September 21, 2001

The Large Task of Regaining 'Normal'
Last week, this space was dark, a moment of silence in tribute to the victims and the heroes -- though in reality they were all heroes -- of the terror attacks of Sept. 11. Here we are 10 days later, and the question of the hour must be: what now?

For some -- perhaps more than we can fathom -- "now" will be inextricably tangled with the past, and the future will be a long time in coming. For the rest, "now" is the struggle of the moment, of trying to keep the others going, however unwilling they might be to go on. New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani has implored his citizens and neighbors that the best thing they can do is to come to New York City and spend some money. President George W. Bush has encouraged us to go back to work and try to get back to normal -- as much normal as is possible.

That will be a large task, and in every corner of this great nation, the opinions ring out, at times passionately. We respect the airing of all of them, but refrain from voicing ours here. For in this realm, "normal" did not involve talking about politics or religion or war at large. Normal merely involved discussing horse racing and handicapping and the events of the day in both. And so shall it remain.

It's been said that there is no surer way to ruin a good dinner or conversation than to open the discussion to matters of politics and religion. The recent tragedies conveniently enmesh both, and will doubtless inflame as much as inspire. There are more appropriate forums and avenues for their hearing. This is not one of them. We can only hope that those attached to the most vocal viewpoints will have the courage to back their talk up with meaningful action: for pacifists, a consistent protest of military intervention; for those favoring mortal combat, a channel for their aggressions in active duty.

Who is right and who is wrong is not the point. In peace and in war, one thing has remained constant in the United States of America: freedom -- more specifically, freedom of choice. Combat or no, that simple principle has been defended for more than 225 years. By sheer faith, we believe the American way will prevail once more. And so the large task of regaining normal will be completed.

Blessings to all Americans and those most in need of mercy and kindness in this trying time.

Jockey Profiles?
There's more than enough information on the preferred methods of trainers, but what aboout the little guys (and gals) they give a leg up to on their charges?

Obviously, the very best jockeys will be versatile, with that versatility carrying them to a larger number of winners. (Just like versatile racehorses.) So the top riders are hard to pin down -- they win with all types of runners, under various circumstances, from any part of the racetrack.

Scrutinizing the lesser riders can be an eye-opener. We used data from the 2001 winter-spring Santa Anita meet and 2001 spring Belmont meet as a basis for these for-instances:

--The ultra-low-profile rider Jose Alferez had three wins at the meet, all at six and a half furlongs. Coincidence? As you might expect from a jockey with modest talents, Alferez accomplished all three wins in gate-to-wire style.

--Brice Blanc was much more effective on the turf, keeping his winners in touch with the field before the real running began. Amazingly, all his dirt wins were in sprints -- no routes! And in those sprints, he was much, much better in the "elongated" short events at six and a half and seven furlongs. The reason? His reluctance to gun for the early lead in thos races, which tend to favor a more sustained run.

--Matt Garcia couldn't get arrested on the grass, and his dirt record wasn't too much better. However, he seemed to be at his best when the track was wet, posting riding doubles (two of them, to be exact) on muddy and wet-fast days.

--Like many mid-to-low-level jocks, Felipe Martinez couldn't be trusted around two turns; similarly, the times he won over a distance of ground were via a frontrunning trip with a stretch-out horse.

--Martin Pedroza, who is by no means a human anchor on a horse, posted every last of his 30-odd wins on the dirt. Incredible. More than half of those were at six furlongs or shorter. Average beaten lengths the second call in those events: less than 1. Moral of the story: Don't expect Pedroza horse's to prevail from far out of it.

--Fernando Valenzuela (not the baseball pitcher) could be trusted with routers, but mainly when they were going long after sprinting.

--In New York, Diane Nelson was almost entirely limited to winning with sprinters on the dirt, almost entirely in combination with trainer Leah Gyarmati.

--Jockey Camilo Pitty seemed to be able to elevate his game when the track had moisture in it, scoring half his wins for the meet during a rainy period from May 27-June 2.

And so on -- you can begin to get the idea.

While trainers can orchestrate a winning campaign for their horses months in advance, the jockey must often scramble to adapt instantly to the situations of the race at hand. More often than not -- and certainly more so than the trainer -- the jockey must be guided by instinct and his personal preferences and styles as the running unfolds, which suggests that the jockey can be of some consideration in the handicapping process, especially in instances in which a rider doesn't figure to be a good fit with the horse or doesn't project to be able to adapt to unflattering developments.

Therefore, it's no surprise Pedroza does most of his winning with maidens and low-claimers, for whom early speed is frequently the key. The two go hand-in-hand. It's no surprise Blanc can't get going at six furlongs, where patience rarely is rewarded, but does slightly better at longer sprints, when the late-runners can do OK.

