Monthly Archives: July 2007

Saratoga Summer Camp, or I Love a Long Shot

Long shot Fresh Episode

47-1 Fresh Episode pulling an upset at Saratoga (Sarah K. Andrew).

When we first arrived in the hotel room I exclaimed “Ah, the handicapping palace!”. By the second day we were joking that it felt like cramming for exam week. On the third day we were calling it the handicapping torture chamber.

Neither of us had handicapped full cards more than one day in a row so we were a bit surprised by how draining it was. Surprised isn’t exactly right, we were so excited that we just didn’t factor it in. By Saturday night I couldn’t look at a menu and make a decision… I had been making decisions for 2 days straight, just put some food in front of me!

We quickly started to take a pass on some 20K claimers and a few allowance races… those 2 year old races were so much quicker to get through! “Races for horse at least 7 years old who haven’t won a race other than a maiden and run every other week” Swifty joked.

There were points when we got so over tired and giddy that Swifty asked, “when did we smoke a dube?”. Of particular interest was how the trouble lines, when read with the right inflection, could be narration for high school dates. Did I mention we’re in our (early) 40s?

Back to the races. We both really liked Sharp Susan in the Lake George. I had her boxed with Good Mood & Red Birkin in addition to Dashes & Dots & Miss Tizzynow across the board. I also liked Lady Attack (not to mention how much I like her name, insert giddy laughter) and Rutherienne. This is the second time I didn’t incorporate her only to have her run a really strong race. Perhaps next time.

At this point the Saturday Breeder’s Cup challenge races seem like a blur of races where I didn’t cash any tickets. As expected, I liked Papi Chullo in the Whitney. I’m still trying to figure out what happened. The track report of “Papi Chullo saved ground to no avail” seemed particularly spare to me, mind you I think those guys do a great job and I’m extremely grateful for their write-ups. I also had him tri boxed with Flashy Bull & Diamond Stripes in addition to having Wanderin’ Boy across the board (one of the precious few tickets I cashed). I’ve always liked Wanderin’ Boy and was glad to see him step up. Lawyer Ron really kicked it in the end and it was thrilling to see him (now offically) “DEE-MOLISH the track record” (a la Tom Durkin).

Joan made a great point about Lawyer Ron being yet another compelling argument for racing past 3 years old. Compare his 3 year old and 4 year old campaign. He’s maturing very nicely and it seems like the best might be yet to come. More than likely I’ll make an entire post about this but couldn’t wait to point it out.

Did I mention the huge payouts? They made playing trifectas hard to resist. As I mentioned before some folks behind us hit a $2000+ tri playing their hotel room number. I love to play exactas and occasionally play tris but I stepped it up with the tris. Every time I played a tri instead of boxing all of my picks some other horse got in the mix. Ah Saratoga… how you kicked my horses ass.

I also did a lot of WPS bets on long shots, however did not have the pictured long shot of Fresh Episode. I liked the other Freud offspring, Pressing Issue a little better and was gonna do a Freudian box with them because I loved their names, however Pressing Issue scratched. Another good name was Second Marriage by Not for Love out of Impulse Shopper… well done!

As for biases… stalkers crushed on Saturday winning 9 out of 11 races!! The combo of Clemente & Gomez won 2 on Friday, while Gomez had 4 wins total. Saturday saw 2 wins for the combo of Klesaris and Pino, while Mott had two wins as did both Cornelio & John Velasquez & Eddie Castro. Sunday was even for trainers and jocks but still favoring stalkers.

Regardless of our performance at windows (Swifty was doing well for a while, up a couple of hundred bucks), we both gave ourselves points for money management. Neither of us had to do the walk of shame to the ATM and we both literally spent our last buck on the Jim Dandy. In full disclosure I was fully prepared to go the ATM because I wanted to do a $20 exacta of Street Sense over Tiz Wonderful but only had $11. The fates were with me that the ATMs weren’t working (however that seemed a little… I don’t know, unprofessional?) so I did an $10 exacta and tipped the lady in the restroom my final dollar.

Thank you Saratoga, for a long fun weekend that kicked my ass… in a good way! I’ll be back.

Preliminary Wrap-up

Street Sense after winning the Jim Dandy

Street Sense being escorted back to the barn after winning the Jim Dandy

Saratoga is beautiful. It feels like a town that exists solely for horse racing. The gorgeous Victorian houses and stunningly tall pines are wildly idyllic, and just what this city dweller needed.

It was a totally analog weekend… no posting, no email, no phone, ALL handicapping. I finally got a chance to meet Joan (can’t wait to meet up for lunch at the Playwright!), but did not meet up with Trodder (definitely next time!). All & all we had a great time!

I’m still way too tired to do a full write up. In the interim here’s the short, list style wrap-up to be followed with a more well crafted, witty twirl full of insightful lessons and funny moments (while under the influence of caffeine and in command of my wits).


