31 May 2009

Queen's Plate Trial Goes Today: Southdale Onto Keino West

The Plate Trial goes off at Woodbine later this afternoon. There really is only one potential killer in the field, and that is Southdale, a horse who looked physically impressive when he romped to victory in a maiden win on May 3rd.

El Brujo, the morning line favourite paper looks too much like last year's Plate winner, Not Bourbon. And I was wrong very wrong last year, but my handicapping fundamentals haven't changed because of last years results. I expect El Brujo to struggle in the last 2 furlongs today.

The wild card today is Eastern Promise, coming in from France. Tough to compare races from there. I'm not crazy about the time between each race this year, so I can see him using today's race strictly as a trial.

Keino West is my long shot. 3rd race of the year, this horse looks like a router. There was nothing wrong with his maiden win late last year, and he should have a decent pace to run at today.

Finally, Rapid Release saddled by last year's Plate winning trainer Roger Attfield. He just looks like he is on the improve, and there is no doubt that Attfield will be able to get the distance out of him today.

Interestingly, there is a maiden race that goes off just before The Trial. Same distance, and the field actually looks comparable to the Stake Race. Lots of speed, may actually mean the time of the maiden race will be close to the stake race. On figures, it wouldn't be surprising.

Dr. Funkelstein, may come out of this maiden race as a major contender for the Plate if he runs as I expect him to. He ran in a very good NW1 other than last time, and actually beat out Rapid Release by a length in that race. Now he faces maidens.

I'm interested in how far Candy Games can go, though Big Brown Brewski figures to compromise his chances and will force Candy Games to chase.

Other Canadian bred horses who will be auditioning for the plate are Yorkville and Gallant. They should both get good trips today, and depending on the final time of today's race in comparison with The Trial, either one of them could be Plate contenders.

Woodbine has a website devoted to the Queen's Plate. What I like the most are the archival videos of past Queen's Plate races. Elissa Blowe does an excellent job with the narration.

Congrats go out to Robbie King for winning the Avelino Gomez Award

Fort Erie To Push Back Times Soon
As I suggested on this blog not so long ago, Fort Erie should start later on Monday and Tuesdays because their handle really goes up around 4:30 to 5:30. Their problem this year is that they have had a major shortage of horses, and they barely fill 8 races a day.
It was announced that sometime in June, post times will be moved from 1:10 to 1:45.
Of course, I also argued that on Sundays it might be prudent to start racing at 12:30 so they can get the online gambler's first bucks. But having different post times might confuse too many horsemen and gamblers.
Now all Fort Erie has to do is drop takeouts on exactors and pick 3's and they'll be all set for some good growth.

Read Harlan Abbey's newest article on Fort Erie.

27 May 2009

Hot Topic: Should The Betting Windows Close At One Minute To Post Time?

In my last post I put out a poll question: Do you think that betting windows should close at 1 minute to post? As of the time of this writing, 83% of those who answered said yes.

I decided to pose the question to the vaster audience over at Pace Advantage.
So far, over 63% of those who answered have voted yes. Now that crowd is full of sophisticated handicappers and bettors. It also has horsemen and racing execs as members. I mention this is because intuitively to horsemen and racing execs, shutting pools with 1 MTP means less money in the pools. But does it really?

Horseplayers would adjust. Just like gamblers know that they have to get their early NFL bets in by 1:00 PM, or risk getting shut out, horseplayers will make sure that they get their bets down if they know they are going against a set clock. Horsemen know they have until 15 minutes to post to put in a claim slip. Rarely do they get shut out.
Large and/or sophisticated bettors who make computer generated batch bets based on odds, will just reprogram their system so that it bets a minute or a minute and a half earlier. No big deal.

Now lets look at the pros and cons of closing the windows early:


1. Pool Integrity. As highlighted by the two tote mishaps that happened recently at Hollywood and Penn, it is clear that the tote system is for from infallible. More importantly, the public's perception that odds of many winners drop during the race due to tote shenanigans prevails in the betting community these days, though in most instances, odds drop because of bigger bets made on overlays at 1 or 2 minutes to post by sophisticated bettors with batch betting programs. There is still huge doubt as to whether some might be profiting with a scheme that is giving some players an edge after the bell rings.

For instance, many jurisdictions allows for cancellations of tickets after the bell goes off. This is to protect the tellers who may have made a last minute mistake on a ticket, or they if they print a ticket and the bettor doesn't have the funds to pay for it (probably doesn't happen very much).

By closing the window at 1 MTP, it allows tellers to cancel tickets where someone isn't canceling because their horse got off to a bad start, or broke (in harness racing). Most importantly, it gives the tote companies a full minute to realize if there is a problem and the system isn't really shut. They can make a quick call, and get the problem race delayed, until the error is fixed.

2. Odds most likely wouldn't fluctuate as much. If players know that if their bet has to get in by a certain time, they will tend to bet earlier so as not to get shut out. The earlier players bet, the truer the line will be throughout the betting. Sure, there will still be early money on horses that will adjust upwards throughout the betting, but by 4 or 5 minutes to post, players will have a much better idea what the final odds will be. This may lead to more confidence from bettors, and maybe bigger bets.

3. The actual time a race goes off will be closer to the time it states in The Racing Form. Once tracks are confident that players will adjust and make their bets prior to one minute to post time, there will be less need to fluctuate post times from the estimated post times (an exception would be a long inquiry).

4. Batch bettors might get all their bets in. Knowing there is a set time, those who make many bets in a race, will time it so that all their bets get in before 1 MTP. Right now, it is possible that maybe a small percentage of batch bets don't make it in on time. This too, will create odds that don't fluctuate as much in the last 4 minutes prior to the race. Batch bettors will be more confident too, in getting their bets off a little earlier because there will most likely be less fluctuation.


1. Late gate scratches will mean a refund and players will not be able to make a replacement bet. Late scratches do happen. Some arise when a jockey tips off the gate steward that the horse doesn't feel right. Some arise by the steward noticing the horse is off prior to the race. These scratches usually happen around 2 to 3 minutes to post. Having the jockey report to stewards a minute earlier would suffice, as well as putting more pressure on the gate steward to make decisions slightly earlier.

Of course, horses sometimes hurt themselves in the gate or unseat going into the gate (or break through the gate). This stuff happens after the proposed betting cut off. The solution to this is to unload the horses or delay loading by exactly two minutes, giving players an opportunity to make last minute changes.

2. In today's day and age there is no reason why the tote system can't just close off everywhere once the bell rings. Most of the time this is true, but it isn't true 100% of the time, and that is a huge problem. It is estimated that the cost to overhaul the system, and make it infallible, would be close to a quarter of a billion dollars. One of the biggest problems is that the system would have to be changed by both the tracks and the tote companies.

