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Monday, August 31, 2009

Lousy Race on a Crummy Day

Thanks to NYRA and Hank Goldberg for saving me some money on Saturday. NYRA's internet wagering was down for at least the 10th and 11th races; an inopportune time for such a failure to be sure. For NYRA anyway, but not for me as it turned out in this case. I'd sure be singing a different tune though had I been deprived of a winner. I called the phone number on my NYRA Rewards card, but the operator told me that I needed a different password than what I use online and at the track. If I would have won, I might have suggested that some quick thinker should have come up with a temporary solution for this situation, as it was clear from the exasperated tone of the person I reached that mine was not the first such request....but I'll instead say no harm, no foul in this case.

When the system came back up for the Travers, I bet a few late doubles; but when Hank Goldberg picked Charitable Man, I snapped out of it and refrained from using him. So, thanks for that, Hank.

I was stunned by the stat that Randy Moss brought up shortly before post time - that 29 out of 58 Belmont Stakes winners who have run in the Travers ended up winning it (now 30 of 59). That runs directly counter to my usual notion that the Belmont, at its mile and a half distance, is an outlier which has little implication with respect to races at our standard distances. Have to rethink that, at least in terms of this race.

Summer Bird earned a career high Beyer of 110, continuing a solid pattern of improvement in that regard. Still, though he's moved forward in each of his races since the Belmont, he's raced twice on a sloppy track; that could be reason enough to try and beat him next time if the track is fast (or synthetic)...possibly in the Jockey Club Gold Cup. I dunno, I remain unenthusiastic about this horse for some reason. Though I did use him in the Travers, it was more by process of elimination in terms of who I figured would still be running if and when the race fell apart. Which it did. Summer Bird ran the final quarter in a pokey 26.22 seconds and still won for fun.

The Travers was a pretty bad race, at least besides the effort of the winner. Longshot Hold Me Back lagged behind early and picked up the pieces passing exhausted horses in the stretch; tab him to bet against at underlaid odds next time out. It was all fitting I suppose for a crummy weather day and the resulting lousy crowd - the smallest in 30 years, when General Assembly splashed home in 1979. Jeez, I was there that day, 30 years? I seem to remember a steady rain throughout that day which I don't think was the case on Saturday. Given NYRA's optimistic attendance forecast, I'm a bit surprised that the crowd was that small even given the weather. The good news is that the long range forecast is favorable straight through next weekend for the appearances of Rachel Alexandra and, far more importantly, the Head Chef and I.

Quality Road came out of the race "excellent" according to Pletcher. Kensei was stone cold dead on the board at 4-1 and finished 25 lengths behind, ugh.

Joe Tessitore was unbelievably annoying with his pre-race dramatics and shrill, contrived post-race exhilaration as he continues to morph into Todd Schrupp...or vice versa. Maybe ESPN should replace him with Steve Phillips - he seems to be on everything else on the network these days. And I was a bit surprised at all of the anti-Jess Jackson commentary going on during the broadcast. Jackson was getting bashed for not running Rachel Alexandra in the Travers, and instead taking the easier route next week instead. (Of course, this is when we still thought that Quality Road might be great....which he still might be, though certainly not in this race.) Personally, I have no problem with this particular decision by Jackson; it's the Breeders' Cup thing where I think he's selfish and dead wrong. The three-year old colts had two chances to dispatch the filly, and I don't see anything wrong with picking an easier spot (though I could do without the whining over the purse), especially with Kensei to consider as well.

Man, I was glad that Vineyard Haven came down. Besides the fact that he deserved it, I just find myself rooting against all of the Sheikh-connected horses. I just don't like them....the humans and even the horses themselves, faultless as they may be for their situation. Sometimes I allow that dislike to cloud my wagering judgment, as in the case of Music Note. In retrospect, if I was (successfully) opposing Indian Blessing as I did, I really had to use Music Note in addition to Informed Decision (whose ride I did not understand at all). Had I not already been eliminated from the Pick Four due to Rutherienne's bare defeat by Salve Germania (now in the care of the Toddster), I'd be bashing myself for that since I did have the last two legs correct.


ballyfager said...

