Bridled Enthusiasm

Would it surprise you to learn I’ve added yet another APBA game to my hobby mix? Now it’s APBA Saddle Racing, which goes along with the baseball, football and bowling games I already have1I have the basketball game, too, but it sucks..

Part of the appeal is that this particular game has been out of print for years (the company stopped making an annual card set in 1987) and it’s rare to find one on the secondary market that isn’t crazy expensive. I recently picked one up for a reasonable price, along with the 1969 and 1982 card sets. So now in addition to all the other sports replays I have going, I’m replaying the major horse races from 1969.

First up, the Tropical Park Handicap at Tropical Park in Miami on Jan. 16, 19692Four days after Joe Namath led the New York Jets to a stunning upset in Super Bowl III at the Orange Bowl, about 12 miles east of Tropical Park. The Orange Bowl site now houses Marlins Park, while Tropical Park still exists, but as a public park that includes a stadium where lower-level soccer – another one of my pursuits – has been played over the years. . Then, a couple of other races I’ve run recently.

Tropical Park Handicap

9th race at Tropical Park, Miami, Fla. – Jan. 16, 1969

For more than forty years – from late 1931 to 1972 – Tropical Park in Miami welcomed top horses, jockeys, trainers and gamblers to South Florida during the winter months. Before it went out of business as a race track in 19723Its new owner wanted to shift its races to the new Calder Race Track, which he also owned., it was the site of the Tropical Park Handicap, which, for a time, was an important date on the racing calendar.

The 28th4There were only three more, as it turned out. running of the Tropical Park Handicap featured 10 horses, six of which competed in the actual race in 19695APBA did not card every horse from every year, so I replay the races with the highest percentages of carded horses in them and fill out the field with others that are similar in age and ability.. Beau Brummel (the highest rated horse in the field at 18) went off as a 5-2 favorite, but started slowly, made a brief rally to get to sixth place by the second furlong, dropped back to tenth, worked back up to eighth near the end before fading and finishing last. Tropic King II, who went off at 7-2, raced to the lead and only a brief burst by TV Commercial, who closed the gap to a quarter-length by the fifth furlong, threatened him at all. (TV Commercial eventually finished second by six lengths.)

APBA Saddle Racing
Tropic King II wins the 1969 Tropical Park Handicap by three lengths over TV Commercial, with Mr. Brogann (teal) edging Yumbel for third. The winning time was 1:50 3/5, four seconds off the track record.

Out the Window, a 3-1 shot, was third much of the race, managed to get to within three lengths two-thirds of the way through, then faded late and finished sixth. But fellow 3-1 shot Mr. Brogann, with Chuck Baltazar aboard, provided the most drama – such as it was – as he plodded along between fifth and sixth for the first five furlongs before turning it on – too late, as it turned out – and moving up to take advantage of Out the Window’s dropoff and finish third.

Tropic King II earned $45,175 for the win and paid $8.60/$4.60/$3.40 on a $2 bet. It took me 1:20 to run the actual race.


Tropical Park Handicap	(9th race at Tropical Park) 1/16/1969 [Run 12/26/17]
1 1/8 MILES	(Record: On-and-On, Jan 15, 1960 1:46 3/5, 4, 119)
Fin Horse (Rtg)		Jockey (Rtg)		Total	Odds	PP	Standing by Furlong	Time
 1 Tropic King II (16)	W.Carrion (0)		16	4-1	3	1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1		1:50 3/5
 2 T.V. Commercial (17)	W.J. Passmore (0)	17	4-1	2	2-2-2-2-2-3-2-2		1:53 3/5
 3 Mr. Brogann (15)	C.Baltazar (1)		16	7-2	4	6-4-5-5-5-4-4-3		1:56 2/5
 4 Yumbel (13)		D.Weiler (2)		15	9-2	5	4-9-9-8-8-5-7-4		1:56 3/5
 5 Hitchcock (17)	J.Lindley (0)		17	3-1	9	9-0-7-7-7-8-6-6		1:58
 6 Out the Window (16)	H.Moreno (0)		16	7-2	6	2-3-3-3-3-2-3-5		1:59 3/5
 7 Niarkos (13)		A.Pineda (1)		14	5-1	10	9-8-8-9-0-0-0-0		2:00 4/5
 8 Mr. Joe F (16*)	M.Volzke (0)		16	5-1	7	7-7-4-4-4-6-5-7		2:01
 9 Abe's Hope (13)	R.Grubb (0)		13	5-1	1	5-4-5-6-6-7-9-9		2:01 1/5
10 Beau Brummel (11)	B.Baeza (1)		12	5-2	8	8-6-0-0-9-9-8-8		2:01 2/5
				
