31 May 2008

The Real Plate Trial Might Be Race Two (A Maiden Race)

Harlem Rocker, in the Plate Trial Stakes tomorrow at Woodbine, will definitely be the rightful focus of almost every Canadian racing fan, and quite a few US fans as well. Canada's "Big Brown" (even though this is his Canadian debut) is a perfect 3 for 3 going in. And his times have been as impressive has the style in which he runs. But looking for a contender in the Trial is a difficult task. Not Bourbon has some great numbers going short, but he looks strictly to be a sprinter. With Pewter in the race, I don't expect either to be able to relax enough to make it a fake mile and an eighth race where one of them can steal enough, to only be beaten a few or perhaps win.

I actually see long shot maiden Chasin The Tornado closing in the stretch to be second to The Rocker. And Chasin the Tornado is no Golden Choice (the maiden who won the 1986 Queen's Plate), but he might be good enough to round out the exactor. That being said, there are many horses who beat him badly in his last maiden race who are out tomorrow in the "other" mile and an eighth race. That would be race two tomorrow. What I'm getting at is that the second race is full of horses that could easily run second or third in the Plate Trial.

On May 11th, in race ten, Perfect Bullet (a four year old US bred) won a maiden race in 1:43. The track was fast, but that time was still outstanding. There was a 32k open race that went almost two seconds slower, and Perfect Bullet's time was identical to an 80k open claimer. 80k open older horses would be very tough if they were allowed to run against top 3 year old Canadian breds in the Plate.

I'm not sure if all, or any, of the three Ontario breds, coming off the probable key race, are in fact entered in the Plate, but I hope for the Plate's sake that they are (I'm too lazy to look it up right now).
The top horse in the second race could be Sam-son's Harvest Home. Sam-son Farms horses usually take three or four races before they start showing their real stuff. The son of Smart Strike has classic distance written all over him, as he makes his third lifetime start.

Silver Jag, by Point Given looks more like a miler but will be tough tomorrow, and D. Flutie, by Langfuhr, seems to be improving each and every start.
Also in the race is another Stronach colt, Handsome Blue. The Touch Gold offspring definitely can go the distance, but he might not be fast enough to beat the top three mentioned above. The field is full of other potential talent as well.

None of the prime contenders for the Plate in either of the two races are Ontario sired, outside of Not Bourbon (who I think will prove that he should stick to sprints after tomorrow). Doesn't say much for Ontario's breeding program or the ones who in charge of the program, who continue to do things completely wrong.

I'm starting to notice that two year olds with five furlong workouts are performing very well so far this year. It used to be a very affective angle back in the 70's and 80's. Maybe it is making a comeback because of the polytrack.

List of the Worst Named Horses

Fort Erie notes, including interesting comments by jockeys regarding excessive whipping.
A shame about Regina Sealock injuring herself AGAIN. She was off to a very good start and seems to be getting better with age.

Writer makes list of 10 things horse racing should do to fix itself
Doing away with claiming is just too idiotic to be on the list. Claiming races attracts new people as owners and not to mention creates a natural supply and demand in pricing horses. The author's credibility is diminished big time thanks his views on claiming races.
He does mention treating the gambler better, but doesn't mention the fact that takeouts are ridiculously too high. This is the first thing that needs to be changed if the goal is to grow horse racing, and ultimately fix horse racing. All other points are useless with gambling growth.

28 May 2008

What Is A Quarter Crack, and How To Repair It

What is a quarter crack?, and how to fix it:

H/T Hoofblog

Ontario horse racing report about to be received by the government. I doubt it will paint a pretty picture. Lots of horsemen are barely getting by, especially at Fort Erie, and harness racing is turning into a hobby (or at least it should) for many who used to think it was viable business. Of course, the racing execs, who maintain ridiculously high track takeouts, are not creating any new customers of any substance. In fact, they are losing the big clients on a daily basis to offshore gambling which offers gamblers a much better bang for their buck (you can actually win money at Betfair in the long run).

Horsemen Figure CDI owes them a lot of money because of money bet on their products through Twin Spires.

Congress May Call A June Hearing I know, I reported this in my last entry. This is a different article.
Is horse racing about to be forced to have uniform rules and a Commissioner? I sure hope so.

What is the deal with EPO and Ontario thoroughbred racing. Horses who get claimed aren't tested for EPO. Lets say they are tested positive shortly after the claim, how does the testers know who gave the horse EPO in the first place?

Prairie Meadows, race 4 on May 26th: Jockey gets suspended for easing the horse before the wire. The horse lost.
H/T Equidaily

Quebec harness racing continues to die. Opinion piece says let them.

Raising takeouts in New York, a very bad idea.
'Higher takeout has been shown repeatedly to
cause a decrease in total wagering. Eventually,
since more people lose money than win betting
on horses, there will be no money left to bet.
State leaders need to carefully consider the
best way to create a level playing field for all of
racing’s stakeholders.'

Woodbine Bias Report
Brian Lynch is on fire. Jockey Robert Landry is hot, but took the wrong horse in the Stake Race on Monday. Slade Callaghan sure looks like a great navigator on the turf. He got a nice win at Chantal Sutherland's expense on Sunday, and then he rated Rahy's Attorney as if he was one of the top three jockeys in North America, on Monday.
Jerry Baird is in a bit of slump. Early speed horses are actually doing very good at one distance right now at Woodbine: Seven Furlongs.

25 May 2008

Congress To Look Into Horse Racing: Drugs and Breeding

Congress Horse Racing Hearing Could Bring In Needed Changes
A Congress panel hearing is expected to be conducted in June with respect to horse racing. The hot issues will be drugs and breeding. Good things may come from this hearing. Here is a quote from a similar article: "One of the major problems in addressing these issues is the industry has no leaders." This hearing may force Drug Uniformity upon the industry, something that industry could not do by themselves. This should have been a no brainer, and dealt with a long time ago. But the industry doesn't have a brain.
Dealing with breeding could be easy as pie. Just faze in a plan where next year 4 year olds can retire to stud, but raise the age minimum to 5 in 2010, and 6 in 2011.
Raise the age to 5 for females starting in 2010. Simple. Breeding for longevity will occur naturally as soon as that happens.

The lack of leadership in the industry has caused the industry to be as dysfunctional as ever. And another thing that Congress is supposed to look at is the special status the horse racing industry is getting. It could get ugly. Right now there is an internet ban on gambling in the USA. Horse racing is exempt. Congress may decide that horse racing shouldn't be exempt.

The internet ban is a joke anyway. Many offshore sites openly take American customers. Check out RakeTheRake, and you'll see more than a handful of companies on the left side of the page that have a US flag, meaning they take Americans.

