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Monday, April 09, 2007

Notes - April 9

- I had no winners on top at Keeneland on Saturday, so I had to satisfy myself with the small triumphs, like not selecting any of Pletcher's horses that were favored in each of the races 7 through 9 to win. I know the idea is to mention as many eventual winners and in-the-money finishers as possible, but I can't help but sometimes use one of the slots to specify I horse that I don't like, as I did with Tiganello in race 7, a race in which my selections ran 2-3. But I disliked Out of Gwedda enough in the Jefferson to not mention him at all in the 8th (and, in fact, had the 10-1 winner Carnacks Choice as my #2 selection), and, though Mistical Plan was another disappointing Doug O'Neill runner for the day, at least I didn't like 3-5 Octave on top in the Ashland.

The Ashland was the 'up' part of an 'up and down' 20 minutes or so for trainer Jimmy Jerkens. His Christmas Kid, getting an excellent, ground saving trip from the six post by Rene Douglas (not sure which horse the chartcaller was watching), skimmed the rail and opened up a sizeable lead in the stretch. And she needed every bit of that lead to hold off Octave, who took the overland route, four wide turning for home.

"I rode her with so much patience," Douglas said. "I was a little concerned about being on the rail since it had been slow all day, but she fired really good. Everything went perfectly." [Louisville Courier-Journal]
Pletcher's filly closed resolutely for second in a final sixteenth of 6.09 seconds; she always gives you a reason to bet her next time.

Christmas Kid was winning her third stakes, and second graded one of the year, having previously won the Davona Dale on the dirt at GP, and the Tropical Park Oaks on the grass at Calder; she is one of three 2007 stakes winners for her sire Lemon Drop Kid. Nice price at 9-1, and she's likely headed to the Oaks.

Trainer Jerkens wasn't nearly as fortunate shortly thereafter when Corinthian spotted the field five lengths at the start of the Excelsior BC at the Big A.
“It’s just unbelievable,” said Javier Castellano, who rode Corinthian. “He was so good today in the paddock and in the gate. Everything was beautiful. As soon as the gate opened-boom! He just broke in the air. I don’t even know how I stayed on.” [Bloodhorse]
The faux pas practically gift wrapped the win for Pletcher's Magna Graduate (Honor Grades), who couldn't have gotten an easier trip under John Velazquez.

Not long afterwards, Pletcher scored another big win in the handicap division, this time with Lawyer Ron in the G2 Oaklawn Handicap. Edgar Prado got the infamously headstrong son of Langfuhr to rate, until he could restrain him no longer, allowing him to take charge with a three wide move going into the final turn. “The key was getting him to relax early....Once he did that, the rest was easy.”
Lawyer Ron became the first horse to sweep the Oaklawn Handicap and Arkansas Derby in more than 20 years with his 4-length victory under Edgar Prado.
The last horse to notch the Arkansas Derby / Oaklawn Handicap daily double was Temperence Hill in 1980-1981. [Arkansas Democrat Gazette]
Lawyer Ron is four-for-four at Oaklawn. He cruised home under a hand ride, getting the final three eighths in an effortless 36.93 seconds; final eighth in 12.16. He'd shown the ability to finish up strongly in the past; the problem was getting him to conserve enough energy in the early stages to do so.


Anonymous said...

I have to say that I am close to completely forgetting about Keeneland. I still can not understand why they made the switch to polytrack. I would rather have the old "speed on the rail" Keeneland where at least the winners made sense. Now it is a crapshoot trying to determine which horses will take to the rubber and which will not. Any advice on how to handicap the new Keeneland would be much appreciated.

Also of note is TVG's unprecedented coverage of Keeneland. Is this a last ditch effort to salvage a sinking ship? I know that Keeneland is not part of CDI, but I would imagine that their departure and the potential departure of the NY tracks in the near future (depending on the new franchise holder) would make the folks at Keeneland reconsider their future dealings with TVG.

The extra in depth coverage by TVG is great, but what is up with the camera on the finish line? It appears to be 10 or 20 feet before the wire making it impossible to determine the winner in a close finish. Who's bright idea was it to set the camera there?

Lastly, thanks for putting your selections up for Keeneland, I used your analysis on Friday to select some winners for the online contest. Without that info I would have been making blind selections since I did not have Friday's DRF.


Alan Mann said...

Lenny - I understand your frustration with some of the seemingly random results at Keeneland, but I don't miss the speed machine of the old Keeneland either. Perhaps in time, when Polytrack becomes more prevalent and we get more used to it, they'll be a happy medium. For now, the races are certainly more exciting anyway.

As for TVG, it's no surprise to see them put all their resources into this meeting. Must be a lot of pent-up energy from the last few dismal months of pretending that the inner track and Bay Meadows are exciting.

Anonymous said...

You really have to play a lot of combos in exotics to succeed at Keeneland. Very tough to make a monster win bet at 3-1 with a horse who hasn't run over the track, no matter how superior he looks.

I would discount speed, upgrade turf performers, focus on trainer intent and, if necessary, get a little creative. I'm not fully "there" yet, but after catching Matz's Giant's Causeway making his Polytrack debut in Saturday's fifth at 14-1 and catching Christmas Kid (throw out Mystical Plan...speed, look for something with turf abilities or breeding...Christmas Kid) at 9-1, I'm starting to think Keeneland could be okay.

You MUST demand great odds...I wouldn't take less than 9-2 on the Poly right now, because I don't pick enough winners. And you have to play a ton of combos in exotics.