Jan 15, 2010
THRU THE BINOCULARS
By: John Piesen
John Cashes At Gulfstream!
R7: Powder Princess WON $5.20!
SEIZING THE MOMENT
If Rachel Alexandra gets Horse of the Year, it will prove what I've suspected right along: that, when it comes to racing, the fans (players) know a lot more about what's going on than the media, present company of course excepted.
In case you missed it, and you probably did because it wasn't exactly page one above-the-fold news, the Breeders' Cup Classic (Zenyatta) was overwhelmingly selected by the public as the 2009 Moment of the Year.
And it wasn't exactly a photo finish. Zenyatta got 68 per cent of the vote, while Rachel's Woodward victory was a distant second at 10 per cent.
The voters got that one right, but personally, I can not understand how the Woodward, in which Rachel held off a pair of middle-tier older horses while getting eight pounds, can compare with the moment of Mine That Bird's Kentucky Derby victory. It wasn't MTB's fault that nobody -- including the TV announcer -- saw him until he was five in front at the 16th pole.
But that's just one man's opinion.
As for the Horse of the Year, we all know it's a big deal, but you need to put HOY into proper perspective when you think about what else is going on in the world.
Meantime, in all my years on the beat, I have never seen a worse Saturday card in New York than this one.
The feature is the $65,000 Evening Attire, a mile and a 16th race for 3-and-up, to be run as race three in order to keep it out of the Pick Six.
Six will go, and two of them -- Understatement and Well Positioned -- will be coupled as the Paul Pompa-owned entry. Either one by himself would be 4-5; together they will be 1-5, which is good news only for Mad Bomber wannabees fixing to make a major show score.
The second choice will be Storm Play from the Pletcher barn, the same Pletcher who trains Understatement. It's all so incestuous.
Why doesn't NYRA just run the race at sun-up, and save the betting public the aggravation?
Of the other eight races on the program, six are claimers, and two are New York-bred maiden-specials.
At least there are other options, notably Gulfstream Park, where the 10-race program features two 14-horse stakes, and similar full fields on the undercard.
There also will be scores of betting opportunities at Santa Anita, Fair Grounds, Oaklawn Park, as well as Laurel and Philly Park.
Not that we needed any proof, but thank goodness for simulcasting. Without simos, what else would there be for players to do while waiting for Saints-Cards to kick?
This would seem the right time to remind that my selections will be available here on-line and on the red-hot John Piesen Hot Line (888 612 2283).
Speaking of the JPHL, let's take a look back at Wednesday.
The Hot Line gave out two selections that day at Aqueduct -- Diamond District (race seven), Tranquil Manner (race eight).
Diamond District won by a pole at $9.10.
Tranquil Manner (5-2) blew past the chalk at the eighth pole, but was nailed on the wire by the 22-1 Sawtooth Mountain.
And, what's worse, we learned in the DRF that Sawtooth Mountain was the first winner for trainer Alex DeRosa since 2003. Clearly, we need to keep an eye out for DeRosa in 2017.
Moreover, Pay the Fare, who won the ninth race to cap a $412.50 late double, was the first-ever winner for trainer Bobbi Rossi.
Props to Bobbi...and to Alex.
And props to Ramon Dominguez who continues to ride at least three winners a day. Good for Ramon, not so good for the players, who continue to take the short end of the wagering stick.
Virtually everything Ramon rides goes favored, and, statistically speaking, two of every three of his faves get beat, some by the length of the stretch -- simply because the public is betting the jock, not the horse.
Saturday is a perfect example.
RD rides eight, and six of the eight will go favored.
And, while we are at it, a reminder that you are betting against trainer Pletcher at your own risk.
Since painfully losing the Saratoga title to Linda Rice, The Toddster has been winning in New York at a 40 per cent clip. Over the inner, he merely is 17-6-2 from 37 starters (46 per cent), and on Saturday, he will run Understatement in the third, and Silent Valor in the eighth, a six-furlong optional-claimer.
Silent Valor has been away a year, and has shown nothing in his works. On the other hand, he is a graded stakes-winner -- the '08 Sapling.
Again...bet against this sucker at your own risk.
Pletcher also will be looking to go 2-for-2 Saturday at Gulfstream with West Ocean in race eight, the $100,000 Marshua River, and Obligingly, the chalk in race nine, a $48,000 allowance.
West Ocean, a $400,000 Keeneland yearling, has won three straight, including a front-end score last out in a small Big A stake. Obligingly, a 300K Fasig-Tipton yearling, is training well for his first race since last January at the Gulf, when he was beaten a head for second in an allowance race by no less than Quality Road, now a stablemate.