3. More people will get shut out, and late scratches will create more refunds without players getting a chance to bet their money into the race once they realize there is a scratch. This is more a fallacy than a con. People who get shut out are less likely to get shut out if they know there is a set time to get their bets in. Less people will get shut out.

Secondly, many players don't have the time or means to make additional bets after gate scratches are announced to begin with, but lets say this causes more money in collective refunds. So what? I've repeated myself enough here when it comes to the concept that John Q. Bettor only has so much money to lose over any specific period of time, and since takeouts are so high, John sits on the sideline many times through this period of time before funding his account. Many people who get refunds will bet it back in the next race or by the end of the card, or at worse the next day. When the dust clears, the race tracks will get the same amount out of John over 2 months than they would have with or without refunds in almost every case.

If you haven't voted on my site yet, go to the bottom of this post and vote.

See also, Better Betting by Dan Liebman

Fort Erie apprentice jockey Melanie Pinto is on Twitter. To follow JockeyMel, click here.

I'm on Twitter too, to follow me, click here.

Down The Stretch has a new issue on line. Peter Gross puts his 3 for 30 Queen's Plate handicapping streak at risk. Perry Lefko writes a feel good story on Ashley Palmer and a rescue horse.

Frank Passero Jr. Can Breathe A Sigh Of Relief
Fort Erie based trainer Daryl Ezra, who was on a four race winning streak, ran second yesterday with his mare Withsarasapproval. Passero's 11 race record winning streak is safe for now.

Fort Erie Has Best Handle Day Of The Year Yesterday
In only 8 races, bettors wagered over $930,000 yesterday. This is huge compared to Sunday and Monday (which competed against A tracks because of the US holiday this week), when the handle per race on those days, was less than half of Tuesday's handle per race.

Fort Erie is now offering Superfectas in any race that has 7 or more entries (6 if a late scratch occurs). They are 20 cent supers for Canadians, but those betting at US ADWs or tracks have to play them for a buck. The same thing happens to Canadians who bet at Canadian tracks or HPI when it comes to American tracks. We are forced to play them for a buck, even though in the States, they have a 20 or 10 cent minimum.

This is just a short term fix. Superfectas with high takeouts are bankroll killers. They kill the churn. This causes players to lose their bankrolls faster, causing more players to eventually become disillusioned, causing them to leave and find another form of betting.

If Fort Erie was looking long term at attracting bettors, they can do two things right off the top. Reduce their takeout on exactors (the highest in North America) from 26.2% to 21.2% tops. Many bettors have become knowledgeable when it comes to takeout, especially recently, as players who remain in the game have become collectively more sophisticated. The other thing they can do to attract players to focus on Fort Erie is to offer a low takeout (lets say 16%) on Pick 3's, and offer them in the first and fourth race as well. Yesterday, even though it was a good day for the Fort, they only averaged around $3,800 on the four Pick 3's they offered. So the cost to the track to try this out will be minimal even if it fails. However, I contend that this will put Fort Erie on the radar screen, and generally, even if value players focus on the Pick 3's, they are likely to play other races if the odds look good regardless of the takeout on the other wagers. Finally, these two moves will make Fort Erie soar in the HANA standing when it comes to top rated tracks to bet on. Right now, Fort Erie sits at 70 out of 71 tracks. A big turn off.

Hamilton vet and Burlington man (who posed as a vet) charged by OPP
Cash and drugs were seized.

'John Guerra, 64, was charged with practising veterinary medicine without a licence.

Dr. Murray Bonshor, 48, of Hamilton is charged with the illegal sale of drugs under the Food and Drugs Act. Bonshor is scheduled to appear in court June 16 and Guerra June 17.'

This is part of the Ontario Racing Commission's new ties with the OPP Organized Crime Enforcement Bureau.

Good job, now the ORC can go after those who were customers of the two charged individuals and clean up the game.

Update: 'The OPP officer said the horse racing commission’s focus of concern is on non-therapeutic performance-enhancing drugs like darbepoetin-alfa (DPO). DPO is classified as a potent, long-lasting form of EPO. EPO, short for erythropoietin, triggers a horse’s body to produce more red blood cells and is thought to improve performance by increasing the blood’s oxygen-carrying capacity.'

The ORC reminds the racing community that they are only allowed to deal with ORC licensed vets.

The June 1st steroid ban in Ontario is approaching fast. I have to wonder if certain trainers aren't doing too well because they are now training without steroids for the first time in a long time. I'm not going to name names, but some high profile trainers are having horrendous runs right now. Coincidence or steroids?

TrackMaster has a contest on right now for computer programming handicappers:

'Have you created your own personal handicapping software and desire to expand upon and market it? Are you a software developer that has an idea for the next great web-based product? Today, we are announcing the start of the TrackMaster Software Development Challenge. The Challenge is open to PC or web-based applications for Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse or Harness Racing. We are supplying a year of sample data that can be used to test extensively.

Included among the prizes for the winner(s) will be the eligibility to enter into a revenue-sharing agreement with TrackMaster in connection with the commercial availability of the winners' software.'

The tragedy that happened to Rene Douglas rightfully shocked the racing community on the weekend. But another large mishap happened on Saturday at Louisiana as well. Luckily, to my knowledge, the horse and the jockey (Patrick Valenzuela) escaped without any serious consequences.
The mishap happened at the 16th pole to the favored horse (Say The Word) who was going to win the race. You have to see it to believe it:

HT:Railbird Brad

I hate blaming the gate crew for not mopping up properly, but since you never see this kind of stuff, and there have been many sloppy tracks throughout the years, I have a hard time not blaming them.

24 May 2009

The Breeders Cup Betting Scam Of 2002 Revisited

With the past posting problems we just saw at Hollywood Park and Penn National in the past week or so, the betting public's confidence level continues to be low despite the fact that we are in the 21st Century.
Often we see the odds of winners drop halfway to three quarters into a race. I contend that most of the time, it is simply batch computer betting programs done by big and medium gamblers alike, who don't bet overlays until 1 minute to post or less.
But in the back of every player's mind, there have been known scams. Remember the betting scam that was done at Woodbine and Greenwood around 20-25 years ago? Very good handicappers would make large bets at the bell, and have the ability to cancel the tickets if their horse didn't have a great start. Some tellers were in on the betting syndicate as well.
There is still the ability to cancel big bets I believe, but it is harder to pull it off these days.
This brings me to the biggest known betting scam that North America horse racing has ever seen. The following video goes into detail how the Pick 6 scam worked, and one wonders if not for pure greed and lack of foresight, if the scam could have lasted for years if not decades.
What is really neat about the following documentary is for some reason much of it contains scenes from Woodbine, even though Woodbine had nothing to do with the scam:

HT CBedo and CMoore on Pace Advantage

Those who had 5 of 6 eventually were paid, once they proved they made the bet. But what about those who were ripped off in the smaller test scams, when the scammers made over $100,000 betting pick 4's?


