Saturday, August 1, 2009

Big Race Days

The blue-bloods are having a field day, rightfully so, with Rachel Alexandra returning to the races at Monmouth. But us plumbers have a day that is pretty darn good, too.

First up the 700k Adios Final goes at the Meadows, near Steel Town. Well Said has drawn the far outside nine post, which on the surface spells trouble. I have two problems with that. One, he is about five lengths better than the others, and two, the nine post at the Meadows (we looked at that here) is not as bad as one would think. I have little problem with Well Said, except the fact that there is a chance he can beat himself. I think that's the only thing that can beat him today.

The Hambletonian Elims go tonight at the M. The first elimination has an all world trotter headlining the festivities - Explosive Matter. He will be, and deserves to be chalk. However, there is a horse who is freakishly fast in here, the seven Hot Shot Blue Chip. If this guy stays flat - which is probably not a great bet - I could see him winning this elimination at a good price.

The second elimination looks like Federal Flex's to lose. A decent field with some nice trotters yes, but this is not your regular trotting year. Flex is world class, and if it was one of the previous years he would be the hype horse, all alone.

The last elim is Muscle Hill. One would expect that Brian Sears will try to steal some easy fractions here, to leave a lot in the tank for next week. There is a fast trotter or two from the outside, but if they do not get off well, this might be ripe for a 2-1 ex, with Triumphant Caviar in the place spot.


As you know because we wrote about it here, one of my pet peeves is the super-hype we see in the harness press. Every win is "sensational" or "overpowering" or "dominating", depending on the reputation of the horse, and having nothing to do with said horses performance. I remember a couple of years ago reading how Donato Hanover was "dominant" in a win. He was under the stick and all out to win, and the win was anything but that. Every fan knew it. This year, it was nice to see Jeff Gillis and Jamieson after Federal Flex's Goodtimes win actually be honest, when that colt was flat. In fact, the same press and publicity offices who tend to over-hype constantly, was less-than-thrilled that Gillis was actually honest after that win. "Gillis took some criticism from the media and fans after expressing his disappointment in Federal Flex's effort in the Goodtimes." says a story at the Harness Edge. Well, the horse scoped terrible and was bad. As fans we learned that later, then in Flex's next start at the Meadowlands he actually was brilliant, and fans knew exactly why.

"The Goodtimes Final was exactly how a top horse finds a way to win despite not being 100 per cent," he said. "We took a lot of negative feedback for our post race interviews because we were disappointed with his effort and of course concerned. Hey, we were honest and we just felt he was a much better horse than that.", said Gillis.

We need fewer cheerleaders, and more analysis. Kudos to Gillis and Jamieson for not speaking to us like we are children, like so many do in post race interviews. Go get em Jeff, and keep not falling into the nonsensical claptrap.

Speaking of analysis, Andy Serling, the NYRA handicapper has been taking it on the chin from a poster at who thinks his picks stink. I always love to read anonymous trolls on the internet. If you know what they are there for, and take it with a grain of salt (as Andy has on that thread), it can be fun.

We have spoken about it before, but is there any weirder job than a racing analyst? You lose upwards of 70% of your picks, you can mathematically go on a 30 race losing streak in this sport, and you can look like a bumpkin when your horses inevitably come last. Yet, that same person in racing can do all that and in the long run still be profitable. Tiger Woods only wins around 28% of the time, yet he is the worlds best golfer. A track handicapper who wins 28% of the time can be considered a complete idiot. What a game!

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