June 14, 2002

In This Issue...

Magic Numbers: Three, Four, Six, Nineteen, 27,000

Here in sunny Southern California, you can't escape from all the talk about the three-you-know-what, the latest in a potentially long line of NBA championships secured by the local team. But racing is doing a bunch of shouting of its own, and it doesn't include any hoppy dancing by a bunch of tall guyz, either! Yeah, boyz!

The genius suits at the NTRA, riding high off the sensational Nielsen ratings from last week's Belmont Stakes, won't leave all the curiosity-seekers in a lurch this week -- and that's good! The encore will be on another network, but there indeed will be nationally televised horseracing a week after the climactic moment. And there ought to be at least a little residual interest spilling over into this weekend. And that can only help things.

So, for once, racing looks like its got some momentum into the far turn, not dropping back as it has in years past. Fueling the enthusiasm ("Hey, psst, buddy! There's more of that 70-1 stuff over here! But you gotta pick a coupla more hosses. Ya know what I mean?") is not just the history and the pageantry and the high drama (all on display in the Belmont), but the weekly or even daily reality that, yes, big payoffs are part and parcel of the racing experience.

If the NTRA can accomplish some of that with its ambitious Summer Racing Tour as well as the accompanying National Pick 3, maybe next year's Belmont will get even bigger ratings than this year's. But for now, the laboratory of the weekly or bi-weekly national over-the-air racing broadcast will produce encouraging results. It is hoped they will emphasize that the beauty of the sport isn't only a physical one, but a financial one, too, with plenty of mentally stimulating perks, as well.

That means a National Pick 3 from three different tracks in the span of much less time than was allocated to the televised buildup of War Emblem's mild flirtation with history. For the lottery-lovers out there, there ought to be some appeal.

That takes care of the 3, now for the 4. One of the races in the Naitonal Pick 3 is part of something even bigger, an all-stakes Pick 4 at Churchill Downs, flagship track of the burgeoning and headed-in-the-right direction CDI. (Hey, we luv Friday nite racing, boyz!) The pick 4 might be local, but with nothing but stakes in the lineup, the names will be familiar.

As for the 6, it's at Hollywood Park, a guaranteed-pool pick 6, and local knowledge most certainly will be a big edge.

The 19 are the remaining non-pick-3, non-pick-4, non-pick-6 stakes around the country we'll have Fast Capper 2002 dope out for us.

Finally, the 27,000 is an inside job, but we'll let you stew on it for a few minutes.

Now, to the three. We're goin' in!

Three: NTRA Summer Pick 3

When last we saw our heroes (or perhaps bums, depending on your viewpoint), they left us with six named horses for the Belmont, eliminating some wiseguy runners like Proud Citizen, Wiseman's Ferry, Essence of Dubai and Perfect Drift. And would you believe that from the six horses they named, the superfecta was included.

Of course, man and machine couldn't come to an agreement of mind and megahertz. The man was steadfastly opposed to Medaglia d'Oro. The machine snickered softly at mention of Sarava. And never the twain did meet. The man cursed his usual fate of the dreaded skip exacta. The machine dug in (convenient to have no memory in the conventional sense) to nab the $360 exacta in the turf sprint later on the Belmont card, finally listening to the man and combining their picks. At least they learned, maybe one or two races too late, though.

So our friends are back for an encore, beginning with the NTRA Summer Pick 3, which encompasses the Dallas Turf Cup Handicap at Lone Star Park; the Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks at Hollywood Park; and the Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs. And away they go.

Dallas Turf Cup Handicap
Man: Hello, my young friend.
Machine: You must kid with me, sir. You are serious in telling me that we are missing a chance to see the Hollywood Starlets so we can do all this handicapping. Are you not?
Man: See that surge protector over there...
Machine: Oh. Now I begin to understand. As you were saying...
Man: ...as I was saying. The NTRA Summer Pick 3 begins tomorrow. The first race in the sequence is the Dallas Turf Cup. What do you say?
Machine: Suances is the favorite, but he could be beatable. I have a four-horse tossup among Maysville Slew (9-2 fair odds), Candid Glen (5-1), Chauffe Au Rouge (5-1) and Our Main Man (5-1).
Man: I agree with your choices of Maysville Slew and Candid Glen. But in terms of the dead-on turf rally, I also have to give a look to Mercenary and Nat's Big Party. I'll take any of those 7-1 or better, and I should get it on at least one, since Suances will get the bulk of the action.
Machine: Allow me to ask you. Why do you not like Suances?
Man: I tell you, it's hard not to like him. That's a monster figure he threw last out, but I don't like the circumstances. What if he's not going to be tractable? If Unrullah Bull actually runs, that might be it for Suances. We'll see. But horseplayers live for races like this, top turf events with nice fields and identically matched contenders.