23 May 2009

HANA Pool Party Today: The 8th At Canterbury Park

HANA is beginning to make fantastic strides now. We are getting a lot of attention as well. John Pricci at HorseRace Insider has written a fantastic article; HANA Proving A Positive Force For Industry Change. Great interview with HANA President Jeff Platt.

My favorite part of the interview is in the comments by Douglas Amos and John Pricci:

"Lone Star currently has an attractive reduction on its Win 5. Promote these people....Woodbine, if it indeed seeks to be a leader, could begin by lowering the most exorbitant exotic takeout rates in North America; boycott them."

John Pricci replied "...And it must be killing you that Woodbine has very high takeout rates, it being your hometown track.
Do you hear us now, Toronto? You’re out."

Today, HANA will be swimming in Minnesota, at Canterbury Park. We selected the 8th race, which goes off around 5:30 EST. It is an 11 horse grass race for $7500 claimers (fillies and mares). Show your support and bet the race, even if you just bet a deuce. A couple of horses that have a shot at a price are Rossiya and Fancy N Quick.

Free Past Performances and Pace Figures can be found by clicking here. Thorograph data can be accessed for free here (click attachments in the message box).

The free past performances (above) that were donated by TrackMaster have a couple of new additions. They have just added run up distance (the distance the horses go before the beam starts the timer in a race), and the distance that the rail was out in grass races. For a better explanation, click here.

HANA is becoming the go to voice for horseplayers. Recently, there was a past posting glitch at Hollywood Park (betting was allowed to continue after the race at quite a few locations). It was first brought to everyone's attention at HANA's blog by Mike Maloney. The story got legs in a hurry, as Paulick Report quickly picked up on it as well. A similar incident just happened at Penn National on Wednesday night. Lots of pissed off players, who had picked the right combos but were completely disillusioned when the race turned into a complete refund. Many are requesting HANA boycott Penn, but the reality is right now, until HANA gets much bigger, boycotts just won't be on the table. We have to stick with buycotts until membership gets a little more significant. Right now HANA is close to 1200 members who bet $40-$45 million a year collectively. Lots of small betters and a good number of big and medium bettors as well. The reality is that we need numbers.

The greater the amount of voices we represent, the greater the voice HANA will have. Please join if you haven't already (it is free) by clicking here.

Some sad news as Renee Kierans reports on the passing of long time Woodbine trainer Tony Mattine.

20 May 2009

Larry King's Pants Must Be On Fire

Larry King is touting his new book "My Remarkable Story" right now. In it, there is a blurb about a big score he had at the race track. Maybe his book should be renamed "My Impossible Story."

A few of us on Pace Advantage had some fun today playing sleuth on this story, because it just didn't seem right.

Here is the excerpt from the book that has red flags coming from everywhere. My comments are included where appropriate:

I was thirty-seven years old. (In 1971). I had no job. I had a couple hundred thousand dollars in debts. And a four-year-old daughter. I'd take Chaia to our secret park on our visiting days. That's when the pain cut the deepest -- looking at my daughter and knowing I had no way to support her.
Larry King has made it known that he went personally bankrupt in 1978. So this looks OK.

Things got bleaker and bleaker. I became a recluse. By late May, I was down to forty-two dollars. My rent was paid only until the end of the month. I locked myself in my apartment wondering how bad things could possibly get. Pretty soon I wouldn't even be able to afford cigarettes. I remembered a night when I was a young man in New York, alone, cold, and without cigarettes or the money to buy them -- I had smashed open a vending machine to get a pack.
I don't smoke, but I've been broke like this many times before. Maybe if I smoked and I was broke, I might have done the same thing. Probably not though. Although when I was around 9 or 10 when being broke didn't matter, there was a flaw in some coke machines where you could reach up and cause free cokes to come down. I vaguely remember having some free pop.

A friend called up and told me to start living like a human being again. He invited me to the track. I had nothing better to do, and I figured it would be good therapy to get out and have lunch with a friend and watch the horses come down the stretch.
I've had friends invite me to the track, and I've invited friends to the track. But a friend is more likely to say "STOP going to the track and "start living like a human being."

I'll never forget that day. I put on a Pierre Cardin jeans outfit that had no pockets and drove to Calder Race Course. I can still see the horses warming up before the third race. There was a horse called Lady Forli -- a filly running against males.
I'm not going to debate the jeans outfit too much, though I remember having a knockoff of it when I was around 12, and there were small pockets if I remember correctly. Did Larry keep his $42 in his hands while at the track or maybe in his cigarette pack? Ok, that's enough.
The big deal is the horse, Lady Forli. A little research, and what happens? Lady Forli was foaled in 1972. Tough to race in 1971. Could it have been a Forli horse with a name that had Lady or Girl in it? Maybe. Forli went to stud in 1968, and his first crop ran in 1971. It could be likely that a 2 year old filly might have to race against boys first time out in May because filly races may not have filled.

Normally, female horses don't beat males. We're talking cheap horses. I scanned the board and saw that she was 70-1. But my eyes really opened when I looked at the racing form. Racetrack people talk to each other. So I turned to the guy next to me and said, "You know, this horse, three races back, won in more or less the same company. Why is she 70-1?"
So much for this horse being by Forli. Not very many two year olds, even back in 1971, were making at least their fourth start in May.

"Well," the guy said, "there's a couple of new horses here."
Since Calder was just opened for the first time May 6th, 1971. I would expect many "new" horses in the race.

"Yeah, but she should be, like, 20-1. Not 70--1."
Screw it. I bet ten dollars on the horse to win. But I kept looking at the horse. The more I looked at this horse, the more I liked it. So I bet exactas. I bet Lady Forli on top of every other horse and below every other horse. Now I had what's called a wheel.
Back in 1971, there were no $1 wheels. And if you read a little more, you'll see this horse was number 11 according to Larry. Assuming an 11 horse race and no scratches. A back wheel would cost $40. With the $10 to win, the cost is $50.

I kept looking at the horse. Wait a minute, I told myself, I've got four dollars left. I have a pack of cigarettes. I've gotta give the valet two bucks. That still leaves me with money to bet a trifecta.
Oh, oh. Larry, Larry, Larry. I had an inkling that trifectas weren't invented in 1971. Turns out I was wrong. Apparently Arlington originated the triactor in 1971.
But further research tells us that Calder didn't have triactors in 1971 according to Bill Finley. Finley also comments that Lady Forli never even made an appearance at Calder in her short career, and that she never won a race in the United States. I think Larry would have remembered if he went to Ireland to make the big score.

My birthday is November 19. Lady Forli was number 11. So I bet 11 to win, 1 to place, and 9 to show.
No you didn't.

Now I had bets in for 11 on top, 11 on bottom, and 11 to win. And I had a trifecta -- 11-1-9.
Um, OK, but no.

