Sunday, January 01, 2012

Time to Turn the Page

SARATOGA SPRINGS, NY, DECEMBER 31, 2011—There’s a pivotal scene in “When Harry Met Sally” when the clock strikes midnight on New Year’s Eve, when hats fly, horns sound, confetti drifts in streams from out of nowhere and the familiar, traditional lyrics of “Auld Lang Syne” start to play.

Harry Burns then says to Sally Albright, and I’m paraphrasing here, “I never understood what the words to this song means. Should we forget old acquaintances, or should we remember not to forget old acquaintances..? ”

Actually, it is supposed to be about old friends who have parted, meet again, and lift a glass in friendship and recall a past gone by. So, Harry, the basic message is we should not forget old friends, and should take the time to celebrate a reunion whenever one occurs.

But these days, New Year’s Eve and day seem to be less about friendship and more about impending January whites sales, diets, and other resolutions that are even money never to see February. But also new beginnings; at least there’s still that.

Truth be told, I probably had a worse year than the three-year-olds. As far as 2011 is concerned, good f…ing riddance!

It wasn’t all bad, mind you. There was the condo in Plantation that Toni and I lucked into, and enough left in the 201K—a 401K pre-2008—to pay for it. They don’t give 30-year mortgages to 60-somethings, you understand. That’s if you can find a bank that still lends money.

And got to do the bucket list thing, too, buying a piece of my very first race horse. Doing OK, too, as the filly is paying her way. Hasn’t won yet but five starts and five checks; not too shabby. Hopefully, she gets the job done on the January 8. We shall see.

I’m not much of a New Year’s reveler; never was. But this New Year’s was cool. Toni and I were at home and at the struck of midnight we had a birthday party. Dubai’s Connection turned 7 on Sunday. We’re so proud.

But the rest of the racetrack year kind of, in the language of today’s young people, sucked. First of all, it was first losing year in the last four. They say that the photos and DQs even out. They don’t. The first bad beat came at Calder’s Summit of Speed this summer.

The investment was $24. The pool was the Pick 5 with its tempting 15% pari-mutuel takeout. Musical Romance had just split horses deftly beneath Juan Leyva to take the lead at 7-1 and with a half furlong left her length lead appeared safe. Over $5K for a song.

Sassy Image. The 3-2 favorite was least of 10 at head-stretch. But Mike Smith swung her to the far outside, 8 to 10 wide, and she came rolling, flying like some feline Turkoman. She got up by a neck. I was stunned. Couldn’t believe Musical Romance got beat; couldn’t believe Sassy Image got up.

Off that race, Sassy image finished sixth on the Ballerina and didn’t race again in 2011. After the Rooney, Musical Romance won the listed Barb’s Dancer, the Grade 2 Presque Isle Downs Masters and the Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint. Guess she was the best filly; only not on July 9 at Calder.

Then came, well, New Year’s Eve, by now that was yesterday, it was another 50-Cent Pick 5, this was at Gulfstream, a bet that offers a consolation AND a carryover. And so we made a $48 investment, a 4x1x3x2x4.

Our single, ironically named Battle Hardened, did all the dirt work, stalking for the entire nine furlongs, taking the lead at head-stretch, battled the entire length of the stretch and held Big Screen safe, until the last jump, beaten a head. Battle Hardened was the 7-2 second choice; Big Screen the 5-2 favorite.

The Pick 5 with Big Screen and the other spread horses returned $6,871.20. It wasn’t a complete loss, though. The conso paid $51.20. The winner “wore down rival late.” The runnerup finished “gamely, just failed.”

“For auld lang syne, my dears, for auld lang syne, we'll take a cup o' kindness yet, for auld lang syne," and maybe drown a sorrow or two. It’s New Year’s Day; I’m even for 2012.

Written by John Pricci

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