At ” Big Sandy” at Elmont, New York, the turns can be sweeping, and the backstretch can go on for years. It takes a steady and patient hand, and when they turn for home, I have heard that riders get lost in the turn. I never understood this theory, until I saw Stewart Elliot aboard Smarty Jones.
When they make the run for home, a new rider will look over and see themselves about 1-2 off the rail. But, when they straighten for home, the margin has them in the eight path…. Go figure? I guess this is what is meant to get lost around the turn. As I spoke of Stewart Elliot, and his wonderful mount Smarty Jones, this came into play.
Elliot was not accustomed to riding New York all of the time. Oh, he had been there…. But, not on this day. It seems like yesterday, when I stood with a handful of exotics that had Smarty on top…. The camera angle had him about eight on top. But, when the angle switched, I saw this runner wearing blue silks just grinding along. He was far back, and I knew it would take a lot to catch my runner. The angle switched again, and they had over a quarter of a mile to run…. Smarty had run his race, and was tiring. That grinding horse just kept plugging away, and eventually Birdstone under Edgar Prado went right on by…..
The story was not about me crying over a lost wager, but to be on the lookout. Play riders who have ridden there in the past. Play riders who have been riding there this week. At least, play a rider who is on the undercard. Did you see the “healing” Calvin Borel has mounts up there this time instead of being on David Letterman? Yes….. I would stay away from young riders who have not experienced “Big Sandy” and all of its glory….
That final turn can be a bitch….. Before you know it, you are in the middle of the track, and you might as well be in the grandstands. The track will need plenty of water, and there is rain in the forecast. It will not affect the oval, as it needs the Nile to be poured across the course. It can hold a great deal of water, and this will allow horses to come from off the pace. Look for a sealed track early for precautions. Once they know the rain is gone, they will cut it open to dry with harrows. The turf should play well for closers, and that will be a plus. It has looked a little hard, and the rain may soften it up to have a little give to it.
Stay away from the novice rider. No matter how good they are, this course plays well for the prepared. So, be sure to bet with your head and not get all tangled up chasing blue skies.