Saturday, December 15, 2007

Notes on a Stormy Saturday

My friend and part time weather man tells me we are in for some nasty weather here in the northeast. Good I guess, since I am able to kill some time this morning looking at the news.

I see someone from Cangamble dropped by. Us Canadian racing fans have to stick together I guess (and thanks for the plug!). Seeing that, I noticed Cangamble has updated his blog. This week he has an interesting link on Casino size. I was floored to find out that two of the top ten casinos in terms of surface area are in Canada. Go figure.

Cangamble has a link up to this Bloodhorse story on a vet getting suspended for possessing lidocaine. This is interesting. The story sounds ominous. In harness racing, Mickey Burke had a horse test positive for the drug way back last December and to my knowledge it has not been settled. Hold it, while waiting for that one, he had another one in April of 2007. In other news: Mickey Burke is the leading trainer in harness racing in 2007. What's wrong with this picture?

Last night's pick 7 at WEG went unsolved. I am pleased to announce that out of my last two pick 7's I got 3 winners. 3 out of 14. I recently read a book called "Your Marketing Sucks". I am planning to write a book called "My Handicapping Sucks".

On the software for harness front, I have always been fairly amazed at the lack of it. I know the game is different than thoroughbreds, but most players of the runners use software, or proprietary figures for contender selection. In harness we do not seem to. There is a poll at currently asking "how do you handicap harness races?" and "right off the program" is running away with the win. I think I may write something on this in the future. I have a sneaky feeling thoroughbred software increases handles. I wonder if harness software would too? Any feelings on that out there in cyberland?

Last year, watching the yearling sales it dawned on me that everything looks so rosy in that area of the business. People are spending $200K+ on first crop sires. Broodmares were up. There seemed to be an exuberance at the sales. I said to myself "why so much glee? Aren't things, with slots down in some jurisdictions and handle hurting all over, poor, and why are these people spending money so freely?" Well, in what I think may be a harbinger Monticello cuts stakes. That is about $1.7M less to race for in 2008. I can not see some of the other tracks following suit somewhere down the line. Handles are too anemic, in my opinion, to sustain several of these races.

Is it just me, or do Woodbine's harness races seem very watered down in terms of talent and depth? I know they are having some trouble filling Sunday night cards and to combat that they have added cheap claimers to the condition sheets. It feels like these races are working to card fuller fields, and fill the box, but I am having a tough time with them. Overall I feel the field quality has really taken a hit at the flagship Canadian harness track. I found last nights pick 7 to be almost unhandicappable.

Anyway, good luck to everyone playing this weekend. We might place another pick 7 ticket up today. Maybe even invite a few friends to place theirs up. I can't do any worse.


Anonymous said...

Better, or more available, handicapping software in harness might indeed be a good idea. Programs I've seen, used or developed in the past often seem to have some foundation based on the preachings of Ainslee. While such programs can still provide you some valuable info, they haven't evolved with some of the changing factors ( or weight that can be applied to them) in today's game.

Ainslee didn't put a huge value onto trainer changes. How has that changed in today's game. Numbers don't lie, and there are certain auto "upgrades" that can be expected off changes today. How do we properly account for that in a software based program?

Also, what is the impact of today's seemingly poor charting practices on evaluating the factors of Ainslee? Charts today showing a horse parked at a quarter pole doesn't mean they were parked out for the entire quarter, but rather they have their snout on the outside as they passed the pole, even if only for a millisecond. Conversely, you could be parked 4 wide the entire quarter but if you hit that rail before the pole, you show up on the line as not parked.

What about the impact of horses moving around on various sized tracks? The USTA speed ratings of tracks are practically useless imo.

One thing for sure, with the amount of info available through Pathway and Track It type databases, some erstwhile handicapper with time on their hands could sure take a good crack at something more modern for today's challenges you would think.

With such data available to you, is there an opportunity to run software which can provide overall guidance but also take into account horse specific or trainer specific alerts??

Anonymous said...

Great post V. I agree, since I handicap with factors like trainers (e.g. Banca with Devonshire in the first race last night at the M), I find this difficult. Black boxes don't work in thoroughbred racing either, tho, and the ones that do work seem to be database driven.

I think we should expand this chat in the future and get some ideas how to quantify the unquantifiable in harness racing.

Thanks for the good response!!!

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