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Showing posts from May, 2009

Why Aren't Saddle Pads Uniform?

I am at simulcast centers sometimes, playing a few races on the massive rows of TV's. Some thoroughbred, some harness. It amazes me how I have to "switch my brain" between watching the little bitty horses on the televisions between the breeds, because of saddle pads. I don't know how many times I have bet the two horse at Mountaineer and cheer a white saddle pad - a victory; then at the same time I have bet the two horse at Mohawk and look up in time to see the white saddle pad jogging in victory there too. A double score!

Except that the white saddle pad belongs to the three horse at Mohawk.

Why are saddle pad colors different in harness and thoroughbreds? I have no idea.

I wonder how the first conversation went (let's say the thoroughbreds had their choice first, which I do not know for sure), when deciding in harness to pick saddle pad colours.

"OK, let's make the one horse red"

Bettor: "Same as the runners, correct, red"

"We should ma…

3YO's - Not Getting Any Clearer; and Whipping Rules

The Hoosier Cup raced this Saturday and was won by Mr. Wiggles. The time was a slow 152.1 off a very fast half. Barber Pole was buried in a bad spot for most the of the mile, but did shake loose wide, late. He could not make up much ground, however, and I was not overly impressed.

The NJSS final for 3YO's was raced last night and Dial or No Dial got the job done, as chalk. He had a good trip and was also not overly impressive to me.

We have not seen Well Said yet, but right now I think it is pretty apparent that we were spoiled last year with the glut of talent.

Stormaway won the Molson Pace on Friday in a pari-mutuel shocker. It was a pretty exciting race. The news from the races aftermath shows the state of the game - whipping and sturrup fines for a few in the race. The ORC is about to change whipping rules, and it appears they are doing the right thing in advance of that - calling everything to the letter of the law. This is the only way we can see a smooth transition. I see (i…

USFL, WHA...... Chester

The New Jersey Generals sign Herschel Walker. The LA Express sign Steve Young. The Hartford Whalers sign Gordie Howe.

Thank goodness the NFL and NHL actually had some power structure, because when the stars are signed to alternate leagues, the broader sport suffers. They found a way to either merge, or wait for an implosion.

Unfortunately, the hodge-podge that is racing can not stop this from happening in our sport.

The Meadowlands, Churchill Downs, Keeneland are all brands. When they falter, the sport falters. With slots and entries being peeled off to lesser tracks, that do not have a brand (yes, I know we have seen and heard this before here and elsewhere), it does the sport no good.

There is no better example of this than the Meadowlands and Chester. The Meadowlands is harness racing; when someone mentions the sport, the M is the track that they think of. In contrast, a harness fan was watching the races with me the other day and a race from Chester came on. He asked "where is C…

ORC Judges Get Tough; and Speedy Rocks!

The ORC handed down two fines in the Upper Canada Cup final raced on the weekend for whipping, and feet out of stirupps, to leading driver Jody Jamieson. A scan of the fines and suspensions list lately has been one fine after another for whipping, and hock infractions. It seems the ORC judges have been instructed to rule by the rulebook. Things that have been commonplace with drivers, especially the younger ones, is no longer being tolerated it seems. This has ignited quite a bit of chatter on

Louis the Whip, frequent commenter here, often gives me some B track horses he likes, just in case our stable is not flat broke (very rarely) and wants to make an offer for one. Two years ago he told me about Speedy Desperado, a 7 year old trotter racing for Robert Wilcox. I immediately loved this horse. No, I had not seen him race, but with a name like that how could he not kick ass? I checked a few replays and I agreed the horse looked like a possible buy and gave Mr. Wilcox…

Social Media and Ads Evolve in...... Racing!

In 2001 Google created their Adwords program, where what you typed in google, triggered an ad to be served. The little boxes, with just text, has made google what it is. Almost all of their revenue comes from this one simple idea. After some time passed, they created a contextual ad network, where if a reader was reading a story on a news site about red socks, an ad in the network would be triggered from a company selling red socks. Once again, fairly simple - and effective.

