Monday, November 18, 2013

Monday Notes

Happy Monday everyone.

Here are a few notes that caught my eye.

In the Matron Stakes yesterday the big story, as usual, were the three year old colt pacers. This stake, unlike many others which have the elimination winners picking their posts, had an open draw. It immediately made the race more exciting, because the two best horses drew the 7 and the 8. What happened was an exercise on why not allowing post picking is so much better for the racefan.

Vegas Vacation, who showed in his line in the prep that he was back to his old self, would have to leave a little bit to get into contention. It was also paramount to keep tabs on his rival from the 8. John Campbell, driving the 4-5 favorite Sunshine Beach, needed to secure the lead, or something near the lead. He did, but got stung by Simon Allard driving Emeritus Maximus. This resulted in a park to the clubhouse turn and a 53.2 first half, on a cool evening. That fast first half set up a 55.1 back half for Vegas to close into, and we saw a pretty good battle to the wire.

 If "picking posts" was allowed, Sunshine Beach gets the rail and a probable easy lead in 27.2, 55.4. Good luck catching him if you are four or five off at the half. It results in a $200,000 snoozefest.

I have been impressed this year with Sunshine Beach. He jumped a shadow again yesterday (it did not cost him the race, in my opinion, he was beaten), and he seems to not completely to have found his feet yet. I sense some upside with him (could be wrong) and I expect he might be a three year old that can graduate and make a little noise next year, if he stays sound, and seasons. 

Shebestingin won easily in a fast time yesterday. She is the fastest three year old - male or female - this season. But she is lowly ranked when compared to Iluvthenitelife. The filly division this year is a very good group. I suspect a few of these mares will do next year in the Open class. Shebestingin is a fast mare who has finally been finding her feet. 

Nuncio looked good. I would like to see him race Father Patrick right now. He's better than he was this fall.

As for Dover Downs, I have no idea what that betting menu was about. Sure there was chalk after chalk after chalk, but not allowing superfectas and not having some sort of pick 4 after race four is head-scratching. Maybe it's a "rule", maybe "we can't ®" but if you don't try and get handle, you certainly won't get any.

Bill Finley asks "Can Racing Save Itself?" (he thinks not) and looks at federal intervention. Some people are so fed up with drugs, shockwaves, raceday treatments, kicking, whipping and general looking like Neanderthals, that they are running to the feds for help. That's how bad things are.

Lance Armstrong (thanks to @gatetowire), says that a commissioner buried his positive tests because the Tour De France was getting some bad press in 1999. Read this and ask yourself if there are racing parallels.

The New Meadowlands grandstand - and winter meet - opens this week.

I was chatting with a few bettors the past 24 hours about the Top Ten Horses of the Decade list.  Upon further review I think they are right - Muscle Hill should be higher than five, probably three. Also, today's big horses: Pet Rock, Captain, Iluvthenitelife all have a bit of an incomplete. But if they continue to deliver (or in Pet Rock's case if he was racing one more year and had a year like he had this year), all three could be on that list.The only other horse - a horse I believe is faster than some excellent three year olds like the Captain and Well Said - is Rock n Roll Heaven. He probably should've been on there, I think.

There has been a lot of chatter about Big Data of late. Sports folks, managers and even job searchers have been leaning on it. One person who likely does not believe it is Chiefs coach Andy Reid. Bill Barnwell looks at one of his calls in last night's big Sunday night football game (scroll to the end) against the Broncos. We do similar in horse betting - the decisions we make have to be fundamentally sound, backed by a probability of success versus the odds board, to have any chance at success long term. 

Saturday we saw a pretty good set of biases to try and exploit. Churchill seemed tilted to outside closers and the Big A similar. As for the Big A, Rudy Rodriguez is back winning races, and taking a beating on the odds board.

Driver Anthony Coletta suffered a serious injury yesterday in an accident. We wish him and his family the best. This is a tough, dangerous sport.

143 years and now gone. The Canadian Sportsman - a go to harness publication for almost everyone who cut their teeth in this sport - is folding. The last issue will be December 2013.  We wish Dave and the crew good luck in their future endeavors.

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