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In one memorable episode of the “Sopranos”, Tony utters this famous line about his evil but still-living mother: “I’m not defending her, she’s dead to me.” Well, that’s how I feel about Monday racing since the start of six-day race weeks at Santa Anita (or maybe it should be called Del Mar North): It’s dead to me.

From a business standpoint, I fully understand why Santa Anita needs to try to make up for the 11 cancelled days and attempt to recoup millions of dollars in lost revenue. But as one who has continually harped on the need for less racing—not more—I have decided on a self-imposed boycott of the extra day. And since I’m a traditionalist who liked the old Wednesday through Sunday format, that’s how I’ll approach things until we are back on a five-day-a-week schedule. Starting with yesterday’s races, no more trips to Santa Anita on Mondays (until Wednesdays are dropped); no gambling on Monday cards; no watching on HRTV or computer; no looking at results or watching the replay show. Total abstinence.

If racing wants to commit suicide through the slow death of overracing, who I am to stop it? Everyone in the industry knows we run too many dates, but those in leadership positions are not willing to make the first move in cutting back. While horse racing is a very tough game to figure out from a handicapping and wagering standpoint, there seems to be a very simple formula that works from a quality-of-product aspect: Less racing dates equals good racing; more racing dates equals bad racing.

Take a look at last week, for example. On Friday, 60 horses competed in the Pick Six races alone, producing a carryover of $93,552. On Saturday, 61 horses ran in Pick Six races, making for a double carryover of $420,093. And on Sunday, 67 horses (66 betting interests) ran in the the last six races on the card, making for a three-day carryover of more than $1.2 million into Monday’s holiday card. Now take a look at the upcoming three days, all eight-race cards: 69 TOTAL horses entered on Wednesday (featuring four maiden claiming races); 62 entered (60 betting interests) for Thursday (with four more maiden claimers); and 61 entered on Friday (three maiden claimers). After only one week of six-day racing, the damage to field size is already evident. So don’t expect any Pick Six rollovers or big exotics scores with those type of paltry numbers.

By the way, I heard a rumor someone hit the Pick Six on Monday. Guess I’ll find out when I get to the track on Wednesday.

NOTES: Big field sizes are largely responsible for the low percentage of winning favorites at this meet. With only one winning favorite on Friday, none on Saturday and two on Sunday, favorites are winning at under 25% so far…SURF CAT got back on the winning track by outrunning GREG’S GOLD in Saturday’s San Carlos. It probably didn’t matter, but why did Rafael Bejarano on lone speed JOHNNY EVES slow the pace down to a crawl? The advantage to a speed horse is completely lost when the rider guzzles him through ridiculously slow fractions…Tough Beat of the Year II (so far): There was one live Pick Six ticket to TURKISH VICTORY in Saturday’s last race but that poor soul lost a heartbreaker to 50-1 first-time starter TURBO FAN. How could you ever play the races again if you got beat an inch for $420,000 by a 50-1 shot?…CHEROOT ($58.80) gave me my best-priced winner in ages (maybe ever) when I picked him on top in my graded handicap and suggested him as one of my Best Plays on the Premium Play sheet. Great job by Martin Pedroza, who knifed his way through traffic to get up by a scant nose in taking the Daytona Handicap…congratulations to SA publicity director Mike Willman for putting on a great day honoring long-time L.A. sportscaster and racing personality Gil Stratton on Sunday…Bejarano has announced that he will stay in Southern Calfornia for the rest of the year, meaning he becomes top dog when Garrett Gomez goes back East…THE GREEN MONKEY has been retired, leaving a huge hole in the Pletcher barn. ‘MONKEY, who had been a disaster since the day he was named, did manage to win back $10,000 of his original $16 million purchase price…Edgar Prado got his 6,000th winner a week ago Sunday at Gulstream Park…P.Val still hasn’t started riding at the Fair Grounds yet, again delaying his arrival. Best of luck to his new agent down there…Jeff Mullins begins serving a 20-day suspension. His horses will run under the name of assistant Ral Ayers…the Holy Angels’ 7th and 8th graders have been installed as a 12-point favorite over the jockeys in their 41st annual meeting Thursday night (7:00 p.m. tipoff) at La Salle High. Word on the street is that coach Kurt Hoover’s job is in jeopardy unless he can get things turned around with his depleted troops. With one-man show Kent Desormeaux now riding back East and second-best player Corey Nakatani still injured, Hoover figures to have his hands full.

Finally, the CHRB has put together a panel to discuss synthetic surfaces tomorrow morning at Santa Anita. The problem? There are 45 people on the panel, ranging from trainers to jockeys to track operators to handicappers to vets to racing secretaries. Forty five people! It takes forever for three stewards to make a decision on a disqualification, so unless this panel is going to convene for the next week or so, good luck on getting anything accomplished in tomorrow’s meeting.

To View Free Samples of last week’s Premium Plays, click on the links below: Feb. 13Â Â Feb. 14Â Â Feb. 15Â Â Feb. 16Â Â Feb. 17Â Â Feb. 18

Comments

One Response to “Mondays Are “Dead to Me””

  1. so.cal.fan on February 19th, 2008 10:43 pm

    Bob….
    I really enjoy your blog!
    Best Santa Anita news on the net!
    I plan to go to the CHRB meeting tomorrow, but you’re right…..45 people……we’ll be there until after the double!
    They should just talk to you….Bob Ike…..you’ve got as good a handle on it as anyone, from what I’ve read.

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