Sometimes when hitting a bad gambling streak, you wonder if the Racing Gods are against you. Close finishes go the wrong way, you cut out the wrong horse when whittling down trifecta or Pick 4 tickets, questionable rides and/or bad trips cost your horse victory. For the past few weeks I’ve experienced all of the above, but I am beginning to believe that this run of bad luck is perhaps being caused by Karmic Torture. On Saturday, for example, I was alive to the two favorites to cash out the late Pick 4 for either $2,485 or $2,795. Both horses ran well enough, finishing second and third, but not good enough to beat DIXIE CHATTER. Why Karmic Torture? Because I have privately been critical of winning trainer Richard Mandella’s barn, which had been underachieving with exactly three winners (The Tin Man, El Roblar and maiden Slam Slew) at the meet while going down in flames with a number of logical horses. Today, I unloaded on COUNT ORANGE (3-1) with a win bet and daily doubles. After putting a head in front in deep stretch, he somehow got beat by a re-rallying WATCH OVER ME at the wire. Why Karmic Torture? Because I had gone on the “Thoroughbred Los Angeles” radio show with Mike Willman and Kurt Hoover this morning mentioning what a poor meet Santa Anita-based winning trainer Ted West was having over the Cushion Track.

So, for now let’s forget about trainers who are caught with cobra venom, wealthy owners who allegedly go off on track employees trying to do their jobs, and trainers who refuse to work their horses at Hollywood Park (even when preparing for a Grade I race), resulting in said trainer never having won a race over the Cushion Track. I think I’ll keep my big mouth shut and try to go back to cashing some tickets.

After great cards on Friday and Saturday, Sunday was a stinker. With only 64 horses entered before scratches (down to 59 after scratches), it really was an uneventful day. Other than a couple wins by Richard Migliore and Bill Spawr, and a number of very tight finishes, nothing meaningful happened out there. I like the idea proposed by Hoover on the radio this morning. Assuming next year’s Cash Call Mile card is run on Friday night, put the nondescript card in the middle (no early post, thank you), then come back with the American Oaks blockbuster on Sunday.

On Friday night, there was a big on-track crowd with a festive buzz in the air. LADY OF VENICE put in a huge stretch run to take the Cash Call for trainer Patrick Biancone. The winner “slithered” her way outside of traffic before “striking” with a “venemous” stretch kick. Sorry, couldn’t resist. SOMETHINABOUTLAURA continued her remarkable career by taking the A Gleam Handicap over longshot STRONG FAITH. She has now won 15 of 27 starts for earnings of more than $900,000.

On Saturday, Joe Talamo got a hat trick while taking down the first and second Grade I victories of his career, guiding unbeaten NASHOBA’S KEY (for Carla Gaines) through along the rail to beat BALANCE in the Vanity and taking BILO (for Marty Jones) wire-to-wire in the Triple Bend…PANTRY RAID, making her first start on turf for Todd Pletcher, held off VALBENNY in an international field of American Oaks runners…what a day for Clinton Potts, who shipped to Calder for the Summit of Speed and rode BLACK SEVENTEEN and RIVER’S PRAYER to back-to-back front-running victories in $300,000 and $500,000 events. Winner’s share of those two lucrative sprints was close to half a million dollars.

It Pays to Own a Cal-bred: Cal-bred stakes winners from the past eight days: LAVA MAN, SOMETHINABOUTLAURA, NASHOBA’S KEY and RIVER’S PRAYER.

Clutch Score Department: It appeared that Bob Bone had all but wrapped up the two-day $100,000 winner-take-all Firecracker Handicapping Challenge at Hollywood Park, heading into the last race with $52,715 in the bank and a commanding lead. But Texas invader Dennis Tiernan (brother of local mutuel clerk Bert Tiernan) cold decked a $1,000 trifecta, which returned $38,400 and gave him a $740 victory over Bone (who made nearly $4,000 in the race and wound up at $56,610). Maybe my Karmic Torture isn’t so bad after all.

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