Trainer Darrell Vienna did a difficult thing: He won first time out with an older maiden.
Darrell Vienna is a bettors’ best friend. He is low profile, has a decent winning percentage, and his horses pay well when they hit the wire first.
And that’s no accident. Vienna, who has a psychology degree from UCLA, was profiled in the DRF’s Simulcast Weekly on April 19 where I learned that he trains all of his horses on Santa Anita’s dirt training track, which is inside the turf course.
On the SA training track, the times are often slower than those on the main track and fewer horses work out for each distance. When Vienna’s inexperienced runners, or those coming off layoffs, show up at the races their published training track workouts look slow and odd.
And that’s a good thing because horseplayers not only don’t like playing unproven horses, but they like unproven ones with all slow workouts even less. That converts easily to cash for Vienna and his followers: In the Simulcast Weekly, it showed that Vienna had long-term money making statistics in 18 of 25 categories where he had 10 starters or more.
Who knew that Vienna’s psychology degree would be this useful at the horse track?
In Sunday’s second race, Vienna trained first time starter #11 Good Night Gyrene, who was ridden by Garrett Gomez. First off all, debuting horses in races for older maidens are generally very bad longterm bets. At odds of less than 20-to-1, they win only five percent of the time.
However, even though Good Night Gyrene had all slow-looking training track workouts, she must have impressed Vienna otherwise he could not have convinced Gomez to ride. Over the last 2-1/2 years, Gomez has only ridden two older maiden claimers in their debut races, according to my records.
So the only reason Gomez would be on Good Night Gyrene was because Vienna, who is also an attorney, persuaded Gomez agent Ron Anderson that the horse was going to win.
Anderson and Gomez do well with first time starters when they getting some betting action. Gomez has won with 12 of 50 debuters over the last 2-1/2 years at odds of 2/1 to 9/1 for a return of $1.43 for every $1 bet.
So in retrospect, the evidence was there for Good Night Gyrene’s win, which paid $17.80. The keys were knowing that 1.) Vienna is cagey 2.) Gomez is very selective about the debuters he climbs aboard and 3.) Gomez performs well when the first timers he’s riding are bet below 10-to-1.
So why didn’t I have it? Because I almost automatically throw out all first-time starters in races for older maidens because I save a lot of money that way. However, some trainers are so good that they can break the rules — and maybe I am starting to see that Vienna is one of those.
Instead, I played $300 to win on #1 Brilliant Response who had the lead for a while and lost a photo finish for second place.
To watch a replay of this race, go to www.calracing.com.
||Brilliant Response (CA)
||Unusual Treat (CA)
||Hannah’s Moment (CA)
||Raining Money (CA)
||Mom’s Gift (CA)
||Angel of Mystery (CA)
||Warrens Stormymoon (CA)
||Good Night Gyrene (CA)
||Lady Alex (CA)
||Terra Bella (CA)
$1.00 Exacta paid $53.80 (11-9)
$1.00 Superfecta paid $711.00 (11-9-1-12)