Monday, June 30, 2008

Horse Slaughter, Sadinsky & Maggi Moss

We have written about Richard Fields, the owner of Suffolk Downs before. He is trying his best to revitalize racing in New England. He also seems to care about the horses, as well.

In the thoroughbred times, Suffolk is beginning a zero tolerance policy on horse slaughter.

Sam Elliott, the track’s vice president for racing, has informed the leadership of the New England Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association that any trainer found to have sold a horse for slaughter will have his stalls revoked and be denied stalls at any time in the future.

Is this doable? One would think it would be very tough to manage. And we all know the issue is bigger than the game right now. There are only so many homes and so many fields for our retired equine buddies to roam around in. However, putting it on the front burner is never a bad thing.

There was an editorial in the Niagara Falls Review about the Sadinsky Report. Some quotes:

According to the report's authors, the industry itself is principally but not entirely to blame for the situation it now finds itself in.

The roots of today's problems trace back to the days before the heated competition for gambling dollars came with the introduction of commercial casinos in Ontario 14 years ago.

"The curse that came along with the blessing of near exclusivity was that a culture of entitlement grew up within the the horse-racing industry," the report reads.

"Various stakeholders considered that with a virtual monopoly, they didn't need to concern themselves overly with their customer base and most of their energy was consumed by arguing with one another as to how the revenue should be shared."

In short, the industry never quite understood the Golden Rule of capitalism: The customer comes first, and is always right.

We can not argue much of that.

In reading the report, and if Cangamble's assertion that this means purses will get more of the slots take, I have a problem with that. No where has it been shown that increases in purses have increased handles. We have tried that for a decade. At Woodstock on Saturday there was a purse of $20,000 in the sixth race. Total handle for the card was $11,758. In fairness, the report did speak of purse pooling to hopefully correct some of these inequities.

I believe that we need to spend money in our business like a business. To grow our fan base. That would mean investing in new delivery mechanisms, new marketing, and the player. Those are things we have never seemed to get 100% behind. It's about time we do.

Owner Maggi Moss is defending Steve Asmussen in the case of his positive for lidocaine.

“I think this is much bigger than Steve,” Moss said June 27. “I am taking it on for the love of racing because I don’t like the way things are going. This is getting very big. I think there a lot of misunderstandings.”

I agree with that portion. Lidocaine offenses are zero-tolerance in Texas and many other jurisdictions. If you have a pebble of the drug, which the article states is found in many innocuous things, or if you are jacking a horse with a nerve block freeze to steal purse money they are treated as the same thing - a class two. To me that is nonsensical.

Dr. Steven Barker at the LSU testing lab agrees.

"I've looked at the scientific evidence, and there are questions I have that I think need to be addressed," said Barker, who said it appears to be a small amount of lidocaine in the Asmussen case from the documentation he hâs seen. You have levels where you can start to make reasonable scientific conclusions about, instead of just saying, 'We found it. You're guilty.'The claims of 'well, we're a zero-tolerance state,' in this day and age are just totally unacceptable and antiquated.

"Lidocaine is a fairly common substance in our environment. There are products out there that contain lidocaine that people can mistakenly use and come in contact with a horse and lead to trace level contamination and a positive report. "Now is that the same as somebody administering lidocaine to potentially perform a nerve block on a horse that's racing? It's not."

We have enough problems with the public understanding our game. We have EPO, we have pain-killers like venom. Those are used for one thing only, to steal purse money and defraud the public. To see headlines about banamine, or other therapuetic medication overages treated the same way in the press and with commissions does us all a disservice. We should be educating the public about these things. To illustrate a small overage of lidocaine tell them to go buy some of this and put it on their child's arm when they fall off a swing. Then take the kid to the gym the next morning and see if she can bench press a moose. That can be worth 1 year in our game - or double what Patrick Biancone got for having snake venom in his fridge - a drug that can make a horse run 'til his leg falls off.

A system can not function unless common sense prevails, at all times, not just some of the time. I don't often cheer for defense lawyers (like most in our society), but this time I am. I hope they get some of these things changed for the betterment of the game we all love.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

6 Months for a Whip

Getting caught up a little bit. Sometimes our game is flat-out bizarre.

In the land of runners Jeremy Rose was suspended six months for whipping a horse in the face during a race at Delaware Park.

In the official ruling, Delaware Park stewards contended that Rose “engaged in extreme misuse of the whip during the stretch run while on the horse Appeal to the City.” John Wayne, executive director of the Delaware Thoroughbred Racing Commission, said the horse experienced some hemorrhaging around its eye due to contact with Rose’s whip.

Appeal to the City, a 5-year-old daughter of Appealing Skier, was initially examined by commission veterinarian John Peters, after which she was taken to the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine’s New Bolton Center for treatment. Wayne said though the injuries were serious, he believed the mare would be OK and would not lose her eyesight.

The stewards' ruling also stated that Rose would be responsible for all veterinarian bills for the care and treatment required for Appeal to the City. Rose is required to attend and complete an anger management course to be approved in advance by the stewards at their sole discretion within the next six months.

Here is the Youtube video of the incident. Watch for the zig-zagging horse in the lane.

Usually I have some disagreement with penalties in our game - in the words of someone I respect, we give out harsh punishment for innocent mistakes, but don't nearly do enough for intentional misdeeds. This time I think it is right on, however, simply because the intention does not matter. You can bully another rider and get a couple of days, you can misjudge a finish line and get a couple of days, you can swear at a racing judge and get a couple of days......... but for God's sake do not whip a horse in the face and expect less than an extended holiday. Jeremy Rose says this was not intentional. I believe him. The trainer of the horse in question believes him. Regardless it is one of those incidents where we have to make sure jockey's and driver's realize that they have to take care of the whip. The game is not big enough to withstand incidents like this. The public - simply put - hates it.


Valerie at one of our fave blogs Foolish Pleasure lets us in on a story about standardbreds. A movie about a harness horse is in production called Shannon's Rainbow. We need all the good stories we can get. Horses provide us with that. I am a sucker for horse movies. Valerie has a great post up about the Dutrow and Asmussen positives, as well that is worth reading. She is a good writer. I have an opine on that as well and will get a post up soon.

Art Official won the Hoosier Cup Saturday, easily defeating a decent field of 3yo's. As you know, we like this horse and think that in any other year he would be a star. I am not sold on this being a great crop of 3yo's by the way. We'll see later in the year if that prognostication is right or wrong.

Our local cable channel up here in the frozen north covers a great many races. And they do a pretty good job. We posted the video from Somebeachsomewhere's North America Cup win from the track feed, but now here is the feed from The Score. Nice piece of work, good sound and some good camera angles.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

The World Wide Web's Sadinsky Report

We have spoken a good deal on the blog about social media, chat sites, customers being heard everywhere from Dell Computer, to Wal Mart.

In racing it is no exception.

Since I have been away and not updating frequently, why not pass along another blogger's views on the Sadinsky report which we touched upon below.

Agree, disagree, whatever. The time taken by Cangamble to put his own Sadinsky report together is the world wide web today.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Industry Review Panel & a Few Notes

I've been away from the races for a little while. But I did come across some news tonight.

The biggest of which is the Industry Review Panel Report for Ontario horse racing. There is some huge stuff in this report. Racing might never be the same in this province. I am pretty sure our fractured stakeholders will have something to say about this - and many will not be happy. But most of this I think needs to be done. Most of it people in one way or another have said has to be done.

I will have a few opinions on it after I digest it a bit more. But at first glance, a thumbs up from this cat.

Andrew Cohen of shares his opinion on the recent ORC ruling against Woodbine Entertainment. Agree or disagree with Mr. Cohen, but never accuse him of not making a good argument. Another well thought out piece from one of this games fine spokespeople.

There is a thread at about "is thoroughbred easier or harder to handicap than harness" Good thread and all. But it does degenerate into the "harness guys are cheaters and thoroughbred guys are not. Gosh, am I the only one that is tired of that? If I was senior VP of marketing for a new commish I would attack this head on. We should have an immediate and swift response for those stereotypes.

I mentioned in a previous post that HANA was formed, a new horseplayer group. On paceadvantage they are asking members which reforms should be taken on by the group first. It is often said that horseplayers are greedy, whiners and don't care about anyone other than themselves. What a bunch of bull (pardon my language). They care about this game. And want to make it better.

Look at this list of reforms players want. Do you see greed? I don't.

I hope everyone is having a nice week.

Which proposed reform should have highest priority

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Sixty Minute Six

Well we spoke about the 4 in 48 – a harness pick 4, offered by a track when no others are running, to capitalize on the wagering vacuum. Now, recently announced by thoroughbred racing is the Sixty Minute Six. NYRA, Delaware Park, Philly Park and Monmouth have gotten together, offered six races in an hour with a $100,000 guaranteed pool. It will be run each Saturday from June until August.

A few stumbling blocks with this; pitfalls that we would not have with the 4 in 48, are apparent to me.

One, there is too much racing on Saturday’s. We can bet pick 6’s, pick 9’s, pick 4’s, dime supers, on and on. How much money do people think we have to drop on low hit rate bets, with zippo churn? With so much competition, I think this bet might struggle.

Second, it is not too dissimilar to the Magna 5.

Third, those tracks are far apart in trainer colony and bias’s. It’s tough to feel comfortable in betting all those surfaces on a given day.

Fourth, no low rake guarantee to entice us.

