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Showing posts from September, 2010

The Breeders Crown is Upon Us

This weekend at Pocono Downs the eliminations for the Breeders Crown are to be staged. Here are some quick notes about the events, along with a little opinion.

Zee Rake

Pocono lowered their takeout on multi-horse exotics from a Uruguay-like 35% (yes, you are reading that right) to 25% this season. I can honestly say I would not have posted about this event here if they would have left them up there, despite me liking the people who run the event very much. Pointing people to 35% takeout tracks for me, is like giving an alcoholic a case of Old Grand Dad bourbon for Christmas. Instead I am happy to say that this years multi-horse bets are lower take than last time's at Woodbine, so you are getting better value. Ex takes are 20%, which are not too bad for harness racing.

Special Bets

Word is there will be a $10k seeded pick 4 and a $20k seeded pick 6 on Final night. Very good.

The Event of the Night

Very rarely do we see the 3YO trotting final be more interesting than the sophomore pacing…

Rachel's Retirement Makes for a Happy Day, Not a Sad One

There is nothing better for an equine enthusiast (sorry PETA) than watching a happy horse race. They are full of themselves, they are in their element, they have a certain something that says they are completely happy. Rachel Alexandra, for much of her career was the quintessential happy horse. She would completely slay her opponents like they were 4 claimers from Penn National who had not won a race in 5 years. She would constantly win with ease, and she knew it. She was a pretty hearty alpha-mare, who was happiest beating up on her sisters (and sometime brothers).

In her first time at the gate this year, this all changed. She no longer had that certain something. Watching her at Fair Grounds early in the year you could see it - at the head of the lane when Shirreff's third stringer came at her, there was no separation. The heart was willing but the body was not. The usual excuses ensued with trip, pace, ride, fitness, and all the rest - Rachel can't speak, so we must try and…

Retirement Times Deux

It is not going to be too shocking to those horseplayers who participated in the discussion here since last spring - but it is official, Rachel has hung it up. She is off to broodmare land. Most of you have watched her and know horse racing and horses, and knew she was simply not the same. It was the right thing to do, and I am very glad they did it.

Watching a prize fighter who is past his prime, or a hockey or football player, is never fun for fans to watch. Watching her lose to fields that she should beat with half her hooves tied behind her back was not fun at all.

She was quite the racehorse. Quite the racehorse indeed. To think now, she gets to just be a horse. That's awesome.

In other news, Bill Christine of HRI wants to retire at least two people from the California race horse board - Chairman Keith Brackpool and member David Israel. As everyone knows, it was these two, among others, who were the impetus behind getting the takeout increase passed. Most watchers found that in …

Funday

Monday is here, and with it brings some weekend thoughts.

Racetrack man invites a competitor to the track. Racetrack man treats foe quite well - picks him up, feeds him, introduces him to everyone he knows. It all seems to good to be true. When foe finds out the real reason the competitor invited him, it makes for a belly laugh.

This weekends Breeders Crown elims portend the finals next week at Pocono. There will be a seeded pick 4 and 6 for the event. I am not sure if this signal will be distributed all over, nor am I sure what the rakes will be.

"Until this industry finds a way to fund purses from sales of TV deals (we pay networks millions to show our races every year, not the other way around), Zenyatta T-shirts or Todd Pletcher jerseys, we need to cultivate gambling." - An obvious assertion in a business which seems to argue the obvious.

The Horseplayers Association has endorsed the Ontario horse owner plan for 5% of purses (mostly slot money of course) to be used to incr…

1792 & 2010 Are Inexorably Linked

I was reading the rewind segment today on SC and they discussed Fair racing. This long held agricultural phenomenon, still seen today in almost all provinces and states, continues to stand the test of time. The first fair in Canada was in Niagara in 1792, and have continued on in various forms to today. Unfortunately, the Norfolk County fall fair, will not have racing this year for perhaps the first time.

This is a compelling part of this sport - the downhome feel, people coming out to watch the races, for a love of the races, introducing new faces to racing. This year Standardbred Canada is trying to develop a "Racing Development & Sustainability Plan" using a slice of purses from people like me and you to revive such ventures like fairs. This is being done, in part, to hopefully keep them going and working them with a modern business model. If you are an Ontario owner, past or present, you can sign the petition here.

Linked closely to the Fall Fair's in terms of feel…

So What About the Betfair Float?

