Recovering from betting mistakes
By Dick Powell
They say, “Winning begets winning.” So, what does losing beget? Bingo!
I had a tough day betting last Saturday at Belmont Park. It was a great day of racing and seeing all the stars in person was wonderful. But I had two gigantic betting mistakes that are tough to recover from.
Race 7 was the $500,000 Woody Stephens Stakes (G2) for 3YOs going seven furlongs on the main track. I liked 30-to-1 longshot GIUESEPPE THE GREAT (Lookin at Lucky) on top and favored AMERICAN ANTHEM (Bodemeister) second.
In other countries, which bet way more than America with far less information, they use form lines as a major tool. So and so ran against so and so and that one came back to win which strengthens the form of the race. Horses are evaluated by who they are running against and what form the competition has. No speed figures, points of call or workout times. A country like Australia bets more than America with about 15 times less population.
What I like about Giuseppe the Great was he ran third in his career debut at Gulfstream Park for Nick Zito who does not have them cranked up for their debuts. He came back there going seven furlongs and was run down in the final yards by Chad Brown’s TIMELINE (Hard Spun).
Timeline came back and beat allowance foes at Aqueduct by 13 ½ lengths going a one-turn mile and then won the Peter Pan Stakes (G2) going nine furlongs. He was rumored to be Chad’s best 3YO male, not PRACTICAL JOKE (Into Mischief) nor Preakness winner CLOUD COMPUTING (Maclean’s Music) nor TWISTED TOM (Creative Cause).
So, Giuesppe the Great’s second was a huge race and he proved it a month later at Keeneland when overcoming a poor start to run down the leaders with a sustained rally, winning on the wire in good time with a 98 BRIS Speed Rating. When a non-winners of one on the dirt did not fill, Zito was forced to go the stakes route with the choice of the ungraded Easy Goer Stakes earlier on the card or the Woody Stephens.
Hall of Famer Zito chose the Woody Stephens and it looked like a wise decision until the draw when he wound up in post 1. Tyler Gaffalione was up from Florida to keep the mount and did a brilliant job despite some tight quarters, never checking his mount before finishing well in the stretch.
Bob Baffert, who was having an awesome day, sent out American Anthem and the 9-5 favorite took over with ease, recording a 3 ¼-length win as Giuseppe the Great finished a clear second at 30-to-1 odds. The exacta, with the favorite on top, paid $145 and Giuseppe paid $18 to place. A perfect outcome with a win/place bet on the longshot and the exacta as protection.
So what did I do? I didn’t bet! 13-race cards require a lot of discipline and by the time I got back to my seat from being in the paddock, I decided to pass the race. Maybe it was the hot weather. I was trying to save my bullets for the Belmont Stakes so I passed up the Woody Stephens and was happy for Zito, but my bankroll was still the same.
Now, we get to the Belmont Stakes (G1) and I loved IRISH WAR CRY (Curlin). Underneath I like TAPWRIT (Tapit) but not enough to put him on top despite his sire and trainer’s record in the Belmont.
So, instead of having a bulging bankroll from earlier on the card, I go into race 11 and went all in with a big win bet on Irish War Cry and a big straight exacta over Tapwrit.
At one point turning for home, I thought I had it but Jose Ortiz put Tapwrit in a strong drive after saving ground and wore down Irish War Cry. The (wrong way) exacta paid a generous $45.20 with the second choice over the favorite. Ouch!
Earlier on the card in race 3, WAR STORY (Northern Afleet) won the Brooklyn Invitational (G2) as the second choice in the ugly time of 2:31.02 for 1 ½ miles on the dirt track.
Saturday was very hot at Belmont with a bright sun and decent breeze. No matter how much water the maintenance crew put down between races, the Belmont main track lived up to its nickname of “Big Sandy” and it had no energy to it.
Rajiv Maragh put Irish War Cry on the lead which I was not unhappy about. He did go fast in the first quarter and the last mile was run in 1:41.36 so it was one of those fast early/slow late races that are hard to analyze. When Japanese runner EPICHARIS (Gold Allure) was scratched the morning of the Belmont Stakes with an injured foot, that left one less speed horse and then Mike Smith did not put expected pacesetter MEANTIME (Shackleford) on the lead, instead choosing to stalk Irish War Cry.
On a lead that nobody wanted, Maragh did the right thing and it might have been the winning strategy had the main track not been so dull.
Following the Aqueduct inner dirt track is not the most exciting part of the year but the one thing that makes it palatable is to watch Jose Ortiz ply his craft almost every day. He used to be known as a sprint rider, but there’s nothing he can’t do now and he’s become as good as any rider in America. Give Todd Pletcher credit for sticking with him after Tapwrit lost his last two starts.