Saturday's Notes -- Big Cards in the Land of Maple Syrup, Traffic & Eye-Opening Racing Traffic

North of the border there's quite a bit of action this weekend.

Today there's quite the buzz for Tepin at the Woodbine Mile. This mare has been iron-tough, with a dazzling set of speed figures, and is probably the biggest headliner for this event (along with Wise Dan) perhaps ever. If you're a racefan, she's hard not to like. I have not gone through the card, and may not, but I will surely be watching her.

Meanwhile, after the Mile, about a half hour or so across the 401 (two hours with traffic!), Mohawk hosts a sparkling card of racing, with the highlight the Canadian Trotting Classic.

Actually, that's probably not right, the highlight is another mare - Hannelore Hanover - taking on the boys in the Maple Leaf Trot in race seven.

Well, take your pick really, there are five (for Thoroughbred fans) "Grade I" stakes tonight. Lots of highlights.

Here's a free program right here. 

While some of the twitter peeps get up close and personal with Toronto traffic for the first time, I had another light-bulb moment yesterday.

Not long ago, the post I wrote on the shenanigans in the Sword Dancer ended up taking a life of its own. Before much of the racing press was talking and debating about it (it finally started when the appeal was filed) this post absolutely slayed traffic. Not linked on any site, and not retweeted much by old time racing people, it just got passed around. All told, it was the highest trafficked post on this little blog, since 2007, its inception.

Yesterday I was reading's Weekend Preview, and noticed a story on last week's Ewart Memorial, and the judges. It wasn't about the stirrup issue, it was, it turns out, about something else that insiders were worried about (that no one else seems to be). The stirrup thing is relegated to harness racing myth, I suppose.

I said,"I wonder what that little post about the Ewart did on my blog" (where I did talk about the foot out of stirrup issue), so I flipped over and checked. Now, harness racing posts do much less traffic as a rule because its a smaller audience, and I did not expect much, maybe about equal to the average.

It was 650% above average. It, when all is said and done, might end up being the highest trafficked harness post on the blog.

I remember working on the street as a lad - Canada's Wall Street. I was sitting at a pub with a few promoters, who were looking for flow-through financing deals (for US friends, this is a type of Series A). These people dealt on the old Vancouver Stock Exchange, which was (in many ways) like the old west, and a couple (not all) were quintessential pump and dumpers.

The exchange was seeing a few people in the press challenge the status-quo and that's where the discussion went, but no one cared, because, you see, they suspected no one cared about the Vancouver Stock Exchange. It's like they were talking to each other in a vacuum. For a kid who was not in the business for long, it was quite eye-opening.

The VSE was folded in the late 1990's, regulated properly, and merged into the now successful Venture Exchange, which enables the capital markets to function on the seed scale (essential to all economies) seemingly pretty well. 

Sometimes I remember those meetings about the old VSE and think of racing. Those two posts are things that people wanted to talk about, and read, and I'm convinced they were because they were "outliers"; discussions you don't see much anywhere else. They were outside the norm. I think harness racing especially, screams for it, because, like the Vancouver Stock Exchange, it seems there are a lot of people who are aware there's a reason no one seems to be watching, and they want to explore the potential reasoning why. It's much more powerful, and easier to learn, when you are not surrounded with confirmation bias.

Regardless, in horse racing it's easy to be a sponge, because you seem to learn something new every day, a lot of the times with pure serendipity. Those two posts did it for me the past couple of weeks.

Have a great Saturday everyone and enjoy the racing!


Tinky said...

If one were to canvas a million North American racing fans/gamblers, and ask them to list their top 20 concerns about the sport, "rabbits" would be nowhere to be found.

If one were to help them out a bit, and list 50 issues that might be construed as off-putting, including rabbits, it would almost certainly rank very close to, if not dead last on most lists.

The Sword Dancer was notable because of a very poor ride, coupled (no pun intended) with a poor decision by the Stewards. Those are both important issues, and the latter in particular is an area in which almost every fan/gambler would like to see improvement.

Had Chad Brown used a more appropriate horse for the job, or had Gryder not ridden like a 12lb. bug, there would have only been a small fraction of the attention focussed on the incident.

There is zero evidence that I am aware of that the use of the odd rabbit in North America typically causes anything like a widespread, negative reaction.

Pull the Pocket said...

Hi Tink,

I agree.

Most things like this, on my blog and others, comes from a want to see the game improved, optically, and with customers in mind. In the grand scheme of things many seem small.

However, the race presentation is paramount to me, and rabbits are a part of it.

If you ask 100 racegoers who are bettors and long time watchers, time after time, whipping doesn't register, neither do many other similar optic concerns.

But, we have to realize we don't matter. We will play the game with rabbits or without rabbits, with four whips or five, or two, or none. Optically when something looks bad, it looks bad to people who are important, and frankly, you and I as existing long term fans, horse owners and bettors are not in this instance. With $350 million in slots welfare in the sport, you bet these things are important!


Tinky said...

Yes, but the optical problem in the Sword dancer was a remarkably poor ride, leading to interference. There would have been no "optical" problem had the horse been ridden properly.

When a rabbit is properly employed, there are no "optical" problems. The only possible issue, and one that would almost certainly be confined to unsophisticated viewers, would be a philosophical one relating to fairness. And that trivial issue could easily be overcome through cogent explanations by broadcasters.


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