Sunday, August 26, 2007

Day Four at the Races

That's Street Sense, this year's Kentucky Derby winner, heading to the track Saturday for the 138th running of the Travers Stakes. (The race was first held in 1864, and has only missed six years since, the last being 1912.) What you can't see is the thousands of people around me who were elbowing in for a similar view. The ability to watch the horses walk around the beautiful paddock before each race is one of the many things to savor about Saratoga. Here's a slightly better sense of that area:

Like the Triple Crown races, the Travers features top 3-year-old horses. Remarkably, Street Sense was the first Derby winner to run in it since 1995. He went off as a heavy favorite against a field of six others, all very similar in color, which I hadn't noticed until just now. Here they are a moment after breaking from the gate:

Grasshopper (in green silks, third from the left) got out to an early lead and nearly held on for the upset. I got great video footage of the stretch run, which I hope to figure out how to post tomorrow. Street Sense barely prevailed, paying all of $2.70.

My day started on a promising note. I showed up in time for the fourth race of twelve, and won with a horse named Royal Guard. I also won the next race with Life is a Cabernet (ugh). But though she returned $45 for a $2 bet, the race left a bad -- no, rancid -- taste in my mouth. I won't waste more of our time with the logistics, but I had every reason to have at least the exacta in the race, if not the trifecta as well. Given that the horse in second was also a long shot, at 15-1, the exacta paid $737. The trifecta (at least for the one dollar that I would have bet on it) returned -- gulp -- $3,139. Near misses, of course, are the most common lament of horse players, but trust me, I don't lament them quite like this very often. (About once a year, it seems. Last year, I had a terrible miss -- similar to today's in how large a role my stupidity played -- and as the result sank in, I leaned back in my seat and said, "Well, that was disgusting." A very frail old lady passing me at that moment put her hand on my shoulder and said, "I agree. It was.")

It's always silly to complain of missing a trifecta, so I'll leave that be -- but the exacta was mine for the taking. In fact, I had no excuse, based on how I had handicapped the race, to not have it. Bad money management -- it'll kill you every time.

This will be the last of the track wrap-ups, unless I win some ungodly amount of money on Sunday (so let's hope for one more wrap-up!) With less of a crowd tomorrow, I do hope to get some good photos, so more of those might be forthcoming. Otherwise, Monday night or Tuesday afternoon I'll be back posting from Brooklyn -- almost exclusively about subjects other than the track, so celebrate that (or mourn it) as you will.


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