Skip to main content


Showing posts from August, 2008

Metro, Breeders Crown. And More.

Nice to have some people who can spell better than I, and are probably better at writing too.

Busy day here, so it is Guest Post Friday. Thanks to Greg R, frequent contributor.

If you are not a fan this weekend, you ain't a fan of racing.

This may be the biggest weekend of the year to date as we have the huge night at Mohawk on Saturday in addition to the World Trotting Derby at Du Quoin , Illinois , and the Cane Pace at Freehold on Labour Day.
Let’s start with the World Trotting Derby, which should be another showcase for Deweycheatumnhowe. I know Ray Schnittker is quoted as saying records don’t matter to him, but I think he’ll go for something in the 1:50 range if the colt is up to it and the weather holds. Du Quoin may not be quite as fast as the track at Springfield or the Red Mile on its best day, but it is a fast strip of dirt. I like a rapidly improving Mike Lachance-Ron Gurfein pupil named Gallantly to complete the exactor with Clerk Magistrate and Celebrity Secret also i…

Wild Political Betting

Some extremely interesting betting on the two US parties VP choices. As I have said before, for current event informaton I do not use CNN or Fox, I use the betting exchanges. A week ago, before the announcement of Joe Biden as running mate for Obama, I looked in at Betfair and saw Biden trading at 1.01. There was no doubt a leak. Everyone knew it was coming.

Yesterday, I decide to check who McCain picked, thinking the same process would occur. Tim Pawlenty is 1.4. Romney is 1.8, a few others are taking money. Then a few hours later, Romney is 8-1. Then Pawlenty is 30-1. Palin is 30-1, then 5-1. No leaks.

Then around 11AM, Palin goes to 1.02.

Amazing stuff to watch. Bettors had no idea what the hell was going on, the press is pissed, as well, because they tend to get to find out these things early.

I flat out can not believe that pick (I researched her last night and said there is no way he would go that far off the board) and probably would have been shorting at 1.02 if I could. Shows you…

Big Stakes

This weekend is chalk-full of several stakes.

Highlighting the weekend are the big boys - The Metro, and the Breeders Crown. On Monday, perhaps the most interesting occurs, however, the Cane Pace.

Art Official drew the very tough seven post. But that should not stop him. He certainly looked to be at least 5 lengths better than the field last week in his elimination. I make him a 1-2 favourite to win this and punch his ticket to the Jug.

If he does win, and makes it to the Jug, the field bet gets a boost. In the last Jug Future pool, I find two potential overlays. One, the field at 5-1 which includes Art if he wins, and Santanna Blue Chip at 13-1. It is time to make a third bet with my $1000 (ok, it used to be $1000) bankroll.

$20 win on The Field at 5-1
$8 win on Santanna Blue Chip at 13-1

Art is an obvious overlay, but I think Santanna is way too long. I thought he raced superbly in the Confederation Cup and he is built for a half miler. He is quite a good horse.

To do some banking here wit…

Halsey Minor, Uniformity & Fisticuffs

In a recent interview in the Paulick Report, I found out that I really like Halsey Minor. Minor is a founder of CNET, a very successful internet firm which sold for almost $2.0B and he wants to buy and restore Hialeah in Florida. Why does a guy who worked in the Internet where tomorrow happens today want a piece of the racing business where tomorrow happens a decade from now? I don't know, but he appears to like racing. And he handles things like many I know in the Internet business - with common sense and no nonsense. The prose between him and a Magna Executive when discussing buying some Magna interests is pretty priceless, as reported by Ray Paulick, check it out if you are interested.

Cangamble has an excellent piece which is a microcosm about how fractured our game is. He is asking for uniformity of the simple (well we do not make it simple) practice of reporting prices. He is 100% correct. How do we allow us to show prices as $2 pick 4's somewhere, $1 tris somewhere and …

Art Official vs. Somebeachsomewhere

When the USTA ran a poll after the Meadowlands Pace they asked who would win a rematch between these two steeds. About 85% of the people said Somebeachsomewhere.