Social media has been trying their best to serve ads in a way that promotes a niche, as all advertising is becoming niche on the world wide web. It has been difficult. On the racing blog networks we might see ads for many things unrelated for example. Until now.

Dana Byerly from Green But Game is a new fan. She is not like me, and many of you who contribute here by reading and commenting. She did not grow up with a red pen at a racetrack. She did not go visit family racehorses as a young person. As a new fan, and a …

Good on Ya, Free Data and Sick Horses

Nick Boyd, trainer of ours for a few of our horses the past few years had a feature in a little paper in Fergus, Ontario today. Nick then went out and won two races at Grand River this evening. That's a huge day for a small stable, so way to go Nick, and remember your own advice from the blog post you wrote earlier this year :)

Louis the Whip and Greg the Pitt were doing some chatting on Greg's North America Cup Top Ten below. This is one tough year to pick talent, in my opinion. For the record, my top three would be Barber Pole, Well Said and Drop Red. But that could change in a weeks time with this bunch. I am totally pitching Barber Pole's last race. He should have won that race by open lengths with his talent. There is no doubt in my mind he will be a big force.

Shadow Play's disappointing 5th place at Western Fair in the Molson Pace elim has been attributed to sickness. Not unlike last year when Beach came home in 29 and change at Mohawk, any handicapper worth his s…

Greg's North America Cup Contenders

NA Cup Top Ten- Mission Impossible

Like my buddy who runs this blog said in his latest post, this year’s three-year old colt and gelding pace crop has been very tough to figure out. The picture a month out from the North America Cup remains cloudy, but I have done my best to put together the top ten this week with a bunch of new additions as some horses step their games up.

1. Well Said (last week #1). Well Said still hasn’t made a pari-mutuel start yet this year, but I’ll leave him number one based on three excellent-looking qualifiers so far. The latest one for the son of Western Hanover took place on May 21 at the Meadowlands when he rocketed first-over on the turn and sprinted home in 26.3 to win by over lengths in 1:50.3.

2. Dial Or Nodial (last week #4). This son of Western Ideal had a very good 2009 debut on May 23 at the Meadowlands in a division of the New Jersey Sire Stakes. Tim Tetrick gave him a second-over trip, but had to pull three-wide early when his cover stalle…

A Poor Three Year Old Crop?

Last year at this time the three year old season had fans abuzz. North of the border, fans were anticipating the return of Somebeachsomewhere (it took the US folks awhile to warm up to the colt), and we already had several good quality colts like Art Official winning races. In addition, Breeders Crown winner Santanna Blue Chip was prepping nicely. We were set for a big, big year. And the colts delivered.

This year, not so much. Only one horse has popped, and that was Barber Pole. Well Said qualified well and we will see him soon.

Greg will be back with his NA Cup Top X sometime in the next bit and I will post it up, but frankly I am really hoping we see a colt step up soon, or this year might be one of those which we will forget pretty quickly. As I said here on the blog last year, I am looking forward to the trotters, especially the big horse, and I see nothing in the headlines so far that changes that thought.

Give Allan a visit, will ya?

Allan emailed today a story he wrote on his blo…

A Technology Panel for Racing? How About Right Now?

Clayton Christensen, Harvard management guru and author, has written some fine books. Perhaps his finest, The Innovator's Dilemma, discusses why large companies fall behind start-ups who have filled a niche, and capitalized on new markets.

In a nutshell, old business (in any time, really) fall prey to what he calls "disruptive technologies". These technologies are faster, easier, cheaper and niche oriented, until one day they are no longer filling a niche - they become mainstream. The large firms on the other hand, are dominated by "sustaining technologies" which are incremental to their business. In racing, a sustaining technology would have been telephone betting, or adding a superfecta. In contrast, for poker, it has all been one big disruptive technology - taking an old game and making it different.

