24 June 2012

Queen's Plate Prediction and More

I feel obligated to at least predict the winner of today's Queen's Plate. I'll start off by stating that I don't like Strait of Dover. He reminds me of Not Bourbon, and even though that horse won the Plate, generally, those type are not successful at a mile and a quarter. This one hasn't gone past a mile and a sixteenth, and hasn't raced in 43 days. To me, he is a pitch.

River Rush was very green in the Plate Trial and still pulled off a 5 length victory. The time for the race was 7 ticks faster than the very competitive Oaks. However, he travels like a sore horse and that might explain the fact he has had only 3 well spaced out races in his career. I expect a bounce, and that might mean he can still be used for third or fourth.

When taking recency and mileage under the belt (fitness and endurance), two horses stand out: The filly, Dixie Strike, disappointed in the Oaks, though she may have bounced. Her second last race is good enough to win the Plate. She gets blinkers on and has a five pound weight advantage (as does Oaks winner Irish Mission, who is a major bounce candidate, and is also inferior when it comes to speed figures). Trainer Mark Casse may have taken it too easy on Dixie Strike going into the Oaks, and I expect a much better effort in the Plate.

The other horse that looks to come into the race fit and completely ready to peak is Classic Bryce. He has a good post and jockey Todd Kabel will get the most out of him. His last running line in the Plate Trial is an indicator that he might enjoy a more relaxed pace that usually comes with a stretch out in distance. If he kicks in at all in the stretch, he could be the one.

Finally, the best jockey in North America, Ramon Dominguez, is aboard Big Creek. He was off a 43 day layoff going into the Plate Trial and he chased while running outside (which was against the bias, as the top three finishers were the ones closest to the rail during most of the race). Dominguez is also in a position to over whip the horse (he can afford the fine just as Alex Solis did in the Oaks with Irish Mission) if the horse needs it, as he would just be a first time offender, and excessive whipping would only cost him around 20% of his share...and no suspension.

So here is the superfecta: Dixie Strike, Big Creek, Classic Bryce, and River Rush.

The Crap Being Spewed By The Ontario Liberal Party

The Paulick Report has put out quite a few articles bringing to light the dismal situation the future of Ontario horse racing is facing right now. I had to chime in with a comment on one of his articles:

The tactics used by the Ontario Liberal Party really sickened me. Calling it a subsidy and pitting it against health care and education. The reality is that it is a business partnership and both partners needed each other to get it going. This arrangement has been the blueprint for all other slots deals in the US because of its success. As for pitting the revenues the tracks and horsemen get from slots, it is the goal of the OLG (a Crown Corp.) to privatize slots. What that means is the most of profits (that went to racetracks and purses), if not all of them will go to private operators instead of the racing industry and NOT to health care and education.

As for calling it a subsidy, in Ontario public sector workers make close to 30-40% more than private sector workers doing similar jobs when factoring in benefits (there is something called the Sunshine List, government workers who make over 100k a year, and it grows in leaps and bounds each year. In 2011, over 70,000 people were on the list). The Ontario taxpayer is subsidizing these overpaid individuals big time, yet the government is looking at wiping out the livelihood of those involved in the racing industry, many who make net incomes of 20k-50k.

On the other side, as Pull The Pocket points out, the Ontario racing industry seems to be putting out unnecessary propaganda too. Mainly, it is done by a few, on articles in newspapers, Standardbred Canada, and Facebook, where comments and even articles use terms like "ill advised" plan, or "inexplicable" when referring to the new way the OLG wants to have casinos run.

Bottom line, and I've stated here before, the OLG knows they run an inefficient operation. Salaries and benefits have got way out of hand. They also don't want to pay for the expense of expanding gaming. So they have decided to privatize, which means they intend to just keep the role of oversight, and lose the role of operator.

The old deal was basically 10% to the tracks, 10% to the horsemen, and 5% to the municipality. That doesn't mean they made 75%. They had to pay the expenses, and in many cases, that works out to a high percentage of the 75% they retain, when you factor in things like utilities on top of highly paid casino workers. So in order to attract new operators the OLG will have to take a much smaller percentage of gross casino revenues, and bottom line, they could make more money in the long run....but when you take into account the lost horse racing jobs, the negative effects on the businesses near racetracks, etc., the government may still wind up in worse shape.

The reality is that the OLG only gets 20% of total gaming revenues at Caesar's in Windsor, so the government makes money, but Caesar's actually still loses money after giving the government the 20% share. There are a lot of operating expenses in running a casino. Table games have much thinner margins than slots as it takes a lot more employees to run those games, for example.

My point is that those questioning the new deal shouldn't be focused on the potential profits the OLG is expecting to make (they expect to make more by eliminating the expenses), but focus on the social and job impact that destroying the horse racing industry will have. The government's number one goal shouldn't be making the most profits they can off gambling, but keeping employment numbers as high as possible, and micro economies going as strongly as possible.

Frog Juice

The frog juice scandal has been growing legs. Louisiana is starting to name the culprits whose horses tested positive. Right now they are only facing 6 months, which is a typical slap on the wrist the industry tends to hand out. I believe these suspensions will wind up being much longer once final decision are made.

In a nutshell, it is so hard to catch cheaters, cheaters should be dealt with as harshly as possible when caught. It is the only way to deter those who seem to always be a step ahead of the regulators and lab testers.

2 years minimum, $50,000 fines, and possible jail sentences for those who use illegal drugs (I'm not talking about overages on legal substances, but illegal substances). This is the only way to clean up horse racing.

To show what horse racing is up against, here is a post from Pace Advantage by a lab worker who uses the handle Storm Chaser:

Originally Posted by jorcus99
'I doubt there is a substance that is undetectable. There are only compounds that are not tested for yet.'

Storm Chaser posted:
'Great quote. To define the process, all substances are deemed undetectable until the specific lab can identify the gc-ms fingerprint of a specific drug. One it is identified then it is placed, if requested by the racing board as an illegal substance, to the labs testing profile.

The labs are usually the second in the chain to learn of a new doping agent. Once it is brought to their attention, then they have to try and acquire the drug to be able to break it down and test it. That process takes many months.

We just went through this with the NCAA and the other accredited labs in dealing with a new synthetic marijuana from Europe. We all heard the rumours about it, but could not acquire it here in the states. Our lab went to Germany to acquire it, bring it back to their lab to start analysing it. Mind you they had to get people to ingest it, so the could see how it was metabolized in the urine so they could devise a test for it. Then it took months of analysing the data before the felt good about testing for it in their clients athletes.

And then we found out that all the drug guys had to do was change one small part of the chemical mixture of the synthetic marijuana, and it was undetectable again because they changed the fingerprint again.

Lesson to be learned, the drug guys are always going to be ahead of the test labs with no end in sight.,


Anonymous said...

Is there a more over-rated race on the planet than the Queen's Plate?

I could careless if this year's race is the last ever. It would be smart to cancel it regardless and save the $1M.

Every year, it's a question of which filly or maiden will win it.


Railbirdbrad said...

I think the clocking's were wrong in the Plate trial and Oaks,i ever the skeptic,i think it was done on purpose to deceive the public,How can a maiden set a track record in a prep race? a deep closer for that matter. None of the horses showed up in the plate after that bogus time,and the 2 fillies frm the slow time in the Oaks ran 2nd and 3rd in the Plate.Whom ever did the chart times at Woodbine on that day
should be fired!