This was not surprising. the Beach defeated Art a few times before, in stunning fashion and lost the Meadowlands Pace Final after a brutal trip. However, handicappers I would submit thought differently. Art seemed to be a horse learning how to cajole his speed, and he finally learned to capitalize on that. In yesterdays Cane Pace elimination he showed he is all business, as he paced a track record at Freehold.

We saw some of the differences in what the public thinks about Art in the early betting. Moon Beam opened the favourite, and Art had trouble busting through even money. Contrast this to the Beach who opens his races at 1-9 and stays there. In a match race between the two, I would say the public makes Beach a pretty overwhelming favourite. But I think the value would lie with Art. He is a marvelous horse, and his fast Mea…

Greenwood Raceway. A Long Time Ago.

Cangamble’s blog had a neat link to a post from a player who used to ride the train to Aqueduct. It made me think of the old trips as a student to Greenwood Raceway on the waterfront in Toronto. For those that know Greenwood, and have been there, here are some memories. For those who had not been to Greenwood, think of this as a primer to Ontario’s only real metro-downtown track. Greenwood is gone now, sold by the then OJC for a nice sum. It is a housing development. I drove by there about a month ago, going somewhere or another, and I had to laugh. In someones backyard I was clocking warm ups not so long ago.

In first year University, the ride to Greenwood was easy for a small town kid - the Queen streetcar was right by school. I had already been indoctrinated to the streetcar my second day in town, when I had to take it to the exhibition for an ACDC concert. If I could get through that, I could get through anything. It cost like a buck, and it would give you plenty of time to study …

Is There a Doctor in the House?

On Andrew Cohen's fine blog at there is a good debate brewing about growing the game. Some think that if we improve the racing product we will see handle gains. Other say that the product itself is a good proposition, but we have wasted away with high takeouts and poor delivery.

Of course you know how we feel here about that. Over the last twenty years harness racing has faltered despite the product getting better, and better and better. We have improved the breed, improved speed, have better drivers and trainers. There is no, and has been no evidence that improving times of horses, and increasing the number of races by spreading around slot money has grown the handle in our game one cent. Despite this, over and over again we see our sport ask for more money for breeding, or more racedates. If harness racing was a patient and went to a doctor complaining of stomach pain we would tape its ankle and send it home, expecting it to be fixed. We have done absolutely not…

Jug Future Pool - Racings Potential

On vacation I finished a new book called the Political Punter. It was a fairly good read that explained the markets in both the bookmaking and exchange world regarding betting politics. In it the author showed how public sentiment, uncertainty and swings can light up a betting market.

For example, I watched the trading on Intrade, Tradesports and Betfair for the John Kerry-GW Bush 2004 election. Early in the day, Matt Drudge and a few others spoke about exit polls that said John Kerry was winning key states, including Ohio, which would be pivotal. The trading absolutely exploded and it looked like Bush and Kerry were stocks like Intel with shocking earnings news. Kerry's price plunged as traders hammered this news. The market was swingy and it was very interesting. Of course, Bush walloped Kerry and the exit polls were wrong (people learned the hard way that conservatives tend to not answer exit polls!), but it was obvious - swingy markets with uncertainty; with pretty much any bet…

Hastings Lowers Show Takeout

In a surprising move, Hastings Race Course has lowered its show takeout.

It is equivalent to a 5% rebate or so. Although I would assume the players playing show are not price sensitive, this should churn a little bit of money. A 5% rebate is significant in this pool.

I wonder if I should start trying some sort of show wagering plan for this track for a lark. I might be able to make money at 12%. Then again since I have been doing horribly lately I think I would need more than 5 points.

Regardless, kudos to Hastings for returning a little bit to the player.


Speaking of rebates (and beer), they were a popular word here last month according to the harnessracingblog at Harnesslink. What an interesting post. Way to go Jules.

Dave Johnson called the races this weekend (well a few of them anyway) at Chester. I thought he was very good.

The Jug Future pool #2 is over and Badlands Nitro has taken over favoritism. The field bettors (6-1) look like they might have a positive expected value bet a…

Cup Day in Pictures

Norm is a huge harness fan. If the cup was running in the 1960's he would be someone who would have been there in diapers.

He has a nice collection of pictures up at his website of the Cup here.

