SaratogaBets Handicapping - Kevin Cox's Saratoga Selections & Analysis - 8/13 - Happy Birthday Bijou
  
  

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It would all start with a list.

A few days before we'd leave, it would be on my father's dresser. "Q Tips, Listerine, pens, socks, underwear...", and on and on it went. One would think he was Jimmy Hoffa going away for a stretch, but in reality, it was how he would prepare for our two night excursion to Saratoga year after year. Obviously, normative society doesn't feel compelled to itemize the most trivial minutia for a 48 hour pass to nirvana, but this wasn't just any Saratoga fan. This was the uuber fan. The greatest Saratoga fan outside of that one in your family...or your co workers' family...or maybe your neighbor... You get the idea. 

We'd shove off at 5:15 in the morning. A time that didn't work for me then, and works even less for me know. He, on the other hand, was as bright eyed and bushy tailed as whatever bushy tailed is supposed to mean. We'd roll into town too early to check in, but that was okay, because we'd go right to the Spa City diner for breakfast. Traditions, you know. After breakfast, while I'd be playing a video game or two in the now abandoned entranceway, he'd be at the table performing origami with his brand new Racing Form. Ripping out the tracks not needed, ( Simulcast ? What's that?? ) then re-folding it so it fit perfectly into the back pants of his shorts pocket. ( Which of course were accessorized with matching hush puppies, because isn't that what fathers do ? )

We'd then check into the best kept secret in town -- the Brentwood motel. Located a horseshoe's throw from the seven furlong chute, and across the street from some breakfast joint which is now the hot spot to go after the races---assuming of course, that you don't want to hear what someone six inches away from you is saying. He would take me to watch the horses enter the starting gate in the morning. It wasn't our place to venture farther than that, you know, but that was okay, because that was the world to an 8 year old.

We'd head over to the races, and go right upstairs to make sure that the plastic owls hanging from the rafters hadn't flown off over the winter. Of course they hadn't, but tradition, you know. We'd meander over to the Big Red Spring for a funny tasting water, but you didn't mind it because they'd give you these nifty red and white souvenir cups. ( A tradition that has since gone the way of periodontists' mouth rinsing dixie cups, but waddya gonna do? )

We'd watch 'em get saddled before the race, then he'd watch me try to get an autograph from a rider who was just beaten by 30. We'd go and sit by the same area in the paddock under the tree, which was a nice little tradition, until someone needed a condo built there. On rainy days we'd scoot to a bench under the old scratch board inside from where the bandshell is. Yes, men would walk out on a catwalk and write all of the changes & results on a giant board, then go back through a door that was as mysterious to me as how that quarter kept ending up under my pillow through the years.

"Can you taste the twin lobsters, Pat?", he would gleefully say throughout the day to my mother ( and the months leading up to that day ) as tradition dictated that we dine at the long gone Weathervane restaurant. $9.95 they were, with a coupon from The Pink Sheet. He never bought a Pink Sheet, but we always ended up with the coupon somehow. He made sure that he had the last bite of the last lobster on the table. Not because he was pacing himself, mind you, but because tradition said that he had to torture my mother over it.

We'd play a round of mini golf afterwards at Murphy's right next door. It's still there these days, but you'd need to use your imagination to remember playing the "Starting Gate" hole, or even the long straightaway of "The Yaddo". Think hard enough, and you can even remember the sounds of your old man holing one out on the "Skee Ball" hole.

Maybe it wasn't a successful day at the track ( for the $10 you bet ), or maybe you got snubbed on a few autographs, but you didn't care, because you were in receipt of something much more valuable at the time. Something passed on that you can never lose, or forget, or put a price tag on.

Those days are long gone, and my father is as well. When he moved on, I asked Bill Nader of NYRA if we could do a race dedication for him and have a plaque put where my parents sat. "Gee Kevin, that may be hard" he glumly said in his office "if we did that then everyone would want one. When was his birthday?" he asked. "August 13", I told him. After an odd stare and a substantial pause, he said "That was MY father's birthday. Where do you want the plaque?"

Something about fathers and sons.

The plaque was unveiled, the race was run, and who was the winner? "The Daddy", of course. Why wouldn't it be?

Every year afterwards, my mother would sit there during her summer sojourns. Getting as close to him as possible. A catharsis, of sorts.

