Sunday, August 30, 2009

Xtreme Racing & Saturday Action

Last night at Georgian Downs, the annual Xtreme Racing Day finally had some semi-decent weather, and the crowd showed up. There were the usual for the young and new fans - jugglers, tents, a ride or two - and for others there was 12 races which allowed one to step out and handicap a whole different way.

I arrived early for the day and was struck by the amount of activity in the simulcast area. Travers Day was at Saratoga, and all the other major tracks were going as with any Saturday. The simo area at Georgian is quite good and bettors were betting. I think the lounge there was designed quite well, and is conducive to attracting bettors.

At 6PM the action started with the xtreme mile, and ended a few hours later with the Marathon.

This type of racing does have a tough time to catch on, however, catch on it should, with handicappers. Handicapping this card is a real brain stretch and can yield fruit. No RGS patrons looking to bet $400 win tickets can play here as the pools are too small, but for the sharp lower bankroll capper they can, and should.

Perhaps next year I would like to get something going with a syndicate bankroll on this day, and go deep. I think that can work to make this a good, fun betting day.

Some examples:

The Xtreme Marathon race had an 18 horse field and was won by the 3-1 morning line horse. He paid $36.50. The second place horse and third place horse were useable. The super paid a pool shot and the tri paid out on "all".

In race one, the logical horses were 2,3,4,5 and 10. The Richard Moreau horse (5) won easily and paid $18. The second choice (2, King Joe who along with the ten was the class) was second, and the four horse, coming off A track lines came third. The tri 5-2-4 paid $3900 and the super paid out on an "all". This mainly due to the deep field and the overbet ten horse.

The 1/8th of a mile sprints were interesting as well. Inside posts are terrible in them, so chucking them out and playing around yielded sharp handicappers a chance to score. In the second leg, the 6-8 ex (5-1 onto a 5-2) paid $140 for toteboard watchers. In the first leg, outside posts got the job done too.

In a nutshell, if branded as a pure betting event (say on ADW's and so forth) this can and should see increased handles as time goes on. There are many, many holes in the betting that can be filled with people willing to do the work and handicap these deep fields and interesting distances. People complain (rightfully so) that there is little value left in harness racing. This is not true at Xtreme day.

Here is a look at the 1/8th of a mile sprint:

I looked at the sprints with an eye on drivers. You will often hear from cappers "this driver can really get them to leave" and so on. I do believe it somewhat, but after watching these races I might have to reconsider. Every driver there, whether a vet, or a new younger guy got those horses off the gate just fine - in twelve seconds.

I would recommend this day for harness fans wanting a neat night out at the track. Georgian does a good job with things, right from the start with food and good cheer, to the end of the evening where the bar area has a one man band playing tunes, and many patrons are hanging around til closing time.

Other action

I remember reading on the web some time ago: Southern Rocketop will give Muscle Hill a run! He had just won in 152 over a 7/8's mile track and figured to have some go. I was not buying it, but I must say that the shellacking yesterday by Muscle was a little more than I imagined.

Nothing totally jumped out at me last night in the She's a Great Lady and Metro Elims at Mohawk. I have to rewatch the races to be sure.

I watched the Canadian Pacing Derby Elim. Won the West is as sharp as he ever has been. Shadow Play looks to be very funky right now. Mr. Big looks ready for a big rest, and Art Official can not go by horses it seems. Next weeks race will be a very good betting race, in my opinion.

I would like to see them run these 2 year old races on a Thursday as eliminations. They are rarely good betting races and people just do not like to bet two year old elimination races. I heard that more than once last night with the simo-crowd, and have heard it many times before. Saturday should be reserved for the good betting events and stakes finals only.

If you'd like to watch more of the Xtreme races, including the standing start, click here.

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