Alan, my recollection is that General Assembly set a track record on that day thirty years ago and that track record still stands.

Saratoga is a miserable place to be on a rainy day. Not enough cover, not enough seats.

There is the myth of Saratoga and the reality of Saratoga, and they are two very different things.

Unknown said...

Saeed bin Suroor is one of the most personable trainers I've ever met in the stable area.

If you like talking horses and their training regimens, then he's a Turf writer's dream come true.

jamesp said...

These TV guys can take a lesson from you Alan and start doing what you do (IMHO with as much expertise as anybody else in the business): Find beatable favorites and point them out.

The only problem is it's STILL tough even after you pick out the beatable ones. Of the 27 total entries in Saturday's late Pick 4 races, I thought Salve Germania was one of the handful of throwout horses. A 1X, $30,000-lifetime horse running against multiple stakes winners, from European connections nobody heard of?

She wins and pays fifty bucks and knocks out the huge majority of tickets from the million-dollar pool. Yeah, it pays $8,500 and it gets the crowd buzzing on a big undercard day, but the only possible way I would have her is with an 'ALL' ticket, which gets prohibitively expensive for us lower bankroll guys. This is why the Pick 4 to me is mostly a sucker bet. I would much rather take a bunch of horses and use them in a $1 Daily Double with the contenders in the next race. This in fact works for me by far and away more often than any other type of bet. As you and your readers well know you gotta cash some of those tickets in order to keep going in this game.

Cheers, and have a great final week at The Spa.

El Angelo said...

Sunny Jim, I couldn't disagree more on Salve Germania. I had her in all my wagers until her pre-race antics made me reconsider (oops) because besides Rutherienne the field was pretty uninteresting, and she had very very good turf breeding (Peintre Celebre out of a Monsun mare). She was certainly more interesting than taking 5-1 on a Tom Proctor horse. Had she not behaved like a borderline psychopath in the paddock and on the track, she would have been a lot closer to 15-1. Given that, the Pick Four was actually very hittable, because the last two legs were chalky, and Indian Blessing was a bad favorite. I don't agree that the P4 is a "sucker bet", I do think it's a waste, though, if you're throwing $40 or less at it, because you do need to keep your options open.

Alan, I went on Saturday, and from walking around and from another source, NYRA's attendance figure is inflated by 8 to 10 thousand. The place felt like a Friday; not empty, but not crowded.

If I were Quality Road's connections, I would be targeting the Jerome and Cigar Mile as my next steps. Short horse or not, I'm still unconvinced he want any part of 10 furlongs, to say nothing of synthetics.

Dunque said...

I'm not certain Rachel found an easier spot in the Woodward. Past the Point nearly upset Curlin last year and based on dominant comeback race at 7F may be better this year.

Problem is he won't offer any value since everyone will be pointing to last year's Woodward.

jamesp said...

Angelo - Good points, and it is nice to spread money around in exotics and hope for a Salve Germania. But questions like these are something very few talk about on the blogs or anywhere else, almost like it's taboo, or bad manners: How much do you bet? How much can you afford to lose in a day? How much of your personal budget - at the end of the year - is given over to gambling losses (assuming of course you are in the red not black in a given year)?

I would surely be at the lower end of the scale. This is what I meant by smaller bankroll guy. With Pick 4's, even with 2,3 or 4 horses in each race, a total of $70 or $80 for one bet is like a vacuum cleaner sucking up most of what's in my wallet for the whole day. I just can't do it.

One more thing with Salve Germania - If you are watching the paddock and post parade and see a horse rear and buck, throw the jockey, and then get loose on the track, isn't the rule to toss that horse for using all its energy up before the race? Castellano said the big crowd had her nervous, but could it have been more than first-ever lasix she was juiced with? Can lasix zonk a horse out like that?

Anonymous said...


What do you think of Governor Paterson's vague statement about the timing of a decision on the Aqueduct deal that he delivered on Traver's day?

Anonymous said...

As a rule Lasix relaxes a horse, guess here is this is the usual behavior for this filly, which is why she underachieved without the lasix in Europe.

