Turning $2 into $27K on the amazing Zenyatta

As everybody knows, Zenyatta is the greatest thing to happen to Southern California racing since the Pick 6.

And her popularity is only rising. During the 2009 Clement L. Hirsch Stakes last year, 20,335 racetrackers showed up at Del Mar.

But after Zenyatta’s scintillating Breeder’s Cup Classic win at Santa Anita last November and her 17-for-17 record, undefeated Zenyatta went for number 18 before 32,536 people in Saturday’s running of the Hirsch.  And Big Z didn’t disappoint.

Although floated six paths wide on the turn, Zenyatta rallied into a brutally slow pace to prevail by a neck. Afterward, jockey Mike Smith paraded her up and down the front stretch, while tens of thousands of transfixed onlookers wildly applauded the 6-year-old mare from the Del Mar grandstand, YouTube videos showed.

The post-race celebration came together like a scripted scene from “Seabiscuit.” But it wasn’t.

It was reality.

Paris Hilton

In fact, Zenyatta has now become a celebrity on par with Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian. Zenyatta won’t be hosting any night club openings in Vegas, but like Hilton and Kardashian, Zenyatta’s mere presence attracts huge crowds of exuberant followers.

With the victory, owner Jerry Moss pocketed another $180,000 to bring Zenyatta’s career earnings to $6.25 million. But what about the betting public? Can they make any money by betting Zenyatta?

It seems the logical answer is “not much” because Zenyatta’s odds return so little to winners. But Del Mar’s morning line maker Russell Hudak figured out that a measly $2 parlay of Zenyatta’s 18 victories would have returned $27,248.28.

Of course, whoever had this kind of amazing foresight into Zenyatta’s career would also need to be wired with nerves of steel. That’s because the Zenyatta parlay would have required that the bettor plunk down $24,768 before Saturday’s win.

Indeed, the concept of compound interest is so powerful it has turned teenagers with nothing into billionaires by age 60. And I’m sure that even investor Warren Buffett would be one of Zenyatta’s biggest fans if the horse helped him roll $2 into $27K.

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Sunday, Del Mar Race 4 — 3:30 pm post time

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden Special Weight, 6-1/2 furlongs, 2 yo fillies

Possible overlays             Morning line

#2 Dixie’s Sandals                     8/1
#3 Seriously                             3/1
#4 Star of Sapphire                   4/1
#5 Vivacious Anna                    8/1

Although #6 Imperatriz showed good speed in her debut and lasted for second, this filly had an easy trip yet didn’t run anywhere close to the median winning Beyer Speed Figure of 80 for this class.

If the public sends Imperatriz off at close to her 5-to-2 morning line then I will enthusiastically bet against both her and #7 It Tiz, a first time starter who is 4-to-1 on the early line.

Much better potential wagers are #2 Dixie’s Sandals, #4 Star of Sapphire and #5 Vivacious Anna. Also, the Bob Baffert-trained #3 Seriously obviously has a decent shot, but she may be overbet.

Jockey Mike Smith rode Seriously in her debut, but now he shows up on Star of Sapphire, who’s been working out well. Star of Sapphire has a few good betting angles going for her.

Doug O’Neill saddles #5 Vivacious Anna and O’Neill has done well with this type of maiden in the past. Finally, Dixie Sandals has mostly slow workouts, but she fits the profile of a winning debuter — but only if she falls into the 10/1 to 19/1 betting range.

I will bet $250 to win on #4 Star of Sapphire at 7/2 to 19/1; $150 on #5 Vivacious Anna at 5/1 to 19/1 and $150 on #2 Dixie’s Sandals at 10/1 to 19/1.

If the public goes overboard on Star of Sapphire and bets her below 7-to-2, then I will instead substitute $200 to win on #3 Seriously at 5/2 to 7/1 only.

Results, Del Mar Thursday Race 8 — lost $200

Trainer Mike Harrington wishes every field was soft at the one Towser beat in the 8th on Thursday.

Trainer Mike Harrington wishes every field was as soft at the one Towser beat in the 8th on Thursday.

