5 May 2011

Pathetically Weak Derby Field Will Probably Lead To An Exciting Race

I just finished handicapping the Kentucky Derby, and other than Uncle Mo (will he or won't he run), this field has the same proven ability of a typical Non Winners Of One Other Than at Woodbine. The field is so blah that Mine That Bird would look bettable in the 2011 Derby.

Uncle Mo towers over the field based on peak speed figures. His last race though makes him questionable, as his final speed number ranks right in with the rest of the herd.

I've altered the way I handicap big races, so my second choice (who might wind up being my first choice if Mo is scratched) would have been a horse I eliminated last year. Master Of Hounds pulled off a decent speed figure (compared to the rest of the Derby field) in his last race at Dubai (according to TrackMaster ratings). The thing is that he is racing on a 40 day layoff. He has never tried a dirt track, and at the time of this writing has no published workouts since November (is he even eligible to run?).

Taking away all the negatives, there is some good theory behind playing Master Of Hounds. American based horses ran horrible at Dubai. Maybe they couldn't handle racing without the meds that are allowed on this side of the ocean. With the proposed ban on race day meds possibly looming, I find a sense of inner satisfaction (it has something to do with provocation and chaos) to see this European invader come to America and use Lasix for the first time.

The horse is definitely bred for the distance, and has a good post and good jockey.

The other horses I will likely throw in are Nehro and Santiva. But handicapping this Derby is like throwing mud against the wall. Even with Mo in the race, I'm expecting to see gigantic exotic payoffs.

Handle Falls Another 7.5% In April

There were 7.5% less race days as well. Less isn't better. Purses were up slightly. Why? Mostly because of artificial increases in California as well as the addition of slot money to purses at Gulfstream. A few tracks did buck the trend with handle increases: Keeneland, Gulfstream Park, Tampa Bay Downs to name a few.

The bottom will come out of the purse increase in California soon though. There is no way they can maintain a purse hike with consistent 20% declines in handle since they imposed that foolish takeout hike at the beginning of the year, which was met by an unprecedented Horseplayer's Boycott. Even though, little has been mentioned lately about the Boycott, handle is still getting slaughtered which leads me to believe that the natural forces of the takeout increase (players not having as much money to churn, and getting turned off quicker) coupled with higher signal fees (which turns off anyone who gets rebates) has taken its toll. The longer California doesn't rescind the takeout hike, the harder it will be to win back the players who have gone elsewhere.

Trainers Are Biting Their Fingers Off Over The Proposed New Bill To Ban Race Day Medication and Performance Enhancing Drugs

Here is a copy of the bill. It is very strict and provides very little wiggle room for anyone who is looking to do anything but feed oats and hay and water.

I'm curious if this is adopted in the US, if Canada will follow suit. I would have to say that Woodbine would comply, even if they don't have to. Would the ORC automatically make the US rules Canadian rules? It is an interesting hypothetical. Canada could become a haven for real bleeders and outfits that don't want to play by the new proposed rules.


Norm Borg interviews new announcer Mike Dimoff as well as Elissa Blowe. Listen here.

Great to see they acquired the services of Jennifer Morrison to make the morning line. I doubt we will see Nick Gonzalez trained horses at 12-1 or higher anymore in the program.

Fort Erie is trying (in every way but the right way), however with a track takeouts of 26.3 on exactors and doubles still, I don't see them doing anything but swim against the tide this year.

Fort Erie will still do well with US Horseplayers who receive rebates, and may pick up some of the ex California crowd, but other than that I think they are destined for around a 5-10% decrease in handle this year. Something they can ill afford.

Horse racing is about gambling, not about music or cheap hot dogs.

Sending their patrons home broke quickly (that is what high takeouts do) doesn't bring them back very quick, nor does it the plant seeds of future Horseplayers.

Many tracks have added new low takeout gimmicks. Fort Erie needs to do at least that. But still, 26.3% on doubles and exactors????? What are they thinking? The betting public is way more in tune with track takeouts than ever before.

I wish them all the luck in the world. But I'm afraid that luck won't cut it.

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