The reason this tends to occur lies in the fact that a large business can innovate and can be disruptive, however the marketing department, and accounting departm…

Upper Canada Cup - Trying to Start a Tradition

Last night at Georgian Downs the inaugural Upper Canada Cup was contested. The $480k pot went to Jack Darling's Stonebridge Terror driven by the Croatian Sensation Mike Saftic, in a thrilling stretch drive.

What the video does not show is the work that went into this to try and start a tradition. A couple of good looking dudes in tails, a procession of flags for the post parade, women dressed like it was 1804. After all, this is Upper Canada.

The simo-show was really well done as well, and on-track, folks seemed to be having a good time.

As for the racing, it was good. The purses were high, and outside Woodbine, or the Meadowlands, you will not see a higher purse day in racing. I was happy to see the racing was a main feature of HPITV, too.

However, the bettors did not flock to the event. The handle was low. This is something that needs to be worked on as time goes on.

All in all, a tremendous start to a very good event.

Here is the video for those who missed the race.

A Weird Molson Pace Night

Tonight in London the eliminations for the Molson Pace took place, with some of the best Free For Allers in North America flashing swords. It turned out to be a sad night, and a weird night.

In the first elim, $2.3M winner Maltese Artist was well on his way to victory when he appeared to take a bad step. He was vanned off.

In elimination two, Shadow Play, a horse who owns a World Record on a half, raced very poorly, being a well-beaten last. He was the 3-5 chalk.

Next week the final could still be a very good one, though, and it goes for 280 large.

Full report at the Harness Edge. Update - Maltese Artist was put down.

Elim 2 via Youtube, Foiled Again.

Alarmism, Big Events II and Fast Q's

"If grooms do not deposit shovel fulls of horse manure in a sealed depository, it will cause global warming and the earth will end." Well, not really, but over the last dozen or so years, alarmism sells, no matter what the topic, no matter what end of the political spectrum. It gets play and it gets groups funded who 'alarm it', where it has become a cottage industry and an over-used strategy. Much the same happens in racing, especially of note with the Rachel Alexandra situation. Thank goodness for the blogs, because I find a good blogger is a good a read as any columnist out there. For a great take on fillies against the boys, try this post, Rachel Alarmista. Well done.

John Pricci writes about HANA this morning. It is nice for horseplayers to get good play on a major website.

Why do horses qualify in 151 or less nowadays? I see Well Said went that, as did a couple of others. It seems to be a trend. I am of the belief that a horse should qualify about two or three se…

Big Event Promotion

This years Preakness was a solid event; the 5th highest handle ever, in a business that has seen handle losses the last twenty four months. Big events still work in racing, and I think more has to be done to coordinate them as a seminal marketing strategy.

Often times we read (in my view a specious) opinion that every day racing can somehow market to the masses. This has proven time and time again to be a failed policy. Why? Because primarily you can not promote some of the racing that we see on a daily basis to sports fans. I do not want to be mean here, and I am certainly not trying to be, but about 8 out of ten horse races have completely sub par stock. Who can get interested in them, unless we sell the gambling game, and not racing? From a poster at

As a sporting event, the average day of racing stacks up very, very, very poorly against an average professional sporting event. Let's take baseball.

I can get tickets to a baseball game for just about the same cos…

Handicapping - Know Your Metrics & Work the Margins

Handicapping horses and turning a profit might be the most difficult task for any gambler of a skill game. We know all too well that beating high takeouts is not for the weak or unwilling. Most handicappers tend to think that 'if I can get one or two scores' I will be ok, and push to try and get into the black. We also are pre-programmed not to think at the margins, but in the aggregate. Hopefully I can show why looking at the margins is something that everyone should do, at all times. More often than not, working the margins can be a ticket to success.

I just finished reading SmarterSig's Improve Your Betting, a UK gambling book, concentrating on racing. In one chapter, gambler Alan Potts is interviewed and he says this:

"Analyze, especially losers post race. I found that after five years I was backing the same number of winners, but I was getting less losers."