When the race began, I had two dollars left to my name -- and that was for the valet.
I do have a bit of a problem with this. If someone is worried about rent and has limited dough to bet, why would you park in valet parking? And doesn't that mean that he had less than $42 by the time he paid for valet parking and admission (probably a buck or two for both back then).

They broke out of the gate. The 1 broke on top, the 9 ran second, and the 11 came out third. The 11 passed the 9, passed the 1, and they ran in a straight line all around the track. There was no question about it. The 11 won by five lengths. The 1 was three lengths ahead of the 9. I had every winning ticket. I had it to win. I had the exacta. I had the trifecta. I collected nearly eight thousand dollars. Eight thousand dollars!
Could the exactor have paid $7000 and change? Maybe. Highly doubtful, and besides, Larry would remember if he had a $7000 exactor for a deuce....or would he? He definitely didn't have the triactor.

It had to be one of the happiest moments of my life -- certainly the most exciting. But I had no pockets.
So I stuffed all the money in my jacket. It was bundled up. I didn't know what to do with it. I ran out of the track.
I once redeemed a voucher for $10,000 or so in cash, and had pockets but I couldn't fit all the cash in my pockets so I did wrap it up in my jacket on the way out. That is believable.

The valet attendant came over and said, "You leaving so early?"
"Bad day, Mr. King?"
I tipped him fifty dollars. The guy nearly fainted.
Again, Calder opened up in early May. At the beginning of the story, Larry made it apparent that he hadn't been out much. How did the valet know his name? Could he have known him from Tropical Park? Maybe. Larry King wasn't too famous back then.

I had to go somewhere, to stop and make sure it was real. I drove to a vacant lot, which is now called Dolphin Stadium. I parked among the weeds and opened up my jacket. All the money spilled out. I counted out about seventy-nine hundred dollars.
I paid my child support for the next year. I paid my rent for a year. I bought twenty cartons of cigarettes and stacked them up in my apartment, and I filled the refrigerator.
Up to that point, that may have been the happiest moment of my life. Now, today, if I go to the track and win $8,000, it's very nice, but it won't affect my life one iota. It's nice to win. But when you really need it ...
Just a little tidbit: Larry King was charged with grand larceny in December of 1971.

Look, I like Larry King. When I was in my late teens and early 20's I used to listen to his radio show on the Buffalo affiliate WBEN. I used to love listening to the crazies who called in during his Open Air segment that usually started at 3 in the morning. Lots of nuts used to call in....true story.

See also, Shocker: Larry King's Horsey Tale Is Full Of Holes,
and Larry King, Truth And Terminal Stupidity.

Equidaily has uncovered an interview with Larry King, from 8 years ago. Back then he said the amount he won was $11,000 and the year was 1972. The other details are pretty much the same, including the numbers and the non winning Lady Forli.

Thanks goes out to the Paulick Report for linking this post.

18 May 2009

Handicapping Woodbine: I've Thrown In The White Towel

Today marks the first time in around 30 years that I've decided not to either buy a form or download a racing card from Woodbine (or Greenwood RIP).
I know I constantly complain about the track takeout at Woodbine, but that hasn't stopped me completely from handicapping, and betting on Woodbine races (though because of the takeout, Woodbine betting from me represents only around 10% of what I bet in total).

I've decided to stop taking a brick to my head and going WHAP! Woodbine has to be the hardest track in North America to handicap. And thanks to the takeout, it is IMPOSSIBLE to be a long term winner, even if you are the luckiest bettor on this planet. I can't become drawn anymore to the biggest track in the jurisdiction I live, just because it is there.

Please, this is not sour grapes. I pride myself on being one of the best handicappers on this planet. I've had scores of $20,000 or more four times in the last 18 years. I know what I'm doing. And by all means, I'm not giving up on handicapping and betting. In fact over the next few months, I expect to go heavier than I ever have before. But nothing will go through my HPI account.

My problem is that when I do handicap a card, I handicap for value. I often come up with plays that would yield very good scores. It is hard not to play them, if I have knowledge that I picked them. This year, I have to admit, I'm not even close to hitting them. So my new motto is ignorance is bliss.

Why is Woodbine so hard to handicap?
I'm not a Polytrack hater, but the Poly in this case has a lot to do with it. The Woodbine jockey colony has figured out that they don't have to move early on it, especially if they feel they have horse underneath. If you look at some of the fractions for distance races especially, the half mile time becomes a huge joke. 50-52 seconds for horses running for $70,000 purses? And what is worse is in the old days, a horse who used to get away with those type of fractions would almost be a cinch to win the race. Now, despite the fact that Dan Loiselle keeps stating that his horse will be tough to beat from there, these horses are lucky to hit the board.

What this means is that times of races become almost irrelevant. Especially the further they go. The race comes down to who has the best 3 furlong kick and who can stay out of trouble when the kick happens. Basically, it is all randomness. And at the collective 21% takeout, it is far too expensive a deal. Might as well play the 649 (they have a 40-50% takeout but if you hit is once, you are set for a few lifetimes).

I think another reason that is less apparent to many handicappers, is the usage of drugs. This year, perhaps the "weening off" of steroids has a lot to do with the randomness that is happening. Some trainers might be experimenting with other ways to keep their horses built up. Some of these programs may be working, some may not, and in some cases, horses are still on steroids, as the ban doesn't kick in for another couple of weeks.

Now, I will still continue to do track variants for Woodbine races because I like playing Fort Erie (only with rebates of course...I wouldn't touch the Fort without them as they rate 70th out of 71 when it comes to best takeout rate in North America), and it is important to have figures for Woodbine because of all the Woodbine invaders. I'll probably handicap the Queen's Plate.

Watching the infamous Bug's Boy race. Yesterday, he looked like an immortal cinch as Dan Loiselle used the term "under a hand ride." Simon Husbands is now in a situation that he can't whip the horse. And every time the horse runs now, he makes a great move "under a hand ride," and then stops at the sixteenth pole "under the same hand ride."

Again, the suspension handed out last year was warranted. The amount of time of the suspension wasn't. But the ORC made a mockery of the Woodbine Stewards, and pissed on the bettors, by reversing the decision.

The Stewards have been doing an excellent job. And they are all ex jockeys. They know that something was fishy with Simon's ride last year, and took appropriate action.

Will Calvin Borel be the first jockey to win the Triple Crown on more than one horse?
What if Rachel Alexandra doesn't go in the Belmont. Will Borel get the mount back on Mine That Bird? If it was my horse, he would.
I'm a firm believer that if Borel chose Mine That Bird, The Bird would have won the Preakness. Going long, a jockey with knowledge of a horse, has to be worth something, and conversely, a different rider on Rachel might have screwed her up just enough to lose the race.