Five, no 50 cent or 20 cent or fractional type differentiation. It is not a Purple Cow.

The good? Well, they are marketing the thing. It has a catchy name, new website, plus a guarantee. They are giving it a shot, anyway and you know how I feel about that in this business – I like it.

Takeout Note:

Steve Crist has been speaking about NYRA upping their takeout percentage. There are things like surcharges, out of state thingamajigs and whatever. It makes my head spin. Anyway, the bottom line is that (and no one argues this) a rake increase decreases handles. Something the powers that be think is alright I guess.

Video Notes:

Well I think I need some time off; and I need a laugh. So here are two videos that I found kind of funny. One from our pal Kenny Mayne about Big Brown, and the second is from Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. Triumph is an acquired taste, so beware. I don't think this was the pooch's best work, but alas since it is about horse racing I had to pop it up. For more Triumph, my fave is still the Star Wars convention. That one let's the insults fly on something a bit more away from our hearts. Unless you are packing a light sabre.

Have a nice weekend everyone.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Congress Calls for Uniform Rules & a Commissioner

The congressional subcommittee has been making some headlines. In a New York Times piece yesterday titled “House Panel Takes Aim at Horse Racing Practices” it seems change might be forced on all of us.

The committee appeared to unanimously endorse a central governing body for the sport, and threatened to use the Interstate Horse Racing Act of 1978 to make that happen.

Breeders were especially hit hard:

“The best racehorses in the sport no longer make money for their owners on the race track — they now make money in the breeding shed,” said Rep. Jan Schakowsky, Democrat of Illinois, who chaired the hearing entitled, “Breeding, Drugs, and Breakdowns: The State of Thoroughbred Racing and the Welfare of the Thoroughbred Racehorse.”

“The breeders no longer have an incentive to breed horses that are sturdy enough to withstand the rigors of racing, and instead, promote fashionable, but unsound, bloodlines that are known for precocity and speed.”

Further in the DRF, virtually all panelists and speakers called for a central body for horse racing. In harness, these calls have been met with incredulity in the past. With all the fractured body's, and all the states and provinces with different rules it was considered a non starter to do this - laughable, as many have said.

Congressional leaders said Thursday during a hearing in Washington that a bill would be introduced this year putting in place some form of federal regulation of horse racing, including restrictions on drug use.

The intention to introduce legislation was made by members of the House Subcommittee on Commerce, Trade, and Consumer Protection during a hearing entitled "Breeding, Drugs, and Breakdowns." Somewhat surprisingly, the majority of racing officials who appeared on the committee's first panel agreed with the contention that racing needs a national governing authority, and several said that all race-day drugs - including the ubiquitous diuretic furosemide and the painkiller phenylbutazone - should be banned, in line with other major racing countries around the world.

Later on, several industry people relayed a sad fact, that if this is done by government alone, the special interests and everyone else (PETA perhaps?) will have their say on what the office should be about. This is frightening. It is even more reason for us in harness racing to begin the process now. No more laughing about a national body, no more excuses, no more using the word "can't". I implore the USTA and Standardbred Canada to start circulating a draft Commissioner Office Plan as soon as humanly possible. Start out with "this is how we can do it", rather than "this is why it will fail". The status quo is not an option any longer. If we let the Thoroughbred Industry have a national office without us having one, our interests will be maligned. If we are mandated to have one it is also not preferred. Let's set one up ourselves before someone else does.

In my opinion - and from reading the above I think it is a good one - the clock is ticking and we have very little time left.


Cangamble has an opine up on some of the stuff from the hearings as well. So check it out.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

'HANA', HD & Other Acronyms

Horseplayers are organizing.

HANA - Horseplayers Association of North America is a fledgling group of horseplayers trying to make a difference in the game they love. Currently the mission statement, and goals are being discussed over at

One of the groups founders is a professional handicapper. He is trying to drum up some support. Here are a few of his thoughts in getting this off the ground. If you agree with any of this, and are a fan of harness or thoroughbreds, you can be a part of this if you wish. It is free for now, although I am assuming they might want to drum up some funds over time.

Horseplayers have become increasingly more and more fed up with the way the industry is being run. Horsemen withholding signals from ADWs, track management's disdain towards the customer, trainers who are constantly rewarded for cheating, and a tote system based on obsolete technology - these facets of the game and more have resulted in an industry that is, to put it kindly, no longer mainstream.

An entire generation now exists who could care less about racing.

Yet, over the past two decades while racing has been alienating itself from an entire generation of potential new fans, almost all other forms of gambling have seen explosive growth. Go to almost any casino and you will find a young vibrant crowd (the generation that racing failed to win over) having fun feeding tokens into slot machines.

There is a formula for success in business that I remember from a strategic management class I took in college. Ok. I turned 50 in the past year so I've been out of college and part of the real world for a while now. But what they taught us back in 1977 is every bit as valid today as it was back then:

Define your market space and target customer. Understand your target customer's needs and wants. Figure out how to satisfy those needs and wants and (amazingly) your business will grow.

Every successful Fortune 500 company practices this. By itself it doesn't guarantee success. But failure to practice it practically guarantees failure.

The reason I get so pissed off at the people who run the horseracing industry is that they so completely fail to put this into practice.

And failure to put this into practice just widens the chasm that exists between the industry and its customers. I am both amazed and disgusted by the way that horsemen and track management continually appear so completely clueless that a problem even exists at all.

A grass roots effort has been started over at the PA site to organize horseplayers. I have attended two meetings (conducted in the PA War Room) where we adopted a name and agreed to get a website started.

I was charged with creating the group's mission statement. The mission statement that I wrote up has not yet been officially sanctioned by the group. And somebody else will probably end up doing the official site.

For the benefit of those interested I've created a mock up web page - a rough draft - that shows what we are working towards. Here's the link:

Your thoughts and comments are welcome.

From the web page, here are some of the issues that are being brought to the fore:

Where The Game Is Broken:
  • Public Awareness and Perception
  • Pool Integrity
  • Odds Updates in Real Time
  • Drugs and Cheating
  • Takeout Reduction and Rebates
  • Breakage
  • Distribution Of Signals and Account Deposit Wagering
  • Open Access to Past Performance and Results Data
  • Open Access to Live Track Video and Race Replays
  • Parking, Admission, and Concession Prices
  • Racing Surfaces
  • Avg Field Size on the Decline
  • Arizona's Racing Law
  • Taxation
  • Transparency and Full Disclosure
  • Scratches and Changes
We will be watching this closely over the next while. It is clear something has to be done to help improve handles in our sport. With rising takeouts and us losing more and more gambling market share, perhaps the players can make a difference. In the world of the Internet, your customers can speak and be heard, but just like how an industry that is fractured can not fix itself, a fractured horseplayer group can not fix problems. This is a first salvo to get people together and do something good for our sport.

HDTV - High Def programming is being actively pursued by Keeneland. Very nice work guys.

AC - Andrew Cohen, is ruffling some feathers. In his current blog post he speaks of the work done (or in his opinion lack of work done) at Yonkers to grow our sport. He was not happy with them, and said so. The VP of Yonkers responded to Andrew in his post. Y'know, we have been passed by on simple things. I think being a monopoly for so long makes us so complacent. Even the first line of the response from the Yonkers VP shows this, in my opinion:

"I very rarely do this, but I feel compelled to respond to Andrew Cohen's "Wire To Wire" article of May 28th.

"Very rarely do this? Respond to the media and customers? In 2008, businesses - countless businesses - have learned to leverage the internet and the media, and use it in their favor. Company websites have chat areas and comment areas where customers can talk about their products and service. Why? Because they need the information to make themselves better. Responding to their complaints in an open and honest way is a staple in business in the 2000's. For example, there is a restaurant chain in the US who discontinued a menu item that was too costly to make. On their chat site the customers went nuts - they loved this product because it was so damn good. This synergy created buzz about the menu item, the company responded and let the market and this good buzz take hold. They reinstated the menu item and it sold like hotcakes and is the #1 or #2 menu item in all franchises. They leveraged customer anger into a positive to grow their businesses.

I often ask anyone in this business who reads this blog to respond if they wish. Clear up a misconception if there is one, speak directly to the bettors if they want to. I want to see this sport grow and so do the readers and commenters here - and on places like Andrew's blog. We want to hear from everyone, so I encourage them to respond and get in a direct dialogue. Other companies do that, we should in racing as well. It should be part of our strategy in the Internet age.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Breaking Down Barriers

I have been searching here and there for some reaction outside harness circles on Somebeachsomewhere. People have (rightfully) noticed that there is not a ton of press about him, or the victory south of the border. This is not unexpected of course. We're harness racing, and this colt has not wowed them at the Big M; he's done it here.

However, on some blogs and on chat boards in thoroughbred land, there is some buzz about this animal. One of the very best and longest running thoroughbred blogs, Left at the Gate had a recent post about the Truro Nova Scotia horse.

The track, located in Campbellville, Ontario, around 25 miles from Toronto, no longer keeps attendance figures, but it was said to be "wall-to-wall" with an estimated crowd of 11,000. This is an undefeated (in nine starts) horse who is evoking the kind of genuinely heartfelt reaction from the public that I felt was notably absent around Big Brown.

And from the comment section, from our galloping gaited cousins:

Thanks for the link, and the more you talk about this horse makes me want to go see my first ever standardbred race day.