Here are a few, and a few of mine from yesterday for anyone who might be interested in a slice of rural Canadian racing.

The crowd was large, and friendly, and having fun. An every-year Cup crowd.

One of the best parts of the Cup is the draw for the Final. It is a free draw and they do it on a board right in front of the owners and fans.

The outriding and post parade horse is a real treat. He is a standardbred by Jamuga and his name is Juggles. He is 21 years old and does not look a day over 4.

The racing is good. Above is the Beach going for the World record, and succeeding.

One of the unique parts of the Cup is that grooms or trainers walk out the horses and they are decked out in Cup blankets.

Confederation Cup In the Books

Another World record in stunning fashion by Somebeachsomewhere.

At the half (or some might say the post draw, or earlier) the stage was set for a big back half and Beach delivered one. 149.2 is flat out amazing. Armbro Deuce here two years ago was very good and I thought we might not see the Cup go any quicker than that, but it has.

In the end the Beach was fortunate to have this race in two heats. There is little doubt that he was much better in heat two, and this allowed him to set another world record, and probably increased his stud value in the process.

Not much can be said about Flamboro and this race that we have already not said. It is a wonderful experience. The Flammy crew did as good a job with this race as any I have seen. The weather was great (seriously, when isn't it on Cup day?), the beer was cold, the staff was friendly and the organizers were all first class. It is tough not to be a harness fan on Cup day, and may I say again: If you have not been here for the Cup, …

Tete a Tete

On Andrew Cohen's blog today he made reference that the USTA's marketing committee, and one of the USTA leaders, Phil Langley, responded:

"While there has been some questioning from some quarters about this committee (the newly-formed USTA Marketing Committee) not containing more people outside the industry, I don't get the point of the cricitism. Who should we be dealing with-- the marketers that General Motors and Ford use? The marketers that have Anheuser-Busch losing market share? Obviously, throwing money around isn't the answer...." This is a remarkable series of sentences. Of course, Langley doesn't get the point of the criticism. That is the whole point of my criticism of him. The marketing model in our industry cleared has failed-- miserably. No rational person can dispute that after decades of decline. So it is absurd to declare that the same people who are responsible for the decline-- or who at least have demonstrated so far that they are unable…

Odds and Ends

So I am cruising around and reading a little on the Olympics. It seems there is some question to the age of the Chinese gymnasts. I guess there is a rule you have to be 16, but some (apparently) are only 14. I am watching the women's gymnastics competition tonight. I think 14 is way wrong. A couple of them look like they are about 8. If they are 16 I could see them getting carded until they are 40. It kinda puts in context the mix up about running the wrong horse at Tioga last week.

Speaking of these gymnasts, I am thinking that if I had to, I could pass a bar exam. If I had a good teacher and worked at it I might be able to do an emergency surgery on someone's broken foot. I might one day be able to figure out how my vet charges $50 for 5 buck ointment. But there is no chance in hell, no matter how much I tried, I could swing on those bars like these little wee girls are doing.

I spoke to someone today who runs a customer service centre. She was saying one thing that no one is …

Weekend Fields are Set

Sunday at Fabulous Flamboro Downs (trademark Charles Juravinski :)) the fields were drawn for the Cup.
Elim Heat #1Post - Horse1) Deuce Seelster
2) Santanna Bluechip
3) Somebeachsomewhere
4) Genuwine
5) Lyons Geoff
6) The Mohegan PanElim Heat #2Post - Horse1) Anderlecht
2) Tiz A Masterpiece
3) Keystone Horatio
4) Shadow Play
5) LisfinnyThe Canadian Pacing Derby goes Saturday at the Hawk.
7 -- Pace, purse $702,000 (EX, P3, SF, TR)
Post time: 09:41 P.M. Lasix: 05:26 P.M.
1 Western Shore(L) Ma Macdonald
2 Eagle Luck(L) S Filion
3 Won The West(L) G Grismore
4 Hagi M Saftic
5 Artistic Fella T Tetrick
6 Manhardt(L) Ra Waples
7 *Mister Big(L) B Sears
8 Zooka+ …

Something I Have Never Understood Either

Bill Finley has a fantastic opinion piece about horses retiring early. I know we have spoken about it before but he is a good writer, and I am not, so it is nice to read such a good piece.

