August 24, 2001

And Sometimes, the Racing Is Enough
You look around every now and again, and there's so much drama! Miles Davis had the "Birth of the Cool," but you look at all the hysteria (!) on horse boards and chatrooms, and there's no doubt about it: this stuff is the death of the cool. A sampling:
  • "E-mail me right away or I'll be stricken by a stress-induced cerebral hemorrhage!!!!! I'm not in good shape!!!!! Oh, oh, oh!!!!!" Great, except that the thing he writes about has, really, nothing to do with him.

  • "Let's see...which of my 27 aliases can I use to fool everyone into thinking that I'm worth reacting to, a guru, an authority, the great lilywhite savior that, truth be told, I'm the farthest thing in the world from being...yeah, I'll use this alias: 'Fathead'..."
  • "Sis, boom, bah! Horsey, go faster! I root for my master! But his picks haven't done too well in weeks...waaaa!" (Question: Why's he pickin' so many bad favorites?)

It would be one thing if these were exaggerations, grotesque caricatures. But they're not. They're all too real. Great fodder for any elementary text in psychology. The chapter on arrested development quickly comes to mind.

While these forlorn souls heat up at their overworked keyboards and display all the style of a raft of used tires (you decide if those tires are on fire or not), you ask, and rightly so: Where have you gone, Dean McMillan? Come back soon. We miss you. You could do a year's worth of "Windfall Anglers" on this topic alone!

Yup. Imagine the treatment he'd provide. Too bad. Maybe when the rosters expand to 40 players on Sept. 1, he'll be a late-season call-up. We hope so.

Until then, while all the blowhards hope and hold their breath and flap their flippers and wait for a call for superstardom from some legitimate racing organization that wants to use their analysis and blast it worldwide (good luck), they spin in their little circle, unable to comprehend that a universe of five is not nearly the same as one of 150,000.

Pity. Well, not really. Everybody needs somebody sometime.

Final memo to geekheads: Quit being so narcissistic. Do you really believe everyone wants you to insinuate yourselves in their lives? You guys are funny.

Oh, Yeah -- The Racing
Thankfully, the drama wears off after a few minutes. Thanks for indulging the diatribe. On to the racing, then.

You know -- and you do know, unless you're so busy trying to micromanage handicapping to a series of Important Numbers, thereby forgetting that racing is a celebration of big races and top horses and traditions and seasons, not just "Well, this horse has the best XYZ factor and is 19-1, except we're at a favorites track" (sheesh!) -- that tomorrow is the biggest day of the Saratoga season: Travers Day, with a couple of supporting stakes (the Fourstardave and the King's Bishop) that roll into a nice little pick 3. And if you tack on the nightcap, there's a guaranteed $500,000 pick-4 pool!

In plain English and using no quantities more abstruse than the odds on the morning line, let's look at that sequence, the pick-3 sequence, that is.

The seventh race at Saratoga on Travers Day is the Fourstardave Handicap at a mile and a sixteenth on turf for three years old and up. Fourteen are entered.

If Elite Mercedes, making his first turf start, goes, the pace will be very good. But even if he doesn't, Where's Taylor should be able to set some genuine fractions, even by himself. But if both go, the pace will be decidedly contested.

Where's Taylor's last race showed a new dimension of courage. He was pushed hard all the way against a very fast pace and still disputed the issue all the way to the wire. Another effort like that, and he makes sense as a longshot candidate at 10-1 on the morning line.

Spindrift and Fighting Falcon make up the rest of the top-three contention, and the rest, though boosted by gaudy reputations, just don't seem fast enough. Clearly, the bulk of the probabilities in this one comprises Where's Taylor, Spindrift and Fighting Falcon.

After that, it's the Grade I King's Bishop at seven furlongs for three-year-olds. Squirtle Squirt might have things his own way on a very fast lead, but Keats, when at his tops in the early-speed department, might also contest the opening fractions. And that's pretty much the only way either of those guys can win.

In a duel between those two, Squirtle Squirt should prevail every time, and then it becomes a matter of seeing who will be passing all the displaced speed in the late stages. Bay Head King hasn't really done much rallying in his young life, but he has displayed a bunch of talent in just four starts. He might not be the second coming of Silky Sullivan in here, but he won't need to be. He can probably last better than most of the others in this one. Box Squirtle Squirt and Bay Head King.

