Thursday, October 30, 2014

Case Reversed on Appeal - Trainer Found Guilty of Fraud for Doping

Last year when we wrote about this case, we were pretty surprised the accused was not found guilty of fraud, e.g. fixing a contest. A case like this set some precedent.
  • On Sept. 28, 2010, Riesberry was videotaped by hidden camera injecting something into the neck of a horse at Windsor Raceway. The horse raced about an hour later, placing sixth.
    A few weeks later, on Nov. 7, 2010, Riesberry was arrested as he entered the racetrack. A syringe filled with performance-enhancing drugs – epinephrine and clenbuterol – was found in his truck. Reisberry was charged with fraud, attempted fraud, cheating at play and attempting to cheat at play.
  • After a lengthy trial that began in 2012, Riesberry was acquitted last year by Superior Court Justice Steven Rogin. Despite finding that Riesberry was a cheat, Rogin found him not guilty of two counts of fraud, saying the Crown had not proven that the betting public had been deprived of anything.
However, on appeal, the higher court changed that decision:
  •  In a decision released this week after a Crown appeal, the Ontario Court of Appeal found Rogin had erred in his decision. The appellate court set aside the acquittals and substituted guilty verdicts. The court has referred the case back to Rogin for sentencing. “The betting public was deprived of information about the race that they were entitled to know; they were deprived of an honest race run in accordance with the rules,” the court of appeal found.

    Full story here.

Pocket's Breeders Cup Classic Picks Based Purely on Science

Science is the rage these days; analytics, Cosmos, Bill Nye the Science Guy. They're everywhere. I figured I'd jump on the bandwagon and give a Breeders Cup analysis that is solely based on science. Not conjecture, not on workouts, not on if I spoke with Hank Goldberg. Science. Sure it's link bait, but that's what we do here on the blog when we're not someone really famous like Ray Paulick.

Here we go.

1. Prayer For Relief: When I was in university there was this really smart dude who graduated a few years earlier as a Rhodes Scholar. He was super smart and a nice guy to boot. He parlayed his brains and expensive education into being a ticket scalper. He was at the dorm one day and had to get rid of two Madonna tickets, 11th row. I went and it was a fun show, even though I was not a big Madonna fan. Anyhoo, during the show she played Like a Prayer. That's really the only thing positive I can think of with this horse. He's 0 for 2014. Some people like him, but I think they're Madonna fans who probably have not thought this out.

2. Cigar Street: Joseph Kennedy was getting his shoes shined in September of 1929 - so the story goes. His shoe shine boy started giving him stock tips. He figured it was time to bail, he shorted the markets and was able to buy, I think, the state of Massachusetts. Similarly, the kid who was bagging my groceries the other day told me to bet this horse. I should pitch, but since I have a futures bet on this horse I will keep positive.

3. Imperative: This is a west coast horse, like Best Pal, but slower. Steve Byk, the DRF and anyone east of Wheeling West Virginia will have a conniption fit if he wins. I am pretty sure that the powers that be will never let this happen. Pitch.

4. Moreno: I have not followed his trainers' story, I admit, but reading twitter I think I remember seeing Eric Guillot practices voodoo. That in itself makes this horse tempting. I think his JCGC is better than it looks, too.

5. V.E. Day: I have bet Normandy Invasion a few times and each time he lost, sometimes at low odds. I wasn't living when Man O War raced to bet him, and maybe this has influenced me, but I don't like to (scientifically) bet any horse to do with war.

6. Shared Belief: Jim Rome is worth like eleventry trillion dollars. If this horse wins this, he will be worth eleventry trillion, three million dollars. MSNBC is a subsidiary of Comcast, who owns NBC. It might be far-fetched, but they won't let this horse win. At 8-5 do we really want to take that chance?

7. Bayern: Back in high school there was a track meet held at my school. One kid that was supposed to run in the 400 metre was sick and unable to go. Although I played sports for the school I never liked anything to do with track and had never run anything to do with track in my life. But the coach needed a fill in and asked me. "Just stay in your lane and run", were his instructions. I looked at the circle and it didn't look very long so I figured I could just sprint the whole thing. I'm pretty sure I was leading at the half way point by about ten lengths, but then I had to google milkshake. Lactic acid built up and I began to slow down; a plate of molasses could've beaten me the last 100 yards. I think I ran a 1:07 and came last. I hate track. Anyway, long story short, I think similar will happen to Bayern in the Classic.

8. Zivo: I like this horse. It reminds me of Zito and we know he loves training long distances dirt horses. This is a play for me, based on that science.

9. Toast of New York: The locale in the name might make the DRF guys love him, but this horse is secretly a Euro. They don't win on dirt, even if they're bred for it. Chuckaroo.

10. Footbridge: I've never seen this horse race, and horses I have never seen race are 1 for 30 in previous Breeders Cup Classic's. That science says we should ditch this horse as a selection.

