Almost Over For Road Trip and Fancy Fillies

I can almost see the airport now, dear reader, for the end is in sight. The end that is, in what seems to have been an interminably long sojourn away from Geegeez Towers in dearest Hackney.

Now don't get me wrong. I've had an absolute blast. I've learnt masses, about horse racing and about this strange business of writing for a living (after a fashion, at least).

I've seen some genuinely awe-inspiring places: Las Vegas again, Grand Canyon, Hoover Dam, Williams (wild west town on the old Route 66), Sedona (quite simply the most amazing scenery I have ever seen in my life - big surprise and blew me away. To think I called it 'another hole in the ground'. Erm, not quite...!)

And I've knocked about with some great guys with a broad spectrum of views on matters equine and otherwise.

I've eaten far too much food. I mean seriously, they give you two dinners for every one back home here. And its just not right!

I've drunk reasonably moderately, mainly because there was always something the next day that I didn't want to be written off for.

And I've won a stack of cash. Yes, I don't mind sharing with you that Saturday was a goldmine day for yours truly.

It started with the trifecta (first three in the correct order) in the first race. When Muhannak, for the amazing Ralph (pronounced Raif, all you Yankee commentators!) Beckett, scooted up in the first race, and was followed home by Church Service and Bog Booster, my first reaction was of disappointment.

You see, although I'd made Muhannak a sound each way selection, I hadn't put it on here and I didn't back it myself. And I had struck a £100 double with Sixties Icon and Goldikova, which was now a worthless receipt.

But yes. The thing about US pool betting is that the exotics (forecast and trifecta bets) are worth playing, because the pools are badly skewed towards the favourite (or, erm, favorite, as they say) generally.

So my $1 box trifect (first three in any order) with five horses, that had cost me $60, returned a lip-smacking $987. I've never backed a 986-1 winner before!

My joy was tempered somewhat by the trip to the IRS (Inland Revenue) window, where a kind of PAYE scheme operates on big odds wins. I had to pay 27% tax ($270 odd) out of my winnings. I'm assured I'll get it back, but still, that will involve forms and faff...

No matter, for I also had a box exacta with the same horses for $2, which returned $266.20.

I've just learned that the tote tricast back home paid over $1,200, which would have been even sweeter, but forgive me and my gluttony.

After the hard work on form study of Friday for no return, Saturday was to be truly another day.

The turf sprint saw a fierce early pace and a miler win from a furlong (it seemed like it anyway!) off the gallop. Given that I was in with Diabolical, who could barely lift a hoof in the last 50 yards, and got touched off at that point, it was disappointing, but I'd read the race well enough.

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In fact, I have to say that the pace handicapping I did was bloody brilliant (forgive my horn blowing). I read about 12 of the races spot on, in terms of which horses would race where. I know I didn't pick twelve winners, but it sure helps you put a line through many, especially when you understand things like the local draw bias against front runners or speed horses.

Next up, the dirt mile and nothing for me here, except Albertus Maximus was in my pick 3 (a pool bet to select three consecutive race winners). Incidentally, the second horse, Rebellion, used to be trained by Amanda Perratt not so long ago.

In the turf mile which followed, my wager was struck a week or so ago. As I said at the time, I made Goldikova around an even money shot. She was beautiful and miles too good, and she won like an odds on shot.

Alas for me, she returned 9/5 (1.8 vs 7/4 which is 1.75), so I could have won slightly more. Believe me, I was pleased as punch with my 400 to win 700. Thank you Stan James, I'll see you soon! (Due to the draconian and ridiculous US laws, I couldn't access betfair to get my bet on).

Surely it couldn't get any better? A tricast and my nap of the meeting both obliging. Gravy train hits Californ-I-A!

Well, it did get better. Donativum, the horse I backed at 80 when it won at Newmarket, came home again at slightly more sensible odds of 6/1 here, beating West-Failure (a tad harsh). Fifty bucks on the winner and $5 exacta with the second.

Gosden used to train here, and he seriously had the measure of what was required this day!

To the Juvenile, and Bushranger and Square Eddie. Bush didn't stay, was given a not great ride from a difficult draw, and probably hated the track. We knew all these things beforehand, but he was the class horse in the field.

Square Eddie, formerly with John Best, ran a supremely gallant race, and was beaten by what is probably a decent horse in Midshipman. In fact, I think we need to mark up this performance, as the Midships was the only beast over the two days to mix it with the early pace, and still withstand challengers in the lane. He might be interesting come Kentucky Derby time.

The Sprint is a race I've never found the winner in, and still haven't. Midnight Lute ran an absolutely off the scale monster Beyer speed figure of 124 last season, but was not sighted on his only run this year.

No matter, for his handler had him somewhere near his best (all that was required against an average mob), and he won going away in the style of the class sprinter he is.

Two to go, and the Turf continued its Euro benefit status. Alas for me, I've backed the wrong blooming animal the last two years (here and in 2006; Monmouth Park has been erased from my memory - accursed dog track!).

Conduit wouldn't get going until too late I said. Ryan Moore is inexperienced on the track I said. I failed to account for Conduit's mettle and Moore's mastery, and steed and jock prevailed comfortably under an exceptional piece of horsemanship.

Personal disappointment was tempered slightly by the fact that just about everyone around me had used Conduit as a... well, as a conduit... to the pay window.

If the Duke had held third, I've have stolen the trifect, but I didn't really deserve that!

So, to the Classic. Arcangues won in 1993, but Euros have had a painful run since then. Second places and fatalities litter the history of the European challenge in this race, and it was with hope more than any expectation that we collectively rolled into Team Europe. For me, it was $100 win on all three Euros and $10 box exacta (yes, $360 on a single race where hope was my only friend was a trifle careless, but it was the end of the day and I had a fair chunk of Monopoly money in my pocket).

History dictates that Curlin led into the stretch, Raven's flew (excuse me) Pass-t him, and dear old Henry ran on for the exacta.

I collected over $3,200 and as a quintet, we picked up just about $10,000. Amazing. I've added the video below, and savour if you will one of the great commentators of our time in a rare bout of shooting his bolt too soon. It seems that everyone suffers from premature celebration from time to time... ;o)

I'll have photos and even a spot of video from Santa Anita when I get back (don't have the doo-hickey to plug in here), so if you're interested to see the story of the States, stay tuned on Thursday.


Nothing - again - for the Legacy today. Fancy Fillies got another beaten yesterday, and had rowed in with Intimate Secret in the Limerick 1.35. She was trading at 3.25, and is now slightly longer than that. In fact, she's drifted to outside acceptable parameters and I'm told there is no selection today.

Enough already, I've a conference to get to.

Ciao pronto!


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