January 11, 2002

CPC Mailbag

Surely, we don't care one whit about our readers. According to one IRATE ex-reader (uppercase letters COURTESY OF HIM), when we tell readers to get down on Santa Anita or Gulfstream or any other Magna track by visiting them or simulcast outlets taking their signals, we are merely hastening the demise of horseracing as we know it.

That may or may not be true. But one thing is certain: there are still plenty of people out there who, Uncle Frank Stronach notwithstanding, are going to want to play Santa Anita or Gulfstream, regardless of whether we tell them to go and play those places. Indeed, last time we checked, Santa Anita's weekday handle routinely pushed $8 million, by far tops in the nation. And Gulfstream was a solid No. 2.

Now, all those millions of dollars couldn't be wrong, could they? Why would they keep pushing the money into the Santa Anita and Gulfstream handles day-in and day-out? Evil racing-killers! Don't they know what they're doing? Egad!

Actually, there are plenty of good reasons to play Santa Anita and Gulfstream. For one, the horses competing at these tracks are among the best in North America. Handicappers and bettors tend to like that. For another, the mutuel pools remain deep at those two places, and diving in with a substantial wager isn't going to be as punishing as it would be at other, smaller tracks. Finally, horseplayers are creatures of habit, and in the major population centers of Los Angeles and Miami, it's the only game the locals know.

On that last point, better-off handicappers and bettors might actually find it to their great advantage to play Santa Anita and Gulfstream. With so much so-called (and misguided) grandstand money floating around at either track, the reasonably talented player should have a slightly easier time of retrieving the spoils. You tell us. What would you rather do -- try to get a price in a shallow mutuel pool against a limited number of players, a greater percentage of whom are sharp and well-informed about their local, small track, or take your chances in a nice, big pool with a healthy amount of recreational money?

Your choice, but the pure and simple fact is that there is enough avid interest in both Santa Anita and Gulfstream, and even more on Saturday and Sunday, to justify our continued analyses of the big races going on at those places. We know our readers enjoy handicapping and betting at Santa Anita and Gulfstream, so we'll stay. One crank isn't enough to move us off our position, and judging by some healthy South Florida win mutuels the last two weekends, that's a good position to take right now.

Steady Stream of Saturday Stakes

Let's try more than a handful for tomorrow, listed for your wagering convenience in post-time order. Too bad that crank isn't on the e-mailing list anymore (his request), because the following rundown covers -- count 'em! -- FIVE non-Magna tracks. WHOO-HOO!

Things get started in Aqueduct's eighth race, post time 3:44 p.m. EST, with the Grade III Affectionately for fillies and mares three-and-up at a mile and a sixteenth. A baker's dozen is entered, already a good sign.

Tugger is a huge threat to go gate-to-wire, even off the little layoff. Class-wise, this is her milieu, and she's shown she can handle some pressure, too.

Zonk also comes off a layoff, and isn't as consistent or talented as Tugger; however, Zonk could get the trip of trips in this bulky field, and has proven she can relaz some before putting in a stretch drive that would be competitive in here.

Poivre represents a mild threat at a price, though she's light on class and ability. Nonetheless, she's shown she can rally a bit when the pace is solid, and the pace in this race is more than solid. People's Princess, coming off the bench for trainer Bill Mott, fits the same bill as Poivre.

On the surface, it should be a grand tussle between Tugger and Zonk when they straighten for home, with likely late-runs from Poivre and People's Princess. Should craziness wipe out the top duo, one or both of the long-priced ralliers could shock 'em all.

Laurel's eighth race will probably go off during the late stages of Aqueduct's Affectionately, so you'll want to plan ahead some. The Laurel headliner is the What a Summer, a six-furlong sprint for fillies and mares four-year-olds and up, post time 3:46 p.m. EST.

Madame Roar looks like she owns the pace all the way in this one, and if she gets clear at the half the way she prefers, it could be all over but the counting. Her major, and perhaps lone, danger comes in the form of versatile and adequate-enough late-runner Prized Stamp. The cold exacta box seems in order, though the price will be slack.

Magna strikes at 4:49 EST with the third at Golden Gate Fields, the Grade III Golden Gate Derby, the first two-turn dirt race of the year for three-year-olds with -- gasp -- potential Kentucky Derby implications.

Cappuchino, despite the horrible spelling, got better, figure-wise, last time, his first two-turn effort. Another step forward and he's right there, at what might be a decent price.

