Sunday, January 31, 2010

Late to the Gulfstream party, I leave it up $2

DORAL, Fla. -- OK, how does a guy pick five winners on a 10-race card and come home from the racetrack only up $2?

It starts, I'm sad to admit, by actually being late to the races, for the first time in my life.

Sleeping the night (and, as it turns out, half the day) away at The Blue, I had set a 9:30 alarm on my phone that never rang. I was awakened at 11:58 a.m. by a polite woman from the cleaning staff, knocking at the door and asking if she needed to come back later. ... Um, yeah, please. Later.

Had I not gotten just a little turned around on the way to Gulfstream Park, I might have made it in time to bet all 10 races. As it was, I missed out on a $10.20 winner in the first (Diced N Sliced) and saw Race 2 without betting it, when I would have hit the $15 exacta cold (4-2).

And, of course, the return also depends on how much you bet. Hit a price on which you only wagered $2 and you still don't have all that big a score. Bet $10 on a horse you really like, who fails you, and it's a big setback. Plunk down $12 on a tri-box and have a horse sneak up (barely) for third and your $12 goes "poof" in a hurry.

Nevertheless, I had a ball at Gulfstream Park all afternoon and into the evening. The facility is dramatic and beautiful, the racing was excellent, and I made a couple of new friends in the crowd -- Roger (originally from Wales) and Gary (born in Britain, forgot to ask if he spells his name with one R or two). They were enjoying the races with Gary's two sons, deciding to attend after meeting the owner of one of the Sunshine Millions entries elsewhere in the city over the past few days.

Neither man was a big horse-racing aficionado, but everybody had a blast, a fact not lost on me as racing continues to struggle with gaining traction among the modern sports-viewing public.

Despite its many issues, which we needn't rehash here and now but that do need fixing, we really do have a great game.

Second example: Early in the day, I had been approached by a man with a thick, eastern European accent (Russian maybe?) who asked me if there was a way he could use the automated teller to "make bet on three horses to finish first, second, third, any order?" Indeed there was, and I showed him by dropping my own credit slip in the machine and punching in a mock tri-box for the upcoming race.

"Then just hit 'print ticket' and you have it," I said, before punching "return balance" instead to get my money back.

The man thanked me, put his fresh credit voucher into the auto-teller, and set about making his bet for that race.

Near the end of the race card, I saw that man with his wife (who looked like a local) and a couple of children, exultant. He was waving a wager ticket above his head, literally jumping up and down like he'd just bought a freakin' Toyota in a 30-second spot from 1984. I walked up, grinning.

"Is this it? Is this it?" he said, showing me the ticket. "It" sure was.

"Perfect," I said, triggering a second round of jumping for joy.

I love this game.

The only bad point on Saturday came at the end of Race 7, when Rosie's Gal (a long-shot selection of mine who was well-positioned for awhile) pulled up with a lame right hind leg shortly after the finish. Jockey Paco Lopez did an admirable job of getting her stopped quickly and keeping her calm and still while waiting for the veterinary team. I don't know her condition; only that the leg wasn't obviously broken (i.e., dangling) and she was vanned off (though that doesn't show in the Equibase chart). I hope she'll be OK.

Now for the roundup, my picks who finished where I predicted in italics:

Race 1: 3-8-7 (in the body of the race analysis, typo reversed two in the quick-look and was fixed).
Finish: 3 Diced N Sliced ($10.20); 2 Lacie Slew; 7 Suave Royalty.
Post race analysis: The 8, My Prefered, "broke in the air and was eased." The 2, Lacie Slew, was my fourth (unmentioned) choice in my handicapping system and made some sense to get up and place or show, which she did.

Race 2: 4/2-6-7 (I couldn't really separate the 4 and 2, but felt they were clearly best).
Finish: 4 General Maximus ($5.20); 2 Afleet Express; 5 Family Holiday (a 31-1 bomb); 7 Peace at Dawn at nearly 20-1. ... Exacta $15.
Post race analysis: As expected, the 4 and 2 were clearly best.

Race 3: 2-10/12 (The horse I liked best was first on the also-eligible list and didn't draw).
Finish: 1 Dreamed to Dream (paid $167.60, seriously); 4 Pretty B; 3 Angel's Cove.
Post race analysis: This race just blew up in my face, with the 2 faltering to seventh, the 10 "no factor" in eighth and the 12 finishing a dull fifth as the favorite. Maidens, go figure.