				$2 Mutuel Prices:	3 - Topic King II	$8.60	$4.60	$3.40
							2 - T.V. Commercial	        $4.80	$4.00
							4 - Mr. Brogann		                $3.60
IN GATE  -  5:14. OFF AT 5:14 EASTERN STANDARD TIME. Start good. Won driving.
Real Life Winner: Mr. Brogann (1:48 4/5)

San Fernando Stakes

8th race at Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, Calif. – Jan. 18, 1969

Those are Arizona palm trees, not California ones, but that’s Nodouble leading Dignitas going in the San Fernando Stakes. Nodouble won in 1:53 4/5.

From Florida, we head to California for the San Fernando Stakes at Santa Anita on Jan. 18, 1969, two days before President Richard Nixon (a native Californian) took the oath of office for the second time.

APBA only carded three of the ten horses that ran this race in real life, so I added four others and had a seven-horse field, with Nodouble going off as the even-money favorite6The game has a way of determining odds based on a horse’s rating compared to the average of the rest of the field. It’s not perfect, but then, I’m not savvy enough in the ways of gambling to make a big deal about it..

But it was 6-1 shot Dignitas who broke early and took a very slim lead at the start. Nodouble made a push and tied for the lead through two furlongs, then started pulling away, leading by three to six lengths over the next half-mile. Cavamore got within three lengths just before the mile mark, then got within a length, before settling for second. Rising Market overcame a slow start to finish third, nine lengths behind.

Nodouble’s winning time of 1:53 4/5 was nearly five seconds slower than the real-life winning time (despite fast track conditions), but still earned the stallion $36,950 and $2.60 to patrons who wagered $2 on him to win. It took me just under an hour, 55 minutes, to complete this race.



San Fernando Stakes (8th race at Santa Anita) 1/18/1969 [Run 1/6/2018]
1 1/8 MILES	(Record: Bug Brush, Feb. 14, 1959 1:46 2/5, 4, 113)
Fin Horse (Rtg)		Jockey (Rtg)		Total	Odds	PP	Standing by Furlong	Time
1 Nodouble (21)		L. Pincay, Jr. (2)	23	EVEN	1	3-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1	1:53 4/5
2 Cavamore (15)		E. Belmonte (1)		16	5-1	2	3-3-4-2-2-2-2-2-2	1:55 2/5	
3 Rising Market (16)	H. Grant (0)		16	5-1	6	5-6-5-5-6-6-7-6-4	1:57 4/5
4 Quicken Tree (14)	W. Hartack (0)		14	6-1	7	7-4-6-4-4-4-4-3-3	1:58
5 Dignitas (13)		F. Alvarez (0)		13	6-1	3	1-1-2-3-3-3-4-4-5	1:59 2/5
6 Poleax (18)		D. Pierce (1)		19	4-1	4	7-5-3-6-7-7-6-7-6	2:00 2/5
7 Praise Jay (18)	E. Fires (0)		18	3-1	5	2-7-7-7-5-5-3-5-7	2:01 2/5
				
				$2 Mutuel Prices:	1 - Nodouble		$2.60	$2.40	$2.20
							2 - Cavamore			$4.20	$3.40
							6 - Rising Market			$4.60
IN GATE  -  4:22. OFF AT 4:22 PACIFIC STANDARD TIME. Start good. Won handily. 
Real Life Winner: Cavamore (1:49)

Charles H. Strub Stakes

8th race at Santa Anita Park, Arcadia, Calif. – Feb.1, 1969

And down the stretch they come! Nodouble leads Czar Alexander (brown, who would finish second) and Watch Fob (yellow, who faded and finished sixth).

