Friday, August 5, 2011

Triple Crown or Triple Digit Payouts?

Luis Contreras will be riding for a Triple Crown on Sunday when he leaves the gate in the Breeders' Stakes. The 25-year-old native of Mexico captured the Queen's Plate with Inglorious and followed it up with a win in the Prince of Wales aboard Pender Harbour. If Contreras can guide Pender Harbour to victory on Sunday, he will become the first jockey in the Triple Crown era (since 1959) to win all three jewels with two horses.

Contreras is two-thirds of the way to the Triple Crown

Through August 4th at Woodbine, Contreras has notched 99 wins from 438 starts (a win percentage of 22.6%) and is in the money 55.5% of the time.

It's become next to impossible to leave Contreras off your ticket.

Patrick Husbands (73 wins) and Eurico Rosa da Silva (71 wins) are making a race of it by keeping their own ITM% above 50% as well. Think what you will of statistics, but it's worth noting that Husbands actually boasts a slightly better win percentage (23.3%) than Contreras, albeit with 125 less starts. Combine that stat with the fact that Husbands is Woodbine's leading turf rider (16 wins from 72 starts) and that he gets the call on Blackstone Bay for Woodbine's leading conditioner Mark Casse on Sunday and my spidey sense tingles for a long shot.

Husbands hopes to bridge the gap in the standings

The Breeders' Stakes has enjoyed its fair share of long-priced winners lately.

In 2009, Perfect Shower paid $95.30 when sent out at long odds for legendary conditioner Roger Attfield. Attfield's only won this event a record eight times. (Just in case you have $2 to spare, Attfield sends out Diego Bay in this edition of the Breeders'.)

In 2010, Brian Lynch quietly entered Miami Deco into the third leg of the Canadian Triple Crown and one-upped his fellow conditioner by scoring at an inflated price of $132.30. You can read more about that race in my post, Lynch Completes A Mysterious Canadian Triple Crown With Miami Deco. At the time, Lynch, who does not have a horse in this year's event, stated:

“As much respect as I have for Roger Attfield, and he won one at 40-1 last year, I wanted to top him at 60-1,” quipped Lynch, before adding, with regard to his supplemented horse, “There were quite a few of us taking a shot. I'm a gambler and I figured we'd take a shot with him.”

Given the wide open field of 13 horses (Queen'splatekitten has been scratched), I'm feeling like a bit of a gambler myself. I'm not sure if Blackstone Bay, who broke his maiden going a mile on the turf last out, has the class to top the ticket, but the powerful jockey/trainer combination of Husbands and Casse has my finger on the trigger at odds of 20-1. (And I won't let Attfield beat me here either!)

"I personally do not like the trainer who won the race," joked Repole. "I might be looking for a new trainer for Uncle Mo, Stay Thirsty and Overdriven." - - Owner Mike Repole gets a dig in at super trainer Todd Pletcher after Ibboyee (trained by Pletcher) nailed Be Bullish (owned by Repole) at the wire in the John Morissey stakes. (Thanks to NY Daily News and Equidaily for the laughs.


"Odds of meeting someone like him, 100-1. At school, on the track, he was hard and fast...she's very fond of Lee and anxious for a chance to ride in the saddle,"

I reach into the Youtube vault this week for a wedding video from down under. I'm not sure if Dan Loiselle is available to emcee at weddings.

Wedding speech delivered as a horse race

Woodbine $100K Guaranteed Pick 4

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This and That

Beverley Smith of the Globe & Mail may have found a nickname for Woodbine's leading rider with her story, When the Sheriff saddles up, he rides to win:

At a visitor’s request, Woodbine’s clerk of the scales goes searching for a jockey he calls “the Sheriff.”

And emerging from the nether parts of the jock’s room is Luis Contreras on noiseless feet.

These days, Contreras, despite his humility, is chief of the place, judging by his exploits astride a horse. And on Sunday, he’ll give spark to the $500,000 Breeders’ Stakes, the third jewel of Canada’s Triple Crown of racing, 1½ miles on the turf.

