Rags to conspiracy?

Jun 12, 2007 2:19 AM

Another Triple Crown is in the history books and this one will stay a long time.

Amazon filly Rags to Riches out-gamed the very tough Curlin down the stretch. The two fought tooth and nail only to have Rags To Riches get up a head for the huge win and the $600k that went to the winner. The $600k is a lot of money, but this win will benefit Rags to Riches more than that paltry sum.

In my column last week, I stated that the connections of Rags to Riches were crazy running her in the Belmont. I was served up crow.

They now look like the smartest owners and trainers in the world. Trainer Todd Pletcher is a genius, and that’s that.

I saw the early betting Saturday morning and knew something was up. Being hard headed at times, I took notice when Rags to Riches was even money and asked top Palace Station race guy Billy "O" if those odds on the Belmont wall board were correct. He throws his hands up as usual and confirms Rags at even.

The horse I liked, Hard Spun, was 8-1. How is that possible?

Then we talk about how Gomez, who got the Hard Spun ride when his agent was told that Rags to Riches most likely would not run the Belmont. At first I thought Gomez would be an upgrade. Then when Gomez learned that Rags to Riches would run, he tried to get out of his commitment on Hard Spun and regain his regular mount.

That didn’t happen. Gomez was not very happy and a red light came on in my head as Pletcher now put his main man J R Velazquez on Rags. With a hot Gomez in the saddle of a horse he didn’t want to ride, Hard Spun raced erratically. He fought his rides and tucked in a bit in the early stages, then drifted out on the first turn.

Hard Spun wanted to be let loose while five wide along the backstretch and continued wide after making a mild bid approaching the quarter pole. Then he tired and wound up a no-threat in fourth. Talk about a conspiracy theory!

Was Gomez set up by Pletcher? This was one bad ride by one of the best jocks around, and in a 1 million dollar race! I know one jock scratching his head is M Pino, who had ridden Hard Spun very well in all his races. I guess no one will ever know. What is clear is the matchup between Rags and Hard Spun saw the line at pick, laying -115 on either horse to finish in front of the other.

I jumped in on that line when Rags was even money. Then I played a key Q with Curlin on top of Rags and Hard Spun. I did blow the trifecta when Curlin was yanked all over the track, but I was very fortunate with the Q payoff of $15.90 for two bucks. There was some very good value in the house Q. Bettors would have gotten back $25.20 for a $2 exacta box, which would have cost just $4. If you bet a $4 house Q, the return would have been $31.80. Now it’s on to football season and then Breeder’s Cup.

Baseball +1½ style

The past several years I have written about how profitable it is in baseball to bet the +1½ runs with plus money such as +105. I have made a lot of money with this play during the course of a season. This year, I’m a touch ahead, but basically even.

The main reason: Plays few and far between.

The books have adjusted. In years past, a team at -230 would get +1½ (+110) on the other side. Now the books put up +1½, -105.

Top baseball handicapper Lou Lamatrice notes that betting all the dogs when facing teams that are -200 or higher has been an extremely successful play this season. We will keep an eye on this trend and examine it in more detail next week.

son. We will keep an eye on this trend and examine it in more detail next week.