Friday, March 20, 2009

The Lane's End, Note, Turway Fiasco

Turfway Park
Lanes End (G2)
1-1/8th Three year-olds $500,000

During the process of elimination each and every handicapper looks for something to give him an edge, perhaps some little nugget that most have overlooked. Unfortunately, in the Lane’s End (G3) I can’t glean anything that would dissuade me from going with the two favorites, Bittel
Road and West Side Bernie.

Last week I wrote about how the R.B.Lewis (G2) is the key race of the prep season (see ROTW). In that race Bittel Road finished 4th two lengths back. The three horses that finished ahead of him were, Pioneerof the Nile, PapaClem and I Want Revenge. With the exception of a bad race in the BC Juvenile Turf he has done nothing wrong except perhaps having the bad luck of running into the west coast’s toughest competitors. On Saturday he won’t be denied his moment in the sun. He is simply the best horse in the race.

His most likely competition will come from West Side Bernie. He too ran poorly in a BC race (Juvenile) but there is nothing else not to like. He’s won a stakes at Turfway and gives his all every race. He ran second a length back of the winner in the Delta Jackpot (G3). Terrain who finished a distant 5th in the DJ came back to be 3rd in the Louisiana Derby (G2). In his only start this year West Side Bernie ran a respectable third in the Holy Bull (G3). Both of those races were on dirt. Saturday he returns to synthetics. Being a son of Bernstein out of a Gilded Time mare--it reasonable to assume that turf or synthetics may be where he belongs. He displays three very sharp works for this return and the connections have secured the services of Edgar Prado. All looks well for West Side Bernie cashing a check.

The final spot is up for grabs. I see it as coming down to three horses. Hold Me Back, Jack Spratt or Proceed Bee.
Proceed Bee appears to be a turf /synthetic specialist and won the 100K J. Battaglia Memorial at TP. However, I don’t like how he finishes, even when winning, so I’m throwing him out.

Hold Me Back hasn’t been out since finishing 14 lengths behind Old Fashioned in the Remsen (G2) on 11-29 but that was on dirt. He has won both of his starts on a synthetic surfaces. He shows a strong work pattern punctuated by a bullet work on 3/15. Bill Mott also knows how to win off of a layoff. My instincts say to go with him. However, I don’t like his post position (1) and his lack of racing experience so I’m going to let intellect overrule instinct in this case and take a pass on him.

I had high hopes for Jack Spratt in the FOY but he came up flat. But I think he will appreciate the switch back to a synthetic track. I also am encouraged by the nice work he had after running such a poor race in the FOY. To me that’s a sign of a determined horse and I see him rebounding here. He has run well at TP and has the services of Julien Leparoux who knows a little something about winning at Turfway Park. He is also the only horse I see as a possible spoiler, albeit a slim possibility. Nonetheless he will be my pick for third.

Regardless of which horse wins I do not see any of them as factors on the road to the Derby. I think the best horses in this field will continue to see their successes come on synthetic surfaces.

The Picks:
Win: Bittel Road
Place: West Side Bernie
Show: Jack Spratt

A note to my readers.
I have to apologize for the infrequency of posts over the previous several months. I don't know when I will be able to post on a more consistent schedule again. Hopefully, sooner than later. However, I will be posting a minimum of once a week (on Fridays). And that will be a handicapping post. I have a lot more to say but my current schedule doesn't allow me to allocate the necessary time needed to do a proper job at blogging.
Final Note:
Is there any wonder why there are problems in racing? Turfway Park's hierarchy, in their infinite wisdom, are charging ten dollars admission on Saturday - Lane's End Day - when they usually have free admission. Is it any wonder why the sport has a problem attracting fans? Soak people on the biggest handle day of the season. It's a pitiful display of greed. I know they're having a tough time filling races et al. but if you want to nurture relationships you have to do the right thing. I hope no one shows up at the track!


Amateurcapper said...

Will keep looking for your Friday posts. I know what it is to have limited time.

I hope you are correct about BITTEL ROAD!!! I've added him to my Road to the Roses stable; I'm thinking he'll win w/ one of my jockeys, GARRETT GOMEZ. I also believe there's a chance the colt will run in the either the Blue Grass or Lexington at Keeneland. That'll give me two good chances to pile up some points on the synthetics.

Lastly, the TP deal is a fiasco. That should be one track that horseplayers, following the Mayo and Gallo plan, should boycott this weekend.

Anonymous said...

Just wondering if the title of the post (The Lane's End, Note, Turway Fiasco) is some kind of comment on the race. If so, I don't get it.

By the way, Turfway always charges for Lane's End day. I'm not saying it's right or wrong, just that they have always done so.
I don't think this has any affect on new fans, because a lot of the people who go on Lane's End's day are unaware that admission is usual free.

George said...

Thanks for the comment. No, I didn't mean anything about the race by the title. I just try to let readers know what is in the post by the title.
I have visited Turfway while
working in Lexington. And always attended on Jim Beam or Spiral S. day (now Lane's End day). I do rememer paying but not an amount I felt was too high, But after travelling an hour I wouldn't have turned around even if it was too much. And because of where Turfway is located I'm sure a lot of people would feel the same way if it cost $10 upon arrival. But I don't think tracks should ever to get in. After all we all go wagaer, perhaps eat and have a drink and that's more than enough money for all of us.
I realize Turfway has had a rough season. Most of racing has. But that is no reason to gouge the fans.
I do, however, feel concern for both Turfway and Keeneland going forward (specifically the Lane's End and The Blue Grass) because I think the syn. tracks are going to be a bane late in the prep season.
Thanks again for the note. You sound like a true fan.