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Showing posts from January, 2010

DQ'd From Awards

For those that do not know, horses owned by Bulletproof Enterprises have been disqualified from receiving their year end O'Brien Awards tonight.

Jackson Wittup, Chair of Standardbred Canada announced, “After reviewing the suspension ruling from the ORC along with the O’Brien eligibility policy, the committee has determined that the O’Brien award for the three-year-old pacing filly category will not be awarded on Saturday night.

“In the three-year-old pacing colt category, Well Said, who received the most votes in the balloting, is declared the official winner and his connections will be presented with the O’Brien trophy on Saturday night.

Earlier this week the Ontario racing commission put a freeze on all horses owned by Bulletproof. The stable made upwards of $10M this year, and is the leading barn in harness racing.

Andrew Beyer is at it again, speaking of the turnaround claiming trainers. This time he is talking about Kirk Ziadie.

"One statistic in particular suggests that Zia…

O'Brien Award Picks 2010

Each year here at PTP, our pal Greg makes his O'Brien picks. His record has been pretty pristine. Since I can't hit a 1-5 onto a 2-1 ex at times, he has the reins this year as well. Here they are:

The time has come once again for the annual O’Brien Awards banquet, which will be held Saturday night at the Delta Meadowvale in Mississauga, Ontario. There are some competitive categories this year, and we’ll run through them here and attempt to look into the minds of the voters to pick a winner.

Three-year-old colt pacer: Well Said & If I Can Dream

Well Said won the North America Cup and a division of the Simcoe north of the border, taking the former in a track, stakes, and national record, while If I Can Dream won the Confederation Cup and the Breeders Crown.

Well Said did throw two clunkers in Canada, missing the board in both the Burlington and in the Breeders Crown, but I’m guessing his connections and that North America Cup performance will push him over the top and to the…

Them Swedes Do a Racing Video

At the year end harness awards gala in Sweden they put together this video. I was surprised that there appears to be a horseplayer included; he is seen at about 3:16. Nice set up. :)

Maybe sometimes commenter here Janne will come and tell us how many of these folks speak English. Most did a good job faking it if they could not. Hat tip to Standardbred Canada.

Owners

In harness racing the chat boards, owners, trainers, bettors all have an opinion on the Brooks brothers. Currently the blue-bloods have their own stuff a-happening.

When the news broke that jockey's at Penn National took a stand on Saturday night, by not riding horses from a certain owner, I did not read much about it. Until this morning when Ray Paulick wrote an article on what has been happening that the racetrack, with regard to horses owned by Michael Gill.

Jockeys at Penn National Race Course apparently took a vote of a different type on Saturday night, allegedly telling track management they would refuse to ride in any more races in which Mike Gill-owned horses were entered. The vote was taken following the fifth race, after third-place finisher Laughing Moon broke down past the wire, causing another horse to also go down. Laughing Moon’s jockey Rickey Frazier escaped injury.

It was the second breakdown of a Gill-owned horse at Penn National in three nights, Melodeeman having s…

Will Meadowlands Racing Ever Be the Same?

Alan at his blog goes through the comprehensive report for New Jersey racing which was released this week.

Alan believes the report is a harbinger of the following:

• There will be no VLTs or sports betting at New Jersey race tracks.
• There will be a significant cut in the number of racing days in New Jersey for all breeds.
• Purses will no longer be artificially inflated.
• While not specifically mentioned, the days of racing at Freehold Raceway may be numbered.
• The Hambletonian will be looking for a new home.
• The long term goal is to redevelop the Meadowlands and move all racing to Monmouth Park.

More

Talkin' Bout the Horse & Julie Krone on a Champion

We speak of betting and industry issues here a lot, but sometimes is it not just fun to bask in the glow of the horse? Three things today:

First up, little wee horses. Here is a picture of Somebeachsomwhere's first foal. She is a little filly with a great family - her brother is the former fastest horse of all time Jenna's Beach Boy.



Not to be outdone, Deweycheatumnhowe's first one arrived earlier this week.



Last up some awesome video for harness and thoroughbred fans alike. Who will play Julie Krone in an upcoming movie is the question. The answer is..... we're not sure. But we hope that they are good under saddle. I had not seen this video on Youtube before - Julie and the great Moni Maker going for the under saddle world record at the Red Mile. I loved this video. Being so used to watching horses with jocks gallop it was weird to watch - but magical to watch too. How fast is she? How talented to keep her gait like that going that speed? Awesome stuff.

Offer an Alternative Will Ya?

Ray Paulick has a thought-provoking article on his site today about California thoroughbred racing thinking of going back to dirt racetracks. He calls it "Priority #1, Horses or Horseplayers"

Southern California-based trainer Bob Hess crystallized the often toxic debate over synthetic tracks as well as anyone I’ve talked with on the subject: “My horses are happy on it, and they’re lasting a lot longer,” said Hess, a 44-year-old, second generation horseman and a graduate of Stanford University. “My clients are getting more bang for their buck. But without gamblers, we are nothing: there are no purses and no owners. The reality is the gamblers hate this shit. They have no confidence in it. From what they tell me, it’s inconsistent and changes from track to track. Most gamblers tend to play speed, and if you play speed out here, you’re screwed.”

