29 June 2008

Dutrow Knocks Successful Trainers; Goofy Goes To The Track

Rick Dutrow basically calls almost every trainer with a good record "a cheater":

'Dutrow said he would be in favor if veterinarians were barred from the grounds, and said he welcomed a national set of medication rules. In typical Dutrow fashion, though, he bashed many of New York's leading trainers over the years, basically accusing them of cheating.

"How does Oscar Barrera go from winning no races for 30 years and then he becomes the best trainer that's ever trained horses in two years, then they stop him and he goes 0 for 140?'' Dutrow said. "The same thing with Gasper Moschera - where's he at? How did he get to be the man in New York by laying carpet, then they stop him and he gets out of the game. Peter Ferriola, Juan Serey. You look at this jerk down there [Gary] Contessa - how does he set records? How does he do it? C'mon, man, if everything is the same playing field, we're going to do as good if not better than anybody."'

Penalties given to Dutrow and Asmussen, nowhere near severe enough to deter trainers from cheating.

Back In 1948 Some Racing Fans Were Just Plain Goofy:)

Montreal's Harness Racetrack Closed; Under Bankruptcy Protection
Racetrack Operator Owes More Than $73 Million

ORC Suspends William (Bill) Elliott For 10 Years Because Of EPO (DPO) Positive

Jockey David Clark's pre-sentencing hearing to continue September 30th The sentence is expected to be set at that time as well according the the DRF.

Commentary: Horse Racing Troubles (in Ontario) Were Years In The Making
"In short, the industry never quite understood the Golden Rule of capitalism: The customer comes first, and is always right."

Investigation urged in case of the phony Indian band that received a share of the profits from Casino Rama

Bill Finley Writes Another Article About The Merits Of Banning Lasix

He is absolutely right, and I for one have no problem with him writing up on this subject until something is done. Much like I do when it comes to track takeouts.

With a couple of large shareholders pissed, MEC postpones reorganization meeting indefinitely

Do you remember the 60's? That was a time that the average race horse ran over 11 times a year. Now it is over 6.
How about Betty's Mark (a maiden), entered in the first race at Fort Erie on Tuesday? Owned and trained by Albert Parody, she will be making her 9th start in 9 weeks. And she is running very consistent as well. Last week was her best placing of the year (2nd). She hasn't missed a week since Fort Erie opened this year. Her race a week Fort Erie streak actually goes back to mid September last year, when she finished the Fort Erie season racing once a week for 7 weeks until the end of the season.

27 June 2008


I agree with WEG's Grand Poobah David Willmot regarding the fact that the Sadinsky Report is unrealistic, and it would be a huge hardship on track owners in todays horse racing environment, especially the smaller race tracks.
The fact that he said Woodbine would go broke just shows how pathetically run that organization is.
Bottom line is that Willmot realizes that if implemented, the race tracks will now only receive 7% of the slot revenues instead of 10%. The horsemen will receive at least 12.3% instead of 10% if this plan goes forward. I still haven't seen a comment on the report from the HBPA (Ontario Division). That impotent organization generally licks WEG's boots, so it will be interesting to see the spin they put on how they dislike the report.
Willmot also is resigned to the fact that under his regime, horse racing has zero growth potential. So taking a cut from the slots may mean taking a personal pay cut inevitably, and I'm sure that is unacceptable to him.


Most of my recommendations from here are dependent on the OLG changing the scheme in favour of the horsemen. The 20% when implemented over 10 years ago, was an arbitrary amount. Since that time, we've seen cannibalism by slots over those who used to be casual horse players. Also more and more lottery games have turned up, which has also led to the erosion of potential horse players gambling money that could have been lost at the track instead.
The reality is that if someone loses $200 on slots, the horsemen get $20 of that and the track gets the same. If someone loses that same $200 on horse racing, the track and horsemen split the $200 (minus around $3 in taxes).
The OLG is raking in the cash, while horse racing is dying (and of course, horse racing execs must share much of the blame). It is time to give the horsemen a raise, since most tracks can get by on the 10%, most horsemen and their employees struggle hard to make ends meet.