Problems With Bonus Money At Fort Erie
It has been brought to my attention that Ontario breds will not be receiving the $750 bonus from the HBPA that they received last year.
Apparently, this decision was made either during or just after the HBPA decided to give over $500,000 as part of the ransom demanded by Nordic Racing in order to keep the 2009 racing season alive at the Fort.
The major problem I have with all this, is that it was never announced by the HBPA. So owners are finding out now, after they won with an Ontario bred, that they aren't getting the bonus.
The Ontario HBPA finally took off the bonus structure from their web site, but it didn't happen until late last week. This is what it looked like (click to enlarge):

I still think the bonuses should be reinstated, and to find the money to pay it, Fort Erie should eliminate all allowance races. If someone thinks they have a horse worth more than $18,000, send them to Woodbine and find out.

Of note, the CTHS still pays out a bonus to Ontario breds:

$15,000 - $20,000 Claiming: $1,000 Sales Credit & $1,000 Owners Bonus
$7,500 - $10,000 Claiming: $750 Sales Credit & $750 Owners Bonus

The Sales Credits will be issued to owner of the Registered Ontario-Bred winner at the above listed
claiming levels. These credits will be cumulative and must be used within one sales calendar year after
earned. The Owners Bonuses will be issued to the owner of the Registered Ontario-Bred winner at the
above listed claiming levels and will be distributed by the CTHS on or around the 15th day of the following

For Fort Erie allowance races (races which I think should be eliminated):

In order for horses to be eligible for the added $2,500 (winner only) at Fort Erie the winner must also be
Registered Ontario-Breds, at the time of the race, as explained above. When running in Optional Claiming
Races only horses running without a claiming price are eligible.

Lets not forget about the ridiculous rule in Ontario that was imposed last year. If someone claims an Ontario bred horse from 2008 and on, the owner is not entitled to the full purse that is up for grabs. They get to run for the amount of purse that foreign bred horses run for.

So if someone claimed an Ontario bred last year or this year, and wins a Fort race in a $4,000 or $5,000 claiming race, they get nothing extra, from the CTHS or HPBA, and they only get to share in 85% of the announced purse.

Again, this hurts the small owners, and the small owners of today are the big owners of tomorrow in some instances. It hurts Ontario breeders as well, as it creates less demand (less owners) for their horses. As I've stated before, most owners enter the game claiming horses, not buying them at sales or buying them privately.

Yesterday's first race at Mountaineer was ugly. Why did the jockey feel compelled to whip Nice Irish Boy when he had an insurmountable lead at the sixteenth pole?

I originally misspelled Rachel Alexandra, "Rachel Alexander." That wound up getting me a lot of Google hits on this blog, as many others did the same. More and more people now are informed of Woodbine's high takeout situation now:)

HANA has put up a link and a lot of info regarding the new bill introduced in the USA to eliminate the automatic 25% withholding on pari-mutuel winnings of $5,000 or more. It is important that as many people as possible show their support for the bill. Click here to find easy links in which you can show your support.

16 May 2009

Rachel Alexandra: Too Many Ways For Her To Lose Today

No denying that Rachel Alexandra is a super filly. No denying that the Preakness field is pretty weak. Still, Rachel Alexander will not be worth the price today, and I can see her off the board.

Here is what I don't like: She is racing back a bit too early off a lifetime high speed figure. She is a filly coming off a great race. Her post is only going to hurt her. She will be chasing boys this time, though the boys are inferior to boys from years prior, she won't be chasing inferior girls this time out. In other words, she won't be superior enough to stalk from the chasing position....she'll be chasing, and that isn't the best position today as the race is full of chasers.

Big Drama, from the one hole, is who Rachel will be chasing. Big Drama is making his first start in 40 odd days, and I expect him to get an unchallenged lead for around 4 furlongs, but I think he'll be forced to exert himself too early from there, and he is expected to be short on fitness today for the full distance. Still, when he picks it up, it will take a toll on Rachel and the other lesser chasers, setting the race up for a sustained pace horse.

Mine That Bird has bounce written all over him. After destroying the field in the Derby, I don't expect the same peak effort today. Though he will be coming from the perfect position, I look for him to maybe be third or fourth today.

Musket Man has yet to be off the board in 7 lifetime starts. It is a bit concerning that he is making his 6th start this year already, but he just seems to show up every time he runs. His jockey knows him by now, and he looks like he can handle any distance.

Luv Gov is coming off a maiden win with the same type of great trip The Bird had on Derby day. He was a perennial maiden too, before that win. Speed numbers look inferior, and that usually does matter, though it didn't in the Derby.

Friesan Fire is making his second start off a bit of a layoff. He ran predictably (by me) disappointing in the Derby, and supposedly grabbed himself. How he is able to run back so quick after losing part of his foot in a major race is beyond me. I wouldn't be surprised if he is scratched today. If he runs, I'll just watch him. If he runs good, I'll just turn the page.

Terrain looks like he'll enjoy the distance, and he looks like he has a future, and the pace will favor him today. But the 35 days off means that he shouldn't be good enough to hit the board.

Papa Clem looks to have good tactical speed. If he can run back to the Arkansas Derby he has a fighting chance today. He will be compromised a bit if it is a deep closers track. His post could be the key to him being right there.

General Quarters is making his 13 lifetime start and 13th race in the same racing cycle. This is a work horse. You can take a black magic marker and eliminate his last running line, as his post and the trip killed his chances. His running style is perfect for today's race. I think his preferred distance would be a mile and a sixteenth or a mile and an eighth. But he does represent a value play if his odds are close or higher than his morning line.

Pioneer of the Isle ran better than I expected in the Derby. He can handle the dirt. But I still think he is a few lengths inferior to today's main contenders. He will probably wait for Rachel to make her move before he tries to fire today. I just see him bidding and hanging today.

Flying Private had no chance in the Derby thanks to his trip, but his best race to date was on the poly, and a repeat of that race wouldn't win today. Can't see here.

Take The Points is another layoff horse (42 days). Other than that, I thought he was an actual contender for the Derby this year at one time. Looks like he may force Rachel out an extra path in the first turn, but figures to chase and pack it in.

Tone It Down is the home team horse. I've seen these types do well against inferior type fields in the past at long odds. He doesn't have the speed to be on the lead, and it wouldn't surprise me if he is seventh or eighth around the backstretch. He is an improving sort, but when taking the post into consideration and a compromised running style, I'm not expecting much.

Rachel Alexandra will be a beaten favorite most probably. I've already explained why.

My top four:

General Quarters
Musket Man
Mine That Bird
Papa Clem

Remember, I'm a value handicapper. I'm pretty much making a statement today that Rachel Alexandra does not represent value.

Chantal Sutherland has given Mike Smith some tips on how to ride The Bird:

"(Talk with Chantal Sutherland, girlfriend and former rider of MTBird) -- Actually, I have. She's given me a lot of insight about him. She told me he's really rider-friendly. He'll do anything you want him to do. One thing she did tell me which is kind of a key and I saw it in the Derby is when he first leaves there he might want to go with you but once you let him know that's not what you want, then he seems to settle really well. So I should have no problem with that."