On the night of her passing a few years ago, just before she left ( during the Saratoga meet, no less ), I said "Mom, just give me any sign that you're with him, and that all is well. That you're both happy." Two hours later I entered her house only to find it burglarized. Only it wasn't burglarized at all. A picture had fallen off the wall and landed unbroken on the floor...It was the winners' circle photo of "The Daddy"---with my mother in it. They were together again, in his favorite place---and a list wasn't needed to ensure a good time.

So today I'll give the plaque a bit of a shine, and sit there and sip a beer with Bijou, just as I have done every year.

Because tradition dictates it, you know...

This homage was published the last two years, but has been brought back by popular demand. Additionally, if this annual piece about Bijou resonated a certain way, you'll be happy to know that I was asked to do a reading for "Our American Stories" (1.7 million weekly listeners), and while the verbiage is pretty much the same, there are some subtle differences, including background music. Here it is...   http://www.ouramericannetwork.org/story?title=My-Parents-Are-Gone-But-Their-Traditions-Aren-t&fbclid=IwAR0nxu9wzv3sHr3853i6prcuIYN43GK6J-1YaDzmy7ft7oIE2CD5AbDiCjU  )

 


Today's Beatable Favorite(s): Race 10 - #13 Gaelic Gold ( AE ) or the #7 Chocolate Cookie ( should the former declare )


I'd like to leave this bit of info here for y'all. When we're using the DRF Formulator platform while writing our columns, if we say "Sprints", for the most part we mean any one turn race, and when we say "Routes", we mean any TWO turn race. ( For example, we consider a 1 1/8th mile race at Belmont an elongated sprint, and a 6 1/2 furlong race at a Charles Town a route. ) We feel this way, because in our eyes, it's the number of turns that necessitate more energy than being relaxed on a straightaway. Sometimes the sample size for our study can be too large to manually break down, so there may be a few from one category in another, but usually the end result is pretty much the same. Additionally, when it comes to layoffs, we consider more than 50 days in a dirt to dirt scenario a layoff, more than 58 days in D to T or T to D a layoff, and more than 67 days in a turf to turf deal a L/O.


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Saratoga - 8/13 - Happy Birthday Bijou

 

Race  1

1.Cracker Factory

2.Show Court ( Ire )

3.Maccabee

#3 CRACKER FACTORY (GB) has beaten home just one in two starts since arriving in the States last year, but Fisher ( who's won every jump event this meet ) is a crisp 5-14 with handicap stock off sabbaticals of 68-498 days, AND he's won two of three starts when adding the hood to his jumpers. #5 SHOW COURT (IRE) has been in the rear with the gear dating back to last year, but don't fear, as this one with eleven years has done well here, and may find another gear in a heat without much to fear. #2 MACCABEE completes the "Newcastle/Guinness/Budweiser" triple based on being a nose shy of a two fer three ledger when jumping over firm ground 

 

Race  2

1.Malibu Luna

2.Stretch the Truth

3.Nutsie 

These three and no more for all our rolling action. #8 MALIBU LUNA outran her odds nicely when completing the superfecta at 22-1 first time out, and as she's a filly running against colts, she gets a 48 ounce break in the weight department this afternoon. No worse than 3rd for all those show punters out there. Employing the "Diamond in the Rough" theory for the #7 STRETCH THE TRUTH here, as there is one decent morning move ( 36 & 2 out of the gate ) amidst a bevy of ordinary workouts. Manny Man gets the nod. #1 NUTSIE is a decently bred firster against a fairly weak allotment first time out, and a couple of the training sessions tell us that Carmouche ( a decent send rider ) will be gunning from jump street.  NOTE: AS OF 11:44, DUE TO A LATE SCRATCH THE #2 WILL BE OUR 3RD SELECTION. 

