HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, November 25, 2002 — As everyone knows, this is an event-driven sport. Never mind that it costs hundreds of dollars to attend a major sport or entertainment event on any given day, a daily dose of horse racing is bargain entertainment.
If anything, and in most places, going to the races can be done for less than a sawbuck and, in some places, it’s even free.
Perhaps the industry and its horsemen should spend less money on lobbyists trying to squash badly needed regulation a nd reform and come up with a few novel ways to promote the game to the burgeoning sports wagering crowd by lending more support to its marketing departments.
And maybe they should give some damn serious thought to instituting whatever form of fixed-odds betting can be achieved. The price you bet should be the price you get.
Lack of successful promotion is nothing new, of course, just racing’s version of SOS. No promotion is needed on national events such as the Triple Crown and Breeders’ Cup. But drums can boom louder on state-bred days or other unique programs. For instance:
If I were in Louisville tomorrow, I’d be at Churchill Downs where it will be all-two-year-olds-all-the-time, marrying the present and the future in one interesting and challenging wagering package. See the babies run, then watch the youthful teenagers in the winter and spring, becoming the college-aged, semi-pro athletes of fall.
Racing’s equine rites of passage should be something that sports fans should be made aware of, fantasy sports of a different nature.
Today’s Churchill headliners are a pair of graded two-turn events for young colts and fillies, the G2 Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes and G2 Golden Rod, respectively. These 1-1/16 mile runs aren’t the be-all, end-all of Derby and Oaks magic, but who knows, this could be the year? It’s why races are run.
Since most weekend warriors don’t live on juveniles alone, Saturday Tote Busters will have handicapping coverage of three stakes in New York, the listed Central Park for juveniles going a mile on turf and the anachronistic but always interesting G3 Fall Highweight Handicap for sprinters.
The lynchpin of the Black Saturday card is the G2 Red Smith for older turfers going 11 furlongs, a race that honors the late, legendary sportswriter who loved to cover horse racing for its myriad of backstories but not particularly a fan of grass racing. Smith probably would have loved the irony of it all.
AQUEDUCT RACE TRACK
CENTRAL PARK STAKES Race 5
The Skinny: Two year-olds going one mile around two quasi-tight turns drawing a field of 10 at various stages of development. There are reasons aplenty but the final analysis is a best-guess scenario.
It’s clear there’s a lot of talent in this group, more inclusion than throw-outs, then that’s the game, right? Unquestionably, 10-General Jim (7-2) has quite the turn of foot. He had a perfect ground-saving trip at Keeneland last out, awaited running room, and when he found it, he bounded away. Even though it was his third run, he showed greenness, swapping leads in deep stretch. $850K purchase will need some luck and clever handling from out there but seems poised to advance again in hi stakes debut.
The main dangers are 6-Sweetlou’sgotaces (8-1) and 9-Let’s Go Big Blue (4-1), a $200K purchase by Bill Parcells, hence the name. ‘SweetLou’ earns the fastest figures consistently but trouble always seems to find her. Last time she found her own, steadying briefly, angling into the 4-path at headstretch but lugged in once in high gear, likely costing her the win. ‘Big Blue” has stakes experience, was sawed off soon after entering the stretch last time, finished boldly between horses late and was elevated to 3rd via DQ.
MOST PROBABLE WINNER: General Jim
WIN VALUE PLAY: Sweetlou’sgotaces
EXOTICA and STRAIGHT WAGERS: Exacta box 6-9-10. Straight wager either General Jim or Sweetlou’sgotaces, price dependent
G3 FALL HIGHWEIGHT Race 8
The Skinny: If you laid the replays of the most recent wins by 7-Runninsonofagun (2-1) and 5-Synthesis (5-1), it likely would elicit a WTF response. You wouldn’t be able to tell the difference as both horses looked beaten with only strides to go but each came again on the inside to snatch the victory in the final few strides, out-gaming rivals that were rallying boldly from the center of the track. #HEART
Synthesis gets four pounds form his more accomplished rival, a winner of the G3 Bold Ruler on OCT. 29, which already has proven key with two next out winners from four starters. The dynamics indicate that it will be synthesis who gets the jump, which could be the good news and the bad news. High imposts will, as old schoolers say, stop a freight train, which makes this a rider’s race. In this instance it’s Jose Ortiz which makes up a large chunk of the 128-pound assignment; Kendrick Carmouche re-rides the favorite.