Some Whining From Nick Coukos
From his May report at the Ontario HBPA site. He calls this an issue that hinders horse racing's growth:
On the issue of unlawful internet gaming through offshore sites, such venues are pilfering our revenue streams with no compensation to our industry whatsoever. Recently, Betfair, an offshore entity, has announced that they are continuing to take bets from Canadians on horse racing without providing any compensation to our industry whatsoever. We need to have both our provincial and federal governments take immediate action in order to stop this proliferation of unlawful illegal gambling on live horse racing. In the United States, continuing action is being taken with additional internet legislation which was recently introduced on April 11, 2008. Prior internet legislation toughened enforcement against oversees internet gambling operators through criminalizing their acceptance of payments from US customers. This legislation makes it illegal for operators to accept payment and requires financial transaction providers to identify and block restricted transactions. With this action in US congress, offshore entities such as Betfair, have rightfully decided to avoid business with US customers. Similar action in Canada is necessary in order for us to continue the battle within this significant issue.

First off, I've said it before, and I'll say it again. It is not illegal or unlawful for a Canadian to bet using Betfair or any offshore house for that matter, as long as the operation doesn't have a server that accepts bets within sovereign Canada.
I can invite a Mountie over to my house, and have him watch me deposit money in my Betfair account, watch me play Betfair, and even watch me withdraw money from Betfair.
Secondly, trying to stamp out Canadians from betting with offshore houses will not bring much money back to HPI, if at all. Canadians bet offshore because of the bang for the buck they receive. Low rakes and takeouts is what makes the Canadian gambler tick these days. There are actual long term winners who play at these venues. This creates word of mouth, and it why gambling is growing all over the world.
Horse racing in North America is stuck on stupid. If anything is "criminal," it is the track takeouts. Nobody can show a long term profit betting through HPI. I don't care how great a handicapper you are. NO BUZZ from winners equals NO GROWTH.
Note to Nick: Don't bother expecting growth as long as track takeouts stay at such ridiculously high levels. It is unbecoming and illogical. The growth will be hindered until the horse racing industry grows up.
If the industry can't compete, or can't be bothered to compete, it should just disappear. That is what happens in business all the time.
The internet has changed a lot of things, and it should have been a huge boon for the racing industry. But the industry forgot that they aren't the only game in town anymore.
With that said, there is a good chance that Betfair and California is about to do a partnership deal in the very near future.. Betfair isn't going away.

You know what is illegal in Canada? Office betting pools and non sanctioned poker games. That is because the money is being collected within Canada. I haven't heard of any office pools getting busted lately.

The Ontario HBPA seems to be very impotent when it comes to dealing with government. I agree with Coukos that the amount a horsemen can write off in a given year needs to be increased. It really isn't fair, considering the financial risk that owners take, for example. I know prices have gone up for everything, but the write off cap has remained the same for a long long time.

The Ontario HBPA can do three things to benefit horsemen immediately. First thing is to get rid of that stupid rule that prevents Ontario bred horses from earning full purses once they are claimed. I've had a few owners tell me that it has actually prevented them from claiming Ontario breds. They just feel they are getting ripped off if they claim one. Claiming must be down this year. And aside from the fact that the game in Ontario is dying thanks to WEG, the claiming rule has a lot to do with it.
Second thing, is to get state bred claiming races implemented at Woodbine and Fort Erie. This will automatically make all Ontario bred horses worth more money. It will give owners an out as well if they can't compete at the allowance level, and it will even add value to open Ontario bred claimers who often have to run their butts off at Fort Erie, only to lose in a fast time to an American bred, even at the $5000 claiming level.
Third, and I know this won't happen, lobby for lower takeout rates. It is the only way for the industry to grow.

Betfair has been instrumental in finding out those behind betting scandals
What does HPI do about betting corruption?

The five Attards who train at Woodbine are off to a very slow start. Sid Attard is 5 for 54, Tino Attard (with a win yesterday) is 2 for 18, Kevin Attard is 1 for 16, while Paul Attard is 0 for 18, and Steve Attard is 0 for 25. This adds up to a total of 8 for 131. To put things in perspective, there are 4 individual trainers tied with 9 wins at Woodbine going into today. Nick Gonzalez (really Martha Gonzalez) is 9 for only 37.
It doesn't take much to turn these stats around. I'm sure we will see better things to come in 2008 from the Attards.

Follow up to the HBO slaughter piece. Apparently the Estate of Dale Baird sold quite a few horses to the meaters.

Scientific Games apparently knew about the bug that prevented quick pick players from getting a ticket that included number 20(Big Brown in the Kentucky Derby)

Trainer at Los Alamitos fined only $15,000 for 6 positives. What a joke.

Horsemen in Kentucky respond to lawsuit: They want a halt to the purse cuts for starters.

23 May 2008

Is Mohawk Racetrack A Laundry Mat For Drug Traffickers?

Drug Traffickers Allegedly Laundering Money At Mohawk Racetrack and Casino Rama

CBC tests to see how easy it is to launder money

279 Niagara Casino Workers Took Buyouts As Employee Reduction Became Necessary

Bettors Speak Out On Signal Wars (Industry In General As Well)
I recognize that at least a couple of the bettors interviewed, are members of the Pace Advantage Forum.

Many big players want cash rewards, commonly called “rebates” in industry circles, for their wagering efforts. Rebates are typically awarded only from large-volume offshore shops, although a few domestic ADWs offer them.

“Look at all of the hoops that you are making people jump through,” said the bettor from New Jersey, who is restricted by law to only playing through the state’s regional ADW 4NJBets.com, a non-rebating entity. “What are you supposed to do, split all your money across nine ADWs so you can bet the tracks you want? I could set up a (limited liability company) in another state, but I don’t think that’s right. But are others doing it? Yes.”

Players either want rebates, or have track takeout lowered closer to levels of casino betting, where the “rake” is often 10% or less.

“When online poker (in the US) becomes legal, people are going to split,” the New Jersey bettor said. “The amount that the track takes out is already ridiculous. And the horsemen want more?”

The Canadian bettor suggested that a single centralized North American ADW offering both scaled rebates based on betting volume and access to all tracks is a viable solution.

“In the ideal world, there would be one industry-supported ADW,” he said. “Their goal has to be to get the pools increased, and this would work.”'

Free PP's at Youbet now
May, 2008
Download our FreePlay PPs (past performances) FREE of charge!

* FreePlay PPs are FREE whenever you wager at least $2.00 on the racecard ordered.
* Full credit will be applied within 48 hours.
* You must have a credit card on file to order FreePlay PPs.
* FreePlay PPs are available in Full (12 running lines) and Condensed (6 running lines) versions.

FreePlay PPs are available for all U.S. and Canada thoroughbred tracks by selecting the new FreePlay PPs button on the TrackView program screen.

