Saratoga Race Course celebrates its 150th year this summer. It is THE place to go if you’re a horse racing fan, and one of my all-time favorite spots to be.
Flashing back to this moment at Saratoga: Fortify made me proud by winning me my first in-person exacta bet over Todd Pletcher’s entry El Duro. It was something like $34 for $2. EEEEEE!
Holy Bull, how is it March already?! (Feel free to adopt that expression)
I get emails from Xpressbet, which I have been an account member with for some time. Until recently, my inbox had almost 2,000 messages that I finally either deleted or archived with some emails dating back to a few years ago. It was a spurt of organization, what can I say? Anyway, I still had my original email congratulating me on starting a betting account at Xpressbet on January 15, 2012 and presumably, within a day or two I made my first wager since August 14, 2010. All in all, that does not give me a wealth of experience when it comes to playing the ponies with any serious intent or reward, but after seeing that email it made me think of how I have changed since I first approached racing and wagering more than a year ago:
A year ago… and if you were to dig through the blog archives, you would find some evidence of…
- I never used speed figures at all.
- I almost always played to win, place, or show. I did not understand exotics yet. I did play a Pick 3 once at Gulfstream though… and won… something small like $17 but still!
- I stuck to familiar tracks and faces… EDGAR PRADO? I LOVE HIM! I particularly loved Gulfstream when I first started and disliked Aqueduct.
- I was actually unafraid to play claiming races. Unsuccessfully, yes, but still unhindered! Now I rarely play them!
- I was leery of turf and synthetic. I just wasn’t that familiar with them until the last year.
- I focused a lot on “visual handicapping” and then from there based my picks on connections and pedigree. I still use these facets, though lately not as much as I learn and feel out new methods.
- I never bet more than $2. PIGEON BETS FOR THE WIN.
Here and now, I am:
- Tirelessly trying to beat the favorite when I can, especially when it’s a favorite I am naturally biased to try to beat i.e. a Todd Pletcher maiden
- An exotics fan, albeit an unsuccessful one. I haven’t hit the almighty trifecta yet, but have landed several exactas.
- An occasional bettor of more than $2. I’ve put up $20+ in some situations where Awesome Feather, Union Rags, Game On Dude, and a select few others were running. Overall successful return on those leaps of faith.
- A growing fan of turf and synthetic, the former because it’s a more open affair and a lot of days I’m better at it than dirt. Synthetic is fun because it’s more of a challenge and with better odds on the upsetters.
- I use speed figures a bit more often, though I am still suspect of many of them being accurate foretellers of performance and ability.
- I still believe in heart bets. :’)
And now for the Zenyatta part of this reflection. Yup, I am a fan and probably will always be one. When I first started the blog I thought she was something marvelous, but over time I ran into a lot of naysayers about her greatness. She will always be a personal great to me, and no I wouldn’t know who would win on their best day, Zenny or Rachel, but as I have grown to know more about racing, I can justify her appeal in some ways:
- She was a mare. With excellent bloodlines. Who raced until she was 6. Twice in the Classic, almost winning her second time.
- I naturally love closers because of her, but after seeing her run it has made me realize how difficult a task it is to win coming from behind. There’s traffic, there’s pace, there’s timing, there’s being ready and able to get the win. She did it so many times.
- She was always fit and was always on her A game. How many good horses today run until they’re 6 without getting a major injury or appearing frustrated and tired?
- I wish she would have tried turf…