And another:

Add me to the list, need something to root for with zero chance of seeing Big Brown or Curlin again in this country, and my Mets embarrassing themselves on and off the field.

Have not been to the Big M in a long long time, but going to try to get there for this one.

Keep us appraised.

Great horses always break down barriers. I am sure there are some true blue harness fans that will tune in to watch Curlin in France should he go. Or take a gander to watch Big Brown again in the Breeders Cup Classic should he go. There is always some crossover, but 9 times out of 10 you need a horse who captures some imagination to gain that crossover. Perhaps we have that with the Beach, a horse who three months ago was training down for his 3yo season in the cold of central Nova Scotia totally oblivious that this all could happen for him.

Note: It was nice to do a nice story about the sport. I especially like linking to other blogs from fans like Left at the Gate and others. but that will change tomorrow if I have time. The New York Racing Association has raised takeouts. Yep, you read that right. We'll grudgingly speak about that 'another nail in the coffin' tomorrow.

What's Next for Somebeach?

We know owner Jess Jackson, of Curlin, is a sportsman. He is planning to try the super Curlin on the grass for a run at the Arc D'Triomphe. Why would they risk it? Why run a horse on grass who can crush all dirt competition? Because they want to. Let's face it, with 99% of owners out there, he'd be at stud right now. Not with these connections. That's racing folks.That's why we buy horses - not to make excuses, not to breed them, to race them. Is my horse better than your horse? Let'[s find out. I wish them all the luck in the world.

So what do we think Sombeach does?

Conventional thinking: The Meadowlands Pace, maybe one more trip on a big track, then off to Lexington for a run at 146, then a break, then the Breeders Crown. Dot the i's and cross the t's. Keep him off a half mile track, keep and protect the undefeated streak at all costs. That is racing with stud deals where we breed to breed, not to race. We have seen it countless times in this business.

I don't think they end up doing that. I think they bring this horse, if still undefeated and possibly the greatest pacer ever, to the Jug. I think they are sportsman, and the throng of 55,000 people - harness fans - wanting to see the Beach is too much for them to pass up. I think they look for every opportunity to show off this horse. I think it is in their blood. Corporate racing makes about as much sense to them as dropping a ten spot into a slot machine makes to a gambler. That's my opine anyway.

Regardless, the M pace is next. That track is like lightning. I believe it is a full 1 and three fifths faster than the Hawk. What can this horse do there? We'll find out soon.

As for the future I am sure we'll see. Here is hoping they have a little Jess Jackson in em. We can hope.

Sunday, June 15, 2008


I had a look at the US Open results tonight to see Tiger Woods - on a bum knee - manage two eagles en route to the lead in the years second major championship. He simply outclasses a field, and we are lucky to be living in his era.

We saw similar tonight.

People can say what they want - everyone has an opinion - and rightfully so. But this horse is the most dominant animal this sport has ever seen.

Has anyone seen $750,000 made so easily? I haven't.

The moment Brian Sears got stuck in the two hole, not prompting a pace, this race was in the books. It was not long ago that a 54.4 first half was considered fast, and a push. We were not sure if a three year old colt could come home quick enough to withstand the backfield off a half like that. With this horse it is academic. A 54.1 back kicker under a hand ride is all that is needed. No one can get close to this horse. It was over at the quarter.

I think we may see this horse go 145 and change at the Red Mile this year. I hope he does it. He is harness racing. He is owned by small timers, trained by a small timer, he himself as a $40,000 yearling is a small timer. In our sport anyone can own or train a champion. And sometimes that champion can be more than that - he can be astonishing. Somebeach is that horse. I am happy I got to see him race, and feel darn lucky every time I get to.

Congrats to everyone on a good Cup night, and a wonderful victory for the connections and for harness racing. It was astonishing.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Cup XXV Analysis & Full Card Speed Figures

Well today is the day - Cup XXV.

#1 Santanna Blue Chip - Should be trying to scoot out of there to get a nice spot, and probably will do so. Likely to hit the superfecta ticket if things go his way.

#2 Somebeachsomewhere - There is not much left to say. It seems like the only way this horse can lose is if he beats himself. Big Brown beat himself last week by most accounts. I am interested in the driver strategy. If Paul blasts I can see a whole lotta drivers saying "whoa". If he waits for things to settle he should be ok with a brush move, or first over move, and we should be looking at a Cup winner.

#3 Deuce Seelster - Is simply a very nice little horse. He should be able to get some sort of trip there, and is likely to hit the ticket somewhere.

#4 Badlands Nitro - What does Sears do? I think he will blast. If so, he should be right near the thick of it turning for home. Obvious to hit the exactor ticket.

#5 Sand Shooter - As we have said, he was foul gaited last week. Can Miller work a trip?

#6 Mucho Sleazy - Seems outclassed here.

#7 Art Official - If they somehow mix it up, watch for him. I think on paper, he is the second best.

#8 Dali - Looking for a trip.

#9 Lennon Blue Chip - Seems a cut below these. I can't see him being a part of it at the end. Longshot.

#10 Keystone Horatio - No doubt RW has gone through this race in his mind 100 times, and I can't believe he likes what he sees. He is up against it.

My bets based on a $1000 bankroll and my fair odds line:

$6 to win on Sand Shooter if he is 16-1 or over.
$65 to win on Somebeachsomewhere if he is 4-5 or over.

My superfecta plays (which I won't play because they are no value):

My longshot super play (20 cents)


Joe G's Speed Figures and Full Card Notes

To receive Joe's analysis and chat about using figures for harness racing, go to his website Buggies Don't Pay. It is free.

Lets start with the big race (7th): Not a lot of value here. Like a lot of people I see the favorite having a better then 50% chance to win. I will look to bet the straight exacta 2/4,8,10 only if 2 of the three options pays better then $12 per $2 bet. Otherwise a pass on the exacta. #10 at 15/1 ML is within 2 speed points #2 so I may put a small win bet at 20/1 or greater.

A few comments on each race:

1st: 9,10/9,10,8 exacta and bet #9 and/or #10 to win if either over 12/1 odds
2nd: 5,8,1 to win if any over 12/1. Box exacta if 2 of 3 over 6/1 odds
3rd: Trot race with seemingly clear favorite. Pass.
4th: Bet #4 if 10/1 or greater and exacta 1,4/1,4,7 if odds decent
5th: Top two picks low ML odds. Pass.
6th: Watch odds on #9. Bet if 10/1 or greater and straight exacta 9/3,2 if decent payout
8th: Bet 5,10 if either 12/1 or greater. Exacta 5,10/5,10,3
9th: Trot. Have 2,3/2,3,8,6. Should not be good odds. Pass.
10th: Have 6-4-10-9. Watch for big odds from 10,9. Bet either at 20/1 or greater.
11th: Tough race. Have 5,10/5,10,3,2,8. May not be good odds on exacta end. Probable pass.
12th: #4 a 12/1 ML. Will bet to win at 10/1 or greater and 4,1/4,2,9,7 if odds good.
13th: #10 at 7/1 ML. Good separation. Will bet to win at 8/1 or greater and 10/6,2,8,3 with 6/10,3 exactas

ROI Figures at Large Ovals:
Top Pick 2 or more points (Fig) over second pick: Win%: 26%, ROI +1%
Top Pick 2 or more points (Fig) over second pick and 10/1 or greater: Win %: 13%, ROI +48%

Pick Within 2 points of top horse and odds 12/1 or greater: Win%: 9%, ROI +52%

Joe's Cup XXV Speed Figures

6/14/08 MOH 7 PACE 2 SOMEBEACHS 1.6 124.0 128 110 No
6/14/08 MOH 7 PACE 8 DALI 8.0 123.0 123 103 No
6/14/08 MOH 7 PACE 4 BADLANDS N 4.0 122.2 126 103 No
6/14/08 MOH 7 PACE 10 KEYSTONE H 15.0 122.0 122 102 No
6/14/08 MOH 7 PACE 1 SANTANNA B 10.0 120.8 122 102 No
6/14/08 MOH 7 PACE 3 DEUCE SEEL 8.0 119.6 123 106 No
6/14/08 MOH 7 PACE 6 MUCHO SLEA 15.0 119.5 123 108 No
6/14/08 MOH 7 PACE 5 SAND SHOOT 8.0 119.0 123 100 No
6/14/08 MOH 7 PACE 7 ART OFFICI 5.0 117.7 123 107 Yes
6/14/08 MOH 7 PACE 9 LENNON BLU 30.0 117.3 119 101 Yes
6/14/08 MOH 7 PACE AE1 UPFRONT HA 113.3 119 103 No
Joe's Full Card Mohawk Figures

Date Track Race Gait PP Horse ML Fig 3B
6/14/08 MOH 1 PACE 10 DURHAMS CA 6.0 116.4 119 97 No
6/14/08 MOH 1 PACE 9 PACIFIC PR 15.0 115.3 122 95 No
6/14/08 MOH 1 PACE 8 THEMACHMAN 7.0 114.4 117 94 No
6/14/08 MOH 1 PACE 2 STONEBRIDG 4.0 112.6 117 93 No
6/14/08 MOH 1 PACE 3 GIBRALTAR 5.0 112.2 115 97 No
6/14/08 MOH 1 PACE 1 KING JOE 8.0 110.9 114 94 No
6/14/08 MOH 1 PACE 6 MASTER THE 12.0 110.8 111 92 No
6/14/08 MOH 1 PACE 5 FAUST BLUE 8.0 108.4 114 101 Yes
6/14/08 MOH 1 PACE 4 RINESTONE 3.0 107.3 117 86 No

