Jun 11, 2010
THRU THE BINOCULARS
By: John Piesen
WHERE THE ELITE MEET
We are three weeks into the Elite Meet at Monmouth Park...and sofarsogood.
At least as far as the bottom line is concerned.
Attendance and handle are up double-digits across the board, what's left of the racing media Is very much excited about the whole deal...and, as expected, the major New York outfits (see Pletcher and Dutrow) are cashing big-time.
So am I. I've been picking my spots at Monmouth, and pleased to say I had 3 winner in 4 races this past weekend. Sunday was a 2-for-2 day starting with Fulfilling winning in 3 for $9.80, and then General Perfect at a nice $14.20 in race 7. On Friday, I cashed my longshot play as Million Seller got up for $18.80.
To wit, on Saturday, only five are going in the $100,000 Skip Away Stakes, and New Yorkers Shug, Saint Nick and Bush look dominant.
That's one side of the coin.
Now here's the flip side:
- This synthetics-to-dirt deal clearly is not working out for the California outfits.
Through the first three weeks of the three-days-a-week Monmouth meet, the West Coast guys - Mitchell, Hess and Miller - are a combined 0-for-18!
Guess Baffert knew what he was doing when he changed his mind at the 11th hour, and cancelled his Monmouth stalls. But Bullet Bob will be down the shore on Aug. 1 with Preakness winner Lookin at Lucky for the Haskell.
- Don't know if the idea of paying $1,500 to every starter is working out too well.
We're finding that a lot of the smaller (poorer) outfits are entering to pick up the easy money, and most (virtually all) of these horses have no chance while burning the bettors. For example, on Saturday, no less than 22 horses are listed at 20-1 and up in the Daily Racing Form grade. Obviously, you're betting at your own risk.
- Were we not told before Monmouth opened that the Elite meet would be paying out an average of $1 million a day in purses?
Yes, I thought so. Then why is Saturday the only day we are seeing anything close to a million in total purses...while the total payout on Friday's claimer dominated card comes to $440,000, or only about $100,000 more than a normal weekday in the pre-Elite days?
On the other hand, I'm hearing that several other racetracks (Gulfstream?) like what Monmouth is doing, and may go the same route.
Moving right along, Zenyatta and Rachel Alexandra are back in the news, and back on the track.
Unfortunately at different tracks on different days.
On Saturday Rachel, after losing her first two starts in 2010, will be 1-9 in a five-filly field in the Fleur de Lis Stakes at Churchill Downs. Rachel drew the four-hole in the nine-furlong race, and Florida shipper Jessica Is Back will be the second choice from the five-hole.
Jessica was cross-entered in the Obeah Stakes at Delaware Park, but trainer Wolfson assures she'll try the richer Churchill race. Gomez rides.
There were rumors that Team Rachel was going to fire Calvin Borel in the wake of those two painful losses at 1-20 and 1-5, and replace him with Bridgmohan, who has first call on virtually everything in the Asmussen barn.
Glad to say those rumors proved false.
Rachel, 11-4-0 from 16 starts and the reigning Horse of the Year, has banked $3 million. Her four rivals have earned a combined $1.3 million.
On Sunday at Hollywood Park, the 6-year-old supermare Zenyatta will attempt to become the first horse in modern times to go 17-for-17, thereby surpassing Citation and Cigar. The Big Z will be 1-9 under Mike Smith against five foes in the Vanity Handicap, a race she will be trying to win for the third straight year.
There is talk that Zenyatta will then head for Saratoga for the Whitney and/or Personal Ensign.
But first Z has to get past the Vanity, and, at 129 pounds, will be asked to concede eight pounds and up to some accomplished mares.
And whyaddya know? There will be no national television of Rachel and Zenyatta, but you will be able to see their races on tape online..
The Fleur de Lis, which will go as race six, will be the first of five straight graded stakes at Churchill on the 11-race program. I'm releasing those 5 races as part of another Piesen Pick-6 Profitmaker.
On Wednesday I just missed the huge pick-6 at Belmont, winning 5 of 6, which still paid $884.00!
Let's take a look...
Owner Jackson and trainer Asmussen played their usual mind games this week, e-mailing the media that Rachel will run Saturday in either the Fleur de Lis, the Foster, the Phipps or the Obeah, knowing full well that it would be the nine-furlong Fleur de Lis for fillies and mares. At 124 pounds, Rachel will be conceding from 7-to-11 pounds to her four rivals. Jessica Is Back is the first of five straight live stakes mounts for Gomez.
Lost Aptitude will be the one to catch under Gogo in the Jefferson Cup, a mile and a 16th turfer for 3-year-olds. When Lost Aptitude stopped to a walk in the American Turf on Oaks Day, Asphalt and Guys Reward blew right by him. They may do so again under jockeys Lezcano and Albarado, respectively. Our Douglas will be closing under Solis.
The Northern Dancer, a mile and a 16th on the dirt for 3-year-olds, looks to be a rematch of Colizeo (Pletcher/Gomez) and Prince Will I Am (Nihel/Borel). In an allowance race at this distance a month back over the track, Colizeo led every step at 9-5, while Prince Will I Am closed four-wide for second as the 8-5 favorite. Wordly nosed Colizeo in a maiden-special over the track at this distance last Fall, beating Belmont Stakes runner Stay Put.
It's Tea Time was a close-up second two back in the Ashland at Keeneland, then was blocked down on the rail at 7-1 in the Oaks. First-time Gomez in the Regret, a wide-open nine-furlong turfer for 3-year-old fillies. Beautician was a fast-closing second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, and beat several of these closing for fourth in the Oaks. Solis rides back for McPeek. Dynazaper, Queen of the Creek and Joharmony all can rumble.
Blame enters the Stephen Foster, a $600,000 Grade One for 3 and up at nine furlongs, off a three-graded stake winning streak, and is 6-for-9 overall, but he faces a tough task from the outside post in an 11-horse field in his first Grade One. Gomez rides for Stall. Battle Plan (Castellano) eyeballs fifth straight for The Toddster, and no doubt will take catching from the two-hole. General Quarters, the only multiple Grade One winner in the Foster field, had rough trip closing for second to Battle Plan in the New Orleans Handicap. First-time Solis. Macho Again circled his field to win this race last year, but hasn't won since (0-for-5) for the West Point boys. The Dutrow brothers have shots with Arson Squad and Honest Man. Duke of Mischief exits a blowout victory in the Oaklawn Handicap.
In New York, the Ogden Phipps, a 250K Grade One at a mile and a 16th, attracted only five fillies and mares, and thus is carded as race four, a long way from the Pick Six. Unrivaled Belle, fresh off a narrow stakes win over Rachel at Churchill, will be odds-on under Desormeaux, with Life At Ten (Johnny V) and Funny Moon (Garcia) poised to upset.
Finally, our condolences to the family of New Jersey-based turf writer Bill Handleman, who died Wednesday after a long battle with kidney cancer. Bill, one of the good guys, was only 62. He will be sorely missed.
Thanks for tuning in. Good luck this weekend, don't forget the Churchill Pick-6 (Click Here) or at 1-888-612-2283 is but a phone call away, and we'll see you back here Tuesday.
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