Pletcher no doubt will be leading trainer at Gulf, where presently is 6-2-3 from 21 starters, as he will be in New York. But he'll have to get going at Santa Anita, where Eastern trainers Pletcher, Mott, McPeek and Clement are at last look a combined 0-for-23.
Mott, likewise on the duck at Gulfstream (0-for-11), has a shot at the Marshua River with Scolara, who last year was 2-for-3 over the Gulf green, including a stake. The mare runs fresh, and she'll no doubt get a ground-saving trip from the one-hole with jockey Desormeaux in the mile and a 16th stake for fillies and mares.
Clemente, who didn't run a horse the first eight days of the Gulf meet, counters with Belle Allure. who last out won the Athenia in New York at 2-5. With Dominguez opting to remain at the Big A Saturday, jockey Prado picks up the mount.
There is one MTO in the race, and she's a good one: Song of Solomon, a 4-year-old full sister to Rockport Harbor who has been working lights-out for trainer Tony Dutrow at Palm Meadows.
The filly is 3-0-2 from five starts in an injury-plagued career, but she's sound now, and will be one to watch in the weeks ahead at Gulfstream. Clement and Mott also will be represented in the co-feature, the $100,000 Dania Beach, a mile on the grass for 3-year-olds. Clement has Nordic Truce, a four-length winner of his Calder grass debut, and the Cigar Man has Raging Wit, who will be an outsider in an unusually wide-open betting race.
The program favorite is the Wes Ward-trained Strike the Tiger, who exits a seventh-place finish as the heavy chalk in the 200K Cradle at River Downs. The chart footnote of that race says "gave way", but, in fact, the gelding had a nightmare trip.
Last June, Strike the Tiger won at Ascot with Velazquez up, and Johnny V gets the mount back on Saturday.
|John Piesen, America's Handicapper
and the 'Most Connected' Man In Racing,
PROMISES YOU'LL SCORE BIG, FREE ON FRIDAY
THEN MAKE MORE OVER THE HOLIDAY WEEKEND....
January 15 Through January 18
4 DAYS...15 SIZZLING HOT PLAYS...4 MAJOR TRACKS
Oaklawn... Gulfstream... Aqueduct... Santa Anita
I'm John Piesen, longtime handicapper for the New York Post and DRF and the man who holds the world handicapping record of picking a winner for 207 consecutive days in advance. These days I spend I my winters at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas. And my work starts more than a month before the race meeting begins. I track the horses training on the grounds. I check in daily with my friends, the clockers. I call my friends, the trainers and owners, and ask about their new arrivals and who's ready to go when they ship in.
THAT WORK HAS PAID OFF
WITH 3 STRAIGHT OAKLAWN OPENING DAY SIZZLERS
AND THIS FRIDAY WHEN OAKLAWN OPENS I HAVE ANOTHER HOT PLAY THAT IS PRIMED FOR A WINNING EFFORT ON THIS DAY!
I've Had 3 Straight Years of Opening Day Longshot Payoffs...
2009 BE FAIR WON $13.00
2008 SILVER TRIPPI WON $11.80
2007 MAYOMAST WON $17.40
My 2010 Sizzler is Even Stronger & Should Pay More
And This Winner Kicks Off The Annual John Piesen
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Saturday, January 16: SNOWBIRDS AND SHOCKERS...
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Sunday, January 17: NATIONAL RACE OF THE MONTH...
I handicap and get information on hundreds of races every month. Some are obviously stronger than others But Sunday, I have a race that is so strong that I rate it 99% on a scale of 100 as to winning probability. Last year
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Finally, there are two races of interest Saturday on the second day of the Oaklawn meeting.
One is the $50,000 American Beauty, which attracted a field of seven fillies and mares, including a pair -- Valid Code and Auspicious -- from the Asmussen barn.
Northern Belle, exiting a third to She's Our Annie, who has since been sidelined, will be a major player, as will One Smokin' Lady, a Presque Isle stakes-winner from Tim Ritchey.
The second is a $36,000 maiden-special for newly-turned 3-year-olds, which attracted promising, lightly-raced runners from trainers Lukas, Ritchey, Holthus, Ice, Von Hemel, Fires and Asmussen.
The Ritchey runner is an Officer colt named Sonar, who, in his second start in November at Philly Park, finished second to A Little Warm, a stakes-winner last weekend at Gulfstream.
Abel Castellano, down from Maryland to ride everything in the Ritchey barn, has the call on Sonar, who is well-drawn outside the speed in post 10 in a field of 11.
So there you go. Lots of action Saturday. See you back here Tuesday for the look back.
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