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Wednesday, November 5, 2008

First Tuesday in November

On Monday night (Tuesday, Aussie time), I decided to flip on TVG to see what was the big deal about this Melbourne Cup thing. Wow. That's all I can say. They hooked me with their accents, their broadcast, the pageantry, even the 10 university dudes with the funny ties (the 10 tenors, i think) who could belt out a mean tune. I immediately went to THE TBA source for Austrialian race analysis, Foolish Pleasure, to see what she had to say about things. As always, she had the race pegged and the longshot winner Viewed , was her sentimental favorite and indeed a descendant of her blog's namesake. I downloaded the free PP's from the TBA homepage (where you can obtain them for every day's stakes races) and tried to decode it (FP's blog certainly helped here) and have some fun trying to figure out what was going to happen in a 22 (!) horse field going 2(!) miles.

Some interesting thoughts occurred while I watched the telecast:

- The race has a huge purse - $5.5M!

- The race with 22 starters presents a betting opportunity similar to the Kentucky Derby, with long odds and big payouts.

- The race, held at Flemington Racecourse (owned by the Victoria Racing Club) has a 5 furlong shoot to start the race over an egg shaped course which creates a mad dash to the first (and very tight) turn. Over 100,000 were on hand to watch (and skip work).

- The Cup actually occurs on the first Tuesday (!) in November (as does a certain election in this country). Really? I figured it must be a holiday there or something to hold the nation's biggest race on a weekday (sound familiar, cough, Filly Friday, cough)? I don't think so. "Australia's racing day of days" is smack dab on a Tuesday, a work day down under.

- This blog was receiving emails/comments from folks at school or at work like this one ("Our office has gone all in, with $2 random sweeps and a tiny fuzzy TV someone brought in from home. Technical as we get around here. Waiting for 1pm (our time, you damn easteners). Anagram? Our favourite Mad Rush may just be a Hard Sum to calculate, or perhaps he Has Drum, will beat? Good work at the coalface, don't think you're not being watched. You are our window.") High comedy.

- Bookmakers in Australia had lines at 6.30am taking bets on the race.

- In an earlier race that had an inquiry, the stewards actually called in the jockeys and trainers and interviewed them (a la the McCarthy hearings) and even let them (the jocks) ask each other questions, all on the telecast. If you've read me before, you know I am a big backer of the US stewards either posting their decision in writing or announcing to the crowd at the track the decision regarding the inquiry. Let's hope some regulators were tuned in.

- After the Cup race, Aidan O'Brien was called out of a restaurant to explain his strategy as all three of his horses (including the favorite Septimus) went to the front. It was widely speculated before the race that the other two entries were in their to set the pace. I don't think Mr. O'Brien was too happy with this and how he was treated by the press and will probably be passing on the trip down under in the near future.

- I took a stab at the exacta (which paid $1,100 [!] for a $1] and had Bauer underneath, but failed in my efforts in selecting the winner (i shoulda known Val's sentimental pick would come in). The trifecta paid $22,500 for a $1. It was a tremendous finish with Viewed hanging on by a nose and I think I became a fan of the international racing scene in one fell swoop (pack your bags, Space Gal).

In other TBA news, we are welcoming four new blogs, two of which have a local flavor (fellow Western New Yorker, The Turk and nearby Torontonian Triple Dead Heat) both of which I have been following over the past few months. The other two blogs are also welcomed additions to our growing stable of racing blogs, harness blog Pull the Pocket and the Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA), a blog for "simply concerned horseplayers, nothing more and nothing less" round out the newcomers. Be sure to check out all of the new blogs on the block.

PS If you want the inside dope on some of Aqueduct's new policies, check out LATG.

1 Comment:

Valerie said...

Don't miss the Oaks tonight (11:00 p.m. EST). If not on TVG, you can watch online at Twinspires or here for free:

I read somewhere that just across Australia (not including international pools) there was $135 million bet on just the Melbourne Cup!! One race, not the whole card! Wow!


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