Youbet Avoids Delisting on NASDAQ

Premier Turf Club signs deal with Louisiana Downs

Investigation continues on the missing number 20 for Derby quick picks

Takeout increase being considered in NY State
'"One idea being negotiated would raise the takeouts on bets in New York handled by NYRA, Finger Lakes racetrack, and the OTBs. It would set a new takeout floor, which currently is 14% for one horse bets; that level would be raised to 16.5%. On multiple bets, the legal takeout floor would go from 17% to 19%, according to one document."'
Don't these doofuses get it yet? Increased takeout will not mean more revenue. In fact, it will most likely mean less revenue. Note to industry: If Walmart increased prices on everything, does anyone honestly think that means increased earnings for Walmart?

Woodbine Bias Report
Ian Black is hot right now. David Clark is cold, though he won one with a horse taking a huge edge at Fort Erie on Tuesday. Trainers Ashlee Brnjas and Analisa Delmas are cold as ice. Outside closers seem to have had the edge lately on the Poly in sprint races.

Jack Lauzon wins Avelino Gomez Award

4 horses and 4 people inducted in Canadian Horse Racing Hall Of Fame

Mike Chambers interview. Coming off a Turf Paradise meet where he won at an amazing 41% rate.
He says he was successful because he was able to run horses worth 20k for 5k. I don't buy that as being an excuse. If his horses were worth 20k, they wouldn't be running that low. Any trainer that hits at a rate over 25% needs to be spot checked as much as humanly possible, and his or her horses need to be tested for everything ever invented.

20 May 2008

Woodbine's Track Is Ridiculously Fast


Two new track records set a Woodbine yesterday and one record was tied (Two other records were set on Sunday). I don't get why the Poly surface has to be that fast. Speed hurts horses. If you want a horse to run real fast, just replace the Poly with cement. And it isn't a hidden fact that the Poly can be manipulated, and therefore slowed down.


Best card of the season at Fort Erie today. Which isn't saying much. Only 8 races, but two of them are $16,000 open claimers (a split race) full of some old pros going a mile and seventy. The superfectas in the 5th and 8th only have 8 horse fields. Yesterday's super in the last was scratched down from 8 to 6 horses, which caused the super to be scrapped.
Not blaming the racing secretary who is doing an excellent job by getting a full card to even go. It boils down to the horsemen not playing the cards they were dealt. No reason to have Sunday racing at Fort Erie. And they should only have been running twice a week in May. But the horsemen just won't deal in reality and give up days.
If Fort Erie closes down after this year, and it is a strong if, I have to say that the owners (Nordic) are not as much to blame as the horsemen. Sure, Nordic is to blame for the fact that closing Fort Erie is a distinct possibility. It took a lot of them not giving a rats ass about horse racing for that to happen. But there was absolutely no reason for the Fort Erie horsemen to realize that there was going to be a severe shortage of horses this year, and they should have taken immediate action by cutting days to around 65 spread over the same period of time. Purses would have been increased because of that, and that would have attracted more horses (a reverse Catch 22).
So lets see what Fort Erie has right now. Fewer horses, fewer backstretch workers, fewer owners, trainers, and jockeys. Almost to the point that if Fort Erie were to close, it would only affect a very small amount of Ontarians. There will be little justification to keep it going.
Now you have mostly unbettable races, and like yesterday, unbettable cards. They can't even take advantage of the dinner crowd of bettors on the internet that wind up betting good money into the 9th and 10th races on Monday and Tuesday.....because they can barely fill 8 races.


Most likely scenario is that Betfair becomes a race track ADW where they can have their customers bet on California races (all types of bets). Betfair will pay the signal fee and most likely pay a percentage of the money bet on their exchange betting to the California race tracks/horsemen.
This means, if true, that a Canadian like myself, will have another option to bet into California pools (other than through the rip off artist ADW: HPI)

I just found this news funny: The First Nation gets around $60 million a year from the earnings at Casino Rama. It is divided up amongst the various tribes in Ontario. It seems that $3 million went to a tribe that doesn't even exist.
...perhaps the most questionable item is about $3 million paid over the last decade to the Poplar Point First Nation, a so-called "near band" not officially recognized by Ottawa. It once ran out of a storefront in Thunder Bay, Ont., but the telephone number is out of service....A relative of the man who claims to be Poplar Point's hereditary chief says he hasn't been around for months.

Youbet signs deal with the Louisiana horsemen
The terms are hush hush. Typical of what happens in a dysfunctional industry. All we know right now is that the horsemen didn't get exactly what they wanted. Youbet is a public company, so I expect that the terms of the deal will have to be announced soon enough.

Quick Picks for the Kentucky Derby didn't spit out anything with number 20 (Big Brown's number) on them.

Big Brown couldn't help but win the Preakness. Most of the contenders hadn't raced in over a month. I still say there is a chance that "something comes up" and that the Preakness may have been his last race. Even though his owners are saying there is a good chance he'll even race after the Belmont.

17 May 2008

Preakness 2008

Big Brown should beat this field without a problem. The unknown horses have been away.
I knew when I picked Gayego as my second choice, that Big Brown is in a zone of his own this time out. Here is the link to a free Equibase form for the race. My longshot selections for the tri and the super are Hey Byrn and Riley Tucker.
If Big Brown does what is expected and wins the Preakness, I still contend that it could easily be his last race. Because he would be undefeated, the risk versus reward of racing in the Belmont may not be good BUSINESS. And lets face it, when it comes to good horses who regularly retire at 3, it is all about BUSINESS.
If you don't think it is all BUSINESS, read this by Andrew Beyer regarding Big Brown's ownership.

Bill Finley thinks Big Brown will win in the Preakness, but he will regress, and regress so much, that he won't win the Belmont. And Finley isn't even entertaining the possibility that Big Brown won't compete in the Belmont.

Angry owners in Puerto Rico sometimes give the word to destroy slow horses immediately after a bad race.

Have you looked at Fort Erie's cards? Pathetic. 6 horse races full of "pigs and chickens." They split a maiden 5 claimer on Monday (two 6 horse races instead of a 12 horse betting race), to fill 8 races.
I blame the horsemen here. They were pissed about losing 4 dates, when they should have opted for losing 20 dates. 64 days would have meant a 25-30% increase in purses, and it would have attracted a much bigger horse population, which means bigger fields and bigger betting. They still could have run the meet over the same length of time.
Why they race on Sundays is beyond me. Right now, they should race on Mondays and Tuesdays only, fill 10 or 11 races each day, especially take advantage of the 4:30-5:30 crowd who really pound into whatever track is available on Monday or Tuesday at that time.
Watching a few horses at Woodbine who just can't handle Poly makes me realize that Fort Erie's dirt track is a needed option. But economically, the purse structure is not economical for most owners to look long term with a horse.
This is looking like Fort Erie's last year, barring a raise in percentages from OLG slots to the horsemen, or brand new ownership who give a crap about horse racing.

Harlan Abbey's report on Fort Erie

Buffalo Casino Revenues Continue To Gain Steam

HPITV to begin "Reloaded" program; replays of 5 selected complete cards will be broadcast at various times starting at 2:15 AM

ORC suspends drive Al Cullen for a year following random breathalyser test.