 

Race  3

1.Turf War

2.Lost Ticket

3.Olendon ( Fr ) 

#7 TURF WAR goes two turns to one turn today, and the only time that ever happened, a length+ placing was the end result. Five year old mare is 3:1-1-0-1 on the Mellon, but most importantly, C-Squared ( who's been in another stratosphere this meet ) is a near poyfect 5:4-0-1 with locally based filly turf sprinters who crashed the party off of this kind of break ( $10 x 3 & $36 ). Looking solid -- but not spectacular. #4 LOST TICKET has put together a nice resume' thus far, and as the last start over firm ground ended up with a win, we see no reason to exclude. #1 OLENDON (FR) fell short by only a length in her sole "3rd off the L/O" try, and she did such at 14-1. Looks like a horse that's hard to leave out, but also difficult to hug.  OFF TURF: 3-4-2-6-8

 

Race  4 

1.Blood Moon

2.Grit and Glory

3.Naughty Prince

#2 BLOOD MOON has some nice early zip, and that includes a recent showing over this oval on opening weekend. Appreciable jockey upgrade in play today, and as one of two speeds signed on, has a big shot as long as he doesn't get into a protracted duel. #6 GRIT AND GLORY ( one half of the uncoupled Linda Rice entry ) was all out to get up in time in the opening race of the meet ( Cardenas' sole win ), and as said pilot has had a couple of injuries since then, it's no surprise to see a jock switch this afternoon. Would be aided by crisp splits up front. #5 NAUGHTY PRINCE is wheeled right back after the win/claim eight days back, and takes the mandatory class hike as well. Tho a bit light from a speed figure perspective, there's an old adage about tossing in undefeated runners at 3-1 or more. 

 

Race  5

1.Frenchie Frou Frou

2.Bonus Baby

3.New York Supreme

#7 FRENCHIE FROU FROU flopped in her first try going long on the 25th, but is cut back to one turn today and posted an adjusted Beyer speed figure of 53.8 in the lone turf dash two starts back. Blinks are now part of the mix, so perhaps this one'll be a little closer to the front end today. #11 BONUS BABY exits a key race & drops in class. #2 NEW YORK SUPREME has only beaten home five in his last triad, but offspring of Constitution have been doing very well on the turf of late, and three year old takes the biggest drop in the game.  OFF TURF: 4-10-6-11-13(MTO)  NOTE: THIS RACE HAS BEEN AMENDED AS OF 12:14 P.M..

 

Race  6 

1.Off Topic

2.Foxtail

3.Miss Marissa

#5 OFF TOPIC has a 3:1-0-1-1 mark off a break in the action, and has been working well for today's comebacker. Slimmest of margins in a compact field with very little distinguishing one runner from the next. #4 FOXTAIL went coast to coast like butter and toast in this race on 8/8, and as Cohen eschews this one for the bigger outfit, J. Ortiz will try to guide this one to the hat trick. #2 MISS MARISSA was shipped down to Jersey after the confidence building score about a month ago, and is brought right back to Saratoga, at which she placed last year. Looks to be one of two front end type here, and that's always dangerous -- especially if the other doesn't bring her "A" game. 

 

Race  7

1.Danzigwiththestars

2.Tom's Choice

3.Thin White Duke

These three and no more for all our rolling action.  #11 DANZIGWITHTHESTARS begins his working life today, and while this one has displayed very little talent in the mornings, sire was a turf specialist who banked more than a million clams, the paternal granddam was 4:1-0-1 on the verde and the maternal grandsire was 10-2-2-2 doing the same; of course we dig the draw as well. #5 TOM'S CHOICE only bested the chase ambulance when starting things out on June 19th, and as "Cousin Avi" once said, he "Got the chop !!" shortly afterwards. Barn is on a frigid oh-fer-24 run, but this one's mommy was 1 for 3 on the sod, and her daddy had a 14:2-3-3 record on the stuff as well. #2 THIN WHITE DUKE ( who should be no worse than 3rd here, for those who enjoy the occasional show wager ) has hit the board in all three starts to date, and that includes a mere length defeat despite encountering a boatload of trouble on the first Sunday of the meet.  OFF TURF: 8-11-1-1A-2

 

Race  8 

1.Battalion

2.Mandate

3.Quiet Out East

#5 BATTALION has gone 67-68-73-76 in his "firm" turf starts to date, so right off the bat, who knows where his ceiling is in that regards. Mott charge got pinched at the break in the most recent, but still came along nicely to grab 20% of the pot that day, and ( from an itty bitty sampling ) is 2 for 2 w/locally based allowance turf stayers who hit the board < 52 days back that are less than 22-1 ( $13 & $8 ). #3 MANDATE comes in today off a lifetime best effort on this course not too long ago, and is an obvious player because of such. #1 QUIET OUT EAST didn't have to be hiked up in class after being snagged 35 days in the rear, but Bruce Brown does just that in keeping him claim protected after the sharp showing that day. Recognize that the lone "3rd off the layoff" try ended up with a crisp placing.  OFF TURF: 6-7-3-4-1