Race 4: 6-9-4-3.
Finish: 6 It's Not For Love ($23.60); 4 Lady's Wish; 3 Watch Smartly.
Post race analysis: I actually thought the 6, 15-1 on the morning line, might drift up in the odds and she came down instead, almost to the point that I didn't like the price enough to bet her. But I did, across the board, and wished I'd bet everything in my pocket. She was criticized for not running well in Florida, but from the PPs I read, her races in Florida were short while her best speed figures -- at Belmont, Monmouth and Aqueduct -- were at a mile. Give her a mile and she wired this group, despite hitting the freakin' rail in deep stretch. ... No, that didn't in the slightest just about make me crap my pants. ... The 9 finished fifth as the heavy favorite, and I was left wishing I'd added the 3 to my tri-box (betting all four of my choices above) as the trifecta paid $365.70.

Race 5: 2-9-12 (since none of the AE-list horses drew in).
Finish: 8 Hollywood Left ($10.60); 1 Chihulykee; 3 Triple E.
Post race analysis: Another race about which I was apparently clueless once the three nice horses on the also-eligible list failed to draw in. It didn't make much sense to anyone else, either, as the 1 went off at nearly 40-1 and the 3 at 11-1, for a trifecta of $1,399.10.

Race 6: 7-1/5-6.
Finish: 6 First Dude ($7.40); 5 The Director; 1 Don Cavallo.
Post race analysis: The 6 went off as the favorite, and my top choice, the 7, was second-favored but failed to figure. Had I boxed my top four in a tri, it would only have paid $77.10, which is probably not worth the risk of a pretty expensive tri-box wager.

Race 7: 11-4-1/5.
Finish: 11 Speak Easy Gal ($6.60); 6 Loxy Lady; 4 Eden's Storm.
Post race analysis: I didn't much like the graded-stakes dirt horse, Flying Spur (twice placed behind Rachel Alexandra) in this comeback spot, particularly after a layoff since the Kentucky Oaks on the first Friday of last May. She is fairly well turf-bred, but I was unconvinced, and she ran unconvincingly; fifth and weakening as the 2-1 favorite. I did like the 1, Rosie's Princess, at 27-1, and she was in position to figure for awhile, but went wrong at or near the finish.

Race 8, $200K Sunshine Millions Sprint: 4-6-3-7.
Finish: 6 This One's For Phil ($4.00); 4 Pashito the Che; 5 Drift King.
Post race analysis: Lost a head-bob between the two clear favorites here, with Pashito the Che running his guts out by setting the pace in blistering fractions (21.46, 43.23, 55.31) only to come up a nostril short. Without doubt the best race I've ever seen live. (Pictured above.) Both horses were brave beyond words. Drift King was a 33-1 bomb who beat my 3-horse here by less than a length to royally eff-up a trifecta.

Race 9, $300K Sunshine Millions Distaff: 4-7-3/5.
Finish: 4 Sweet Repent ($5.20); 7 Jessica Is Back; 6 Even Road.
Post race analysis: Sweet Repent won pretty easily as predicted, but didn't pay a lot, also as predicted. The 7 a fairly comfortable second. Cold exacta paid $16.60. Even Road got up by less than a length at 17-1 to again bugger-up my trifecta.

Race 10, $300K Sunshine Millions Turf: 8-4-11.
Finish: 11 Jet Propulsion ($8.00); 10 Pickapocket; 1 Picou.
Post race analysis: I didn't much like Jet Propulsion here because he's a very solid turf miler who had fallen on his face (0-for-3 lifetime, never even third place) at 9 furlongs. But he was lone speed, especially after a couple of scratches, and the late-running Soldier's Dancer (my No. 8 above) didn't remotely get the pace he needed to close from deep (24.21, 48.23, 1:11.18). The 4, Bad Action, had to be steadied on both turns.

Now, on to Hialeah in about eight hours ...

1 comment:

  1. Glenn, I love road trip stories, I am a big fan of hitting the road and seeing the ponies. Have fun at Hialeah. The Turk


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