Growth is badly needed in the game. The only way to grow the game is to make it more competitive with other forms of gambling. The 5% extra from slots will more than make up for what horsemen lose from this gambling initiative, but from everything I know, betting will go up at least by whatever reduction is made in this instance. Though horsemen (depending on their contract with the track) will have to split the increase in betting revenue with the track, if all my ideas are implemented, betting revenues will increase at least 20-50%.

Again, this extra amount (5% of slot revenues) is in place of the additional money that is currently tacked onto wagering, except there will be more money to go around under this plan.
Breeding and owner awards can remain at least the same under this plan.

This is the boost that will help the Ontario breeding industry immensely. Of course, this means state bred claiming races, something badly needed in Ontario. By running low level Ontario breds for increased purses while facing only Ontario breds, the price of all Ontario breds will increase, as the value of the cheapest Ontario bred will increase pushing up all prices. No longer will we see Ontario breds sell for only a thousand or two thousand at sales, as new owners will have more realistic outs with their risky new investment.

I've explained this before. Potential owners feel they are getting undercut if they claim an Ontario bred under the current new rule. It has cause less Ontario breds to be claimed and has actually made American breds more attractive in the claim box by default.
Also, if my fourth recommendation is implemented, there is no need to have the rule in the first place as Ontario breds will run for higher purses than the same level horse will run in an open race. Owners of Ontario breds will have a choice which race to go in. If they decide to go in the lower pursed event against a bunch of potential foreign bred horses, that is their option. They will still get owners and breeders awards in non Ontario bred races.

In order to grow, horse racing needs to give bettors a chance (even a remote chance) to win or break even. Right now, in Ontario, that is an impossible task, as outfits like WEG have takeouts that are close to the highest in the industry.
John Q. Gambler only has so much money he can afford to lose each year. He can choose to lose some on lotteries, some at casinos, some on sports betting, some on online poker, and some on horse racing.
Horse racing, by far requires the most research by the patron, and right now by far is the most expensive way of betting. It offers the least bang for the gambler's buck (except for lotteries). And the betting public has realized it.
By lowering track takeouts to more realistic levels, bettors will last longer (inevitably over any period under a year, they will lose exactly as much as they would have lost with higher takeouts, so the track get at least exactly the same amount but probably much more), and may be inclined to wager a higher percentage of their gambling money on horse racing.
Of course, if they are close to breaking even, they may become more of a fan, and get their family and friends involved. This is something that may create more potential players down the road.
But most importantly, if the game becomes beatable by a few outspoken individuals, this BUZZ will lead to others trying to duplicate the feat of the winners.
This said, total track takeouts should be reduced to Keeneland's takeout levels:
Win, place, and show: 16%
Pick 3, 4 and 6: 17%
All other wagers: 19%
A case can be made that Pick 7 and any other new lottery style horse racing bet could have a takeout of 22-25%, as the winner could be taking a lot of betting money out of the pools forever.
If WEG wishes, they can can rid of their rebate program because of the lower takeouts they will now be charging. It is up to them.

Horse racing needs to be promoted more. It needs more advertising. Most visitors to Niagara Falls don't even know there is a race track in Fort Erie, for example.
By stressing having the lowest takeout rates in North America, Ontario bettors will in all likelihood have more incentive to play Ontario race tracks as opposed to betting USA simulcast racing.

Pooling agreements should not be forced on any tracks. However if Windsor and Dresden, for example want to pool their betting or slots revenues, allow them to do so. However, no agreement can be in place for more than 2 years at a time, so as to not hinder potential new track owners.
Agreements between tracks are to be entirely up to the individual tracks involved.

Ontario racing needs to be promoted as much as possible. Viewers will get used to it.
Also, on weekends on THE SCORE, Fort Erie should be shown with Woodbine, not Belmont or Churchill.

