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Tuesday Horse Racing Musings on Gun Runner, DQ's and Handle

I hope everyone had a good long weekend.

Opinions make horse races, and, well, this is one I disagree with; not on HOY (I don't follow that race) but on the most likely angle.
Gun Runner ran a 142 TFUS figure in his explosive Woodward. Even if we add an eighth of a mile and he runs a slower 138 for that distance, it's faster than Arrogate has been since Dubai, or before that, at Gulfstream. Right now he's simply the faster horse.

Arrogate can surely return to peak form and again be faster than Gun Runner. But hoping for something to happen is not for favorites.

As an aside, it feels like a lifetime ago Gun Runner dodged the Classic because he was simply "a decent miler."

Someone on twitter (CJ or maybe Isolated Tops) said that it sure is fun to watch a horse develop, when they don't head directly to the stud barn. Gun Runner was a solid third in the Derby. If Nyquist and Exaggerator had some traffic trouble, bled, or scoped sick and he converted, we likely would've never gotten to see a 142 TimeformUS figure. His first crop would've been gestating right now.

Thanks for sharing the pieces on the TDN. Part I - How racing is getting older, and part II - What the sport may do about it. I had a good time learning and studying them - partially for a presentation I made at a conference - and enjoyed writing them. The responses were all pretty good, which doesn't happen very often with me.

I see Jeff Platt updated the Playersboycott.org site, along with their twitter feed. This it to cue up the horseplayer boycott of Keeneland. Boycotts and the like represent an interesting time for horse racing. On one side we have customers standing up on principle, against those who stand up for the sport, no matter what they do. You'll see it on twitter or facebook in the coming month.

Kentucky was always my favorite state for the horseplayer. Churchill had great takeout and seemed to care about the longer term, the commission seemed to hold tracks accountable, and Keeneland, of course, was a horseplayer's friend. Now we have lower takeout, horseplayer friendly Kentucky Downs (opening up Wednesday) and two tracks who want to stop them from getting more dates and have lower payouts. How this business changes in the harvesting age.

Saratoga had yet another good meet, proving once again people love the big meets; especially the Spa. They had good weather and some good fortune, but it's more than that - people are not looking at the smaller signals near as much as they once were. Note to execs - the Spa (and NYRA) continue to have strong handle, this despite tons of carryover super high 5's or jackpot bets. Yes, it can be done.

Handle in 2017 has been decent, overall, for racing. No, it's not growing per se, but it is near to holding inflation and/or population growth in check. That's a positive.

Pennsylvania moved to suspend the horse as well as trainer for a positive test. Pennsylvania - Parx, some of the harness tracks - are fighting an uphill battle. They've unwittingly branded themselves as a place for the cowboys to ply their trade. This is one step to attack that narrative. In my view, this is the first of many changes we'll be seeing in the Keystone State over the next couple of years.
DQ'ing a horse, but leaving him up for betting purposes is an opinion that's logical and sound. But it amazes me that when I write about - in harness or thoroughbreds - the traditionalists go batty. I mean, it doesn't even start a debate, it finishes it. I believe Paul is right. There's a million dollars or more bet into a pool, and you're placing a horse for a $2,000 difference for an owner? 

Have a great day everyone.


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