ORC rules that former Elliott trained OSS horse can race, despite WEG's ruling that all Elliott trained horses were to be banned

Pretty quick horse racing survey at SI

NTRA reaches a deal with The Southern Racing Cooperative

Forbes article on durability versus speed

Steve Davidowitz makes suggestions for improving horse racing safety

One of his ideas is to Xray all runners approved for racing. And Xray them during entry. That is probably the right thing to do, but I have a feeling, we'll end up with one third the runners we have now.

15 May 2008

HBO Documentary On Horse Slaughter: Racing's Dirty Little Secret

The following videos are not for the squeamish. It is unbelievable that race horses can be treated in such a manner. This video gives Mountaineer a deserving bad name.
But the same happens at many tracks (Ontario tracks included). I had no idea they actually shot horses for slaughter in Canada (at least sometimes), and in Mexico, the horse killers seem to be from the Josef Mengele school of thought:

Two words for part one; sickening and disgusting.
Part Two:

For my American readers, check out Americans Against Horse Slaughter

Canadians can check out Long Run. For more background, read Jen Morrison's article Battle To Save Horses From Slaughterhouse.

It is about time that we shame those "horsemen" who regularly and knowingly sell thoroughbreds to butchers. If you want to anonymously post those who you are sure of who participate in this practice, feel free to leave names in the comment section.

Please try to be 100% sure, as this topic is not a joke and the comment section is not a place to carry on vendettas.

14 May 2008

No Surprise If The Preakness Is Big Brown's Last Race

50-50 Prediction: If Big Brown wins the Preakness on Saturday, it is probably a coin flip as to whether he will be retired after the race. His value at stud can only go down that point. A Belmont or Breeders Cup victory won't help it, but any loss will most likely hurt his value (especially since he is undefeated). Many horses have found the mile and a half Belmont too grueling after winning the first two Triple Crown legs.
That is reflective of the sad state of breeding in North America these days.

Secrecy around the Fort Erie grant money finally revealed.
Apparently it was $3 million, not $2 million. $2 million was handed over to El-Ad Canada and its subsidiary, Nordic Gaming, which operates the Fort Erie Race Track. The other million is going toward the removal of the east-north Concession Road ramp at the QEW.
$2 million to a company owned by one of the richest men in the world? This is just ridiculous (the proposed project simply is idiotic), and speaking as an Ontario taxpayer, this is completely outrageous. The article makes it clear that the government is next to clueless when it comes to the Fort Erie situation.

Ron Thomson, 76 passed away on Sunday morning. He trained in Ontario most of his life. Magnificent Dancer, a horse he trained for his wife Flo, won the first race at Fort Erie on Saturday, shortly after Thomson passed.

Regina Sealock is probably the best two turn jockey at Fort Erie these days. She won impressively on Philly Frenzy in yesterday's 5th. She is rarely on a favourite and seems to move horses up in distance races.

Christopher Griffin is off to very quick start and leads the jockey colony at the Fort in wins, but a lot has to do with red hot trainer Don MacRae who has won 5 races with just 8 starters.

Woodbine Bias Report: Outside posts had a tough time last week. Tyler Pizarro is the hot jock right now, while trainers Sid Attard and John Mackenzie are cold. But so is Tiller, Delmas, and John Cardella. Tiller's horses haven't run bad, he is 1 for 27 but has 6 seconds and 6 thirds.

Baymount says that ground breaking is expected in June for Belleville's new racino

Magna Entertainment seem a bit more optimistic that slots are coming to Maryland.

Calgary gambler admits to a $512,000 fraud
'...Alexander had defrauded the former law firm of Court of Queen's Bench Justice Sandy Park by stealing more than $22,000 in trust account funds.

The money was taken by Alexander, 54, before she went on to work as the bookkeeper at Centaur Import Motors Ltd., where she stole $499,870.75 between January 2002 and May 2004.

Alexander also defrauded Canada Revenue Agency of just under $100,000 by making false GST claims to cover her tracks.'

How slot machines give players a false illusion

Storm Cat pensioned at 25

ORC suspends Ken Hornick for 15 years and hands out a $60,000 fine.
Cool, now when are we going to hear about those who Hornick sold illicit drugs to?
I won't hold my breath.

12 May 2008

Presque Isle Downs Does $196k In Handle On Sunday; Purses Totaled $178k

Presque Isle Downs fired off a letter on Friday which told ADW's like Premier Turf Club that starting Sunday, they could no longer have their signal, because of the ongoing dispute between horsemen and owners. Horsemen want a larger share of the takeout earned through ADWs.

The horsemen group have not thought this one out very well. The result will be that more bettors will stop following the tracks that are holding out, and many will open up offshore betting accounts, and may in fact stay there after the dust clears. Currently, Betfair doesn't accept US residents, but I expect that to change very soon. In the meantime, there are some offshore houses that still welcome US residents.

The result of the PID signal holdout: $196,000 in total handle on Sunday. Presque Isle gave out $178,000 in purses. Imagine, without slots, Presque Isle would need to charge a 90% takeout to break even, and that is without operating expenses.

Betting was low in a lot venues. Fort Erie only did $471k while giving out $93k in purses, Woodbine, with an eleven race classy card full of big fields only did $2.6 million while distributing over $600k in purses, and Mountaineer, with a muddy track, did only $1.4 million in handle, giving out $135k in purses.

Even with bettors all across North America getting shut out of tracks they would normally bet on, Woodbine, who has their signal just about everywhere except Premier Turf Club, isn't breaking any records. Big bettors are avoiding Woodbine and their ridiculously high track takeouts, regardless of availability.

Pull The Pocket Sums Up The Mentality Of The Racing Industry

We go on strike for more race dates at places where no one watches us race.

In 2007 we made it a felony to bet a race over the Internet from Arizona.

We have home market areas that are 10 hour drives from a racetrack.

We expect customers to open seven different betting accounts to play our sport.

We get a report from a respected University telling us that an ideal takeout rate to maximize our revenue is 7%, but charge 20%.

We charge people for racing data and past performances. Like McDonald's charging $2 to look at their menu.

We can't decide if racetrack is one word or two.

We think rebated players stick their rebates in a sock.

We settle a positive test that happened in 2006, in 2008, and expect no one to notice.

When anyone mentions the thought of the sport hiring a commissioner it is met with unbridled laughter.

We watch some trainers regularly drop 4 seconds off a horse in a week and expect the public to believe it is the shoeing.

We pay for a gambling expert to give us guidance, he writes a 100 page detailed report, and we ignore all his recommendations.

We see that advance deposit wagering is the only growth segment in racing and immediately try and take more of the revenue; which would result in destroying the only growth segment in racing.

We retire our sports stars at the age of 3 so they can have sex, and expect the sport's fan base to grow.

We think that lowering a price will result in less revenue.

We give slap on the wrist penalties to rule breakers, then wonder why good people don't want to invest in racing.