I wonder if Chantal would rather have that first line read "rider of MTBird and former girlfriend."

Lots of talk on the blogosphere this week of the negative effect that slots have had on horse racing growth. My two cents:

People only have so much disposable cash, and the "dummy slot" bettor of today, was yesterdays dumb money at the race track. Sure, they lose more per capita on slots than they did on horse racing in the past, but racing hasn't been able to make up for the loss of the dumb money bettors. And more importantly, for today's player, armed with a racing form or computer generated selections, now for the most part, it is good handicappers versus real good handicappers, who compete against each other at a slightly higher takeout than what was out there 15-20 years ago. So it is much easier for good players now to be discouraged from betting, because it is so difficult to win, much more difficult than 20 years ago. This causes many to just leave. Because there aren't very many winners (especially who do so without rebate), there is no buzz from winners. This means there is no lure to newbie gamblers to try horse racing because the game can be beaten, like there is in sports betting, or poker or exchange betting.

One more thing. John Q Smith goes to the track with $200. On average it takes him $1000 worth of bets to go broke. The track winds up splitting the $200, with, depending on jurisdiction, about $90 going to the track, $90 going to purses, and $20 going to taxation etc.

When John Q Smith goes to the slots with $200. On average it takes $2000 worth of betting to go broke. The time it takes to lose on either horse racing and slots is probably around the same depending on how the individual bets. But in the end, the track winds up with $20, and the purses wind up with $20.

To a racetrack, it would have been more prudent to convert these potential slot players to horseplayers before slots came along. Even if they could convert 1 in three or four, they would wind up further ahead. But they didn't because they refused to compete by not making the game more affordable when they could have.

See also Slots Are Poison For Growing Demand In Racing and Slot Machines Spreading Disease

13 May 2009

Field Size

I know there is a correlation between field size and handle. Just take a look at any result charts and see which races get the largest handle at any track.
But as a handicapper, too many 12-14 horse races can be quick bankroll killers. Personally, I prefer races with 8-11 horses in it. 8 horses are OK for exactors, doubles and pick 3's, and when it comes to supers and tris, 9 horse races are OK, but I tend to want 10 or 11 horse races for those type of bets.

Large win bettors probably feel more confident when there is less horses in the race, and may make bigger wagers. But $2 win bettors probably like bigger fields.
It is very tough to properly predict how a race will set up when there is 10 or more horses in it. In 6 horse races or less, the early speed horse usually can be predicted.

I know that horsemen prefer really small fields, and I know that the closer one comes to a two horse race, the more devastating takeout becomes to players. The house advantage on a football game is less than 5%, and betting football is a tough game to beat.

Woodbine prides themselves on big fields, but I don't see their handles doing all that great. I think a lot of players are aware of their high takeouts, and many players avoid polytrack. But definitely, the races with the highest amount of betting interests usually attracts the biggest pools. But at a price:

Larger fields do not attract new money. It just gets some of the money that might have been devoted to smaller field races.

They don't make a difference on the bottom line. If horse racing were to have an average field size of 11 tomorrow, the amount of money lost by patrons would be the same as if the average was 7.5 collectively in the industry.

They just might be more appealing to existing bettors, but that is it.

The only way to increase the bottom line is to attract new players, and it is broken record time: Takeout needs to be reduced and/or rebates need to be higher so that winners are created. Word of mouth that the game can be beat will create new players and/or bring back players who are betting offshore.

I started a thread on Pace Advantage regarding Field Size, and it became pretty active.

A point I made in the thread:
I still say that too many 12-14 horse fields are bankroll busters. It does create more chaos because of traffic jams, so if anything, a lower takeout is required. These races also kill churn.
But on the positive side of things, if you do hit an exotic in a 12-14 horse field, you might get enough to keep your bankroll alive for a week or more.

I look back at my most successful cashes, and I think they mostly occurred in races that had 8-11 horses though.

I always look at the Derby as a crap shoot.

I liked Bobphilo's comment (I think he represents quite a few horseplayers with this):
I see both sides of the argument. On one hand the larger fields bring larger prices but bring lower strike rates. Smaller fields give smaller prices but also a higher win percentage. Now these would even things out except for the fact that the lower win % you get with larger fields is not something that can be compensated with better handicapping. They are more difficult because the larger fields also cause more traffic problems and are therefore less predictable out of proportion just to the increased number of horses you have to beat – they add an increased element of chance. That’s why I personally prefer small to medium-sized fields of 6 –8.
I also prefer smallish fields because I employ comprehensive handicapping and they give me more time to devote to each horse and make it less likely that I’ll miss an important factor.

Of course these are just general rules. I make exceptions in large fields where many of the horses can safely and quickly be eliminated.


Imriledup pretty much shares those views:
Here's 4 reasons why i prefer 8 horse fields over 12 horse fields.

1) It doesnt' take as long to handicap an 8 horse field. Time is money and a 12 horse field might take me 33% longer to handicap.

2) I bet more than 2 dollars. If you are a 2 dollar player, you need that 12 horse field so you can hit the trifecta that pays 1500 for 1 dollar. But, for me, i'd rather have a tri in an 8 horse field that pays 500 for a dollar and have it multiple times. I don't need the tri to pay 1500 for 1 dollar, i can have a tri that pays 500 for 1 dollar and have it 3 times (or 30 times). Those 4 extra horses cause you to spend much more money chasing down that illusive tri score.

3) Much less of a chance that my horse will get bothered or disqualified. Its a 'truer' race because horsepower matters more than racing luck.

4) In the shorter field, you can really make a concentrated score if the heavy favorite is a dog. In a 12 horse field, you still have 11 bodies to navigate thru.


Testing for anabolic steroids in Ontario will commence on June 1st. Those claiming horses right now need to watch out. Steroid testing doesn't happen during private purchase or on new claims right now, even though steroids could remain in a horse's body for 45-60 days from their last injection. Trainers could feasibly be using steroids right now, and racing horses on steroids, with an eye towards giving them a couple months off, which means that they know the horse is on steroids, but if the horse gets claimed the new outfit won't. And if the horse comes up with a positive after May 31st, the new outfit will face fine and suspension for using a Class III drug.
It costs around $150 to test to see if it is on steroids right now.

Free Past Performances For The Preakness
From Brisnet
From DRF

Delaware senate approves sports betting
This is the type of competition that can only hurt horse racing more. Not that sports betting is more appealing to horse racing customers to handicap, but it is a much fairer gamble. House take is much much lower, and guess what? Gamblers have a chance to become long term winners.
Racing needs to compete instead of hoping alternative forms of gambling just go away.
HT/HANA's Blog

Sunday, they barely did over $300,000. They only average around $75,000 a race on Monday and Tuesday. It is imperative that the have 10 races on both Monday and Tuesday, even if it means scrapping Sundays altogether.
Meanwhile, what could this track be worth? It seems to be dropping in value every day.
In July the Passport issue won't help. How many Americans who go to the track over the border have Passports? I guess we'll find out soon.
Also, with the Stonach tracks going on the market, the price of all tracks wind up going down. There are only so many race track buyers out there, and once a buyer purchases one track, the chances they buy another are drastically reduced.