Working at this can improve your ROI tremendously. I often go through all of my numbers and make sure I a…

Harness Racing - Odd Man Out

Prairie Meadows, a racino in Iowa, is being urged to end harness racing, while keeping both quarterhorse and thoroughbred racing.

Prairie Meadows is considering changing to a racing format that completely splits its Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse racing while eliminating harness racing.

I wonder if headlines like this will be a wake up call for us? I have a sneaky feeling it won't.

Western Fair & Georgian, Trying to do Things Right

In the 1980's and early 1990's London and Barrie had a track each. The average purse was about the price of a nice 42 inch television. Mom's and Pop's raced their horses out of sires like Armbro Splurge and Fundmentalist.

Today it is much different.

On Friday the eliminations for the Molson Pace go at Western Fair. Two five horse elims, followed by a $280,000 final are to be contested. Making the trek from down south are standouts such as Maltese Artist. From Canada, last years Jug winner and World Record holder Shadow Play takes on older for the first time in his career. It is a compelling race. This race used to go for $25,000. Not anymore.

On Saturday, at Georgian Downs, the $500,000 Upper Canada Cup is to be raced. If you have not bought an Ontario sired yearling, you might be missing out. This is a huge purse and when added to the Battle of Waterloo for two year olds, horses that race in Ontario have the richest pots to race for anywhere.

Why can't we get handles…

Faded Memories

On May 20, 2006 - Preakness Day - our stable had a new horse making his first pari-mutuel start as a three year old at Georgian Downs, in beautiful cottage country. He had qualified alright, and we were all kind of excited (anyone who has ever had a yearling knows what I am talking about). I try and watch all of the Triple Crown races in front of my trusty computer and TV with my betting account open, but that day it took a backseat. It was a great spring day, nice and sunny, so I rolled up early to have dinner and watch the Preakness before watching 'Dominique' take on his foes in the Georgian second race.

I walked into a crowded eatery near the track around 6PM, ordered some food and a pint of Coors Light. The sound was down but that was ok, I could still see the race. A few people who were not fans asked the usual questions like "what race is this", "who is going to win" and so on. As I do in those situations I dutifully explained that Barbaro had won the…

Getting Caught Up, Saturday's Tilts and Whipping Rule Fun

I was out and about tonight and it is a shame I missed the action at the M. It sounds like there was some dandy racing. I will get caught up on replays ASAP.

My Cup pick - Barber Pole - Greg informs me, stunk today. He was beaten by a George Teague fourth stringer. But looking at the line I still have him as my pick. He had to have been sick to come home in 29.1. I am pretty sure he will bounce back fine.

The 500k Upper Canada Cup elims also went on tonight in Barrie. The news is here.

I am getting caught up on some other news as well and I must say the driver commentary on the whipping rules is getting pretty hilarious. The sport of racing is comical (not unlike other sports; NFL safeties hated when clotheslining was outlawed, for example) - if you change one thing and ask people to do something differently than they have been, they get kind of cranky. The latest, Maritime driver Gilles Barrieau:

Due to that, Barrieau – a winner of over 3,000 races lifetime – says he’s giving up driving …

Clearly, a Great Preakness

Two things for me today:

1. Mine that Bird is legit. Horses are not flukes when they run the Derby as well as he did, and it was nice to see him get some respect.

2. Can the headlines I have been reading from knee-jerk types in the media stop now? She did not break down, or whatever they were going on about all week. She is a horse, not a Faberge egg, and her going 46 to the half against other brown horses that just happen to have testicles is not a sword of damocles.

OK, points/rants over :)

I hope everyone enjoyed the race, I did ('cept the bankroll!).