It should have nothing to do with the OLG. It is time that the horse racing industry started cannibalizing the OLG, in fact.
There should be a stop exchange funded by Ontario race tracks. There should be exchange betting available on all Ontario races run. Races outside Ontario can also be included but this is not mandatory.
Most importantly, to compete with Betfair, commission rates should be very similar to what Betfair charges.
Poker and sports betting can also be featured as well depending on demand.
Accounts should be allowed from just about everywhere in the world.
After taxes, revenues should be distributed based on a combination of immediate home market, amounts bet on individual Ontario tracks, and races run per year by individual tracks (giving tracks some incentive to strive for more races and dates so they will get a bigger cut).

Outside of the fact that it is not fair for someone to write off an amount that was determined more than a decade ago, by increasing the amount, there will be more incentive for more owners to get more involved in horse racing.
Horse race ownership is risky to begin with, it isn't right for the government to compound the risk.

Right now perception is everything, and the public believes that vets are training the horses. There is also a perception that drugs are masking many injuries that allow very sore horses from running, and then breaking down on the track.
The public doesn't want drugs in horses racing. Steroids included.
Same day Lasix amounts need to be immediately halved and over two years, it needs to be totally eliminated.
Lasix apparently does little but mask other drugs during tests. It needs to go.

The cost has to be absorbed by the track, but over time, the track will win over quite a few more patrons.
Fines and suspensions also need to be very severe. If someone violates the rules, they hurt the game immensely. Slaps on the wrists are no longer acceptable.

I'm not even going to bother explaining this one.

If Fort Erie or Windsor want to go to the expense of expanding their operation to attract more people, they should be able to. Table games do not offer the same profit potential as slots do because they require a lot more staff, so I can't speculate on how card game revenues should be split between the track and the OLG.

If any rules are adopted that every USA jurisdiction must follow, Ontario should follow suit.
For example, if my idea that a horse cannot stand as a sire until they reach the age of 6 ever got implemented in the USA, it should automatically be implemented in Ontario as well.

OK, I'm whacked out now. This took me a long time to put together. Not months and months like Sadinsky and his contributors, but for a horse player like me, 3 or 4 hours is an awful long time.

25 June 2008


For what is supposed to be a thorough report, IT’S ALL ABOUT LEADERSHIP:
, is lacking full understanding of the industry in many parts of the paper, and is not going to help grow the industry in any way whatsoever. In fact, the solutions offered are nothing but a bunch of socialist ideas that will direct the industry back into a monopoly, which favours non profit organizations and kicks entrepreneurship in the teeth.

If many of the key ideas in this report are implemented the industry will be doomed to stagnancy, if not failure.

Most of those who contributed to this report were self serving individuals whose ideas in the past as led to the state of where horse racing growth is today.

And lets not forget about ambiguity and vagueness. The report is full of this.

Now I shall cherry pick the report:

The industry derives its income from three sources: wagering on horse races, the sale of Ontario-bred racehorses and slot revenue.
This isn't a biggie, but it is a still an error. Can anyone figure it out? Guessing time is over. There is a fourth way, and it has to do with owners who lose more than they make. And there are owners who do lose money. And they don't get to write off all their losses in one year if they exceed dinosaur day limits allowed by the government.
Owners losing money, are not nearly as major a source of income to the backstretch economy as purses derived from slots and betting, but the omission shows me that the report is incomplete and maybe even rushed.

...HRO’s (the proposed Horse Racing Ontario) new Board to come together and work in the best interests of the industry as a whole is perhaps the single most important element for the future success of the horse racing and breeding industry in Ontario.

How can a board mostly comprised by mostly industry stakeholders work towards the best interests of the industry. Each stakeholder has the interest of the track they work at or the organization they work for first.
Isn't the industry stagnant today because of racing execs decisions in the past and lack of foresight towards the future?

The days of the horse racing monopoly have long gone. The days of failing to respond adequately to or consider the needs of customers are long past and will never return. What was a ‘supply’ based attitude in some sectors of the industry must change to a ‘demand’ based approach in all of its sectors. The horse racing product must become attractive to the betting consumer; otherwise, the industry is unlikely to survive. Customers will vote with their dollars and unless the industry can find ways to attract those dollars to its core racing product, it will be out of business.
I see Andrew Cohen's fingerprints on this paragraph. It is 100% accurate. Unfortunately, there is no solution offered in the report outside inventing innovative betting products (probably directed at WEG's idea of a horse racing lottery bet with a higher than high track takeout).
Marketing horse racing does not work as long as you have astronomical track takeouts associated with it. You need winners, you need BUZZ from those winners.
That is why internet betting on poker and sports games wins out. There are actual winners, and winners bring friends and family to the track as betting on horses become a lifestyle.

