Michael Pizzolla’s ValueCapping Rant: Triple Crown Watch May 23, 2014

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From the Desk Of Michael Pizzolla

May 23, 2014 11:37 PM

Dear ValueCapper and Friend,

The Belmont is two weeks away, and of course, there’s a big buzz about a potential Triple Crown champion.

For all my clinical talk about value, about ValueCapping, about finding the best value bets, there’s still a racing fan in me.

Even though many big races present no good betting opportunities, that doesn’t mean that I don’t love the big races and the great horses.

I’ve been to the last three Triple Crown winners’ Belmonts in person-Secretariat in 1973, Seattle Slew in 1977, and Affirmed in 1978.

Secretariat’s Belmont was the single greatest sporting event I’ve ever experienced in my life.

As a pace handicapper, when I saw the time of 1:09 4/5 posted for 6 furlongs, I thought to myself that Ron Turcotte had blown the Triple Crown, that no colt could possible finish, much less win, at a mile and a half after that pace.

As Secretariat pulled away, the crowd was going crazy and I found myself not able to make a sound. I kept waiting for him to start ‘swimming’-moving his legs up and down and coming back to the field. Instead, he pulled away. It was stunning. I still don’t have the words to describe it.

California Chrome is no Secretariat. Still, it would be great for the sport to have a Triple Crown winner.

I’m on the road, in the deep South, and was actually asked by a couple of grandmothers from Alabama if Chrome had a chance at the Triple Crown.

Of course he does, and I told them as much.

He’s not in the same class as Slew or Affirmed.

And no colt may ever be worthy of being mentioned in the same sentence as Secretariat.

Still, part of me wants him to win for the good of our game.

As of today, I don’t know if I’ll head back to New York for the race.

I was there for Smarty Jones’s, Real Quiet’s, War Emblem’s, Funny Cide’s, and Big Brown’s losses in the Belmont when they had a chance at the Crown.

The three others that stick out in my mind were ten years apart.

I was there for Spectacular Bid’s loss in 1979. It was a shock. I saw Coastal make this monster move up the rail to run down Bid. That would have been three Triple Crowns in a row!

Fast forward ten years. 1989 was Sunday Silence’s chance. I watched Easy Goer cruise by him to win easily. I had a soft spot in my heart for Easy Goer, as he was a beautiful colt, and a son of Alydar, who I thought was a better colt than Affirmed.

Fast forward ten more years. 1999. This one was the most disappointing.

I was literally laughed at by some racing heavyweights on a radio show when I picked Charismatic to win the Derby that year, and when he paid $64 and change to win, I cashed one of the best bets I’d ever made.

It was heartbreaking to see him lose the Belmont. I knew something was wrong mid stretch. and watching Chris Antley drop to the ground to protect his leg after the finish line was so poignant.

I’m not superstitious, but there’s part of me that knows that I’ve gone 8 times now since Affirmed and have seen 8 potential Crown winners lose.

Crown is not a great colt. But at this point in our game, in thoroughbred racing, he’s got a great chance to spark excitement in our game, which is sorely needed.

He’ll be wearing his nasal strip, and I hope he runs his race.

I’ll let you know if I’ll go, and no matter what, I’ll give you my analysis of the race when we get the final entries in a couple of weeks.

Until then, I hope this finds you well, and please let the bet make you.

All the best,


Michael Pizzolla

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