Who, you may very well ask, was Charles H. Strub and why does he have a stakes race named after him? Good question. He was the builder and owner of Santa Anita Park and a very interesting man, with connections not only to horse racing, but also to the other APBA sport that takes up a lot of my time.

A dentist by trade, Strub also was a part-owner and president of the San Francisco Seals baseball team of the Pacific Coast League7And sold a ballplayer named Joe DiMaggio to the New York Yankees for $25,000. for twenty years. Santa Anita was California’s first horse racing track, and thrived during the Depression when so much of America did not. Strub was also an innovator who instituted cameras at the finish line to verify finishes, electronic starting gates and electronic timing, all of which we take for granted today.

This replay of the race named for him (In fact, the Malibu Stakes, San Fernando Stakes and Strub Stakes make up the annual Strub Series for four-year-olds) didn’t require a photo finish, as Nodouble overtook Dignitas a quarter mile in and held off Czar Alexander the rest of the way to win in a time of 2:03 1/5. Figonero, who had hung around mid-pack for most of the race, overtook Chompion (who stumbled out of the gate) to finish third.

In real life, Nodouble came first in a close finish, but was disqualified and dropped to second for “interference through the late stretch.”

The result marked Nodouble’s second straight win in the replay and was worth $81,300. Continuing this early trend of favorites performing well, he paid $2.80/$2.10/$2.10 on $2 wagers. It took me 1:13 to finish the 10-furlong race.

Just days before this race, a massive oil spill8Largest in the US at that time, now third after the Exxon Valdez and Deepwater Horizon spills. took place off nearby Santa Barbara, pouring perhaps as much as 100,000 barrels of crude oil into channels and onto beaches. The event inspired Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson to create what we know today as the annual celebration of Earth Day.


Charles H Strub Stakes (8th race at Santa Anita) 2/1/1969 [Run 1/20/2018]
1 1/4 MILES (chute)	(Record: Bold Bidder, Jan.29, 1966 1:59 3/5, 4, 119)
Fin Horse (Rtg)		Jockey (Rtg)		Total	Odds	PP	Standing by Furlong	Time
 1 Nodouble (21)	L.Pincay, Jr. (2)	23	EVEN	1	2-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1	2:03 1/5
 2 Czar Alexander (20)	J.Velasquez (2)		22	3-2	5	3-2-2-2-2-2-2-2-2	2:07
 3 Figonero (20)	A.Pineda (1)		21	2-1	10	7-8-7-5-6-6-4-4-3	2:07 4/5
 4 Chompion (15)	J.Cruguet (1)		16	9-2	4	5-5-5-4-9-6-6-4-4	2:09 3/5
 5 San Roque (15)	H.Gustines (0)		15	8-1	7	8-5-6-6-4-4-4-6-5	2:12
 6 Watch Fob (16)	W.J. Passmore (0)	16	5-1	6	6-7-8-7-3-3-3-3-6	2:12 1/5
 7 Cavamore (15)	E.Belmonte (1)		16	5-1	3	4-3-3-8-8-8-7-7-7	2:12 4/5
 8 Obeah (18)		J.L. Rotz (0)		18	7-2	9       0-9-9-9-6-9-9-8-8	2:13 3/5
 9 Dignitas (13)	F.Alvarez (0)		13	9-1	2	1-3-4-3-5-5-8-9-9	2:14 3/4
10 Poleax (18)		D.Pierce (1)		19	3-1	8	9-0-0-0-0-0-0-0-0	2:19
				$2 Mutuel Prices:	1 - Nodouble		$2.80	$2.10	$2.10
							5  -  Czar Alexander		$2.80	$2.60
							10  -  Figonero				$2.40
IN GATE  -  4:45. OFF AT 4:45 PACIFIC STANDARD TIME. Start good. Won driving.
Real Life Winner: Dignitas (2:02)


Palm Beach Handicap

7th race at Hialeah Park Racetrack, Hialeah, Fla. – Feb.1, 1969

Jean-Pierre turned it on late to win the Palm Beach Handicap by 6 lengths over Out The Window (red) and Class Is Out (brown). Ruffled Feathers (yellow) finished fourth.

