1 May 2008

This Year The Derby Will Be Won By RECAPTURETHEGLORY????

Last year I predicted the winner of the Kentucky Derby in a very cocky manner. I called Street Sense a lead pipe cinch. There is no cinch this year, unfortunately. I really think Big Brown isn't going to do it. Going into a grueling mile and a quarter race on the dirt, against high quality horses after a rest of over 30 days, is not the way to go. Barbaro did it, but in the last 16 years, he was the only one. Another interesting angle is that only Giacomo and Sea Hero have won the Derby off a race where they didn't earn at least a 100 Beyer, in the last 16 years.
Here is a rundown of my quick thought regarding all the Derby entrants:

1. Cool Coal Man
Big contender if you completely throw out the last race. But it is very difficult to do so even if it was on poly.
2. Tale of Ekati
Not good enough. May have peaked in last.
3. Anak Nakal
Needs to hope that the pace really collapses and that many horses don't fire. Not likely.
4. Court Vision
Will be on the fringe. Coming off 90 Beyer (not a good angle). Not good enough for top two.
5. Eight Belles
Her speed figures make her a contender, but the fact that she has never gone past 1 1/16th looms as a large negative.
6. Z Fortune
Has a lot going for him including a 102 Beyer earned 21 days before the Derby. Four good route races under his belt (3 this year).
1 1/16th.
7. Big Truck
Doesn't look good enough to crack the top 4.
8. Visionaire
May move up in the slop. I don't like his form going into the race.
9. Pyro
Last race was bad enough to throw him out of the Derby. Doesn't show he can go past one mile and a sixteenth successfully.
10. Colonel John
Looks like he peaked in last. Will be overbet. Coming off a lifetime best 95 Beyer, which is not a great angle.
11. Z Humor
Needed the last race. Question mark at the distance. Will run a peak race, but that might not be good enough for the super.
12. Smooth Air
Runs too sporadically. May do OK in the Preakness, but not the Derby. Will need this race to move forward.
13. Bob Black Jack
The speed. May have tactical speed, but I don't like all the sprints on his form. Might hang in for a piece depending on how the track is playing.
14. Monba
Could be a sleeper. Might be getting better. Able to throw in a clunker. Too lightly raced and too much of a question to bet money on.
15. Adriano
Too long off. Big question on a dirt track.
16. Denis of Cork
Needed last race, probably needs another.
17. Cowboy Cal
Hasn't done a lot wrong (on the grass and Poly that is). Poly to dirt angle after coming up short in last might be a big angle. But his one race on a dirt track was horrible.
18. Recapturetheglory
Looked real good in the last. Shouldn't be on the lead this time. Might be a perfect tactical stalker in this one. Did OK at Churchill too. Very lightly raced this year, his last race was massive. But he did have an uncontested lead.
19. Gayego
Hard to knock this one, except that he had too many sprints last year and no routes. Good tactical speed. The distance is a bit of a question mark.
20. Big Brown
Has done nothing wrong. Big mistake giving the horse over a month off before the big race. Barbaro was the only horse in recent history to pull that off. Layoff will most likely be his downfall.

Very tough race. Here is my prediction for the Superfecta:
1st Recapturetheglory
2nd Z. Fortune
3rd Gayego
4th Colonel John
Scratch selection: Bob Black Jack


I'll make my prediction for the top 5 jockeys at the Fort:
1. Cory Clark
2. Rui Pimental
3. Chad Beckon
4. Kris Robinson
5. Regina Sealock

The jury is out on David Garcia. If either Daniel David or Martin Ramirez wind up moving their tack to Fort Erie (I'm sure we will see them Mondays and Tuesdays), either of them would win the jockey's title.

Note to Fort Erie: Change the takeout on exactors back to, at most, the 20% range. 26% on exactors is a slap in the face to your customers.

Last night they did under $1.5 million in total handle. No real competition. Mountaineer does over $2 million a night. I know Woodbine only had eight races but it still pro rates to less than $2 million. People are actually avoiding Woodbine. Could be partly because of the Poly, but I think it is mostly because of the fact they have the 5th highest takeout in North America, and the gamblers have woke up.
Also, Mountaineer is available to price sensitive players at Premier Turf Club. Woodbine has shut out price sensitive players, and their regular clientele go broke real quick thanks to high takeouts.

The harness portion of the Gambling Conference in Montreal is over. For coverage and results of the conference go to Pull The Pocket. It looks like the idea of legal betting exchanges run within Canada will become a reality in the near future. However, they have to be completely in line with the commissions Betfair charges, or it won't fly.


Unfortunately, the current racetrack owner/exec will not go that route. The result is that the industry will continue to slowly die.

Bob Evans (President of Churchill Downs Inc.) sums up the industry this way: "Eventually, people get tired of losing money."

Is he talking about track owners or players? I'll assume both, but most track execs aren't empathetic to the player in the least.

Now let me go further:

Horse players get tired of losing and quit or bet less. Eventually everyone dies. Horse racing has not been able to attract enough bettors to replace the old ones. The internet has made people aware of other forms of betting where winning is a lot more likely. Such as poker and sports betting which have much much lower rakes.

So Bob identified the problem. What is his solution?
"I think we probably have a future with fewer races and maybe even fewer tracks. Clearly, we're on a path to fewer races."

How about the same amount of races and racetracks, and much lower takeouts?

Bob Evans is a defeatist. He has clearly given up on the concept of getting new bettors, because he KNOWS that getting new bettors means drastically changing the way racetracks do business today and price their gambling product.


Beyers or other Speed Figures are available everywhere. This took a huge edge out of speed handicappers. No new edge was created.
Sophisticated drug usage, hiding drugs with Lasix has made racing more unpredictable. No new edge was created.
Slot players, who formerly made up a lot of the dumb money has been taken out of the pools. No new edge has been created.
Whales bet bigger and have a higher ROI than the average horseplayer that is left in the game, which actually makes the ROI of the average horseplayer left in the game even worse. No edged has been created to compensate for this.
Track takeouts have increased collectively over the last 20 years. No edge has been created to compensate for this.
With more tracks to bet on at an ADW or at the track, players go broke quicker.

Less winners (close to zero, but not quite) equals less BUZZ. It is difficult to create new players in this environment especially when the new competition of online sports betting and poker have many known winners.....or at least those who can break even.

Less people come close to breaking even. This is a huge factor in getting people to be turned off and find another way to gamble.

The game is intimidating for newbies as well. Speed figure handicapping and recent form is the best way for newbies to get acquainted with the game. No real edge for speed figure handicappers coupled with major form inconsistencies due to drugging has made potential newbies look elsewhere.


Anonymous said...

Love your blog.
Keep up the good fight,
although I think it
is a hopeless case. Cheers

Anonymous said...

Thanks anon, but I still maintain that the pen is mightier than the sword and money talks.
The industry will have to change their mindset or it will unfortunately die.
Harness racing handles have dropped 40% recently, thoroughbred handles are next.
Besides, a huge shift right now is being bet by those who get rebates, without the rebates betting would be halved on thoroughbreds right now.

Anonymous said...

Excellent week for you CG. I need to get caught up on news and there you go. The Bob Evans piece was enlightening.

Good show.

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