The eight mandatory races for Friday were selected a short time ago. In case you haven’t seen them, here they are:
Oaklawn Race 3, 12:25 pm (Pacific/Las Vegas time)
Oaklawn Race 5, 1:19 pm
Aqueduct Race 8, 1:55 pm
Gulfstream Race 9, 2:03 pm
Gulfstream Race 10, 2:33 pm
Santa Anita Race 5, 3:00 pm
Santa Anita Race 7, 4:00 pm
Golden Gate Race 8. 4:15 pm
Absent from the Friday mandatory “festivities” will be contest tracks Fair Grounds, Laurel and Tampa.
The race selection committee (Alicia Hughes of the NTRA, Noel Michaels, Bill Sattler of Bally’s and myself) all liked a couple of races at Fair Grounds and one at Tampa, but those three races were all on the turf, so we left them out due to weather concerns. We liked the Fair Grounds races enough that we consulted with Fair Grounds racing officials regarding their thoughts on the prospect of Friday turf racing there. They were not optimistic…so we left those two races (race 4 and race 8) out of the mix.
We also did not use any Gulfstream turf races due to wet Friday forecasts. There ARE a couple of Gulfstream dirt races on the schedule, though. And if the weather reports are wrong, players will certainly have the opportunity to play the Gulfstream grass races using optional plays.
The one other slight “issue” we ran into was the fact that our eight mandatories don’t begin until 12:25pm PT…three hours after the contest gets rolling with the first at Laurel.
This may not really be a problem, of course. In a perfect world, we’d have eight great 12-horse races selected…starting at 11:00 am or so and with 45 minutes in between each one. That wasn’t happening on this particular Friday, though. So we went with what we hoped were the best possible eight after all things were factored in. If nothing else, players will have extra time to “refine” their thoughts on the Friday mandatories!
We were, of course, mindful, of not having two mandatories scheduled too close together. You may have already noted that there is just an 8-minute gap between the 8th at Aqueduct and the 9th at Gulfstream. We liked those two races, though, and we are expecting that–if form holds–Aqueduct will run right on time, and Gulfstream will go off six minutes late. That’s a gap we can live with.
There you have it for Day 1. Good luck whether you’re here with us at Bally’s…or following along from home.