For the third straight race in the replay, the favorite finished first, but at least there was some late drama. Jean-Pierre, who had been running a close second to Out The Window from the half-mile mark onward, took the lead with a quarter-mile to go and won the Palm Beach Handicap in 2:00 2/5.

Out the Window and Ruffled Feathers were tied at the start, but Jean-Pierre made an early move up and challenged throughout. Chasing from three lengths back, he got within a nose at the fifth furlong, ran neck-and-neck with Out The Window down the stretch and finally overtook him to win by six lengths to claim $33,312.509This race was originally run in two divisions, but, due to a lack of carded horses, I combined them into one and also combined the purses for the two divisions into one. and pay $4.40/$3.60/$2.60. Class Is Out finished third, while early leader Ruffled Feathers was fourth. At 1:18, this race took the longest to play of any so far.

The fourth race of the day at Hialeah ended tragically as The Heir finished second to Royal Saxon, then faltered after the finish, collapsed and died on the track.


Palm Beach Handicap (7th race at Hialeah) 2/1/1969 [Run 3/11/2018]
1 1/16 miles (turf)	(Record: Jet Clipper, Jan. 29, 1964, 1:41, 5, 114)
Fin Horse (Rtg)		Jockey (Rtg)	       Total	Odds	PP	Standing by Furlong	Time
1 Jean-Pierre (20)	C.Baltazar (1)		21	2-1	3	3-2-2-2-2-2-2-1-1	1:48
2 Out the Window (15)	H.Moreno (0)		15	7-2	1	1-1-1-1-1-1-1-1-2	1:49
3 Class is Out (16)	R.Broussard (0) 	16	7-2	8	6-5-5-4-3-3-3-3-3	1:49 1/5
4 Ruffled Feathers (15)	H.Gustines (0)		15	7-2	4	1-4-4-5-6-6-5-4-4	1:49 2/5
5 The University (13)	F.Alvarez (0)		13	7-1	7	6-7-8-8-8-7-7-8-5	1:51
6 Abe's Hope (10)	R.Grubb (1)		11	10-1	5	6-7-6-7-7-8-8-7-6	1:51 4/5
7 Funny Fellow (14)	A.Cordero, Jr. (1)	15	7-2	6	4-6-7-6-5-5-6-5-7	1:52
8 Needles Stitch (12)	J.L.Rotz (0)		12	6-1	2	4-3-3-3-4-4-4-6-8	1:52 1/5
				$2 Mutuel Prices:	3  -  Jean-Pierre		$4.40	$3.60	$2.60
							1  -  Out The Window		$4.40	$3.60
							8  -  Class Is Out			$3.00
IN GATE  -  4:19. OFF AT 4:19 ½ EASTERN STANDARD TIME. Start good. Won driving.
Real Life Winner: Needles Stitch (1:43 3/5, First Division), Doon (1:43 1/5, Second Division)

Bahamas Stakes

7th race at Hialeah Park Racetrack, Hialeah, Fla. – Feb.5, 1969

Favorites continued their run of victories, but Ack Ack’s performance in the Bahamas Stakes at Hialeah was so dominant, it rendered any ideas of a boring finish moot.

The 3-2 favorite, Ack Ack built a six-length lead by the quarter-mile mark, doubled it in another quarter-mile and finished fifteen lengths ahead of Al Hattab in a course-record time for the distance, 1:20 4/5. (Coincidentally, Ack Ack – who would later be named to the American Thoroughbred Hall of Fame – won the first division of the actual race, beating Al Hattab with a time just under two seconds slower than in the replay.)

