Figuring Out When to Forgive a Poor Performance

Racing fans celebrate a winner. (Penelope P. Miller/America's Best Racing)

If you chased the mandatory payout in the Empire Pick 6 at Aqueduct on Feb. 9, the closing leg probably gave you fits.

The finale was a 12-horse field of New York State-bred maiden 3-year-old fillies running for a $25,000 claiming tag with plenty of options for investing your wagering dollars.

The favorite in the race at 1.90-1 odds was High School Crush, whose strong point was finishing second in a similar race, losing by 4 ¼ lengths as a 9-10 favorite.

With a favorite coming off that kind of a loss, there was certainly sufficient cause for going deep in that race on your Pick 6 ticket, and one of the options who seemed to be a tossout was actually an intriguing play if you didn’t jump to a conclusion and could ignore what looked like a glitch in her last race.

Big Cyn’s last race before the Feb. 9 start came on Jan. 17 in a $25,000 state-bred claimer when something went very wrong. Breaking from the rail, Big Cyn ducked in during the early stages of the races and jockey Joey Martinez was unseated.

Off a whacky effort like that, some might look past Big Cyn in search of a winner but that turned out to be a rash decision.

Looking closely at Big Cyn’s past performances, there were no signs that she was a bad actor in other starts. Beyond that, trainer Jim Ryerson was putting blinkers on Big Cyn and Martinez was willing to ride her again, positive signs that she might be on her best behavior in her next start.

If you drew a line through that race, it took you to a fourth-place finish in an open $30,000 maiden claimer, which made her more competitive in the field than her 15-1 morning-line price – especially when you consider she was only 8.70-1 in the Jan. 17 race.

Given that her last race was at a mile and she was turning back to a more customary sprint distance, she was hardly a standout, but she was at least an interesting option in the Pick 6.

Depending on your bankroll, if you had the wherewithal to include Big Cyn in the Pick 6, you hit at least one leg of the sequence. Sent off at 14.30-1 odds, she took charge in the stretch and scored by 1 ½ lengths, paying $30.60 for a $2 bet.

She also triggered a $269.50 double with the second choice in the previous race. As for the Empire Pick 6, if you used Big Cyn and had the other five winners, you were surely ecstatic, and quite a bit richer.

With Big Cyn bringing down the curtain, the Pick 6 paid $89,266.80 for a 20-cent wager and illustrated the benefits of not rushing judgment about a bad performance.

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