Like most everyone I am getting ready for tomorrow's races. 10:30 post? That's worse than Hambo Day, but I digress....
There were some interesting happenings today. To almost no surprise to virtually everyone I spoke to before the race, Rachel Alexandra went down to defeat for the second time in a row. The Oaks Day crowd bet her down to 1-5, and I know some money was made by some. Me? Nope. I sat the race out. I have this weird racing fan mentality sometimes and don't like to bet horses I would like see do well. Assmussen in post race interviews seems completely stumped. Most trainers I know who have good stakes horses who don't seem to come back well have that same "stumped" look. The horse looks great, scopes great, vets out, but they are just not as fast as the previous season. Time will tell if she comes back to last year's form, or if we even see her again.
I was frankly pretty amazed at how takeout is being looked at of late. First there were a ton of media mentions about Tioga's takeout reduction. It is one of the few racetracks that you can type in google news with almost all positive mentions. In addtion, I visited Harnessdriver.com today and there is a topic on Chester Downs. As most know, Chester has some punishing takeouts, like most tracks in Pennsylvania. 80% of the posts spoke about the egregious take. Chester has way better horses than Tioga, too. Note: There are free programs for Saturday and Sunday's Tioga card available at Paceadvantage.com, here.
Derby Time (as usual from a gambling perspective)
A 20 horse field, with potential slop in the forecast, provides us with one thing - chaos. And chaos can breed life-changing payoffs. You can analyze this race til you are blue in the face, you can find the fastest horse, the best closer, or the best front runner, but all of that can mean absolutely nothing with a race like this.
My keys to the Derby are the following:
1. Which horse can improve to run a huge number - a higher number than he has ever run
2. Will his odds be high enough so you can get paid for the tremendous amount of racing luck your pick will need?
Conventional wisdom states that a closer will win this race. It does make sense as there is a ton of cheap speed. However, in the Derby, conventional wisdom is not something I want to be a part of. As well, if it is sloppy and the track shows speed is holding, the closers might be nowhere near talented enough to make inroads. With this thinking I will be picking a non-closer, Super Saver. I believe he will run a big number, as he is finally fit, and I think he will be close enough and be out of traffic, which can be killer in a race like this for some horses. I also believe that I will get paid if this colt wins. He took some odd early cash, but he is 15-1 offshore. He hung like a chandelier in his last start that a lot of people saw, so I hope he starts skying.
I like Lookin' at Lucky and I think Sidney's Candy is a nice horse, but I want no part of them as they will be on too many people's exotic tickets. The latter with post 20 will need to be a super-horse to overcome that in this field, too.
I will be grouping Super Saver with a few horses in wheel positions on the three sets of exotics: Stately Victor (teetering on putting him on top on a separate betting sheet for a score-play), Awesome Act, Paddy O Prado, Dublin and Discreetly Mine.
It's a crapshoot, so I will be treating it as such. I wish everyone good luck on their tickets. Let's hope for a pot at the end of the rainbow score or two out there in blogland.