Fast Hilarious, who won the second division of the actual 1969 race when Top Knight was disqualified for impeding three horses on the final turn, came in third in the combined replay. The win was worth $32,792.50 and paid $3.60/$3.00/$2.60 to those who wagered $2. At a quick 48 minutes to play, this was the quickest race of the replay to date.

Ack Ack’s dominating performance: neck-and-neck with Al Hattab in the first turn (top left), he opened up a sixth lengths lead on the back stretch (top center) and increased it to nine lengths just under halfway through (top right). Turn two saw Ack Ack increase his lead to 12 lengths (second row, left), before Al Hattab pulled back to within nine coming off turn three (second row, middle). Down the stretch, Ack Ack just turned it on (second row, right) and won in a track record time of 1:20 4/5, with Al Hattab finishing second, ahead of Fast Hilarious.


Bahamas Stakes (7th race at Hialeah) 2/5/1969 [Run 5/26/2018]
7 FURLONGS (chute) (Record: Lillington, Feb. 28, 1968, 1:21 3/5, 5, 113)
Fin Horse (Rtg)		   Jockey		Total	Odds	PP	Standing by Furlong	Time
1 Ack Ack (23*)		   M. Ycaza (1)		24	3-2	1	1-1-1-1-1-1-1		1:20 4/5*
2 Al Hattab (21)	   R. Broussard (0)	21	5-2	2	2-2-2-2-2-2-2		1:28 1/5
3 Fast Hilarious (20*)	   R. Turcotte (0)	20	3-1	7	5-7-7-6-3-3-3		1:29 4/5
4 Dike (19)		   J. Velasquez (2)	21	3-1	5	7-5-5-5-5-5-4		1:30
5 Jay Ray (16)		   R. Cave (2)		18	4-1	9	9-9-9-9-9-8-5		1:32 2/5
6 Beau Brummell (11)	   B. Baeza (1)		12	8-1	4	3-3-3-3-5-6-6		1:32 3/5
6 King of the Castle (18)  M. Manganello (2)	20	3-1	8	5-6-4-4-4-4-6		1:32 3/5
8 Top Knight (17)	   L. Moyers (0)	17	9-2	6	8-8-6-7-7-7-8		1:35 3/5
9 Traffic Mark (17)	   C.H. Marquez (1)	18	4-1	4	4-4-8-8-9-9-9		1:38 1/5
				
				$2 Mutuel Prices:	1  -  Ack Ack		$3.60	$3.00	$2.60
							2  -  Al Hattab			$2.60	$2.20
							7  -  Fast Hilarious			$2.60
*New track record
IN GATE - 4:18. OFF AT 4:18 1/2 EASTERN STANDARD TIME. Start good. Won driving. 
Real Life Winner: Ack Ack (1:22 3/5, First Division), Fast Hilarious (Second Division, after Top Knight 
was disqualified)

So five of the 32 races on the docket10There were, obviously, hundreds of races in 1969, but I’ve chosen the major ones and any where the carded horses could make up at least a representative sample of the actual field, so it’s as robust as it can be. are in the books, with 13 more – 12 in California or Florida – before the Triple Crown races commence.

My impressions of the game are these: it’s fun enough, it feels like a horse race and I’ve already seen enough verisimilitude to say that the expected APBA accuracy is there. It takes a while to play (especially if you take copious notes, as I do), but that’s okay. Some players like to make up race fields or pit the best (or worst) horses against each other in what-if? matchups, which is fine, but isn’t for me. I like using what happened to provide a framework for a replay (subject to the available cards, obviously) and seeing how close the game engine comes to reproducing that.

So far, it’s a winner. Stay tuned for periodic updates to this replay.

The author gratefully acknowledges the help of longtime Saddle Racing gamer Doug Reese, whose assistance has been invaluable in getting this replay off the ground.

Kenn Tomasch

Kenn Tomasch

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