Skip to main content


Showing posts from April, 2015

California Chrome and #Moobie, Notes

Good morning folks!

The California Chrome press releases of late have been pretty interesting. Yesterday it was announced that Chrome will not run in Newmarket as scheduled. He's too worn out. This change of schedule is what many folks on the twitter (and Sherman, I suppose) and elsewhere were worried about with him, and this trip to turf it in the UK. The horse has been in training since he was a two year old, with very little extended paddock time. If he does get beaten badly at Ascot on the deeper turf, then he has to fly home, have a few weeks off, and who knows where he shows up next. That sporting gesture (that might be more about stud money than a sporting gesture) could really end up messing up his year in North America. And with Shared Belief on the shelf, it might've been costly. Time will tell.

In addition, in the SI piece, you can see the overt references that the camp itself is not very in sync. 

Regardless, this horse has provided the sport with more than just c…

If _______ Wins the Kentucky Derby .......

Derby week is in a full court press. Everyone is getting ready, talking about their favorite charges. Everyone is pumped. Heck, no one seems to be even too upset with Churchill Downs Inc yet.  But soon that will all change.

As soon as the Derby winner crosses the wire, hyperbole, shock, amazement and other adjectives and some adverbs will ensue. The winner will have a place in history.

Here's a run down of the pull that each horse has, as a Derby winner, and what narrative might surround him (or her), post race. (hold it, not her, we don't like fillies in the Derby anymore.)

Anyhoo, here we go.

Dortmund - This one lights the Triple Crown fires on the twitter. There will be dueling articles about how it might save racing and help US viewership of a European soccer team's games. Since he's so big, everyone will want to buy giant sized yearlings. If he wins, it has coattails.

American Pharoah - Ditto with Dortmund, but perhaps with even more steam. Very little downside. Alt…

Steam!, Uncoupling, Quick Pick 4's & Notes

Good day racing fans and bettors!

Yesterday we saw tweets about a Derby horse that might be 1-9 come post time if this keeps up - American Pharoah. Don't get me wrong, he's a nice horse obviously, but wow, have we seen this much steam in recent memory? I don't think Big Brown had this much, but then again, that was with twitter in its infancy. This is a steam-o-rama. I'm expecting.....
American Pharoah just beat Hidalgo in a race from Baghdad to Tehran, then worked 4 furlongs in 44.2 to cool down. #APsteam
— Pullthepocket (@Pullthepocket) April 26, 2015 Boardroom Doug Savlatore then risked alienating followers as badly as when he posted screen shots of a circa 1995 Holy Bull t-shirt he still wears.
I will enthusiastically be betting against American Pharoah in the Derby. I believe he'll be a pace causality & might miss the entire ticket
— Doug Salvatore (@DougieSal) April 27, 2015 You know what - this is great! Silly season Derby week is fun, exciting and wha…

TVG & a Different Kettle of Fish

Unpopular opinion for $100 Alex......

Mention "TVG" and it elicits reactions ranging from angst, to anger to confusion. A Ted Cruz kissing booth at a New York Times Earth Day party would probably get better reviews. I never not find the comments fascinating.

TVG, and other networks, like HPI TV in Canada, when it had an anchor or talking head,  are very different than an NFL Network or a Golf Channel. Those networks gain revenue from eyeballs, and/or help promote programming that give a boost to the parent sport. TVG and others don't get revenue from that - horse racing is a gambling sport - they get (most) revenues from people betting. So, it's different kettle of fish. We're not telling anyone anything they don't know.

TVG and horse racing is a heavily steeped online sport. Videos of works, online video shows, and the like are front and center. There are no real rights to such events, like there are the NFL combine or draft. Most importantly, you, me and a…

Saturday Notes, GP Pick 6, Keeneland and #Chromies

Hello race fans. Again, I digress, I stole that.

Today there's a mandatory pick 6 payout at Gulfstream Park. The math, thanks to Mike, is here, showing just how good payouts like this can be. As the link alludes, there are also positive expected possibles at Prairie Meadows and Turf Paradise.

Full circle? A conversation took place yesterday:
@HplayersAssnNA@Raps7@TimeformUSfigs@keenelandracing If horseplayers are not enjoying a meet you say is #2, your math/metrics are flawed
— Tread (@Treadhead10) April 24, 2015
In the early HANA rankings in 2008, and when Keeneland was number one the email inbox filled up with "how can a poly track be number one? It should be downgraded" It's interesting how so many are complaining now how bad the dirt meet was, and that it should be downgraded. It was the goal of the creator, Bill Weaver, that things like track, or food or what have you, was not included, because of subjective asks like this. I think he was right.

I'm amazed a…

Buffalo!, Derby Stuff, Pick n's and #Moobie

Hello race fans! Since I stole that line, I will link the real site.

Derby talk: i) Funny, and ii) kind of funny (and informative). The latter is from Equispace, who is a de-facto Mayor of North Tonawanda, or Tonawanda. Give it a visit. Since Conner McDavid is going to the Edmonton Oilers instead of the Sabres, he needs a lift.

