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Since I’m banging out another blog posting on my “day off”, it’s safe to assume I was not one of the lucky 13 ticket holders who collected over $576,000 in Monday’s Pick Six.

With the announcement that no one had hit again on Sunday, my first thought was that the pool would reach $10 million the following day. Then I thought about how most tracks around the nation were sensibly closed on Monday and how bettors would only have until the next day to get “fresh money” (instead of the customary two-day break, which would have led to an absolute avalanche of money on Wednesday), I figured the pool might double to the $6-7 million range, threatening the North American record of $7.4 million. But my first reaction was correct—over $7.5 million was bet chasing the $3.2 million carryover, resulting in a record total pool of over $10.8 million. Total handle on the nondescript card went over the $18 million mark, which is astounding given the circumstances.

My $216 ticket given out to Premium Play purchasers managed to isolate $4.20 winner SKIPASLEW in the opening leg. And it only took me three horses to get him! It was down the tubes after that. A couple of seconds, a couple of second choices winning…embarrassingly noncompetitive. The results weren’t easy, that’s for sure. After favorite SKIPASLEW got home in the first leg (and by the way, would it have carried again if longshot TRICKY FLASH FLOOD had held on?), there were four double-digit winners from the next five races, with LT. LORRAINE the only other winning favorite on the card. So, frenzy over. Back to normal tomorrow, with just 10 quiet racing days remaining until the meet ends…unless there are more carryovers on the horizon.

Odds and Ends: On Friday, there was another late equipment change when, as the horses were leaving the paddock, it was announced that 0-for-24 maiden HANDSOME MICHAEL K would be racing without blinkers. He had run without shades a number of times in the past, but could the equipment change have resulted in his much improved second at huge odds?

On Saturday, game win by EPIC POWER, who overcame a whip to the face to win a Cal-bred handicap in the 1st race…hard-knocking GEM PROOF might be the unluckiest horse on the circuit. After a couple tough losses at Santa Anita, he finally broke through with a win at the NW2 allowance level only to be disqualified for coming out and bothering a tiring KEWEN in deep stretch. I couldn’t argue the call because he did cost Kewen a placing but ‘Proof was best…good race in defeat by THE TIN MAN, who couldn’t hold off improving OUT OF CONTROL while spotting that one 10 pounds. They ran 1:46.4 while coming home in under 12 seconds for the final furlong…is it my imagination or is Alex Solis last turning into the stretch an inordinate amount of the time? By winning the Gold Cup, LAVA MAN became the first horse in history to win Grade I races on dirt, turf and synthetic.

Mail Bag: I truly believe track announcer Vic Stauffer has a love and enthusiasm for the game but I’ve watched the replay of the Gold Cup half a dozen times now and I can’t help but be critical of his call. First, he anticipated pacesetter A. P. XCELLENT dropping “back to third” at the top of stretch when he was, at worst, on even terms with looming LAVA MAN. Then as the horses hit the wire, he screamed, “Lava Man, yesssss!” With his voice cracking like an adolescent boy going to his first Sadie Hawkins dance, Stauffer continued, “There’s the original rags to riches [play on Belmont winner's name]…Lava Man did it again by a nose!”

Enthusiastic or over the top? Blog readers and emailers thought the latter. From Anthony: “I see what you mean about Vic S. In the Gold Cup call he actually said ‘A.P. Excellent back to third’ when the horse was still in front!!! Brutal call!!” From Marcus: “LAVA MAN, YEEESSSS! (Cut to tonsils splattered on announcer’s window)”…and those were the nice ones.

To View a Free Sample of Monday Premium Plays, click on the link below: Premium Plays for July 2

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