Most races for Southern California maidens are fairly competitive with at least half the field eligible to win. However, that was not the case in Thursday’s eighth race, which had an 11-horse field.

After #11 Ministerfrommiami was scratched when running off at the gate, realistically this was just a two-horse race. And in what race caller Trevor Denman termed “a romp,” #10 Towser won to nobody’s surprise at 3-to-5.

Other than first-time starter #8 Danceuponthestars, the field was full of colts and geldings that typically dawdled out of the gate and offered no rally. The past performances for these horse were full of single digit speed figures and Beyer donuts.

As the race began, Towser shot to the front with #2 Bartok’s Bonus pressing the pace from the inside. Jockey Mike Smith, who sat with #8 Danceuponthestars in third place, was probably hoping Towser got tired.

But in the stretch, Towser pulled away to win by 5-1/2 lengths. The real race was for second where Bartok’s Bonus, who ran his eyeballs out at 19-to-1, got nailed on the wire by Danceuponthestars.

I lost $200 on Danceuponthestars at 4/1.

To watch a replay of this race, go to www.calracing.com.

PGM PP# NAME JOCKEY TRAINER ODDS FN
2 1 Bartok’s Bonus (CA) Sorenson D Meredith D 19.40 3
3 2 My Royal Cat (CA) Santiago Reyes C Polanco M 11.80 6
4 3 Venito (CA) Atkinson P Mendoza J 55.70 10
5 4 Warrens Temptation (CA) Quinonez A Gutierrez J 14.70 5
6 5 El Ranchero (CA) Stra K Craigmyle K 17.90 8
7 6 Mr. Collen (CA) Kaenel K Polanco M 40.40 7
8 7 Danceuponthestars (CA) Smith M Moger, Jr. E 4.10 2
9 8 Quillotano (CA) Delgadillo A Sierra C 45.10 11
1 9 Lucero Negro (CA) Blanc B Zamora R 23.60 4
10 10 Towser (CA) Baze M Harrington M 0.60 1
12 11 El Chapo (CA) Arambula P Gonzalez F 39.50 9
SCR Ministerfrommiami (CA) Baze T Sadler J
SCR Google Me (CA) Garcia M Zamora R
 
Pgm Win Place Show
10 $3.20 $2.20 $2.20
8 $3.40 $3.00
2 $6.00
 
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Consolation Pick 3 paid $22.50 (3-7-11)
$1.00 Exacta paid $5.20 (10-8)
$1.00 Pick 3 paid $39.80 (3-7-10)
$1.00 Pick 4 paid $186.90 (1-3/9/10/11-7-10/11)
$1.00 Place Pick All paid $2972.70 (8 OF 8)
$1.00 Super High Five paid $502.00 (10-8-2-1-5)
$1.00 Superfecta paid $202.30 (10-8-2-1)
$1.00 Trifecta paid $36.60 (10-8-2)
$2.00 Consolation Double paid $5.80 (7-11)
$2.00 Daily Double paid $13.40 (7-10)
$2.00 Pick 6 paid $13456.40 (8-11-1-3/9/10/11-7-10
$2.00 Pick 6 paid $154.00 (8-11-1-3/9/10/11-7-10/1
$2.00 Quinella paid $7.00 (8-10)
Fractional Times
22.83, 46.65, 58.85, 1:05.36
 

Thursday, Del Mar Race 8 — 5:30 pm post time

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden King conquers So. Cal. maiden races

Maiden claiming $40,000, 5-1/2 furlongs, 2 year olds

Possible overlays             Morning line

#8 Danceuponthestars           7/2
#10 Towser                          9/5

This field of 12 is full of very bad horses that can be easily eliminated. The median winning Beyer Speed Figure is 67, but nine of the 10 experienced runners entered in here have yet to crack 40. Furthermore, the odds on seven of them have been less than 20-to-1 only twice in 17 races with the average odds of these 17 races being 53-to-1.

Single digit speed figures and Beyer donuts populate the racing form page. I guess that’s why the morning line maker hung odds of 7-to-2 on #8 Danceuponthestars, a first time starter who has been training slowly at Golden Gate Fields.