Woodbine's pick 5 juice is even upsetting to Southern California newspaper racing writers. We agree Art.

We sometimes forget......
While everyone points out Woodbine 25% P5 takeout, don't forget Churchill opens tomorrow and has a 22% P5 takeout rate.
— Al Gobbi (@polarcritter) April 24, 2015 The pick 5 is not doing very well at Woodbine (season low today, by a lot). On Derby Day, Churchill's Pick 5 will be fine. However, I saw the pre-entries for some stakes on Derby Day, and as Craig points out, we may seem some short field chalk. Last Derby Day there were some solid post drags (on a day quite frankly where post drags make even more sense), and…

Thursday Notes - CO, Jackpot, Doug Squared & More

Good morning racing fans.

Some things I am not smart enough to understand; yes I am sure regulars know this and have a joke to insert. I just can't get the logic behind this:

Cobalt use, over 50 ppb, is being treated as a Class II.

Cobalt is a penultimate shady drug. Its uses are shared by innuendo, rumor, as are its benefits. It's the exact type of thing that kitchen sink trainers try to use to get an edge.

"Psst, try Cobalt, they are not testing it and it can build red blood cells like EPO and you can win races!"

"Is it bad for the horse?"

"Well they say don't use it, but they never want us to use anything. Here's some, inject away."

Because it does not apparently do what the shady man says it does - build red blood cells - well, we won't treat it as a class I. I say hooey to that. This is exactly the type of drug that should be treated as a game changer. There's no prescription, no guide, no nothing, and the people who use it ar…

Bigger & Bigger Chalk, & Shared Belief, All the Right Buttons

Here are two pretty interesting charts:

The first one showed the degradation in field size in the US and Great Britain. The second shows that ultra-heavy chalk (those horses even money (1.0) or lower) in 2014, won a remarkable 43.4% of those races. In 1994 that number was 29.5%.

Handicapping has gotten "easy".

In the TDN, this was examined (pdf with charts page 10 here, without charts, web based here).

We hear, a lot, that a few minor tweaks here and there will create and foster a betting environment that can grow. I really could not disagree more. The game has gotten so chalky and so high takeout-low value, that a true vision is needed. Leaving takeout alone, even when Monmouth went to their Elite Meet, there was a sense that such meets were a novelty. That meet drew more gross handle than a meet four times its size. It might have been a novelty when compared to what the average North American meet is (and what horsemen and racetracks expect), but in reality, it was a lot …

Monday Notes from a Relatively Wild Weekend

Good morning everyone.

First up, there are a whole lot of Derby bath pics showing up. Here's a really nice one.
@Pullthepocket@NickSalvi1@starting_gate@CarpeDiem_Colt And here's his post-bucket bath.
— Melissa Bauer-Herzog (@mbauerherzog) April 20, 2015 Get ready for them. They're coming fast n' furious. By the way, Carpe Diem looks like a cool horse. I bet I'd get along with him.

As for other, less professional pictures, here's my dog.
39 seconds into journey. "Are we there yet?"
— Pullthepocket (@Pullthepocket) April 18, 2015 Now that that's done.......

It was a pretty interesting weekend out there and a lot of  the fireworks was about Shared Belief. The commentary on twitter and on chat boards is what it is, and I guess I could wax on about it, but in the end I'm just happy the guy is alright. He's a classy horse and he always seems sound and happy. A stifle issue, if that'…

Can Horsemen Contribute For Growth? Just Ask the LPGA

I stumbled upon this headline recently. "LPGA Head Michael Whan Gets a New Six Year Deal"
Under Whan’s leadership, the LPGA has grown dramatically. In addition to increasing the number of playing opportunities from 23 in 2010 to 33 in 2015, Whan has been instrumental in boosting purses from some $40 million five years ago to more than $60 million this year. Television coverage has also skyrocketed under Whan’s guiding hand, growing from 200 hours of mostly tape-delayed telecasts per year, to 400 hours, with 90 percent of that as live coverage. The LPGA, from almost folding, is now the World's fastest growing golf tour. I wrote an article about the LPGA and racing over two years ago. It explains how they helped achieve this. The growth mostly came from internal actions, not external.

Last week, I, like many of you, opened up the email to find the Battle Royale between track operators and horsemen group heads fighting about funding a sport.

 It seems, like most things …

Horseplayers, Pay it Forward.

I was thinking about writing a post about some of the great horseplayers in this game awhile back, but Ed DeRosa's tweet finally got me to jot something down.
@Pullthepocket The unanimous respect the horseplaying community had for that guy (who I didn't have the fortune of knowing) humbles me
— Ed DeRosa (@EJXD2) April 14, 2015 He is referring to the late Cary Fotias, a long time player who passed away recently, at an all-too-young age.

