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Showing posts from October, 2012

Melodrama

Paul Moran of ESPN writes today:
 The five Breeders' Cup races for 2-year-olds drew 52 pre-entered American-trained horses. Only one, Fortify, has not raced on Lasix. That amounts to 98.1 percent of the American-trained 2-year-olds running at Santa Anita coming off Lasix, a monumentally uncertain, potentially disastrous situation for horses, horsemen and handicappers. Oh, please.

This reminds me of the Rachel Alexandra connections not going to the Breeders Cup at synthetic Santa Anita when they stated:
"These false tracks create potential for injury, a risk that I am not willing to take with Rachel." Unless you've been living under a rock, or maybe work for the pro-dirt DRF, there is no one who believed such hyperbolic, biased nonsense.

The modern racehorse can and does race without lasix. They do in all parts of the world, they do in harness racing. I'm pretty sure Hidalgo didn't get a shot of the drug before his eight gazillion mile trek across the dese…

Ontario Racing Plan Released

The long awaited OMAFRA report was released this afternoon. We now know slots are not part of the ongoing picture, in virtually any fashion, and that (although no numbers are given) some government investment will happen, with return on investment benchmarks, long seen in private business.

Bullets:
Racedates should be cut in half, with harness racing bearing the brunt of these cuts, according to the reportPurses should be cut by 45%Very little will be "given" to racing. Highlighted by this line, where the panel expresses their dismay with the past "The customer received little attention from stakeholders during consultations" Included in the report are some recommendations on how to conduct their business:
Field size needs to be ten horses per racePurse pooling - long rejected in the Province by horsemen groups - will be implementedPurses will come from bettingMarketing and race scheduling will be handled by a central organizationNew games, bets and possible lotteri…

US Election Betting, Update II

Breeders Cup draw? Breeders Crown recap? Storm chatter? Nah. On this strange day I'll have a look at election betting and some trends. I had a couple of email questions yesterday asking about what's happening on betfair - one from a huge O supporter, one from an equally big R supporter - so why not. A lot of people are betting the race to the finish, too.

The Race

Betfair has a 67.37% chance of an O victory. This is higher than Intrade, but lower than Nate Silver's Five Thirty Eight blog. The discrepancy between Betfair and InTrade might be due to overseas money primarily working betfair, and more domestic cash at Intrade. I don't know for sure, but it is what it is.

The Fundamentals

Money has been swinging to O of late, despite a movement in the polls to Romney, where he leads by 0.9% at Real Clear Politics. You might be saying "if R is up by a point, why isn't he the favorite?"

Right now the polls themselves are not driving the price changes, the states …

Breeders Crown Saturday

Extra, extra! The program for the Breeders Crown on Saturday is out, and it's free. We've come a long way from the $2.50 charge for a ten cent pdf in horse racing. The restaurant is giving away the menu.

I won't bore you with horse by horse analysis. There's plenty of it on the web, and one thing we know about horseplayers is that they like to pick their own horses, and (hopefully) win with them. It's part of the draw of being a player. I will give a few notes, race by race, if anyone is interested. This should be a good evening of racing, and it is a much better card than last year.

Notes: 
The weather may be key, and we may want to watch the first couple of races to see how the track is playing. Windy Woodbine can sometimes result in a speed bias and that should be watched for. I am fully convinced for elimination evening there was a closers bias. If they went stout fractions, the front end wilted. Some good horses were very tired at the end. Race 1: Chalky? Fren…

The Thoroughbred Fan's Guide to the Breeders Crown

This Saturday, beginning at 6:30PM, the $6M Breeders Crown begins at Woodbine.  12 races are on tap, and there are two $100k guaranteed pick 4's.

If you are a thoroughbred fan, with nothing to do on Saturday night, here's a guide, with hopefully some references that are understandable :)

The second race of the evening is the 2YO Filly Pace, which is like the Juvenile Fillies. I don't get too excited about the juvenile fillies quite frankly come Breeders Cup time, other than to spectate.

However, in harness racing it can be exciting. Filly pacers have form, and can get better and more seasoned at the end of the year. For example, Somewhereovrtherainbow has really come into her own. She's by Somebeachsomewhere out of Rainbow Blue. That won't mean anything to you, but think of it like a filly by Curlin out of Rachel Alexandra. if you like royally bred horseflesh, cheer for her.