I see sports betting site Bodog UK has odds on the new Betfair float:

Bodog bet:

* Company market cap £1.5bn at IPO: Over Even, Under 8-11
* End Day 1 trading above issue price: Yes 1-6, No 15-4
* End of week trading trading above issue price: Yes 4-6, No 11-10

I was asked Wednesday if I will buy some. I am honestly not sure. I have been investing a bit the last couple of years, but I am mostly playing the horses.

I am pretty sure that long-term this is a solid investment, because the people who are running it are forward thinkers. As well, barriers are coming down every day in online betting. Governments can only protect and monopolize sectors for so long before opening them up - the consumer always wins. See Ontario for that with their new online betting mechanism.

This company will be offered to US patrons, and probably some time soon. I expect further expansion all over the world.

In addition this is a growth business because they offer something unique, that people want. It …

Rock n Roll Heaven Wins Jug Easily

Rock n' Roll Heaven, the most consistent pacer this year, won an impressive Little Brown Jug in straight heats.

Other than a hiccup in the North America Cup Final, where he was a very flat 4th, he has shown up week after week. He is also a tough bugger, grinding out some nice wins. Those horses usually make good sires, so we will see.

Both Delmarvelous and One More Laugh were less than good and nowhere up to par today. Rock n Roll showed up, they did not.

We admire horses like Zenyatta here, or the Beach, because they show up every time, while others fall by the wayside with injury or being flat. Rock n' Roll, if he runs the table, deserves our praise. He is not talented like the Beach, no, but he is tough; and today that means something.

Video below:

Little Brown Jug - Americana is Alive and Well in Ohio

Despite Facebook and Twitter and cellphones and Ipads littering the landscape in this century, there are throwback moments which stand the test of time. 200 years from now, State fairs will still be going on, and along with them so will events like the Little Brown Jug. As this local puts it:

"The Little Brown Jug not only happens at the Delaware County Fairgrounds, it also happens during fair week. It is a major sporting event, shutting the town down on race day, Thursday. All the schools and most businesses are closed, traffic is horrific, and if you want to eat dinner out on that night, you better do it early. Once racing is over around 6 pm, the fairgrounds are emptied and all the restaurants are packed to the gills. The Little Brown Jug® is a part of Americana. And it shall ever remain so."

The event has crowned some great champions. And although heat racing and half mile track classic racing is becoming more and more anachronistic, the Jug prevails.

This year there a…

More Betfair Fun

It is becoming more and more interesting to watch old time racing fight the new in the UK.

As most know, the UK "levy" is a charge based on gross profits. So if you and I own an ADW or bookmaker and we make $100 million dollars, $10M of it goes back to racing. It's simple. It is actually a darn good system, because it encourages you and I to make more money, innovate and sell our product to as many people as possible. If we are selling and innovating to more and more people, racing grows. It is not unlike me writing a book and getting it offered on Amazon.com, and them giving me 2% of all sales. I am happy when they sell a million books, because 1 million times the price, times 2% is a lot of money. It's better than me selling it on my own website, and selling a fraction of the number at 20 or 30% of sales.

Well, now, after some time, the British Horse racing Authority wants to change the way they tax exchanges. And it could not be more wrong-headed, showing us wha…

Outside of a Horse, Inside of a Man

An often used quote and its variation, "There is nothing better for the inside of a man than the outside of a horse" might be better suited androgynously in this day and age, but it has stood the test of time.

I recently read the "An Affair to Remember" piece here, which outlined the relationship between 67 year old exercise rider Steve Willard, and Zenyatta. When reading it, something that struck me, is that she keeps him young. After battling sciatic pain, he was close to giving it up, but then "she came along".

He relays what we all know, and what many of us appreciate - very few horsemen would have waited on her like John Shirreffs did.

“I can’t think of one other trainer that would have given her the time John’s given her,” Willard said. “Yeah, we got a good horse to start with, but the way John has managed her and the way Mario’s taken care of her … impeccably, is the only word I can come up with.”

It is a fascinating article which shows the culminatio…

Balmoral Carryover

It's been a busy weekend, so hopefully we can catch up on some happenings tomorrow. However, for players who do not know, the Balmoral 15% take pick 4 has carried over. It goes tonight and the pool should be a good one.

Here is an analysis from BLMP. Good luck if you are playing.