6/14/08 MOH 2 PACE 5 WINDSUN CA 6.0 117.9 119 99 No
6/14/08 MOH 2 PACE 8 DEDALOS 3.5 117.6 120 99 No
6/14/08 MOH 2 PACE 1 LATENITE R 8.0 117.5 121 103 No
6/14/08 MOH 2 PACE 2 SKY TANTRU 5.0 115.0 120 93 No
6/14/08 MOH 2 PACE 4 LEGACY N D 4.5 114.6 116 95 No
6/14/08 MOH 2 PACE 10 JOSHUA PAR 15.0 114.5 117 99 No
6/14/08 MOH 2 PACE 7 LOST BLISS 5.0 114.4 117 98 No
6/14/08 MOH 2 PACE 3 SHAWS CREE 20.0 113.2 116 93 No
6/14/08 MOH 2 PACE 6 MY MASTERP 8.0 110.6 116 99 No
6/14/08 MOH 2 PACE 9 BELIEVEINB 8.0 99.4 109 75 No

6/14/08 MOH 3 TROT 6 WINDSONG E 1.6 103.0 103 83 No
6/14/08 MOH 3 TROT 1 CLERK MAGI 7.0 98.2 101 83 No
6/14/08 MOH 3 TROT 8 DON GIOVAN 6.0 97.1 100 84 Yes
6/14/08 MOH 3 TROT 4 B STRIKE T 6.0 94.6 99 81 No
6/14/08 MOH 3 TROT 9 O U GUS 25.0 94.4 97 80 No
6/14/08 MOH 3 TROT 2 DEFINE THE 8.0 92.3 98 82 Yes
6/14/08 MOH 3 TROT AE1 DI MANGGIO 91.4 94 75 No
6/14/08 MOH 3 TROT 7 WILDCAT SH 30.0 90.2 93 75 Yes
6/14/08 MOH 3 TROT 3 MOON DREAM 3.0 89.0 95 81 Yes
6/14/08 MOH 3 TROT 5 GUIDA MUSC 20.0 87.6 92 76 Yes
6/14/08 MOH 3 TROT 10 SUPERFAST 30.0 87.6 93 76 No

6/14/08 MOH 4 PACE 4 IDLE HOUR 7.0 119.6 121 102 No
6/14/08 MOH 4 PACE 1 LONESTAR L 2.5 119.4 122 103 No
6/14/08 MOH 4 PACE 7 FRANKYLUVS 7.0 116.4 121 106 Yes
6/14/08 MOH 4 PACE 10 FOUR STARZ 5.0 114.8 120 99 No
6/14/08 MOH 4 PACE AE1 LEGACY N D 114.6 116 95 No
6/14/08 MOH 4 PACE 8 SHADOW PLA 15.0 113.8 117 101 No
6/14/08 MOH 4 PACE 6 UPFRONT HA 10.0 113.3 119 103 No
6/14/08 MOH 4 PACE 5 ON THE BRI 8.0 112.9 120 105 No
6/14/08 MOH 4 PACE 2 TRADE EDIT 6.0 112.2 116 100 Yes
6/14/08 MOH 4 PACE 9 STONEBRIDG 4.0 112.2 118 95 No
6/14/08 MOH 4 PACE 3 SPACE WALK 15.0 106.1 113 94 No

Date Track Race Gait PP Horse ML Fig Spd LastBR 3B
6/14/08 MOH 5 PACE 2 A AND GS C 2.5 119.0 119 99 No
6/14/08 MOH 5 PACE 1 TUG RIVER 2.0 118.0 118 98 No
6/14/08 MOH 5 PACE 7 CHANCEY LA 6.0 115.9 126 97 No
6/14/08 MOH 5 PACE 6 A FIESTY A 10.0 115.1 127 96 No
6/14/08 MOH 5 PACE 10 SPRIG HANO 15.0 114.8 119 96 No
6/14/08 MOH 5 PACE 8 CUZ SHE CA 15.0 113.0 115 98 No
6/14/08 MOH 5 PACE 5 UP FRONT B 7.0 112.6 120 98 No
6/14/08 MOH 5 PACE 3 ARTIMITTAT 7.0 112.3 118 98 No
6/14/08 MOH 5 PACE 4 HAS AN ATT 15.0 110.5 114 96 No
6/14/08 MOH 5 PACE 9 CRUZIN INY 20.0 107.9 114 97 No

6/14/08 MOH 6 PACE 9 SECRETS NE 4.0 127.0 127 107 No
6/14/08 MOH 6 PACE 3 ZOOKA 10.0 124.6 133 120 Yes
6/14/08 MOH 6 PACE 2 WESTERN SH 2.0 124.5 128 104 No
6/14/08 MOH 6 PACE 5 ESCAPABLE 10.0 122.5 124 104 No
6/14/08 MOH 6 PACE 4 JUSTICE CA 15.0 122.2 128 104 No
6/14/08 MOH 6 PACE 6 WINDSUN BE 4.5 122.1 123 103 No
6/14/08 MOH 6 PACE 1 EAGLE LUCK 5.0 119.8 131 103 No
6/14/08 MOH 6 PACE 8 I ZEE 15.0 118.0 121 103 No
6/14/08 MOH 6 PACE 7 LITTLE AMO 6.0 113.5 119 97 No

6/14/08 MOH 7 PACE 2 SOMEBEACHS 1.6 124.0 128 110 No
6/14/08 MOH 7 PACE 8 DALI 8.0 123.0 123 103 No
6/14/08 MOH 7 PACE 4 BADLANDS N 4.0 122.2 126 103 No
6/14/08 MOH 7 PACE 10 KEYSTONE H 15.0 122.0 122 102 No
6/14/08 MOH 7 PACE 1 SANTANNA B 10.0 120.8 122 102 No
6/14/08 MOH 7 PACE 3 DEUCE SEEL 8.0 119.6 123 106 No
6/14/08 MOH 7 PACE 6 MUCHO SLEA 15.0 119.5 123 108 No
6/14/08 MOH 7 PACE 5 SAND SHOOT 8.0 119.0 123 100 No
6/14/08 MOH 7 PACE 7 ART OFFICI 5.0 117.7 123 107 Yes
6/14/08 MOH 7 PACE 9 LENNON BLU 30.0 117.3 119 101 Yes

6/14/08 MOH 8 PACE 5 BLISSED OU 7.0 117.8 122 98 No
6/14/08 MOH 8 PACE 10 OUR LUCKY 5.0 117.3 126 110 No
6/14/08 MOH 8 PACE 9 BUCKEYE ON 4.0 115.8 118 96 No
6/14/08 MOH 8 PACE 8 CAMIFICATI 4.5 115.6 119 98 No
6/14/08 MOH 8 PACE 4 ARMBRO DOW 8.0 115.2 118 100 No
6/14/08 MOH 8 PACE 3 BUTTON UP 6.0 114.8 124 91 No
6/14/08 MOH 8 PACE 7 OUTRIGHT 8.0 113.2 120 105 No
6/14/08 MOH 8 PACE 2 IMPECCABLE 8.0 112.2 114 95 No
6/14/08 MOH 8 PACE 1 IRISH ELIT 15.0 110.5 114 96 No
6/14/08 MOH 8 PACE 6 WESTCOAST 10.0 107.8 113 99 No

Date Track Race Gait PP Horse ML Fig Spd LastBR 3B
6/14/08 MOH 9 TROT 2 WARRAWEE J 5.0 94.0 98 80 No
6/14/08 MOH 9 TROT 3 LANTERN KR 2.0 92.7 95 76 No
6/14/08 MOH 9 TROT 8 HAWAIIANPH 8.0 91.0 91 71 No
6/14/08 MOH 9 TROT 6 BELLA DOLC 8.0 90.5 93 76 Yes
6/14/08 MOH 9 TROT 10 SAORSE 12.0 89.3 91 73 No
6/14/08 MOH 9 TROT 5 SUSAN XYZ 15.0 88.4 93 72 No
6/14/08 MOH 9 TROT 7 SOMEBODY T 7.0 87.5 93 81 No
6/14/08 MOH 9 TROT AE1 CELEBRITY 87.0 87 67 No
6/14/08 MOH 9 TROT 9 WHATTA HOT 25.0 86.6 91 75 Yes
6/14/08 MOH 9 TROT 1 PRADA HALL 6.0 79.4 88 79 No
6/14/08 MOH 9 TROT 4 AMY KANE 6.0 66.2 86 80 No

6/14/08 MOH 10 PACE 6 THONG 4.5 115.0 118 98 No
6/14/08 MOH 10 PACE 4 VOELZ HANO 4.0 114.0 114 94 No
6/14/08 MOH 10 PACE 10 ARTS DIVA 15.0 113.2 117 97 No
6/14/08 MOH 10 PACE 9 CALL ME YO 15.0 112.4 121 92 No
6/14/08 MOH 10 PACE 7 WESTSIDE G 12.0 111.4 114 92 No
6/14/08 MOH 10 PACE AE1 CHANGING G 110.6 112 93 No
6/14/08 MOH 10 PACE 8 DRAGONFEST 10.0 110.2 112 93 No
6/14/08 MOH 10 PACE 1 IM JUST SP 6.0 108.8 112 95 No
6/14/08 MOH 10 PACE 2 LADYCINO 8.0 106.4 110 95 No
6/14/08 MOH 10 PACE 3 SOUTHWIND 8.0 104.0 109 94 No
6/14/08 MOH 10 PACE 5 HAPPY DREA 3.0 96.1 106 93 No

