected, but i've gotta tellya, i was completely underwhelmed...not do dfuring the first half of the race, when they were rattling off super-fast fractions and Too Much Bling ranged up outside to assume command, seemingly withouut being asked to run looked like he was about to scorch the track in an awesome performance, reminiscent of his off-the-bench San Miguel early this year...but he really flattened out thru the lane, looked to be having trouble lengthening his stride, and got the last furlong in a tortoise-like 13 3/5...i'm sure part of the problem was those blazing early splits, but that type of finish won't get it done against Bordonaro and the other big guns...i have to reserve judgement until i see what happens in the Dubai Escapade/Lost in the Fog races, but it didn't look good...

...btw, Southern Man is entered in the 7th @ Hollywood today...

To Bank Check: i'm sorry, i didn't see your question about the Belmont maiden race until just now. it wouldn't have mattered though, as i had no opinion on that race at all. i have no workout reports for New York, and none of the starters had any under-tack information.

Anonymous said...

...well, the results are in, and i guess Too Much Bling wasn't the only one who underwhelmed today...Dubai Escapade and Lost in the Fog both flamed out pretty badly...and the bridge-jumpers were all over Dubai Escapade too, check out the show prices on the top three finishers...good grief!...anyway, here are the splits from the 3 races...doesn't make Too Much Bling look any better, in my fact, he was outrun by Malibu Mint (longshot winner of the Princess Rooney, run just a half-hour later) by about 2 lengths...

Carry Back

21.55 44.17 56.80 110.48

Princess Rooney

21.79 44.51 57.02 110.02


21.69 44.33 56.92 110.56