Empire Resorts Close To Bankruptcy
They own Monticello Raceway in New York state. Gaming revenues are off, as they appear to be everywhere.

Great Canadian Gaming Posts a First Quarter Loss
Their stock is on a roll though. It has gone up close to 50% in the last month. The company has been treading very carefully in light of the recession.

Cobra Venom Vet Gets 5 Year Suspension In Kentucky


Barney Frank's new bill to regulate on-line gambling, throws sports betting under the bus

Lebanon Raceway mutuel clerk accused of theft: she came up $31,000 short one night

8 May 2009

HANA's Next Pool Party and Rachel Vs. The Bird

HANA's Pool Party
We had a tough decision this week but finally agreed that we will do our damage at Prairie Meadows this week. We are asking our members to play the 6th race at Prairie Meadows on Saturday night (the race goes off at around a quarter to 10 EST). Prairie Meadows is the 23rd rated race track on HANA's list, which is above average. The negative is that I don't think HPI has Prairie Meadows on the menu Saturday night, so Canadians who don't have an account with a US ADW that takes Canadian customers will most likely wind up getting shut out this week. UPDATE: Apparently Prairie Meadows is on the HPI menu tonight. That is, if you live in the GTA. In the Niagara Region, according to the menu I saw, Prairie Meadows isn't there.

Note to Woodbine: If you want HANA to feature Woodbine as a Pool Party race, you have two choices. Drop the takeout on triactors to a maximum of 25% and/or stop ripping off customers by ramping up the takeout on bets that have lower takeouts. Announce the change, and we will start looking at your track.

Free past performances and more for the 6th Race at Prairie Meadows on Saturday night are available by clicking here. Thanks again to Craig from Trackmaster, and CJ from Pacefigures.
Support HANA by betting the race any way you like.

Update: Free Thorograph for Saturday night's race. You can access it here.

Pull The Pocket has an interesting post up showing hard stats that prove horse racing doesn't attract the younger crowd.
The younger crowd is gambling, but they are playing where they have a chance to win in the long run.

Woodbine Bias Report The inside just doesn't seem like the place to be, and it now looks like it is becoming a self fulfilling prophecy, jockeys who think they have a chance at winning, are not placing themselves on the wood.

Interesting Tidbit
In today's seventh at Woodbine, there is a horse named Jovial Jill. She is related to Derby winner Mine That Bird on the dam's side. Mine That Bird's second dam is a half sister, to Jovial Jill's second dam.

Speaking of Mine That Bird, I still think he is going to be 1st or 2nd favorite come Preakness post time. The question right now is who is going to be the jockey. As almost everyone knows, Rachel Alexandra, who wound up with a better Beyer than the Bird last race, was sold. New trainer too. The questions are out there now. Will Rachel Alexandra get to show her stuff in the Preakness? If she goes, who will Borel choose? Will Asmussen even give the call to Borel? If Borel gets the mount, will Chantal Sutherland be considered to get her mount back on the bird?

Ontario Racing Commission suspends vet for 10 years
Glenn Johnston allegedly wrote prescriptions for DPO. The ORC release.

Tampa Bay Downs Betting Scandal
An indictment was finally filed against a jockey and a couple of bettors regarding alleged race fixing at Tampa Bay Downs and the now defunct Great Lakes Downs. Read more at the Paulick Report.

Who Is Maggi Moss?
A lot of people who read up on horse racing may just skim over stories regarding owners, and their background. I'm guilty of this myself many times. I recently came across this excellent video on Maggi Moss. Well worth watching:

4 May 2009

I'm Just Putting It Out There

I took a little a lot of heat on the Pace Advantage Forum for making the following post:

If Mine That Bird gets a positive, it will be the best thing that could happen to horse racing.

So far the thread is into the 5th page and has had over 2400 views (I'm pretty sure that it counts repeat visitors as a new view).

I went on to explain why, but there are many commenters who still don't get my point:

Drugs are plaguing the sport and regulators have been very slow to fix it.
Hey, I know that a positive would hurt the game short term, but until drugs are out of the game, the game will be broken.

And again, I'm not inferring here that the horse will get a positive. The horse could have been on the best part of the track, the hardest part of the track, and saved the most ground, and the pace of the race helped him too.

Funny things happen in the slop. Again, I've already read many comments from people expecting a positive. I'm not expecting a positive, but wouldn't be shocked just the same.

There is a lot of speculation that at the very least Mine That Bird had something that is not tested for inside his bloodstream that made him move like a monster on Saturday. But it is 2009, and that is the state of horse racing.

Honestly, if I made a quick pick bet and Mine That Bird was on the ticket, I would have canceled the ticket, even if it was a superfecta, and Mine That Bird was in the four hole. His speed numbers weren't high enough going in to win a Non Winners other than Maiden or Claiming race.

He was the only gelding. Was it training in the New Mexico atmosphere that gave him an edge? Did the new Kentucky steroid rule turn the race into a complete crap shoot?

No denying that Calvin Bo-Rail was the best jockey for that particular course on that particular day by a country mile.

Jennifer Morrison reports on her blog that Chantal Sutherland (who rode the horse to victories last year) was considered until Bo-Rail became available. According to Down The Stretch Newspaper, the offer from Playboy that Sutherland refused would have gone up considerably if she just had a Derby mount, let alone won the Derby (which I think would have happened if she had the mount, as Sutherland seems to have a good eye for the track bias). So we can blame the trainer (or whoever made the decision on the jockey) for preventing Sutherland from being in Playboy, for now.

Hopeful Playboy won't make an offer to Calvin Keebler Borel. I know I won't be buying that issue.

Another thing that bugs me is anyone who claims that Mine That Bird is a Canadian. He isn't. Never was. Never will be. With all the money that is allotted to Ontario breds, it was a crying shame that he won the Sovereign Award, but he was better than all the Canadian breds and since he ran here at least three times, he qualified to win. He is a Kentucky bred. A US bred horse, nothing more, nothing less.

I will fairly add though that on his dam's side, especially his third dam, there is a lot of Canadian blood. Looks like a few Display Farm horses are at least related to the Bird.

PETA must be very upset that no horses died in the Derby this year. I'm surprised they don't go after the winner's name. I'm sure they aren't fans of throwing birds into mines to see if there is enough oxygen for humans.

This win by Mine That Bird is going to hurt the sales prices of high end horses for the foreseeable future. The low end horses may get a boost, as buyers see that they don't have to spend much to have a future millionaire. This win, coupled with Big Brown's win last year shows that it is much more prudent to spend a premium after a horse has established himself, at least somewhat. The Green Monkey days are gone.