6/14/08 MOH 11 PACE 5 JUNIOR K 5.0 121.2 126 112 Yes
6/14/08 MOH 11 PACE 10 FOX VALLEY 4.5 120.0 122 104 No
6/14/08 MOH 11 PACE 3 ESCAPE THE 2.5 118.4 121 100 No
6/14/08 MOH 11 PACE 2 AWESOME LI 12.0 117.5 119 98 No
6/14/08 MOH 11 PACE 8 BALANCHINE 12.0 117.2 119 102 Yes
6/14/08 MOH 11 PACE 6 ACCEPTABLE 5.0 116.7 122 100 No
6/14/08 MOH 11 PACE 9 SIPWITHTHE 10.0 115.1 116 96 No
6/14/08 MOH 11 PACE 7 SKEDADDLE 12.0 112.8 117 94 No
6/14/08 MOH 11 PACE 4 THE GRIN M 10.0 103.6 111 95 No
6/14/08 MOH 11 PACE 1 JUSTSHOWYO 7.0 101.5 114 102 No

6/14/08 MOH 12 PACE 4 CUBAN SEEL 12.0 124.8 125 105 No
6/14/08 MOH 12 PACE 2 ALLAMERICA 3.0 123.5 127 103 No
6/14/08 MOH 12 PACE 9 ONE MORE T 4.5 121.0 124 101 No
6/14/08 MOH 12 PACE 7 BIGTIME BA 3.5 120.0 120 100 No
6/14/08 MOH 12 PACE 6 NIFTY FELL 5.0 119.3 121 102 No
6/14/08 MOH 12 PACE 3 INFINITE J 10.0 117.7 123 105 No
6/14/08 MOH 12 PACE 1 MAGICAL GG 15.0 115.9 118 99 No
6/14/08 MOH 12 PACE 8 CLOWNS SMI 5.0 114.0 118 94 No
6/14/08 MOH 12 PACE 5 EINSTEINS 10.0 111.8 117 100 No

Date Track Race Gait PP Horse ML Fig Spd LastBR 3B
6/14/08 MOH 13 PACE 10 LUNDIN 7.0 113.8 115 96 No
6/14/08 MOH 13 PACE 6 BEAL HANOV 4.5 110.2 115 99 No
6/14/08 MOH 13 PACE 2 TOTALLY EX 8.0 109.0 113 96 Yes
6/14/08 MOH 13 PACE 8 MACH HULA 8.0 108.8 110 90 No
6/14/08 MOH 13 PACE 3 GASCON HAN 4.0 108.1 114 99 No
6/14/08 MOH 13 PACE 5 BLATANTLY 7.0 107.6 112 93 Yes
6/14/08 MOH 13 PACE 9 GRIN AND T 7.0 105.0 111 95 No
6/14/08 MOH 13 PACE 7 FLIGHTS MO 10.0 97.5 110 98 No
6/14/08 MOH 13 PACE 1 GEMSTONE 15.0 0.0 0 No
6/14/08 MOH 13 PACE 4 JUST THE B 5.0 0.0 0 No

Friday, June 13, 2008

Handicapping Friday: Speed Figures

The horse had a 66 Beyer last time, so you knew he was good.

The horse had a Prime Power number of 88, so I expected him to do well.

Those are comments in the thoroughbred world, not ours.

Our game is about trips, traffic trouble, intent and post position. Among others. But not so fast. From track to track and surface to surface and night to night, winning times change. Time is only important in jail is a misconception in harness racing. Time is important. The fastest time wins the race.

Joe, who runs the website Buggies Don't Pay is a handicapper - a pretty darn good one. He has been making his own figures for awhile, and doing pretty well by all accounts. He does not use his speed figures as a panacea, he uses them to find the speediest horses, then he handicaps.

Often on the blog I have stated the opinion that we do not have enough tools in harness racing to encourage the bet. We don't have a website with tons of harness-only information. We don't have software. We have very few trip notes, unless we keep them by ourselves. At the recent wagering conference I brought that up as a quick way to up the bet. Like most of my thoughts, they are met with a yawn, but I feel strongly about that. I currently bet more in thoroughbred wagering than I do in harness. I don't want to, but I do. Why? I get information that helps me win at the thoroughbreds. We need more information in harness.

Joe has been nice enough to send me some of his speed figures for tonight - Mohawk, Maywood, the Meadowlands and Flamboro Downs. If you want them, email me, or better yet, join Joe's site (it is free) to get them.

From Joe:

A few things:

1) These only use speed. They ignore pace, driver, trainer, conditions.
2) No trot races. Speed figures by them self are not great at trot races.
3) Fig is a simple speed figure projection based mainly on recent figures.
4) Speed is a raw speed rating with no adjustments.
5) 3B is a spot play that is useful at some tracks, but I don't have the time to explain them right now.

This is a simple method I developed 4 years ago and don't usually use by itself. I like to look at the last 5-6 races to find my selections using speed and pace. I'm currently converting my database and hope to have it done by the end of the month so I can include pace back into my figures.
For these figures the best way to use them are to:

1) Look for a standout that has point advantage/separation and bet if the odds are good.
2) If the top 2-3 horses are separated, look at the odds and if one or two has high odds bet them to win.
3) You can key the separated horses in exactas. I require at least one horse to have some nice odds.

Here is a sample for today's Flammy 1st race, Mohawk's 12th and the Lady Liberty at the Meadowlands:

Date Track Race PP Horse Fig 3B
6/13/08 FLMD 1 7 SPIRES JOH 110.0 110 No
6/13/08 FLMD 1 1 ST LADS MA 107.1 115 No
6/13/08 FLMD 1 2 NATIVE HER 106.8 113 No
6/13/08 FLMD 1 8 TAKE THE R 104.6 111 No
6/13/08 FLMD 1 6 MATTAROCKE 104.3 110 No
6/13/08 FLMD 1 4 FLEET SENS 103.9 110 No
6/13/08 FLMD 1 5 THE USUAL 102.8 109 Yes
6/13/08 FLMD 1 3 WINDLEAVES 98.9 110 Yes

6/13/08 MOH 12 5 J M TERROR 114.6 116 No
6/13/08 MOH 12 2 SOUTH SIDE 113.6 118 Yes
6/13/08 MOH 12 3 FOX VALLEY 113.0 117 No
6/13/08 MOH 12 7 COLONEL CA 112.8 119 No
6/13/08 MOH 12 4 HBFS POWER 112.6 115 No
6/13/08 MOH 12 6 NORTHERN T 111.3 117 No
6/13/08 MOH 12 8 BACK FROM 108.0 116 No
6/13/08 MOH 12 1 MINOR DE B 100.7 105 No

6/13/08 M 7 2 DARLIN'S D 121.4 124 No
6/13/08 M 7 4 MARNIE HAL 120.4 123 No
6/13/08 M 7 9 STREET DAN 120.1 123 No
6/13/08 M 7 12 TIDEWATERD 119.8 126 No
6/13/08 M 7 11 LIFE OF LU 119.7 127 No
6/13/08 M 7 6 SOUTHWIND 118.4 121 No
6/13/08 M 7 10 U ALL BB 117.9 122 No
6/13/08 M 7 5 MOVING PIC 117.1 125 No
6/13/08 M 7 8 MY LITTLE 116.9 126 No
6/13/08 M 7 3 BORN STORY 116.8 121 Yes
6/13/08 M 7 7 IDEAL WEAT 116.1 123 No
6/13/08 M 7 1 MIND BOGGL 115.3 120 No

Joe will be sending us them for the North America Cup card tomorrow, as well. So we will post them up then.

As I mentioned earlier, we will be posting up some picks for the Cup along with a bet which we will keep track of for all of the big races we will follow this year. The bankroll to start is a mythical $1000. If anyone wants to play, I will keep track along the side of the blog and we will see who has the handicapping cajones to win; concluding Breeders Crown night 2008.


Kudos to Woodbine Entertainment - in the handicapping vein. Right now they are offering value-added for being an HPI member. Bris selections and notes (usually a charge) for free. Twinspires is doing much of this as well. We have been asking for this as players for years. Betfair has done it for years. We are finally catching up. Credit where credit is due.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Odds & Ends For Thursday

It Takes Time

Mohawk handles are up.

Business & marketing writer Jack Trout has long trumpeted the idea that you have to know who you are to succeed - sell yourself for what you are. Many products try to be something they are not and more often than not they fail miserably. Harness racing is rural, it is grassroots. Going back to Mohawk in the summer was poo-pooed by many because leaving metro Toronto was deemed wrong. Early on they seemed to be right, but in business you never try things for a week and say "didn't work", you test until you have data that tells you it works, or it does not.

Mohawk works. It is a better surface for good racing. And kudos to WEG for sticking to their guns.

Using our TV Time Better

We have been proponents on the blog about using our TV time to our advantage. We have too many human interest stories, too much fluff. Not enough about the betting, or attacking stereotypes that hinder our sport.

Thoroughbred trainer Tom Amoss felt similar about the coverage of the Derby on TV.