We do little to help retired racehorses, then get mad at the public when they don't want to support horseracing after they see a news report on a former Kentucky Derby winner being slaughtered.

We have rules that say you can't kick a horse or whip him where the sun don't shine, but we never enforce them.

We call our customers "disgruntled gamblers".

And with all of the above, after the business goes downhill, we go cap in hand to government looking for money, blaming it on offshore competition, or lotteries.

Windsor horsemen finally grow a brain, and drop Tuesdays in May. Less than a month ago they decided to go with a purse cut as opposed to a reduction in dates. Fort Erie should drop Sundays in May....if they were smart, and then race on Wednesdays in June, July, August, and September.

Fort Erie Gets A $2 Million Government Grant To Spark The Big Project That Will Never Be.

'A $2-million provincial grant has been earmarked to "help spark" a $300-million redevelopment of the Fort Erie Race Track, The Review has learned.

Jim Thibert, manager of the Fort Erie Economic Development and Tourism Corporation, confirmed Friday, his agency has made an offer to El-Ad (Canada) and its subsidiary Nordic Gaming, to assist in paying some of the costs that will be incurred during preliminary planning for the redevelopment of the 111-year-old border oval using money the agency was granted last month by Ontario's Ministry of Economic Development and Trade.

"Our goal is to help get it done," Thibert said. "Right now, we have made a proposal to El-Ad to help facilitate this (development) proposal.

"We're doing the best we can to say this is how we share the risks." said Thibert.

Claude Pilato, chairman of the EDTC's board of director's was quick to point out the money isn't a bail out for the track, which opened last weekend despite ongoing financial woes.

Nor does the money guarantee the 111th season won't be its last, Pilato said.'
So the government is basically covering Nordic Gaming's planning costs. Nordic meanwhile, hasn't put in a dime by the looks of it. Yet they expect everyone to believe they are going to invest $300 million in a project that makes absolutely no economic or common sense.

I have a feeling a few people will end up getting their wallets fatter at the expense of the Ontario tax payer (expect lots of contracts that involve nepotism)....and that is about it.

My Sentiments On Breeding Echoed By A Couple Of Insiders

Industry may examine recent breeding practices

In no area is the finger-pointing greater than the debate over whether America's breeders have produced an increasingly fragile animal while making speed and brilliance the objective in a mating at the expense of soundness and durability.

Doug Byars, a leading expert in internal and critical equine care, is among those who say there is too much emphasis on breeding a horse that will attract top dollar at sales -- with fashionable speed-oriented bloodlines -- rather than one who has the best parentage for longevity at the racetrack. "We've got to look at breeding to sell, not breeding to race," he said.

Many breeders counter that they must produce what the market wants to stay in business. Also, horses such as last year's Derby winner Street Sense and runner-up Hard Spun become so valuable as stallions that the economic pressure is to retire them after the 3-year-old campaign. If they don't race at 4 and 5, no one knows if they're likely to produce progeny resilient enough to withstand several years of racing.

While Casner says the breeding is unfairly becoming the whipping boy, he agrees standards are too lax for horses getting into the production chain.

"I really don't think it's as much the speed factor as . . . what does everybody do with a filly who can't run? Breed them," he said. "What do they do with a filly that can't make it to the races because of soundness? Breed them. . . . Horses in an earlier time had to earn their way into the breeding shed Fillies certainly had to be good racehorses and had to be durable."

One industry project involves compiling statistics designed to measure the durability of stallions' offspring.

Harlem Rocker to skip Preakness. Aims for Queen's Plate instead.

Tucci Stables had three winner with three different trainers yesterday. I thought that an owner could only have two trainers at one track in Ontario. I know Nick Gonzalez is stabled at both Fort Erie and Woodbine, but My List seems to be stabled at Woodbine.

Calder Slashes Purses on 8 Stake Races

9 May 2008

Big Drug Bust: Former Woodbine Employee Charged With Dealing Illicit Drugs To Industry

Niagara This Week has a really good slide show, that almost every horse fan would appreciate, from opening day at Fort Erie last Saturday. Related story: Apprentice Richard Morrow started the season off right. And an article on "new" hot trainer Allen Desruisseaux.

Presque Isle Downs opens tonight. First post is at 5:30. Presque Isle isn't on HPI's roster. I wonder if WEG considers that track as major competition (and they don't want to promote it in any way), or if they just think that Presque Isle wouldn't attract betting. Great purses (especially for bottom horses) and shorter fields can be found on tonights card. $180,000 is supposed to be given out a day on average, for their 100 day meet.
Presque Isle is available at Premier Turf Club.....and they give their customers nice rebates as well.

Former harness announcer and ex-Woodbine employee, Ken Harnick charged with dealing illicit drugs to the horse racing industry

May 8, 2008 02:34 PM - A Mississauga man who's a former employee of Woodbine Racetrack has been charged with supplying steroids and other illicit drugs to the horse racing industry.
About four months ago, a task force comprised of OPP, Peel Regional Police and racing commission investigators raided a Mississauga home on Forrestdale Circle. They seized a quantity of drugs and unlabelled doctored substances, an OPP spokesperson said.
Drug testing disclosed that some of the drugs seized were banned substances, including steroids, the spokesperson said.
Police said a former employee of Woodbine and a current licensee with the racing commission had secretly been supplying drugs to the horse racing industry.
A senior official at Woodbine lauded the investigation, while acknowledging it was a "long-term struggle" to rid the industry of drug cheaters.
"The vast majority of guys in horse racing are honest, but unfortunately there are a few who choose to use illicit drugs," said Jamie Martin, senior vice-president of racing at Woodbine.
"The horse racing community has sent a clear message," said Rob McKinney, deputy director of the Ontario Racing Commission. "It will not tolerate those who engage in illegal activities."
Ken Hornick, 43, is charged with two counts of possession for the purpose of trafficking, one count of possession of a controlled substance and 10 counts of possessing drugs for illegal sale.
He'll appear in Brampton court June 5.

I've read that further arrests may be pending, and that the drugs were mainly for standardbred clients. Now for the questions.

Will Hornick be forced to rat on his customers?

Will WEG, the OPP and the ORC go after the customers, and make a major attempt to find out who they are?

Will they deal with the customers harshly and publicly, or should the public expect this to be dealt with quietly with little slap on the wrist warnings?

Churchill Downs to slash purses 20%. 10% was expected.

