Sunday, June 21, 2009

Can You Have Too Much Racing in One Day?

Nope. I tried yesterday. I really did. I set out for Canterbury Park yesterday morning at 10:00 AM in order to check on Fizzy and talk to Bernell about our next move. I arrived at lunch time and it was hysterical. I didn't notice anything different entering the barn, but one row over was a different story. Row 1 was already eating. Fizzy row wasn't. The site down the row of 20 horses with their heads out of their stalls eagerly anticipating lunch was a hoot. All the heads were bobbing outside the stalls and were cocked to the north end of the barn watching the grooms making their way down the shed row with the feed. As they moved along heads would disappear as horses dug into lunch.

Fizzy looked good. He's been holding weight well and really looks strong. Bernell said he came back well, but that he just wasn't himself for a few days afterward. He was eating well, no fever, nothing in particular, just not himself so the decision was made to wait an additional week before looking for a start. Now he's in fine fettle again and we'll look forward to seeing him again soon.

From there it was over to the front side to finish up handicapping the day's card. When I got to the gate I realized that I didn't have my racing ID so I had to reach into my betting money for the $5 admission. Not a big deal, but I was afraid that it might be a bad omen to start the day!

It was about 2 hours to first post, so I grabbed a water and sat down. I had already nailed down most of the card the day before, but I gave it a once over and then took a peak at the past performances for Running Aces Harness Park that evening. I had to clear my head because handicapping styles are very different and bouncing between cards has always meant bad news for me.

It was an absolutely glorious swan song for spring here: eighty-five degrees and very sunny. I spent the card going back and forth from my seat just past the finish line, the paddock and the windows. I hit a nice exacta with a short priced winner ( a Rhone trainee as it turns out - no inside info, he just really figured) in the second race of the card, but it was steadily downhill from there. Plenty of close followed by the inevitable no cigar. I lost fifty cents on the penultimate thoroughbred race and ended up plus $5.50 on a second place finish in the 7th. I ended the Thoroughbred card up $5. But wait...I knew that $5 admission was going to come back to haunt me!

Seven Thoroughbred races down and eight Standardbred races to go so I hopped into the car and headed up I-35W toward Columbus. For those of you not familiar with Twin Cities geography, Shakopee is about 15 minutes south of the cities while Columbus is about 15 minutes north of the cities. All totaled it should take about a half hour to move between tracks. I completely forgot about construction though and it was about an hour door to door. I still was there about an hour and ten minutes before post time.

It had been about a year since I had been up to Running Aces and there have been some changes. The biggest change is that the card room is opened up. There are 50 tables and about 30 were open and all were busy - a good sign for the long term viability of the track. Another change was the amount of seating that was added. The Park was built with no grandstand (in my opinion a bet on using the racing to get slot machines, but again that's my opinion), only an apron with some benches and picnic tables. Seats have been added throughout the apron and inside the betting area which are much appreciated.

There was also a new track announcer. Peter Galassi has taken the place of Briton Craig Braddick. Braddick was fun and engaging, but Galassi brings a smoothness and professionalism of delivery that seems to make sense in Aces second season. It's as if Braddick was the party starter and Galassi was brought in now to keep the show on an even keel as it grows up. Galassi is in his 8th year as the voice of Hawthorne Park and even brought an educational piece to his duties last night as there were a couple of two year old qualifiers prior to the main card. He took us through the process of qualifiers and the unique situation of the two year olds receiving extra schooling behind the gate. He was hit and miss with his picks, but then aren't we all - and we don't have to sit on TV and announce them to the world. I like them both, but I prefer Galassi.

The biggest change was the crowd (pictured above). Unlike the DRF charts, there is no data available on the crowd size and I am not close to being an expert in crowd estimation but I would say that the crowd had tripled from my visit last season - also on a Saturday night. The betting still wasn't what I would call robust as the odds would fluctuate considerably with each flash of the tote board owing to the small pool sizes, but I would think that handle has increased nicely year over year as well.

The first couple of races went off OK with no real winning going on and then it was as if God reached down and touched me with the gift of second sight. These days don't come along very often, but when they do you gotta jump. Two races in a row I hit the winner on a straight win bet; the perfecta straight and the tri with my first two keyed in order with a couple of others in the show position. It was as if I knew what was going to happen. The tally for the night was two tris, three perfectas, two daily doubles and five wins. It was a good night.

I pulled into my garage at 10:30, almost exactly twelve hours after I left. I was tired, but happy and contented with the outcome of the day. That said, I would have been content anyway because after two racetracks, 15 races, 100 miles and tired legs, I was a little bummed that there couldn't be one more racetrack on the day's card.


Teresa said...

Nice, Ted--sounds like a great Father's Day...

Anonymous said...

You seriously thought you could get from Canterbury to Running Aces in a half-hour? I used to live in St. Paul and it took me 40-45 min. just to get home from Canterbury. I think you did very well to get to the harness track in 70 min.