He's so right. Cary not only was a wonderful horseplayer, but he was indefatigably optimistic about the great game of handicapping. Cary advised HANA - the Horseplayers Association of North America - way back at inception in 2008 and I had a chance to chat with him a few times.

"This game can bet $100 billion a year if done right!!!!", he'd say.  He wasn't blowing smoke, he believed it. It was so infectious and he was so well liked; probably because he was so optimistic, and so in love with horse racing.

Rich Bauer, Mike Ma…

In Racing, Principled Stands Can Take a Back Seat

I recently whipped through the book Men in Green on my iPad. It was an entertaining look at the sport of golf, through some of its known, and lesser known, legends.

One chapter really fascinated me.

Back a few years now, Tiger Woods was playing the BMW Championship and hit a ball on a Friday round, behind the green. It landed in a treed area, with plenty of pine cones, twigs, and pine straw. The only people behind the green were Tiger, caddie Joe LaCava and a PGA Tour cameraman. As Tiger moved a twig from behind the ball, the ball moved, and it was captured on film. Tiger played the ball after it moved. That's a two shot penalty. Tiger did not call the penalty on himself, and signed a scorecard for a lower score.

The Tour official in charge of making a ruling was Slugger White, who just happened to be married to a relative of Tiger's caddie Joe LaCava. Tiger was the biggest name in golf and he signed for a scorecard that did not include a moving ball. This is the guy who pay…

Juice is Loose, The Masters, Gural, Friday Notes

Good morning racing fans.

As we head to the weekend, we've had some interesting chatter the last several days. Horse racing is never uninteresting.

Woodbine announced a new pick 5, at 25% takeout, and that's caused some consternation. The rake is clearly high, one of the highest in North America. New pick 5's we've seen created the past few years were at Santa Anita, Pimlico and NYRA, which range from 12% to 15%. Players have been accustomed and expect that level, and I highly suspect (because this new bet's high takeout will not be promoted), they will think they're getting a deal and they won't be.

Players have been complaining, and Woodbine seems to be, well..... This player was told this when he complained:
Thank you for inquiring about the new Pick 5 at Woodbine. We regret that you are unhappy about our takeout rate. If you are not satisfied with how the takeout rates are being implemented, please feel free to voice your criticism to the Ontario R…

Gural Keeps Fighting & Wednesday Notes

At Chuck Hayward's site today, Dave Briggs has an extensive interview with Jeff Gural.
“I say to myself, ‘Let’s see, I stand for integrity, I built a brand new building, I try to market it, I have good food,’” Gural said. “‘What am I doing that should be polarizing?’” The polarizing argument is one that I often have a chuckle at. If Pete Rozelle wanted to clear up the dangerous rules in football; because one day concussions would be hurting ex players, if a czar wanted to clear up EPO in cycling, or a baseball commissioner steroids in baseball, they would not be polarizing. They'd be doing their job. Some, maybe in 30 years or more, would be credited in history books for saving a sport.

In racing, Jeff is "polarizing". I think that says more about horse racing than it does Jeff Gural.

The biggest complaint I've heard about Jeff is not that he's wrong - make no mistake, people know he's right - or that he's some sort of evil one percenter. No, it&#…

A Wild Weekend of Horse Racing

This weekend was, perhaps, the first weekend of the year where things felt alive. The Blue Grass Stakes, Wood Memorial and Santa Anita Derby were all run, and over at the harness races, an $847,000 Super High Five pool was paid out at Woodbine.

The Blue Grass Stakes, with an increased purse and the first time on the glorious dirt since 2006, was a short field, snoozy affair, with 2-5 shot Carpe Diem winning rather easily. I don't think we learned anything we didn't already know about that horse, or his opponents. The figure came back okay, but Carpe Diem really didn't seem to have to do much running. I don't make Derby selections until near the race, but I don't think he'll be on my tickets.

Handle for Blue Grass day was poor, and the fields surrounding the race were what we have come to expect at Keeneland in the new dirt age - short and tough to wager on. It looks like handle was down approximately 22% year over year. In the poly years, of course, 14 horse B…

The 7 Best Horse Racing April Fools Jokes

Ah, April Fools, where we ignore almost all news because, well, April Fools! Over the years there have been some downright dandy ones in horse racing. I thought I'd share some of my favorites here.

Parx Changes Wagering Menu - I saw horseplayer advocate and all around horse racing guy Ray Paulick tweet this out yesterday. 

LOL! We all know Parx cares about customers, so any wagering menu changes will be of the takeout lower variety. They will surely be dropping the Uruguayin betting menu for a US one before any other changes. Paulick is a funny, silly goose.

Keeneland Goes to Dirt - This knee-slapper was filtered out last year by someone who's surely a descendent of funny-man Shecky Greene. Record handles, during and after the so called 2008 betting recession, monster field size on the main in the face of declining foal crops, impeccable safety records to say 'take that' to PETA, huge field stakes races bringing in big money, record attendance, a meet everyone sho…