Interesting Betting Race

The addition of the filly makes the Preakness a very cool race for bettors. The big races tend to be the easiest to handicap for value especially, because the flow of information is out there, the odds are known early and it is discussed to death. The way I play these races, as you folks know, is to simply look for a talented horse who is being overlooked by the masses. Then I group him deep on exotics tickets for a hopeful overlaid score. The Preakness is much more formful than the Derby, so I can not use the all button on top as much as I did in the Derby. The button simply does not have as much value in a shorter field, two weeks off the Derby, but still should be used in the two and three slots, in my opinion.

This weekend I have gone through what I think is correct to do, and feel pretty good about my value plays.

Rachel - She's the fastest horse, but she has been the fastest horse while running against sub par fields. It is not a secret that taxed horses do not run their best.…

Crowds Watching Harness Racing - Overseas

When my horse came and they were trying to explain the equipment this horse was wearing, there were strings everywhere. I felt like a puppet master - pull out air hood, pull down blinds, pull up overcheck, kick over poles. My first thought was that this is going to be a disaster! But I must tell you it was one race I will never forget, the way this horse changed gears for me after being parked first up a long way I then pulled and kicked every string I could and he cleared and opened up on the field. The hair stood up on the back of my neck, to listen to the loud screams of people cheering was just amazing.

Brad Forward is representing Canada in the World Driving Championships in Norway. The crowds are big there, which is amazing to see. Follow Brad's journey here if you are interested. He is blogging it at Standardbred Canada.

Cup Contenders, Ed2

Greg is back with an instalment of his top ten for the NA Cup. Not a bad list for an amateur bettor, and a guy from Pittsburgh. I am ok with the young fellas opinions. I would still have Barber Pole number one. Art Colony would not be in my top ten. I will wait to make my list until the Cup is over. Then I will look like a genius!

Here we go..........

Another week has come and gone on the road to the $1.5 million Pepsi North America Cup. More and more of last year’s top stars are returning to the track, and some horses who flew under the radar have made their presence felt. Without further introduction, let’s get to this week’s top ten.

1. Well Said (last week #1). No change at the top this week. Well Said was victorious in his first qualifier at the Meadowlands on May 7 in 1:54 flat and then came back to qualify on May 14 in 1:52.4 with a final quarter in 26.3. There is still no word from trainer Steve Elliott on when the son of Western Hanover will make his 2009 pari-mutuel debu…

Slots Are Poison for Growing Demand for Racing

From Power Cap:

The core issue here is too much racing and nil cooperation. Slots propping up an unappealing product is akin to having a braindead patient hooked up to a respirator. The patient is alive but it is no life and he is a burden to all those around him. The surplus of unappealing slot enhanced racing is becoming a burden to the family of racetracks on the east coast and has spread disease throughout all of them.

Similar in harness? Pocono and Yonkers peeling off entries from the M. Local Ontario B tracks peeling entries off Woodbine/Mohawk. A very poor watered down product based solely on slots in many areas that would not have racing if based solely off demand.

One thing that really sticks in a lot of folks teeth in racing is that the slots funding was based on a flawed premise of "if you flood the market by supplying a poor product, demand will rise." That was perhaps our biggest mistake with slots; the inability to act with cohesion and common sense for a better …


This month's Trot magazine the "State of the Industry" issue, which I received today, is as good an issue on racing you will find anywhere. One section focused on questions asked to industry people: trainers, track owners, horse owners, horseplayers. I was astounded at a the differences in perspectives in these groups, and it in large part displays a good deal of why (imo) we never get anything done.

The first question: "What do you see as the state of harness racing today?", the driver and trainer comments for the most part are rosy. "We are in good shape", said many. However, track execs, horseplayers and owners were all virtually a polar opposite. I was quite honestly shocked that with headlines of handles falling, racedates falling, tracks closing, and an industry on unsustainable government life-support that so many at the grassroots level could think everything is just fine.

Another disconnect that was interesting was drugs. Drivers and trainers a…

Personal Betting Machines

A teller has been indicted for theft. Why, because she allegedly bet at her machine. Some mornings when I look at my bankroll I think someone was betting on it other than myself, but alas it is just bad horseplaying.