That is how it was back in the 60's and 70's, before Beyer figures made it more difficult to win as they became available to everyone, and mooches (those who lose at much higher rates than astute handicappers) were aplenty, playing the only game in town, while donating to the mutuel pools. The mooches money is still being lost, but they lose now to slots and lotteries.

Also, there was only one track you could lose money on a day, and only 9 races on average. Many people didn't leave the track broke, like they do today because there are so many ways to bet during any day of the week, yet the takeouts which should really resemble those found in Vegas table games, resemble takeouts found in lotteries.

Even slots have a relatively low takeout of only around 9-10%, and because of the power of churning, it gives the mooch the illusion they can beat the game. No such illusion exists in horse racing anymore. And for slots, no homework is required. In horse racing, handicappers can spend hours doing research, and what is their reward? Betting into WEG triactor pools with a 28.3% takeout. No chance to win in the long run whatsoever.

As far as marketing goes. The Score's 1-2-3 Racing is as good as any idea Woodbine's marketing team as put together in years, but still on Wednesday nights Woodbine handle usually hovers around only $1.5 million. It doesn't even keep pace with Mountaineer on Monday's and Tuesday's.

What racing execs fail to understand or acknowledge is that John Q. Smith only has so much he is willing to lose gambling a year. He can lose it very quickly at the track or he can lose it slower on lotteries, or even slower on the internet. If track takeouts are reduced, John will lose the exact same amount, he would have anyway, plus some of his internet money as well. If he thinks he has a shot at overall success, he may even allocate more of his entertainment money on horse racing as well, while bring friends to the track or introducing them to internet wagering on horses. Extra lost money by John equals more growth for the horse racing industry.

Until lowering track takeout is addressed, and it is not in this report, marketing money is a total waste, as potential players will go where they get the biggest bang for the buck, and will head in the direction to where there are at least some long term winners.

In 1998, the total pari-mutuel wager in Ontario was just over $1B. Wagering grew to a high of just over $1.2B in 2001, declining to just over $1.1B in 2006.....However, between 1997 and 2006, total Ontario wagering on Ontario product decreased by $176M or about 26%.
These are shameful and embarrassing numbers. Foreseeable cannibalization by slots is hardly an excuse. Horse racing, in 1998, required one to go to a teletheatre or track to make a bet. Now, you can bet on the internet or phone from anywhere at anytime, on a variety of tracks from New York to Hong Kong.
Meanwhile, internet gambling is growing exponentially, so the dollars have always been out there (again, being allocated to where the player gets the best long term odds for his money), and despite the fact that you can watch horse racing live on TV 24/7 in Ontario homes, horse racing growth is non existent.

WWe have been told that what increases wagering is: i) wagering pool size, ii) a competitive race, and iii) field size.
This is not an answer to get more Ontarians to bet money at Ontario tracks. It might attract a little more betting from non Ontarians, but they make chump change on simulcast wagering from a foreign source in comparison to what they make off Ontario bettors.
Big fields can kill bankrolls, and that coupled with insanely high takeouts just turn players off more in the long run.
The Woodbine Polytrack which has made handicapping a bigger nightmare than ever before, creates competitive racing that is too unpredictable. Again, this turns off many players.
As long as pool size is at least $20-25,000 most gambler will be attracted enough that pool size doesn't matter.
And you could run 12 14 horse fields a day at Flamboro Downs, or any harness track in Ontario for that matter, and you still won't attract any new business.
Competitive pricing is all that really matters.

