In response to the mild, followed by apocalyptic, followed by mild forecasts for Saturday’s weather, the New York Racing Association sped up post times to insure that all nine races could be run before the “storm” hit. Nine races run in approximately three hours and forty-six minutes—barely time to check the paddock, bet, get to the bathroom, and watch the race. A full day at the races, and I was still home by 4:30. And oh yeah, there’s no snow on the sidewalks outside of my building.
Hunch bettors benefited by the Vinnie double in races five and six: The Vin Man won the fifth, paying $19.00; Vinnie Van Go paid $17.60 winning the sixth, and the double paid $118.50. Unfortunately (and surprisingly?), I don’t have any relatives named Vinnie, so I let that one go. Check out Ernie Munick’s comments on Andy Serling and The Vin Man, and do click on the video link. It’s short, and worth it.
Pumpkin Shell in the feature contributed to Sunday’s triple carry over at the Big A, winning the Busanda and paying $26.80.
Trainer Donk said that he was “hoping” she’d run well, hoping that she’d validate her last win, and praised the ride by jockey C.C. Lopez. “I liked her,” said Lopez, who rode Pumpkin Shell when she broke her maiden last month. “We got off OK, and I bided my time. When I called on her the hole opened up and she went right through it. I think she won with something left over.”
Pumpkin Shell’s first victory came in her fifth start, over Aqueduct’s inner track on December 4th. She’d run well enough in her first start, last July at Saratoga, her chart noting, “good finish for 2nd.” In her second dirt start she didn’t fare as well, finishing sixth, and Donk observed, “She took dirt in her face and she got discouraged, so I put her on turf [in the ungraded Ms. Grillo at Belmont]. It was soft, not a fair evaluation of how she’ll do on turf.”
A second turf start was an improvement, but Pumpkin Shell still only finished fourth, so Donk put her on Aqueduct’s inner track in early December, a surface over which she’s now two for two.
Donk said he hadn’t decided whether the filly was better on turf or on dirt, though he conceded that Saturday’s victory might have “convinced [him] a little bit.” “Chucky [Lopez] likes her, and thinks she can go somewhere. It was nice to see her validate her last, to take a dirt in her face.”
Donk was aiming her at a race with two turns, and noted that he’s not going to overdo it with her. He’s looking next at the Busher, to be run on February 22nd at Aqueduct.