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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Halfway Post

I'm a few days delinquent getting the links up for the annual halfway post, where we look at the mid-year highs and lows for thoroughbred racing. What can I say, I got sidetracked with an impromptu visit to the Finger on Tuesday which delayed our half-year linkage. As I mentioned last year, we've moved the actual post to The Buffalo News so you'll have to check out the 2012 edition on the TBN site, hopefully you'll enjoy it. We're all about consistency here in the Space Station, so we don't want to be accused of slipping!

We've kept this post up for the past five years so we'll link back to the historical posts from 2011, 2010, 2009 and our inaugural post in 2008 in case you're interested in looking back at my thoughts at this juncture over the past five years.

Some thoughts about Finger Lakes after my recent visit. It was my third lifetime trip to the Finger (2010 New York Derby won by Ibboyee, 2011 Opening Day and Random Tuesday the 3rd of July) so I don't have a lot of basis to have a glowing review and/or criticize, although I did have a few observations. I was there with a good friend to have a few beers, play a few races and catch up on some common interests. It was the first time in probably three years that I was going to the track to just relax, kick back and gamble. I guess that's when you notice things....

* For two thirsty guys, it was disappointing that the Paddock Room bar was closed. We were forced to go to a concession line, and I always seem to get behind the person who orders four sets of chicken fingers, three nachos and can't make up their mind about the drinks they want. The first two times I was at the track I hung out at that bar, spread out the PP's and had a nice view of a number of televisions. It was kind of a bummer.
* Space favorite Bona Venture Stables sent out Engine Five in the 7th and he fared well, finishing third.
* The morning lines were brutal. Not even close. At least we had an idea of who should be the favorite, but when the 5/2 second choice ends up 1/9, you know something is awry.
* We had to bring the average age down by a ton in the Paddock Room. I guess this can be expected given that it is the main simulcast room. They obviously know there crowd based on this photo.
* As I headed to the men's lavatory, I noticed a pretty cool area with a bunch of isolated televisions within carrels for handicappers. Very nice. If I were solo, it would be for me.
* You have to keep an eye out for horses that have run on the NYRA circuit, they are nine times out of 10 a must-use. Happened a couple times on Tuesday. One such example was in the 7th, where Knockout (a $300K Smart Strike purchase) was sent out as the 5-1 co-third choice (with three other horses). Raced a few times at Belmont and rode a good race last summer at Saratoga. He went off at 1.25-1 and won going away.
* As I was in Syracuse last weekend and halfway there on Tuesday in Farmington, I did notice that at least on this side of the state there was no construction on the NYS Thruway.  Maybe this is the year the 4-hour barrier goes down, it is only 16 days until opening day!
* Overall, I'm still a fan of the Finger, and of course, it was a random Tuesday, I guess my experience could have been enhanced by a few things. I'll be back for sure.

Sorry no pictures, I was off duty.

This weekend's Suburban looks loaded, Stay Thirsty, To Honor and Serve, Mucho Macho Man, Trickmeister, Hymn Book and an interesting Godolphin named Buffum, who was a $1.2 million yearling purchase and is fairly lightly raced. Looking forward to seeing what he can do against tougher company, it should be a fun race to watch. Taking a stand against To Honor and Serve, which means he'll have a career performance. Leaning towards the Macho Man with Stay Thirsty and Trickmeister, based on his worktab and the efforts by those who beat him in the G2 Alysheba last weekend in the Cornhusker at Prairie Meadows.



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