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Showing posts from November, 2009

Couple 'em, Ron and Internet Battles

Great post by VFTRG on coupled entries. In the world of Bulletproof horses, this is a no brainer. I don't think too many people are playing games any longer with these huge purses and we need more betting interests. The largest gambling franchise in the world uncouples horses for their customers, it is time racing here does as well. He's got the Matron final up there as well.

Ron Pierce is always quotable. Today he said "I don’t know if I have ever driven a horse with more wicked speed than Art Official. He has the ability to leave the gate faster (:25.2) than any horse that I have sat behind and still have enough in the tank to pace home in an amazing :25.3." After he won the Meadowlands Pace with Well Said a few months ago, he said "This colt was wicked. I would say he's by far the fastest colt I've ever driven in my life." Wicked stuff. I love Ron.

Art Official stands for $7000. In the breeding game (they are sure not handicappers) it all depends o…

The Betting World & a Test for CERA

I like doing a blog sweep and tend to read quite a bit (especially on Sunday Night Football night). I have been looking in on "Oi What the Heck". This is a betting blog by a Kiwi gentleman who knows nothing about horse racing. He is using a betting system which involves betting favorites to place (with a filter or two I imagine) and using a form of the martingale system.

It is an interesting read because (of course) every bettor will tell another he is nuts to use that system, and he knows that. However, he seems to have enough filtering (and smarts) to make a go of this. He has made himself a little bit of scratch and seems to be having some fun. Is not that what horse betting is supposed to be about - a little fun? Good luck mate.

The bloodhorse reported today that racing has come up with a test for CERA - the brutal blood builder that can wreak havoc on a horses system. This is the drug that has rocked the Tour De France past years and has long been rumoured to be in horse…

Around the World in 30 seconds

This interweb thing might catch on.

Ray Paulick reports some (annoying) breaking news that the very nice Summer Bird had a fracture in training for the Japan Cup. Like lightning speed that moved across the web.

When I read that I could not help but think of the Tiger Woods story which was similarly linked and relinked on Drudge yesterday. This TMZ story giving some sordid details probably got a couple million hits due to that aggregator.

Continuing with the changing world, we are about 20 minutes to post time for Australia's $500k Miracle Mile, featuring Auckland Reactor and the Monkey (we spoke about the Joey Buttafuco-ness of this race on Friday). According to the Harness Edge the race can be listened to on, and the replay can be seen here after the race. I'll post up the Youtube thingy when I get it.

Currently there is quite a bit of interest in this race. Checking betfair, there is already over $50K matched, which is quite large this far away from post time…

Going Smaller to Get Bigger

In Canadian Football, the Montreal franchise was resurrected by moving out of the 80,000 seat Olympic Stadium to a small 20,000 seat venue at McGill University. The closeness of the crowd made the team an event again. Instead of getting 25,000 fans in that large stadium (it was ridiculous to look at on television), getting 20,000 in a small one completely changed the optics, and changed the franchise. It was hip and cool to go watch football with 20,000 of your closest friends.

Now I see they might be looking at the same thing in Toronto.

BMO Field, on the Exhibition grounds, hosts some soccer games and the crowd is very energized. It's capacity is 20k. The CFL Toronto franchise might move here, from the Skydome, where it is at best half full for Argo games.

It is no secret that cavernous grandstands at racings old-time tracks are not very friendly to race fans. A long while ago, when we were the only game in town and we could pack the places it was fine, but no longer.

Some tracks h…

New Zealand Drama - Like a Reality TV Show With Horses

We have syndicates, fights, personnel changes, knife throwing, Benny Hill, Monkey's and suspensions. It is not an episode of your favourite reality show, it is harness racing in New Zealand.

Last week in a FFA race in NZ, champion pacer Auckland Reactor was sent to the lead, driven by Mark Purdon. He was "attacked" by a longshot, Awesome Armbro driven by Phil Butcher, and pushed through stout fractions. Off third over cover came "the Monkey" - Monkey King - and he sailed to victory. Most times that would be the end of it, but not this time. Here is the race video (note: anytime I hear "Here is the Monkey" in a race call, I think it is a damn cool race call):

After the race, it was reported that an Auckland Reactor owner had a dust up with Phil Butcher, driver of the presser. No word if it was just yelling, or if fisticuffs ensued. It also appears the stewards are looking into the drive saying he did "not give his horse the best chance to win."…

Good Payoffs & Where's the Muscle?

