There is a teeny chill in the air evenings nowadays, and it's a sure sign of ..... solid stakes races.
On Saturday, The Travers and the return of Uncle Mo in the 7f King's Bishop highlight the thoroughbred action. I have handicapped neither, but there is plenty of commentary on the interwebs. Ed DeRosa at Twinspires seems to break down the Uncle Mo return, in terms of the pick 4, pretty correctly. Damned if you do, damned if you don't. I love this horse, but I am never confident in a return in a spot like this. As a bettor we can place faith in the connections and say "they don't want to cheapen the horse, so one would think he will be ready", and that is usually super-sound thinking. However, with Pletcher I take it with a grain of salt. I was sure Super Saver had to be ready for the Travers - or why enter him - and he stunk. I was sure Esky was sound for the Derby and he was scratched. I was sure Quality Road would be just fine for the Classic last year. You get the idea. I have to go deep in this race.
Saturday marks the return of one of the more interesting cards in all of harness racing - Xtreme Horsepower. Do you want to see different distances, racing under saddle and a ton more? Look no further. It is not a novelty card, as one might think. The payoffs are good (there is a guaranteed pick 4), and with so many horses in some races, you can find value. The handicapping seminar is a must-attend if you are going. Darryl works really hard on the card (and usually makes money) and Roy Sproxton is no dummy.
Later on that evening, about an hour or so drive from Georgian, is the She's a Great Lady, Metro and Canadian Pacing Derby elims. It's a fantastic race card. Again, being busy this week I have yet to handicap it, but I will (tomorrow will be a busy day!).
Saturday evening might present an opportunity for Balmoral, Georgian and Mohawk. There is no racing at the Meadowlands, and Yonkers is cancelled due to Hurricane Irene.
Want to play a nice track, with good people and low takeout, for free? Tioga Downs has free PP's for Sunday's races this week.
Big Jim has severe ankle issues and it looks like he may be retired. I believe this is a strong lesson for handicappers. When a horse races poor, as compared to their ability, it is rarely a driver problem, or a trainer problem. It is usually a horse problem. How good is Big Jim? Pretty damn good, because even with his issues he raced like a bearcat. I feel bad for Friday, Phil and Big Jim Carr. They are good people and deserved to go to the Jug, and defend the Crown in October.
I'm going to stay off twitter this weekend. The New Yorkers are going to be putting up pictures of overturned flower pots, litter blowing around and "oh look, a big puddle!" as Hurricane Irene comes close. If it doesn't trend on twitter - even if turns out to be a light mist - I'd be shocked.
Governor Christie in Jersey is about as well-liked as a boil, in harness racing circles, but I like his straightforwardness. Instead of waxing poetic about this hurricane like some politicos do - telling people to stock up on food, not to go surfing, not to drink the water if a nuclear reactor overheats, not to leave your pets on the outside deck, or other things only people with an IQ of a yam would not know, Christie just tells them to "get the hell off the beach." Press conference over.
There is an FBI investigation at Penn National. I sense those who bet there are nodding.
I watched the business news as per usual this week on the tube, to do something other than look at PP's on work breaks (which I did not have time to do). It struck me pretty quickly: A lot of analysts would make pretty bad horseplayers.
Jennie Rees makes a lot of sense with her chatter on race day meds. She's one of the few turf writers who is taking the bull by the horns with this issue. It all comes back, in my opinion, to us not taking care of the scum in this business. Sure an overage for something therapeutic screams in the headlines as "cheating" and that's wrong. But the blame should not lie at the doorstep of the people screaming "cheat".
I've been trying to follow the California racing news this past few weeks, but whenever I look at it, my head hurts.
Woodbine upped purses. Handle has been good and everything seems to be moving forward. Just watch yourself on the pick 4's. There was one last week that spawned an email spree from my horse racing pal, wondering why the hell he plays them for those sized payouts. 20 cent tickets, a huge takeout, and so little dumb money in the pools is not a trifecta I can handle very often.
I played the Balmoral pick 5 and pick 4 this past Wednesday. I missed both. The payouts there have been pretty good, and if you are looking for some value, look no further in harness land, in my opinion.
If I were a bettor (on weather), I would be shorting the Hurricane. I think it'll be nothing more than a rainstorm. Come flame me Monday if the Statue of Liberty is seen floating back to France.
I know money makes the world go round, but in a lot of issues I would tell them to keep the paycheck. There are links floating around to secret paparazzi pics of former Apple CEO Steve Jobs, who is ill. Why can't people respect anothers privacy in this day and age, while going through a sickness we would not wish on our worst enemy. It would not happen 50 years ago, but everything is fair game now...... (non racing mini-rant over)
Enjoy the Saturday racing everyone and good luck at the windows.