Woodbine Bias Report: The track seems to playing fair as far as rail/outside bias goes. Last week three out of four days favoured come from behinders. Sunday was a different story. Ramsammy and Da Silva are hot right now, Chantal Sutherland is having a cold spell, losing her last 15 straight, with only 2 wins at the meet thus far. She'll start winning very soon.
Josie Carroll is 0 for her last 10. Ian Black is off to an 0 for 17 start. I hope Prophetically runs OK for Kinghaven Farms on Saturday. Hate to see the track takeout go up even more because Kinghaven is having a bad year:)

Steven Crist gives a big thumbs up to Trakus

The Jockey Club and NTRA To Act On Eight Belles Death
Jockey Club chairman Ogden Mills “Dinny” Phipps said May 8 the new committee would be asked to review every facet of equine health, including breeding practices, medication, the rules of racing and track surfaces, and to recommend actions to be taken by the industry to improve the health and safety of Thoroughbreds.....“The committee is going to meet for the first time (May 14),” Curran said. “After the meeting, it will provide a summary of its goals and a timeline (for action).”

The seven members of the committee are Stuart Janney III, who will serve as chairman; John Barr; James G. “Jimmy” Bell; Dr. Larry Bramlage; Donald Dizney, Dell Hancock; and Dr. Hiram Polk Jr. Each is a member of The Jockey Club.

Bill Finley writes that this time is different:
He demands/suggest that racing ban all drugs, control use of the whip, convert to synthetic tracks, promote longer races, and do a lot more when it comes to stopping the slaughter of former race horses.
Don't forget about lower takeouts. I know it is a little off topic, so I'll forgive you right now Bill.

Canadian Hall Of Fame Nominees Announced

7 May 2008

How To Fix Breeding And Help Horse Racing Immensely

With all the talk about the tragic breakdown of Eight Belles right after she ran her heart out in the Kentucky Derby, one thing being repeated really makes sense, the idea that horses prone to injury, are dominating the stud business and have been for a few decades.
Northern Dancer was arguably the top sire and grand sire in history, but he retired due to unsoundness, at least that is the story.
Breeding wasn't that huge back then, so it is probable that Northern Dancer had real issues. But you have to think that his lack of longevity as a race horse has passed down to his line.
And of course, since Secretariat's early retirement at three, we don't even know how many of the big named studs would have done if their career was longer.
We do know that the top sires were able to make it to three, but we don't know if they would have been a force at five or six.
Mares too, are retired very early for the most part.
I don't knock the people retiring and syndicating these top performers. Money talks. It is almost crazy not to take the green while you can get it.
However, the industry is the big victim here.
Horses who break down in races that possibly could attract new fans is devastating to the growth of horse racing.
Lets face it, it happened twice now in 2 years, where top horses have died, possibly because the bloodlines of horses today have created more fragile individuals than ever before.

The solution:

Horses should not be allowed to enter stud until they turn at least six. Mares must be at least 5 years old before they can breed.

This means that trainers may not drill the heck out of horses out in the early portion of their careers. Perhaps too, we will only see horses in the Derby that are bred to go a mile and a quarter, and who have at least a couple of mile and eighth races under their belts. But in the next decade if this rule is implemented tomorrow, we will most likely know that the sire and dam of most of the top horses had longevity going for them.
Buyers will lean towards buying for longevity, and breeders will be forced to breed for longevity.
If a horse goes bad at 4 (can't compete as a Stake horse, or gets too sore to run), they probably won't be the most popular horse in the breeding shed, male or female, but especially the males.
The bloodlines will correct themselves in a hurry. Breeding for longevity. What a novel idea!
The pressure will be a good pressure. Owners of horses who did well at 3, will be forced to continue to run the horses against top competition at 4 and 5, or risk a very low syndication price. Horses that don't cut it, will be taken out of the gene pool eventually.

But the best thing that will happen if my rules become reality is that fans can actually follow a race horse for more than 6 months to a year.

How many new fans did the awesome careers of Forego and Kelso create? Too bad they were geldings, horse racing badly needs their longevity in the bloodlines of todays race horse.

5 May 2008

Jockey Suspended For Possession Of A Buzzer; Fort Erie Opens For Maybe Its Last Year

Electric Devices Are Still Being Used By Jockeys
Jockey Glenn Murphy has been suspended 180 days, through Oct. 27, and fined $2,500 for possession of an electrical device at Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie.
If you see one cockroach in the kitchen, you know there are hundreds in the walls.
6 months is not enough of a deterrent. How about 10 years to life?

FORT ERIE OPENS: $600,000 handle Saturday, $400,000 on Sunday

Fort Erie had an all source handle of barely over $400,000 yesterday. Why do they bother racing on Sundays? Makes zero sense. Slot players who come on the weekend don't need live racing to draw them in. Wednesdays make more sense. I know it didn't work when they tried it years ago, but the complexion of gambling on horses has changed drastically since then. A track like Fort Erie needs as little competition as possible. The best time for them to race is when few others are racing. Action is pretty decent for the Fort on Mondays and Tuesdays. They usually get over $1 million in handle on those days. Maybe not this year though. Short fields does not entice big betting.
The blame can be shared on this one by the ownership, who have no business running a racetrack, and the horsemen (mostly the trainers), who refuse to play the cards they have been dealt. It would have made much more sense to run only 60-65 days and increase purses by 20%. The fields would be larger, and the game would be more economical for the owners of race horses.
The end result is that this could be the last year for live racing at Fort Erie. It is such a beautiful track, and it doesn't have to be this way, but I only see pessimism growing and growing. The $300 million Nordic smoke and mirror show should get an official veto sometime in the summer, and unless Nordic sells to an owner interested in growing horse racing, the writing is on the wall.
The reliance on slots is just mind boggling when looking at industry growth. If someone loses $200 at slots, the track gets $20 and the horsemen's account gets $20.
If that same person loses $200 on the horses, the track and horsemen get to split $197 (on their live product and around $185-$190 on a simulcast product). Many of those playing slots these days, used to bet on the horses. What has the track done to bring them back?

Ontario Racing Commission Accused Of Trying To Regulate Lawyers
Lawyer Gerry Sternberg is not allowed to work as a lawyer before the commission until he apologizes to ORC chairman Rod Seiling.
Here is why the Commission expects an apology:
'Trouble began during the March 6 hearing into alleged improprieties of two standardbred horsemen, when Seiling drew attention to the repetitiveness of Sternberg's questions during cross-examination of a witness.

"Sir, do you know what cross-examination is?" Sternberg asked Seiling. "Do you have any legal training? I would like to know whether or not you have any legal training...because there is no one here beside you to tell you what the rules are."

"...All I know is you were a hockey player in your day....I am tired of listening to you when you don't even know the rules."

Sternberg said Seiling, a former National Hockey League player, had interrupted him during cross-examination and that he felt it was unreasonable for his clients that his questions were being restricted - and the commission's own lawyer hadn't objected. The exchange was brief, Sternberg said, then he moved on with his questions and finished the hearing without incident.

The ruling against Sternberg said that the lawyer was "misinformed and incorrect" about the chairman's "skill sets" and about the ability of the chairman to put limits on cross-examinations.'

WEG Bans horses trained by William Elliot and Evzen Pindur
DPO (darbepoetin-alfa), a longer lasting form of EPO(Erythropeietin) was found in blood samples from a horse in each of their stables. Pindur received a 10 year ban and a $40,000 fine. Elliot is still being investigated.