Some wild and wacky payoffs tonight in horse racing.

Mountaineer's third race had a pool shot tri, paying $36,000 for a buck. What is weird is that on paper it was not that difficult. A 6-1ML onto two 15-1ML's. The morning line chalk was not a 1-5 shot either. In race 5, another whopper. RG's favorite trainer Donna Zook had a first time starter who won at a huge price. The heavy chalk ran off the board and the tote board exploded with monster show prices of $56, $45 and $48 respectively. A 1-5 shot ran off the ticket in race 7 as well, keying some nice exotics. It was bombs away night at the Mountain.

At Woodbine I notice off form, or on form horses without decent finishes are almost always underbet. Throw in a non-top driver and they can get downright scary on the underbet side. In race 8 (I was watching, not betting, so no accusations of redboarding please!) the Roger Mayotte driven Windsun Thunder went wire to wire and paid $13. If you look back into his lines it shows j…

Monday Notes

New York state continues to make ones head spin on testing. The Saratogian reports that "Testimony at the hearing, conducted by committee chairman J. Gary Pretlow, revealed shortfalls in funding, and a testing laboratory at Cornell University that has put the state on notice it plans to stop testing early next year."

Shortfalls, bad management? Who knows, but it seems like a mess.

This year has not been a memorable one for the three year old pacing colts. About once every few years we get spoiled with a solid crop, this year was not one of those years. Last year in the Windy City Pace we had a knock-down, drag out battle between Shadow Play and Badlands Nitro. Badlands, a two year old world record holder grabbed rail control, and double world record holder Shadow Play was at his flank every step of the way. The teletimer tipped 150.4 and Shadow got up in the final strides. This year, no world champs, no freak speeds. And the result had heavy chalk If I Can Dream going down to…

You Just Never Know

Controversy at Churchill Downs this past week. A 12 year old mare, whom the previous owner thought was going to be a riding horse showed up in the box this week in a five claimer.

Costello said she is aware she could face some backlash for trying to run a horse off a nine-year layoff, but she maintains that Grand Forks will eventually return to the track.

"You know, (the backlash) might happen the first time I run her but, when she wins that race and comes back fine, I think people will accept it," she said.

She was scratched because the judges wanted to watch her work first.

When one sells, or gives away most time, a horse for a retirement career you tend to just never know. It would be good to have some sort of contract signed as an industry norm in these instances, in my opinion.

Fog killed the races last night at Woodbine. Photo courtesy Standardbred Canada.

This usually happens at Mohawk, since it lies in a different area, but last night it bit the city track. I am not sure w…

Ditch Racing and Head to Poker

After Quebec pulled the plug on racing this past year, the sink appears to be filled again - this time with online poker. "If all goes according to plan, Quebecers will be able to play poker online at a secure, government-regulated site by next summer." says the Montreal Gazette.

After the nasty stuff that we have read about online poker in the press and in political arenas, it seems gambling is only bad in one instance: When the government does not run it.

To any person with a lick of common sense they will see this is a harbinger; especially after British Columbia did virtually the same thing. Racing must compete, and compete now with other games, or be a shadow of itself within the next decade - and that goes from sea to shining sea.

Want Your Track to Make Money? Call Bono

As most know, old Blue Bonnets Raceway in Montreal is pretty much done. Racing was shut down there this year and it is the end of an era for racing in Canada's second largest city. It is simply not feasible to run a racetrack there any longer.

But for a concert - one concert - it is fine and dandy.

In an unprecedented move, the band U2 is injecting $3M into the grounds for an open air concert on July 16th, 2010.

After the concert the venue has a date with a wrecking ball.

It is either a sad commentary on racing, or a glorious goodbye to a storied venue. It depends what side of the fence you are sitting on I guess.

h/t to Standardbred Canada

Making Decisions - In Betting, HOY Votes & Racings Future

I continue to be fascinated with both the press and general football fan reaction to the Bill Belichick 4th down decision in Sunday's game. As most know, the coach went for it on 4th down instead of punting. The visceral reaction to such a call (because it steps out of the mainstream) is "holy smokes he is nuts", but when we look deeper we find out that it might not be so nuts at all. I read this article this morning which cites a University football decision making software's take on the odds, based on historical numbers, called "Zeus".