Realistically, I can see only three horses winning this race: #8 Danceuponthestars, #10 Towser and #11 Ministerfrommiami. Any other horse would be a complete shocker.

Owned and trained by Ed Moger, Danceuponthestars is switching circuits and jockey Mike Smith has won five times and placed five times in 19 chances with 2-year-old first time starters. Although most of them were in the maiden special weight ranks.

Towser showed a good burst of speed on June 12 and trainer Mike Harrington upgrades the jockey from Felipe Valdez to Michael Baze. Towser should be near the early lead, but his odds may be no better than even money.

Finally, John Sadler sends out #11 Ministerfrommiami who ran in spurts in his July 3 debut. This gelding is running in his second lifetime race, but I like Danceuponthestars better.

At 5/2 or more, I will bet $200 on #8 Danceuponthestars and at 2/1 or better I’ll put $200 on Towser.

Rachel Alexandra may be great, but her win payoff was not

In the days after Rachel Alexandra won the Preakness Stakes on May 16, several friends and acquaintances wondered how it was humanly possible for me not to bet this sensational filly to win the second jewel of horse racing’s Triple Crown.

One insinuated to me that I must be humbled by selecting against Rachel Alexandra. But I told him that I am proud of myself for developing the discipline to lay off the best horse in the race because her price was too low.

Not many of the horseplayers that I know would do that.

Another critic claimed that I wasn’t giving Rachel Alexandra enough credit. He said she was an obvious standout based on her 20-plus length victory in the May 1 Kentucky Oaks, the subsequent purchase by owner Jess Jackson for $10 million, and jockey Calvin Borel’s decision — made without hesitation — to jump off Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird to ride her.

All over the TV, newspapers and the Internet, horse racing analysts spent the days leading up to the Preakness touting Rachel Alexandra as something special. So, why, why, why, didn’t you bet her, people asked me.

It’s true that Rachel Alexandra looked formidable coming into the race. She had tactical speed, the best last race Beyer Speed Figure, she was working out superbly and was ranked first out of 13 horses on my pace handicapping software printout. Pundits and horseplayers alike were raving about her from Suffolk Downs to Emerald Downs.

But in a post on this site, I took a stance against Rachel Alexandra. I wrote that she was coming back on short rest, she was acclaimating to a new training team, and most importantly that the other jockeys were likely to box her in, keep her wide or bump her around with their mounts to make  her trip a miserably difficult one.

It made sense. If owners and trainers were focused on keeping her out of the race by using the underhanded tactics of filling the gate with bad horses, then why wouldn’t jockeys be focused on making Rachel Alexandra lose by “race riding?” Do riders have stronger ethics than trainers or owners?

So, instead of betting Rachel Alexandra in the Preakness, I opted for $200 to win on these three runners #3 Musket Man — who finished third at 11/1, #7 Papa Clem at 14/1, and #9 Pioneerof the Nile at 6/1. Then I put $100 on #11 Take the Points at 18/1.

“I don’t understand,” wrote Jimmy in a comment to this site. “The obvious choices were the top two finishers. It just seemed like a safer investment of $700, instead of a stab to strike it rich. 

He went on: “Can you explain why you would not bet the exacta: Rachel Alexandra-Mine That Bird or (to) win on Rachel Alexandra.”

Well, my main reason for not betting Rachel Alexandra was that at 9-to-5 her price had no value. And I almost never bet exactas because the takeout is some 30 percent higher than the win pool and, besides, I’m not that good at figuring out who will finish second.

But what I do have are lots of statistics on Southern California maiden races and I’ve uncovered plenty of money-making angles over the years. Some return $1.50 for every $1 bet, and others more than $2.

However, even when examining the greatest of handicapping angles, whenever I enter <2/1 into the data base filter, the analysis almost always shows the bet to be a money loser.  About the only way I would consider betting a horse at less than 2-to-1 is if it’s a Mike Mitchell-trained maiden claimer.

As post time for the Preakness was closing in, I looked up at the tote board and was surprised to see Rachel Alexandra, the 8-to-5 morning line favorite, at 2-to-1. And I started asking myself at what price would I abandon the long shots and put all of my money on her.

