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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, August 4, 2023 — I play horizontal wagers selectively. My bankroll and handicapping sanity require as much. Usually, they are limited to sequences in which there is a desirable, quasi-reliable single, perhaps even two.

The process behind a Mandatory Payout Pick 5 is straight-forward. If no one selects a Perfect 5, the entire pool goes to those players who picked four winners, or less.

It still figures to pay decently and you don’t have to return tomorrow chasing your money via a carryover pool. It’s not any easier to win but it’s safer for rank and file players who can’t match tickets purchased by individual whales or syndicates.

Normally, we make horizontal selections on big race days anywhere and everywhere. Obviously, this is Whitney Day at the Spa and the Mandatory Five but is not part of this sequence. There is a Pick 4, Pick 5 and Pick 6 for those looking to single, or upset, Cody’s Wish.

Track and weather conditions are unreliable at this posting. Precipitation is forecasted to end tonight and the track will be drying out. Speed favoring or demanding, that is the issue.

I will name all the horses I’ve left in the five races, from the inside positions, out:

Saratoga Race 5: Probably the hardest race in the sequence. Wouldn’t be surprised if the deep-pocketed hit the ALL button here. Two for Charging (5-1) won here at 2. Golden Arm (6-1) goes for connections that are 26% with that tactic and his prior on dirt co-fastest figure in here. Thank You Jon (9-2) is not as fast but has never taken a backward step, winning his last as the rider pleased.

Troy Stakes Race 6: Cogburn (8-1) has found a home in turf sprints for Asmussen. Caravel (3-5), super star filly, meets colts here, getting weight concessions. Grooms All Bizness (8-1) was 2-for-2 in Monmouth turf sprints, earning a top Thoro-Graph figure in last; class test here. Nobals (7-2) seeks third straight for Larry Rivelli, a top ship-in barn, brings stable rider E.T. Baird along.

Lure Stakes, Race 7: Smokin’ T (7-2) has raised her game at 4, lacks “soft” experience, but has won on different courses. Dakota Gold (5-2) also has gone forward at 4, always seems to fire, big late engine, likes Spa. Speaking Scout (9-2) gets significant class relief for Motion/Prat team. Chazzesmee (12-1) Euro may be very well spotted here for top connections. Doctor Davis (20-1) comes off lifetime best run and drops six pounds.

G1 Test Stakes, Race 8: Pretty Mischievous (9-5) won the Kentucky Oaks and Acorn in her last two starts; needs no introduction. Dorth Vader (6-1) had the tougher trip when beaten ahead in the Acorn. Munnys Gold (7-2) back to what she wants to do–sprint–the experiment is over. Maple Leaf Mel (2-1) is an unusually gifted New York-bred filly; more than worthy of this.

G1 Saratoga Derby, Race 9: Many talented turf three-year-olds seeking top status. Mondego (5-1) prematurely to the lead going 10 furlongs and was just nailed; shorter is better here. Program Trading (7-2) a 2-for-2 Chad and gets Prat. Aspen Grove (12-1) won a Grade 1 in U.S. debut; Euro bounce? Far Bridge (2-1) Toddster is fast and classy. Webslinger (4-1) gelding has shown improvement through 3YO year. Lion of War (8-1) Euro shipper has improved in recent starts. Truly Quality (12-1) impressed in recent maiden win; Thomas and Irad; who knows?

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14 Responses

  1. Kind of difficult to make race predictions after a day of the remaining cancelled races. That’s one reason why I ve been skeptical about published handicappers’ picks since several times those predictions are made days ahead of the post times! Making a pick on a Thursday for a Saturday or Sunday race? That’s like me deciding what I’m going to eat, cook a few days from now.. No way ! I have to check what’s available among the appetizing choices and desires for that day. What do I feel like having on Sunday? I’ll find that after that morning. How many horses will be scratched? How many Turf races will be cancelled or changed ? Who looks good on an off track, if that will be the condition, situation? How many races will I skip ? With so many questions, making those early predictions doesn’t make sense. Time restraints? How long does ” an analyst” take to check a program, and maybe more importantly to me, why does that person Have to make selections in every Race ? As someone used to say once in a while, ” The ball is in your court” ! Yesterday, Friday, 2/4 with two exactas and a Chilling Cold triple , albeit under $100. Corey Nakatani, finally, in the prestigious Hall of Fame. He should have ridden more in the NY area colony , but I guess that in those days ,Santa Anita Was the place to be since they had reputation,, $$, name jockeys and ‘ beautiful’ track and crowd.