11. Tonalist: In harness racing I hate when a horse races well in a certain style, after being beaten - through no fault of his own - in another style. Last time, after being near the lead, jockey Joel Rosario said whoa, and took the horse miles off it. He'll do it again and be too far back. Science will win out.

12. Candy Boy: Science says his trainer is 0 fer in the BC. Science also says he kind of beat a track bias last time. Science also tells me to turn my thermostat down or global warming will kill us all, but hell, it's cold here today. I am really confused on this horse, but I think I will use him somewhere.

13. California Chrome: OK, so let me get this straight. The horse has a great post in post 13, which is never a good post. He needs to be outside horses which from the 13 could mean he's 11 wide. He needs to have his foot issues fixed, he needs to run a race he ran this spring, and if all that goes to form he could win. And I'm supposed to be betting him at 6-1?

14 Majestic Harbor: Never seen this horse race. He's like Footbridge with a worse post.

 AE: If this horse gets in twitter will break and all analysis will be rendered moot. The half will go in 43, the last quarter in a minute and four fifths, Jose Canseco might hurt himself with a 9 millimetre, televisions will be turned off. Everyone will leave before the cross country daily double. The TOC might raise takeout to pay for the carnage. Let's all hope this does not happen.

If you've made it this far you know a couple of things to be true: One, I have thought this through scientifically, and two, when I take a few days off work before a Breeders' Cup I have too much time on my hands.

My selections: Cigar Street-Zivo-Candy Boy-Shared Belief.

Good luck everyone.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Breeders' Cup Handle Should Be Fine

This year has been fairly poor in terms of wagering numbers. Some tracks like Kentucky Downs and Woodbine have been up, others like Churchill Downs have been getting killed, but the downs, so far, have beaten the ups. It's blah out there.

What will happen this weekend at the Breeders' Cup? Will they beat last year's handle?

I have handicapped the races, with more work to do, but I have come to the opinion that handle will be good this season, surpassing last years numbers. The fields are much more interesting, field size is quite good, with a breadth from top to bottom that breeds confidence in having to go deeper. Sure there are potential keys, like for example a Shared Belief or Dank, but those potential keys have some serious holes (Dank's form is terrible and Shared Belief isn't faster on paper than several in the Classic). The fields seem so decent this year that even the scratch of American Pharoah does not change the dynamic much; instead of using he and Daredevil, smaller players will look to Carpe Diem, others will go deeper looking at the excellent Upstart, Calculator or Texas Red, should the pace still be hot.

This year there are contingency's almost at every turn. That makes for a good handle.

My opinion stems from the fact that although racing handle looks dead - and you can say it is - it is not dead because players have left in droves. It's deader because we have not been able to find good bets, and that leads us to do something else. When you give us some decent races to bet, like on a Derby card, the Belmont card etc, we tend to send it in just fine.

Bigger meets have been hurt, some of it self inflicted, like field size issues at Keeneland. The signal fee nonsense and takeout hikes kills the game in a slow burn. But when racing gives us big days with deep fields, they stand out. Folks who have cut their handle return, and handle tends to increase, even in this environment.

Have a good Wednesday everyone.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Halloween Breeders' Cup Costumes

The Breeders' Cup is almost here, and for the first time that I can remember, day one falls on Halloween. In some circles this has caused hand-wringing because a dad or a mom with kids who go out trick or treating will not be watching the event live, like they usually do. Thankfully, only four or five people that watch or bet horse racing fall into the demographic with young children, so handle will be likely unaffected.

Anyhoo, I spoke this morning with Cub Reporter, and he told me something interesting. Santa Anita - on the cutting edge of promotion, with concerts like the English Beat and food trucks - is having a special Halloween weekend, to try and boost attendance. They've encouraged everyone to come dressed up in costume, and from what I hear, several people are. I've even got the scoop on who they will be going dressed as.

Here we go. Don't tell anyone.

Todd Schrupp
The first (and most obvious), actor Ed Helms will be going as TVG's Todd Schrupp.  That joke doesn't get older here on the blog, it only gets better.

Doug O'Neill will be going dressed as trainer Leandro Mora.

Breeders' Cup VP Peter Rotondo will be going as a hobo. "I will not be gelling my hair and will be wearing Tommy Hilfiger pants that I got on sale  at Macy's" he told me.

Dank will be going dressed as a morning line favorite.

Trainer Todd Pletcher will be going dressed as trainer Michael Stoute, complete with knickers. "I'm like 6 for a hundred in the Breeders' Cup and he's shooting at 20% plus so I have to change something up," said the nicely coiffed Pletcher.

Bob Baffert costume sneak peek
Bob Baffert is going as the dude who played him in the Mine That Bird movie.

The TOC's Mike Pegram is going as the Grinch. He will be walking the grandstand taking 23.68% of the french fries right off your plate. Watch for him being closely monitored by Jerry Jamgotchian. 