The membership on the Board of HRO should be comprised of the following: one senior official from WEG; one senior official from a not-for-profit racetrack other than WEG; one senior official from a for-profit racetrack; the presidents of each of the following organizations – the Ontario Quarter Horse Association, the Canadian Thoroughbred Horse Society, the Standardbred Breeders of Ontario Association, the Ontario Harness Horse Association and the Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association; and three independent members appointed by the government of Ontario. The three government appointees should be appointed for three-year terms with the option for renewal for one further three-year term.
Of course and as usual, absolutely no representation from the people who are most responsible for the games existence and future: THE PLAYERS.
Just a bunch of self serving execs whose past ideas and treatment of the players, has resulted in an industry that appears to be in the terminal ward of a hospital.
Oh, and three government appointees? Yeah, they usually really understand the game...sarcasm off.
Basically the deck is rigged. Since majority wins, whatever WEG wants, WEG will get.
And this gives WEG what they want...less power for the ORC.

Each racetrack knows best what is required to draw in customers and encourage them to wager on live product.
I didn't realize that Sadinsky is a stand-up comedian.

We recommend that:
Whenever the New Program comes into effect, all of the funds payable to the industry from slot machines at the racetracks are pooled.
The total amount payable into the Slot Funding Pool in each of the three years following the commencement of the New Program shall be 20% of the slot revenue generated at all of the racetracks. The amount payable should be reviewed after three years.
Out of the pooled fund, money will be paid to HRO to fund its costs of operation, the cost of branding and generic marketing of Ontario horse racing, the investment in research that will enhance and protect the racehorse, and, the investment in the development of innovative technology and new betting products.
Out of the pooled fund, payments equal to 25% of the slot revenues generated at each racetrack will then be paid to both the racetrack and to its respective horsepeople for purses.
The balance of the pooled funds (the “New Program Funds”) will then be paid to HRO and distributed in accordance with the programs and initiatives established under the New Program.

This penalizes companies that are not non-profit. It really takes the incentive of owning an Ontario race track away to a large degree. In other words, it creates less buyers of race tracks. It takes enough wind out of the entrepreneurs sail to move out of Ontario. And it plays right in the hands of monopolists.
To the race track owner, taking a cut, where much of the old money will go towards bureaucratic mumbo jumbo, it almost makes it worthless to have slots considering the cannibalization that comes with that product.

HRO operations 1.7%
Research .85%
Innovation and betting products .85%
Branding and marketing 2.1%
Restricted Races 12.5%
Breeder, Owners Awards 12%
Purse pooling 12%
Payments to racetracks (pooling) 10%

This represents where 10% of the slot revenues is going to go under Sadinsky's plan.
The track owner will now get 70% of what they used to get from slots (not taking in the ambiguity of how the pooling would work).
Horsemen would get a 23% increase in what is available too them minus approximately 2.6% of total betting revenues if all proposals are used. Again, this isn't taking into account how much exactly the purse pooling will translate for the individual track.
Note: If the 2.6% resulted in a takeout reduction, the tracks would make up at least that in churn, and maybe attract new betting as well. So depending on the split on betting at the specific track, the result might be just a 1-1.3% decrease of revenues from betting for the horsemen, while the track would see an increase of 1-1.3% increase in revenues from betting (assuming a 50-50 split).

All Site Holder Agreements that are due to expire prior to December 2011 be extended on their existing terms until December 31, 2011. As of January 1, 2012, the New Program would take effect subject to the Five Agreements that will continue to remain in place until they reach their respective termination dates
Since the tracks affected are not non profit organizations, how about taking an additional 10% out of the slot revenues from the OLG? Why should new owners who had deals in place get screwed?
Why not increase the take that horsepeople and tracks get from slot revenues? Why is that a non starter?

...a decision will have to be made with respect to the approximately 2.6% levy on wagering that is currently taken from horsepeoples’ purses and directed to HIP - this is a decision that HRO will be required to make. These funds were generated as a result of the reduction of the tax on pari-mutuel wagering. HRO will be required to determine whether, under the new funding structure of the HIP Program, these funds should be directed to non-HIP purses, to a reduction in take-out or for some other industry purpose.
How about a directive to reduce takeouts by the 2.6%, instead of more ambiguity? I know that once the HRO deals with it, a takeout reduction is the last thing they will do.
I don't think the horsemen will like funding the HIP program with slot revenues, so I don't know how this will fly. Even if they are getting an increase of 23% on slot revenues.

