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Friday, May 02, 2008

Time To Gamble

- I think it's about time to wrap this up and move on to some races that we can perhaps actually handicap instead of just guess at! I'm home here on The Day Before, and intend to do some live blogging once ESPN comes on for their coverage from Churchill starting at 3 PM. That's around 7th race post time, so they won't be on for the sixth, in which Ginger Punch heads that G2 Louisville. The track at Belmont has come up muddy, and two of the turf races were taken off; so I'm going to pass and concentrate on Churchill (where the weather is worth watching too.)

I've said just about everything I can think to say at this point. I mean, it's just one race! I took a look at the horses under consideration here, here, and here; and at Big Brown here. I took some second looks here and here. Whatsmore, I've been talking about this race for much of the last month, at least, so check out the archives or use the Search This Blog box up top; it's actually pretty good. I think I've run out of things to say. Of course, there's a ton of stuff to read online, and when I run across anything worthwhile, I'll put it up. But it's time to move on so I can handicap and do some gambling today.

So, I'll do my 'official picks' here. I'm not going to include Big Brown or Colonel John, though I'm won't leave them out of exotics. I'm opposing both on price - Big Brown due to his inexperience, a potentially challenging pace scenario, and suspicions about his soundness. As for Colonel John, it's harder to find a good reason, other than he's never run on dirt, so we don't know how fast he'll really be on it. But that is reason enough in this case. I know I've written a million times that I think he'll like the dirt and that, in the case of Cushion Track, the synthetic-to-dirt angle may be overrated. But I said that in the context of being happy to take a good price if a horse was being dismissed on that basis, and not in the case of a probable second choice...and maybe even the favorite? He's a solid consensus choice in the Form.

I really don't really like any particular horse to win, but hell, one has gotta take a stand, so here goes.

1. PYRO - I thought all year, ever since the Risen Star, that Pyro was the best three-year old. That opinion was reinforced by his push button win in the Louisiana Derby. So, if I believed that all year, should his non-performance on the Poly at Keeneland change that? Or should I take advantage of the boost he'll get in price? I'd love to see 8-1 on him. Not sure if that will happen, but he's the pick nonetheless.

2. MONBA - This colt's time may not yet have arrived, especially since he's only had one prep plus his aborted Fountain of Youth. But Pletcher's colt has a win over the track, and showed a world of promise in his 4th in the Cash Call last year. His Blue Grass win was professional if not blazing fast. He could be any kind and seems worth a shot at a price.

3. EIGHT BELLES - It gets lonely sometimes if you like a horse which not only not gets mentioned at all, but gets specifically dissed. So it's nice to find a little affirmation. A reader sent me the Thoro-Graph sheets; I won't mention which one so he doesn't get in trouble with Jerry Brown. But I'll at least put up their link here. Anyway, they have the filly amongst their top six contenders. Her numbers - three 1's and a 0 - are good enough to be right there. They're of course concerned that those races will eventually take their toll, especially considering that she's been in training and actively racing straight through, without a layoff line, since September. "Bearing in last time might be a sign that 'eventually' is imminent, but with lots of good figures, at a decent price, this one has to be used."

4. Z FORTUNE - Again, I'm concerned that Asmussen seems so worried about his hard race in the Arkansas Derby three weeks ago. However, the reports on his physical stature have been quite positive, so I'm sticking with him. He comes off what was, given his ground loss, arguably the best effort in a final prep other than Big Brown.

- Kent Desormeaux said on ESPN just before that Big Brown has "an intellectual presence. [Enter joke at Dutrow's expense here.]

- Kurt Becker is sitting in for Durkin at Belmont today and through the weekend, and he sounded great during the first race.


El Angelo said...

Anybody else having trouble with NYC OTB's online system? Or know why you can't bet the Oaks-Derby double for $1?

Anonymous said...

Philadelphia area connections have been a good indicator of Triple Crown success for the last four years.
Out of hometown loyalty I will go with Visionaire and Eight Belles.
Next year -- Smarty Junior

Anonymous said...

Did Kurt Becker make the calls Wed at Belmont? I swear it didn't sound like Durkin when one of the great names in current racing 'Arrrr' was a contender in the 9th race.

steve in nc said...

Wish I could think up a line on Dutrow worthy of your funny invitation. Hope someone else does.

But while I generally agree with Takach's take on front wraps, they don't scare me at all in this case. BB worked in them and got glowing reviews. (By the way, I watched the workout video and BB also hugged the rail -- I'm glad you didn't let Welch steer you off your steer based on his irrelevant observation about Dennis of Cork).

Anyway, Dutrow says BB's always worked in front wraps but has burned the back of his front right leg in races, so he's using the wraps to protect him. This isn't a claiming race. Dutrow has every incentive not to hide issues but to offer excuses in advance (or scratch him) if there are any doubts about soundness, to protect the stud value. But they say he's doing great and he looks the part on the track.

I'll admit I'm biased since he knocked my socks off when I saw his debut in Saratoga and this is a rare time when I'll actually bet chalk in the Derby. After my 0-2-X post, though, you know exactly what my opinion is worth.

I'm hoping that this post will help raise the meager price on BB.
I'm using the two Z horses most heavily underneath, so please feel confident leaving them off your tickets.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Just watch his Risen Star race. Great call by John G. Dooley. PYRO full of Fire. You get chills.

Anonymous said...

An interesting aside will be if Kent Desormeaux actual sports the UPS logo on his pants as previously announced on Wed: 'UPS to Ride with Big Brown'

That would appear to now be in conflict with the last minute deal cut with NetJets 'to sponsor Derby jockeys'. That deal kicks back $300k to the NTRA Charities Permanently Disabled Jockeys Fund in exchange for sporting their logo on all riders.

So will Kent still wear the UPS logo?