Monthly Archives: October 2007

Slowly, They Come Back…

Two more 3yo’s from the Derby Trail have shown up on the work tab this week, Drums of Thunder and Adore the Gold.

I believe Drums of Thunder’s last race was the Holy Bull in February where he placed to No Biz and beat Scat Daddy… he posted a 3F 38.20B at Calder.

Adore the Gold won the Dover Stakes and Delaware and the H. Steward Mitchell Stake at Laurel at 2 and the the Swale at 3. He posted a 4F 49.00B at Delaware.

Nellie over at the Last Filly is keeping tabs on the injured and returning Juveniles from last year and Jessica at Railbird noted that the talented 3yo filly Magnificence is back in training as well.

So I guess this is how we ease the pain of “retirement season”.

Retirement Watch: The Tin Man

The Tin Man schooling the kiddies in the G1 Shoemaker at Hollywood Park (Charles Pravata)

In addition to the spate of known and suspected retirements, 9 yo The Tin Man, son of Affirmed, was retired today because of a post-surgical injury.

Here he is scoring his last career win off of an 8 month layoff (!!) in the G1 Shoemaker Stakes at Hollywood Park on May 7th. He’s only the 3rd 9yo to win a G1 including John Henry (4 G1s in 1984) & John’s Call (2 G1s in 2000).

Get well old man!

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File Under “You Should Have Thought of That Earlier”

Hard Spun and Larry Jones at Monmouth (Sarah K. Andrew)

“Porter tried unsuccessfully to get an extension in the contract so Hard Spun could race again in 2008 as a 4-year-old.”

Delaware Online has an article about Hard Spun shipping off to his new life as a stud. Points for effort on Porter’s behalf (kind of), but seriously, did he not think about that BEFORE he signed the contract?

Holy Crap! Wait, How Much are You Down?

This was the txt that Mrs. Swifty sent to Swifty after he txted her that he had just won $881 on the classic… and perhaps my favorite thing of the whole two days. No fool that Mrs. Swifty… and she can pick a pony on sight too. She picked Dance Away Capote in the Duda and Kelly’s Landing in Dubai by looking at them. I was bummed that she couldn’t come with us, not only because of her pony picking prowess.

Overall, I always do better either playing from home or at “The Office” (an OTB restaurant in Midtown), but there’s nothing like going to the track. I’ll never forget the thrill of sitting at the top of the stretch of this year’s Belmont to see R2R roar around that corner and take on Curlin & Hard Spun. And while I’m really glad I was there this year, I will be playing from home or “The Office” for next year’s BC.

Swifty and I are good travel pals… we gabbed like giddy teen girls on the party chat line all the way to Monmouth county in our Zip Car. We were hosted by his brother Eric, sister-in-law Mary and their 3 lovely girls Dana, Faye & Gail. They were a pleasure to stay with and we’ll definitely be back to check out Monmouth on an “off” summer weekend.

The middle girl, Faye, strikes me as having the pony picking gene… she’s a horse crazy 7(ish) year old with a room full horse figurines, pictures, blankets and drawings. She also only ever dresses up as an animal for Halloween… why be a princess when you can be an animal?

After a quick local lunch we headed to the track in increasing rain. We had both brought rain pants + assorted rain gear. I would like to note that ponchos are somewhat disorienting, particularly when going to the restroom.

Our seats were out in the open so we didn’t stick around too long. We cased the joint and found a warm, dry not too crowded teletheatre upstairs… we even got seats. The man next to me had a garbage pile waded up in the corner near his seat that consisted of a hot dog wrapper, used napkins and several used “lucky” mustard packages. It’s worth noting that there was a garbage receptacle less than 4 feet away.

While it was nice to be seated, warm and dry, if I’m inside watching races on a TV I’d rather be at home or at “The Office”. This is also how I feel about the Big A, it’s cold + the track is far away & hard to see so I end up inside… this is not why I like to go the track. I can see people spit on the floor and throw garbage everywhere in the subway, but I digress.

At the end of the incredibly sloppy Friday races, I was down and Swifty was even. I allowed myself 20% of my bankroll for Friday and managed to not lose it all, but close! We went to Rooney’s and had a nice seafood dinner, it turns out my Monmouth county colleague was also there on Friday night (I didn’t see him) and he said the prices were jacked up… nice!

While we were sitting there, a table of two nicely dressed couples sat next to us. We were reviewing our A picks for Saturday so we could start to put together our Pick 4s and 6 when we got back to Eric’s. When our delicious food arrived, they all turned around to look at it and asked what we had ordered. Next thing you know we’re chatting about the BC.