His main competition is obvious: the other Hollendorfers (Yougottawanna, who already is proven around two turns, and U S S Tinosa, who parlayed a brief rest and his first local start to a a solid rally and figure) and the Baffert-trained Danthebluegrassman, a free-running router who has thrived with the added distance. Big deal, that's pretty much the whole field. Good luck.

At 5:14 p.m. EST, Turfway Park runs its 10th -- that is, if they can get the track there in reasonably safe condition following several consecutive days of freezing and thawing and all the associated muck. It's the Wishing Well for older females at six furlongs.

Spanish Glitter is all the rage, and deserving of her even-money morning-line status. Her nose knows how to make the wire first, as evidenced by her gaudy 50-plus percent hit rate and 16-for-17 in-the-money mark. She'll be there at the end.

As if that weren't enough, she's coupled in the wagering with Keepondealing, who merely gilds the lily. The bridgejumpers could be out in full force.

Down to the Fair Grounds for that track's ninth, post time 5:19 p.m. EST, for the Colonel Power, six furlongs for older males.

Bonapaw is the 7-5 choice on the morning line, and will be duking it out every step of the way. But the "now" horse might be Crucible, who learnt how to rate nicely in his most recent effort, in which he posted a superb final-time figure. A repeat of that, and anything close to the 9-2 morning-line odds, and Crucible becomes a fine play.

Over to a Magna track at 5:30 p.m. EST for the Skip Away at Gulfstream, race 11, at a mile and a sixteenth for male three-year-olds and upward. Red Bullet is the track oddsmaker's top pick at 8-5, and he might get the job done. But Hal's Hope has been more professional than ever, even if he lacks out-and-out brilliance. Another stick-around-to-the-end effort like his last, and he could pull the upset.

Halfway home at 5:36 p.m. EST, and the first of a pair of Santa Anita stakes. The fifth is the Sensational Star, a downhill sprint for older Cal-bred males racing under what really are classified-allowance conditions.

Echo Eddie gets back to a course over which he's run his very best races, and that very well could be the case again in this one. He'll sit just behind first-turfer Love That Lion and go by whenever he's ready. Spinelessjellyfish, the slight morning-line favorite, might be a good one to bet against, given his seeming reluctance to make up too much ground late.

The Santa Anita feature is the Grade II San Fernando Breeders' Cup Stakes limited to four-year-olds. The distance is a mile and a sixteenth, with post time slated for 7:07 p.m. EST. A decent-sized field is in prospect.

I Love Silver has a gaudy array of recent figures, but check out the mercurial development of late-blooming Stormin' Heaven, who has gotten better in each start and last time threw up a monster effort in his first two-turn dirt race. Anything close to that performance this time, and 15-1 on the morning line would be a seriously tantalizing proposition. A saver with 'Silver would also be prudent. At the very least. a nice race to watch.

And wrapping up this nine-race, seven-hour-plus stakes odyssey is the Sam Houston Distaff Handicap, a mile and a sixteenth for fillies and mares four-and-up. Post time is a drowsy 11:07 p.m. EST. Another full, contentious field.

Four horses make sense, all of whom should be good prices. Coastalota (9-2 morning line), Slapstick (8-1), Lady Tamworth (8-1) and Caustic Remark (15-1) have realistic chances, with the latter a bomb play extraordinaire, moving from turf to dirt with a penchant for the lead and the right rider in Roman Chapa to nurse him along.

And there you have it.

Our Weekly Brazen Attempt to Try to Sell You Something...How Dare We!

Yep, we do have a book for everything. And some mopes have to flap their busy brown beaks in every forum about every fleeting topic, too. We'll let you figure out whether it's the books or the beaks that'll help you win more. And, yes, we are grinning, thanks.

That said, check out the full assortment of books we have to offer. No, they're not free like the bloviations on most message boards, but it is true that you do get what you pay for, though paying anything for a random-number generator is still too much.

OK. Click on this link to the Cynthia Publishing Company Handicapping Store.

The newest offering: Mark Cramer's latest booklet, authoritatively titled Hidden Probabilities: Hard-Core Research for X-Rated Horseplayers.

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Whoa. That's just plain silly. But you get the idea. Hidden Probabilities: Hard-Core Research for X-Rated Horseplayers is going to be another valuable addition to the handicapping literature, courtesy of someone who knows how to do just that.

New Contest Is for the Long Run

If you prefer a route of ground to a one-turn sprint, the current edition of the Big-Prize Handicapping Contest is for you! For more details, please click here.

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