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A Fun and Interesting Weekend of Racing

The weather is warming up, and so is horse racing. OK, horse racing is warming up.

Yesterday, Turfway put on a great day of racing, culminating with Black Onyx's win in the Vinery, Horseshoe Casino of Cincinnati Spiral Stakes. Also on the card was Crop Report, who wins a race each time I call him "too slow" on twitter.

I don't think I learned too much yesterday, did you? Uncaptured probably had a nice prep off time, the Spiral winner looked fine and seems to be an improving turf type. Crop Report looks like he'll have a nice career racing in those 14 furlong turf races we see a few times a year.  Did anything catch your eye otherwise?

Today's prep race is the Sunland Derby. Before you laugh hysterically and ask where Sunland is, remember Mine That Bird won there a few years ago for his Derby prep. Sunland is a fun racetrack to watch and bet. I'll probably have a look at the PP's later.

The Levy Series took off last night at Yonkers. Brian Sears won with Razzle Dazzle, who many of you bet off the qualifier last week, only to have him locked and loaded. Nine year old Foiled Again lost his debut, but he looked just fine.

Statesman, the recent purchase from downunder impresses the heck out of me. He won the 12th last night at the Meadowlands at 3-5. He only made $90,000 in Australia, and maybe he's not much, but he moves beautifully on the racetrack and has a wicked kick. I'd like to see more Christian Cullen's here - if that horse is any indication, he sires some great gaited animals.

I don't think anyone is going to miss the end of the Big A meet. Short fields, pretty poor racing. To think one year ago people were absolutely giddy with the increase in purses from slots. The industry has to wake up. Slots money adding to purses is not the be all and end all.

If you chat with me on twitter you know I've been waiting for Sky Tantrum to be in a spot to take a poke at him. Last night - off a vet scratch - might've not been that time, but at 20-1 why not? All he did was race from an impossible spot, go four wide and fall short by about three quarters of a length. That was a heartbreaker. Like most live horses in harness racing (with replays and the like) he'll be 7-5 next week and you'll have to bet someone else.

I was looking at the driver stats at various tracks and I think George Brennan needs to fire up the "Free Lou Pena" t shirt printing press. This is a trainers game and without stock, great drivers can look like crap and okay drivers can look like the second coming of Joe O'Brien. I'd personally love to see Lou, if he comes back, use Robert DiNozzi on his stock. I bet Bob would win at about 20%.

Harness racing stakes season needs a massive overhaul. Horse of the Year candidates can race in overnight sires stakes,  the top races has horse after horse skipping them, looking for easier money, and if you buy a colt or filly that isn't the top of the crop, you're fighting for scraps in most races.

In HRU, (page three) this was discussed this week:
  • Grade I’s need to be scheduled and structured so the purses are high enough to make these great horses pass over other stakes, and they need to be spaced out so that our horse’s are not pushed too hard. A season for a top colt might be a Hempt to start, a North America Cup, followed by the Meadowlands Pace, Battle of the Brandywine, Adios, Jug, Tattersalls and Breeders Crown.  With slots in Ohio, and possibly with Yonkers changing the Rooney, a couple of others might be added to the mix. Dover might be able to offer a Grade I late in the year as well if they combined their two big stakes. Racing needs to ensure the purses are high enough and the prestige is high enough to encourage participation. If you want to win a stud lottery, or to be honored at the end of the year, your horse should be good enough to win four or five of those Grade I races.

    Have a nice day everyone!


August Song said…
Please keep in mind that it's a process! What started out with the VLT approval, and a deluge of slot money entering the New York racing and breeding industry, and couple that with strong New York drug restrictions and drug testing made quite a number of trainers and owners think twice about going there, and for very obvious reasons. The New York breeding industry had seen a significant decline during the years just prior to the VLT approval, and saw the number of stallions standing in New York drop from 160 to approximately 70 in two years time. But, New York has seen a re-birth in it's breeding industry, with Kentucky outfits setting up branches and bringing with them some better stallion prospects than New York had previously had.

New York racing this past winter wasn't very good. But, in two years you may not recognize it. It's a filter down process, and the money is there. That fact is not being overlooked by the current owners and breeders in New York and, neither is it being overlooked by those owners, trainers, and outfits that have begun bringing horses to race where they previously hadn't.

Considering what has been occurring at Woodbine, I fully expect to see more Woodbine/Canadian trainers and owners showing up in the Empire State to race. New York is within reach of becoming the horseracing mecca, that it once was. Give it two years, but the change has already started. You and others might have been sleeping. As always, it's a case of follow the money.
Princess Arabella was also something of a noteworthy winner at Sunland Park last year (in the Sunland Park Oaks). One has to wonder if influx of Baffert horses at Sunland Park is a new trend. He had impressive winners (both by Midnight Lute) there yesterday.

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