Sunday, September 19th Balmoral Park selections

RACE MICHAEL’S TOP RATED HORSE MICHAEL’S PLAY
NO. RATINGS (Conservative Choice) (Speculative Opinion)

1 5-2-6-1 5 Mandy’s Gold 2 Miss Pat Weisar
2 7-6-3-4-5 7 Jesse’s Gal 5 Storm Queen
3 2-9-5-4 2 Apache Pete 5 Windy’s Zone
4 1-7-3-4 1 Yermanos 3 Mischief Man
5 4-6-9-10 4 CR Artistic 9 Dixie Brush
6 1-3-7-2 1 Towneism 3 Ryan View Joe
7 1-2-6-3 1 Morgan Shark 3 Got It Seeled N
8 3-1-2-6-7 3 Passion For Today 6 Incredible Camper
9 10-5-6-2-7 10 Donttellpo…

In Racing, It's 2004...... Again

I have been fascinated with Internet business since I started working in it, late last century. Reading timely books on the subject and then seeing what transpired today is a wonderful mind-stretching exercise. Sure, stories like the DEC chairman who in 1978 said 'I see no reason why people would want computers in their homes' are comical to read, but they are simple business strategy commentaries. The Internet - and the changes it forced on business, and how business adapted to that change - will be the topic of business books for centuries.

I have always been enthralled with the music industry and their response to the inevitable - downloadable songs. As we all know (circa 1995), you would pay $18 for a CD with 15 songs on it, and the recording industry was super-happy. Getting you to pay for 14 rotten songs and one or two good ones for $18 was an excellent model, since they controlled it. However it was hit by a sea-change in 1998.

They did everything they could to stop it…

The Zenyatta Phenomenon

It is something I have not really seen in my time following racing (since I was a kid in the late 1970's) - a racehorse that is more than a racehorse. Zenyatta has become a phenomenon.

If you go to youtube, you see video after video of her; and not just racing videos. Videos of her in the paddock, video of fans cheering her, videos of her with music attached, videos of her in impromptu plays and skits. Video after video.

If you search her name via google or Bing there are post after post, and web story after web story. Stories from countless sources, inside and outside equine and sports topics.

If she is in the box to race, you see people at the track that you have never seen before, and might not ever see again. A lot of them hold homemade signs.

If you are watching a football game on a Saturday afternoon on a sports channel, chances are it will be cut into so they can show her race.

Women, underrepresented in terms of the horseplaying community, are enthralled with her story an…

Training a Horse For the Love of the Horse

Today, in the mainstream racing media, it seems almost every story is about a trainer doing something untowards, or suspected of such. Don't get me wrong - this is not a bad thing. Sugarcoating what happens in our sport does not help it, it hurts it.

However, there are so many trainers out there who are doing wonderful work. The problem I guess, is they rarely get good stock it seems. If someone is looking for a quick buck they going to a guy with a 44% off claim percentage, or who wins races like magic; it appears that most do not even care how they are achieving it, they want the cash. I do not think it is a stretch to say that racing has attracted that type of owner over the last several decades.

One such trainer who is in this sport for the horse, in an interview on VFTRG that I was enthralled with, is Anouk Busch, a 35 year old horse lover originally from Holland. The interview, which is long but worth reading, shows she does not pull punches, and she puts her money where her m…

Chat Board Chatter

It is always fun to scan the chat boards. Sometimes you get an absolute gem or two when reading. And it is rarely not entertaining.

Some examples:

Whip on Harnessdriver.com used 7 of 9 horses last night in the last leg of a pick 4. Yes, you know what's coming - he lost, by a head as one of the two he did not have beat him for $3400. He asked a fellow poster a question:

"Alpha.. I need you to smash a beer bottle off my head"

By the way, whip ain't dumb to be playing the Cal Expo pick 4. They just lowered their take to 15% on it.

Another poster on the same board (and this one really made me laugh), Caper, had a comment about takeout. It is on a topic where horse trainers and other participants are planning and discussing a poker tournament with a $130 buy in. This bettor poked his head in and said this:

"When you take the $130 from each horseman.... make sure after each one gives you the money you take $40 off the top.... light a match and burn it right in front o…

Wednesday Notes

Some thoughts and notes on this Wednesday.

Justin Biebertakes up over 3% of twitters servers. If he was a racetrack, someone would want to increase his signal fee.

Answer: Dropping like flies. Question: What's happening to Zenyatta's competition for the Breeders Cup Classic? We've always given the mare huge props here for doing something many horses do not seem to do - stay fit, happy and last. Good for her. Run the table honey.

In the horse quality means handle file - which all the stats, and we know as bettors means didly squat - the win pool for the $300k Cane Pace was $11,000. The race, won by One More Laugh, was not exactly watched. Conversely, the Gold Cup and Saucer final at little CDP last month garnered a $24k win pool. This happens again and again in racing, and the U of L appears right when they said a doubling of purses only raises handle 6%.

