The O’Brien awards were handed out last night near Toronto, Ont. By all reports it seems like it was well attended and well put on, as usual.
However when looking at the awards themselves, we seem to have to take these with a bit of a grain of salt every year, mainly due to the “Best for Canadian Racing” angle. This is somewhat muddy and I frankly can never quite figure it out – do you vote for the best horse who won races in Canada, the best horse owned by a Canadian who raced a minimum number of times in Canada, or the best horse who won big races for Canada, outside Canada?
Last year Casie Coleman bested Blair Burgess in the trainer of the year category. That to me was a head-scratcher. How was Casie better for Canadian racing than Blair in 2007? Blair had Glidemaster, who won the Triple Crown in the US. If a Canadian trainer won the US triple crown in thoroughbreds it would have been a slam dunk. Sometimes I wonder if the voters know what they are doing, or understand what they are supposed to vote for.
This year, we see that Blair won it. And I can’t figure out why when looking at the numbers. However, it appears to me that they simply wanted to right last year's wrong. I hate that stuff personally, but that is the way a lot of these awards go, it seems.
Other awards seem to be deserved, or at the very least debatable.
I agreed mostly with Greg’s take. Hana Hanover and Mister Big I think were superior horses than their two counterparts in 2008, but they did not win. Due to what I perceive are jumbled rules, you can make a case for Lis Mara and Michelle’s Power, so I guess it is tough to argue.
One award that I wish was different from the get-go is the award for horsemanship. I love Mark Steacy and I think he is great for the game, so this has nothing to do with him winning, it has more to do with the award itself. I would like to see this award given for pure horsemanship – make it true, blue harness racing – that is, give it to a guy who is slugging out every day, in the wind and cold, who never gets a positive test, never complains, and never looks for someone else to handle his problems. That is, make it grassroots harness racing. Mr. Pinkney I think is harness racing. I wish people like him would win this every year.
As for horse of the year, you know how I feel. I loved Tell All, but Somebeach was flat out stunning. I want our horse of the year to stun; and we missed the boat again on this award. Not to mention it sure is nice to have a Horse of the Year who is going to race the following year!
The Sudbury Slammer
Who is the most dependable driver at Woodbine this year? I would guess Luc, or Jody, or maybe Paul MacDonnell, maybe you would too. How about Mike Saftic? Sudbury Ontario’s Mike is 15 for 20 with chalk. That’s 75% and that is pretty amazing stuff. He doesn’t drive much chalk, but he is certainly making the most of his drives when he does. Other driver stats are interesting. Luc Ouellette, perennially a leader at Woodbine has only gotten 15 drives on favourites – 15! That is less than half what Jody and Zeron get.
Tim Heads Back to "One to 5-ville"
In the How-the-Game-has-Changed file, I read that Tim Tetrick gave up driving a few days at the Meadowlands and will just drive there on weekends. He is concentrating on other tracks those days. Let me ask you, has there ever been a top driver in history that has left the Meadowlands on nights that they are racing, to drive at another track like Pocono Downs? That is like Michael Schumacher taking days off of Formula One to drive in an Indy Lights race in Topeka, Kansas.
I don’t blame him a bit of course; why win at 10 or 12%, when you can win at double that on a B track driving heavy chalk. I have said many times on the blog that drivers nowadays can race at a small track and make just as much as driving at the Meadowlands. Tim is probably doing the right thing, it is just sad that our game, with slots has gone this way. WEG and the Meadowlands is no longer the top destination in the sport for catch-drivers.
My blink horse, Moonlite Jazz returned to the races on Saturday was bet to 10-1 and came 5th. He missed a week, which was somewhat inexplicable, and he was in a field that some would think was over his head, so a couple of potential red-lights there. I hate when horses miss a week and I can not find out a reason why, don’t you? I will try the horse next week I think, back on a regular rotation.
The Ugh, Meadowlands Note
* At the Meadowlands I guess it is time for a Rucker and Ledford update; as they have been at it for a few weeks now. Rucker has 11 starts. 0 wins. Ledford has 32 starts with 2 wins.
* I saw this post on Paceadvantage.com.
Meadowlands Race 10 Thursday January 31, 2008.
According to trackmaster the race is a class=91. The Number 7 horse was entered in a class=91 race last week went off at 99/1 and runs off the board. Today he goes off at 5/2 and wins by 10. I bet the horse only because the tote board was screaming to bet the horse. It's a shame a man has to bet a horse because of this.
Players love betting form - something to exercise our brain and work that handicapping puzzle. Gosh we hate betting the tote board huh?
* Carol Hodes has a nice article on Brian Sears at Harnesslink.com. Check it out if you are interested in seeing how he feels this explosive 2008 is going for him.
Thanks Pete Rozelle!
I watched the Super Bowl - the pageantry, the half time show, the whole she-bang. It is amazing that prior to 1968 or so, the NFL was perhaps the most fractured sports business known to man. It sure is amazing what people can do when they have a leader who gets the participants to work together for a common goal, huh?
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