Let’s start off by stating the obvious – no other Rodent can match the WRRRR’s handicapping skills and abilities when it comes to zeroing in on horses to wager anywhere from Northlands Park to Dubai.
There is no doubt in the WRRRR’s mind that the humanoid who declared that Alberta Downs in Lacombe Alberta should be classified as “Saratoga North” obviously never set foot in the confines of the real Saratoga. The Track located in Saratoga Springs, NY has no equal when it comes to the culture, Facility, racing quality, wagering, and fan base. Over 39,000 humans and one Mouse went thru the turnstiles on Whitney Day with at least half of the crowd nowhere near the grandstand but rather in various parts of the grounds which has a park setting. Equipped with coolers full of eats and drinks these patrons were partying, socializing, watching the races on the many TVs strategically placed throughout and wagering at the windows all over the party zones. The place is half full by 10:30 am for a 1 o’clock post time, plus most don’t leave until the races are done. There is so much energy generated that attending a full 11 race card on a humid day is very exhausting especially if one is not fighting fit.
To give the neophytes a sense of business that is transacted here, for the first 16 days of their meet a total of $280 million has been wagered on their live product This compares to Topo’s projected $105 million that will be wagered on all live and simulcast races on all breeds at all places in Alberta for the entire year. Let’s say it again, there is no place like this place!!
Lots of party goers
Calgary gal in Saratoga Paddock waiting for Diodoro runner Little Miss Amy
Gun Runner lived up to the Topo’s expectations romping home in front by nearly 6 lengths in the $1.2 million G1 Whitney despite the fact he had an added burden of carrying a shoe in his tail lost by the supposed “rabbit” in the race – Cautious Giant. Memo to the connections of Cautious Giant & War Story – if you put a horse in a race with the intention of softening up the favorite speed horse going off at 3/5, it would be advisable to run the first half a mile quicker than 48.1.
Since Topo’s Nation hang on the Mouse’s every word, wagering by the loyal followers with both fists resulted in a lower return at the mutuels as the odds on the winner were hammered down to 3/5. Now ordinarily Topo will not touch a horse at 3/5 since he learned long ago from one of the best handicappers of all time (Harvey Pack) who proclaimed that “there is no person alive who paid his mortgage betting a horse at 3/5”. Notwithstanding that Topo has no mortgage to worry about and committed to wager real not mythical dollars the $50 US bet thru the Saratoga mutuals returned $85. Topo was sweating bullets watching Keen Ice grind it out down the stretch to catch second resulting in a $9.50 Exacta securing a $23.75 return to the faithful on the $5 bet. Thus a $60 investment returned $108.75.
Gun Runner returning home victorious.
We then had to go into the pouch in search of a US quarter to make an even $104 for our final wager since the clerks at the track do not take kindly to you betting odd amounts. As scheduled it went all to WIN on Topo’s second pick on the card in the 11th race – Neolithic. Even though we were once again going against Topo’s basic wagering principles acquired over the years of not betting anything at 3/5 we needed to do what we set out to do. Well the horse got there in the “neck” of time and rewarded the faithful $176.80 for net return on the day of $116.55 (193%) for a little less than 3 minutes worth of work.
Topo is happy to report that his personal winnings purchased dinner for the Team on one of 4 occasions at his new favorite restaurant on Ballston Avenue– Mama Mia’s. Topo is all about fine Italian food (cheese) and wine. This authentic eatery serves both thus it was only logical to patronize it daily.
When Topo travels to various racing locales there is always the possibility that controversy will follow or maybe an incident, issue or even a problem or two may arise. No exception this time around either. While attending the Diodoro barn at Saratoga in the mornings, the Team was introduced to the California based Estretchada trained by Mike Puype who shipped into the barn to compete in the $200,000 G111 Fasig Tipton Waya Stakes carded as Race 3 on Saturday. Before the flock get exited she is an Argentinian not an Italian bred horse. Accompanying the mare was the very personable Assistant Trainer – Ral Ayers who the Team got along with famously.
Fast forward to the race result – Estretchada won the Waya and paid an even $20. Now Ral had asked the Team to participate in the celebration if the mare should win. Upon arrival to the Winners Circle, Topo’s mentor was denied access since he did not have the required attire – shorts are not welcomed in Saratoga’s Circle. Of course Topo’s participation was a nonstarter since he neither owns nor wears clothes period. The story does not end there. If one wins a Stake race at Saratoga the party is invited to the Saratoga Room to hoist a glass or two of champagne. Obviously a nice perk offered by a first class operation, however no pants, no access. The hostess did suggest that one could visit Guest Services where they have “loaner” pants. Good news for the mentor; there were 14 pairs of blue Dockers to choose from. Not so fortunate for the Mouse – no size would fit!! All of this is true as you cannot make this stuff up. Only regret of the entire trip for the Mouse and the Mentor – not meeting leading rider Javier Castellano in the Winners Circle – it’s not like this opportunity is going to present itself again any time soon.
Topo with Estrertchada at the barn after winning the Waya
Hoisting a glass of champagne in the Saratoga Room
Wayne Dehr the face of Diodoro Racing and Ral Ayres in Saratoga Room.
As one would expect the appearance of the Diodoro Stable at Saratoga is in immaculate condition which is confirmed by the pics below. Rob Atras and Mrs. Rob (Jessy) run the show here with around 20 employees and Gilbert the goat. The stable is off to a “slow” start by their standards but continue to do business at the claim box to replace many of the horses that are being claimed from them. Robertino only made a cameo appearance on Monday coming in for the Saratoga yearling Sale. His time these days is mainly dedicated to obtaining clients for the ever expanding stable. A California visitor graced us with his presence on Monday morning – none other than TVG host and bloodstock consultant Nick “Sarge” Hines. The stallion Salute the Sarge (now in Saudi Arabia) was named after Nick. If you watch TVG you will see Nick salute the viewers as he comes on and off the air. Since Topo provides equal coverage we were advised that Riversedge Racing had The Great Blake stabled at Saratoga so off to Ralph Nicks barn we went to check the horse out and as you can see below he looks like he’s ready for action in Race 11 this Saturday at Saratoga.
Topo broke protocol accessing the phone while dining on the East coast Saturday night to watch the Sorrento at Del Mar live as we were rooting for Elaine MacPherson who bred the 2 yo filly, Surrender Now. The even money favorite was bounding along on the lead when all of a sudden “surrendered” the lead quickly before turning for home and went from first to last very quickly. In Topo’s view the only logical explanation was that she must have injured herself. We were quite perplexed when we heard the trainer obviously going to page 146 of the Trainer’s list of excuse for Owners when a horse runs up the track. Reasoning was “I don’t like this Del Mar track” – wait a minute it was the horse than had to run over it – correct? Turns out that the filly injured her leg during the running of the race thus will be on the shelf which in all probability kills any chance for the connections and Topo of attending the 2017 Breeders Cup. This filly looks like the real deal so with a little R & R she should come back next year to her true form.
Next Stop – The Canadian Derby – Northlands Park, Saturday August 19.