In the 1990's NHL fans were annoyed with the "glow puck" from Fox. As hockey fans we all knew how to follow hockey (especially us Canadian kids whose first present for Xmas you can remember was a hockey stick), so we don't need-no-stinking-glow-puck. However, it wasn't for us, it was for the fans who don't know hockey, and I think the idea had some merit.
As for racing, may I honestly ask you: Can any casual fan follow what horse is where in the Derby on NBC? I bet Alpha and I had trouble spotting him. I was looking for Dullahan too but I think I found him because I know his silks well. Union Rags? Thank god his saddle pad was close to the rail.
We really have to do something about this, in my opinion. Trakus, using a glow puck superimposed on the screen? Isolated cameras on all horses via the web so people at home can flick that on if they want? All horses don't look like Hansen and the people who we're trying to interest in our sport, do not know what we know.
If casual fans cannot even follow the horses at home that they bet, how can they get interested in what they bet, the sport, or the intricacies of the race itself?
A few thoughts on a Sunday:
The track seemed to be speed favoring yesterday with fast times and pace horses winning most of the races. Mike Maloney on the Derby conference call noted that this often happens early in the card, then with the 90 minutes to the Derby, the track crew can and has made the track more fair. Do I think that's what happened yesterday? I don't know. The Derby had super-fast splits, they came home in 26 and change, and the field didn't really engulf anyone. I think that was a pretty fast track.
We had a lot of chatter this week about how "post one was death" and that a horse that hasn't raced as a two year old hasn't won the Derby. If you watch the Derby start, the cleanest may have gone to Daddy Long Legs. As for Bodemeister, the curse is intact, but something tells me he did just fine.
Since 1990 or so, when preracing started becoming the rage with some trainers, you could start handicapping trainers to some extent in bigger races. With detention and security barns, day race pre-racing could not be done as aggressively. It was, and is, a pretty good handicapping tool and in some horizontals it spawned life changing scores. For those who did that this year with Doug, the winner sure kicked you in the butt. At those odds from post 19, I could never, and will probably never play a horse like him, so my Derby losses are not stinging me much, unlike some other years.
Just like I would not have bet a penny on the winner under 25-1, I had similar odds on Gemologist. One out of two aint bad I guess. The horse I was unsure of was Union Rags. Sure he had that trip in Florida where an excuse of crowding could work out, but I think that's proven to be poppycock. I was on the fence and used him about half as much because of it. I think now there is no doubt - not even a bit - that the horse has regressed.
"He can't handle the dirt". I read that quite a few times the last two weeks about Dullahan. We need to give credence to a horses best surface, just like we have to give credence to a horses best distance. But the absolute and "no shot" semantics (you will never hear a real gambler use the words "no shot") are rarely accurate. Dullahan is a very, very good horse. Sure he will run a better number on turf and synth, but it doesn't stop him from running a nice number on dirt too.
Trinniberg was a pretty good absolute for the absolute types. He came home poorly, and a clue that he might do just that was from Molly Jo and Bruno at Grade One Racing. They noted this week in their notes the mile gallops he was doing, trying to build stamina. That's like trying to rush a final exam prep with word association.
One observation I made, that may or may not be accurate, was that Bodemeister was a beast yesterday. Trinniberg, who can go 21,43 easily because he is so fast, found himself gasping at the 5/8's chasing Bode. Maybe he was wound up, maybe he had a bad day, and maybe it was simply the way it would have went 100 times out of 100. But for a sprinter to be gasping chasing a horse who almost wins the Derby in 2:01, adds some chops to Bode, in my opinion.
Bode ended up a slight favorite over Union Rags. I was wrong on that. I noticed he was second choice almost the whole way, and about 3 minutes to post Jerry and the crew mentioned how great he looked and how not washed out he was. I wonder if that added some late money, just like Shackleford moved in the opposite direction last year in the Preakness. Whatever the reason, no matter how much you try and over-analyze this race, the crowd got it right. Bodemeister was the best horse in Derby 138.
If you decided before the Derby to box horsemen who know what they're doing, with some decent pedigree and figs, you would have likely taken a superfecta box that contained Bode, Dullahan, Went the Day Well and Creative Cause. They ran 2,3,4,5.
People on twitter were wondering how Little Mike got such easy fractions in the Turf, especially with a race on paper that had so much speed. I would submit he got those fractions because he carried everyone out five paths, and anyone near him or behind him didn't push, because they couldn't. People may have been mad at Steward Pocket, but I would've chucked him. The first fraction sets up a second, and sets up a race. If every speed horse carried others out, or raced erratically scaring riders behind him, we'd see many cheap fraction races, in my opinion.
If you notice something with Derby's, the ones with the stiffest fractions often make traffic less formidable. Yesterday there were gaps everywhere, and although there were a few checks, nothing really happened of note.
I had a decent day betting early-on yesterday, hitting several pick 3's and an okay pick 4 culminating with the game Shackleford, but the latter part of the card really kicked my butt. I don't think I ended up losing this much since, well, since last year's Derby.
If you hit something yesterday, or if not and you had a great day, please have another one this Sunday.