    1. With the exception of pressure on the turn, the filly appeared to show that speed while staying within herself. Anyway, fast fractions is a poor premise. To, in any way, blame Rosario for what happened is ludicrous.

  2. Picking winners at Saratoga is difficult already but adding in the wet conditions this meet has made it very difficult. Hopefully today we get a fast main track and good/firm turf course.

    Cody’s Wish is clearly best at a mile but today the extra furlong may be an issue running against this small but classy field. Zandon is proven at nine furlongs. I like him as the spoiler today.

    1. Anthony, probably get a fast track early to mid-card but forget anything near firm turf. Races were cancelled because of possible standing water in the turf course. Absolute best to hope for is good. My best guess is soft to yielding…
      If there is an upset, White Abarrio is my choice. Let’s hope they all run their ‘A’ race and we’ll see…

  3. Irad Ortiz showing once again that non-wild Irad is the best jockey on the planet. God, you gotta feel so good for Rick Dutrow

    1. Irad is great, doesn’t need to be overly aggressive.

      Anyone who empathizes with any individual who was a victim of a miscarriage of justice feels good for Rick Dutrow. Count me in!

  4. After the tragic finish on that former Giants football coach, Parcells, I got upset. Not after the build up for that lady trainer! It wasn’t fair to her, to the sport to anyone who cares about such athletes running their hearts out!! I screamed out loud, got emotional, then turned the program off and took my faithful, domestic canine friend for a walk. I needed to cool off as I was wiping my face… Sometimes it hits us more than others, even at a distance of 1000 miles away , even if we never met the trainer, owner or the equine athlete. Anything but that undeserved finish.. ” My heart goes out to them” is a stock saying , most of the time, meaningless. This time it really hit me. Worse that a cold shower. It moved me to tears.. Rip, Valiant Athlete !

    1. A beautiful remembrance and tribute. Thank you JG. I know you speak for racing’s true fans.

      I will post a reaction at some point later today. Normally loquacious, I am at a loss.

      It’s 9 am Sunday morning and I’m still gathering my thoughts about yesterday’s events.

  5. John unfortunately this is the kind of incident we discussed in our exchange of a few days ago. Heart wrenching.

    1. Indeed, writing a piece now.

      I still can’t get over that horrible image that I’m afraid I never will be able to unsee…

  6. The only catastrophic, somewhat similar incident that came to mind was when Chris Antley was trying to hold console Charismatic after that dueling race with Silver bullet in that Belmont race. All of them fillies ! In that race Andrew Beyer, widely known and followed race analyst, columnist and handicapper , in his Wash. Post column, more or less blamed Antley for forcing the horse in fractions too fast for such a route of 1.5 miles. Seven furlongs he’s always been to me , a distance where I’d usually go against the early speed even at the Spa, even if some good horses had been ble to go wire to wire in it, year after year. But , percentage wise, it’s not that common. Beyer mentions fractions of famous winer’s like Seattle Skew, Affirmed, Swale and none of them ran faster than 48;2 after four furlongs as opposed to Charismatic’ s fractions of 47:2. ‘ Pace makes the race’, we keep on hearing , reading and ,yes, witnessing but does that mean that Rosario will be, partly, blamed too? Even if a sprinting horse only knows, only prefers to run in front, no matter the challenges ? That darn 7 F distance… ruined the life ,hopes ,dreams and joys of a cancer surviver about whom that euthanized young female horse was names after. Take care of yourselves, my wife always reminds us all. As a former ICU, MCU and cancer nurse for over 35 yrs she knows what she’s talking about in this subject. Unfortunately, she had an Acute Stroke several yrs ago,,, and I’ve been taking care of care. Why am I saying this? Because… You ll never know…. ( and you finish Your sentence) ! Peace ,good health to all !

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