She was also my final throw out in the P4 only because of her antics. Euro filly that had competed in Graded company, first time lasix, aggresively placed against a short priced favorite that is not her best on soft turf and a bunch of underwhelming opponents.

Unfortunately the horse I added instead later in the sequence was scratched in the post parade, ouch.

Sunny Jim, agree the P4 and P6 are sucker bets if you dont have the bankroll, you should stay away and concentrate on DD's instead where you can still find value if you happen to like a long shot like the German filly.

Alan, interesting point that the filly was shipped to Pletchers barn out of quarantine and the plan since day one was for him to take over the training.

If this information had been public, think the price might have been a tad lower? I know I would not have been so quick to toss.

Anonymous said...

Alan, do you think the $10 GS admission contributed to the low turnout?

Alan Mann said...

>>Alan, do you think the $10 GS admission contributed to the low turnout?

Honestly, I did not know that they were gouging customers for the Travers. If it did contribute, then it serves them right!!

>>What do you think of Governor Paterson's vague statement about the timing of a decision on the Aqueduct deal that he delivered on Traver's day?

No surprise to be sure....and it sounded to me as if a decision is still several weeks away, doesn't it? Here's the article on Paterson's comments.

El Angelo said...

Admission was $5 grandstand, $10 clubhouse. Personally, unless you have seats there, I don't see much of a reason to go to the clubhouse at the Spa. I just think a lot of the locals, etc., stayed away because it was just awful out yesterday.

Anonymous said...

I read the link to Paterson and the Aqueduct deal. i thought he was the governor? Who does he refer to when he says that "he's waiting for advice" in order to make a decision?

Alan Mann said...

>>Who does he refer to when he says that "he's waiting for advice" in order to make a decision?

Patricia Lynch?

Anonymous said...

Maybe the group referred to below are those that Governor David Paterson looks to for advice on the Aqueduct deal per James Odato and the Times Union article from earlier this month. Although, Alan's Patrica Lynch response is probably as much a factor!

Aqueduct bidding costs

The state could spend $658,000 on the latest round of bidding for a racino operator at Aqueduct because it has farmed out key duties to consultants. Manatt, Phelps & Phillips is getting up to $600,000 for legal work; Public Financial Management will get as much as $58,000 to analyze bids. Manatt employs Faso; PFM employs John Cape, the state's former budget director.

Shortly after the Times Union report, The Daily News did a piece on potential conflicts between the Manatt firm and Delaware North

What about the fact that the PFM Group represents the University of Buffalo Foundation, while prominent Delaware North Companies executives Jeremy Jacobs, Jr. & J.M. Jacobs are University of Buffalo Trustees? Would seem to me like the PFM Group might have some real conflict here. Was the PFM Group working as advisors to Governor David Paterson, Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver and Senate leader Dean Skelos in last falls bid award that fell apart?

In any case, between Patricia Lynch and ties to members of the State's bid advisory group, Delaware North and the Buffalonians are well represented.

race said...

To El Angelo:
With regard to the Filly (Salve Germania), forget for the moment her breeding--were you aware of
1st time Lasix? (Not shown on the Form but in changes), and were you aware of Pletcher getting her ready?--Not that Pletcher is burning up Grade 1's or anything lately, but still I'm curious if you knew, and if so please educate me with how you knew--Thanks--race

McCarron said...

Worst on air handicappers:

1. Hank Goldberg
2. Hank Goldberg
3. Todd Schrupp
4. Paul Lo Duca
5. Todd Schrupp

Honorable Mention: Hank Goldberg

Anonymous said...

No love for the Hammer.

Anonymous said...

Rumor's spilled today in Albany of MGM/Peebles as a NYRA favorite choice for VLT award. If you read the Paul Post piece in the thoroughbred times this afternoon, NYRA General Counsel Patrick Kehoe suggests that a Paterson decision is near and it could be a prominent gaming company. As we know, Post writes stories for the NYRA and Kehoe doesn't speak in Charlie's place unless he has a messsage to convey. NYRA's reign of power and influence persist, so it would be easy to believe that this organization is trying to get one of its choices across the line, particularly if it could get this Governor to roll over like it did Eliot Spitzer. With all of MGM's regulatory problems with the Chinese Ho family and organized crime and a community friendly development background of Don Peebles in Washington D.C and South Florida that is arguable, can David Paterson really give this combination thumbs up?

