27 July 2007

Headlines For July 27th

Horrible accident at Woodbine today in the 8th as the eventual winner Muskwa seemed to clip heels or at least severely cut off with Dynamite Strike, who ended up falling down.....and stayed down. I really don't like watching this stuff, but I decided to check out the replay at Cal Racing which also allows viewers to see the head on. I wanted to see how Muskwa wasn't disqualified. I still can't believe he wasn't. To me, jockey Jerry Baird should get suspended for the rest of the year. No word on how the jockeys who dropped to the ground are at this time (Jono Jones and Patrick Husbands).
Check it out for yourself. It is free to open a Cal Racing account and there is no obligation to do anything. Not that a Canadian can do anything with most US racing sites thanks to the collusion brought on by Willmot and WEG. For Woodbine races, you can ONLY search by HORSE'S NAME. So join and type in Muskwa and watch the race for yourself. NOT FOR THE SQUEAMISH.

Woodbine Bias Report: Outside and off the pace in sprints. Close to the front in routes. First year trainer Ashlee Brnjas is very cold right now. Mark Casse is pretty hot again.

Woodman euthanized at 24

Kentucky Red to be yield a positive test starting August 10th in Canada

Neteller to begin to give back US account holders their monies on Monday.
Neteller's revenue has decreased 54% since not taking US clients

Penn National Gaming revenues drop

FUN Technologies Reports Record Revenue

Sarnia and Point Edwards casino revenues up

Jockey fears for his life after giving a favorite a bad ride in India.
Stewards declare race a non contest to calm down deranged bettors.

Fun from Canterbury's Extreme Racing Day. The camel race:

Another Extreme Racing Day set for tomorrow at Calder

25 July 2007

Fixing The Ontario Thoroughbred Breeding Business

Purses at Woodbine are very lucrative, at least for high claimers and allowance horses.
In fact, there is a great disparity in purse monies available for those competing at the high levels and those competing at the lower levels, much more than it should be.

Many times, a horse doesn't have to be a champ to win an Ontario sired Stake or allowance race. In fact, final times needed to win those events are often equal or lower, to horses competing in the 20-30,000 claiming ranges.

The thing is that very few try to compete in these events because there is usually one or two real good horses that show up in these races, and the goal of the trainer is to win, not finish 3rd or 4th.

Most of the time, even the top horses don't belong in non claiming races, but get to be protected because they are Ontario sired. This form of protectionism is good for only a few. Most Ontario sired horses wind up struggling to break even for their owner. And ownership is the key to fixing the Ontario breeding industry.

It is simple economics. Supply and demand. The more owners you have, the more potential bidders you have for current runners, and most importantly auctioned, yearlings.


Everyone knows that owning a race horse is a risky proposition. A horse needs to makes around $25,000-30,000 a year just to break even. Every horse is one step away from being retired for a long period of time or forever.

Yes, there are good incentives out there if you win, like the rewards an owner gets if he or she wins with an Ontario bred or Canadian bred. There is also some tax relief if an owner loses money, but it isn't high enough.

New owners need to get in cheaply. Buying a yearling may sound cheap, because you can get one who will most likely make the races for as little as $2,000, for example, at a CTHS sales event in the fall, but by the time the horse makes it to the track, the owner on average has close to another $15,000 into it by the time it makes the races, if it makes the races. And you can't expect much from a $2,000 or even $5,000 yearling purchase. Not appealing.

An owner can claim a runner at Woodbine for as little as $10,000 or at Fort Erie for as little as $4,000 (or even buy one privately for as little as $1500), but the chance are, the owner will be extremely lucky if he or she breaks even. Certainly, there is no incentive to go to the Yearling Sales. A $10,000 claimer always has potential, but even if was a successful claim and the horse makes $40,000 by moving up the ladder a bit and winning once or twice, the only incentive to the find another quick fix. And note: new owners getting lucky with a $10k claimer are up against it, because of all the sharp claiming stables out there who will most likely find the gems before a newbie gets a crack at one.


There is a bit of an incentive to claim and Ontario bred over a non Ontario bred, especially with horses that have conditions, because the odd one can win Ontario special races, but it isn't enough to help the Yearling Sales business.