Speaking of personal betting machines our picture above is John's racing set-up from the UK. He bets horses at betfair. Verrrry cool.

This weekend there might be an underlay of all underlays in the Preakness. The filly, Rachel Alexandra, has garnered all the press and should be heavily bet. No early odds yet, but it looks like a good time to play the Preakness and try and make some scratch.

It's that time of year in thoroughbred racing where the melodrama about "saving the sport" with sidelines to the major race (this year a filly against the colts) gets trumpeted. Jeremy Plonk thankfully shoots that down.

Greg R informs me that he is watching the Q's tomorrow at the M and then writing his Cup contenders report. Several big names are qualifying as we hea…

Some Things Are Meant to End

Society changes. In virtually all walks of life we see business change along with it. 60 or 80 years ago when much of North America was agri-based, the horse was a tool, a means to an end to help the farm, or help the family.

Today horses are much different in society. I listened to John Campbell today on Trot Radio speak of the horse in much the same way, with respect. He said (paraphrasing) 'It is different now and I think we should get rid of whipping. I am guilty of too much whipping sometimes just like most, but after the mile I say to myself 'that was stupid' the horse was giving me all he could'.

Scanning the news I see that steeplechase racing is looking to be banned in racing mad Australia as early as tomorrow. My opinion? Not soon enough. I abhor that type of racing and I think it has little place in modern racing, or modern society. The public simply does not have the stomach for it.

More than 150 years of jumps horse racing in Australia could come to an end …

Rowing the Boat in the Same Direction

In following both the thoroughbred and harness game I find there are differences. There are the obvious of course, riders and drivers and running and pacing, however there is a rather unique difference in horseman groups.

The problems with OHHA in Ontario are well documented - resignations and so on. In the past the organization has focused on race dates in large part. If you want to cut them, no matter how much sense it might make, there will probably be a fight. Recently Hugh Mitchell CEO of Western Fair wanted to change some Saturday cards to Monday cards for example - no change in racedates, but Monday cards brought in better handles, so it makes sense, right? It was fought.

Contrarily, I have been following similar issues in the thoroughbreds. Today it was announced that Churchill Downs was cutting racedates because handle was down. This is the response from Rick Hiles, a horseman rep:

Rick Hiles, president of the Kentucky division of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective A…

Shadow Play, Youtube and Youtube

Shadow Play, the second best 3YO last year won his 4YO debut last night, and of course I need to procrastinate, so I go watch a few of his races last year. Then I read that there is a really cool Preakness Promo about the filly taking on the colts on NBC. Where is it? I have no idea.

Why networks do not get their promo's on Youtube in real time fashion is beyond me.

Anyhow, looking for it I came across my most favourite Preakness ever. I post that up here. Maybe tomorrow I will find the NBC promo for this weeks Preakness.

Watch Out For Barber Pole

It is only May 9th, but from what I have seen so far, I think I have my NA Cup horse. Last night at the Meadowlands in a conditioned race Barber Pole, a son of Badlands Hanover won easily, stopping the clock in 149. The ease in which he did it, as well as his two year old lines, suggest the 149 was not near his bottom.

Unlike last year where there was a standout, we can and do often see unranked horses become three year old stars. The top ranked colts will have their hands full with this horse I think.

For a look at Greg's list from last week it is here. I have a feeling the Barber will be moving up the list this week.

1-9's Everywhere!

Horses opening with 10k to win on them, at smaller venues lately? I have not been playing too seriously the past two days, however I did check a few tracks here and there. I did notice what looked like $10,000 to bet on several horses.

According to, the posters are seeing this pop up in quite a few places:

There were some big underlays and overlays last night at Delta thanks to a mysterious bettor placing vast amount of $$$ on horses to win.

This guy must get around.Last night at Meadowlands harness in race 6,the pacer in post #1 got a $10,000 bet early in the wagering.He sat at 1-9 until late in the betting,and then drifted up a bit,closing at 4-5.

the 1/5 shots ran second, and payed 7.00 to place...