He goes on to talk about the death rate on synth versus dirt and how we balance the two for the betterment of racing.

In betting, I am ne…

Handicapping Post Positions

Darryl Kaplan wrote a good article on the Trot backpage last month on post positions. We all know harness racing has changed; it is a speed game. If a horse can make the front on a half mile track, back things down a little bit, he/she is a very good bet. It is not uncommon to see a horse get the outside post one week and be 30-1, then draw the rail and be 6-5. There is too much of a breadth in odds on half mile tracks.

Kaplan offers some statistics:

Over the first 11 months of 2009, there were over 10,000 races held in Canada on half-mile tracks. The win percentage of the rail horse was 19.5%. The outside post averaged 5.3%. If you add in the 7,000 races from the five-eighths mile configuration, the rail post won 18.1% of the time while the outside only scored in 5.0% of races. In Ontario, the gap was even greater, at 20.0% for the inside and 4.2% from the exterior post. That means that in the jurisdiction with the most purse money and wagering on the line, one in five won from the ‘po…

Money Talks

I read in a book somewhere, I think it was on marketing or maybe psychology, an interesting take on opinion and human nature. Some smart fella who wrote it said that people can have loud vociferous opinions on something, but you get to see their real opinion when you ask them to put money on it.

The Rachel Alexandra-Zenyatta horse of the year fight in the US was another time the money talked.

Fan polls, wishes and wants all pointed to Zenyatta. She won web poll after web poll. The wishers had a strong point. She was 14 for 14 in her career and voters not giving it to her as a swan song is not something we would see too often. She was the first female to win the Breeders Cup Classic, as well.

But the cash did the talking. On Betfair Z was not the chalk. Rachel was picked to win. Web polls are cool, but they don't cost you any money.

Some Happenings

I have seen two topics on chat boards now about John Campbell being washed up. I saw two topics last year at this time saying the same thing. He drives with zero power, with no claiming trainers early in the meet, then when the stakes horses come, he smokes. I noticed last year he had less than 10 wins for the first month or so, only to finish the year with $3.4M in winnings (only at the M). The previous season he did similar. In something like 800 drives he made $3.5M. In contrast, Pierce and Miller made $4M, but drove a couple of hundred more times.

News on Bulletproof's (harness racings leading owner) Jeff Brooks.

"An undercover video showed Jeffrey Brooks removing duffel bags from a safe-deposit box at a London bank. The next day, a person allegedly working for the Brooks brother rented another safe-deposit box, and when police opened the box it contained more than $3.6 million in pounds, euros and U.S. currency in envelopes marked "Jeffrey Brooks Securities."

In a…

Freak Accident at Flammy

Four year old mare Sycamore Ruby, driven by blog commenter Rebecca Titus, had her bit break during a race, causing some mayhem. Todd Gimblett, Flammy's track photographer took some pics of the event that can be seen here.

Thankfully no participants were hurt, and the mare is reported to be no worse for wear. Rebecca, we're glad you are alright!

Parallels..... Everywhere

I flipped on to Google News this morning and caught this article on steroids and baseball via the New York Times. It reviews Mark McGwire's mea culpa for using steroids during the magical home run derby of 1998 where he demolished Roger Maris's record of 61.

The writer contends that this mea culpa (among others in baseball) is simply a well-manicured show; throw a few tears and a few 'forgive me's' and baseball hopes all is forgotten. As well, he surmises that although the commissioner says that with testing this is all in the past, it is not the case at all.

I find what baseball is going through is extremely interesting from a sports marketing perspective. In the old days almost everything to do with drug use was covered up (and is/was in many sports), or simply not spoken about. Today that has all changed. Twitter, facebook, TMZ, youtube.... they all spread things like wildfire. Meeting challenges head on seems to be the only way to combat problems.

In racing we hav…

Neat Stuff & Good Comments

SC did a neat poll from bettors, trainers, fans and industry types on the "Best of the Decade". Some of the choices were obvious, some not so much, but some of the comments made it a good read. The Race of the Decade was the Beach versus Art Official - $1M+, an upset and a 51.4 half makes it a well deserved choice. The horse of the decade also was not too surprising as well.

There was a great post from a sharp fella today at r2 on youtube and racing videos via that medium.

"Is that not just the sort of thing we should all be excited about, and falling all over ourselves to use? Did I mention it’s free? Racing has opportunities to do better with their use of APIs in other areas, such as tote odds, and hopefully, someday even charts and the like, but for now moving race replays over to a web platform that plays nicely with the rest of the web is an overdue development."

WEG's replay channel I see is getting some play. If they can somehow make this a little more …

Harness Bettors v. Thoroughbred Punters

How do we differentiate ourselves from thoroughbred bettors? What are the pros and cons of being a harness bettor?

In a recent article at R2 about "positioning racing", it was surmised that betting racing is akin to a game. I think most readers, since we are bettors and take the game kind of seriously, feel that way. But I wonder, since the article is of a broad nature - what makes us harness bettors, and what can make other bettors harness bettors?