What is needed is two things to happen. One is that lower claiming races at Woodbine need to be run for higher purses (at least Ontario sired horses need to). This will give incentives to new owners and partnerships.
Secondly, the perceived value of the cheapest Ontario bred needs to rise up. The way to do this is by including ONTARIO SIRED CLAIMING RACES. To my knowledge, Ontario and Florida are the only two jurisdictions that don't have such races. This gives owners of Ontario bred horses a safety net. If a person buys a horse at an auction, he or she knows that there is a good possibility that they can get out in cheap claiming races for Ontario bred horses only held at Woodbine or even Fort Erie.
Try writing a $5,000 claiming Ontario sired non winners of 3 at Fort Erie with a $15,000 purse, and see how quick the race fills, and how many claims happen as long as there are $10,000 open or non winners of 3 Ontario sired race at Woodbine with a $20,000 purse.

The money can come from the higher end races. Nobody can defend the disparity.

Will this change things overnight? Of course not. But I can almost guarantee it will increase prices of Ontario sired yearlings. Once that happens, quality will be attracted, though it is hard to compete with Kentucky, this is the best chance to do so.

One more thing. Get rid of B Allowance races. Horses need to run for what they are worth. B races are bad for handicappers as well, but that is another story. The B races is another form of protectionism that does not bring in new owners.

I hope the panel studying the Ontario Breeding Business gets wind of this post.

22 July 2007

Headlines For July 22nd

I really like the comment Reade Baker made in the post race interview, after his horse Bear Holiday took home the winning prize in yesterday's Colin at Woodbine. He was asked where the horse is going next, and his answer (paraphrasing): "It is up to the owner, it is his horse."
Todd Kabel who got nailed on the wire in that race, should concentrating on sleeping at nights. If he is gonna take an afternoon snooze, he shouldn't pick race days to do it.
I wonder if Terry Jordan is going to replace him next time with Corey Fraser:)

Northern Dancer Stakes today at Woodbine attracts Bill Hartack to sign autographs. He was the jockey on Northern Dancer in the 1964 Queen's Plate, and apparently hasn't been back to Woodbine since.
Not a very impressive field today. I like Jambalaya. Edit 4:32 PM Sunday, I mean I like Pellegrino. I always get horses who have one name and end with a vowel confused.

No resolution when it comes to horse race betting product sharing as industry leaders meet

3 years between wins for apprentice Jeff Maclaren

Eternal Search euthenized She was a great horse.

Stem cell research in Guelph has helped develop a true quarter horse:

Twostep Partner at River Downs pulls a Puss N Boots.

Ref scandal in the NBA Two thoughts: There really is something called the mob and how long has this been going on. I remember in my basketball betting days, how I felt the over/unders in Piston games seemed very rigged. I'm talking the days of Laimbeer and Thomas. I blamed a few on the team, but it could have been the refs, or I could have just been a sore loser.

18 July 2007

Huge News: Laurel Cutting Take Out To 10% Across The Board

I can't help but feel fully responsible for this. Someone must have taken my blog post from June 28th, How To Save Horse Racing, very seriously. Or at least, that is my story and I'm sticking to it.

Laurel Cuts Meet Takeout to 10% Across the Board
Date Posted: July 18, 2007

In a program billed “Ten Days at 10 Percent—Racing’s Best Bet,” pari-mutuel takeout on Maryland’s live races will be cut in half during Laurel Park’s 10-day summer meet that runs from Aug. 10-23.

The takeout will be 10% on all bets on all live races conducted at Laurel, plus the legislated percentage to be allocated to the Maryland Million Fund, resulting in a blended rate of approximately 11.4%.

“We want to get people focused on the Maryland product during a very competitive period,” Maryland Jockey Club president Lou Raffetto said. “We hear a lot of talk about what reduced takeout can do for business, and this seemed like the perfect time to experiment with the concept.”

The lower takeout is an even better deal on the trifecta, superfecta, and pick six, for which the standard takeout rate would have been 25.75%. As a result, payoffs on those wagers will be 20 percent higher.

“It will be like having a built-in rebate benefiting the $2 bettor as well as the $2,000 bettor,” Raffetto said.
The Maryland Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association negotiating committee, chaired by Dale Capuano with members John Alecci, Jerry Robb, Katy Voss, and Richard Hoffberger, agreed to the plan. Raffetto commended the Maryland THA for its willingness to cooperate.
OK, so it isn't exactly 10%. But it is very very close.