Makes you wonder.

Racing Demographics - Ouch!

I am doing real work tonight in Ad Planner, but of course I get sidetracked.

Age Demographics for Internet searches for website A:

Website B:

Website C:

Pop quiz: One is a racing site, one a poker site and one a peer to peer betting site. Can you spot the racing website?

Pick 6 Carryovers

Carryovers are a good thing. I don't think I have hit a pick 6 in about three years. At Churchill today for the runners, the track is dead slop, it is a mess of a card, and probably impossible to hit this.

So let's play!


Sure loser, however the first just went off I see and I am actually alive on a couple of tickets still. Yippee! At least one more race to watch, which is usually one more race than usual.

Derby Top Ten Web Markets

I saw the link on Paulick and 360 to the top ten TV markets (Louisville was number one of course) for the Derby, but since we are proponents of new marketing here, let's check the wacky interweb.

For May, here are the top ten markets in terms of standardized search queries for "Kentucky Derby" on google.

1. Louisville, KY, USA
2. Cincinnati, OH, USA
3. Albany, NY, USA
4. Cleveland, OH, USA
5. Indianapolis, IN, USA
6. Rochester, NY, USA
7. Pittsburgh, PA, USA *
8. Columbus, OH, USA
9. St Louis, MO, USA
10. Denver, CO, USA
* Valerie sheds some light

In Canada? The city of Waterloo has plenty of racing fans in terms of searches.

1. Waterloo, Canada
2. Kingston, Canada
3. Burlington, Canada
4. Hamilton, Canada
5. Mississauga, Canada
6. Ottawa, Canada
7. Halifax, Canada
8. Toronto, Canada
9. Vancouver, Canada
10. Calgary, Canada

Cohen's Back

Andrew Cohen, CBS News Legal analyst and horse owner shares his thoughts in this month's Trot about the state of the industry. He says what many will not say; much of it needs to be said. Will this be ignored like most opinion pieces are in racing with each acronym solely concentrated on only protecting their slice?

Cohen on racing's stakeholders:

The gulf between authority and responsibility, manifested in “fragmented and confused” leadership on every level within harness racing, is the biggest structural hurdle in our industry. Greed, self-interest, old rivalries, new ones, cowardice, laziness — all of the natural forces in humankind which serve to thwart lasting solutions — are so prevalent now in the industry that it’s hard to see the way out (and that was true before the nation’s economic climate turned dramatically worse). We all know it. And yet we do next to nothing.

On suspensions:

Dope a horse in a pari-mutuel race? Breach the promise you’ve made to your licensing agency…

Who won the 'Web' Kentucky Derby?

Matt McGee at Search Engine Land lets us in on what search engine won the Kentucky Derby flash results. The winner? Live Search (Microsoft's engine), followed by

Can and should we be doing more with search in racing? Absolutely we should. In many sports they work with search engines on filtering results and more, and we should make this is a priority. I do not think there is anyone out there in racing that thinks the above search result, with links to contenders and so on is a bad thing for racing.

Screen shot courtesy of Matt, at Search Engine Land.

North America Cup Contenders, Ed1

"Out of the nine harness blogs out there I think the Pocket-blog is easily in the top eight" began Pittsburgh's Greg Reinhart, "and I am thrilled to do the Cup Report again this year."

Thanks for the props Greg, and we are happy to have you.

The $1.5M Cup is just a month and a half away. Last year was completely different than this season as we had a huge standout and a couple of others that looked like some stock. Our final top three prediction missed the exotics, but was pretty decent as Somebeach, Art Official and Santanna Blue Chip all made the final and raced fairly well. If I were making an odds line this year, which I will soon, I do not know who I would have as chalk, and I would not at all be surprised if the winner comes from outside the contender list. There are no standouts this year thus far.