Track handicapper Jon White will be going as a math teacher. In between races he will explain how 141% morning lines make numeric sense.

Asmussen assistant Scott Blasi will be going as "some mother#$@#ing thing, I'm not sure yet," he told me.

Sid Fernando will be going as himself, the most interesting freaking man in horse racing ®

The Santa Anita track crew will be going as the Invisible Men. "At least we hope so," they said.

John Doyle, I think
 Handicapper and NHC Champ John Doyle will be going as that guy from Lost.

Santa Anita's Tom Ludt will be going dressed as a daily double; whatever that might be. God they love tinkering with those things in So Cal.

Rider John Valezquez Valesquez, Velazquez will be going as a dude who seems to have a harder name to spell than sire Loriodezenormeax.

 Chilean horse "Bronzo" will be going as every other South American horse we don't know what in the hell to do with.

I will be going as what I go as every year: Frank Stronach. Not only because Frank rocks, but because it's the only way I can enter a racetrack.

Enjoy your Halloween handicapping everyone. And have a nice day.


Last night we saw a tremendously interesting football game on Monday Night Football, where the Washington Redskins - ten point dogs - beat the Dallas Cowboys in Dallas. In the third quarter, probably the toughest quarterback in the game - Tony Romo - took a huge hit to his back and went down in pain. He returned to the locker room, fearing the worst (he had back surgery last year in a game, coincidentally against the Skins), but came back in and finished the game.

I watched his press conference last evening and he was asked if he took a painkiller "shot" to get back in.

"Yes, I took something", he said.

A shot for a track and field athlete can be worth a jail sentence, an EPO regimen for a cyclist has them on Oprah begging for forgiveness. For a hockey player or football player a lot of things are no big deal.

Meanwhile in horse racing, Doug O'Neill is getting (another, it seems it happens so often) holiday for a drug positive. On the Paulick Report last evening, it was reported that a jock was found with buzzers in his car during a parking lot search. 

The line I think is drawn in every sport, or every game, however - other than the obvious with horse racing; the horse is a living breathing animal who can't make decisions for him or herself - is if the infraction is dangerous to the athlete and integrity of the game.

In horse racing people bet to the tune of $10 billion a year, horse owners, stud farms and others invest millions into the horses. If the game is not on the up and up bettors leave, owners leave and the game goes poof. If a cyclist or football player has his blood turn to sludge because of bloodbuilders, that's bad for the game, too. They are not tolerated because they attack both the supply side (up and coming cyclists, horse ownership) and the demand side (TV viewers, sponsors and bettors). 

A pain shot for Tony Romo does not do irreparable harm to the game. In fact, it probably adds to the games lore.There will be watercooler talk about it, people will tune in for his game next week. The NFL - a sport where if you took a puff of weed or HGH and you're gone - loves this stuff. A jockey with a battery or trainer with a positive test does not add to horse racing's lore, other than being another chapter in a long list of ringers and rascals - those in the sport that try and get an edge, to make more money, at the expense of our equine athletes, and fellow owners and trainers.

Monday, October 27, 2014

If a Newbie Wants to Bet the Cup, There Are Avenues

The Breeders' Cup is a cray cray (I am learning this lingo from the youngsters and can't get away from it) time. There's information from everywhere, and as Mike Dorr said today on twitter, the more he reads, the more expensive his pick 4 gets. For us, we can weed through the information, the works, the data and the opinion because we've been at this for years. For newer players, it's intimidating.

The thing is, it does not have to be. If a new player, like we all know, or have had over for a Breeders Cup or Derby party, has an ADW account and wants to play from home, I think keeping it simple is sound advice.

A good avenue for such on the web might be the DRF Live site. Marty and the guys and gals do a nice job there, offering out quick stats or what have you on a days races; in real time. If a newbie was sitting at home, he or she does not have to listen to all the talking heads on TV talking about everything, nor do they have to buy a PP and read Swahili. They can tune in and see something like "the 4 worked well, looks good in the paddock and her trainer is 6 for 40 in Cups', and has won on this turf course before", or other such tidbits. Visually they can read it, comprehend it, and make a decision.

It's much more fun to read data or opinion, see something you like, and make your own decision; rather than listening to someone on TV say "I like the four". The essence of handicapping is trying to figure out something for yourself, and getting paid for it.

Betting sports' teams has always been like this. Before the internet someone would latch onto one angle they like, no matter if it was silly or not e.g. "Dallas is a fade in Atlanta because they are 4-11 ATS on grass". After the internet there are searchable databases and what have you, and this has made people in control of their own picks. It's satisfying.

The Breeders' Cup handle has kind of stagnated in recent years. It needs more newbies not only watching the event, but betting it. We've been through the myriad issues about ADW's and residency, etc, a thousand times here, but beyond that, keeping it simple, and allowing newbies information of interest like DRF live does, can certainly help.