"Zeus can simulate hundreds of thousands of possible outcomes of a specific scenario. Zeus determined the probability of a Patriots' victory was higher with Belichick going for the first down rather than punting and putting the game into the hands of his defense versus the Peyton Manning-led offense. But Zeus seems to be in a minority."

Then the article lists - based on "gut" mostly - reaction on the …

Bill Belichick Must Be a Horseplayer

Last night on Sunday Night Football we saw a coaching call that reminds me that every day decisions, whether they be in sports, or life, can generally be described as a horseplayer decision.

With the ball on his own 28 yard line, up by six and facing a 4th and two, Patriot coach Bill Belichick stunned the conventional football world by going for it. The pass was completed, but the ball slightly bobbled and the referee placed the ball just behind the sticks. Indy ball.

They would go on to score, and with only a few seconds left New England could not get the ball into field goal range. Victory was Indy's.

The press shows their true colors on this - when something goes right, they tend to over-hype praise. And when something goes wrong - they tend to over-hype criticism. The truth usually lies somewhere in the middle.

Fortunately, we can mess around and check the numbers, like a bettor does when making a value decision on a horse in the 4th. What would you have bet the Patriots before th…

A Costly Mistake

How often do you see $14800 bet on a 40-1 shot to show? When the nine horse is the 1-5 shot and someone hit a button wrong one would guess. Wow, what a mistake (screen shot of race 4 for Woodbine above).

h/t to Beav

Handicapping - One Sentence Usually is Enough

There is an interesting handicapping discussion going on at The thread "When is Too Much, Too Much?" and it supposes that with all the handicapping information out there, there is a point where too much information becomes detrimental to your ROI.

I thought about that for a little while, and looking back as a long-time horseplayer, I believe this does have merit. When I have a sound bet that I am confident in, and believe to be a very good play I can usually sum up why I like the horse in one simple sentence. Time and time again this seems to hold.

Try it sometime - your buddy really likes a horse that just hits and pays $19. Ask him why he liked it. Chances are it will be simple and to the point - "he was the only speed and the track is playing fast", or "he was live last week and dropping in class", or "he showed sneaky speed for the first time last week."

Then try it with a loser horse. Why did you like him? I bet it is a lon…

In a Nutshell

There is a good discussion going over at Standardbred Canada regarding Jack Darling's post on the future of harness racing (linked at Equidaily no less). One post really grasped the issue quite well I find, from a harness player.

Many of the themes are obvious, but one which we speak of quite often here, has been the poaching of best racehorses from the B Tracks. Two years ago the writing was on the wall for the Meadowlands with Yonkers and in some cases Chester taking those horses. It has long been known that in 1990 when Barrie Opens were going for $1200, they were not poaching Woodbine Open horses going for $19,000. This has never been addressed and I believe it has to be, or we will see many players like this not come back to racing.

The harness game is dying out and the powers that be seem to be turning a blind eye to it and hoping that the government and casino companies will continue to bail them out. Well this may continue for awhile but as the wager continues to plummet and…

Roy Sproxton is National Handicapping Champion

Blog reader, and all around nice guy Roy Sproxton won the Trot National Handicapping Championship this weekend in Ottawa. Congrats Roy, enjoy the payday and the accolades as they are well deserved....... oh, and I am glad you dressed up for the occasion!

Some Horsemen Bang the Drum; Blue vs Legacy

For many years with handle declines in Ontario and elsewhere, things such as takeout reductions and marketing initiatives - fully funded from slots and elsewhere - were mainly thoughts one would read on blogs, or from bettors. With the large handle declines of the last couple of years, and the recent government rumblings in Pennsylvania, the loss of racing in Quebec as two examples, we are reading more and more from industry insiders who are pledging virtually the same thing.

Jack Darling, a trainer from Ontario writes the following on his blog this week:

"...reducing the percentage of the take substantially from each bet to return more of the winnings back to the gamblers. I think this would be worth a try. Most of our purse money comes from the slots so I don't think it would cost us that much out of the purse account."