Many TV viewers watch just one race a year and "instead of hearing our governor say what a great day it is in Kentucky, they should have been hearing us say all these things that we do to protect our thoroughbreds," Amoss said.

Further to the above, Jack Trout invented the term positioning, about positioning your product in the market. Right now we are positioned as a sport that cheats, and does not care about our horses. Of course, nothing is further from the truth - I'd say 99.9% of races are run fairly and there are some bad apples, yes, but not to the extent the public believes.

Attacking our stereotypes and repositioning our product by using our TV time is vital. I know, that is the job for a commissioner. Where are you Hector Clouthier? We need you.

Paul Mac Georgian Drive

In the post below we spoke about Paul MacDonnell's drive on Wholly Louie. On I read an interesting post.

the goals of a catch driver are (in order):
(1) bring home money for the owner
(2) bring home an intact horse for the owner

So PM did in fact maximize the purse money for breeder/owner Robert Hamather and trainer Casie Coleman.
Would you have done the same thing? I might have. I don't think I ever drove a race as part of an entry either coupled or uncoupled and I certainly never drove horses of that caliber but if I were in Paul's place, I'd probably have let Tigerama out (discreetly of course). But the fact that I or you might do the same thing doesn't make it right.

Now, this is interesting insight to me (and this is hypothetical of course, we have no idea what Paul for certain did or not do). I too doubt very much that I would not drift a bit to let my partner out. It has been going on for 100 years. It is human nature. It seems accepted.

What do we do about it, that is the question.

Show us the Video Dang it!

Cangamble has a great last blog post up. In it he mentions Mountaineer's video trouble last week. The live video stream was down for most of the card, and handle dropped 67%.

Horseplayers don't ask for much - free pp's, live video for them to bet, and a half decent price on their wagers. People think that is like asking for a 100% break on your tax return or something. It isn't, they are just asking for tools so they can give you a ton of money by playing your races!

It's like asking for an "Open" sign when they go to Walmart. They would not do much business if they were closed would they?

Why we do not offer free video - possibly on one website that we can hopefully monetize in the future - is beyond me.

Upcoming Action

The Cup is 48 hours away.

In the next couple of days I will pop up some of the fair odds lines I have received, and we will discuss the race. If anyone wants to play a game, I am game. I am going to pop up my fair odds line, start with $1000 and make a few plays based on min odds. We are going to do this with some gambling bankroll rules as an exercise, and do it for several big races - The Cup, the Pace a few others, ending with the Breeders Crown.

For example, I have Sand Shooter at 16-1. If he is over 16-1 he would be a play for me. So I would bet to win $100. The play would be $6 to win on Sand Shooter if over 16-1. I like Beach at 7-10 odds, so I would bet $60 on him if he was over 7-10. He won't but that is what I'd do. I will be picking no more than two bets for the race, and it is possible neither will be at fair odds - but that is a good gambling lesson - only bet when the odds are in your favour.

So if you are up for playing and joining me, see what kind of bets you may want to make, pop them in the comments section and let's see who can end up with a properly bet sized bankroll when all is said and done.

Further, I contacted a harness speed and pace figure maker for his thoughts on the Cup. Many people do not believe in using figures for harness. Well, maybe you will change your mind when we hear from him.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Jamieson: "I've never seen a horse like him in my lifetime"

As Cup XXV gets closer, the Globe and Mail has a piece on Somebeachsomewhere.

Driver and co-owner of Santanna Blue Chip (post one) says this:

"This horse is just a great horse," Jamieson said of Somebeachsomewhere. "He's a creature. I've never seen a horse like him in my lifetime. I don't think the people that are coming to the races right now may ever see another horse like him. I guess they'll say that Niatross was the same kind of horse, a dominant kind of horse, but I never got to see Niatross race. But I've seen Somebeachsomewhere race, and I'll tell you, he's an absolute great."

The accolades just keep coming. Lucky Beach is a horse, because if he was a human, he sure as heavens would feel some pressure.

This weekend, at Mohawk Racetrack - in my opinion the most beautiful harness track to watch a race on earth in the summer - who knows if history will be made. Who knows if we see a 1:47 mile. Who knows if the horse comes up short and reminiscent of the 1919 race between Man o' War and Upset is the result. But one thing those of us in the area should not do, is miss it.

Harnesslink Blog - Investigative Reporting

I have been remiss lately. The blog at is doing some fine things - weekly roundups, interesting stories. And I simply have had too much going on to mention it. For this last story they have gone and done some investigative reporting on something close to us -

They are looking into some of the responses left on websites promoting the site. We have gotten a couple of them here, in fact. I believe (full disclosure as in the next piece below - I am a partner in a marketing firm) that they should take a look at this and make a decision if this is what they think they should be doing. If harnesslink is correct, I do not think this helps us much. If the organic ranking for getsulky goes up with posts about their social media tactics it will hurt not help. Promoting websites via social media is a very, very fine line; and like walking a tightrope. It can snap.

Anyway, only my opinion. To formulate your own opinion read the article and let me know what you think in the comments section.

Also, check out and let me know what you think as well. After all you are customers. Your opinion is needed.

Here is the Video, You Decide

Handicappers who played last night's Georgian Downs racing were flummoxed at one of the results. Paul MacDonnell, driving Wholly Louie drifted off the rail, or pulled the deuce, which the end result of which let a stablemate (Tigerama) out, who won the race. Some were saying he did what Trond Smedshammer did in the Hamletonian (youtube video here)

For the race in question it is posted on Youtube.

I am going to add some full disclosure here. I like Paul, like him very much. He has driven our horses. He is a class individual. His integrity has always been beyond reproach. My judgment would be clouded on responding to this due to that bias. Also, in harness racing we tend to eat our young and crucify people with imperfect information; and throwing people with impeccable records under a bus without knowing said info is completely insane (a reason that I think judges and drivers and trainers should explain to bettors what happened with some performances.... I think it leads to making people feel like we are forthright and it attacks those out there who think we cheat all the time). So, I am not comfortable commenting.

Anyway, I leave this post like this: You decide.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Fair Odds Line for Cup XXV

Here are a couple of stabs at some fair odds lines.

Mine (Post-Horse-Odds-Percentage Chance (out of 100):

1 - Santanna Blue Chip
24-1 4.0%
2 - Somebeachsomewhere
7-10 58.8%
3 - Deuce Seelster
18-1 5.3%
4 - Badlands Nitro
9-1 11.1%
5 - Sand Shooter
16-1 5.7%
6 - Mucho Sleazy
70-1 1.4%
7 - Art Official
9-1 10.0%
8 - Dali
30-1 3.2%
9 - Lennon Blue Chip
150-1 0.7%
10 - Keystone Horatio
45-1 2.2%

Second entrant, Greg R:

1 Santanna Blue Chip 15-1

2 SBSW 1-1

3 Deuce Seelster 8-1 (I give him credit over art official for winning the elim)

4 Badlands Hanover 5-1

5 Sand Shooter 20-1

6 Mucho Sleazy 25-1

7 Art Official 10-1

8 Dali 12-1

9 Lennon Blue Chip 30-1

10 Keystone Horatio 15-1

North America Cup XXV Final Drawn

Here is the field for the Cup Final (courtesy Standardbredcanada.):

$1.5 million Pepsi North America Cup

PP - Horse - Listed Driver - Trainer - Line

1 - Santanna Blue Chip - J. Jamieson - C. Jamieson - 10-1
2 - Somebeachsomewhere - P. MacDonell - B. MacGrath - 8-5
3 - Deuce Seelster - J. Campbell - D. McCall - 8-1
4 - Badlands Nitro - B. Sears - B. Teague - 4-1
5 - Sand Shooter - D. Miller - J. Arledge - 8-1
6 - Mucho Sleazy - M. MacDoanld - C. Coleman - 15-1
7 - Art Official - T. Buter - J. Seekman - 5-1
8 - Dali - L. Ouellette - D. Marfisi - 8-1
9 - Lennon Blue Chip - T. Tetrick - C. Coleman - 30-1
10 - Keystone Horatio - Ra. Waples - J. Kopas - 15-1

I am having some serious trouble with the odds line. 6 out of the 10 horses are under 10-1? SBSW at 8-5? He has never had a horse on his saddle pad in his career, let alone been headed. He should have been 4-5 or lower, in my opinion. And only two horses (Badlands and Art Official) should be below 10-1.

If there was a head to head match up odds line, those five horses all under 10-1 would be around -200 to beat SBSW. I would lay that huge.

We'll come back with a fair odds line later.

As a reflection of what the public thinks, SC has run a poll on who people think will win Cup XXV. This is a fair odds line based on those 1700 votes. Since it is a Canadian website ad SBSW is such a fan fave, this line would be off as well, imo, but in any event I think SB is closer to 3-10 than 8-5. If I could be assured he would be 8-5 I think I would mortgage my house this week.

Art Official 45-1
Badlands Nitro 21-1
Dali 30-1
Deuce Seelster 31-1
Horatio 65-1
Lennon 90-1
Mucho S 80-1
Sand Shooter 95-1
Santanna Blue C 45-1
SBSW 3-10

Anyone want to make an odds line? I will post them up. I have a spreadsheet that does it for you if anyone is interested. I can email it to you for you to have.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Cup XXV Monday & Great Horses

Some good stuff out there today for fans who want to handicap the Cup.