Wow, 10 years. Hopefully that is the kind of deterrent needed in the industry.

Richard Dutrow, the trainer of Derby winner Big Brown really humiliated Woodbine when he won the Queen's Plate three years ago with Wild Desert
Wild Desert was working out under false pretenses prior to the Plate and the owner of the horse, Dan Borislow, bragged that he cashed over $100,000 at Woodbine. Why wasn't Dutrow giving a lengthy ban over this, and why wasn't the purse money taken away and redistributed?
Dutrow has also had numerous drug violations.
Not taking anything away from Big Brown, but Richard Dutrow shouldn't be allowed in the sport.
It is hard to believe that Big Brown's system is free of banned substances that aren't well masked by legal drugs, or the substances are not detectable on drug tests. Dutrow has too much of a history when it comes to taking illegal shots.

PETA wants jockey Gabriel Saez suspended for "mercilessly whipping" Eight Belles in the stretch.
I know that break down of Eight Belles hurt the sport probably more than the victory of Big Brown helped the sport. It was tragic. Very sad. My wife hates watching horse racing because she is paranoid that every time she watches a race she might see a breakdown.
She watches very few races. I figure that in these big races, breakdowns should happen a lot less frequently, so I am more at ease to put on a big race for her to watch. I put on the Barbaro race after Barbaro went through the gate, just as something of interest for her. The result of course was Barbaro, pulling up quickly after the race started with a leg dangling.
I put on this year's Derby for her, and look what happens? Again, you can explain to a regular that what happened to Eight Belles was a total unfortunate fluke, but try explaining it to a casual fan or potential fan.

ADW Lockout Blamed for 2% decrease in Churchill Downs' all source handle on Derby day.
It was still $164,688,176 for a 12 race card. Putting that in perspective. It takes Woodbine around 70-75 days to do that kind of handle, and it takes Fort Erie (which averaged around $900,000 a day last year) to race 180 plus days to achieve that kind of handle.

2 May 2008

Alleged Race Fixing At Woodbine Involved Mostly Or Only Standardbreds

Upon doing a web search on the alleged race fixing that went on at Woodbine around 2001, I came across a Sun article. Not sure of the date, but it looks like it is from 2003:

Race-fixing claims probed
ORC investigating former fraud artist's allegations

Drugged horses, payoffs involved in 400 races, he says


The Ontario Racing Commission is investigating a former fraud artist's claims of race-fixing at Woodbine and other tracks.

The allegations arose in documents and testimony in the court case of police officer Robert Kelly, a 15-year member of the Toronto force who pleaded guilty Monday to two counts of cocaine possession.

In an agreed statement of facts, a man identified as "the agent" — a key prosecution witness in the case against Kelly previously identified in court as Robert Clarke Jr. — claimed to have "`inside information' that certain horse races were likely fixed." In further testimony, the agent was said to have offered to place bets with bookies on races at tracks such as Woodbine and Mohawk.

In a Toronto Sun story published yesterday, the agent — who was not identified as Clarke — said he was part of "400 fixed races" that involved cocaine-drugged horses and payoffs to grooms and trainers.

"We're aware of this individual," Jean Major, executive director of the Ontario Racing Commission, said yesterday while not confirming that the man under investigation is Clarke, a 31-year-old who has been convicted before of fraud involving promises of race-fixing.

"We've spoken to him before," Major said. "The facts that are related in the (Toronto Sun) story don't quite add up. We have been looking into this for some time and we're continuing to investigate it."

Major said the individual under investigation was not licensed as a trainer, although he was described as such in the Sun story.

He added that "predominantly, if not all" of the allegations concerned standardbred races in Ontario.

Prominent standardbred owner Bert Smith, whose Almost Doesn't Count Stable has had the most Woodbine and Mohawk starters for the past six years running, said he was surprised at the allegations.

"I've talked to three other owners and trainers today, and a couple of big bettors," Smith said.

"Even if there was a whisper of it, something would have come down the pipe by now.

"Especially cocaine. Cocaine isn't something you could get away with, especially when horses that aren't supposed to win jump up and win."

The Canadian Parimutuel Agency conducts drug testing of horses, with urinalysis on samples from the winner and another horse chosen at random from each race.

In 2001, 48 standardbreds tested positive for banned substances, or 0.2 per cent of the approximately 25,000 horses tested.

Despite the assertion that Clarke was a trainer with connections to grooms, Smith said: "None of us have heard of this guy at all."

Law authorities handling the Kelly case say they are also baffled by Clarke's published remarks.

Staff Superintendent Dave Dicks said the agent was being re-interviewed by the RCMP-led task force that investigated Kelly over apparent discrepancies between what he told police and later told the Sun.

During Kelly's preliminary hearing, the court heard that Clarke had been involved in about a half-dozen allegedly fixed races.

Kelly had supposedly piled up winnings of $25,000 betting on the races, but when Clarke didn't pay him there was a dispute between the two and Clarke went to the police.

Peter Brauti, Kelly's lawyer, said that if Clarke lied to the police about the number of fixed horse races then he should be charged with obstruction of justice.

"The task force spent an incredible amount of money and resources prosecuting my client for three grams of cocaine," Brauti said in an interview. "Now their own witness has come forward to say he has been involved in 400 gambling frauds at the racetrack.

"I expect that the task force should show the same tenacity in investigating, charging and prosecuting this agent if these allegations have any substance. I'm a big believer in equal application of the law."

Well, it has been at least 5 years. Where is the result of the Ontario Racing Commission's investigation? I must have missed it.

Again, to view the CBC report, click here. Around the 8:40 mark of the video you will see the allegations regarding horse racing. They show thoroughbreds breaking from the gate, making many, including me, to assume the fixing was thoroughbred related.

I know I've been predicting that Woodbine will decrease purses shortly thanks to their pathetic handle, well I was surprised to learn that Woodbine raised purses (on the harness side), but the raise was most likely contractually driven because of cancellations in the winter and a higher percentage of lower pursed races that filled. Woodbine admits that wagering on the harness product is down 5% on the year so far.

Woodbine Entertainment Group and the Ontario Harness Horse Association today announced a six per cent increase to overall Standardbred purses beginning with the season opening of Mohawk Racetrack this Thursday, May 1.

"There are a number of factors in place that allow the purse increase," said Bruce Murray, Vice President of Standardbred Racing.

"Though wagering this year is off approximately 5%, there has been significantly less purse money paid out to date because of fewer race dates at Woodbine, and a lot of winter races were filled with less expensive classes.

Our purse structure is among the highest in the industry, but we hope this increase will further assist our efforts to attract the best horses in this very competitive market."

The 115-day Mohawk meet is on a five-night a week (Thursday-Monday) schedule until October 6.

Maritime harness racing expands drug testing.

