Sunday, May 24, 2020
Since 'Notes From North and South' hasn't been part of this space for a long time, how about a one-time return.
Note No. 1: One of the puzzling oddities of the sport is that every facet of the game is dissected, bisected and trisected from every angle by writers, bettors, management, various organizations and the vast horde of on-line tweeters and others who make comments - pro and con - at the end of the many racing columns they agree or disagree with. But nobody comments, at least publicly, on the errors that are apparent in a myriad of Equibase's race charts.
Serious bettors use the Equibase charts as if they are a bible, spotlighting final times, fractions, lengths behind at every call in the race, type of trip and a bevy of other stats. So, if there are errors in a chart, it can make a huge difference in how the big bettors attack the race.
Remember many years ago when Steven Crist led a crusade to report the fractions in hundredths instead of tenths so handicappers could get a better picture of the race? He got it done.
Latest case in point. In yesterday's fifth race at Tampa Bay Downs, David Flores achieved a rare accomplishment in a game that doesn't boast of that many rare accomplishments. Most of what runners or jockeys accomplish has been achieved many times before. But David, who has been living in Ocala since his retirement in 2017, won the race with a superior ride aboard Calypso Key. The accomplishment? David is also the trainer of the 5-year-old mare owned and bred by Firefly Racing.
I've seen jockey-trainer combos in the past, but not often. Clyde Martin comes to mind, and I think Robbie Davis did it for a while, too, but I'm not positive about him. Flores shot Calypso Key out of the gate and they raced in third place all the way down the backstretch before he slipped her through on the inside to win it. My problem? The Equibase chart has the mare in fifth place at the half, and it just wasn't so - she was third. So Calypso Key's position is incorrect at that juncture, as is the number of lengths she was behind the leader. For the once-in-a-while bettor, it won't make a difference. For the serious guys, only they know.
Another place where the Equibase chart-callers are extremely delinquent is in 'lengths behind,' usually down the backstretch. I have watched MANY horses who have been 16 to 20 lengths out of it after negotiating the first turn, or coming out of the chute, and the chart later has it as 12 or 13 or 14 lengths. I've seen many more where a horse was 10 lengths behind and the chart later showed it as 7 or 8 lengths. And these are races that I've re-checked one or more times to make sure I wasn't mistaken - and I wasn't.
Back in the early 90s, when I was the Florida breeding columnist for Racing Times, there were charts in my paper and in Daily Racing Form, constructed by each company's different chart-callers. I used to check both every day and found a great many differences between the calls in the two papers.
Note No. 2 - Flores retired in 2017 with 3,608 winners and purses earned of more than $150 million. He has been training for Firefly at Classic Mile in Ocala, and after Calypso Key ran poorly for two other jockeys, he came out of retirement and has been aboard the mare in her last four trips. Before yesterday he previously posted a second with her back on April 1. Last year, David was the trainer of Higgins, a back-to-back winner at Tampa on March 15 and April 14. His Mexican friend Jesus Castanon was the rider.
Note No. 3 - After 13 or 14 years riding in this country, super French jockey Julien Leparoux still can't get announcers and analysts to pronounce his name correctly. It's not Leppa-roo, as so many say, or Lay-paroo, which the rest spout. It's Le-paroo. The only two who have ever had it right are announcer Larry Collmus and analyst and handicapper Bob Neumeier. (I miss Larry Collmus).
Note No. 4 - Churchill Downs' latest announcer, Travis Stone, does an excellent job. His voice sounds a lot like Dave Johnson.
Note No. 5 - In Friday's eighth race at Tampa, a $5,000 claimer, Ronnie Allen guided Sum Overture from behind and into second place. Sum Overture went off at 126-1 and paid $80.80 to place and $27.60 to show.
Enough notes for now.
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