There’s no chance of any horse becoming Canada’s eighth Triple Crown winner since the series was instituted in 1959. The first jewel, the Queen’s Plate, was won by a fleet filly, Inglorious, and the second, the Prince of Wales, by Pender Harbour, a horse whose upside is only beginning to reveal itself.

Trainer Ardell Sayler notched his 1000th win with a horse whose life he saved 3 years ago. Read the incredible story in Allan Besson's piece, Orphan says 'Thanks a 1,000':

Ardell Sayler had a short story to tell on Wednesday. It had to do with his 1,000th lifetime win in the fifth race on July 6, with a three-year-old filly named Menyata, who it could be suggested was saying in her own equine way, "thank you," to the 59-year-old who saved her life.

"Milestones mean we're getting older," said Sayler, regarding the big win, "but that story is really special, because we foaled that filly at the farm (in South Dakota), and when she was 12 hours old her mother bled to death.

"Me, my wife Janet and my daughter Nicole bottle fed that baby every two hours for weeks. So for her to win my 1,000th race was sort of a soft spot because of all of the work we did with her from a baby, to a little orphan with no mamma, to my 1,000th win."

Bottle feeding wasn't the end of it. Sayler said that as she grew to be a yearling Menyata also treated him, his wife and daughter as her own family. "We'd lead her around the yard, and with no momma, she'd follow my wife and daughter around like a little pail calf, so it was really touching to have that filly win the race."

Marcus Hersh delved into the world of speed figures, with a quick nod to Plate-winning filly Inglorious and her adjusted 96 Beyer, in a DRF story, How speed figures evolved into a tool for insiders:

The idea is to estimate how fast a horse will run in a neutral environment. Baseball statisticians attempt a similar translation through “park factors,” which estimate the impact of a stadium on a player’s performance.

Subjective judgments enter the figure-making process for racing. A surface can change during a program, and a figure-maker must decide how to adjust the variant accordingly. A race may produce a figure that seems impossibly fast or slow. A figure-maker might move the number up or down to accord more fluidly with a horse’s established patterns. Sometimes a variant might need to be recalculated after a provisional figure is assigned. Recently, the filly Inglorious initially received a Beyer figure of 90 while setting a track record winning the Queen’s Plate at Woodbine, but her number from the race later became a 96.

DRF scribe Matt Hegarty proclaims, Breeders' Cup to count Canadian graded stakes:

Under the Breeders' Cup field-selection process, the first seven positions in a race are reserved for horses who have won one of the Breeders' Cup's Win and You're In stakes races, with any remaining spots in the first seven filled by the horses who have earned the most qualifying points. The remaining seven spots are granted to horses selected by a panel of racing officials.

Stakes races that have already been held this year in Canada will count retroactively toward earning points in the qualifying system, Breeders' Cup said.

If you watched Saratoga racing on Wednesday and thought you missed out on St. Patrick's were right. The Saratogian reports, Luck of the Irish at Saratoga Race Course:

Anyone wearing green was admitted free, a nice bonus for Brendan Burke of Voorheesville, who brought his five kids to the track. However, three races into the day’s program, the luck of the Irish still hadn’t come through for him.

“My long shot’s waiting for me,” he said.

Catherine Eddy of New Britain, Conn., didn’t find a pot of gold, but Irish eyes were smiling after her winning horse paid $14.60 in the third race. “I never win,” she said, excitedly.

Bill Shea of Queensbury, clad in a bright green shirt, said the activities were more fun than St. Patrick’s Day itself. He was accompanied by his daughters, Rebecca and Caitlin, who also had Irish-themed outfits.

“I thought it would be nice to see the bagpipes and dancers,” Shea said. “Plus we get to watch the horses and enjoy ourselves.”

Still Need More?
As always, keep track of the latest goings on in the world of horse racing by clicking into TripleDeadHeat's Woodbine News page or join in on the conversation by following TripleDeadHeat on Twitter.


A wee bit behind in the Photoshop department this week, so in place of the usual photo finish, here are the videos from last weekend's stakes races. (Photos to be posted later in the week as part of another TDH feature.)

Anne's Beauty wins the Duchess Stakes

Buongiorno Johnny wins the Vandal

Marketing Mix wins the Wonder Where

Jenny's So Great wins the Royal North

These folks will never get boxed in during their commute

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