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Sunday Quick Thoughts

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Saratoga and Del Mar are on the horizon as we reach the half-way point of July.

Mt. Rainier looms over Emerald Downs on a sunny, clear day in the Pacific Northwest
Mt. Rainier looms over Emerald Downs on a sunny, clear day in the Pacific Northwest
Matt Gardner

Saturday was quite a long day of watching and handicapping races but that's what nice summer days are for, right? I'd like to thank Joe Withee and the good people out at Emerald Downs for inviting to take part in their Emerald Downs Live program on ComcastSportsNet Northwest yesterday afternoon.

I've done a couple of quick, short TV/video segments before but sitting at a desk and, as a friend of mine put it once, "talking to a piece of glass" is certainly a different experience. The paddock was just to my right, the finish line just behind me, and there were monitors everywhere broadcasting racing from around the country. So where do I look? Oh, yeah, the camera right in front of me. Anyway, I had a great time hanging out on the set and actually picked one winner during my five race stretch (thank you, Chu and You. The You and I juvenile filly was a most impressive winner at first asking in the fourth race.) Of course, because I was on the first part of the show, I got the quarter horse event in the first race as part of my coverage. Here's what I know about quarter-horse races: bet on the fast one that runs straight out of the gate. Simple enough, right?

Three of the five races during my segment on the air were baby races which, as we all know, can be fun races to handicap but certainly difficult races to predict when there are many first time starters. And, as typically happens, we had some horses that made their task a bit harder due to their inexperience. One of the firsters I really liked yesterday, Gold Trick, finished third in race three after breaking slowly from the gate and sort of half-blowing the turn, but made up a good amount of ground in deep stretch. I'm looking forward to her next start.

I didn't get to see much of the action from around the country live yesterday, so I went back last night and this morning to review some of the results.

  • Nice win by Boisterous in the Man o'War but, goodness, Optimizer is becoming a bit of a money burner (fortunately not my money). He's taking in a good amount of cash at the windows but isn't rewarding his backers very often any more.
  • I put in a small conditional bet on Rahystrada in the Arlington Handicap yesterday and was pleasantly surprised to find out he got the stalking trip I was hoping for and 7/2 wasn't a bad price on that gelding in a seven horse field. I also snuck in a small WPS action bet on Dancing Afleet as I was handicapping prior to the show at Emerald Downs, so that play helped to cover some other loses. (Almost 10/1 seemed really generous. Actually, "seemed" is the wrong wrong word; 10/1 "was" generous.)
  • Dullahan ran well to finish third in the Arlington Handicap but, as Tribe has stated numerous times, he's clearly a synthetic horse, as least if we're talking about winning at the graded stakes level. I'm sure he could win allowance level races on grass or even dirt, but he's so much better on synthetics that he should be on a plane to Del Mar right now.
  • A pretty nice renewal of the Virginia Derby as War Dancer edged out Charming Kitten and Jack Milton at the wire at generous odds of a little over 7/2.

    The performance by race favorite Rydilluc was pretty disappointing as he never got the lead, steadied a bit in mid-stretch but the race was over by that point. I'm guessing the stalking tactics will go in the waste bin after that effort as he clearly run better when he's able to control the pace.

The Belmont and Hollywood meets come to a close today which can only mean one thing: it's Del mar and Saratoga time!