"My next comment is not going to be popular with a lot of my fellow horsemen. Just putting on a bunch of races where a handful of people come o…

We Report, You Decide

I am not Shepard Smith, but I will try my best. Here is some video with fan reaction of two horses. I don't know about you, but being a racing fan is pretty sweet when watching this.

First an inside the clubhouse look at RA at Saratoga. Fast forward to 2:24 to skip the prerace and give it a listen.

Now the track feed from Santa Anita. The ESPN sound certainly did not do it justice as I did not hear this explosion of the crowd when Z finds room on ESPN. Flip to 1:45, hear the pop at about 2 minutes and let 'er roll to Schrupp's comments after the three minute mark. That crowd cheered for a good minute and a half.

Horse of the year? By sound alone it has to be one of them; I don't think the cheers were for Bulls Bay or Gio Ponti. :)

Will Quid Pro Quo Hurt Rachel?

In US thoroughbred racing there will be an interesting Horse of the Year vote coming up. We all know the two protagonists – Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta. Who will win? The vote is more than likely pretty close.

As most know, Jess Jackson bought Rachel earlier this year. He raced her in a great many tough tilts, starting with the Preakness and ending her season with the Woodward at Saratoga. All season fans lobbied him hard to race her in the Breeders Cup (hopefully against the undefeated Zenyatta), but Jackson was having none of it. He was not racing her at Santa Anita, and he used something as a crutch that many found curious – horse safety. “My concerns are well known about the tracks in California," Jackson said in a statement. "These false tracks create potential for injury, a risk that I am not willing to take with Rachel."

Funnily enough, last year Mr. Jackson sounded none of these alarms when the decision was made to race Curlin in the Breeders Cup at this exact s…

Success is Nothing to be Ashamed Of

The Breeders Cup was completed yesterday and by virtually all accounts it was a huge success. After what seems like an eternity of reading negative press on some of the trade websites quoting every Tom, Dick and Harry who did not like the decision to go to Santa Anita again, it was refreshing to let the brown four-legged things, the weather, the crowd, and the racing do the talking.

And the racing, especially a mare in the Classic, spoke loud and clear. From Todd Schrupp of TVG on the BC feed directly after the Zenyatta race:

"This place has seen some phenomenal ones - Seabiscuit, the resurrection of his career - and this grandstand has not shaken like this for a very long time. You have just witnessed one of the greatest moments in Breeders Cup history."

A quote from a racewatcher who was there, when answering what it was like near the wire in the Classic: "Louder than any college football game I have been to."

Another quote from a young fan via who…

Big Handle Overseas - Betfair Analysis In Running

In trying to make the BC a worldwide event, Betfair was licensed as a partner this year for the first time. It seems it has worked if the first race is any indication. Here is a screen shot (click to enlarge and note: I will update a few things here in this post during the races if you are interested).

Only $200,000 or so was bet in-running, more than likely due to a slight delay on the feed. However, over $1.3M was matched on this event dwarfs what was bet last year. The markets were super-deep, reminding one of the UK races that these punters normally flock to. I believe this is brand building, going on right before our eyes.

The 4th race on the card had some huge volume as well. With only a 1.8% overround and a well traded chalk (Lillie Langtree) there were several opps to trade and overseas players took advantage of that. Here is a screen shot of the inplay (around the three quarters). Lillie Langtry was even money when she made her move and a nano-second later when she looked to fl…

Looking at Some of Tomorrow's Races

I am just having a look at the BC tomorrow and cross referencing with Betfair. It is nice to get a feel of the odds board when playing some pick 3's and other horizontal's by looking at some sharp money, so here are a few thoughts.

BC Marathon - With a 4 point overround and a decently tight spread it looks like the ML is right on Mastery. Father Time is second choice at 7-2. I like the looks of the odds on two I think can hit the ticket - Nite Light at 9-1 and Black Astor at 27-1. I think I might try the latter for my price horse this race.

BC Juv F Turf - No surprise Lillie Langtry is chalk at 3-1. I don't mind the five and thirteen here and they are generous at 15-1 and 27-1 respectively.

