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Thursday, August 15, 2013

The Other Big Races; Gold Cup and Saucer Selections

Everyone is talking about Super Saturday at Pocono Downs, and being a sport which is focuses on three year olds, it is understandable.  The Battle of the Brandywine, Colonial and Valley Forge promise to be humdingers.  Unfortunately, it this trio of races takes attention away from the $275,000 James Gerrity, Jr. Memorial at that other racetrack in the Spa, Saratoga Raceway.

In the Gerrity, Foiled Again and Bolt The Duer figure to do battle in Saratoga's biggest race of the season.  Realistically for one of the other horses to end up in the winners circle, as the others lack the race pedigree the top two have.  However, this is not the fault of Saratoga Raceway for the conditions of this race has the highest money earners of those nominated getting their nose on the gate.

Clearly, a major reason some of the marquee horses are not making an appearance at the Spa has to do with the dislike of the half mile oval.  It makes you long for the days of Cam Fella where he raced against all comers on all types of tracks to do battle.  Yes, the Pacing Machine didn't win all the races, but regardless of the track size, he won the vast majority of them.    These days, a lot of connections treat a half mile oval like it was a temple of doom, to be avoided like the plague.  Instead of risking a blemish on their race record, they carefully navigate their way around these races looking to protect their future legacy for breeding millions.

Yes, the sport has evolved, we breed them differently so its hard to get around the half-miler are two of the the excuses, but shouldn't a champion be able to overcome these changes?

Don't get me wrong, you pay the feed and training bills, you have the right to say where your horse races.  I would never suggest anything different, but this doesn't mean the industry has to hand over the end of season hardware to these race dodgers.  While the half mile track is currently out of favor, the fact is a large number of tracks are twice-arounds.  As far as this blogger is concerned, for a horse to be eligible for year-end honors, a horse should have to make at least one pari-mutuel start on the half, five-eighths, and seven-eighths or larger size track during the season.  Cherry pick your spots if you want, find a track that will card an 'Invitational' to your liking, but let's see your horse go around the half mile oval.

After all, a true champion shouldn't fear any size track, win, lose, or draw.

Don't forget, the Gold Cup and Saucer is Saturday night west of the ADT zone.  The race is scheduled for 11pm EDT and is race fourteen on Charlottetown's racing program.  Watch the race even if you don't wager on it (you can see the race on Red Shores' website if you have Microsoft Silverlight installed on your computer).  For those who are able to wager on the race, you can get their program right here (the second set of races in the program).   While CDP's races tend to be your typical Maritime fare, they do a great job on GC&S night.  Consider wagering on some of their other races.

My pick for the Gold Cup and Saucer?  (3) Hillbilly Hanover 5-2, (1) Up The Credit 7-2, (7) Escape The News 3-1, (6) Proven Lover 10-1.  If you are looking for an upset horse, I'd go with (6) Proven Lover at 10-1.

While the Hambletonian had television coverage, isn't a shame there is no Saturday night television coverage of the big-three at Pocono and the Gerrity at Saratoga?  Just saying.

Experienced gambler or novice, one of the more interesting subjects of harness racing which is not given the credit it deserves is the construction and maintenance of the track; whether it is the composition of a track, the materials used, the banking, and how it is maintained.  Bob Pandolfo interviewed Dan Coon, one of the more renowned track builders, standardbred and thoroughbred regarding this subject.  It is worth a read.

Fraser Downs, the one track I would love to wager on but can't opens tonight.  Those fortunate enough should take a look at them. 

Yonkers Raceway and the SOANY which partner on their Pick-5 wager have realized they needed to juice their wager.  Whenever there is a carryover of less than $7,500 there is a $10,000 guaranteed pool; over $7,500 it's a $25,000 guarantee.  On Mondays and Tuesdays when there is no carryover, there is a $10,000 guarantee.  Give credit to management and horsemen; instead of junking the wager, they realized it needed tweaking and they did.

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