They were in from Kentucky, one couple from Lexington, one couple from the Keeneland area. Years of close proximity to bass heavy speakers have shot my hearing in public places so I didn’t catch their names (or half of the conversation). Swifty asked if they were “in the business” and they coyly replied that they own “a few nags”. We actually had a pretty nice chat about the state of the industry, how the media consistently fails to build up rivalries or tell the great stories but chooses to focus on the tragedies.

Back at ye old homestead it was time to get to work. Sadly we had to pass on a TBA get together hosted by Patrick of Handride… I hear a good time was had by all! Swifty still had the last 4 races to handicap and as he finished we talked through our notes. When we take racing trips together, it’s like we’re roommates in college cramming for exam week complete with intermittent bouts of goofing off and giddiness usually accompanied by the question “when did we smoke that dube?”. This time was no different.

Once he finished the Classic, we talked for a good hour comparing AGS and Street Sense… we had already concluded that we both agreed that Curlin was our pick to win, the distance was probably too much for Hard Spun to hold and that if anyone was going to engage HS in a battle before the stretch, it was Lawyer Ron, increasing his chances to not finish well. I’ll do a separate post about this conversation, but it felt like we were preparing to argue a case, going over each positive and negative point, trying to find the differentiator(s) and figure out how to weigh them.

On Saturday between the 1st and 2nd race we were supposed to have our Official TBA Meet Up… as the fates would have it (I blame mercury in retrograde) several folks didn’t make it in time or were in the wrong place. I did have the good fortune to met the stylish Superfecta and her husband. We chatted for awhile, watched the second race and parted ways.

Since it was still raining and our pricey seats were squarely in the elements, we set up shop in the simulcast area near the men’s room on the first floor. This worked well until it started to get a little stinky! We had placed our 16 ticket Pick 4 online prior to leaving and our Pick 6 was only ticket, so I went to place the bet while Swifty decided what he was gonna do for the Juvenile.

I started to tell the agent my 4 horses per race. She totaled it, paused, looked at me and said “That will be $8,192”. We stared at each other for about 4 seconds, “Cancel that!”. In my tired state the night before I thought if we double our money it meant we could double the amount of horses in each race. We quickly refigured our selections narrowing it down to our two A picks for the first five races and all 4 picks in the Classic. I went back to the same woman, with my $256 bet, which had felt outrageous to me until I was asked for $8,192.

The next stop, track food. I took a quick lap and reported back… hot dogs $4, “gourmet” sandwiches $10″. We went our separate ways to grab food and meet in another less stinky location. The crowd was really starting to pick up. On my way to procure a $10 turkey sandwich on white bread, I ran into John Hennegan of the First Saturday in May and his lovely wife (I’m 0 for 2 in remembering spouse names). I had been playing phone tag with Brad so I was happy to at least get to meet one of them for a few minutes! Additionally, I don’t think you can call a sandwich gourmet if it’s on white bread.

After trying out a few different spots we managed to get a decent one in a simulcast area that was right by the door to the paddock. We spent most of the afternoon here, it was about as good as it was gonna get… close to the windows, paddock and an actual little table to spread our PPs out on (now if I had payed more attention to my notes, it might have been a different day).

Another of my favorite moments came in the Distaff when a well dressed woman with a fist full of tickets parked herself in front of the crowd around the TVs. As the race went on she started to gesture more and more at the TV. She was in the full head banging gesture (minus the hair tossing) of one foot forward shaking one arm at the TV during the stretch battle. When it was over, she quickly composed herself and walked away like nothing had happened… well done!

The weather broke before the Turf so we decided to watch the Classic from our seats (or better if we could get them). We ended up in a decent spot in about the middle of the stretch in some bleachers. The parade was right in front of us… and they looked great. All that mishugas was worth it for this, seeing them all together, this close, many of them racing for the last time. It was incredible to hear them run by and see how fast they really run. Their speed and power were so palpable… and thrilling.

It was nice to go out on Swifty’s big win… if it’s not gonna be me, I’m glad it’s him (although ideally it would be both of us). It was also helpful to have the excitement of his win to keep our attention off of the tragedy on the track.

I hope to hell they run Curlin next year… someone made the point that while he’s obviously quite valuable as a stud, the owners are unlikely to get another like him again. Please, please horse racing gods, let us see what’s he got next year!

Great Hunter on the Work Tab

Just noticed that Great Hunter had a work at Hollywood Park yesterday, a 3F 38.40 H 13/21 on a fast track… it’s great to see him back!

Also, there will be more BC posts as the week goes on, I’m not done yet.