Presque Isle Downs to off $500,000 a day in purses


Meet runs from September 1st to September 29th

25 racing days, 8 races a day; Post time 5:30

$5000 claimers and $10,000 maidens will run for $24,000 purses

1 mile track. Tapeta Footings surface.

It will be interesting to see if Woodbine loses horses to Presque Isle.


Ellis Park has a 4% takeout for their Win 4 bet. However, if you bet with WEG, you get the rip off takeouts. Todays Win 4 paid $1746.10 for $1 at Ellis Park, but only returned $1364.20 for lemmings who bet with WEG. So much for common pool wagering.

17 July 2007

Xtreme Racing At Georgian Downs Was Very Entertaining

Xtreme Racing (for harness horses at Georgian Downs) was tremendously entertaining. It was a great idea to get the hilarious announcer Larry Lederman to do the calling. Lederman is fantastic for the sport with his racing one liners. I watched quite a few of the races on Saturday night from home. Here is the 1/8 mile sprint:

Here is a link that goes to quite a few more of the Xtreme races.

Canterbury is holding an Extreme Race Day on July 22nd for thoroughbreds

Alezzandro takes advantage of being the only speed to win the Prince of Wales at FORT ERIE (not Mohawk)
It would have been nice to see The Sun get the track right in the headlines

John Ferguson, former Montreal Canadien and horse owner, dies of cancer at 68.
Another obit. This one mentions the war he and Eddie Shack used to have in the 60's. I remember watching games between Montreal and Toronto, and anticipating a fight between Shack and Ferguson, as a child.
I couldn't find a Ferguson/Shack fight on Youtube, but here is Ferguson versus Kent Douglas:

Hockey Fights.com should get some footage of Ferguson versus Shack.

Article shows how grey an area, online gambling is.

BC casinos up 11% this year

Murder At An Illegal Gambling House That Posed As A Pet Store

Article on Bute What I would like to see are stats like percentage breakdowns on the track (Bute versus non Bute jurisdictions), and starts per year and life (Bute versus non Bute jurisdictions). I am under the assumption that vet bills are much lower in jurisdictions that are lenient when it comes to Bute usage for races. But I've been wrong once or twice before.

Scientific Games Racing and Great Canadian Gaming sign pari-mutuel wagering systems deal

9 July 2007

Ontario Launches Review Of Horse Racing And More News

Government of Ontario launches review of horse racing. They should check my blog for answers to their problems. I can solve most of the issues.

Breeding in Ontario sucks too on the thoroughbred side. Our stallions are inferior. Most of the horses here are bred to go 7 furlongs tops.
There are ways to solve the breeding woes as well. I may write a post about it in the near future. Hastings horses have come here and kicked our butts. I don't know why a few owners don't get together and ship in a few vans full of BC horses.

Woodbine Bias Report

At 60, jockey Alan Cuthbertson is still winning lots of races

Buffalo casino has already signed up 2000 potential gambling addicts in just one week.

Fort Erie cancels Celtic Festival because of lack of funding: Revenues to the city from Bingo and the race track slots have dwindled considerably in recent years, and things don't look bright. The proposed $300 million construction plan for Fort Erie race track is a complete joke as stated here previously. I can't believe that the government hasn't laughed it off yet. It is a waste of time for them to even consider it.

Purses at Mountaineer cut 20% across the board They expect this to be temporary.

Faulkner family trained a superfecta July 5th at Thistledown

Churchill Downs meet down almost 4% overall in handle. With the internet gambling ban in effect, shouldn't horse racing be benefiting? Apparently not, since race track ownership is stuck with a 1935 mentality.

Quebec legalizes Texas Hold'em

Melnyk, Casse, and Husbands to appeal Bison City DQ. I know it is for a lot of money, but this the DQ was a no-brainer. They have no chance of getting it overturned.

Former crack addict with a $1000 in the bank bet $432 in last Monday's Pick Six at Hollywood. He won close to $600k. Good story. Read it. I hope crack isn't in his future.

