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Aug 02, 2006



Notes and quotes:

Some times it pays to pay attention to this column.

Last Friday in this space, I made two points:

1) Bernardini will wire the Jim Dandy.

2) Get down pronto on Bernardini in the Breeders' Cup Classic Future Book inasmuch as he was double-digits in most venues.

Sure enough, as the result of his Jim Dandy blowout, Bernardini is now the consensus B.C. favorite.

And, on Sunday, I capped a huge opening week at Saratoga by nailing two of three picks on my telephone service 1-888-612 2283 - Kauai Calls at $11.80 and Spun Sugar by a schnozz at $13.

One area in which I was not exactly on target was my suggestion in last Tuesday's column that Saratoga was a speed track, and should be played accordingly.

In the meantime, NYRA has problems on two fronts.

1) Attendance and handle are down double-digits, including the bogus 43,000 crowd on Sunday.

2) Jerry Bailey, who attained fame and fortune at the NYRA tracks, and indeed is New York racing's No. 1 celebrity over the last decade, joined an opposing group (Excelsior Racing) in the bidding for the NYRA franchise.

Talk about biting the hand that feeds you.

Incidentally, a key player for Excelsior is old buddy George Steinbrenner.

Read on.

I would say that Excelsior has to be the leader in the clubhouse.

It was reported in the New York Sunday News that the Excelsior folks have contributed some $200,000 to Elliot Spitzer's gubernatorial campaign. Spitzer is a shorter price than Songster to get the job, and it's the guv who will make the decision.

It sounds like Bailey chose the right mount.

Speaking of Songster, how 'bout him getting beat at 1-10 with Prado in the Amsterdam on Monday at the ol' Spa. And isn't it amazing that Court Folly, who blew him away in the stretch, gave jockey Borel - who has ridden 4,000-plus winners -- his first-ever Saratoga winner?

Here's another angle on the race?

Jockey Prado last month was voted the Mike Venezia Award over Borel, who really deserved it. Midwest riders can be just as good and charitable as East and West Coast riders, but rarely do they get the recognition.

In fact, just last week the Form pointed out that the complexion of the Spa jockey colony changed this year due to the retirements of superstar jockeys Bailey and Stevens.

Hey.what about Pat Day?

Doesn't he count?

Looking ahead to this weekend's action, the attention of the racing world will turn to my home state of New Jersey.

They will run the Hambletonian on Saturday afternoon at The Meadowlands, and I happen to have the winner. I will release it on my phone service line - again 1-888-612-2283 - on Saturday morning.

And on Sunday, they will run the Haskell on Sunday afternoon at Monmouth - plus seven other stakes. Kind of a poor man's Breeders' Cup. Although the Breeders' Cup itself will be held at Monmouth next year.

More on the Haskell in Friday's column. And I'll have the winner Saturday on my phone service.

In the meantime, three recent pieces on team sports caught my attention.

In order of preference:

1) Look for the price on USC to go up for its opening-night ESPN game at Arkansas on Labor Day. USC opened at a bargain -10.

The reason?

It seems that the Hogs' star running back, a fellow named Darren McFadden, required surgery for a broken toe sustained in a parking lot brawl at 4:30 last Saturday morning outside a Little Rock nightclub. McFadden told police that he didn't know the person he was fighting with. And at the height of the brawl, McFadden's brother's car was stolen.

Arkansas. What a fun place!

2) An example of why sports betting is not an exact science:

Last Friday, the Dodgers were -120 against visiting Washington despite the evidence that LA was 1-13 going in, and Washington had won six straight; Washington was superior at virtually every position against an LA squad that was decimated with injuries, and LA's starter had never won a major league game.

Of course you know what happened.

The Dodgers won, 13-1!

And wound up sweeping the series.

3) The Yankee Nation is thrilled about getting Bobby Abreu, who happens to keep an apartment in Johnny Damon's building in midtown Manhattan.

Philly Nation meanwhile was just as thrilled at dumping Abreu's salary, which is something in the Al Harrington range.

Personally, I find it interesting that, in his last game as a Phil, Abreu was picked off first base in the eighth inning with the Phils down 1-0 to Florida.and that he was benched Saturday because Florida was pitching a left-hander (Willis).

Moreover, Abreu is batting .270 since last summer, and he will be facing much better pitching in the American League.

My favorite quote about the Abreu deal comes from new Yankee teammate Sheffield, who happens to play Abreu's position.

"I am delighted we got Abreu," he said"; anything that gives us a better chance to win is great."

Meanwhile, the most publicized batting line of the week was that of Ryan Howard on Sunday:

Five ABs, five walks.

Then there was Jim Thome's line at Baltimore:

0-1 with four walks, and four runs scored.

Needless to say, the Phils and White Sox won those games.

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