16 July 2009

Ajax Downs Leaves Door Open For Thoroughbred Racing

Ajax Downs VP of Corporate Affairs Nick Coukos was recently interviewed on Trot Radio. He was asked a variety of questions including many to do with the future of the track.

He stated that the reason they are in the midst of making it a 5 furlong track is because they want to be ready in case they get the opportunity to race standardbreds or thoroughbreds.

Standardbreds? Plenty of standardbred tracks in Ontario. But thoroughbred? Is Ajax Downs getting ready to fill the niche that Ontario horsemen will need if Fort Erie decides to close their doors? That is a strong possibility. Very strong.

With Stronach tracks being auctioned off shortly, the few groups or people interested in owning a track will be able to get in and most likely be able to get a nice discount. This coupled with the fact that Nordic has always over priced Fort Erie, I just don't see anyone willing to pay Nordic's price.

When Stronach tracks do sell, the prices they go for might thrust the price Nordic wants into reality. I said might.

One thing is for sure, I don't see there being any money left for Nordic to get handed to them after this year. And I doubt they will operate if they are indeed losing money. The only way I see Nordic operating Fort Erie next year is if the OLG gives them a better cut on slot revenues, and if that could happen, it most likely would have happened earlier this year.

Back to Ajax. They only do around $15,000 in handle a day, but they aren't exporting their signal yet. Coukos said he expects to do that by the end of this year (which probably means the beginning of next year). He says he feels there is only one chance when it comes to marketing his product outside of live racing, and he wants to make sure he does it when the time is right.

Coukos brags that Ajax is giving away in purses more than what Fort Erie is giving a way in purses each racing day. What I found most interesting is that he said that it only costs around half to train a quarter horse as it does a thoroughbred. Does he mean a thoroughbred at Woodbine where the rates are around $80 a day on average, or half of what the rates are at Fort Erie, which averages around $50 a day.

There is an unconfirmed rumour regarding the additional 500 plus slots that Ajax just received: The horsemen will get zilch from those machines.

The OLG Responds To $3.5 Billion Lawsuit Against Them
'Gambling addicts who keep coming back to casinos and racetracks despite joining a voluntary list of problem gamblers aren't the responsibility of provincial authorities, the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. says.'

Again, I just don't see why they offered up the voluntary program then. Didn't they assume responsibility by just having the exclusion program in the first place?

It all depends on how the program form was worded when they first implemented it. I'm sure the OLG changed the wording since the beginning.

And if they aren't responsible, why are they testing out facial recognition technology soon?

Three Strike Program In Australia
A trainer gets a 5 YEAR BAN for milk shaking a horse that wound up finishing fifth. It was his third offense.
Too bad they aren't so tough on cheating trainers in North America.

Harnessdriver.com Chat Board Member Putting A Little Needed Heat On The ORC

"Timebomb" a Windsor Ontario racefan has been on a crusade to get the judges of harness racing in the province to call infractions based on the rulebook. If it is in the rulebook and it is not called (the fines and suspensions are published via the web at Standardbred Canada) he is making sure people know about it.

Link for Harnessdriver.com

ORC Rules That Claims Can Be Ruled Invalid If Positive Results Are Found In A Drug Test
I think that all claimed horses should be tested, and the industry, not the new claiming outfit, should pay for the tests.
Most claimed horses are top performers. They are most likely to be benefiting from performance enhancing drugs.
Why have an added expense tacked on to someone who is willing to take a chance claiming a horse? Integrity should override everything, and these tests should be mandatory, and it is unfair to burden the new owner with this expense.

Not to mention this comment which may hold some truth in light of the fact that there seems to still be "super trainers" who run horses in Ontario:

Greg Parke SAID...

"Mr. Swinhoe (another commenter) don't waste your money. The sport has really cleaned up it's act or the testing is inadequate to find these types of drugs. Same old story, let the buyer beware, you have a 99-1 shot to finding drugs in a horses system with the testing the way it is."

Great Article: Lasix May Help Some Horses, But Is It Worth It?
Bill Finley may doubt if Lasix works at all. A recent study may have put his doubts to bed, as it did show that Lasix does what it is supposed to do: reduces exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH) in racehorses.

But what else does Lasix do?

Oh come over 95% of horses that run in Canada and the US are on it and in every other jurisdiction in the world, it is not needed?

Is it worth the fact that it masks other drugs, and enhances performance, and makes it so that horses who end up using Lasix to run fast (either through anti-bleeding or drug masking) become possible stud and broodmare prospects, who most probably weaken the breed by passing on inheritable flaws to the next generation of horses?

It Feels Good To Be Quoted In A John Pricci Column
Good follow up article regarding past posting. Pricci notes:

"One interesting aside was that respondents appeared troubled by the “perception” that late-odds drops were the result of past-posting. Sadly, the only inference that can be drawn from that is that horseplayers seem to care more about how false perceptions hurt racing than regulators do."

Another interesting aside is the fact that there are still a handful of tracks that allow cancel delays (which allows tellers to cancel bets after the race has begun):
Turf Paradise, 8 seconds
Les Bois Park, 5
Bay Meadows, 4
Del Mar, 4
Fairplex Park, 4
Golden Gate, 4
Hollywood Park, 4
North California Fairs, 4
Oak Tree, 4
Portland Meadows, 4
Santa Anita, 4
Yavapai Downs, 4
Gulfstream Park, 3

Many scams have come and gone where astute gamblers, in league with a teller or two, could make bets on contenders, and if the horse doesn't get out of the gate in a good manner, or even jump to the lead out of the gate, the teller simply cancels the ticket.

The fact that this could still happen, is enough reason to close betting at zero minutes to post (the second the 1 MTP disappears).

We've been picking pools that have been difficult to gauge of late, as to how much power this Pool Party idea has. This week we are going for broke.
We really need support on this one. Early in our campaign we did a race from The Mountain, and according to our calculations we estimate we attracted $15,000 in new money. Please bet this race, because we want to blow that number away.

Mountaineer Race 2 Handicapping Info including Past Performances, Thoro-Graph data here.

Introducing the FREE TrackMaster Players Club
* Track Bias Reports for almost every Thoroughbred race track
* Thoroughbred/Quarter Horse Selections for a handful of races everyday
* Thoroughbred Best Bets reports on selected days
* Audio Selections for New York and California tracks
* Exclusive articles by Steve Davidowitz
* Harness Selections for a handful of races everyday
* StatsMaster, a tool to gather detailed statistics for drivers, trainers and horses from Harness tracks across the country

Chad Beckon Update
Cory Clark on Facebook happily reports that her husband, jockey Chad Beckon, is heading to Toronto today to start rehab.
Beckon was involved in a horrific accident a month ago in a horse race at Woodbine.

Fun Thread On Pace Advantage: Who Is Your Favorite Female Reporter/Analyst In Racing?


Anonymous said...

My Ajax theory is that they'll try to split an 80 day meet with ft erie. Something along the lines of one runs May Jun July and the other runs Aug Sep Oct. Nordic would surely make money if they only had to run for 3 months instead of 6.

I dont think there are any barns at Ajax though. How could they get around that?

Anonymous said...

I've always liked Ajax. It's a great bleach and when I have a hard time getting my clothes white again, Ajax does the trick. What's that? It's Ajax Downs not Ajax bleach? Never mind.

Anonymous said...

The drive to Woodbine is bad enough. Why would those of us in the Niagara region want to drive to Ajax. Give your heads a shake people!