Jess Jackson needs to run Curlin next year and the year after that and, maybe, even the year after that. He needs to be the one guy to put the good of the sport ahead of the good of his bank account and, in the process, make a bold statement. He needs to set an example for a sport that desperately needs the Curlins of the world to start hanging around for more than 10 or 11 races.

On a recent NTRA teleconference, he said there is a possibility that Curlin will race next year and that he might do so because it would "help this sport." But he seemed more inclined to retire him, citing not the amount of money he would make by doing so but how Curlin, as a stallion, could help "improve the gene pool" and, therefore, help the industry that way.

I know I, and many of you agree with that. …

How Does Offshore Wagering Help?

This question was asked at The answer of course is: "It does not. It pirates the pools."

However, one of the responses there summed it up rather perfectly:

It doesn't.


IMHO, if the industry (horseman's groups and track management ) had their acts together and created an environment that was player friendly instead of the current status quo which borders on hostility towards players -

If horseman's groups and track management allowed ALL ADWs to have access to ALL track signals - instead of denying track signals to ADWs that champion the cause of the player - like the TOC recently did when it denied CA track signals to PTC -

If the takeout on racing (either through lowered takeout or rebates) was competitive with other forms of gambling and the industry used that as a marketing platform so that betting on horses was seen as an attractive proposition instead of the pariah that racing currently is among the generation of 20 somethings who sh…

Woodbine Bloggers Doing Good Work

There is a rule in social media marketing - don't link to other blogs that are the same as yours. Well since I do not make money here, nor will I, I can easily (and do) break the golden rule. Woodbine's blog is doing some good things. If you have not followed it, give it a try. Here are a few posts of interest:

1. Elissa Blowe on Dutrow and Big Brown. Very nice work, and I agree.

2. Blanchard on more information. My goodness how we could model and report if we only had more free information in this sport.

3. Hamilton on Somebeachsomewhere. I popped down to a local Toronto bar about a month or two ago and had a beer with Mike, and he was not overly sold on Somebeach. This post shows that he was more impressed with him in defeat, than in his previous victories.

Some solid commentary on a very good blog, eventhough Woodbine is not quite 21st century enough to call it a blog :)

The Hambo Trip

I mentioned last week that I would tell a few stories about the Hambo trip, so I figured I would jot those down for those who may be interested.

I headed down to Jersey with a betting friend and we both presented at the Hambletonian conference, which was sponsored by the Hambletonian Society. We arrived Wednesday night and it was a good night to play some races and relax, although we did not know that beforehand. Let’s just say the week was packed with functions and racing. We both made a few bucks Wednesday.

On Thursday the conference was scheduled to run from 10AM to about 4PM. It started somewhat late, and carried past 4PM. Gary Seibel from TVG, and original race caller of the Breeders Crown series way back in 1984, moderated my panel. I got to speak with him for about a half hour after the panel was over and to me that was a real treat. He really likes harness racing. He clearly did not get the TVG job as a talking head.

We spent the rest of Thursday at the track at a dinner in the m…

Back in the Fold

Well, the Hambletonian trip and resulting week of work/play at the cottage is done. I have some major catching up to do, that's for sure. I have been reading a little bit while gone and there is much to chat about. Hopefully we can get to that tomorrow.

Also, Mr. Whip's picks were pretty superb. If you were a whale, you could have made a decent amount of money playing the young man's picks in supers. Aerial Victory was a dandy winner at $22.70. The cold tri key and potential super in the Valagain race would have netted a $2500 super and $170 tri. Well done Whip! I hope you had a few of those.

Handle was very solid at over $300k. I have to get the net replays up and watch those races. I only watched a couple of races on Saturday. There was some kind of beach party with a guy with a guitar playing songs that only people over 30 would know, so after about five beer (and being over 30) it took precedent. Hell, I don't vacation much, so I probably would have been outside on t…

Extreme Handicapping

Well, since I have been on a kind of vacation it has been tough to keep tabs on happenings. But thankfully World Famous Handicapper (ok, not world famous, but I would hazard a guess that he is the best handicapper south of Detroit and north of Leamington) Lou the Whip has agreed to help us out. If I can get back in time to play I will probably take a few exotics with his picks.