Visit #1,000

I had a my 1,000th visitor today! Being a member of the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance has it’s privileges… my traffic has really jumped since joining. I’m solidly in the mid two digits, trending towards the high two digits (that was meant to be somewhat funny, btw).

Click on over the TBA homepage & check out the updated standings with the winners of each category posted. I was very happy to see that Hard Spun ranked above Street Sense in the end.

Thank you visitor from North Carolina Research and Education Network, in Chapel Hill, using Windows XP and Firefox 1.5, screen resolution 1024 x 768, visiting from 4:18:06 pm to 4:18:58 pm EST., you are my 1,000th visitor! I don’t have a prize to offer, unless of course you’d like some commemorative Breeders’ Cup loosing tickets… I have plenty of those!

BC Coverage in Local Mainstream Media

I was pleasantly surprised to see one of my fav non-horse racing sites covering the Breeders’ Cup! Gothamist is a local NYC site in a syndicate of “ists” for various locations (LA, Chicago, SF, London, etc) geared towards current events and happenings.

I usually send an email to their tips mailbox when something interesting is going on. I had alerted them to Rags to Riches return to Belmont with no luck. I sent them a tip about OTB having tents in Times Square for the BC because I thought that was the only local angle! I guess they didn’t get read it because it isn’t mentioned, but I’m just glad that had not one, but two posts!

Thank you Dave Hogarty! You are a welcome addition to Gothamist!

Breeders’ Cup Looks to be Sloppy

Triumph and Tragedy in the Breeders’ Cup Classic

Can I Blame it on the Rain?

So far, everyone I’ve read has mentioned how hard it was to handicap and pick winners… between having all the top horses from each category actually racing against each other, the weather and the track changing how it was playing between the two days, calling it tough might be an understatement.

The weather will most certainly be used to explain why chalk didn’t fare well or long shots hit the board, it’s even being blamed for the lower handle! I wish I could blame the weather for being in the red, but I have only my choices to blame.

Over the past month or so I’ve changed my strategy to include and focus on multi-race wagers. This has actually helped my single race analysis too. I also tried to understand what the probable pace scenario would be, something I never put much effort into until now.

For the most part I’m pleased with my actual handicapping and analysis. I have a few more areas that I want to work on, but overall I feel that I’m a fairly solid and improving handicapper. That being said, I really need to work on turning that into more frequent winning wagers. Something I’m happy to practice!

As for money management, I did really well. I stayed within my bankroll and with planning was able to stretch it out for the entire time. I usually like to use it all, which so far has meant losing it all, but if I’m willing to use it I’m willing to lose it. I spent all but $7 of my bankroll… and since Swifty had a really nice score in the Classic with the Curlin/Hard Spun exacta, dinner was on him!

Here’s what I did over the two days… each race, my picks, how I bet it and my notes on the winners that I didn’t pick.


F & M Sprint

I had already mentioned that my pick, like many others, was Miss Macy Sue. I also liked Maryfield. The pace scenario was clear and it unfolded as expected, for the most part. I thought La Traviata would hold up a little better but she did put early pressure on Dream Rush, who set wicked fractions and tired in the stretch.

My bets going into it were:

Miss Macy Sue exacta boxed with La Traviata & Dream Rush

Maryfield exacta boxed with La Traviata & Dream Rush

Miss Macy Sue to Win

Maryfield to Win

At the last minute I thought Dream Rush’s odds were a gift and I swapped my win bet on Maryfield to a win bet on Dream Rush.

My notes on Maryfield: Needs a fast pace and will get it, all wins were from outside post position, 3/4 on wet surface. This is one of the few races I handicapped with the Advanced PPs and my note from that was “if she throws another fast bullet as her prep work out, consider her”. Her work out prior to her last win was a 47.1 Hg 1/36, her work prior to this race was 46 Hg 1/34. A full second faster and an impressive time. Needless to say, I felt like an idiot with that last minute decision.

Juvenile Sprint

I didn’t handicap this race or any of the Juvenile races so I had a dime superfecta box of Cannonball, The Leopard, Cherokee Triangle and Prussian and a small win bet on Cannonball. No notes here, just good old fashioned guessing!

Dirt Mile

I also had previously mentioned that I liked Wanderin’ Boy, Gotcha Gold and thought Discreet Cat would improve. I had Corinthian and Xchanger on my possibility list but wasn’t interested in going deep in this race so I kept it simple.

My Bets:

Wanderin’ Boy/Gotcha Gold exacta box

Wanderin’ Boy/Gotcha GoldDiscreet Cat trifecta box

My notes on Corinthian: Can come from on or off the pace, on is better; last cut back produced a win, was training on the Belmont Training track, which for the mile is almost identical to the mile at Monmouth. I also wrote “due for a win?”. Yes.


