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Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Here We Come

After seeing the results of Monday's races, I mistakenly, and quite embarrassingly, assumed (and you know what happens when you do that) that the Pick Six wasn't hit, but it was, three times in fact. Thanks to reader Jackie for sparing me from even further humiliation. The racing at the Spa has seemed really hard, but I dunno, maybe it just seems that way to me! A look at the results charts seems to indicate a fair rate of winning favorites mixed in with the overlays and illogicals. It does seem particularly challenging though to those like me who prefer to tread in the 7-2 to 6-1 range.

That the racing has been superbly competitive is fairly obvious from looking at the results charts; not to mention the uptick in business both on and off-track, inter and intra-state. (The weather has been a bit better as well.) Don't recall a recent time when the races were so consistently solid from a betting standpoint (probably last year's meet). I've made a few advance picks (and a couple of mentions) on this site; a couple ran OK but none of them have won. But in many, if not most, of the races I've handicapped in advance, I've found it nearly impossible to separate a horse or two from the deep well of legitimate contenders. And forget about the numerous two-year old races, which are an automatic pass for me without seeing the tote action (unless I pick up some sharp insight and workout info from Discreet Picks).

But y'know, things come into far sharper focus when I'm actually at any track, but especially in Saratoga, as we will be this weekend starting on Friday, woo hoo! The fresh air, majestic trees, the paddock (and the Paddock Bar), the tip sheet hawkers, the buzz of the crowd, the horses casually strolling down the path through the backyard towards the paddock....even that damn bell that tolls the passing time can come in handy if I'm dozing off in my chair in the serene backyard. Far different environment and one surely more conducive to wagering than sitting home on the couch or, especially, sitting at my job, where gambling is expressly prohibited in the employee handbook, and a dismissible offense. That tends to put a damper on the proceedings.

Most importantly though, the tote board puts everything in context for me. Looking at the Form in advance can be like perusing Amazon with no prices posted....can't compare the relative values of products and determine what is fairly priced, and what seems like a bargain or a ripoff. Seeing the values of each of the betting interests can quickly eliminate some, or put others in play. And of course if a horse seems like its odds are too generous, then I might throw it out on the basis of it being dead on the board; while others attracting surprising attention may suddenly become a contender. I'm the type who could stare at the board in the final minutes and make betting decisions tick by tick. Don't know if that's a good thing or not. But it sure is fun.

So, I'm psyched, and hopefully will arrive upstate in a footloose and fancy free frame of mind that will allow and encourage creative thinking, fearlessness, and a disposition toward dissent from the popular opinions of the moment. A perfect time to think in terms of Marc Cramer's Division Fourteen, as I discussed in this post written nearly five years ago, yikes. Another way of putting it is that some races demand that you think in terms of an alternate universe, where the longer shots seem logical and the favorites beg to be completely discarded. After all, Saratoga itself is an alternate universe of sorts. It's a crowded racetrack for one thing, and that's pretty radically alternative these days, especially in this state. Nobody's working (except for the fine folks at NYRA putting on the show for us), people are losing their money with a big smile on their faces, no one is worried about the stock market (not outwardly anyway), there's no thought of debt crises, Democrats and Republicans get along (as long as they don't talk about anything other than horse racing), the ongoing tragedies of the world are a world and a half away (some of which nobody is paying attention to anyway), beer prices have gone down. Down! Only in Saratoga. Here we come.

1 Comment:

Anonymous said...

Yo Alan, I'll be there Saturday. Come look me up. Not sure where I'm sitting though -- you'll have to ask our mutual friend from Queens. -jp