Hollywood Breeders' Cup Oaks
Machine: I am tending toward agreement with the track oddsmaker. My top three and his top three are alike. I have Ile de France (5-2), Respectful (4-1) and Adoration (5-1). I give an outside chance to Sister Girl Blues (6-1).
Man: That's interesting. I got problems with Adoration, the morning-line favorite. I hate Hofmans on the surface-switch. I'm guessing her usual alacrity won't be as sharp, because of the recent turf races.
Machine: Hofmans? Who is that?
Man: The trainer, something you don't consider in your calculations. I think Ile de France and Respectful are much worthier on-the-pace candidates. The horses who'll be coming on late are Saint Bernadette and Ladylore. This race is much more wide-open than most think, if Adoration bombs like she might. Take any of my four at 7-1 and up.

Stephen Foster Handicap
Man: Did you Congaree's comeback race?
Machine: No.
Man: Man, uh, machine! What an effort! He got tested throughout, looked like he should give it up any time entering the stretch and then Patient Pat just had 'em all measured! What a sandbagger!
Machine: Sir, if you say so.
Man: It was one of those visually impressive races, you know?
Machine: No, I don't know.
Man: Well, I tell you. It's gratifying to see that a good three-year-old who got laid up came back in really good shape for a change.
Machine: Congaree is not among my logical contenders.
Man: What? Are you having a hemorrhage?
Machine: I can only do what they tell me.
Man: I suppose.
Machine: My contenders are Street Cry (7-2), Dollar Bill (7-2) and Parade Leader (4-1).
Man: Fair enough. I have a completely different mix. I include Street Cry, but my other four are Tenpins, who will be very strong on the lead; Congaree, who'll be sitting right there; Unshaded, a very good closer in this context; and Connected, who looks like Unshaded in here. Ten-to-one or better.

The Whole
Man: Now, those are the parts. But can we fashion a ticket that's greater than its sum?
Machine: I take that to mean a winning NTRA Summer Pick 3.
Man: You got it.
Machine: If you take my contention in each race, it's $48 for a $1 ticket. I have four in each of the first two legs, three in the remaining leg. Since it looks like I will be trying to beat two favorites, that could be a positive-expectation situation.
Man: I'll be a little cheaper, as I always am. I'll also try to beat two favorites, but I'll respect Congaree in the Foster. I'll take Maysville Slew, Nat's Big Party and Candid Glen in the opener. I'll follow with Saint Bernadette and Ladylore in the middle. At the end, I'll try Congaree, Unshaded and Connected. That's $18 for a buck. Not bad.

Four: All-Stakes Pick 4 at Churchill

If you like Churchill Downs, you get a bunch of stakes in the action and the chance at a six-figure payoff in the form of a pick 4.

You know what our friends think in the Foster, but there are two races before that one and one after that make up the bet, and here they are.

Northern Dancer Stakes
Machine: Sky Terrace (2-1), Stephentown (3-1), Shah Jehan (7-2).
Man: Sky Terrace. Six-to-one or better.

Fleur de Lis Handicap
Machine: Minister's Baby (2-1), Dancethruthedawn (3-1), Spain (6-1), With Ability (6-1).
Man: Dancethruthedawn and Forest Secrets, either or both at 5-1 or better.

Regret Stakes
Machine: Traci's Wild (7-2), Distant Valley (7-2), Stylelistick (4-1), Calzada Kid (5-1).
Man: Almost. Traci's Wild, Distant Valley and Avec Toi. Seven-to-one or better.

Six: Guaranteed Pick 6 Pool at Hollywood

Midway through this handicapping obstacle course, our friends need a breather. In this stage of the rally, we shall ask them point-blank their potential single and their potential shocker in each of the events.

Race 5
Machine: Single: Risiafon. Shocker: Same.
Man: Bold! I like it! Single: Disguys Dalimit. Shocker: L'Natural High.

Race 6
Machine: Single and Shocker: Continental Red.
Man: What did they do? Put a prototype of one of those snazzy new AMD chips in you? Wow. Single: Sarafan. Shocker: Kappa King.

Race 7
Machine: Single: Sevens Wild. Shocker: Believe in Magic.
Man: Single: Balcovy. Shocker: Same as yours -- Believe in Magic.

