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Location: Stockton, California, United States

Some call me OlRailbird.

Sunday, September 28, 2008

Santa Anita Surface Still Funky

Curlin won the Jockey Club Gold Cup to become the richest racehorse in history, based on inflated dollars. The fact is, the dollar has lost nearly half its value in just the last six years, so Curlin really isn't better than Cigar (12 years ago), just as Cigar probably wasn't better than Kelso who retired in 1965 with $1,977,896 in earnings.

Anyway, congratulations to the connections of Curlin as we lift an artificially-flavored concoction of soy and aspartame designed to taste something like champagne while delivering the same high at zero calories.

Meanwhile, the horse himself, however good he really is, heads to Santa Anita's Barn 21 to test the "Pro Ride" artificial surface so that his handlers can decide whether or not to get beat by a rank outsider who loves the "going."

In my last post, I mentioned I had nothing but favorites for Saturday and oddly most of them came in. On the whole, the artificial surface gave a good account of itself with the best horses running over it. Other than the 74-1 shot, ORO BLANCO, running third in the Oak Leaf, the results actually seemed relatively believable. Horses that figured, more or less, won all of the stakes races on "dirt" at Oak Tree Saturday.

Unfortunately, Sunday happened. Compared to Wednesday, Thursday, Friday and Sunday, Saturday was an abberation.

Sunday's payoffs:

$ 7.80
$ 5.20 (only favorite)

Trevor Denman's new signature call at Santa Anita is, "They straighten into the stretch and the race is wide open!"

I don't know what they did to the track Saturday, but whatever it was, they didn't repeat it Sunday...

The rumor is that the surface heats up in the afternoon. Jockeys and trainers are saying horses that handle the track in the mornings don't handle it in the afternoon. The surface is retaining heat and only about half the horses are able to negotiate the track during the races.

I thought the four stakes run Saturday would clear this up, but they were fairly formful. Sunday went right back to "unhandicapable" -- if that's a word. If it is, its definition is Pro Ride at Santa Anita.

So, Wednesday is a Pick Six carryover (again), but the weather is expected to cool off. Maybe there is a magical temperature where Pro Ride is fair. Here's the forcast for Arcadia:

Wednesday 94
Thursday 88
Friday 81

Perhaps a comparison of results to temperature is in order?

Maybe we should just pray for rain.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Curlin up with Oak Tree

Will the Jockey Club Gold Cup be Curlin's last race?

His connections are leery of artifiicial racing surfaces, especially the one at Santa Anita where the Breeder's Cup Classic is to be raced next month.

If Curlin wins today, he will be the richest horse in history, cracking the $10 million mark in career winnings. He has already won a Breeder's Cup Classic, why risk his reputation on a surface not to his liking?

Speaking of Santa Anita's surface, my opinion is that there is something seriously wrong with it. In three days of racing, Oak Tree has been a graveyard of favorites. Some of them had bad racing luck, but most just seemed ordinary losers. The fields look spread out on paper, but bunch up in the stretch and anybody can win. Monstrous prices have posted.

Maybe the real test comes today with four main track stakes races carded. If the solid horses are overrun by longshots, we'll know there is a mystery to unravel.

There are only five horses in the Lady's Secret and if the winner is either SUPER FREAKY or SANTA TERESITA, the rumblings will begin for me.

The six furlong Ancient Title stakes is a bit competitve on paper, but the winner should come from the top 3 on the tote board.

Two year old fillies are usually pretty formful, and that's what I expect in the Oak Leaf. The only long shot on the morning line that could surprise me is WILL O WAY, who was a good 3rd to the favorite last time at 7f and could like the stretch out.

When they're running for half a million dollars, I don't expect surprises. That doesn't mean I expect a favorite to win, just that if a nice price pops up I expect one of my contenders to suprise other handicappers.

The $500K Goodwood could be where the money is today. The lukewarm morning line selection is WELL ARMED at just 7/2. I figure SPIRIT ONE, TIAGO and MAST TRACK all slightly better than the favorite. Whoever wins should pay a nice price, but if the winner comes from the bottom 2/3rds of the board, something is rotten.

Today's races look like a dry run for trainers eyeing the Breeder's Cup. They're all wondering what is up with the surface. If today is anything like the last 3 days, they will probably still be wondering what is going on here, tomorrow.

Friday, September 26, 2008

New Surface at Santa Anita

With the Breeder's cup about a month away, the jury is still out on the new artificial surface at Santa Anita. Reports from horsemen and jockeys have been mostly positive, but the view from my side of the fence has been abysmal.

Maybe the horses are safer, but my money isn't! Evidence the pick six was not hit until today after two days of carryover. The horses that figure on paper have been having a rough time of it.

If you didn't get a piece of the big prize today, there is a guaranteed $1 million pool tomorrow.

My top selections for tomorrow are low odds, so I guess I'm doomed from the start!

Honestly, the way the track is playing so far, I'm hoping for rain -- something is definitely wrong with this track -- all long shots doesn't mean a track is playing fair.