US Internet gambling ban to be challenged in Washington State

University of Guelph has begun to conduct heart rate study for harness horses under racing conditions at Mohawk

Frankie Detorri suspended for 14 days for overuse of the whip in England

7 July 2007

Polytrack Causing Health Concerns

I wouldn't volunteer to have this stuff get into my nose or mouth. Would you?

From Ponyplayer.ca March 30th of last year:

There may not be any health concerns caused by particle inhalation yet, but what happens if horses start getting sick and/or die from it? They haven’t used PolyTrack enough here for any usuable data to be collected. And there have been scattered reports of inhalation sickness for some horses to date.

The polytrack has now resulted in a new blinker that helps prevent the kickback from going in the horse's eyes. Anyone following the sport in Ontario is well aware of Emma-Jayne Wilson's mask. And anyone who has been up close to her after a race will notice how much fibrous material winds up on that mask.

I'm not a vet, but I have to think that poly material winds up in the jockeys and horses, and for how long? Who knows.

I watched an allowance race the other day. 7 horses going a route of ground. 2 horses were eased on the wire. Is the track extra tiring? Or does the poly interfere with breathing during the race? Or is it a combo?

I wonder if Woodbine will be forced to get rid of it. Note to David Willmot: don't replace it with asbestos.

Polytrack is starting to remind me of the Simpson's monorail episode:

4 July 2007

Ellis Park Offers Pick Four With Only A 4% Track Takeout

Ellis Park to offer Pick Four with only a 4% track takeout.

One of the best things that new track owner Ron Geary accomplished in the past 48 hours was securing the right to offer a Pick-Four with only a 4 percent takeout. Usually the takeout is a gaudy 22.5 percent. The bet will be offered daily on the final four races.

Great move. This will get people handicapping the last four at Ellis Park and will probably drive more action to other types of bets as well. Geary is one of the very few track owners who understands the gambler. He could be a huge part in getting reduced track takeouts everywhere. As stated before, track takeouts rates should be at 10% or less, if racing wants to grow and attract new blood.

I'm going to start doing track variants for Ellis Park starting today:)

Seneca Nations open temporary casino in Buffalo. Only 124 slots right now. Lots of lineups. Legality of it is still up in the air. This is not good news for Fort Erie race track.

18 year old Scott Zeron, son of Rick, ready for driving debut at Hanover today.

Look for Constant Montpellier to get hotter soon at Woodbine. Especially on the turf course.

Early NFL odds posted

1 July 2007

Headlines For July 1st

Good discussion on my How To Save Horse Racing post on the Pace Advantage forum.

Charlottetown's racino loses 2.5 million in 8 months of operations Business is picking up now, though.

Interesting article on the Senecas and the Department of the Interior regarding the proposed Buffalo casino. Looks like corruption to me.

Mark Fornier leads trainers at Fort Erie in wins going into weekend

Ontario Racing Commission to take biological samples from horses any time without notice in order to combat drug cheaters

Mountaineer to become full-scale casino

Funny Cide to race at Finger Lakes on Wednesday

Ontario lottery releases new regulations

Ted Lebanowich comments on the parimutuel mishap that happened at Fort Erie last Sunday:

Clerk scratches wrong horse

Last Sunday, Fort Erie had an embarrassing situation.

Classic Ruckis, number 5 in the program, was a late scratch from the 10th race. According to mutuel manager, Chad Gates, the information arrived in the tote room approximately four minutes before the start of the ninth race.

The operator erred and scratched the 5 horse from the ninth race. That horse, Letitbewritten, went on to easily win the ninth race by three lengths.

"After a scratch, you cannot put a horse back into the race," said Gates. "At that point, the horse was running for purse money only.

"When a horse is taken from the pool, the tote system automatically calculates all monies wagered on the scratched runner, and that comes out of the pool."

In the official order of finish, the runners who finished second, third, and fourth were moved up to first, second, and third.

The holders of tickets on No. 5 were refunded their wagers.

The Ontario Racing Commission and the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency are investigating.

Apparently the track wanted to do more for patrons who had what they thought was winning tickets, but they were not allowed to give any extra compensation to them.

Woodbine bias report: inside and speed still getting clobbered on the new improved Polytrack

Two plead guilty for NY harness drug doping