September 28, 2001

A Brief Word...
...before we get to the eight races on tomorrow's docket that have Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships implications.

A scan of racing at six tracks during September shows that in 754 races, 241 favorites were winners, or a gnat's eyelash under 32 percent. A hundred-sixty second choices won, making the top two favorites' win percentage 53.2 percent. And 127 third choices won, resulting in better than 70 percent of the races having been won by one of the top three public choices. Good handicapping by the fans in the stands.

As you might have guessed, maiden special weight races were among the most predictable, as were stakes and allowances. Maiden-claimers were not too far off the mark, and -- yes -- claiming races were the least likely to be accounted for by the fave, under 30 percent. Larger-than-usual fields have to have something to do with that.

Two-year-old races are filling more and more of the programs at this time of year, and, interestingly, the favorites have been underperforming. A handy thing to look out for in juvenile sprint race on dirt is who'll be in striking position through the opening quarter-mile, the road to many a two-year-old upset. Another snappy idea is the first-time-starting two-year-old in a maiden-claiming sprint. The ones who have been quick in the mornings or have a precocious pedigree can do some damage at good odds. Two-year-old maiden-claimers are a notoriously shaky lot (55 races in the sample, only 15 winning favorites, or 27 percent).

Back on the Road...
...to the Breeders' Cup World Thoroughbred Championships. Last week produced a bunch of highly regarded animals putting in strong efforts but just getting beat at the wire.

Case in point, the hopeful three-year-old E Dubai, sent off as the odds-on choice in a muddy Super Derby at Louisiana Downs, where he made all the early running before getting wobbly through a 29-second final quarter and being tagged at the wire by a three-year-old, Outofthebox, who was a hotshot early in the year before he got hurt. Got that? More and more, it simply appears that E Dubai will have nothing to do with the 10th furlong of the classic American distance.

Squirtle Squirt was given an odd ride by jockey Jerry Bailey in the Vosburgh. Allowed to lope along on a free and easy lead in 22-and-change opening quarter, Bailey, still without pressure, pushed Squirtle Squirt through a sub-22-second second fraction, opening up on the rest of the field in the stretch. While the acceleration might have appeared visually impressive, it really left Squirtle Squirt with little for the final eighth -- especially at seven furlongs -- and the horse was not able to fight on when engaged in deep stretch. But six furlongs will be a different story, and a similarly fast second fraction at that distance will discourage most of Squirtle Squirt's competitors in the Sprint.

Balto Star returned to the main track after a frontrunning win in allowance company on the Saratoga turf and had to deal with a professional and seasoned Guided Tour all the way around the mile-and-an-eighth distance of the Kentucky Cup Classic. Despite his relative youth and inexperience, Balto Star was dead game, and fought as well as could have been expected, especially after having been pressured every step of the way. No guarantees, but there could be less pace on at a mile and a quarter. He could be dangerous.

And City Zip had every opportunity to win the Kentucky Cup Sprint, edging away a little in upper stretch of that race. But Snow Ridge did not lose courage down along the rail, resurgent at jockey Pat Day's urging. It was a better effort for Snow Ridge than City Zip, since Snow Ridge was the one who had to prove he could handle a graded stakes field and duel against the best of the best without cracking late. He accomplished his mission, and has a chance to move on.

This week, no fewer than eight races will be contested by horses harboring championship honors: three apiece at Belmont and Santa Anita; one each at Arlington Park and -- amazingly enough -- Thistledown.

At Belmont, the Gallant Bloom, Flower Bowl and Turf Classic are the Crucial Three.

Gallant Bloom: This is a six-and-a-half-furlong Grade II for female sprinters. Dream Supreme, who ran an even-but-troubled sixth (of 14) in last year's Breeders' Cup Sprint, should find herself in a dominant position entering the stretch. Dat You Miz Blue will try to go with Dream Supreme hoof-for-hoof early, while Gold Mover will set out to prove her last-race upset was no fluke by closing into the pace set by the top two. Outlook: If the authentic Dream Supreme shows up, it's a matter of figuring the bottom of the exacta.

Flower Bowl: A 10-furlong Grade I (with a $750,000 purse) for turf distaffers. The pace looks like Babae's alone, though she'll need to step things up a bit to be a factor at the end, and her pedigree might not allow for it. Chaste could improve with the added distance, and is set to build on the breakthrough she made in her most recent effort. But all eyes will be on the top three morning-line choices: favorite Lailani, a monster in Europe under these conditions; Starine, who blossomed at Saratoga for trainer Bobby Frankel; and England's Legend, who despite having won three in a row, including the Beverly D. last time, is no better than this race's third choice on the morning line. Outlook: Look for England's Legend to get the jump on her rivals, with Lailani outclosing Starine for the place.

Turf Classic: The boys take over at a mile and a half on the grass here, and Slew Valley could be your lonely leader. That's his best style, though he has not been good at all past nine furlongs. Timboroa, on the other hand, is the opposite, a true marathoner regardless of style or pace. The one he'll need to beat is the popular King Cugat. Outlook: Timboroa-King Cugat exacta box looks solid.

At Oak Tree at Santa Anita, it's the Lady's Secret Breeders' Cup Handicap, Norfolk Stakes and Yellow Ribbon.

Lady's Secret: All eyes will be on the perfect Tamara Princess, the 9-5 morning-line favorite though she's never had to beat the kind on tap for tomorrow, several of whom are already graded-stakes winners. Tamara Princess might not appreciate the steep rise in class, or the quality late-runners she'll have to fend off in the lane. Two of the most promising, and classy, closers are Nany's Sweep and Queenie Belle. Outlook: Nice nonfavorite exacta in prospect.

Norfolk: Came Home is the monster of the moment, and would be even more regarded if not for Officer. But there are holes in his case in terms of the first try around two turns, and the race becomes wide-open if Came Home shows his distance liabilities. Ecstatic and Essence of Dubai could be more than resolute enough in the lane. Outlook: As crazy as it may sound, play against Came Home.

Yellow Ribbon: Tranquility Lake is your defending champion, but might be using this to prepare for the Breeders' Cup Distaff on dirt. Should Tranquility Lake have more than she can bear when Minor Details duels her on the front end, The Seven Seas and Janet will be calling inside the final furlong. Outlook: Either The Seven Seas or Janet, or both, should be able to crack the exacta.

At Arlington Park, two-year-olds get together for the Arlington-Washington Futurity around the one-turn mile distance. Publication, in just his second start, could give legitimate favorite Duba Squire a run for his money. And finally, at Thistledown, it's the Ohio Derby, in which Macho Uno, 3-5 on the morning line, tries to legitimize his bid for the Breeders' Cup Classic. And he looks pretty solid to do just that.

September Contest Ends
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 did their best, and two of them are still alive to double their existing stake yet again. Beat them out of it and collect your own cash prize.

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.

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

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