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Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Trying to Catch the Perfect Race

- I'm adjusting to the time difference, thus, this I'm able to write this late night post (or at least I was able to start it). The first two nights, by the time I was done with the track, sunset on the beach:

and a leisurely dinner, it was after 10 PM here, thus 1 AM on my body clock. Didn't get much done in the way of blogging or handicapping as you might imagine. So as this reader surmised, I did the bulk of my handicapping on the beach in the morning before making my way to the track (and yes, we are indeed in Solana Beach).

The surfers are out by 7 AM every day, and they're still out there when the sun is going down. I've been observing them; surfing is obviously a pursuit which inspires the same kind of fanatical devotion as does our own. What I've really noticed is their extreme patience. A lot of swells come rolling by, but most of them are passed over in favor of a better opportunity down the road; hopefully the perfect wave. After all, it's a long day, and no point wasting energy on a wave that doesn't promise some reward for your effort.

So, I tried to keep that in mind for my handicapping on Monday. I've always done best when I pick my spots and try not to force things on races that just don't seem to click. As with the waves, the selection of races is plentiful every day (though less so on the west coast, with most racing in the country over by the time we get halfway through the live card.)

So, despite getting to the track early on Monday, I patiently sat out the first two races. (Unfortunately, I instead bet the last two at Saratoga. I must say that I absolutely hated the two (winning) favorites, Most Distinguished and John's Song in those races.) So it wasn't a very promising beginning.

Yodelfest was scratched from the second a few minutes until post time of the 2nd, a significant change being that he was 4-5 at the time. The winner Cape Diver is worth a mention as a rare frontrunning winner over the artificial stuff; it certainly helped that he went to the half mile in 48.81 seconds in a six furlong race!

I didn't bet the third either. The winner Exquisite Beauty hadn't run since March of 2006, and had never run on the grass; so how could you take 2-1 on that one? Well, perhaps if you considered that trainer Rafael Becerra was three for six at the meeting coming into the race.

I did wager in the 4th, because Vice Admiral was the 6-5 favorite. This horse had run second eight out of his ten lifetime races, and had been favored in three of his last four races, most recently at even money. So this seemed like the kind of wave you just gotta try. So I did, using a couple of long odds runners. The fact that Vice Admiral actually won this time didn't make me regret the wager....that much. Sometimes the habitual runner-up horses just find a field in which everyone else is slower.

I also bet on the 6th, a wonderfully wide open 50K claiming sprint. Cody Autry is here for the meet with a couple of apparently extremely deep pocketed owners who claimed a bunch of stock at the recent Churchill meeting for this meet. He had two that he claimed for 50K running in this race. They both looked fine, coming off second place finishes at this level. But they really looked no better than several other competitors. Yet they went off as the favorite, and I've been mentioning how I look for coupled entries that get overbet by the public using the two-for-one mentality. So I jumped in here too with Yes He's A Pistol (6-1) and Brooker (7-1), o top of some others. And though I ran 3rd and 4th behind a couple others I also used, again it was a wager that was based on sound principle, if nothing else. Note that Autry is off to a sluggish start with one winner in ten runners; six of those at less than 5-1.

And that was it for the day. It was the Head Chef's birthday, so I headed back on the double decker shuttle bus to the Solana Beach train station to soak up some sun and ocean before leaving for a birthday meal at Pacifica Del Mar (picked out by the birthday girl, and selected over some suggestions submitted by readers which perhaps we'll get to later in the week. Especially if I ever have a winner!) Today is a dark day, and we're off to the San Diego Zoo....and I'm getting those stop blogging and get ready looks right now. The surfers are out again, and they once again have been since 7 AM. No action for me today, but I'll be jumping back in tomorrow, trying to selectively find that perfect race. With the races as wide open and unpredictable as they've been on the Polytrack here, it will just take one to put me over the hump for the week. Back with some pictures from the zoo later on.


Anonymous said...

george's at the cove down the road in la jolla is really good. ate there twice while on holiday a few months back. sunset views up top or in bar below are on the money. enjoy break.

Anonymous said...

Alan, if you find anything at Del Mar as good as The Wishing Well I might consider a trip out there next summer! Sounds like you're having a blast, look forward to reading more of your impressions of the Del Mar racing scene. Haven't heard about Bing singing where "...the turf meets the surf" and other rituals of the Del Mar racing day! /S/ Green Mtn Punter
/S/ Green Mtn Punter

Anonymous said...

You really owe it to yourselves to get to MARKET. . .had a crazy good dinner there the other week and liked it so much I'm heading back with Susan for our anniversary (well, Market and the White Stripes show). Mille Fleur is another one of our faves. For casual dining, can't beat my buddy Steve Goldberg's Pacific Coast Grill. The rib sliders and all the fish rock! Very cool funky wine list too and a great happy hour deal. Now go pick some winners. . .

Anonymous said...

Alan, if your girls are anything like my daughter when she was out there with us in her early teen years, take a quick run north a couple of miles on 101 to Encinitas and take them to Hansen's surf shop.They can buy stuff there that will m,ake the kids back in Queens green with envy.

Alan Mann said...

>>Alan, if your girls are anything like my daughter when she was out there with us in her early teen years, take a quick run north a couple of miles on 101 to Encinitas and take them to Hansen's surf shop.

As a matter of fact, they took a surfing lesson with Kahuna Bob at Encinitas and had a ball!