Friday, March 28, 2014

Admiration & Racing's Big Data

Sometimes you fall in love with a horse, just because.

To see Foiled Again in the paddock, hanging around in crossties, or in the post parade, it's a bit of a yawn. For those who have not, think of the movie Seabiscuit during the match race scene, when the strapping, tall, blue-blooded, powerful and beautiful War Admiral came out. Picture the opposite, and you have Foiled Again.

All that "ordinary looking brown horse" has done is race 200 times and is the top money winner in harness racing history. As a nine year old he was in the running for the horse of the year. Last week, in his ten year old debut, he won, beating four and five year olds. No problem.

What makes him so good? His heart. He’s not the biggest, he’s certainly not the fastest, but he knows exactly what he’s doing. Last week was the perfect example. I was loose-lining him until about halfway in the final turn. Then, he saw (Apprentice Hanover) coming and he swelled up. He knew it was time to go to work." said driver Yannick Gingras.

That's what I have a deep admiration of. Him. He rarely looks like he is going to win, but he wins. When he loses, he is right there. If on the off chance he loses badly (virtually never), you know he is going to scope full of mucous, or he has a serious problem. Heck, even then it makes me wonder. That horse, with a problem, would probably run through a wall.

In fifty years I believe a lot of people who are still harness fans will be talking about this horse. He's something else.

In HRU last night,(pdf) Finley talked about the PETA thing, and harness racing. In one note:

"That’s probably the way a USTA Board Member was thinking at a public organizational meeting in 2013 when the issue of whipping was brought up. This person rebuffed another Board member who wanted to discuss whether or not they should at least look into the whip issue, saying, “People don’t care about whipping. I watch the fans at my track and when the horses come down the stretch all I hear them say is ‘hit that sonofabitch again.’” It’s that sort of neanderthal line of thinking that can really get you in trouble."

This is not a statement about whipping, that's for another day, it's a statement about racing. It's sad to say, but this is not isolated. This is horse racing's big data, and has been for some time. 

"I walked around the grandstand and I've seen no one talking about takeout."

"Overlapping of races is no big deal, because I walked into the simo-center and some of the TV's are not even on the race you are talking about"

"We need to make races go off every five minutes because people in the slots like action"

Decisions in racing are made like this every day.

Bill did mention 'kicking' nudging in his article. I hope people finally understand what many (including me) were talking about with kicking. It doesn't matter to anyone if it hurts the horse or not, or whatever argument you want to use for it. Steve Asmussen is getting hammered on a video for backstretch vet work. The video has like 200,000 views. People just see "kick" and "horse". That's why the practice has to be eliminated, and the top drivers in the sport have to come out and lead by example. If they don't, the industry has to sit them down for weeks or months. It needs to stop. Period.

Larry Collmus, truly one of the good guys. 

There's more talk of federal legislation today. For that and harness racing, check HRU on page two, for that. It's by a bettor. Not a racing insider.

Keeneland is after the Breeders Cup. Oh my, that would be a beautiful setting.

Have a great day everyone!


Ron said...

If Keeneland gets the Breeders Cup, I hope that means they're tearing up Polycrap and going to dirt. If not, I won't bet a dime on that years Breeders Cup.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the industry should stop referring to it as "kicking" since that in no way describes what is happening! If anything, the DRIVER is getting "kicked" by the horse!

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