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Saturday, March 01, 2008

Saturday Morning Ramblings - March 1

- I was getting into a really nice handicapping groove before going on vacation and having my laptop crash; add in the impending nuptials, and I've really gone off track. Too bad, because I was actually cashing some tickets and, maybe even better, sounding (on occasion anyway) like a real smart guy. But now, with a week to go until the wedding, my ability to concentrate on betting races is rather small. I feel like I'd have a better chance of figuring out the primary/caucus system in Texas than being able to decipher that Big Cap later today.

So, if you don't mind, I'm just gonna ramble on for a little bit about whatever comes to mind, and then get back to the matters at hand.

Pletcher took Friday's 9th at Gulfstream with first timer Fujita, and I know I haven't written much about the day-to-day racing at GP like I've done in the past. Looking at the entries and results every day, it's just so apparent how the quality of racing there has declined. Claimers and starter allowances seem to overwhelm the cards on a daily basis, even on weekends. Friday's card featured three maiden claimers, three beaten claimers, one open claimer, an allowance and the aforementioned maiden special finale. You look at the purses, and they're not chump change - over $215K on Friday - but it's apparently no longer enough to lure kind of horses - at least in terms of depth - that we used to see. I used to get a Saratoga feeling on many days there. (Then again, I used to get a Saratoga feeling at Saratoga before the days of those state-bred maiden claimers..)

As I said, I'm just rambling here, and compiling music for the wedding as I write. The Head Chef is truly terrified that I might empty the joint with my musical tastes. And you know what? She could be right. But I'm trying to be reasonable, and letting the kids have some say as well.

Back to Fujita, the Toddster pulled this one over at 8-1 when the three-year old colt prevailed in extremely game fashion after a long stretch duel; and he was used hard every step of the way. Fujita is a son of Lion Hearted (Storm Cat) who sold for $105,000 at Timonium last year; that as opposed to the sire's $3,500 stud fee. So the colt obviously showed some promise in the under tack show, which he displayed in his debut, albeit on a delayed basis.

Lion Hearted is also the sire of Control System, his only graded stakes winner in this, his fifth year of stallion-dom. But he is one of the leading stallions in Maryland; he was fifth on the regional sire list last year, stands second this year, and he's the top Storm Cat sire in the state. Fujita is out of a mare by the BC Mile winner Opening Verse and descends from the distaff family of the Grade 1 winner Roses Cantina.

- Understatement is another recent first-time graduate for Pletcher; he earned a 97 Beyer as the 6-5 favorite in his Feb 7 debut, which I posted about here. He's listed as the 2-1 favorite in the 8th at Gulfstream today, and probably figures to be lower off his connections and fig. However, keep in mind that he's stretching out from six to nine furlongs, as owner Winstar is perhaps fishing for a Derby horse. It's also, of course, his first try against winners. So let's keep an eye on Nistle's Crunch, never out of the money in five tries for Ken McPeek; including a third in a Santa Anita turf stakes from which the first two finishers returned to win. He's run well on Poly, grass, and dirt, and should give a good account of himself here.

Winstar starts Colonel John in the Sham Stakes out at Santa Anita. It's an interesting little race out in the Cushion Track division. A lot of handicappers aren't going to know what to do with the horses who come out of California and go on to the Derby without having run on natural dirt. Already reading a lot of angst about that. Personally, I'm going to completely ignore and disregard it, and treat them just like any other horses. I haven't seen a dramatic enough difference in form between dirt and the Cushion Track surfaces to get all bent out of shape by it; nor to have it distract me from the fundamentals (any more so than I will already be). We might not know for sure if they can handle the Churchill track; but I think you can say that about any horse running over it for the first time. And besides, we don't know if any of them can get the distance anyway. The Derby is all about horses doing things for the first time - distance, crowds, a large field; and if the bettors are going to disregard a sharp, fast horse on the basis of synthetic-form only, then I'll be happy to pick up the pieces and take the value.

Anyway, Reflect Times closed well enough against a slow early pace in his two turn debut to merit consideration in the Sham; but I don't know that he'll find the fractions much more to his liking here. In any event, I find it hard to look past El Gato Malo in this spot. He's been able to thus far, in his three starts, adapt to whatever is thrown his way, having won short and long, in fast-paced races and slow ones. You can say that he's had good trips, but I think he's made his own trips to an extent, staying close to a slow crawl in the Gold Rush, and hanging back during the absurdly fast fractions of the San Rafael. I'm not at all convinced on breeding that he's a mile and a quarter horse, but I'd think he can handle this assignment at nine furlongs.

- And Mac is back in town:

It was on this first generation IMac that I started Left at the Gate. It's now been rendered nearly useless by the passage of time and technology. Someone once tried to upgrade the operating system, but it couldn't handle it. So I'm stuck on OS 9.3 or something like that. It can only handle ancient browsers such as Internet Explorer 5.1, Netscape Navigator 4.6, and something called Opera 6.01. As you might imagine, there aren't many websites that are still functional using those (one exception is the always reliable! I don't really know what to do with it, but don't have the heart to throw it out.

But now, after the untimely death of my PC laptop, the Mac is back. Thanks to all that wrote in with laptop advice, but after just a couple of days using the Head Chef's Mac Book, I knew that's what I had to have. And this is the first post that I'm writing on it. It will be a few days still until I have it loaded up with the software I need to run Windows, so that I can get re-Formulator'd. But at least I don't have to beg for computer time anymore.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on your shiny new MacBook...and welcome to the cult. I've been committed since 1986. And don't toss the iMac boat anchor can probably find a good home for it on Freecycle or even sell it for parts on Craigslist.

Or you can always turn it into a nifty aquarium:

Anonymous said...


Do me a favor if you get a chance and take a look at the replay from the last race at Oaklawn on Friday.
Borel tried to come up the rail in the stretch in a blanket finish and the jock on the horse in the lead protected the rail and shifted over a bit (good riding)
Borel lodged an objection and after a lengthy 20 minute delay they took the winner down and put Borel's horse up. Of course I had bet the horse taken down, but I thought it was just a brutal takedown

Anonymous said...

throw that primative beast in the garbage and while your at it toss the rotary phone in as well

Alan Mann said...

>>Of course I had bet the horse taken down, but I thought it was just a brutal takedown.

I'd have to agree. Though your horse leaned in as you said (good race riding), it didn't seem to me as if Borel really ever had to stop riding his horse. If anything, it looked as if he bulled through an opening that had been legitimately shut off and that your horse might have had a beef had Borel gotten up in time.

Anonymous said...

Speaking of primitive, here's a quote from the brand, spanking new NTRA marketing guru: ...."From a sports perspective on a Friday evening, we’re not really competing against much."

Say what?

How about high school football contests across the country?

Racing is in its death throes. Take one look at Stronach's house of cards, and it's evident that more tracks are going to meet this demise.

Slots will not save NYRA, either. It's sad to see what has happened.