“Garnet; are you feeling lucky today”…..I was waiting for the…”punk?” part - thinking of one of the greatest lines in movie history uttered by Clint Eastwood in the movie “Dirty Harry”.
But I also knew that the lady on the other end of the phone was far too nice to call me names - no matter how amusing it would have been.
When Standardbred Canada’s Manager of Industry Marketing, Kathy Wade Vlaar, called me yesterday, I suspected the discussion may centre around a recent story I had written about 13YO harness racing superfan and now owner, Sydney Weaver. http://www.downthestretchnewspaper.com/issues/6issue002/page24.html But when Kathy spoke the words “Feeling lucky…?” I knew something was up, and was eager to find out why I should feel “lucky”. My immediate response was “nooooooo…why? Then I got some wildly exciting news. “Do you remember Rocky Delbello,” Wade-Vlaar asked, and my heart jumped into my throat in anticipation because I sure did remember Rocky - he was the only contestant that finished ahead of me in the 2012 Breeders Crown Fantasy Draft and by doing so he took down first prize which was a paid entry ($1,000 value) into the $100,000 World Harness Handicapping Championships at The Meadowlands held this April 13th. Hoping and anticipating what Kathy might say next I answered “yeaaaaah…..” with baited breath and waited for the next sentence like the kid next in line at an ice cream stand. “Well Rocky can’t make it…”-as those melodic words rolled off Wade-Vlar’s lips into my ears I heard a very loud YESSSSSSS come from somewhere deep inside my soul - “you finished second, so you now have the opportunity to go. Today’s your lucky day, Garnet!”
It would have been enough just to hear I was going to “The Big M”, widely regarded as the “Mecca” of harness racing (apologies to Mohawk Raceway, which will always be my favorite racetrack on earth). To find out that I was one of only 100 handicappers that would compete for the $40,000 top prize blew me away! The contest runs one night with a live $400 bankroll (part of the original prize) and requires contestants to make WP bets only of $40 (minimum) to $100 (maximum) on 10 races - 3 mandatory races, 1 each from Mohawk, Balmoral and Buffalo along with 7 races of the player’s choice from the Meadowlands card Saturday night. Get hot for one night, hit a bomb or two and I could return to home base with 40,000 U.S. somolllians! How exciting is that?!
It gets even better. My co-creator and co-host on the North American Harness Update online radio show http://www.blogtalkradio.com/north-american-harness-update/2013/03/02/north-american-harness-update-3113 Jeremey Day won a qualifier at Maywood Park last night and is also making the trip to The Big M. We have spoken often but never met; I can’t wait to hook up with Jeremey and trade harness racing stories and handicapping philosophies - not to mention the Friday night cocktail gathering and buffet in the Pegasus dining room and some of the world’s best racing! I can’t wait.
Today marks the 2013 debut of the “DriveOn Bets” segment in which we will make mythical wagers from a set starting bankroll of $2,000 and follow how we do throughout the racing year. Things didn’t go so well last year with many tough close beats, but as I like to say when things don’t go my way in this game of racing..,.”Turn the page”.
We’ll start out at Woodbine with two pick 4 wagers with a base of 60-cents each starting in race 4: We’ll single “Drain Daddy” in the 4th who comes off a season-best 151.3 score a class lower. He’s no lock for sure, but this is a very tough sequence and we’re spreading deep the next 3 legs hoping to get past the 4th and then connect with some price horses. The ticket: 3/467/3456/12356 - total wager=$36
Race 8’s pick 4 ticket also for a base of 60 cents:
2348/1467/46/279 - total wager=$57.60
We are also going to make a play in race 11 keying on the #7, Chasin Racin, a former George Teague-trained open type now in the barn of WEG stalwart Tony Montini. Last week, Chasin Racin was raced conservatively in his 1st start for Montini coming off a qualifier and had a useful burst in his back half, firing identical 28.0 quarters. He will be ready to roll now and is sure to be put up close early by the barn’s main driver Keith Oliver, if not right on the engine. The wagers: $10 exacta 7/29 and 29/7; $4 tri 7/29/29 and 29/7/29 and $40 win on #7. Total = $
Finally we move to The Meadowlands where we will make plays in two races. In race #1, it appears a speed battle may emerge at some point in the first ¾ so we will be using two closers, the #3 Odin Blue Chip, who was an unlucky loser last week, and #7 Esprit De Kayjay, who has sneaky good form in a $5 exacta box and use them both in the early double with a debuting American Ideal gelding in race 2, #1 Buy American, who we think has far more ability than has been shown in his 3 qualifiers.
The bets: Meadowlands Race 1: $5 exacta box 3-7; $5 Daily Double 37/1 = $20 total
Lastly we move to race 6, the 1st leg of The Aquarius Series. There is little doubt that the morning line favorite, Warawee Needy, is the best horse in the race. The question is: how ready will he be? We think he’ll be ready to roll off his dominating 153 qualifying effort - but we are taking a bit of a different approach in this race. We also quite like the #9 horse, Bakin On The Beach, who is a 12/1 m/l proposition, to fill the lower rungs of the super with his wicked closing kick. BOTB has flashed home in 27.1 or quicker in all of his last 5 starts and should be flying on end to get a piece.
The wagers: ALL 20-cent Superfectas: 2/13457/9/13457; 2/13457/13457/9; 13457/2/9/13457; 13457/2/13457/9. The beauty of these wagers is that each one only costs $4, so the total investment is only $16.
Total wagered: $225.60
Starting Bankroll: $2,000
Current Bankroll: $1774.40