Rooney, Big Speed, Harness RIP & Hong Kong Rebates

Some good action last night in racing.

Badlands Nitro won the Rooney in a rather slow 152.4. Could have been the track I guess. Santanna Blue Chip, who just keeps showing up every week and racing well, nabs second with Jody J. That horse looks so sound he could do that all year. In the filly Lismore pace, Thong, a Jerry Silva buy, gets him back some dough with a win. She grinded in a pedestrian half and sprinted home.

The Meadowlands is the fastest track in harness history. Forget the Red Mile, or Springfield. Sub-150's are the order of the day there this year. Mr. Big won in 148.1 and Sam McKee after the victory said the time as if it was a regular occurrence. Frankly this year it is. Mr. Big looks like a solid favourite next week in the Haughton Final. If the Beach catches a track like this and is sharp, he can go 147. No doubt in my mind.

I watched a couple of Georgian Downs races last night. Track manager Chris Roberts is doing double duty as a commentator, as well. He and the track announcer chat between races and have themselves a nice little simulcast show going. Good idea.

Out west in Alberta (for you American's that is one of our most beautiful and rich provinces) harness racing looks soon to be off the map. At the Standardbred wagering conference in the spring many people spoke of the simple fact that if thoroughbred racing attracts more interest, and more handles, that harness would be a casualty. It has happened elsewhere, and last year several tracks were speaking that harness should be charged more cash to simulcast. This is all the more reason for us to do something different. Have a bunch of takeout sales, or a new platform, or get together and aggressively create a central organization and sink cash into betting software, or free data, or schedule our racing correctly, or whatever. Anything at all. I think this is the shape of things to come. We have to have an answer.

Hong Kong gets it. They asked for their industry to be taxed on gross profits, not in any wagering pool. Why is that? Because when shackles are taken off the wagering pool they can offer lower takeouts via rebates to customers and raise handles (they offer 10% rebates on losses). As we wrote in our "give the tax back" post, we spoke about the same thing - we got a 7% tax back in 1996, but kept it for ourselves, and did not give it to the customer. Nader at the HKJC knows what he is doing. Handle was up 5.75% by being responsive to the forgotten people that most matter - their customers.

".....Highs of a 5.75 per cent growth in racing turnover to HK$67.7 billion in the season just completed.......The decision by the government to agree to our proposals [to change the way racing is taxed, from turnover to profit-based] has enabled us to introduce the betting rebates, which have offset the activity of illegal operators," Nader said.

Last but not least, you have to admire Kelly and the folks at Grand River Raceway. With racing having two customers - price sensitive gamblers, and people looking for entertainment - we need two kinds of marketing. Grand River does great with the entertainment portion. They promoted a powder puff night asking people to bring their girlfriends for a night out a Grand River. Psychics and fun stuff like that (i.e. things that me as a stone cold handicapper don't like :)) for a new demographic. It's worth trying, and try they do.


Anonymous said...

I think the only way SBSW will win in 47 this early is if Paul wants him to.

It was very obvious in the NA Cup how much better he is than everyone and how much the respect/intimidation factor is with him.

I think he'll just cruise up to the lead at his leisure and sprint home to win as he pleases.

Anonymous said...

Good riddance to standardbred racing in Alberta…….it’s a joke anyway…………the sport is bearable if run on mile tracks………it should be restricted to running on the bigger tracks.

Pull the Pocket said...


I am not sure about that. Mr Big went 54.1 and backed it up with a 54 flat. For a 148.1. SBSW went, for example, 54.4-54.1 at Mohawk on a cooler night, and a much slower track. I do not think it is out of the realm (with so many 54 flat halfs at the M this year) to see him brush near the half for the lead in 53 and change and come home in a similar time. The track will be lightning fast for the M pace final (if weather is good of course), they usually make sure of it.

I am of the opinion we have not seen the Beach anywhere near his best. We'll see I guess.

Anonymous said...

I think you will see a monster mile by SBSW, but it will be at Lexington, with an unsound horse they will have to manage him very carefully to maximize his money and also get a fast mark at sometime for the breeding shed. He is the best right now bar none, just wondering if his soundness issues will end his career early, I hope not, he is a treat to watch on the racetrack.

Anonymous said...

I was going to start complaining about the speed favoring nature of the Big M lately as well as the same bias at Chester and Pocono but I won't :-)

Anyways, I look to be headed to the Big M this Saturday for the Pace Elims. It is going to be my birthday present to myself. Only about 1.5 hours away and how often do you get a chance to see a horse like this?

Pull the Pocket said...

Good stuff Phil.

I hope he performs up to his capability. If so and if the conditions are good, you might see something special. Let's hope so.


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