So, off to our cub reporter Greg and his first edition of the 2009 North America Cup Contender list:

With Mohawk recently opened, you know that the $1.5 million P…

Wagering Conference Recap

With Derby week behind us I thought I would update last weeks Wagering Conference at Caesars Windsor. Although less well-attended than last year, the event did attract some good presenters, and many good delegates.

I got to see most of the presentations, although I did miss a couple so I could do a bit of work in my room. I thought the presentations were better this year than last year.

The "Snapshot of Wagering Session" concentrated on two main issues: Where the business is now, and where it hopes to be after some of the recommendations are implemented (last years stuff). One neat slide was from Darryl Kaplan who was demonstrating that racing might not be here in 40 years (as we know it now) if we do not do something. He showed a clipping from 1968 that ran in a Massachusetts paper on dog racing - 'Dog racing handles and attendance soar' was the caption. He followed that up with a 2008 headline from the same paper 'Dog racing banned in New Hampshire'.

Session …

Different Prices Everywhere

Depending on where you bet the Derby, life was either good, or bad.

Sport is made for betting gives us our chart picture above, and discusses the race at Betfair on his blog (click the link to read his blog, click the picture to see the chart more clearly). The bulk of the wagering was done on Mine That Bird at 140-1 or above.

Conversely, due to the rules here in Canada that anger bettors (and anger is not too strong a word) with different fingers-in-the-pie economics with groups wanting bettors money, the payoffs stunk.

The Tri in HPI (Canada's ADW): $38,426.60
The Tri at Churchill Downs: $41,500.60

The Super in HPI: $515,746.80
The Super at Churchill: $557,006.40

Yes, just for those two bets you paid a fee of about $45,000, or around 20% higher than the average yearly salary in this country.

Who gets the money? Your guess is as good as mine. Fixing this issue and giving bettors what they deserve is long overdue.

140-1 at a betting exchange or paying a $45,000 fee here in Canada? Which is…

The Greatest Gambling Event of the Year

This event is simply (hands-down) the best gambling event of all gambling events, and we need more people to spread the word about it. Why? Because of luck and opportunity.

The winner, Mine That Bird, was keyed up beyond belief at the start, but got squeezed and had to be strangled. Reserving that energy and him settling probably won him the race, and in the process made readily apparent that when betting this event never bet workouts, or press, or breeding. Bet the board, construct proper tickets, and gamble. If you are successful, you can make a life-changing score, because 9 times out of 10, the winner is simply luckier than the other horses in this race, and/or is on his game with the elements.

With the slop today I tried my best with the all button. I took a few pick 4's with Derby "all" but tried to pin seek a little too much, and went heavier on non-chalk in the second leg, and third leg. I could not convert the ticket. I did take an all-1-all pick 3 with the Derby …


So I woke up and started working this morning, then I get ready for lunch and flipped on racing, hoping to catch the CD card. Yikes! It started at 10:30. I bet and I follow things. I had no idea the post time was early. Note to anyone like me - tomorrow the post time is early too.

Erick Poteck presented at the conference this week. He emails to inform me that the Fan 590 is having a racing show this weekend and he is on it. They never cover racing, so if anyone wants to ask any questions about racing in Canada, the email is here. It is on from 10:25 to around 11AM Sunday.

$1 super minimums for the Derby card? This is a good thing for big bettors, but it stinks for small ones. What is Derby day about, helping new fans take a poke at ten cent bets, or catering to large bettors? This is a good question, I think.

Mohawk has opened to bad weather, which is disappointing, but this weekend looks a lot better so I think I will be out to Milton.

The Ontario Harness Horse …

It Makes You Proud to be a Racing Fan

Races and days do not get better than that. The filly was superb, and the message with that wonderful horse with that populated winner circle was awesome. That was a fantastic day for racing, and if you have not watched the Oaks, you better tee it up on youtube. I have never seen a rider give a horse four pats for a good job when the race had not even ended yet.

"Bravo" racing for a great day.