I think some of the differences in betting harness versus thoroughbreds are the following.

- Favorite win percentage: We can churn more in harness, so if you are someone who likes to cash, pick winners and grind your way that way, it is a good sport for you to play. A 14 horse field of maidens in the thoroughbreds is a head-scratcher.

- Week to week form: In thoroughbreds horses may race six or seven times a year. For a hard-hitting claimer or conditioned horse in harness racing that number may be 35 or 40. You can follow a horse, …

Too Much Racing

ESPN's Bill Finley on racings handle losses:

"Reversing the trend won't be easy, and it might just be impossible. There's too much competition for the gambling dollar out there, racing is burying its remaining customers with outrageously high takeout levels and the game doesn't seem to attract any new blood as far as fans go."

More

Ron Pierce and John Campbell do not invite each other out for dinner, but I don't think they have ever done this.



The last time I saw two 104 pound dudes scrap I think it was around grade three.

The Reactor is Coming

Auckland Reactor is coming to the US from New Zealand and he landed in the barn of the very sharp Kelvin Harrison. I don't think many will have to worry about the horse being cared for in that barn, but US racing in general takes a barb from a turf writer: "In the States, with suitable mile racing and who knows what pumping through his system, it would not surprise to see him do something freakish, especially as their aged pacing ranks have little in the way of returning star power."

Ouch.

It will be interesting to see how the colt does over this way. I find it virtually impossible to judge downunder horseflesh. They seem to race a ton of distances and the bike they race in looks a bit like something Henry Ford would build in 1904. Watching him I think he was nowhere near his best in his last couple, and I was impressed with some of his earlier miles (or mile and a halfs or whatever), but I am totally on the fence.

One person who is not on a fence is a blog reader who somet…

Doubling the Time and Some Good Writing

The appeals process in racing is an area that I know the business would like to change. Driver/jock gets days, driver/jock appeals days, driver/jock takes days when he is vacationing in the Bahamas - that's the way it generally works. The Kentucky commission did something today, albeit small. They doubled the days for Calvin Borel for a riding infraction from 3 to 6 days.

"We're trying to put a stop to these frivolous appeals," [Commission exec director Lisa] Underwood said.

The judges are convenient whipping boys in this. However, appeals cost money and they have to be sure there will not be one. I would submit if a panel is created who judges that an appeal is obviously frivolous (throw a couple of bettors on there, not insiders who go to Thanksgiving dinner with the participants), then the appealant will have to pay for the proceedings and have his days at least doubled, to be served immediately. Workable? I don't know.

Cangamble has an excellent summation on ho…

A Proactive Racing Commission

About two years ago there was a horseman/track fight at Georgian Downs. This lasted some time, and in the end nothing really changed - other than customers leaving racing. Most of us were critical at that time (owners, bettors and others) that the commission did not intervene earlier to get things done. Fast forward two years and things have changed, a whole lot for the better, in my opinion.

In a letter today from ORC Chair Rod Seiling, he implored the horseman group and the racetracks in Sudbury and Sarnia to get their deals done. In addition, the commission has intervened to make sure that happens.

Therefore, under the Commission’s mandate to act in the public interest, I have asked ORC Executive Director John Blakney to work with the parties of the respective disputes to immediately find a way to reopen the markets so that horse racing’s customers can continue to watch and wager, and the industry can continue to earn revenues that flow back to the entire horse racing industry......

I…

Interesting Opening Night in Jersey

The Meadowlands opener last night provided some good payoffs, and some excellent value for handicappers.

The pick 4 payoff was a record, over $69,000. But this was not one of the head scratchers. In fact, an online service I checked produced the pick 4 with a 3x3x3x3 ticket. Not bad for $81. I got three of four, like a lot of you I assume.

The Meadowlands has branded this bet. With a low takeout (15%, the best in North America) we know we are not getting shafted, and it does provide huge value. It is perhaps the only bet in harness racing that virtually everyone wants to play and year after year this bet actually goes up, despite massive handle losses.

There were some horses with a good deal of board value this night, which does make the M the place to play. For example, Canadian players would have pitched Village Bolero in race 11. Others certainly would not have played the heavy chalk in the last at those odds either, seeing he looks nothing like a mile track horse and never has been …

Opening Card at the Meadowlands - Trainer Thoughts

The first card of the year happens tonight at the Meadowlands. I have been doing a little bit of digging on some trainer stats.

We all know that betting hot trainers is usually a futile pursuit. Virtually no one can make money betting hot folks off the claim, or overall if they are supertrainers, because they are horribly overbet. But at times, looking at them as a subset can help a little, in my opinion.

Last year for the first few weeks of the meet, some trainers stood out.

Ross Croghan was 8 for 32, but you lost your shirt betting him. (Ross will not be an issue this year as he is on suspension)

Mickey Burke was 6 for 30, but you lost your pants betting him.

Mark Kesmodel was sneaky good. You made 78 points on your bankroll betting all his early starters. I think he will have his charges ready for the meet. 3 of those wins were with layoff horses of 30 days or more. In 2007, he was ROI positive as well, so definitely this is a pattern.

On the other side of the coin, Mark Ford and Bruce …