Swifty and I joined forces (and money) to do the Ultra Pick 6 and the late Pick 4. Here’s how we played them, notes on each of the selections with the specific race.

Pick 6:

6th: Honey Rider, Argentina

7th: Midnight Lute, Greg’s Gold

8th: Jeremy, Excellent Art

9th: Unbridled Belle, Lear’s Princess

10th: English Channel, Dylan Thomas

11th: Lawyer Ron, Street Sense, AGS, Curlin

For the Pick 4 we did a series of 16 tickets using the following A/B selections.


A: Jeremy, Excellent Art

B: Trippi’s Storm, Purim


A: Unbridled Belle, Lear’s Princess

B: Indian Vale, Ginger Punch


A: English Channel, Dylan Thomas

B: Shamdinan, Better Talk Now


A: Curlin, AGS

B: Lawyer Ron, Street Sense

On our A/A/A/A ticket, which was double the amount of the rest of the tickets, we also included the B picks for the Classic.


My friend Joan called me on Thursday because she wanted to discuss the juvenile fillies… I told her I was gonna take a pass because it was gonna be hard enough to get through the other races and I didn’t want to squander my bankroll. We still talked about them and she asked me what I thought about Zee Zee. I looked her over and liked what I saw but didn’t understand why she would be running on dirt… I asked Joan, who is very into pedigrees, if the pedigree indicated anything. She couldn’t come up with anything but did have an ah ha moment about Cigar. Bill Mott, Zee Zee’s trainer, also trained Cigar, and Cigar was quickly moved to turf after not fairing well on the dirt. As turfer, Cigar was ok, but he didn’t blossom until Bill Mott moved him back to the dirt… the rest is history. Given this, I was willing to take shot on Zee Zee, particulary given that she went off at 19-1. I put a little win bet on her and had her boxed with Smarty Deb.

I took a pass on the Juvenile males but thought that War Pass and Pyro both looked great in the Champagne. I was really impressed with both of their runs and am looking forward to seeing them in the Derby Preps!

F&M Turf

My long shot pick of the day was Argentina… both of her efforts this year have been good and she had come back from a year off and placed in the Diana! It was a cut back to a distance that she was 3 1-2-0… she had also lost by a head on yielding turf in last year’s Diana. Honey Rider and Passage of Time of my two A picks… I liked Passage of Time slightly better than Honey Rider given her last win was the distance (same for Honey Rider) and that the win prior to that was against colts. She had also won of soft turf. I liked Lahudood as well, but didn’t think she would win.

I wasn’t convinced about Nashoba’s Key… the turf in California is definitely not soft, she’s never shipped and I felt like this field was a tougher bunch for her. She was definitely in my “prove it” category for this race.

My Wagers:

Argentina exacta boxed with Honey Rider & Passage of Time

Lahudood exacta boxed with Honey Rider & Passage of Time

This was the highlight of my wagering day! And I feel like Lahudood really proved herself.


I kept it simple in this race with a small win wager on Benny the Bull, I thought he ran strong last time out to Midnight Lute and thought he had the makings of a big race. This was a 3rd off race for him and he’s won on that form cycle before. I was buying into Midnight Lute but thought he might regress off of such a big speed figure and wanted to take a shot with Benny. I also liked Idiot Proof and Greg’s Gold, particularly Greg’s Gold off his last race where he was bottled up and couldn’t get up in time.

My Wagers:

Benny the Bull to win

The Mile

Jeremy and Excellent Art were my two A picks, Excellent Art stood out over Jeremy but I gave the nod the Jeremy because of the post position. In any other weather I would have also like After Market, who was smartly scratched. Trippi’s Storm was also interesting to me given his last race was a cut back to this distance, one he clearly liked, but After Market had spotted him 6lbs. We included Purim in the Pick 4 after After Market scratched, I wasn’t sold that he could reproduce his last race but Swifty liked him and no one else jumped out at me. I also thought Cosmonaut and Kip Deville were interesting but I landed on the other 4.

I’m a huge No Biz fan but felt this really wasn’t his distance… I was routing for him but not wagering on him. All and all I thought he did really well and can’t wait see how he develops. I’m hoping by this time next year he’s a force to be reckoned with on the turf, I think he can do it.

My Wagers:

Trifecta box of Jeremy, Trippi’s Storm, Excellent Art

Exacta box of Jeremy, Trippi’s Story, Excellent Art

Icy Atlantic across the board

Dime Superfecta box of Jeremy, Trippi’s Storm, Excellent Art, Icy Atlantic

Dime Superfecta box of Jeremy, Trippi’s Storm, Excellent Art, Host

My notes on Kip Deville: horse for the distance, improving, good last effort.


