Monday, August 27, 2012

Dead Heat Travers Reflections

Another Travers, another memorable race. I'll let others argue about the quality of the horses in the race, all  I can say I was among the 46,000 plus fans who witnessed the dead heat photo finish between Alpha and Golden Ticket.

Here's my reflections on this years Travers Stakes Day:

Alpha ended up being a pretty good bet. I know many prior to the race were bashing Alpha, but I felt the combo of Mclaughlin and Dominguez would be enough and publicly (on Thorofan's website) picked him as the winner. Yeah he was the favorite, but getting $4.10 back and doubling your money is not bad.

The betting day for me on the whole was a wash. I had a small win bet on Alpha, but missed all day on my exotics and the 3 pick 4's.

Made a bad audible call on leaving my Clubhouse seats to join friends at the Porch for table seating. We were at the far end of the porch, where the view of the track from our table was not all that good. Plus we got hit with the $18 "seating" fee which applies per person, not per table. My salad dish with 2 bottles of Bottled water cost me $50 not counting the tip (which the waiter expects to be calculated on the lunch and seating fee).

Next time I stick with my usual method of watching the races from my seats and grabbing lunch at the Shack Shack where I grab a Shake Burger and Beer for the more manageable $9 cost and mingle with friends at the Paddock Bar.

The post Travers fun included a fantastic dinner at The Wishing Well where I had Swordfish and for desert the classic creamy New York Style Cheeseake from the Nuns of New Skete followed by drinks downtown at the Adelphi and Sperry's.

So there you have it, another year older for all of us, another Travers Stakes in the books. They are unique, all so different, and this one will be etched in my memory bank forever.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

When is Dead not Dead??

 If your listed as dead, does that mean you are really dead? No, not if the New York State Racing and Wagering Board lists you as Dead.

For the second time in 3 months the New York State Racing and Wagering Board listed a horse on their Equine Breakdown, Death, Injury and Incident Database as an "Equine Death" when in fact the horse was alive.

On Wednesday in the 8th race at Saratoga Race Course, a horse,  Bluember, fell just short of the finish line while racing, throwing Ramon Dominguez to the ground. Another horse, Money in Motion, was injured while he tried to avoid the spill. It looked bad and that evening I checked the Racing and Wagering Board website and found both horses listed as dead.

I questioned the Money in Motion death on Twitter Thursday morning as I thought it was strange no one in the Media reported the death.  Later that day Intrepid writer/reporter/blogger Teresa Genaro confirmed on Twitter that indeed Money in Motion was actually alive and well,  and not dead as reported by the State Racing and Wagering Board.

This same error happened in June when Giant Ryan was injured racing at Belmont Park. Giant Ryan was listed that evening as an "Equine Death" on the website only to later be declared alive and well. That time the Board chalked it up to "basic human error". After that Screw up Board Spokesperson Lee Park reported to Teresa Genaro on her blog ( that:
 “As of this morning we are implementing internal controls to ensure that a second set of eyes sees the information before it is formally published."
Perhaps New York State now needs to hire a 3rd person (complete with union wages and a generous benefit plan) to become involved in the quality control.
Personally I think racing deaths and injuries should be reported and listed on the New York Racing Association website ( How many people are even aware of the Racing and Wagering Board website? Let's be transparent like the NFL where a detailed injury list for every team is reported daily and easily accessible in most daily newspapers and on the NFL website. Accurate, Accountable and Transparent, is that too much to ask?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Saratoga Sunday Quick Picks

Since this blind Squirrel found two nuts yesterday with my picks, let's keep this party going.

In the 9th Race at the Spa, a 65K Optional Claimer for fillies & Mare going 7 furlongs on the dirt, we have a field of 11. This type of race is what makes the Spa great, a large field with some juicy morning line odds.

Fiftyfour Forever, at 8-1 Morning line odds presents tremendous valve. I would expect her post time odds to be like 4-1 or 5-1 but if her odds stay up anywhere near 8-1 she is a must use in your exotics. Blog Favorite Trainer Anthony Quartarolo is hot with 2 wins from his last 2 starts including yesterday's Nelson Avenue win.

Ode to Sami at 3-1 figures to benefit from the jockey change from Rosie Napravnik to Javier Castellano. Speaking of Jockey changes Royal Sighting, 6-1 ML odds, gets an upgrade with Ramon Dominquez on board for the first time. Be sure to watch the odds board late on this one including looking at Princess Mara, who cuts back in distance and returns to dirt for trainer Dale Romans. Playing with these four horses in your Trifecta's and exacta's could result in some nice payouts.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Saturday Alabama Day Quick Picks

Surprisingly with more than half the meet done, I'm actually $5 in the black this meet, according to the historical wagers tab of my NYRA Rewards account. So, let give out some picks.

In the 5th , a Maiden 65K on the inner Turf at the Spa, you should get a square price on Nelson Avenue whose morning line odds are 6-1. In his last just 10 days ago in a similar 65K, Nelson Avenue placed 3rd at 26-1 odds, part of a $1900+ trifecta. Trained by former Meadowlands Harness Trainer/Driver Anthony Quartarolo, who's had a decent meet with 5 horses in the money out of 8 starters. Quartarolo comes off of a nice win with his last starter, Mr. Algebra, who broke his maiden on Wednesday at 11-1 odds.

In the Alabama, Grace Hall may be much the best but won't get my money at 7-5 morning line odds. My call is on Questing. Coming off a impressive win at the Spa in the CCA Oaks on the first Saturday of the meet at 1 1/8 miles looks like Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has her primed and ready to take a step up at 1 1/4 miles. If her jock can control the drifting out she did last out, Questing seems the valve play.

Should be a great day, let's hope the showers get out in time and sun prevails.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Half Way Observations at Saratoga

Day 22 of this 40 Day Saratoga meet is now complete.

Here are my mid meet observations and thoughts:

All Sources Handle is up 6.5 % over last year.  I think this year the cards at Delmar have seemed pretty weak, and I think the money has flowed towards Saratoga in kind.

On Track Handle is slightly down when compared to last year at 0.8%. There have been a few brutally hot days so far and a couple of crummy rain days including this past Saturday.

Wagering is slightly up (0.8%) at the Belmont Cafe and Aqueduct Simulcast center.

Long Card equals Long Day.

I love movies, I just don't love them as much when they go over 2 hours, and I don't like race days with 11 and 12 races. It's just too long for the average fan to stay and bet. Saturday was particularly brutal with the feature race, The Fourstardave Handicap, not going off till 6:45, almost 6 hours after the first race. I had to vacate the premises before that race for obligations at home, and I wasn't the only one as a steady stream of patrons walked out with me. 

Especially with the increase in betting at home via the computer, NYRA really has to quicken up these cards to keep attendance up. Yes I know Saratoga is a treasure but I can treasure it in 5 hours and don't need 6.

The food options have been great this year at the Track with the addition of Bettie's Cakes (pretty good), Poutines at Shirley's Restaurant (very good) and a Beer Garden near the Carousel.

My personal favorites remain the Shake Shack, the relocated Hattie's and the Paddock Bar (officially titled "The Bar at the Post").  This 3 year old bar is so popular its' hard to remember it not being there.

All in all, it's Saratoga so despite the long race days it's Saratoga.