I decided that at 3-to-1, I was going to rearrange my bets so I’d have enough on her to break even, but if she clicked up to 7-to-2 or better then I would unload everything on Rachel and forget the others. Instead of drifting up though, her odds dropped to 9-to-5 with a couple of minutes to post and that’s where they stayed. 

One of Rachel Alexandra’s backers told me that she was a good bet because he believed she had a 65 percent chance to win the Preakness. But it is very difficult for me to give any horse more than a 40 percent chance to win a race.

I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I was among the 44,186 at Del Mar’s Pacific Classic in 1996 who watched 39-to-1 shot Dare and Go stop Cigar’s record-tying winning streak at 16.

Cigar hadn’t lost a race in two straight years and, of course, like Rachel Alexandra Cigar had a great chance to win his race. But I wasn’t going to take short odds on Cigar either. Instead, Dare and Go looked OK, so I put a few dollars on him and was rewarded with a win payoff of more than $80.

During big racing days like the Derby, Preakness, Belmont and Breeders’ Cup, the racing press greatly influences betting patterns of casual fans who show up in droves. In the recent past, racing writers compared colts like War Emblem, Smarty Jones  and Big Brown to Secretariat in the same way that NBA scribes compare Kobe Bryant and LeBron James to Michael Jordan.

But dominating championship athletes like Jordan and Secretariat come around about once in a lifetime, so comparisons seem to always end in disappointment. And even Secretariat, generally considered the greatest modern racehorse of them all, didn’t go undeafeated as you can see by watching the 1973 Whitney Stakes below.

If you’re a horseplayer, what’s bad for the dramatic story line, is good for the wallet. That’s because when War Emblem, Smarty Jones and Big Brown all lost the Belmont Stakes at minuscule odds, whoever had the winner was  rewarded with payoffs ranging from $74 to $142.50. Last year, I played three horses against standout Big Brown in the Belmont and cashed for $79 when D’Tara hit the wire first. So, when a celebrity horse looks like it can’t lose, it pays to take a dissenting view then try to beat it with multiple horses. 

In the running of the Preakness, Rachel Alexandra was carried wide by Big Drama on the first turn, but got a much better trip than I thought she would. However, she paid just $5.60, which I believe was a fair price, but was in no way an overlay.

In fact, jockey Mike Smith said second-place finisher Mine That Bird, who Smith rode, would have likely won the Preakness had he stayed out of trouble and gotten a clean trip.

So, saying Rachel Alexandra had a 65 percent chance to win sounds extremely optimistic to me.

Furthermore, because Rachel Alexandra paid so little, most of the bettors who cashed tickets on her probably lost all of their Preakness winnings after betting the next two races.  So, seriously, is a horse like Rachel Alexandra going to help you make a profit for the month, or the year? It’s doubtful.

Sure, the people who bet Rachel Alexandra say how great she looked and how obvious it was that she’d win the race. But almost all favorites look good, or else they wouldn’t be the favorite.

And if the obvious horse won every race, we’d all be calling our bets in from our boats at the Newport Beach Yacht Club.   

Yes, Rachel Alexandra had a great chance to win the Preakness, and she  paid a fair price. But I am looking to bet great horses at great prices. And if I can’t find one, then I’ll bet several runners against any type of short-priced horse, even if that means wagering against a great horse.

Because that’s the only way I’ve found to make long-run profits in this game.

© Copyright Maiden King, 2009. Written exclusively for www.maidenking.wordpress.com. Not to be duplicated or reprinted, especially by a website called Our Blogs Kentucky Derby Everything You Need To Know.

Results, Santa Anita Sunday Race 9 — lost $300

Trainer Bill Spawr won for the eighth time in 28 starts when using jockey Mike Smith

Trainer Bill Spawr won for the eighth time in 28 starts when using jockey Mike Smith

Trainer Bill Spawr dropped #6 Jimmy Two Times slightly in class, kept jockey Mike Smith aboard, and the colt responded by stalking the pace and pulling away in the stretch. 

Spawr, who also owns a part of Jimmy Two Times, has a winning percentage of 19 so far this year, but when Smith rides for him Spawr’s a 28 percent trainer.

