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Friday, July 25, 2008

Still Waiting a While For VLT's

- NY Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos accompanied Private Citizen Joe Bruno to Saratoga on Thursday. It was an opportunity for Skelos to assure the citizens of Saratoga that he will continue to support the economic development projects that Bruno has long championed for his former constituency. “I give my commitment.....What Joe has started, we will continue.” [Schenectady Gazette]

Skelos said that the selection of the Aqueduct racino operator is up to Governor Paterson, saying "I'm not leaning in any direction right now." [Saratogian]

- Here's another instance in which I selectively quote from a writer, Dick Powell in this case, who echoes one of my own ongoing themes:

When handicappers compare Saratoga and Del Mar, days like Wednesday are a major negative in the balance sheet for Saratoga. When it rains, it pours and racing is adversely affected. There were 44 scratches on Wednesday's card at the Spa with five races switched from the turf to a very sloppy main track. Has Del Mar ever lost a turf race to rain or has it ever been listed as anything less than firm?

Polytrack provides a consistent racing surface each day and now that Del Mar is watering it during the afternoon it is yielding relatively normal race times. Compare Del Mar's consistency to what we saw at Saratoga on opening day and how much the main track will change when it dries out. [BRIS]
While Powell seems to be making a point more about the weather than Polytrack, and would likely never - gasp - suggest a synthetic surface at Saratoga, I have no such compunction. At some point in the future, if and when the questions that persist about synthetics are answered - such as its maintenance and consistency under different weather conditions and over a period of years, and those persistent, though yet unspecified, whispers about vague soft tissue injuries - there are some good reasons - 44 of them just on Wednesday - why Saratoga would actually make more sense for a synthetic surface than either of the other two NYRA tracks. Feel free to let me have it for saying that!

- Wait A While is scheduled to make her return to the races in the G1 Win and You're In Diana on Saturday. However, we know that she doesn't like soft going, and the Form's Jay Privman describes her status as "questionable." Same goes for Rutherienne and Vacare, both from Christophe Clement (and both rather disappointing thus far this year). “I’ll worry about it Saturday morning." So, handicapping the race at this point in time is uncertain. Under better conditions, I'd love to try and beat Wait A While as the likely betting favorite anyway, but it's hard to stand against her considering the fact that two of her best races have come over the Saratoga turf. Some guy named Tod Plecher, or something like that, said that she's "been training well.”
“She prefers the courses at Hollywood Park and Saratoga, where she tends to perform extra well. At Belmont Park, even with firm turf, it’s not quite the same.” [Thoroughbred Times]
One mare who could be worth a look at a price is Bayou's Lassie (12-1). This five-year old daughter of Outflanker has sharpened her front-running game since switching from Clement to the barn of Dale Romans, including a G3 win at Churchill in which she earned a career best Beyer of 100. In her last, the G3 Locust Grove, also at CD, she dueled with the tough McLaughlin speedball Genuine Devotion before fading to third. In the Diana however, she's the only confirmed front runner in the race, breaking from a favorable inside post in a field loaded with late runners. Stretch out to nine furlongs obviously doesn't help, but perhaps she can stick around long enough to liven up the exotics at least.


Anonymous said...

I am reluctant to make this comment but since you mentioned the Diana, take a long hard look at Bit of Whimsy. This horse relishes the distance, which she has not seen this year, and also appreciates the less-than-firm going. She will be a strong overlay due to the quality of this field, which I hope holds up despite the turf conditions.

El Angelo said...

The Diana's a great betting race, and I'm going to throw out the horse I like a lot: Lady Dibgy, who's in great form, loves soft turf, and is only a few Beyer points shy of the best in here, especially given that the favorites don't like the soft going. At 10-1 or so, she's a good price play. I also agree with the previous commenter that Bit of Whimsy is sitting on a nice race.

Alan Mann said...

>>I am reluctant to make this comment but since you mentioned the Diana, take a long hard look at Bit of Whimsy.

“Our filly likes it soft,” said Robin Smullen, the assistant to Bit of Whimsy’s trainer, Barclay Tagg.
Bit of Whimsy wound up sixth in the Just a Game, but was beaten only 2 1/2 lengths after getting fanned wide into the lane.

“I thought she was in the perfect position on the turn, but then she ended up six wide,” Smullen said. “I think she’s coming into this race very well. She had a hard time with the heat last time. After the race, we had to keep her on the walk.”

Anonymous said...

"there are some good reasons - 44 of them just on Wednesday - why Saratoga would actually make more sense for a synthetic surface"

I don't get it. If it rains, races will come off the grass. Switching the main track to poly will not save the turf from a rain storm.

Meanwhile, the Jerkins bomb in the 3rd killed my pick 3.

Alan Mann said...

>>I don't get it. If it rains, races will come off the grass. Switching the main track to poly will not save the turf from a rain storm.

No, but you don't usually get nearly as many scratches if the race switches to Poly....especially one like Keeneland which seems to play more like the grass than some of the others.

The first person who calls Jerkens the "giant killer" is banned! :)

El Angelo said...

I'll concede it was on the turf, but that Jerkens horse tied Mushka for best last-out Beyer. Very pickable at 18-1, actually. Not that I took anything resembling a stab, of course.

Anonymous said...

How about Forever Together in the Diana? (15-1 ml) Finished fastest of any coming out of the Just a Game, should like the extra furlong, won on YL turf two back. Sheppard/Leparoux

cheers, Chris

ljk said...

Interesting comments from Privman and Grenig on the Siro's show this morning. Both suggesting that the synthetic will result in top quality horses skipping the BC this year (Curlin looks certain to avoid the synthetic). Also predicting drops in BC handle (hasn't Keeneland seen a drop since the poly?). Both suggested that the synthetics will be changed back to dirt "within 4 years". I'm not sure that's accurate, but it's interesting.

Have to admit that the scratches and off the turfs weren't ideal, but I was happy to be there Thursday & Friday, doing my best to handicap to both days to a very modest profit. This game isn't supposed to be easy

Alan Mann said...

ljk - Interesting, thanks for the report. Can you imagine the criticism the BC will endure if these predictions come true with the event scheduled for Santa Anita again next year!

A lot of diversity of opinion on the Diana to be sure. Great betting race.

Valerie Grash said...

Good call, Anon Chris! Stop by more often with gem observations like that :)