I like it that people will actually stick their neck out and make some picks. Not many people do. I can see why, since we will make fun of them if they stink, and won't give them credit if they win :)

Here they are, and remember these are for fun only (if you lose). If you win, well then give the blog a 10% cut ;)

When: Saturday night
Where: Georgian Downs, Innisfil, ONT
How to Bet: Simulcast outlets and Internet betting throughout North America
Pool Sizes: Medium
Field Depth: Large
Betting Strategy: Exotics

3 Joshs Deal – shows all kinds of speed on the half and now picks up speed specialist JR Plante, should ma…

Xtreme Card is Up & Beach in the Derby

Well, we are going to try and take a stab at this Extreme Horsepower card at Georgian Downs. I am away this week, but I think I can at least give it a shot.

For those who are interested in spending a Saturday night with some interesting races and some potential box car payoffs, here is a copy of the program.

I still have to get Lou the Whip to add his thoughts as we get closer to race time.

On Saturday, the Canadian Pacing Derby elims are, well cut down to one elim. This race is for 3yo pacers as well as older (I was there when 3YO Indian Alert won, way back when). I wonder if Woodbine would have asked Somebeach to enter, say for free. 1) We are probably not going to see him race in this event and 2) I think he'd win easily. It would be, in my opinion, perhaps the most entertaining race of the decade.

Regardless, it is a good field and should be a very nice race.

Hambo Day

It rained, it poured and it was, sunny!

I'll have more to write when I get a chance about my first Hambo Day/Week, but a few quick notes.

* This event is bigger than any I have been to for harness racing.

* The staff and crew at the Meadowlands & Hambeltonian Society pull this off every year without a hitch? I can't believe that. It is a huge undertaking.

* It's a nice day to be Jody J. He snags two fifth's in catch drives (both good steers) as a plane leaving Toronto apparently had some problems of some sort and Trevor does not make the event. Mid-lane I personally thought Clerk Magistrate was going to win the Hambo for him, resulting in a catch drive for the ages.

* The box area at the Hambo for owners and some heavy hitters contained some serious money. It kind of made me think that this was a lil bit of a thoroughbred event. But then Dewey wins, with a trainer/driver bringing me back to the reality that harness racing is grassroots, and there is absolutely nothing t…

Some Serious Buzz

It never dawned on me. I go to conferences and events and things like that in my business, but I have never really been involved or done anything with something like this.

The Hambo is a seriously big event.

Of course, there is a who's who of racing here, but I was particularly struck by the magnitude of this event. Beside me tonight at the Hambo dinner was two gentleman of Finnish descent, and across a few folks of Swedish descent. Trotting lovers, huge fans. This race has an international appeal and I am not convinced there is any other race which would do that.

Getting back to the hotel, I am met with two kids, about 8 and 11, playing with whips, driving gloves and googles, right in the lobby. Where'd they get the driving stuff? Ron Pierce. Getting into the hotel bar tonight, another event. People speaking of the Wilson, Adios, Hambo. It is like you are chatting on a chat board with a pile of fans, but the fans are right in front of you.

I have been to the Jug, and other events…

A Great Game

Starting up the blog, from scratch, I had zero idea what would come of it. After six months or so, I am really happy I have some people checking in from time to time who are thoroughbred fans. I have always been amazed - and I mean always - how different the people are in the two games. Not different in a bad way, just different. I am happy that the runner readers can get a snapshot of that difference from time to time.

This is illustrated perfectly when I see stories like this: It is Chris Tully's Dewey Notebook, where we speaks about NBC's visit with the champ.

No sooner had the producer thanked Ray for the close-ups when Mr. Schnittker leaned down and generously asked the retired jockey and current NBC Sports horseracing commentator, Donna (Barton) Brothers, if she would like to take a spin on Dewey. She was thrilled and grinned from ear to ear. With a leg-up from Ray she was off and trotting.

Letting NBC's Donna Brothers "hop aboard" Dewey for a little ride? …