Jimmy Two Times, 5-to-2, was making his second lifetime start. In his debut back on March 6, he established a clear lead in a $40,000 maiden claiming race before quitting badly in the stretch.  On Sunday, Jimmy Two Times ran behind pace setter #4 Barney Bass for the first half mile then put him away in the stretch.

At 7-to-2, I bet $200 on #4 Barney Bass and another $100 on first-time starter #8 Self Defense.

To watch a replay of this race, go to www.calracing.com.

PGM PP# NAME JOCKEY TRAINER ODDS FN
1 1 Astoria Renter (CA) Delgadillo A Dunham D 3.70 6
2 2 Such a Shame (CA) Garcia M Freeman E 24.00 2
3 3 Rio Romeo (CA) Bejarano R Dominguez C 5.20 4
4 4 Barney Bass (KY) Rosario J Vienna D 3.70 3
5 5 Hesitate (KY) Talamo J Greely C 7.10 12
6 6 Jimmy Two Times (CA) Smith M Spawr W 2.80 1
7 7 King Farha (CA) Rios J Metz J 60.60 5
8 8 Self Defense (CA) Baze T Lewis C 17.80 8
11 9 Talkthatalkpeter G (CA) Cedeno O Sticka R 25.40 9
12 10 Motto’s Brat (CA) Potts C Wicker L 40.80 11
13 11 Rockin the City (CA) Quinonez A Byrd A 28.80 7
14 12 Kayakityak (CA) Arambula P Periban J 71.80 10
SCR Strong Belief (KY)    
SCR Indian Love (KY)    
Pgm Win Place Show
6 $7.60 $4.80 $3.20
2 $19.60 $11.00
4 $4.00
 
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $60.40 (6-2)
$1.00 Pick 3 paid $272.00 (9-7-6)
$1.00 Pick 4 paid

Results, Santa Anita Sunday Race 3 — lost $200

Mike Smith broke #3 Patriotic Soldier quickly from the gate then won a photo

Mike Smith broke #3 Patriotic Soldier quickly from the gate then won a photo

On Feb. 1, #3 Patriotic Soldier debuted at 6-1/2 furlongs as part of an entry that went off at 7-to-2. But when the gate opened, Patriotic Soldier hopped in the air and was quickly some 10 lengths behind the field.

He made up some ground as the field entered the stretch, but jockey Mike Smith did not push him too hard in the lane.

In the six weeks between then and Sunday, trainer Bruce Headley gave Patriotic Soldier five workouts and three of them were quick ones. So, obviously we saw a different animal on Sunday.

In Sunday’s race, Patriotic Soldier broke with the leaders, held an advantage into the stretch, then battled gamely with #7 Raise the River to the wire where he won the head bob at 9-to-1.

My bets were focused on Raise the River and #8 Ribald who needed to be at least 3/1. I ended up with $200 to win on Ribald at 9-to-2.

To watch a replay of this race, go to www.calracing.com.

PGM PP# NAME JOCKEY TRAINER ODDS FN
1 1 Drake Lake (CA) Gomez G Sadler J 5.10 10
2 2 Mountain Guide (CA) Garcia M Harrington M 20.70 7
3 3 Patriotic Soldier (CA) Smith M Headley B 9.80 1
4 4 Justice Reigns (CA) Solis A Lewis L 38.10 5
5 5 Mendota Bay (CA) Rosario J Barba A 19.40 4
6 6 Sherry’s Reddy (CA) Scott J Aguayo V 109.30 9
7 7 Raise the River (CA) Bejarano R Gaines C 2.20 2
8 8 Ribald (CA) Rios J Sherman A 4.70 6
9 9 Philly Slew (CA) Quinonez A Gregory W 31.80 8
10 10 Charlie and Chris (CA) Baze T Zucker H 2.50 3
 
Pgm Win Place Show
3 $21.60 $8.60 $4.60
7 $4.00 $2.80
10 $2.80
 
Exotic Payoffs
$1.00 Exacta paid $46.00 (3-7)
$1.00 Pick 3 paid $824.10 (2-5-3)
$1.00 Superfecta paid $1672.60 (3-7-10-5)
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