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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 closer to what needs to be done.

Racing is primarily run with bean counting. With charts like the above, ten years down the road there are fewer beans to count. In ten years, barring some real change and vision, there will be fewer beans again.

On to Shared Belief.

Just after he was pulled up in the CT Classic there was an aura of "this is not going to be really bad" - like life threatening - and that seems to be the case. Although details are not clear, it appears that he has a small fracture. I say small, because, again speculating, he was sent for a nuclear scan after the regular Xrays showed little. Because he is a gelding, there's probably a good chance 30 days stall rest or so could do the job and he'll be back. Or, maybe - being a thoroughbred - they might not want to chance it. Either way it was relatively good news.

It got me thinking....... these connections seemed to have pushed all the right buttons.

How many horses are off, or injured at two, or off before the Derby, where the connections, come hell or high water, have to get him or her there? With Shared Belief it was different.

How many times do we see a horse who is off, finish a race, regardless? Mike Smith, feeling *something*,or just figuring the horse was off, pulled him up. How many riders pull up horses in a $1.5 million race? Remember when Kent did that with Big Brown. He got thrown under the bus. Jockey's rarely make those decisions - like with Life At Ten - because there are millionaire owners looking on, along with trainers who an make or break them. Find a bus, insert jock.

I suspect Mike knew the owners and trainers had his back. They have, and they did.

If there's a person who is not a fan of Jim Rome, it's me. It's nothing personal; I just am not much for the yeller talk radio guys. I also like to see the little guy win some money. But I can't help but like him and the owners. They handled the BC bumping with class. They handled this horse with class. I truly believe there's some karma going on with this guy: Shared Belief may race again because of them and who they are. If Shared Belief makes a Breeders Cup Classic any time soon, count me as a fan. He's a great story and a great little horse.

Have a super day everyone.


Comments

Ron said…
U agree with most of your posts, but no love for Rome.Lol . I listen to Rome every day and I feel like he's going to add 5 yrs to my life. If I'm stressed out before his show, it's definitely gone afterwards.
Ron said…
I meant I agree.
Steve_S said…
Is it possible that barns are getting too big? Maybe the optimally sized firm from a trainer's perspective is larger than one that would benefit horseplayers.
JLB said…
You say that "...won a remarkable 43.4% of those races" and imply that the percentage is of the total races conducted. But the first column is labeled "winning favorites". Thus, do you mean to say that, of races WON BY WINNING FAVORITES, close to half were won by odds-on horses?