Equibase is the first US company to do something of a grand nature with an Iphone app.

Trackmaster looks at smartphone handic…

No Value No Bet

I went to Mohawk last night with two betting friends. One of the lads had hit the pick 4 at Woodbine in the afternoon via his HPI account and wanted to cash out some money. I tagged along, and the third amigo decided he had nothing to do so he'd join us for a beer and to play a couple of races.

When I learned I would be going, I grabbed the program and did some preliminary work. If I am going to play a few bucks I try to never go in blind.I noticed there was a few possibles for the evening. In race one the outside horse looked to be overbet, and Waples' horse had a chance to win. In the third I really liked the Medors horse from the six. He was 7-2ML and was not well liked by anyone it seems. In the fifth I liked the five for some value, and was stoked to take a poke on Waffle's and Cream from the ten. He never wins and is rarely well bet, because of that fact. However, he was locked last time, and very live. From the ten he could provide nice value. Maybe 12-1 or so.

Anyway…

Buffalo News' Bob Summers Passes Away

Bob Summers of the Buffalo News, who covered all types of racing for the paper, passed away at 66 on September 4th. The avid harness racing fan hopefully got to see the big night of racing that evening from Mohawk via simulcast, because you know he was sure to be paying attention.

Bob followed along here and commented on our harness racing posts - if I ever checked the logs for the website and saw a click from Buffalo, it would be Bob from the Buffalo News.

During 2008 when the Hambo Top Ten poll had Dewey on top over Beach and we were wondering why, Bob would chime in here and offer his opinion. Bob was one of the few writers with a vote that had the Beach on top each week, but he (politely) admonished me for sometimes being so hard on people who chose to vote differently. It showed class.

The Buffalo News' obit called him a "happy handicapper". A lot of us could use that lesson from time to time, I think. I know I can.

Rest in Peace Bob, and I thank you for following our s…

Mohawk Soup

Last night's big card at Mohawk was turned into a bath of rain, wind and mud. Just like our thoroughbred cousins, this tends to throw a massive wrench into the results. At Mohawk, however, it seems to be worse than at some other harness tracks. Last night, the first two races were fairly standard - the preferred went in decent speed and Hambo winner Muscle Massive (I still do not know why this colt is not called Massive Muscle, but maybe it is taken, and I digress) was good.

From then on, it was like it was different each race, and gosh knows who was going to win.

Lookinforadventure was flat again. With two year olds nowadays you rarely know if they will last or what. He's a nice horse, but something seems to be going on with him. I find it hard to believe that breeding farms continue to buy into two year olds, with the hopes that they become great three year olds. This does not seem prudent in this day and age. Unless you are looking at a Beach or Muscle Hill, who were obviou…

Big Metro Card Saturday

This Saturday at Mohawk, there is a very good card if you are a fan of the sport. Included in the 13 races, are the $1M Metro and the Canadian Pacing Derby (entries here).

Some highlights and thoughts:

In race two, Hambo winner Muscle Massive surfaces, and hopes to prep for the Canadian Trotting Classic later this month. I would expect he will be overbet, but it does not look like much of a betting race to me.

In race five, the Metro pace consolation for $100k occurs. It features Lookinforadventure who threw in a huge clunker last time. He is right back in and if anything close to right should be likely to win, however, if the odds board is not kind, I will be looking elsewhere.

In race seven, the Metro, there are several possibles. The three elimination winners all look logical and one can expect the speediest of the three to be the favorite, but both he and Big Jim will take a pile of money. Personally, I loved the way Great Vintage won last time. I know he did not go as fast, but h…

Picture Time

A few neat racing pictures......



Two pups enjoying their time at Saratoga racetrack outside George Weaver's barn. Not sure who took this, but Dan G on the HTR software board posted it. I'm a sucker for dogs.
Trainer Nick Boyd participating in the Human sulky pull at Xtreme horsepower at Georgian Downs over the weekend. Nick won the race and credited his performance to his feed program (thanks Mrs. Boyd!)


Horseplayers Assn of North America board member Charlie D has moved some of his play from thoroughbred to harness because of Tioga Downs' takeout decrease. He constantly posts "have you guys seen their feed - lowest takeout in the land - cool" Way to go Charlie.


This little fella was at Georgian Xtreme this weekend in the mini-horse race (Norm F photo)