I remember seeing this post earlier in the Aqueduct process, from mid May on this blog:

Anonymous said...
If real, last post loaded with goodies! Charlie Hayward categorically denied NYRA's involvement with any of the bidders in the racing press, although the last poster isn't the only one that had heard about former MGM folks and NYRA working real close in Albany.

To that point, from the minutes of the April 2nd, Community Board 10 meeting in Queens: "Ms. Liz Bracken (NYRA, V.P.) stated that NYRA President Charlie Hayward has been in touch with Albany to help move the process along to not have an extensive re-bid that would take many months. Mr. Hayward has been working with them on a plan that MGM had originally proposed to see if they could actually implement that plan instead of doing re-bids because there were certain permits in place over that plan."

Sounds like the NYRA is much more involved in this process than some other bloggers want to believe.

Hard to know what to think when the NYRA starts pushing around 50 some years of entrenched NY political influence that extends all the way to Washington D.C.

Anonymous said...

Can't speak for El An but I was aware of the German Fillies 1L, was listed in changes at 1030am on NYRA site, why it took so long to announce on track I have no idea.

Was not aware of the Pletcher connection until I read Alan's link, but the 1L combined with the bog had me considering her until the paddock antics.

Harl said...

I must be a sucker! The pick 4 wager has made up 95% of my personal handle the last three years and I have almost eliminated vertical wagers entirely. I can't remember the last time I placed an exacta or trifecta, let alone a superfecta (but if I looked it up, it's probably been a solid year).

I usually play two or three pick 4s a week with a weekly budget of $600. I average one "win" just under every two weeks, but that "win" is usually more than $1 ticket as I employ Crist's spread strategy.

I've returned a higher percentage on my investment since focusing on this type of wager and all but ignoring straight win wagers and other vertical wagers. Occasionally, when there is a big carryover in SoCal (my home circuit), I'll put my week's budget in a big pick 6 play, again using Crist's spread strategy.

I keep meticulous records which really helps when Uncle Sam comes calling every April.

I can see where the horizontal wagers can be intimidating for smaller budgets, but if you're going to go spend a couple hundred at the track on a given day, why not sink it in to one pick 4 play with less takeout and a better chance at a large score rather than 10-15 small bets that you might break even on if you hit a couple of them.

Anonymous said...

Glad we saw the handwriting on the wall (months ago) and skipped the two-week trip to Saratoga.

We've sat through these mega-elongated 109-race cards in the cold rain at Saratoga and believe me, it is slavery.

Joe T? Hopeless. He sounds like he's been castrated.

Anonymous said...

Harl, I was specifically replying to an inquiry by another commenter about his playing P4's with a modest budget ($70-80 per day), less than the $150-200 you are averaging.

At that level, combined with Crist's ABCX strategy of course the P4 is a very good play, especially when you are as disciplined as you appear to be.

But a casual on track player with an $80 daily budget should not be sinking $24-36 bucks of that into a P4, at that level I believe it is a sucker's bet, as is the P6.

Sure, the player could invest the entire $80 into a P4, but for a casual player I think it is unrealistic to expect him to spend an entire day at the races and make that one play. If they are sitting home in their living room, then yes, that is a good idea, concentrate on whichever P4 sequence you feel good about, make the one bet, and hope and root for a good outcome.

El Angelo said...

To answer the earlier commenter, I knew about the Lasix because it was announced repeatedly at the track (it was on the NYRA TV feed as well). I had no idea about the Pletcher factor until afterwards, and frankly, think something stinks about it. There seems to be the air of a conflict/problem with not disclosing who's actually training/watching the horse for a week, especially when that same trainer has another horse in the race (Captain's Lover).

Anonymous said...

Especially when the horse I included as my longshot in that race was Pletchers other horse, perhaps I pick the German filly otherwise, perhaps not, but this type of information should be public.