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Weekend Review (9/3 - 9/6)

ARCADIA, CA - NOVEMBER 02: Joe Talamo rides Mine That Bird at a morning workout in preparation for the Breeder's Cup 2009 at the Santa Anita Race Track on November 2, 2009 in Arcadia, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
ARCADIA, CA - NOVEMBER 02: Joe Talamo rides Mine That Bird at a morning workout in preparation for the Breeder's Cup 2009 at the Santa Anita Race Track on November 2, 2009 in Arcadia, California. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

I hope everyone had a good holiday weekend whether you were out of town on vacation, relaxing with family at home, betting the Pick Six at Del Mar, or watching your favorite college football team kick-off the season.   

Here's a look at some of the things that caught my eye this weekend, including a Derby winner that needs some class relief, more great Daily Double payouts at Emerald Downs, a funky Beyer (in my estimation) for the Woodward, and more.

-I know that I've written about this before and it's probably becoming old to read (and I swear this is the last time I write about this because even I'm sick of it)...but can somebody talk some sense into the connections of Mine That Bird and get them to realize that this gelding needs some class relief?  He's over his head against Grade 1 competition right now...and probably for the prolonged future.  I realize there is a certain aura around a Kentucky Derby winner and that the owners believe that he can still perform at a high level but I think it's clear that is not the case right now.

Trainer D. Wayne Lukas stated the following about Mine That Bird following the Woodward, as reported by the Thoroughbred Times:

"He came out of it perfect," Lukas said. "We got him into the race and he did everything right but the last quarter. I don't know if it's his mindset, if he wants to finish by being way back. I was really pleased with the way he laid up there so easy the first part of the race, but he didn't kick in. He didn't finish; he just ran evenly.

"I might try him shorter. Everybody keeps thinking he's a mile-and-a-quarter horse. I might try him at a mile once and see how he does, if I can find a decent race. He's a work in progress, I'll tell ya. He's perfectly sound and physically better than he's ever been, and yet we're not getting the job done." (Emphasis added)

D. Wayne Lukas knows more about training horses than I'll ever know so perhaps he has a plan for this gelding, but I have to ask this question: if he's perfectly sound and in great shape physically, and he's continually getting beat by Grade 1 horses, don't you think that's a sign that Mine That Bird is not a Grade 1 animal at this point?  And since he's been getting continually beaten (and is in good shape) might that be a further clue that it is his mindset and that he is giving up and losing his competitive spirit? 

-I continue to be amazed at some of the payouts for the Daily Doubles at Emerald Downs this season.  I wrote a bit about the early DD a while back but I was recently alerted to the fact that the doubles in the middle of the card are offering as much, if not more, value than the early DD.  Since I'm always looking to dig into results charts I took a quick sample of the Double payouts from Emerald this past weekend and, sure enough, there are some hefty payouts rolling in.  Here are the $2 Double payouts for Monday's card, along with the $2 Win price of each horse:

Race 1/2: $58.50 (payout) - $11.60 (1st leg winner) and $7.00 (2nd leg)
Race 2/3: $66.60 - $7.00 and $46.20
Race 3/4: $175.00 - $46.20 and $4.20
Race 4/5: $12.80 - $4.20 and $8.00
Race 5/6: $22.60 - $8.00 and $5.60
Race 6/7: $174.40 - $5.60 and $14.40
Race 7/8: $49.40 - $14.40 and $7.60
Race 8/9: $30.00 - $7.60 and $4.60
Race 9/10: $8.80 - $4.60 and $3.60

There are a few payouts that really stand out within that group, specifically Race 1/2, Race 6/7, Race 7/8, and Race 8/9. 

The Double for race 6/7, a return of $174.40 for $2, is absolutely gigantic when you consider that the two winners went off at odds of approximately 9/5 and 6/1.  If you had placed a $2 bet on the 9/5 winner in race 6 and then taken your $5.60 in winnings and bet it all on the 6/1 winner in race 7 you would have won $34.70 for your efforts.  By playing those same two horses in a $2 Daily Double you would have quintupled your winnings.  You really can't ask for more value than that. 

-The Beyer for the Quality Road's win in the Woodward came back at, looks like we got a split variant again at Saratoga and I got to question this one.  If the figure crunchers had used the same variant they used for the rest of the card the figure for the Woodward would have been a 100 or 101.  But they didn't use that variant, at least that's what it appears from looking at all the races from that day and their resulting figures. 

The sprint variant for the main track on Saturday's card looks like it was 5 or 6 ticks fast, meaning every speed figure was adjusted down by about 5 or 6 points off the raw number.  Then the Woodward is run and the variant comes out 2 ticks slow.  Here's the chart for the main track races on Saturday at Saratoga which has the time for each race along with the actual speed figure as compared to the raw number from Andrew Beyer's one-turn and two-turn speed rating charts from his book Beyer on Speed:





































I don't know what the par times are for Saratoga so there is an element of this analysis that is missing.  Additionally, the problem with what took place on Saturday from a figure making perspective is that there was only route race on the card so we have nothing to compare the final time of the Woodward to; it's hard to know whether the Woodward was slow or just all races at two turns.  On the other hand, it seems like the figure makers generally don't split the variant between sprint and route races so I'm curious as to what the reasoning was for doing that with this race.

In my mind there are two ways to look at the Woodward to try and make sense of it: Either Mythical Power (the runner-up to Quality Road) just ran one of the best races of his entire career or Quality Road ran the slowest race in his last ten.  The Beyer number says that Mythical Power ran one of the best races of his career.  Given the fractions that Quality Road ran (see below) I tend to lean towards the conclusion that he ran one of his all-time worst.  And I think that's why Pletcher is going to give him two months off prior to the Classic - he knows his horse is running on "E" and needs a refresher.

-Regardless of what the Beyer figure is for the Woodward the race looks a bit suspect when we examine the internal splits of Quality Road throughout the race.














The first three fractions look fine as it was a good, but not hot, pace.  It certainly wasn't any faster than what we'll likely see in the Classic in two months.  Those last two fractions, however, are pretty ugly; the final three furlongs went in 38.48.  What the hell were they running in, quick sand? 

If Quality Road would have run another furlong in the same time he ran the last one in the Woodward (and it's debatable as to whether he would have maintained the same rate of speed) the final half mile Woodward would have gone in 52.82.  No wonder Todd Pletcher is going to give him a rest - he'll need to be much fresher and faster than that to win the Classic.

-It may have only come in a four-horse field but I thought Boys At Tosconova was pretty professional in winning yesterday's Hopeful at Saratoga.  With Kantharos retired due to an injury, Boys At Tosconova is the new leader of the juvenile division and he's a very nice looking colt.

-A really nice performance at Monmouth Park in the Grade 3 Red Bank Stakes at a mile on the turf this weekend. The 3/5 favorite, Get Serious, not only won the race but displayed an extremely high cruising rate in the early going and along with a solid finish to hold off the hard charging Nownonwnow in the final furlong.  The final ¼ mile went in 24 seconds, which is a pretty good split after an opening quarter of sub-22 and six furlongs in 1:08.32. 

It's tough to get too excited about the North American horses in the Mile with the knowledge that Goldikova (IRE) is waiting for them all at the Breeders' Cup, but with Get Serious and possibly Sidney's Candy or Twirling Candy jumping into mix the race is beginning to shape up quite nicely.