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Sunday Notes - Joe Bongiorno, Mandates Aren't Strong & Do Away With Claiming

A few items catching my eye this Sunday.

We'll have more on the Joe Bongiorno story later this week maybe, but right now if you want to get caught up it's in Harness Racing Update, page one (pdf).

It's an interesting situation that boils down to what the public needs and should know. There is also a dichotomy of sorts with regards to judging: How is it a sport can reprimand a kid for telling the truth, but look away when a star driver takes a horse to the back at three to five odds, messing around with the betting public? This sport has a long, long way to go before it gets things right.

For an early analysis about this situation (that I tend to agree with), from someone who i) bets money ii) is quite smart and iii) is my stable partner, so don't hold that against him, it's here.

Also in HRU today, a not-very-popular-with-the-industry article about "Getting Rid of Claiming Races" with references to slots, the NYRA issues last year, and the fact that claiming races with a purse more than a purchase price throws the system out of whack. It's on page two.

I was a big fan of Strong Mandate after last year's Breeders Cup. Yesterday we had a horse coming off a nice prep, that should've done him good, he was on a soupy track that he has liked, and he had a good post and a good pace scenario. I don't bet chalk, but I thought 2-1 was approaching "a steal" status. There is really no other way to put it, that was disappointing. Lukas said the horse is fine and it's onward and upward. Horses do have bad days, so we'll see.

It's been reported that the Rainbow Six is being distributed June 29th, which is 'meet closing'. If June 29th and meet closing are two phrases that mean nothing to you, join the club. The Gulfstream brand is being diluted, in my opinion. I understand they want people to play those post-April cards, but really. Enough is enough. Pay out the bet in April.

I usually have my "Derby horse" a day or two before the Derby. This year will be no exception. I have no idea who I like, dislike, or who will even make the field at this stage. Confused.

 William Perretti passed on at age 87.  He was a giant in the sport.

Ken Middleton Sr, track handicapper at Woodbine/Mohawk, and father of track announcer Ken, also passed away. Mr. Middleton was a nice guy, and always willing to talk harness racing.

Tom LaMarra put the entries at Beulah up on twitter today. Lots of five horse fields (Beulah is ranked 66th in field size in North America, according to the HANA Track Ratings), as per usual. It begs the question: If you are going to offer five horse fields at 18% win takes (approaching an obscene 4% rake per horse), why bother offering betting at all? Run the races for fun, as a slots revenue distribution mechanism.

The 2014 HANA Track Ratings will be released on or about April 2nd, a little bird tells me. Doing this year's math for the ratings is Mike Dorr. You can follow Mike on twitter here. He's a good egg and one of the sharper numbers guys that I have come across in the sport.

Have a nice Sunday everyone.


Comments

Anonymous said…
Back in the early 1960s, when the USTA mandated that all tracks switch from ABC racing to the condition variety, there was a lot of bitching from some horsemen about how their horses were classified. Claiming races, provided they covered the entire classification tree, offered all horsemen an opportunity to classify their own horses. They also provided racing secrtaries with a handy rejoiner to dissatisfied connections: put a price in your horse and slot him accordingly.

Joe DeFrank was at Brandywine then. He switched back to ABC racing but the track was expelled by the USTA so he came up with a hybrid system. Horses five and older raced under the letter class system; horses younger than that raced according to the condition format; and the rest raced in claimers. He wrote a lot of the latter.

With the resurgence of ABC racing, the move away from carding claiming races strips horsemen of the option of classifying their horses.