Race three is an awesome race for older trotters. Chapter Seven is facing Commander Crowe…

There's Life After Subsidies In Ontario, If We Change

The OMFRA final report is to be handed down in Ontario this week (perhaps, it was supposed to be last week), which will portend what Ontario racing may look like next year. It is almost certain that slot machines will no longer subsidize race purses, but there is hope for something new - an olive branch in the way of $100M or so dollars over a few years to try and stabilize an industry that will be decimated.

How that money will be spent is key. Will it be another subsidy to be spread around to ease the pain? Or will it be something new and fresh, to hopefully spur a new racing paradigm?

If it's the former, I don't hold out much hope.

I was reading on Real Clear Politics today about stimulus cash for the steel industry in eastern Ohio. This paragraph struck a chord with me.
 “There were so many things thrown at towns like ours, like stimulus dollars and bailouts, but the problem is deeper. No one running the town over the years ever prepared for what might happen if the stee…

Breeders Crown Recap

Boat races, wild drives, interesting results ..... the Breeders Crown eliminations had it all last evening.

For those who say elims should be run at 6PM, there was ample evidence of it in the first two tilts. The 3YO fillies was an old-fashioned boat race and sprint, with the quicker American Jewel getting the best of the pacesetter. With fractions of 28 and 57 I can not believe someone did not move early. If you are first up and close to the pace at least you have a shot. No one really did and we were left with a match race.

Ditto for the 3YO colt trotters in the third. Yannick Gingras made the lead, two left turns and rolled home like he was racing nw1s at Harrington.

Zzzzz.

Then the fun started. In race 4, Market Share was the huge chalk, but there was a nice colt who has been gingerly handled who came to play. In arguably the nicest late move of the night, Intimidate mowed the field down late, and looked great doing it. Can he upset in the Final? It would not surprise me one bit.

A Trip Around the Betfair Markets & Black Monday

As the weather gets cooler, there are some interesting betting events on the horizon. You usually have a pretty good idea what's happening by watching punters on the exchange.

First up is Frankel. The market is extremely tight with a 1% takeout:

We've been hearing this is a stern test, and if the ground comes up very soft we may be in for a shocker, but at times it sounds like hyperbole. After all, he's Frankel. However, at 1.25 odds, the people who are putting their money where their mouth is tend to agree. Cirrus Des Aigles is taking some serious money. Good old Bullet Train is about 700-1. That horse needs to run in a race he can win, or maybe he needs a cuddle. He must be down on himself.

This market should be in the tens of millions one would think. There should be some movement with the weather and other factors, and everyone wants a punt.

The Breeders Cup markets are barely a blip. They will be more active, for sure, but right now we're in no-mans land.

For the …

Different Sport, Different Breeding Business

In harness land things are pretty formful when it comes to horse's retiring to stud.

i) Well bred horse is bought for good money.
ii) He races at two and makes some money, then races at three, right until the end of the season. If he's good enough, he'll get a stud deal. If he isn't good enough he'll race at four.
iii) If he's a superstar he will go to a big farm and you'll make some megabucks.

For the rest of the three year olds there is not a huge probability you will go to stud, at least at three anyway. Usually the best of the best does, but not too many follow. They may race for a year or two, then call it quits and get a deal somewhere.

It's how it's done and it makes some sense. Sure we breed a lot of horses, but there is little chance that five or six or seven mediocre, or little raced colts, can retire year after year and you can still have a sound business.

I was reading an article this morning about thoroughbred studs called "Blame …

Breeders Crown Heats Up & Please Move the Deer Signs!

The Breeders Crown eliminations were drawn, and the fields are set. Elims go Friday and Saturday evening at Woodbine, with the finals to be raced next week.

The big news this year is that Put on a Show, the talented filly owned by Richard Young, will be racing the boys, rather than the girls. This filly is a bit of an enigma, because she throws in some serious clunkers. However, at her best she should account herself well.

In addition, Commander Crowe is entered, and ready. This, once again, makes the older open trot the most interesting race of the evening.

For those who have clamored for horses to race and not be retired at three, the evidence is right there. You're right. The younger divisions are barely getting a buzz blip - and this in a year where the depth of talent of the three year olds was at a crescendo.

Notes:

I watched the debate last night looking for some clue to see where the betting is going to go. I bet elections each cycle as I find there are opportunities in it…

Seasoning

Sir Henry Cecil - the trainer of Frankel - commented this morning that his colt has been easier on himself.