The Harness Edge has video interviews with George Teague, Paul MacDonnell and Darren McCall. I love Paul Mac. He is so cool about all this it is frightening. Steady is as steady does.

Standardbred Canada has some stories up. Included is a poll question on who will win Cup XXV. The elims are all up there for those of you who have not seen them.

Shiny Woodbine handicapper Mike Hamilton chimed in on some numbers for this years Cup. Some numbers is probably not accurate. How about a ton of numbers. More numbers than a NASA scientist uses to land that thing on Mars. More numbers than Einstein uses. More (negative) numbers than our stable's tax return. Anyway you get the drift. If you are looking at some NA Cup trivia, look no further than here, at
Just click the "By the Numbers" link.

The post draw is tomorrow, so we will have a fair odds line soon. Also, I am trying to enlist a few guys to place up a line and maybe have some sort of challenge to see who stinks the least. Anyone want to add their odds line and some bets?

A Triple Crown Note

Boy Ken Desormeaux is still getting hammered for his Big Brown ride. Hilarious. Society in 2008 says we must blame; and blame we do. Blaming Kent for the loss is about as nonsensical as me beating Gary Kasparov in a game of chess, then heading off to warm up to win the gold in a 100 meter sprint against Carl Lewis.

Anyhow, apparently Kent is to blame, and he is the reason he lost; well I say getting bumped for four strides and getting taken up is nothing but a convenient excuse. Great horses win races by overcoming obstacles. Good horses use obstacles as excuses. If Afleet Alex can win the Preakness while falling on his face (youtube) & (picture), Big Brown sure as hell should have been able to win the Belmont.

In any event, even if by some miraculous reason the bumping was to blame, I am pretty happy that he lost, because you don't deserve to be mentioned with the Citations and Secretariats of the world if you can't overcome a trip that a 5 claimer at Mountaineer can overcome on a nightly basis.

Sunday, June 8, 2008

The Two Big Races

Notes from the Cup elims and the Belmont. In my usual quiet non-opinionated way :)

People do not like Richard Dutrow.

From's piece titled "Trainer Dutrow eats crow after Big Brown busts at Belmont"

Someone asked trainer David Carroll, whose Denis of Cork finished second, whether he felt bad about helping spoil a Triple Crown.

"No, I don't," Carroll said. "Not one little bit. There's a right way and a wrong way. You win with class and you lose with class.

"Basically what [Dutrow] has been saying is, [Denis of Cork] is a P.O.S. And he isn't. He rubbed me the wrong way."

I agree with that. When you are in a race with other owners and trainers who love and respect their horses, and who worked their asses off to get him ready, you never show any disrespect. You wish them well, nothing more. Tooting your own horn is completely unacceptable in this business, and it never has been acceptable.

As Zito said here: in the latest on Big Brown: "If I could give him one thing that he could change, just don't say anything about the horse," Zito said. "Say something about me or somebody else or whatever. But don't say nothing about the other horses, because that will get you in trouble."

I watched Big Brown walking to the paddock and Dick predicted he would win easily. He guaranteed it. Love him or hate him he has some serious cajones. However, I guess Dick is a trainer and not a bettor. We sure know when we guarantee anything we end up needing to hit the ATM.

is some 'dancing on the grave' chatter on the chat boards about this loss. Sure Dutrow was over the top, and I know some (many?) don't like him, but really there is no need for that, in my opinion. For owners of horses doing it, just as it is classless to show disrespect to another man's horse or toot your own horse's accomplishments, it's equally classless to revel in someone else's misery.

On the chat board, a new poll popped up. "When will they announce Big Brown is Retired". The choices were all in the near future. It is telling that this is what racing has come to. As soon as a horse is defeated (one who is already syndicated), fans feel that the retirement will come with the obligatory mysterious injury, followed by the "he was the best horse ever and I wish he could have proven it" nonsense. Let's hope this horse races a few more times at least.

In another nonsense file, there is chatter that jockey Kent D "cost Big Brown the race". Eghad, 180 pound me while eating a steak sandwich could have ridden him to get beat by 50.

Also, the "let's blame it on steroids" knives are out as well for the BB loss. I think steroid use, and it as a performance enhancer is the most overhyped thing I have seen in this biz for a long, long time (even the CPMA's Mike Weber weighed in on that). Out of the list of 1000 things that plague racing, I would rank it about 846. Stopping Big Brown's steroid shot last month had about as much to do with his loss as the oats he had for breakfast Belmont morning.

Some people want to do similar to driver Luc Ouellette on the harness front; crucify him, for the Dali drive last night. Eghad again. The guy places a 3-5 shot on top, gets a great third quarter rest and the horse can't even come home in 57 and it is his fault? Dali lost that race, not Luc.

We are all much better off if we stick to reading the racelines, rather than looking for blame all the time. Heck one of our horses came 8th by 24 Saturday. Blame the driver? How about the trainer? How about we just turn the page and forget about it. Horses lose sometimes.

Last night's dollar pick 3 with Tug River Princess, Badlands and Somebeach paid a whopping $2.20. One of the horses (Badlands) was 3-2. Yikes. I'd love to get $1.20 profit for a $1 bet if I am coin flipping, but not betting a racetrack where I need three consecutive winners.

A friend of mine had the tri in the Belmont. He pitched BB on all tickets. Megosh that payout was disappointing. There were some rumours swirling that huge money came in the Vegas books against Big Brown the morning of the race. True, no idea, but I read that from a couple people that seem to have a clue about these things.

The Belmont winner closed at 200-1 at betfair. Big Brown was 1.3, or one and a half to 5. Exchanges eliminate all favourite-longshot biases.

I see some people are commenting on SBSW's trainer Brent McGrath's interview in the WC at Mohawk on Saturday. He said that he thinks that the horse is not quite there yet, because the injury did not allow him to get him trained down properly. He said that he thinks the horse was "80%". What the heck is wrong with him telling us that? Seems fine to me, and completely believable. He did not predict victory, disrespect his competition, or anything of the kind. I thought he did a great job relaying the horses condition and how much pressure they are all under. This is of course a marvelous horse, and we hope he stays sound. If so, we might be talking about him for 100 years. Decent interview and better than the usual gobbeldygook.

Anyway, the fingers are tired, and so am I. Those were my rambling thoughts about the weekend. Any comments, folks? Fire away if so. It's always nice to hear what everyone thinks on these big race weekends.

Saturday, June 7, 2008

North America Cup Elims are in the Books

It was a busy day today. I will pop up a post on the Belmont later for those who might want to offer some opinions. But first, harness racing:

Tonight's elims for the Cup are over and done. For full results, you can use the standardbred Canada link.

In the first elimination, it was frankly a walk in the park for Badlands Nitro. I thought he looked fabulous. On 7/8's tracks the most important fraction is the middle half. He went a solid 54.3 and still had plenty in the tank. Santanna and Horatio (with a dandy steer from Randy Waples) made the final. As I noted before I am a fan of Share the Delight, owned by commentator Andrew Cohen. He unfortunately made a nasty break. They are probably so, so disappointed tonight, and that was sad to see. I was really pulling for them.

In the second division, Somebeachsomewhere won in 149 flat. I am not even going to speak of him in this post. There are simply no adjectives left. We've been touting Art Official this week, and he raced awesome (stopped clock). I'll wait for post positions, but I think I will have him ranked second this week in the final.

The third division was a fight. Three lead changes and plenty of action resulted in a longshot winner - Deuce Seelster. Everyone thought that Sand Shooter would be better this week and he was. He was foul gaited most of the way around, and lesser horses would have folded up and lost by about 20. He made the final. Dali brushed nicely to the lead in a fast 53.2, got a good third quarter rest but could not hold off Deuce Seelster.

All in all the races were entertaining. No one backed off, no one conceded a win. They are after all going for a shot at $1.5M next week. I was impressed with Badlands, SBSW, Art Official and Sand Shooter (if they could ever get him straightened around!). Those four will more than likely make up the top four in the new odds line when I get to it.

What did everyone think? Who were your three or four most impressive horses?

We'll be back this week with more Cup thoughts, and I do want to post up some Big Brown thoughts. It was perhaps the most interesting weekend for race fans I have seen in a long, long time.

Photo courtesy Check that site out for all the pics, news and notes.

Friday, June 6, 2008


Today will probably be the day the Triple Crown is won. I thought a post about the one and only Secretariat is apropos.

There will be many throwing around the word greatness if Big Brown should win tomorrow. But we should all step back and take a look at the past. Secretariat was and is greatness. People don't throw around the word "Superhorse" when speaking of him - he invented that word.

Here is the full footage of the 1973 Belmont via Youtube, including post-race coverage.

I thought it was a good time to watch that again, just to put things into perspective. I could watch that race all day.

Later on Saturday we get to see our own version of Big Brown - Somebeachsomewhere. Can he be the next Superhorse? We'll be back tomorrow with a North America Cup recap.

Photo Courtesy the Time Magazine Website.

A $5M Match Race?

Richard Fields loves racing.

He bought Suffolk Downs last year, and hopes to revive it into what it once was. Each time I read a Suffolk headline, it is about some promotion, or him sinking cash into his track, or him trumpeting the fact that they are open for business and come along.

Two years ago he revived the Mass Handicap. It had been going on for 60 years before being discontinued. Now he wants to take it to greater heights. He announced that his own company would put up the cash for a purse increase of the Handicap to $5M, if Curlin and Big Brown stay undefeated the rest of the way, and show up.

