Submitted by John Piesen on Friday, December 6, 2013 at 12:00 AM
By John Piesen
I’ll be the first to admit I have little or no knowledge of high finance, but I do know that it doesn’t take a math major to figure that horseplayers continue to get the wrong end of the lollipop, quoting Miss Monroe in Some Like It Hot.
For example, take out a minute to explore the events of this week, notably:
1) NYRA announced a major purse increase to its 2014 winter stakes schedule to the point that all 31 stakes listed will offer six-figure purses. Good news for a handful of high-rolling owners, but meaningless to the little guy with a barnful of claimers, and...
2) Discussions are in the works to increase clubhouse and grandstand admission prices across the board at all NYRA meets. Naturally the price of admission at the Aqueduct casino remains free. And you wonder what’s wrong with this picture.
Not that racing stands alone with its problems.
Football fans had to stay up to midnight last night to see if they got a win, a beat or a push in an NFL nightmare matching the Jaguars and the Texans.
And a short ride from the stadium came the news Thursday that (surprise!) the Florida State QB beat the rap -- coincidentally two days before the deadline for the Heisman voting.
And of course -- in the words of broadcaster Warner Wolf -- you could have had the Brooklyn Nets and 29 points...and still lose!
This brings us back to Aqueduct, where the feature on the first Saturday of December is the Garland of Roses (100K), composed of seven fillies, who collectively have one graded stakes victory (a Grade 3) among them in 95 starts.
At least we will have or two name riders to keep it interesting.
Well, maybe not.
No Ramon Dominguez. No Johnny Velazquez. No Joel Rosario. And, as of Friday, no Javier Castellano.
That leaves Junior Alvarado, Angel Arroyo, Rajiv Maragh, Roberto Morales, Cornelio Velasquez and the Ortiz brothers (Irad and Jose).
Where have you gone Dave Borden?
And the morning-line favorite is a reformed 25-claimer.
To hype the NYRA Winter Games, we offer the following marketing advice to management:
Bring us Cowboy Jones!
No, I’m not talking about Larry (Cowboy) Jones, the big-time trainer currently stabled in Louisiana.
I’m talking about jockey Cowboy Jones, who, at age 70, stands on the threshold of becoming the oldest licensed rider to win a race in North America -- or anywhere else for that matter.
Currently that distinction belongs to Frank Amonte, who a few years back, won a race at Suffolk Downs at the age of 69. You’ll find his son Andy working the Monmouth backside during racing season.
Cowboy Jones was a regular whippersnapper at Ellis Park going back to the Eisenhower Administration, but, as you might imagine, his business has tailed off lately. But last summer he was offered a mount, the favorite no less, in a $1,500 claimer at Fairmount Park, a rinker-dinker outside St. Louis whose greatest fame was spawning superstar track announcer Dave Johnson.
Riding as hard (harder) as a rider possibly can, and with scores of media from St. Louis and Carbondale cheering him on, the Cowboy made the lead in midstretch, but a party-pooper blew by at the wire...leaving Frank Amonte still the oldest rider to win a sanctioned race.
In the aftermath of the race, the authorities charged there was some skullduggery involved, and some riders in the race (not the Cowboy) actually were punished.
Maybe they were trying to get the Cowboy home, maybe not. But nothing was proven, there was no unusual toteboard action, and as far as we know, no money changed hands.
A bum rap indeed.
But what’s new in this game?
PIESEN HEATS UP DECEMBER
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This brings us back to the Garland of Roses.
Believing that that 25K claimer (Ullapool) is vulnerable, I’m going to focus my financial attention on Miss Mischief and My Wandy’s Girl.
Last year as a 3-year-old, My Wandy’s Girl was the queen of Puerto Rico, winning nine of 11 starts. Shipped to the U.S., and turned over to Mike Hushion, she finished a close-up second in a pair of Grade Twos, the Barbara Fritchie and the Ruffian, before going on the shelf.
Wandy has been training long and hard for her return, and she should work out a stalking trip from the two-hole with Jose Ortiz.
Is she ready?
Let the board be your guide.
The 3-year-old Miss Mischief is 3-for-3 at the six-furlong distance, including a six-length romp in her last start, the Pearl City over the track.
That was MM’s first start for Steve Asmussen, who succeeded Tony Dutrow as her trainer.
If Castellano had remained in New York, he would have had to decide between Miss Mischief and Baby J. for this race. Instead, Javier, the likely Eclipse winner, moved to Florida, leaving Maragh on Miss Mischief, and Cornelio on Baby J. for Paul Pompa, who gave us Big Brown, the 2008 Derby winner.
Speaking of the Derby, what to make of Honor Code’s come-again nose victory last week in the Remsen?
A week earlier, I suggested in this venue that you grab the 12-1 offered on Honor Code in the Vegas winter book.
Hope you did, but Honor Code, although he won, was not nearly as impressive in a painfully slow Remsen as he was in his first two starts.
But at 12-1, Honor Code is still a bargain.
Thanks for tuning in. Please take the time to remember Pearl Harbor, keep the John Piesen Hot Line (1-888-777-4155) and the website (www.nationalracemasters.com) on mind, go Raiders, and see you back here next Friday.