To wrap up the stakes, it's the Big Kahuna, although the traditionalists would promptly correct you by reminding you it's really called the Mid-Summer Derby.

"It," of course, is the $1 million Grade I Travers at a mile and a quarter for three-year-olds. And you-know-who is the morning-line favorite.

That would be Point Given, and we all know what he's done. (Unless we've just been searching nonstop for that El Dorado of micromanagement of predicting race outcomes.) But the dynamic this time is a little different than Point Given is accustomed to.

In most of his races this year, Point Given has been able to lay back behind a bunch of early-types on kamikaze missions for the lead. In the Travers, however, the speed looks like a solo flight: E Dubai.

Watching the running of the Personal Ensign on Friday at Saratoga, the lone speed held on quite well, and the first two around the far turn quite clearly finished that way, with the back-markers unable to make much of an impression late.

If that holds true again on Saturday, E Dubai seems likely to be able to hit the board.

That is subject to his liking the long mile-and-a-quarter distance, though.

The Travers annually pushes across more questions than definitive answers, and if E Dubai is not able to make it past nine furlongs, the Triple Crown heroes -- Point Given and A P Valentine take over -- and if Scorpion really is a new horse (something Saratoga has been known to do to otherwise sleepy animals in the past), it could be a dogfight.

Box those three -- Point Given, A P Valentine and Scorpion -- in the exacta and trifecta and hope one of the longer-priced horses takes it. And at 8-1 or better, a win-bet straight-up on A P Valentine wouldn't be a bad idea.

Ultimate Weekend Showdown; September Contest Prize-Money Announced
This weekend, two top handicappers who don't spout off on message boards all the time -- Paul D. and Tom D. -- square off in the Ultimate Weekend Final Showdown of the Iron Survivor Edition of the Big-Prize Handicapping Challenge. They are going for the all-or-nothing prize of $500.

Good thing, too. By popular concern and demand, we have announced the prize structure for the September, and top prize will be $10. Ten bucks. A sawbuck. Yep. You read that right. Second prize will be $5, a fin, while third gets $2.50 and fourth and fifth take home $1.25 apiece.

We're calling it the Zed's Dead Edition of the Big-Prize Handicapping Contest, and if you were one of those contestants who was rubbing his hands over the potential of winning a nice prize, well, uh, sorry. But we're pretty sure you know who raised all this concern in the first place, don't you? Zed's dead, all right.

But it's still not too bad. After all, that September amount represents $20 more in prizes than at that "other" place, right?

Year 2 of C&X Is History; Resubscribe Now, or Start Fresh for Year 3 in September
(Reprinted from last week's late editions.)

Mark Cramer is gearing up for another 12 spectacular issues of his acclaimed newsletter, C&X Report, and though it'll be a great feat for him to improve upon his output in Years 1 and 2, Cramer will do it -- and do it in style. Not like those artless techno-mopes or other assorted geekheads.

Yes, we're happy to report that Mr. Mark Cramer has a soul, and he shares it with readers each month. And he'll be off to a flying start in Year 3.

The first issue will contain a complete listing of all the probabilities of winning of all the C&X Report research articles from the first two years. All the techno-mopes and geekheads will want a bootleg copy of their own (they're notoriously tight), but they'll be sorely out of luck. (And if they ask if they can borrow your copy, look at them and say through gritted teeth, "I don't normally clench my fists, but what you just asked me angered me.") Don't be surprised if they retaliate with some sort of e-terrorism.

But their loss is your gain. For less than the price of a couple of off-track Racing Forms each month, you can get a monthly masterclass in both the art and science of Modern Thoroughbred Race Analysis. Cramer will take you on a dazzling, at times mystifying, at times breathtaking but always informative and entertaining tour of the waterfront of handicapping, wagering and winning horse-race psychology. Bottom line: You can't help but improve your bottom line.

Now for the tricky part. So you don't miss a single word of Cramer's wisdom during Year 3, you have to take action and either resubscribe or begin your subscription now. It's not too hard. Really. Just pick up your phone and dial (323) 876-7325 and have your credit card ready. Your subscription cost is $109 for 12 issues -- again less than the price of a couple of off-track Racing Forms each month. Or you can do it right here from your computer by getting on the Internet and going to Cynthia Publishing Company's Handicapping Store.

As always, thanks for reading, and see you next time.

We appreciate your comments about this newsletter. Please send them to our staff. Thank you!