Even if track takeout was 30% (Woodbine isn't quite that high), it would take almost $12 million in live handle to pay for those purses alone, and that is assuming all the money goes to purse accounts.
Is it worth giving out that much money in only three races? When you look at the handles on weekdays, I would say no. Not as long as Woodbine still has high takeout levels that stifle growth to the extent that a big show like today is meaningless in the long run.
The total purse money given out today represents half the money Fort Erie gives out in an entire year. I'm not a Communist, but I think it would be best to spread out that kind of dough amongst all the owners, and not just a few. Besides Horseplayers, growth can occur out of new owners who think they have a reasonable shot at breaking even or making money. There is only a tiny amount of elite owners who are in it for the home run.
Before I get to my picks, I have to bring up one more thing that bothers me when it comes to purse distribution, and even betting. It is the what seems to be endless amount of races at Woodbine that have big purses, that are made to go because one trainer enters two horses. If you look back at this year, overnight handicaps with $100,000 purses have been able to go thanks to this loop hole.
The bad thing about the loop hole is that almost every single time this has occurred, one of the trainer's horses mysteriously needed to be vet scratched. I don't blame trainers like Nick Gonzalez, Terry Jordan, Don MaCrae and others for taking advantage of the loop hole, I blame the system which makes this an easy thing to make a mockery of.
Today's first race is a good example of what could happen. A six horse barely bettable race where the one and two are both trained by Sid Attard. These horses have a reasonable shot of running 1-2, but there is a high likelihood one of them will come up with a cough and have to be scratched (at the time of this writing scratches are not out). It would turn the race into a five horse affair, and it is lousy for betting, and lousy for racing in general.
OK, now for my selections.
I've always like Grand Adventure. He has the best figures going, and just needs a little give to the turf and a little racing luck to come out ahead.
EP TAYLOR STAKES
I think Reggane will beat Shalanaya today. It has to do with cycles.
I didn't want to pick the now infamous Fifty Proof, but because of the way I handicap, and all the angles I consider, Fifty Proof has as good of a chance as anything in this field. This is jockey Justin Stein's biggest race ever, and I do give the connections Kudo's for sticking with him. The horse is vastly improved, and seems to love the lawn and the distance. One thing that could hurt him though is weight. He is picking up 9 pounds, while the horse who beat him last time out, Redwood, is picking up 7. Redwood though is more likely to bounce. The horse to beat is Chinchon.
As an aide, I wonder if the Stewards would at least put up the Inquiry sign if Fifty busts through the gate before the other horses are dispatched today. My guess is yes, and it would rightfully lead to a disqualification this time around.
It is still going to be hard for me root for a horse owned by a bunch of Woodbine board members who wound up receiving extraordinary consideration by the track Stewards and then the Ontario Racing Commission.
Science Stuff from MSNBC: THE SCIENCE OF HORSE RACING
Interesting stuff about the positioning of a jockey on a horse. It explains why a jockey out of the stirrups gives the horse no chance to win.
THIS IS THE BEST WAY TO CLEAN UP CHEATING: TRAINER FACES FELONY CHARGES FOR INJECTING HORSE
Prosecutors have brought criminal charges for a horse-racing violation - believed to be a first in the state of Iowa.
Brian Muse faces three felony counts of cheating at a gambling game for allegedly injecting two animals with unknown substances Sept. 24, hours before their quarter-horse races at Prairie Meadows.
Muse denied it. The Stewards let him go. But tapes showed up. Caught in the act.
Maggi Moss has her panties in a knot, saying this is an abuse of power. She also said that racing authorities are set up to be stricter than any court. Really? When was the last time a trainer was sent to jail by a racing commission?
The reality is that there is defrauding of the public happening here because, people bet their money on races. There is also defrauding of the other horsemen who have clean operations that are run by the book.
A jail sentence could be what is needed to scare the bejeebers out of the cheaters.
By the way, one of the horses injected on tape won a $68K stake race and the other was third is a race with a purse of over $140K.
The horses in question did not test positively, which is not a shocker. Trainers generally stay clear of drugs that are tested for. The big question is what was in the syringes?
It surely wasn't a placebo which was given to fool the horses into believing they were drugged. I don't think horses are that smart.
What I find to be the biggest problem here, is the horsemen's attitude that this should stay out of criminal court. If I was a horseman who trained clean, I would want criminal charges to weed out the cheaters. It makes me wonder if this is not just a rare occurrence but a very widespread one.