"He's getting easier," the Newmarket trainer told BBC Look East. "He used to be difficult and used to pull a lot.
"He's growing and, like me, he is a late developer."

We all remember him early on being hot, sometimes uncontrollable, seemingly unable to rate or be even the slightest bit tractable. Not now. He's seasoned to become a complete racehorse. And as we all know, there is no horse (with the possible exception of Black Caviar) with as much current buzz.

It makes me wonder. If Frankel was not allowed to 'season' and become great with a long term vision, would he have been considered arguably the top horse of all time? If they hadn't had a three year racing window as a plan early, would we be talking about him the same way today?

Who knows.

It does make me wonder a little bit more, however. What if Frankel was …

Generational

As the sport changes in Ontario, one must wonder what will happen to harness racing's record books.

On Saturday night, Luc Ouellette won his 8,500th race, near the twilight of his career. He told Standardbred Canada that his goal was always 10,000 wins, but he now considers that a bit of a longshot.

He's probably right.

During slotsville there were about 1,500 racedates a year, with say, 10 races per card. That's a lot of opportunity. Now we may see dates fewer than 500 - a whole lot less.

Add the fact that harness racing is an interesting sport, one where the driver does not matter as much as most think. If Dale Romans rode Dullahan in the Pacific Classic, he might have trouble beating Roger Bannister. In harness, trainers like Ray Schnittker can win in 151.3 with Check Me Out, and the next race the star catch driver will do about the same. In Ontario, with purses falling so rapidly, that 5% given up currently by some trainers to catch-drivers will be needed to pay stall …

Sunday's Here

It's Sunday and it's raining for the International. Free PP's are here if anyone wants to do some betting. I might have to take a pass on the card to run a few errands, but I'll watch the race. It's on about 5:45ET.

Nick Kling shares his thoughts, which I thought were kind of funny.
When I look at the PPs of Euros in today's Woodbine G1s I'm amazed they haven't been felled by accumulated lung damage from not using lasix.
— Nick Kling (@docfonda) October 14, 2012 Speaking of international racing, Frankel goes next week in the UK for the last time in his career. Europe has proclaimed him the world's best horse, without racing outside of Europe. He's no Goldikova, that's for sure. It's a shame really -  International racing, through things like the Breeders Cup, Canadian International, Dubai World Cup, or off-trips like Black Caviar made this year are what the sport should be about.

Who's the best trotter in the World?  Most would say…

The Drug Problem Never Goes Away

This week Lance Armstrong was again in the news, but for all the wrong reasons. The US Doping Agency released a 200 page report, detailing testimony, cloudy tests, emails and other evidence that they say is a slam dunk case, proving the multiple classic cycling champion used illegal substances.

For several years cycling has always had a wink, wink, nudge, nudge aura about it with fans. When fans see a rider come out of the woodwork to climb a steep hill in record time, they discounted it to drugs. When they see virtually anyone dominate, they've said it was drugs.

The response from cycling was always the same: "Look at all our clean tests"

George Hincapie, one of the most respected riders in the game summed it up in the report:
“Early in my professional career, it became clear to me that, given the widespread use of performance enhancing drugs by cyclists at the top of the profession, it was not possible to compete at the highest level without them.” "It was not…

Gobbledygook

The news surrounding the DQ of Odds on Equuleus keeps getting stranger. According to Harnessracing.com John Campbell will not be 'sanctioned' because the horse was 50% at fault, and he was 50% at fault.

If you understand that, you're a better man than I. When things sound strange it usually means that they are. Sometimes it's best to correct a mistake rather than exacerbate it. In this case I think it's pretty clear the latter path was chosen.

Continuing with what I think is the ridiculous, Santa Anita is having a Doug O'Neill bobblehead day. That's not a mistype; it's actually happening. Was a Jeff Mullins bobblehead unavailable?

The Horse is a Finicky Beast

This weekend we saw some fireworks from stars in both sports, and it proves, once again, what we all go through when trying to handicap to win at this game.

In spring I fell in love with Dullahan. Off a layoff he flew home, happy as a clam, on the turf at Gulfstream Park. He looked like he loved the green stuff, and I could not wait to watch him later on that surface. Fast forward to Saturday,  where he was making a start on grass at Belmont. He didn't fly anything, but the coop. The horse had no fire whatsoever and looked like he'd rather be anywhere - on a tour of the Empire State Building, kicking back with a beer and a plate full of hay watching a football game, studying the Arc past performances, anywhere - other than where he was. Trainer Dale Romans reported today that he was spinning his wheels on the soft turf.