BC Juvy Fillies - Not a very tight market here with close to 8% overround. Blid luck is a 7-2 chalk and the crowd says to go deep in this one. Mark Cramer says in chaos races bet the chalk. This does seem to work but I have to go outside that chalk here. 9-1 current price on the 11 looks l…

Fanning Up

I was messing around and came across a Betfair promo for soccer betting. It seems they have set up a television/web show with five dudes who really like soccer and each has a favourite team. I watched the promo, called "The Betfair Front Room". It looked kind of neat, however I could not understand what they were saying; and 'West Ham' does not mean much to me unless I am eating a sandwich in California.

The idea did strike me with some thoughts though about here in North America.

I have a friend who is a huge Steeler fan. So much so he is annoying. Jack Lambert this and Franco Harris that. Like, enough already. When I went to a game with him recently in Detroit he actually bought me a Terrible Towel. It turns out he frequents a site called Steeler Nation (pretty original huh?) where all these Steeler fans gather to chat about how good their team is. At the game he met up with some of these "nation" people and they were all wearing their gear and telling us …

Inside Baseball & Inside Leadership

In Lexington during a race last month, Ron Pierce whipped Costa Rica with two "swats" one-handed which is a no-no. For that he received a 10 day suspension. It is the second such fine for Mr. Pierce with a new whipping rule. As most remember, he was fined $12,800 under the Swedish rules (which are about the same as Kentucky's) while driving Mr. Muscleman over there. The Trot insider column had several quotes from Mr. Pierce and a couple of readers wondered why I did not speak of it here.

Sandy writes: "Actually PTP, myself and a few others who frequent your site were surprised that you let those Pierce comments go by without any mention or opinion ? You know the ability to drive a horse does not come complete with an MBA, apparently it doesn't even include any tact in some cases. And unfortunately most in the industry would rather line up behind one of their own, like Pierce, with no regard for common sense. It's really sad."

An anonymous commenter states…

360's and 180's

We won't be talking about the Breeders Cup here, but there are several places to get your information. Of course, there is the widget to the right side of the page with many handicapping and special interest story items from the blogosphere.

For everything one needs to handicap or follow the Cup, however, you will not find a better resource than Breeders Cup 360. Breaking news, handicapping items and a whole lot more, all in one place.

Glenn over at Fugue For Tinhorns (nope, I don't know what that means either, but it is a good blog) chats about takeout in Pennsylvania, with slots. In replying to an article at the Horseplayer Association of North America about the slots influx there and the lack of help for horseplayers he does not mince words. "But the current takeout in Pennsylvania, as HANA shows, is garbage."

As we posted below when referencing Darryl Kaplan's fine piece on the destruction of racing in Quebec, we need to do a 180 on using slot cash to help this…

Alright Already - Can We Not Just Do Something?

Darryl Kaplan, editor of the trade magazine Trot, pens a column this month with some stark stats on the dismantling of racing.

His thesis contends that it is finally time to do something with slots money to grow the sport. We have heard these things before, however with some of the following, is it not time to stop fighting and get to work? If the past tells the story of the future, this article should be read by everyone. In Ontario, New York, Pennsylvania; And don't for a second think that this can not happen to thoroughbreds either. Over $100M was just taken from the Horse Initiative in Pennsylvania - and that was runner and trotter money.

Just days before the Quebec provincial government recently announced their end-game for harness racing in the province, they put out a release. It included this paragraph:

Let us not forget that the horse racing industry started its decline several years ago. Since 1995, the government poured more than $450 million in subsidies to support this…

How to Turn $3000 Into a MIllion

There are a few ways to turn $3000 into a million. Buy a seed capital share of Microsoft in 1979. Maybe buy some puts on your favorite short and hope for bad news. Buy $3000 worth of lotto tickets and hope one of them beats the odds and hits.

But you can do it in harness racing, too.

At our friendly neighborhood mixed sale here in Ontario one can find, several times a year, hundreds of horses who have not quite shown much. I have bought a few - $4500, $14000, $5500 - none have sipped from the holy grail, but it is fun to see if you can find something for a bargain price. One such horse that was bought in such a sale was Ramegade Bruiser.

Purchased for $3000 in 2006 by the mom and pop stable headed by Dave Brown, the Rambaran gelding surpassed $1M in career earnings last night by winning a top-level pace in 151.2.

Overall this gelding has supplied a lifetime of thrills for this small stable. How about a 138 start career with 43 wins, 22 seconds and 11 thirds?

All for $3000.

Ain't harne…