Gelded 8-year-old 3-Happy Farm (5-1) merits the respect a horse that has won 12 of 35 career starts deserves, with another dozen runs completing exactas. This unique sprint is fun every year; let’s see how this one shakes out.
MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Runninsonofagun
WIN-VALUE PLAY: Synthesis
EXOTICS and STRAIGHT WAGERS: Exacta Box: 3-5-7. Taking the value offered on Synthesis to win at 4-1 or greater.
G2 RED SMITH STAKES Race 9
The Skinny: NYRA saved the most inscrutable stakes for last. Then aren’t all turf marathoners, dominating class notwithstanding, all difficult because they are subject to the whimsy of the trip: the pace, the ground loss, the close-quartered, covered-up racing. While as many as four of these are on the upswing, two appear to have the edge of accomplishment at the highest levels; favorite 9-Soldier Rising (5-2) and ever-underestimated 8-Temple (8-1), who tries hard virtually every time. No reasonable horseperson could ask for more.
We’re expecting forward moves from both of Chad’s pair, 1-Highest Honors (5-1) and 3-Balthus (9-2), in that order. But then there is 4-Astronaut (8-1) highly likely to benefit from his last here, and wildcard 6-Mooney Love (12-1), who won his U.S. debut for Bill Mott in Saratoga now makes his state-side stakes debut. And note that Joel Rosario is not letting this one slip away.
MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Soldier Rising
WIN-VALUE PLAY: Temple
EXOTICA and STRAIGHT WAGERS: Exacta Key-Box: 9 // 184.108.40.206.8. *Super-Key: 9 over 220.127.116.11.8. Exacta Key-Box 8 // 18.104.22.168.9. Potential Value Plays: Temple to win at 5-1 or greater. Small win-savers on Mooney Love at 10-1 or more, or Astronaut at 8-1 or greater.
G2 GOLDEN ROD Race 10
The Skinny: An age old question, and the answer to which only can be “it depends on the individual.” Was it the slop that did it or the stretch-out to two turns that made 4-Hoosier Philly (1-1) into such a monstress. She took the Rags To Riches with ease by 7-1/2 lengths while cavorting through the slop on her left lead, as green as they come, yet so very dominant. She broke maiden at 5-1/2 furlongs on a dry track in her only other run, so there’s that.
Now, what to do with Godolphin’s 1-Pretty Mischievous (5-2), 2o-for-2 lifetime at 6-1/2 and 7 furlongs. She’s by Into Mischief from a Tapit mare; think distance will hurt? Me neither. But there are three double-digit shots in here that could easily upset the applecart: 3-American Rockette (10-1), who finishes strongly late for Bill Mott, 6-Knockyoursocksoff (12-1), who won’t be the first horse to go successfully turf to dirt for Chris Block with a rejuvenated Julien Leparoux in the boot, and 9-Take Charge Brianna (15-1) who lags very badly early then finishes like a wild filly late.
MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Hoosier Philly
EARLY LINE VALUE: Take Charge Brianna
EXOTICA and STRAIGHT WAGERS: Superfecta Key 4 // 22.214.171.124. Exacta Wheel 126.96.36.199 with 188.8.131.52.9. Win-Value Wagers: Take Charge Brianna at 8-1 or higher and Knockyoursocksoff at 10-1 or more.
G2 JOCKEY CLUB STAKES Race 11
The Skinny: Here’s the good news and the bad news. It looks as if it should come down to the three early line favorites, the most accomplished members of the group. 1-Curly Jack (3-1) is 2-for-2 in Louisville and chased the BC Juvenile pace while racing wide throughout; 5-Red Route One (7-2) was a good third in the G1 Breeders’ Futurity then got pinballed in the sloppy-track G3 Street Sense; 8-Instant Coffee (5-2) showed class and courage breaking maiden on 7F debut then was out-bobbed for third in the aforementioned Futurity. And, of some note, ‘Red Route’s’ mate, 4-Gigante (12-1), won his lone dirt start going a mile at Colonial, drawing off in deep stretch following a late lead change. 6-Freedpom Trail (6-1) is working very well.
MOST PROBABLE WINNER: Instant Coffee
POTENTIAL WIN VALUE: Red Route One
EXOTICA and STRAIGHT WAGERS: Exacta Box: 1.5.8. Trifecta Key: 8 // 184.108.40.206. Betting Instant Coffee to win at 5-2 or greater. Small saver win wager on Gigante at 10-1 or more.
* correcting typo 112622 10;25am
Per usual, suggested exotics are at minimums available but straight wagers are in $2 units or greater
this is a live column that will be updated throughout the weekend