You can hear a pin drop. Unlike the train, which is about as quiet as the trading floor on Wall Street from the opening to the closing bell, riders give you the evil eye if you so much as drop a pin.
Chatting away on the phone, except in an emergency, is frowned upon in the unwritten rider code. Only on Wednesdays -- matinee day on Broadway, popular with female senior citizens who talk the entire ride home -- are there verbal exchanges for the entire ride, but that's the exception.
So, after scoring on a mythical $50WP "wager" in the first race of Del Mar's online handicapping contest yesterday, last night I printed the past performances for today's contest -- Race 8, a $32,000 claimer at a mile and a sixteenth on turf -- looking forward to a quiet ride home spent handicapping one race.
The field of 10 goes post-ward around 8:40 p.m. ET.
Problem is, I could have spent the entire day reviewing the past performances and still not come away with a confident selection.
Of course I'll make a selection no matter what, since there's no cost to play the contest and I am cocky enough to think I can predict any race outcome.
Still, today was one of those occasions where I seriously pondered -- toss the race and avoid dropping a mythical $100 in the Del Mar contest, or roll the dice and pursue an angle that could produce a big score.
Let the debate begin.
In the meantime, here's a quick rundown of the field with my thoughts (questions, concerns, etc.), and a link to Brisnet's past performances:
- Beachcombing (8-1), Joe Talamo: on the bench since late September and won three straight on turf last summer, but at Lone Star; trainer Cody Autrey is 20% (19-for-79) with horses off 90+ days; class drop out of a stakes field, but at Remington. Logical contender.
- Romeo Royale (8-1), Alex Bisono: contemplated this Cal-bred with 3 wins in 22 turf tries, including 1 at Del Mar, but that one's off the sheet. Not in love with 0-for-25 jockey second off a layoff against $40,000 claimers; best performances seem to be against state breds.
- Black N Beauty (15-1), Alonso Quinonez: reclaimed by John Sadler, which drew my attention despite the lofty odds, awful form the last two and first try on turf in 25 lifetime starts. Gut tells me Sadler's testing the waters here and figures he can sneak in a claiming race w/o the horse being taken, but very dangerous trainer in middling field is a positive. Should factor in early pace scenario too, in a race devoid of big early speed. May try to steal.
- Warren's Big Cat (30-1), Julien Couton: OK, it's a Jack Van Berg Horse (1-for-71 in 2013), but horse has shown at least a little life at times; still, 0-for-last-14 makes this one a toss.
- Winsome Charm (8-1), Arnold Perez: automatic toss for me; should be there early, but have played this one before in past contests and been burned. I'll let him beat me.
- Robbie's War (8-1), David Flores: in the money in 6-of-16 on turf, but only 1 win in 18 tries prompts concern that maybe he's an underneath horse at best.
- So Elite (6-1), Mario Gutierrez: stalker who, to me, is not that impressive. Seems to be the kind who lingers late but never hits the wire; only a place and show finish in 10 races in '12-'13.
- Tamarack Smarty (3-1), Julien Leparoux: connections an obvious plus (trained by Mike Mitchell -- 20% with turf starters), but concerned that this late runner will be too far back off a tepid pace to make up considerable enough ground to win late. Plus, the horse's best form was in '11. Clear winner if he recaptures that form, but 3-1 seems a little too low for my liking.
- Te Rapa (5-1), Kayla Stra: 5% turf rider a concern (learned my lesson last week in a similar scenario during the Monmouth Park contest with Shannon Uske; sorry, ladies). Bigger worry, however, is the horse's pattern of fading in the stretch each of his last 6 tries. Should be forwardly-placed, but not sure he's capable of closing the deal here, though this horse has 2 wins in 4 tries at Del Mar.
- Fear the Beard (7-2), Rafael Bejarano: expect will take money and speculating he may go off as favorite, having finished in the money in 7 of 12 lifetime starts, including 2 straight place finishes at Betfair Hollywood Park at a mile. Not too concerned about outside post and think he may be forwardly placed.
NJ Horseplayer's Pick: $50WP, #1 Beachcombing
Although I'm somewhat tepid off the layoff, I'm willing to roll the dice here, considering all of the horse's 4 lifetime victories in 16 starts came on grass, and this horse has been aggressively placed in races in Lousiana, Texas and even New Jersey (two second-place showing in non-graded stakes at Monmouth in 2011). I like the rail draw and figure the horse will be forwardly placed.
Thoughts, anyone...this toss-up a play or a toss for you?