• Did Eblouissante offer value in her debut?

    POSTED Nov 20, 2012
    At the racetrack, value and not always beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Or, as my college newspaper editor, Robert Levine, used to say, "One man's gold is another's gonorrhea."

    Benoit & Associates photo
    Indeed, trying to scratch that itch with a "sure thing" at 7-to-5 can burn you, but passing on easy winners at what appear to be overlaid odds after the fact smarts, too, and the debut of Zenyatta's half sister, Eblouissante, on Friday at Hollywood Park offered the perfect backdrop of this handicapping conundrum.

    The base question is, what is the lowest odds at which a horse can truly offer value? Did Frankel offer value when 2-to-5 in the 2011 Queen Anne Stakes? I thought so and made a prime win bet on him. Would I have played at 1-to-5, though? Definitely not, and I know plenty of people who wouldn't have bet Spectacular Bid at 2-to-5 to win the 1980 Woodward.

    Eblouissante was far more generous in her debut, paying off at 7-to-5 in a race I thought she was even money to win while prepared to take 6-to-5. Of course, that "generous" modifier is my opinion, since plenty of pre- & post-race chatter involved calling her overbet.

    When I first looked at the race my impression was that trainer John Shirreffs would have her in peak form for an unraced late-season three-year-old filly. The BRIS Speed Rating par for the race was 89, a number only one other starter had come close to. Given Eblouissante's family's history and the string of workouts I was confident she could run atleast par.

    The final piece of the puzzle, though, was reading Andy Harrington's workout notes in his National Turf Clocker Report, which is available daily ($9.95) via Brisnet.com for Southern California tracks.
    EBLOUISSANTE Nov 11 HOL 5 :59.1H M FT    B+      
    Jet black powerfully built sort tracked a barnmate was asked some on the turn drawing away late while on own in 35.2, 59.3. Clearly has run, clearly fit (has turned in 45 drills since last year in preparation for debut). Think she can run as far as they card 'em. Was in blinkers; Blanc up. Like her sis she appears to have a mellow disposition.---Grade: B+
    EBLOUISSANTE Nov 5 HOL 6 1:15.1H M FT    B+      
    In blinkers; grand looker made a good run at barnmate Odeon and galloped out quite well while not asked in 38.1, 103.1, 115.0 out around the bend in 127.4. Not overly handy but can run forever.---Grade: B+
    EBLOUISSANTE Oct 19 HOL 6 1:14H M FT    B+      
    Corey up; noticeably caught hold midstretch running away from barnmate Cotton Belle finishing 3 clear in 37.3, 113.4. Much substance here.---Grade: B+
    As you can read, Andy liked what he saw, and these notes gave me the confidence to bet my opinion that Shirreffs had this one ready to roll and that a par effort for the class was likely. As it turned out, she bettered par by a few points with a 93 BRIS Speed Rating when winning easily by 4 1/2 lengths.

    The 7-to-5 price seemed more than fair both before and after the race, but some disagreed even after this tour de force, citing that her price was suppressed because of her family. I don't disagree that Eblouissante would have been a higher price if she weren't Zenyatta's half sister and/or hadn't been written about for the past year and a half, but I do disagree that the extra money because of that automatically makes her an underlay.

    Assessing her chances to win the race at 50% had nothing to do with knowing that there'd be a lot more casual money bet on her. Obviously I knew that was in play and a big reason I was so surprised at the 4-to-1 morning line, but just because she may have been 2-to-1 without the Zenyatta connection doesn't mean she didn't offer value at 7-to-5 if I thought she'd win 50% of the time.

    All this discussion is not to say that every favorite who wins by daylight is a good bet, but knowing Eblouissante would take casual money didn't automatically make her a bad bet either.

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