When I first started going to the race track with my father “Broadway Bennie” at good ole’ Waterford Park on the Ohio River in Chester, West Virginia, he would always say to me, when you bet the chalk you are going to lose 70% of the time.
If you think you just can’t find a horse to beat the chalk, well there are plenty more races coming up. At times our eyes and heart will deceive us when making bets, whether on the ponies, sports or even playing a little poker. Sometimes it becomes hard to stick to what we know is the right thing to do.
I liked Orb, having won his last five starts. Just one time he was the chalk and that was in the Kentucky Derby at 5-to-1, which is a great price, but at 70 cents on the dollar you just have to pass or, as my dear departed dad would say, “find a horse to beat him at a price.”
I came up with the wrong horse in Mylute, who finished a game third at almost 11-1, just missing second by a half-length while almost 7 clear of the fourth place Orb.
Mylute, not to take anything away from the wire-to-wire winner, was steadied back at the break. He angled off the rail with 7 furlongs to go picking up momentum while four wide leaving the far turn. He altered out 7 wide and steadily closed the gap at the wire in what was just another big effort by this colt.
This is why they run races, each differs as does the surface. The track condition and pace are different as well. Things happen.
Getting to the pace, which is the main reason Oxbow got the win. For some reason, with no pressure to go, he was allowed to do the mile in a dawdling 1:38 at the Preakness when they went 1:36 in the Kentucky Derby.
After the first quarter-mile the race was, as you can say, over with a rider like Gary Stevens on just sitting there with absolutely no pressure from the other speed horses. Titletown Five never made an attempt to go after him. Govenor Charlie, who can get a mile in 1:34 and change and a half-mile in 46 seconds, never picked up his feet.
The other speed, Goldencents, sat in second for half the trip and died as he is just not good enough for these. As the old horse players would say, “pace makes the race,” and it certainly did in the Preakness.
You will see a different outcome in the Belmont Stakes. As for the second place finisher in the Preakness, Itsmyluckyday, he ran bang up with J.R. in the irons but was just not good enough.
As for Orb, he bobbled at the break, moved up and was right there while down on the inside. He made a quick move 5 furlongs out and looked to be making his big run but dropped back while not under any pressure by Rosario entering the far turn. He moved back to the rail – one of the bad moves by “I can do nothing wrong” Rosario.
It takes a very special animal to win the Triple Crown and the way they breed horses and train today with all the meds, we most likely will not see a winner. That’s OK.
Talking about pace, just ask Big Brown what happened in his attempt to win the crown when not breaking on top in the Belmont; and was it a Lukas 3yo that went wire to wire that day when left alone on an easy lead? No, it was Da’Tara, trained by Nick Zito who went gate to wire at 38-1 in 2008.
With the dog days of summer approaching, before we get into the football season I will be penning a few stories about – as Butch Cassidy said to Sundance or Sundance to Butch – “who are those guys?”
I had some friends in town sitting with me in the book one Saturday a few weeks ago and they just could not believe the Damon Runyon characters betting around us. I will give the readers a short snapshot of a few, starting next week with “Ping Pong” Dave, a loyal horse player in this town for over 40 years. But who is this guy?
Richard Saber, a former director of race and sports at the famed Stardust book, is GamingToday’s horse racing and sports handicapper. Follow Richard on Twitter @SabesBet. Contact Richard at [email protected].