I thought this was one of the toughest races, other than the classic. I could make arguments for almost all of them. In the end I choose Unbridled Belle and Lear’s Princess as my A picks. I felt Unbridled Belle’s running style would do well, even though at this point early speed was holding up AND there was a LOT of speed in this race. Lear’s Princess work pattern was similar, but a touch below her pattern prior to the Alabama but expected her to keep her form.

For some reason, I threw out the Oaks as an indication of Unbridled Belle’s muddy track performance. I was thinking that the bigger field could have played a part in it too, and that she didn’t really blossom until recently so I went with her improving form. It was interesting to note that both she and Indian Vale had almost identical work patterns to their previous races (not to each other)… clearly a Pletcher training style.

My Wagers:

Exacta Box of Unbridled Bell and Lear’s Princess

Indian Vale exacta boxed to Unbridled Belle and Lear’s Princess

Prop Me Up exacta wheeled to the field

Dime Superfecta of Prop Me Up, Lear’s Princess, Indian Vale, Unbridled Belle

My notes on Ginger Punch: has won on a muddy track but placed 7 lengths behind on sloppy, might get in a speed duel up front, works not as strong as prior to last time out + had a fast bullet prior to last win.


Here’s one where I really messed up. English Channel was my pick to win but I had both he and Dylan Thomas as my A picks. I liked English Channel better because his last race was monster impressive + the euros weren’t fairing so well. I really also liked Shamdinan because he likes the soft turf… his last win was on soft turf at Arlington. Grand Couturier seemed like the better choice of the two because of his win at the distance but that turf was a hard as a rock and he didn’t fare well on yielding turf.

My Wagers:

WPS on Shamdinan

Trifecta Box of Better Talk Now, English Channel, Dylan Thomas

Exacta of Dylan Thomas over Better Talk Now, English Channel, Shamdinan

Why did I put Dylan Thomas over English Channel? Who knows, I was getting tired and I really didn’t think through it… also, Dylan Thomas looked good. I really rushed through my decision because I think I just wanted to get through it. We were also trying to decide when to get our bets in for the Classic and go out to our seats. After a fairly nomadic day of trying to find a place to settle in, the weather had finally broken so we wanted to at the very least watch the Classic at the track. I rushed my decisions on this race so we could move, Swifty could get a good position in the tunnel to shoot some footage and then we could get out to the track to see the race. By being hasty, I cost myself a potential decent score based on my selections… it wasn’t like I didn’t already pick English Channel, I just missed the right combination. If I would have had used English Channel in the same straight exacta I had with Shamdinan that I had with Dylan Thomas, I would have had a 4 digit winning ticket.


I’m gonna do a separate post on the Classic (not tonight!). Curlin was my pick to win and Swifty and I spent at least an hour discussing how to decide between AGS & Street Sense as our other A pick, let alone Lawyer Ron and Hard Spun. I’ll post my thought process and ultimate differentiators I used to my decisions in that post… and would love to hear how y’all decided whatever you decided in such a close, competitive field. The way I imagined in the pace scenario it would come down to Curlin and AGS and that’s how I bet it.

My Wagers:

Exacta Box Curlin, AGS

Trifecta Box Curlin, AGS, Lawyer Ron

I have to get over my irrational fear of large win bets, if I would have put the same amount that I wagered as an exacta as a win bet on Curlin, I would have had another 4 digit winning ticket.

Regardless of the sad tragedy (of George Washington, not my wagering missteps), it was an amazing race and I’m thrilled with how it turned out. My beloved Hard Spun ran a spectacular race and Curlin proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that he’s our champion. I’m also really glad that Awesome Gem is a gelding! He had a great race… he’s really been improving and I’m looking to him, and several of the improving 3 year olds (Zanjero, Xchanger, the return of Ravel, Belgravia & Grapelli) to bring a stellar handicap division next year.

More posts to come through the week, but this was my performance in the Breeders’ Cup.

In the Meantime…

I’m gearing up to post a few recaps both of my picks + how I did & of the experience of “being there”. I had a truly incredible time… I got to meet a few folks but missed others, chatted and discussed upcoming races with LOTs of strangers and, as always, had a great time with Swifty.

Speaking of Swifty, he posted a nice little video of the Classic contenders coming through the tunnel before the race with his new toy (basically a video cam attached to a USB drive that has software on it that allows the user to publish directly to YouTube… pretty cool).

Ok, back to gearing up to post…