Maybe that's true. Maybe it was something else. But Dullahan certainly was not Dullahan. He's done this before, like in the Belmont where he was asked…

Pop Goes Keeneland

Today is opening day at Keeneland, and I, like many of you, are looking forward to the fall meet. Keeneland is simply one of those racetracks that everyone seems to like. They, in my opinion, are that way because what they do touches all the bases.
They're horse owner friendly. They're friendly to their on track fansThey're horseplayer friendlyThey're buzz friendlyThey're in the home of horse racing Keeneland would still do well if only, say, three of those bullets were touched. That's what having a good brand does. However, brands can get killed over time and Keeneland keeps delivering.

16% win take and 19% exotic take -making a max rake on any bet less than 20%- in this day and age is the bomb. And we all remember that in early 2000, Keeneland wanted to even go lower than those numbers, only to be rebuffed by other tracks reselling their signal.

HD coverage is the bomb.

Polycapping databases, horseplayer contests, Trakus, and on-site online wagering is the bo…

We Can Learn a Lot About Horse Betting From Debates

Last evening there was a Presidential debate held in Denver, CO. The challenger, coming in with very low expectations set almost wholly by an effective campaign against him, was expected to do poorly. The incumbent was expected to do very well.

Earlier in the evening I contacted a good friend, a professional bettor and one of the sharper people you'd want to meet. He bets, and wins, at elections and has done so since the 1990's. We discussed the expectation angle and noted that the market might move because the challenger is no dummy and generally has a grasp of the issues. He might blow away expectations and come off some serious bad lines to overperform.

That ended up happening in virtually every market, and it did so in a fashion that has never before been seen. At betfair the challenger moved from 9-2 to 5-2. Even in Vegas it happened, as professional punter Steve Fezzik pointed out last night after he got home from not watching the debate.
I didn't watch the debate b…

3 Easy Ways To Help The Betting ROI

No handicapping angles here. No fancy workout reports. Just three ways to improve ROI, from a dude who's tried to do that since he was about 8. Scratch that, 18. Betting horses at 8 years of age would be illegal.

Remember, this is advice from a blogger, and as always do your research before taking any advice from bloggers, politicians, or a doctor who graduated from a school in a country you've never heard of.
Don't Bet Short Fields: If you are betting a five horse field at Turf Paradise with a 20% win takeout, there is no possible way you can win. If Pittsburg Phil and Bill Benter had a baby, that kid would probably be a good horseplayer, but he or she could not win. That Long Island Medium lady could not win. Nostradamus would play for a week and become a painter. Takeout is pronounced and the odds board is super-tight with no edge. There are like 40 tracks going off next Saturday afternoon; pick another race with 8 horses and up your ROI. Don't Take Goofy Pick 3 and …

Gaming Conference Yields Some Quotes

This from Joe Brennan Junior, Chairman of the Interactive Media and Gaming Association:
What the racing industry has decided to do is to stand up and thwart history," Brennan said. "The public has spoken. This disruption has already happened (despite a difficult political and economic environment). To try to stand in front of the disruption when it has already happened is counterproductive." "You should be leading this (effort)," Brennan said, noting horse racing current exclusivity with legal online wagering. "I've asked this question many times: Why aren't you leading this? The Internet didn't happen last year. You've had six years. What are you waiting for? As we've spoke about before, and many of you who've followed gambling, are gamblers, or are interested in it, have echoed it in the comments section, he's pretty much right on. Racing has had a near monopoly on betting over the internet (well, in at least 38 states …

America's Best Racing & The Little Brown Jug

Many of us have been to Jug Week and we love it. What might very well be the most storied and interesting race that harness racing displays, is a staple for Ohio, and the sport itself. 50,000 or more fans enter the turnstiles for the Jug and Jugette and its on-track presence is unparalleled in our game.
However, I was on twitter this week and asked if there was simulcasting for Monday. I didn’t know if there was, or even if a Monday card was taking place. On twitter I received no response. It’s like no one even knew what the Jug week schedule was. 
Not long after that, I received a note from a long-time fan of the sport and he said “the Jug is the most underutilized harness racing property there is.”
I think I agree with that sentiment.The buzz is simply not there. 
As this graph below shows, web searches for this jewel have been falling, year over year, to almost half of what it was in the middle of the 2000 decade. Outside the racetrack, the Jug’s pull is nothing like it is inside of it…