“Big Brown and Curlin are regarded as the two best thoroughbreds in the world and racing fans would like nothing more than to see them go head to head,” said Fields. “If they are to square off, we feel that a $5 million purse is a great incentive and what better place than at Suffolk Downs in the city of Boston, the sports capital of the world.”

We know Jess Jackson is a sportsman. We spoke about him here in a previous post.

Are the Big Brown owners sportsman? We'll see.

We need more people like Richard Fields in this business.

Harness Edge Has Some Class

I am always impressed by the folks at the Harness Edge. Yesterday a letter to the Edge reported on some trouble a woman had regarding getting a reservation for her and her friends on North America Cup night. It turns out that she was in fact on the list, Woodbine let the Edge know, and an immediate apology by The Edge was on their website.

It's a small thing, yes. But in the media age it seems that when someone reports something, there is an editorial slant on it, and if it turns out to be a mistake we never hear or see anyone taking responsibility for it. Harold and the crew obviously do not prescribe to that, and it shows in this small example.

I have stated often here, that I have opinions, but it does not mean they are right. If anyone who reads the blog has any issue with those opinions, please comment, or email me and set me straight. I want to have accurate opinions, because inaccurate ones are useless.

The Edge is doing some great things, including some excellent podcasts. Today they have young driver Ty Buter featured on that podcast, so check that out if you are interested.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

NA Cup Morning Lines and Beyer on Brown

The North America Cup morning lines are out.

In the first elim Badlands Nitro is listed at 8-5. In any other year (last year) Santanna Blue Chip would have been the talk of the division. He gets some respect at 2-1. Share the Delight, my pick for a good showing Cup week is third choice. Keystone Horatio just keeps winning, but is listed at 6-1. Can't take them all in this tough division I guess.

In the second elim, 2-5 is the odds on Beach. He'll probably be 1-5 with a huge minus show pool, but that is a good line. Art Official, our choice to ome second to him in our fair odds line is 5-1. Again, a good line, I believe.

In the third division Dali is listed at 8-5. That is too low for me. I would have made him 5-2. The other toughies all get listed at decent fair odds, including Sand Shooter and Rudy Rednose. I think Sand Shooter will be three lengths better this week, so I agree with that line. Rudy has some go.

The program for the good card of racing should be out today.

Beyer Has Cajones

It has been often stated that the racing press is filled with fluff, trying to support a sport that needs it, and being good "company men". Andrew Beyer did not get the memo apparently. In a DRF article on Big Brown he lets those thoughts be known.

.....the only admirable figure in the Belmont winner's circle will be Big Brown.

Snippets, on owner Mike Iavarone:

Iavarone's sudden prominence in racing underscores the weakness of the sport's regulatory system and should be a caution for any innocent who considers investing in horses. Iavarone couldn't sell a share of a 10-cent gold-mining stock without being licensed by the securities industry and making his professional history a matter of public record. But he was soliciting investments for a $100 million horse-racing "hedge fund" without disclosing his background - a fact that has sparked disbelief and derision from commentators outside the sport. John Helyar, co-author of "Barbarians at the Gate," wrote for " 'Big Brown' has taken on a whole new meaning. It describes the . . . dung piles littering Iavarone's past."

On trainer, Richard Dutrow:

Yet even if Dutrow didn't have a single blemish on his official record, rival trainers, track officials, and bettors would still view him with suspicion. After Dutrow acquires new horses, he seemingly has the power to transform them magically. When he took over the training of Saint Liam in 2003, the colt had won only two minor races in seven starts. Under Dutrow's care he was a new horse, winning four Grade 1 stakes and the Horse of the Year title. When a trainer does this once, it's a remarkable feat. But when he improves horses dramatically on a regular basis, he will be suspected of taking some unfair edge. Dutrow does it on a regular basis. Over the past five years, the horses he has claimed have won an astonishing 35 percent of the time in the first start for his barn.

In many other countries, trainers with Dutrow's record and reputation would be booted out of the sport. In the U.S., where penalties for medication violations are usually laughable, an unsavory reputation is scarcely a handicap, because owners gravitate to high-percentage trainers. When the IEAH Stable's previous trainer was socked with criminal charges for cheating with one of the stable's horses, IEAH sought out Dutrow. And thus did he eventually get the opportunity to train Big Brown.

Love em or hate him, Beyer is certainly not there to cheerlead. He speaks his mind. For that we are lucky to be able to read him.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

$60,000 win on a 2-1 shot? And a Bit More.

Well, time for a quick runner post.

In the old days we used to go bet a horse, go to the wicket and cash, or crumple it up and throw it on the floor. That's the way it was (well I guess there were bookies too, but I never met one back then). Now it is a different story. One can buy and sell horse futures on an exchange, we can bet prop bets at casino's on many things, and of course, we have the future pool bet. And sometimes they can pay big.

Back a few years ago I put $20 on Funny Cide back in January, at I think 90-1. That was a decent score, and I was a happy camper. Well, how about this. $60,000 profit on a Kentucky Derby Future bet on Big Brown.

"My friend Rob Hutcherson from Louisville, Kentucky joined me out at the Venetian. We are both very big horse racing enthusiasts and happened to bet Big Brown at his Gulfstream Allowance race on March 5th. What struck us about Big Brown is that we have never seen a three-year-old go such a quick first quarter then draw off by 10 lengths under a hand ride. The ironic part is that the race was scheduled on the turf and was switched to the main track after the rain. Big Brown was never being pointed for the Kentucky Derby and had zero graded stakes earnings which are necessary to even make the starting gate the first Saturday of May. After witnessing the most impressive race ever won by a three-year-old that day, before the results were official, we noticed he was eligible for the Kentucky Derby and ran to the window and made our $300 wager at an unheard of 200 to 1.

Nice work boys, nice work.

There is a scan of the ticket in the story.

Second, there are some folks out there, despite their love for the horse, who do not want to see the Big Brown horse win the TC this weekend. One posted something on, showing one reason why. In this hefty stakes race the very good Commentator was ran at hard by two Dutrow rabbits in a suicidal second split, allowing St Liam a walk in the park.

Here is the race on Youtube that the poster did not like (actually this was a heavily debated race in the t-breds at the time, some calling it a dark day for racing and sportsmanship). Any comments? What do you think? Part of the game, or a torch job? If someone uses a race like this to not cheer for a guy like Dutrow do you find that justified?

I don't know what to think. Way back when, we looked at Big Brown in a post, and I do like the horse. I am not overly thrilled with the horse and I do not think he's Secretariat, but I like him. Do I think he is the horse I am looking for to finally break the Crown drought? I don't know, but one thing I know, if he wins, he deserves it. He's a horse; and he can not pick and choose who he raced against, or who his owner is, or who is trainer is. He's just a horse.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

North America Cup Elims; Fair Odds Line & Handy Links

The Cup elims have been drawn. 27 colts connections have made the $8000 starting fee payment. I have also made a Cup Champion fair odds line, based on the entries.

The fields are as follows (courtesy Woodbine Entertainment)

1st Elimination


2nd Elimination


3rd Elimination

2 - DALI

Here is my first crack at a North America Cup XXV Fair Odds Line. We will be updating this after the eliminations.

#1 Somebeachsomewhere (50%; even)

#2 Art Official (11%; 8-1)

#3 Dali (9%; 10-1)

#4 Share the Delight (6%; 15-1)

#5 Badlands Nitro (5%; 20-1)

#6 Santanna Blue Chip (4%; 25-1)

#7 Sand Shooter (4%; 25-1)

#8 Keystone Horatio (2%; 40-1)

#9 Lennon Blue Chip (1%; 60-1)

#10 Rudy Rednose (1%; 60-1)

Field (5%: 20-1)

Cup XXV Handicapping and Betting Resources

Information: For all the news and notes on Cup XXV, including interviews and video, and historical handicapping reports from WEG's Mike Hamilton, check out It is a vital resource if you plan to play the big Cup pools (all pools are large for this race - the largest pools of the year in Canada).

Betting the Cup: USA: Mohawk is bettable at several ADW internet platforms in the US, including national ones like, and a couple of other smaller regional ones. The only national ADW Mohawk is not available at is Premier Turf Club, so if you are a member there, you must sign up at one of the others to be able to bet the race. We know how difficult it is to sign up for places in cyberspace for racing (and fund the accounts), so get cracking if you want to play the Cup. Canada: fans can play Cup night at, or of course head to the track, or their nearest teletheatre.

Chat Sites: To chat with other fans about the Cup, come up with a potential pick or two, or just for general interest, try Sign up, it's free.

Inside Info: To follow along with some owner thoughts, and perhaps some hard-to-find handicapping information regarding a horse's fitness, or connections thoughts, Andrew Cohen is blogging the next couple of weeks (he owns contender Share the Delight) at his blog. Other owners who are posting include the owners of Dali and Daley Deposit Only.

The Harness Edge has a bio of all the participants. Standardbred Canada has all the news and notes.

I sincerely hope that everyone enjoys Cup Week, and I offer all the owners, trainers and groom's of all of these horses my sincere best wishes. Good luck and best wishes as well to Greg, Mike, Chris and all those at WEG on a successful next two weeks. I hope their hard work is rewarded with a good crowd, great weather and a great race.

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