Monday, February 1, 2010

A quick-hitter after Hialeah

DORAL, Fla. -- I learned something Sunday.

My Quarter Horse handicapping skills are hyper-focused on being able to pick the horse that will be bet down to nothing by post time on his way to victory.

Actually, I only picked two winners Sunday in my first-ever visit to Hialeah Park: Chi Ter to win the South Florida Quarter Horse Stakes (pictured above), and One Tough Dude in the following race, the Sunshine State Stakes. Chi Ter was 4/1 when I bet him -- the morning-line price to which he'd drifted back up after taking some early money -- but he was bet hard late, too, and closed at 4/5. One Tough Dude was 7/1 when I bet him fairly late in the process (off a 5/2 morning line), and yet he managed to be bet-down to even money by post time.

I would have had a third winner in the same, somewhat disappointing fashion had I taken the 8, Cartel of Diamonds, in Race 3. Opening at 3/1, the 5-year-old gelding soon was a short price, and I felt I had no other choice but to try and couple him with someone else in exotics. My trifecta was blown up when 6/1 Rey Moro did come home second, but 9/1 St Pats First was bumped hard and finished a half-length out of third, behind 14/1 shot Meeks Gol.

The day had started in promising fashion, or seemingly so. Maybe it was actually a bad omen.

I took a price-horse in the first, First Miss Dash at about 9/1. I loved her anyway, and bet her at 11/1 before she drifted down a bit. She gave a great effort, but only managed third, losing second by head-bob to Chicks on Cash, and finishing barely more than a neck behind the winner, the 2/1 favorite Our First Dream.

I had bet $10 on her across the board, and the show money (a sweet $10.20 for $2, more on that later) paid $51. But it was sooo close to being sooo much better.

And by the end of the day, I realized I'd been sooo close on sooo many occasions. But never right when the price was right; only when the price was short.

On the subject of show-payouts, a chat with a Hialeah Park employee offered a nugget of information: Patrons of the revived track's Quarter Horse meet tend to be win-only players. The pools are small (only $3,981 WPS in Race 1) and the vast majority of that cash is placed on win-bets. So, when a 9/1 horse comes in third as I had her, the payout is more than respectable.

I hope to write more on Hialeah in the coming week. While the facility has so far yet to go in its comeback, there was a lot of excitement on both front side and back, and I think the place that has one of American racing's most-storied pasts, will also have a viable future.


  1. Glenn,

    I have posted this on varius sites, especially Pricci's Blog, Brooklyn Backstretch and my own blog (joetote's blog). I want you to know how you have hit the nail on the head as to Hialeah and her storied past! I am among those who vervently hope the powers to be in Fla. can actually save this great lady. Sorry for the length of the following comment. BTW: I really am enjoying reading of your travels to the varius tracks. Brings back some great memories.

    "I mentioned in the past the Hialeah reopening and my belief that it could come back as a grand lady of the sport. What I wrote below as to the Hialeah thing is in many ways the biggest part of the problem horse racing faces. They are their own worse enemy, crying as always for help instead of helping themselves.

    For what it’s worth. Brunetti was as much to blame as the other tracks and what was at the time an absolutely inane mindset that the track that could “generate the most revenue” should have the middle dates. Everyone involved screwed it up.

    One thing though. Hialeah is HIALEAH! I still think a 3 to five week super meet around the traditional dates of the Flamingo and the Widener would work. Another option. Concurrent: Hialeah run Sun-Tues for four or five weeks and Gulfstream run Tues-Fri at the same time. As a 17 year old kid, we always stabled at old Tropical for the winter and shipped in to race at both Hialeah and Gulfstream! This could be done so easily!

    Next, say what you want about Brunetti, and I’ll be the first to admit he’s done a lot of screwy stuff as to his track. but one thing I have always been sure of. The man loves his track. He, in his own inane way holds the track itself near and dear.
    On Pricci’s blog, there is a good discussion about this. The Saratoga of the South should be ressurrected, and can be provided the industry does something that (flight of fancy here) is up to now unheard of. CO-OPERATE! Granted, that’s a longshot at best, but it is doable! Another poster stated how much we have lost, citing Ebbetts Field, the Polo Grounds, Jamaica and Roosevelt as examples. The industry has the chance to save one of it’s most precious traditions!

    Bottom line. I have always believed Hialeah should be and could be restored to her previous glory. Build it and they will come.

    I then followed up as follows:

    “Fla. in one small step could begin to lead the way in “cooperation” and save a grand lady in the process. RACING WOULD BE BETTER FOR THIS! And the people will come, just as they do to the Spa!

    “This in my view has always been something that could only enhance our sport. The Spa proves it can be done. Racing needs it’s heroes and grand dames and, for me, there is no track dearer to my heart than Hialeah!”

    Pricci asked me at the end of his column. "Would I bet on that?" Well, I’m a dreamer. I’d sure like to think I could!

    “There are very few times in this life that a chance is presented to correct a grievious mistake. The racing industry in Fla has a chance to not only do that, but to possibly lead the way and show exactly what co-operation could do for the racing industry.

    Here is a chance for someone, anyone to lead! Listen up Florida and the horse racing industry in general. You’re running out of chances. Show us we are wrong! The problem is as always. To many egos, political shenanigans, and corporations forgetting the basics of any business! The customer!”


    Keep up the good work. Racing needs all the friends it can get and I can see how much you love the sport!


  2. Joe, I'm very pleased you took the time to reply at length.

    As I sit here in a Miami Denny's having breakfast for lunch, I can't help but go back to Hialeah this afternoon, even in the rain. My flight doesn't leave until 7:50 (though the rental car goes back at 4:30) and I'm going to spend the last few minutes I can, lingering in a shrine to American horse racing. Who knows when I'll be back, and who knows whether some new setback will close Hialeah again, perhaps for good?

    It is so very true that we rarely have the chance to correct our biggest mistakes, in business and in life. Florida racing and breeding -- which has taken a few hits recently, including Adena Springs' abandoning the state for Canada -- can only benefit from a gloriously restored Hialeah Park.

  3. I was so happy that Hialeah was reopened and to hear that they are trying to get thoroughbred racing back. They used to be "the" place to go in the winter to watch the finest of racing. I wasn't following racing when they were open before, so I'm thrilled they're back.


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