Notes From North and South
Thursday, October 22, 2020

    (1) In another of those bizarre finishes much like reported in the last 'Notes' where the numbers of the five horses in one race wound up 5-4-3-2-1, here's one that occurred on Oct. 16 at Gulfstream West.

    The winner in the six-horse field was Swaggy George, who was the even-money favorite. Finishing second was Heavenly Blessing, who was the second choice at 4-1. Third was Exchange Day, who was the third choice at 9/2. Fourth was Savatiano, the fourth choice at 5-1. Fifth was Osprey, the fifth choice at 6-1. Sixth and last was Gege Conquest, the sixth choice at 9-1. 

    Congratulations to the betting public that day; they got it right on the money in this one. 

    (2) I'm far from being a trainer and I'm certainly not familiar with many of the little nuances of entering a horse in a race, then keeping him or her in the race instead of scratching due to weather or track surface changes. However, I wonder why, in certain cases (with big purses), a trainer wouldn't let a horse run if that race came off the grass and there were so many scratches that remaining in the field would wind up in an easy payday even if the horse didn't run well.

    Here's one instance to illustrate the point. When Circle 8 Ranch's Dur a Cuire was making her 2-year-old debut at Churchill Downs, the one-mile maiden special turf race with a juicy purse of $95,000 was switched to the main track. From an original field of 16 - which included also-eligibles - there were 12 scratches, but owner Troy Levy and trainer Michelle Nihei opted to leave Dur a Cuire in to make up a four-horse field.

    The filly was off last with Channing Hill and was never a threat, finishing 28 lengths behind on the sloppy track. And the check for fourth place was $4,750. That's about three months or so of training bills, and Dur a Cuire certainly wasn't hurt by the effort; in fact, she was probably ready to race again in short order. Something to think about.

    (3) It's no secret that the number of mares being bred in Florida has plummeted in recent years, making it more and more difficult to bring stallions in at the end of their racing careers. Proving that point is this season's Florida freshman sire list, which consists of just three names, one of whom is inconsequential. The number of Kentucky stallions who get books of more than 100 dwarfs that of Florida, where the 100+ types are few and far between. 

    One who has bucked the trend is Bucchero, the first son of Kantharos to go to stud and who started out with a bang at Pleasant Acres Stallions last year. Despite arriving late, the near-millionaire proved to be very popular and Joe and Helen Barbazon were able to get 130 mares to him in his initial book. It was going to be very interesting to see what the second year brought, and it turns out it has been even better - Bucchero bred 161 mares this season. 

   (4) Kentucky Downs has announced its schedule for 2021, and there will be six racing days again for the meeting that has been featuring the highest average field size in the country in recent years. The meet opens on Sept. 5 and takes in the Labor Day weekend, with purses averaging about $2 million a day. 

       This year, there were 62 races contested over the six days and it produced a record handle for the track - $59,828,444. Last year, for five days, 50 races produced a handle of $41,239,699.

    There are several major benefits for handicappers making wagers at Kentucky Downs.

(1) The huge pools make it rare for a horse to drop three points as the race is in progress as happens at so many other tracks.

(2) The competitive fields make for very few 3/5 and 4/5 shots.

(3) Some of the best jockeys in the country show up for the festivities. 

(4) The seemingly interminable stretch run gives late runners a much better chance to be competitive than at tracks where if they're 8 or 10 lengths behind at the top of the stretch they have very little chance to win.  




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