Montreal Gazette article on horse racing's struggle to survive. From the article:

"I like the sport. I followed it 20 years. I just don't see where I can make money doing it," said professional poker player John Erickson of Ontario.

Besides Fort Erie, another Canadian track with outrageous track takeouts starts its season this weekend. Tonight Assiniboia has its 2008 opener. I'll be watching South Park.

1 May 2008

This Year The Derby Will Be Won By RECAPTURETHEGLORY????

Last year I predicted the winner of the Kentucky Derby in a very cocky manner. I called Street Sense a lead pipe cinch. There is no cinch this year, unfortunately. I really think Big Brown isn't going to do it. Going into a grueling mile and a quarter race on the dirt, against high quality horses after a rest of over 30 days, is not the way to go. Barbaro did it, but in the last 16 years, he was the only one. Another interesting angle is that only Giacomo and Sea Hero have won the Derby off a race where they didn't earn at least a 100 Beyer, in the last 16 years.
Here is a rundown of my quick thought regarding all the Derby entrants:

1. Cool Coal Man
Big contender if you completely throw out the last race. But it is very difficult to do so even if it was on poly.
2. Tale of Ekati
Not good enough. May have peaked in last.
3. Anak Nakal
Needs to hope that the pace really collapses and that many horses don't fire. Not likely.
4. Court Vision
Will be on the fringe. Coming off 90 Beyer (not a good angle). Not good enough for top two.
5. Eight Belles
Her speed figures make her a contender, but the fact that she has never gone past 1 1/16th looms as a large negative.
6. Z Fortune
Has a lot going for him including a 102 Beyer earned 21 days before the Derby. Four good route races under his belt (3 this year).
1 1/16th.
7. Big Truck
Doesn't look good enough to crack the top 4.
8. Visionaire
May move up in the slop. I don't like his form going into the race.
9. Pyro
Last race was bad enough to throw him out of the Derby. Doesn't show he can go past one mile and a sixteenth successfully.
10. Colonel John
Looks like he peaked in last. Will be overbet. Coming off a lifetime best 95 Beyer, which is not a great angle.
11. Z Humor
Needed the last race. Question mark at the distance. Will run a peak race, but that might not be good enough for the super.
12. Smooth Air
Runs too sporadically. May do OK in the Preakness, but not the Derby. Will need this race to move forward.
13. Bob Black Jack
The speed. May have tactical speed, but I don't like all the sprints on his form. Might hang in for a piece depending on how the track is playing.
14. Monba
Could be a sleeper. Might be getting better. Able to throw in a clunker. Too lightly raced and too much of a question to bet money on.
15. Adriano
Too long off. Big question on a dirt track.
16. Denis of Cork
Needed last race, probably needs another.
17. Cowboy Cal
Hasn't done a lot wrong (on the grass and Poly that is). Poly to dirt angle after coming up short in last might be a big angle. But his one race on a dirt track was horrible.
18. Recapturetheglory
Looked real good in the last. Shouldn't be on the lead this time. Might be a perfect tactical stalker in this one. Did OK at Churchill too. Very lightly raced this year, his last race was massive. But he did have an uncontested lead.
19. Gayego
Hard to knock this one, except that he had too many sprints last year and no routes. Good tactical speed. The distance is a bit of a question mark.
20. Big Brown
Has done nothing wrong. Big mistake giving the horse over a month off before the big race. Barbaro was the only horse in recent history to pull that off. Layoff will most likely be his downfall.

Very tough race. Here is my prediction for the Superfecta:
1st Recapturetheglory
2nd Z. Fortune
3rd Gayego
4th Colonel John
Scratch selection: Bob Black Jack


I'll make my prediction for the top 5 jockeys at the Fort:
1. Cory Clark
2. Rui Pimental
3. Chad Beckon
4. Kris Robinson
5. Regina Sealock

The jury is out on David Garcia. If either Daniel David or Martin Ramirez wind up moving their tack to Fort Erie (I'm sure we will see them Mondays and Tuesdays), either of them would win the jockey's title.

Note to Fort Erie: Change the takeout on exactors back to, at most, the 20% range. 26% on exactors is a slap in the face to your customers.

Last night they did under $1.5 million in total handle. No real competition. Mountaineer does over $2 million a night. I know Woodbine only had eight races but it still pro rates to less than $2 million. People are actually avoiding Woodbine. Could be partly because of the Poly, but I think it is mostly because of the fact they have the 5th highest takeout in North America, and the gamblers have woke up.
Also, Mountaineer is available to price sensitive players at Premier Turf Club. Woodbine has shut out price sensitive players, and their regular clientele go broke real quick thanks to high takeouts.

The harness portion of the Gambling Conference in Montreal is over. For coverage and results of the conference go to Pull The Pocket. It looks like the idea of legal betting exchanges run within Canada will become a reality in the near future. However, they have to be completely in line with the commissions Betfair charges, or it won't fly.


Unfortunately, the current racetrack owner/exec will not go that route. The result is that the industry will continue to slowly die.

Bob Evans (President of Churchill Downs Inc.) sums up the industry this way: "Eventually, people get tired of losing money."

Is he talking about track owners or players? I'll assume both, but most track execs aren't empathetic to the player in the least.

Now let me go further:

Horse players get tired of losing and quit or bet less. Eventually everyone dies. Horse racing has not been able to attract enough bettors to replace the old ones. The internet has made people aware of other forms of betting where winning is a lot more likely. Such as poker and sports betting which have much much lower rakes.

So Bob identified the problem. What is his solution?
"I think we probably have a future with fewer races and maybe even fewer tracks. Clearly, we're on a path to fewer races."

How about the same amount of races and racetracks, and much lower takeouts?

Bob Evans is a defeatist. He has clearly given up on the concept of getting new bettors, because he KNOWS that getting new bettors means drastically changing the way racetracks do business today and price their gambling product.


Beyers or other Speed Figures are available everywhere. This took a huge edge out of speed handicappers. No new edge was created.
Sophisticated drug usage, hiding drugs with Lasix has made racing more unpredictable. No new edge was created.
Slot players, who formerly made up a lot of the dumb money has been taken out of the pools. No new edge has been created.
Whales bet bigger and have a higher ROI than the average horseplayer that is left in the game, which actually makes the ROI of the average horseplayer left in the game even worse. No edged has been created to compensate for this.
Track takeouts have increased collectively over the last 20 years. No edge has been created to compensate for this.
With more tracks to bet on at an ADW or at the track, players go broke quicker.

Less winners (close to zero, but not quite) equals less BUZZ. It is difficult to create new players in this environment especially when the new competition of online sports betting and poker have many known winners.....or at least those who can break even.

Less people come close to breaking even. This is a huge factor in getting people to be turned off and find another way to gamble.

The game is intimidating for newbies as well. Speed figure handicapping and recent form is the best way for newbies to get acquainted with the game. No real edge for speed figure handicappers coupled with major form inconsistencies due to drugging has made potential newbies look elsewhere.