|Even these experts went 0-for-4!|
Putting aside the ramshackle grandstand, scratch parking lot, lack of live tote and inability to hear the track announcer while watching from the track's apron (kind of like attending a Rutgers men's basketball home game, where the PA guy is inaudible), ACRC offers a festival atmosphere and signals, in small doses, that live racing is far from dead. Marketed properly (and with drastically reduced takeouts and perhaps free admission at Monmouth, like at ACRC), the thoroughbred sport can succeed in the Garden State, Mr. Christie and horsemen!
|Lines at least 8-10 deep at every turn|
|ACRC packing them in!|
|Kate's Cozy Kiss ahead of her|
second-place finish in Race 1
Race 3 was a perfect example.
Readers may recall my commentary Sunday about this race in particular, especially my stance against 2-to-1 M/L favorite Tenplus, who entered the 12-horse maiden special weight event at a mile-and-a-sixteenth on the turf with easily the top one-time Beyer figure (74 on an off track at Fair Grounds in January 2010) and a 31% winning trainer. However, I stood against, owing to concerns about a year-layoff off that top race, a subsequent 43 Beyer on the horse's next outing at the same distance on turf, and that the horse never factored in two more maiden tries, including a big drop from $38k special weight to a $12,500 claimer condition on March 18 at Gulfstream.
Tenplus went off as second at 2.6-to-1 but (unfortunately my most accurate handicapping call of the afternoon) was pulled up on the backside and vanned off, which is the absolute last thing any horseplayer ever wants to see on the track.
|Diana Girl, 3rd in Race 1|
The intelligent, more-conservative play would have been a 3-horse box at a lower denomination, since I didn't like anyone else in the field, but therein lies my problem - bankroll management. I went for the dicier call and it hurt, as Boston Pops Band won over Hollywood Lou (8-to-1 final odds) and paid $45.60 for a $2 exacta. Royal Tea Time ran well for about three-quarters but faded to finish 9th and I could tell was not of the winning caliber after a quarter mile. Lou, however, was the right call to at least play underneath and, if not for being bumped at the start, might have fared better than a two-and-a-half length place finish.
The final race was a compelling 5-furlong sprint, where I had half of the exacta (runner-up Local Celebrity) but my bullish view of Lawdy Me (6-to-1 M/L, who was 4-for-8 at the distance and 3-for-3 with the jockey) proved flawed as the horse finished a well-beaten sixth after a sluggish start.
The visit proved a modest monetary setback for the NJ Horseplayer faction, but nothing beat the companionship and intellectual challenge of handicapping, the sound of hooves hitting the turf, $3.50 beers served by Hooters waitresses and all other visual and olfactory pleasures of a day of live racing at the track.