Finally, it is my contention that after that 7 length Derby win, barring a positive, the Bird should be the favourite or 2nd choice at the very least in the Preakness. Many on Pace Advantage adamantly disagree with me on that. But I just can't see how he won't.

Peter from Family Guy agrees with me on the Preakness. Here is his tip:

It was nice to see Fort Erie on the Score on Sunday, instead of Belmont. I'm hoping nobody complains. Showing Fort Erie as the second track is the right thing to do in order to help promote horse racing in Ontario.

But it didn't help the betting unfortunately. Less than $400,000 was bet in total at Fort Erie on Sunday (I think the $35 million sales price is a tad too high now. Oh wait, I always thought that). I don't ever remember seeing such a low total in recent history.

I know what didn't help. Fort Erie stopped taking US dollar bets at the track. Patrons from the US have to convert to our funny money before they make a wager on track now. Is it any wonder that Fort Erie is big trouble. And by looking at those betting numbers, I hate to say it, but the end is near.

I know their high takeouts (they are the second worst in North America) are a huge turn off to many bettors, but they need to stop racing on Sunday, and only race when they are not up against any significant competition. Switch to Wednesdays. Let players tap out at the Fort before Woodbine races.

1 May 2009

Obligatory Kentucky Derby Selections: How About West Side Bernie?

UPDATE: I Want Revenge scratched due to lameness in the left ankle. There are a lot of people who may be happy for Mullins right now.

Anytime you have 20 horses in a race, no matter how good the favorites look, it becomes a crap shoot.

So here is my mud against the wall analysis of the 2009 Kentucky Derby:

I Want Revenge is the best horse going into the race. But it is hard to play a favorite in a 20 horse race, especially a favourite ridden by Joe Talamo. I'm tainted after watching the series Jockeys on Animal Planet. He appears to be an up and coming jockey, but he also seems like the type who will do something to lose a big race like this one. I think the series might actually make Revenge a bit of an overlay, because I'm sure that I'm not alone.
Don't get me wrong. I'm still using the horse, I just think he won't win it.

In the recent Wood Memorial, the pace and flow and played in I Want Revenge's favour, but the dark horse that interests me from that race is West Side Bernie. He ran a lot further than the winner, and he might just be improving every race. Will he peak in the Derby? He'll be a nice price, and the one post may be just what is needed to save just enough ground to pull the upset.

Another couple of question marks in this year's Derby ran in the UAE Derby. Regal Ransom and Desert Party left the rest of the field in their dust. But just how good race that race? It is tough to put a speed figure on the race, but from the research I've done, this race could be rated higher than I Want Revenge's Gotham victory. What I don't like is both these horses have been off over a month. I don't like this angle, especially on cheap horses, but with allowance and stake horses it becomes less of a hurdle....it is still a hurdle.
Of the two, I like Desert Party who has attracted arguably the best dirt jockey in North America for the Derby, Ramon Dominguez. I think Regal Ransom will bounce at least a bit off that last one.

I really don't like Pioneer of the Isle. He seems to have better Poly breeding than dirt breeding, and he has only raced on the Poly. His speed figures aren't nearly as good as Revenge's. And the fact that Garret Gomez chose him over Dunkirk, makes me throw Dunkirk out as well. Dunkirk looks like the better horse on paper, but Gomez is no dummy.

Musket Man has only had one bad race, and it was a third. With his inside post, he may get a slice of the pie in the Derby with a good enough trip. He definitely can handle a dirt track.

Another horse that intrigues me is Chocolate Candy who race very wide off a bit of a layoff in his last race. He has never tried the dirt, but he looks like he'll enjoy the mile and a quarter on the dirt.

Join in the Dance may last longer than one might think, he looks like the horse that will get the lead for at least 6 furlongs. Of course, it depends on if the other horses let him breathe on the front, as to whether he lasts longer. This leads to another reason I like Desert Party. He looks like he'll be first to pounce. I think he won't be worse than 4th early on, and that he might get away with only being 3 wide in the first turn despite having the 19 post.

I've mentioned quite a few horses here, and it wouldn't surprise me if I haven't mentioned the 2009 winner. Ok, I'll mention a couple more. Friesan Fire just doesn't cut it for me. The horse has been away 50 days, and has never gone past a mile and sixteenth. Despite Larry Jones, I have to stay completely clear of this one. General Quarters ran a real good race in the Tampa Bay Derby, but his last two numbers have been on the slow side. A good Derby placing wouldn't be a shocker, but I'm afraid he has already peaked this year.

My top four

West Side Bernie
Desert Party
I Want Revenge
Musket Man


Pretty good sized fields (for Fort Erie) on Saturday. It looks like Mike Mehak has the best chance to be leading jockey after day one. He has a few live mounts, it appears. I think bugs will dominate this year, but Rui Pimentel looks like the early favourite to win the jockeys title.
Good to see Regina Sealock back in the saddle. Tampa Bay was a bit of a disaster for her, but she had very few mounts that stood a chance. At least she is winter raced. Watch out when the horses stretch out to two turns. She could be the best two turn jockey at the Fort this year.

One of the worst takes on horse racing ever written. This is what happens when mainstream media and horse racing meet up. And right now, there just isn't enough fans and bettors to stop this attitude. Comparing horse racing with cock fights is amateurish at best, and obviously the author has very limited knowledge when it comes to horse racing and the people involved.

Another article, not as brutal, as it factual and a lot more objective, though the terrible timing of it has to do with horse racing and MSM meeting for the week. This one has to do with horse racing from the viewpoint of a vet who is responsible to give lethal injections to suffering thoroughbreds.

The old saying that "there is no such thing as bad publicity," doesn't seem to be true when applied to horse racing.

One of HANA's main gripes with the industry seems to be attempting to sort out. One of HANA's goals is to have all signals available at all ADWs. TVG has a temporary deal to include Tracknet signals on their menu. This could have a lot to do with TVG being bought out by Betfair. Betfair's influence in North America may actually allow horse racing to finally become a growth industry again.

8 OHHA directors resign The OHHA is portrayed as protectors of drug violators. They are also very lucky that slots exist. Without them, harness racing would probably be dead in Ontario today, except for maybe Woodbine and Mohawk.
The Harness leaders should be kissing the ground that Standardbred racing is alive.

NBC racing analyst collapsed during the Kentucky Oaks broadcast today. He was taken to hospital after what appears to have been something like a seizure. He seems to be recovering at latest report, but will miss the Derby.

Eric Poteck, will be a guest this Sunday on the Fan 590's Inside The Lines, starting at 10:20 a.m. to talk the Canadian Horseplayers Advocacy Group, which he has founded (and is the only member of). His stance was unveiled earlier this week at the Standardbred Wagering Conference in Windsor.