Racing is an information game, and any edge, when wielded properly and in concert with a handicapper's personal routine, can further the so-called mysteries of the game. Anecdotal evidence won't do it, but a close study of riders and their tendencies just might, given the lack of quality information about the jockeys. Give it a try.

BCWTC Prep Tour Hits Commonwealth of Kentucky This Weekend
The road to the Breeders' Cup World Throughbred Championships begins a little later than usual, but it begins in earnest tomorrow, with five key events being contested at Turfway Park. The Kentucky Cup Juvenile, Turfway Breeders' Cup Stakes, Kentucky Cup Sprint, Kentucky Cup Classic and Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies all have implications on the big day on Oct. 27 at Belmont, especially with the delayed start of the hype, fanfare and anticipation. We will do our part by contributing to the speculation.

Race 9 at Turfway is the Kentucky Cup Juvenile, a Grade III with a $100,000 purse at a mile and a sixteenth. Hunter Cruise is the 7-5 morning-line favorite but might not be fast enough throughout the running. A pair of longshots at 10-1 looks like a viable option, and each member represents a distinct running style. Though a maiden, Shining Career has been game in the early stages of his two sprints and should relish the added distance and maybe an easier pace. At the other end of the spectrum, Repent broke his maiden over this track last time, closing into a better pace than he'll get today. But it was a nice breakthrough, and if he's anything close to that price at post time, take it.

After that, it's the Turfway Breeders' Cup Stakes for fillies and mares three years old and up, also at a mile and a sixteenth. The Kentucky circuit's top distaffers get together here, with the interloping Spain, last year's Breeders' Cup Distaff victress, shipping in from her pro-tem New York training base. Royal Fair does not win many, but one thing is nearly certain: she'll be kicking in best of all in the stretch.

The Kentucky Cup Sprint -- of course at six furlongs -- hasn't drawn a stellar cast, but one of its contestants is the much-ballyhooed City Zip, who'll be looking to gain some confidence against this group. As you might have guessed, the early running will be swift and disputed, and that makes for a truly run race. Snow Ridge has been a bulldog in two of his last three, albeit against conditioned-allowance types. This might not be as steep a step up as appears. He could possibly duel all the way around the track with City Zip, and that just might be the exacta.

Guided Tour and Balto Star hook up in the day's marquee matchup, the Grade II, $400,000 Kentucky Cup Classic Handicap at a mile and an eighth. Balto Star will make the early running, and that's excellent news for him. It'll be a tall order to try to run him down on a surface that produced his best race. Performing Magic broke through big-time in his last, and anything similar this time would put him right there. And Guided Tour will be running on at the end, though might not be set for his best off the bench.

Finally, Kentucky Cup Juvenile Fillies is at a mile, and the purse is "only" $100,000. This one might also feature a runaway leader, If Playing 'n Gold replicates her last-out style. She also seems capable of tackling the extra distance. It's her race to lose.

Bonus Coverage: Belmont Trio
Three races tomorrow at Belmont have the potential to contribute to the BCWTC mix, particularly the Jerome Handicap for three-year-olds and the Vosburgh Stakes, a Grade I, $300,000 sprint scramble.

In the Jerome, five speedsters line up to see who will survive, but Hero's Tribute can shake out as the speed of the speed with an aggressive ride early. If so, he's hard to beat. Hot horse Illusioned might not get the mile, even though it's around just one turn. And Burning Roma might burn out.

The Noble Damsel comes between the Jerome and Vosburgh, and it is a true scramble. Babae has been very good lately, and possesses a touch of versatility, too. The one she'll have to withstand at the wire is consistent late-runner Tippity Witch.

The Vosburgh has drawn a field befitting its reputation, and Squirtle Squirt will be involved in the running every step of the way. Alannan won't be too far off them, and posseses the added bonus of knowing how to run hard inside the final furlong. Of course, Say Florida Sandy has been in remarkably excellent form this season -- as a seven-year-old! And Peeping Tom is no slouch, either. The race is more wide-open than most will suspect, and getting a good price -- whichever horse you like -- makes sense in this one.

September Contest Resumes
It's called the Double or Nothing September Edition of the Big-Prize Handicapping Contest, and you can find the complete details at Double or Nothing

The top three contestants from Week 1 have decided to double down and risk their current stake into Week 2. We wish them -- and you -- well.

C&X Late-Breaking News Section Up and Running
(Reprinted from earlier editions.)

It is here -- the C&X Report Late-Breaking News subsite of the Cynthia Publishing Company Web site.

Subscribers, we'll tell you the address and the procedure for establishing an identity and password. You'll find the instructions in your forthcoming September issue, along with excellent, exclusive features on the successful claiming-horse owner Richard Englander, longshot handicapper Kevin Gorg and, as promised, the research cheat sheet from including all the major C&X research from the past two years.

There's never been a better time get involved with racing's best hardcopy newsletter -- bar none.

Year 2 of C&X Is History; Resubscribe Now, or Start Fresh for Year 3 in September
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!