 

Race  9 

1.Mrs. Orb

2.Collegeville Girl

3.Newly Minted

Today's featured event is named after the street that ol' Bijou loved seeing more than anything else when getting off the northway -- Union Avenue. To quote the great Red Smith when talking about Saratoga..."From New York City you drive north for about 175 miles, turn left on Union Avenue, and go back 100 years."   As for the race itself, we'll lean towards #3 MRS. ORB. Gal was fanned five wide in the Critical Eye at Belmont 55 days back, but just missed at 17-1 behind today's likely favorite ( who had it all her own way that day ), and gets a three pound break in the weight dept., which ( when you factor that in with a possible tidier sojourn ) could be enough to turn the tables this afternoon. #4 COLLEGEVILLE GIRL has won 5 of 12 and what the hell's wrong with that? #6 NEWLY MINTED has that quintessentially perfect "declining" record which we love so much ( 10:5-3-1 ) as it shows she has a honker for the line, and this miss won by a pole in her only start off an absence.  NOTE: As of 2:43 P.M. Wednesday, we are flip flopping our top two choices.

 

Race  10

1.Tabula Rasa

2.Dancing Kiki

3.Sainte Mere Eglise

This troika should suffice. BEATABLE FAVORITE: Either the #13 GAELIC GOLD (AE) or the #7 CHOCOLATE COOKIE.  #9 TABULA RASA is showing a 3rd best of 39 gate move for today's bow, and is the first foal out of a dam who went 4-15 in turf routes ( 203 large ), and that ones' Daddy excelled on the stuff, going 15:5-2-2 lifetime; note the J/T combination having a 3:1-1-1 mark. #1 DANCING KIKI has been a part of the superfecta in nine of ten and comes in off of three successive career best Beyers. Another solid show bet for those interested. #11 SAINTE MERE EGLISE ( the first French town liberated by the Allies ) closes out the day, as we start prepping for Bijou's favorite "Weathervane" meal -- Lobsters, rice pilaf, cole slaw, potato rolls, & some cold ones. In keeping with his tradition of torturing everyone with the last piece of lobster, I just may have to do the same to my five guests. Traditions, ya know.  


Saratoga         ( Current ):     40-205     ( $355.00 ) Beatable   Favorites   5-13 ( 38.5% )   Favorites Win %       80-205 ( 39.5% )( As of Thursday morning )


Belmont               ( Final ):     30-249     ( $278.60 ) Beatable  Favorites  7-19  ( 36.8% )    Favorites Win %      92-249 ( 36.9% )

Gulfstream           ( Final ):     58-468    ( $865.50 )  Beatable  Favorites  2-22  ( 9.1% )      Favorites Win %    161-468 ( 34.4% )

Aqueduct Winter  ( Final ):     65-427    ( $615.10 )  Beatable  Favorites  8-18  ( 44.4% )    Favorites Win %:   174-427 ( 40.8% ) 

Graded Stakes ( Current ):       5-24        ( $45.00 )  Beatable Favorites    N/A   (  N/A )      Favorites Win %:     10-24   ( 42.5% )


All Triple Crown, Breeders' Cup, Selected Grade 1's and Travers full days  ( These are also counted in the "Dirt Tracks" category ):

( 2013-2020 Final ) 64-411  ( $581.30 ) Beatable Favorites: 18-56 ( 32.1% ) Favorite's Win %: 139-411 (33.8%)  +/-: -29.2% against a 16.8% takeout  


Poly Tracks2013-16  (All Final): 85-568          ( $819.20 )  Beatable Favorites : 15-68      ( 22.1% )Favorite's Win %: 163-587      ( 27.7% ) +/-: -27.6%  against a 15.6% takeout

Dirt Tracks  2013-20 (All Final):2599-13167 ($22,277.40) Beatable Favorites : 352-1263( 27.9% )Favorite's Win %: 5006-13250 ( 37.8% ) +/-: -15.4%  against a 16.8% takeout


Cumulative Stats    (All Final): 2684-13735 ($23,096.60)  Beatable Favorites : 367-1331( 27.6% )Favorite's Win %: 5188-13837 ( 37.5% ) +/-: -15.9%  against a 16.7% takeout


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