Race 8:
Machine: Single: Easy Grades. Shocker: Six Hitter.
Man: Single: Chiselling. Shocker: Six Hitter.

Race 9
Machine: Single: Milwaukee Brew. Shocker: Reba's Gold.
Man: Single and Shocker: Investor's Dream.

Race 10
Machine: Single and Shocker: Insane Reality.
Man: That could be an apt name, but applied to which one of us? Single: Fab Do. Shocker: Ultro.

Nineteen: More Stakes in the Action

The man has had it. Goodnight. The machine has no intention of stopping now. These are based on fast dirt tracks, firm turf courses and, of course, before any late scratches, weather-related or otherwise. (Yeah, we know it's been inclement up and down the East Coast.)

Belmont 8, Brooklyn Handicap

Seeking Daylight (fair odds 7-2), Bowman's Band (5-1), E Dubai (5-1)

Belmont 7, Hill Prince Stakes

Irish Colonial (6-5), Emergency Status (5-2)

Bay Meadows 8, Time To Leave Stakes

Hostility (8-5), Phoenixledo (5-2), Proactive (9-2)

Boise 9, Winning Colors Stakes

Riband (5-2), Eyes Sucha Delight (3-1), Trophy Edition Too (9-2), Infantry Liz (5-1)

Canterbury 7, Brooks Fields Stakes

Promise of War (3-1), Rich Vein (5-1)

Calder 7, Office Queen Stakes

Four Pennies (4-5), Chit Chatter (3-1), Our Dear Jade (3-1)

Delaware 7, Wilmington Handicap

Stormin Oedy (5-2), Deer Run (9-2), Smile My Lord (6-1)

Emerald 8, Captain Condo Stakes

Bub (3-1), Knightsbridge Road (3-1), Bomartini (9-2), Its Samson (9-2), Personal Plan (5-1)

Great Lakes 8, Regret Stakes

Born to Dance (3-1), Bad Thing (4-1), Midway Girl (5-1)

Hastings 4, Sun Handicap

Princess Premier (9-5), Inish Gloria (3-1), Queen of My Nights (7-2), Grooms Derby (9-2)

Monmouth 9, Santo Lalomia Handicap

Willie's Luv (5-2), Firecard (3-1), Picnic Theme (7-2), Gaelic Bay (5-1)

Monmouth 10, Oceanport Handicap

Crash Course (2-1)

Philadelphia 9, Lyman Sprint Championship Handicap

Docent (5-1), Lord Sanford (6-1)

Pimlico 10, Baltimore Breeders' Cup Handicap

Private Ryan (2-1), Grundlefoot (3-1), Tactical Side (7-2), Bowman's Band (5-1)

Prairie 8, Prairie Mile Stakes

Vito Corleone (8-5), Private Horde (4-1), Missme (4-1), Cowboy Stuff (9-2)

River 7, Magic City Classic Stakes

The Rejected Stone (6-1), Azooma (6-1), Beads of Promise (6-1)

Stampede 8, Alberta Derby

Sweet Monarch (4-1), Lord Shogun (5-1), Intact (6-1)

Woodbine 8, Apelia Stakes

Callendars (2-1), Brass in Pocket (3-1), Mountain Orchid (4-1), Spanish Decree (4-1)

Woodbine 4, Victoria Stakes

El Ruller (2-1), Skeet (5-2), J. M. Judge (9-2), Biddy's Lad (6-1)

That's enough handicapping for one issue, don't you think?

27,000: The Righteous Receive Their Just Reward

Now, for the moment you've all been waiting for. Congraulations to longtime Big-Prize Handicapping Contestant Diane B., who has blown doors off the Exotics Division of the May-June Triple Crown Trifecta Edition. Last Saturday, she took the mandatory Belmont Stakes, gave us her top three selections and it was all over but for shouting: Sunday Break, Medaglia d'Oro, Sarava.

But in true Diane B. spirit (trust us, she's one of the good people out there), she said she was so busy rooting for the War Emblem Triple Crown that she didn't realize she had hit all the big prices.

This one's for you, Diane. Outstanding job. Take a bow, and a moment for yourself every now and again, eh? And although it's gilding the lily, she will receive her prize money in the Exotics Division! Amazing!

However, she still has some work to do to guarantee a clean sweep on her way to getting the prize money in the Win Division, where no fewer than four sharpies had Sarava among their top trio.

To one and all, continued good luck and success in the realm of your handicapping. You deserve it.

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