  1. Went to Siro’s Cup
  2. Went to the Racing Museum
  3. Wandered around a lot trying to figure out how to get to grandstand only to find out that it’s not like Belmont and you have to pay extra for grandstand seating, paying $2 at every turn to get into each area only to find out there wasn’t “free” seating
  4. Finally procured grandstand seating
  5. Cashed 1 ticket in ticket in the 4th, WPS on longshot Golden Horseshoe, who placed


  1. Went to Siro’s Cup
  2. Went back to the Racing Museum because the Hall of Fame was closed for an event when we were there on Friday
  3. Swifty cashed a lot of tickets!
  4. I cashed 2 tickets, a WPS on long shot Holla Bend who placed in the 5th (my pick of the day!) and a WPS on Wanderin’ Boy in the Whitney
  5. Some people sitting behind us cashed a $2000+ trifecta ticket that they picked based on their hotel room number
  6. Tried not to get demoralized by the hotel room number strategy doing better than my late night handicapping


  1. Morning handicapping
  2. Did the room number strategy for a few races with no luck
  3. Room number was the exacta in the 8th race, didn’t have it
  4. Cashed no tickets, unless you count the refund I got for a late scratch (I don’t)
  5. Took a detour on the way back to the city and had a lovely dinner in Rhinebeck

    More to come…

Bored Emblem

War Emblem in Retirement

War Emblem in his stall at Shadai (Deena in Tokyo).

Could this be proof that being on stud duty is actually boring for some of these horses? I hope he comes back to the US in good order and finds a home that’s a bit more engaging for him.


A Good Time was had by All

Swifty’s birthday outing to Belmont was a smashing success, with the exception of Defrizz (the 7th horse in the 7th race), who de-stunk.

Of our group there were a few first timers, a few who have joined us before, a few who went to the track as kids and are now reconnecting with the sport, a precocious 11 year old who had some fantastic picks and a Latvian mom who spoke little English but seemed to have a great time!

A few notable moments where that quite a few folks in the group (including Ted, the child) picked longshot Dance Away Capote (Capote) in the 5th. An interesting note about Capote, his progeny Ticket to Seattle ran well in the Prioress to place 4th at 40-1.

One of our party members, Rebecca, used to go to the track with her dad as a kid. She had recently started going again by chance. Her “job” as a kid was to go to the paddock and make sure the horse(s) her dad liked “looked sound” (as she described it). That practice payed off because she was one of the attendees who picked Dance Away Capote based on a visit to the paddock.

Another great moment was Junkanoo Party’s win. Steve had been to Belmont in May and won with Junkanoo Party (because he liked the name) and bet him again. He came in at 15-1, and is now Steve’s favorite horse (and potential middle name for his first child… well, just Junkanoo).

I did alright… I had a few good picks and several almost exotics. Basically I was trifecta boxing when I should have been exacta boxing and visa versa. I did have Owner’s Manual in the 3rd at 8-1. I liked that his new trainer is Frankel and that Garcia was the rider… coming back from a break didn’t bother me and he looked in the parade. Garcia has been doing quite well this meet as have Coa & Desormeaux.

I also had the exacta in the Prioress. I really liked Graeme Six… if Tom Amoss (31%!) is shipping a horse to this race, there must be a damn good reason. I figured it would be hard to beat Dream Rush but not impossible so I boxed them. I also boxed Dream Rush with Silver Knockers (should have tri-boxed those 3!) and Her Majesty. I thought Her Majesty was the other live longshot here, but apparently she didn’t get enough cobra venom because she came in last. In fairness she stumbled out of the gate. Perhaps Biancone should try eye of newt next time.

On the train ride out, Swifty gave his ‘Intro to reading The Form’ class. The students were all willing and his Socratic method worked well (and is pretty funny to watch). A highlight was when he was explaining running style and race distance and a light went off for Ilona in terms of being able to tell if a horse might do well at a distance it has not run before. It was great to see people excited about learning something that I love so much.

Next stop, July 21st for the Coaching Club American Oaks (and return of Rags to Riches!)… which will be my and Swifty’s one year anniversary of going to the track!!

Program Note: I really like how Valerie at Foolish Pleasure bolds the horses names in her posts, so I’m going to start doing it too… ease of use y’all.

All Lava Man, All The Time

Lava Man

Lava Man at Santa Anita (Charles Pravata).

There are several good articles on Lava Man at the moment. They all seem (I haven’t completely read all of them yet) to boil down to the same sentiment… so what if he doesn’t travel well and is probably a little off of his best game, we should “simply savor the rich meal he has served” in the words of Jay Hovdey. Clearly what we’ve lost in Invasor, we’ve gained in the ability to appreciate the horses that are running.

Long Live California’s King – Jay Hovdey [DRF+]

Lava Man, A Treasure to be Shared – Steve Haskin [Bloodhorse]

Another Nail Bitter – Randy Moss [NTRA]

And a special nod to Superfecta for her headline:

Geldings Gone Wild – Superfecta Blog