Wagering on races involving Ontario-bred horses will be stimulated by a program that provides incentives for writing restricted races for Ontario-breds.

If this means Ontario bred claiming races, I'm all for it. I've always said that in order to prop up the prices of Ontario breds, the lowest priced horses need to increase in value first. And the only way to make them worth more money is to give out good coin for low level Ontario breds.

This could be accomplished by providing purses for such races (excluding HIP) directly out of the New Program Funds. To compensate the racetracks that write such races (Ontario bred races), the entire take-out on the wagering on these races would be kept by the racetrack up to the amount of the purse. Take-out above this amount would be divided between the racetrack and its horsemen in accordance with their contract for purse distribution.
This is complicated but I still like the innovation involved. Why not just mandate that 25-35% of races carded in a week must be Ontario bred races and 30-50% of total purses must go towards Ontario bred races?

It may be wise to grant bonuses only up to the time that a horse is claimed.
This has already been implemented and it is a disaster. It puts less value on Ontario breds as potential owners don't feel like getting ripped off of future earnings of the horse. It may lead to private sales, which sort of defeats the purpose of the rule in the first place.

...the operations of the two commercial casinos in Niagara Falls could play a role in assisting Fort Erie. If gaming in these two areas of the province was considered as a whole rather than facility by facility, a great deal could be accomplished by enhancing individual operations and making adjustments that could support the objective of sustaining jobs, particularly in the agricultural sector, rather than simply maximizing provincial revenue.
In order for Niagara Falls and Fort Erie to be considered a whole, the owners of all three facilities need to be the same.
It doesn't benefit Niagara Falls in the least to promote Fort Erie and visa versa.

Windsor Raceway, Fort Erie Racetrack, Hiawatha Horse Park, Rideau Carleton Raceway and Woodbine Racetrack all request that card table games should be introduced at their respective slot facilities with a share of the revenue going to the industry.
Again, more ambiguity as to what share should go to the industry. If the share isn't high enough for the track, card tables will cannibalize horse race betting even more at Fort Erie, for example.
And the cost of card tables makes them by themselves very unprofitable. But it could attract more people to the tracks.

OOPs. I forgot to mention that even though the report discusses integrity and drugs, there is not enough being done right now about it. Some of the monies collected should go to more extensive testing. I guess the horsemen on the panel forgot about that one.


I think there should be a potential penalty placed on non profit organizations, where the CEO and two top racing execs risk being fired if they can't increase betting, by Ontario gamblers, of a minimum of 3% per year, 6% over two years.

This could lead to a few WEG execs to sell hot dogs on the corner of Bay and Richmond. A more appropriate line of work for many of them.

The term non profit organization is so misleading. I'm not sure where I read it but I thought I saw Willmot makes over half a million a year. He probably has a bonus clause that gives him another quarter of a million if betting on Woodbines product doesn't drop by more than 25% in a calendar year.

24 June 2008

Interim Subsidization For Fort Erie Recommended By Sadinsky

UPDATE: Here is the 80 page Sadinsky Report called It's All About Leadership

I'd love to be able to read the Sadinsky Report myself. In the meantime, we have our first leak to the public as to what it says:

Report calls for major overhaul of racing industry

Sweeping changes to Ontario's horse racing industry are being recommended by an expert panel commissioned last year by the provincial government.

Among the suggestions contained in the Sadinsky panel's long-awaited report, obtained by The Niagara Falls Review Monday night, is one that encourages Queen's Park to provide "interim subsidization" to the Fort Erie Race Track to keep the facility viable provided a proposed $300- million redevelopment of the property makes sense and is likely to move ahead.

In a section of the 80-page report that deals specifically with challenges facing racetracks in border communities, the report notes the track is "struggling to survive" in the face of "external forces" such as increased competition and the high value of the Canadian dollar.

"Fort Erie (Race Track) is seeking to develop its property by adding other commercial, residential and entertainment offerings," the report reads.

"And it seeks the assistance of the Town of Fort Erie and the provincial government," the report continues in part.

"If the development proposals of Fort Erie make economic sense, we encourage the provincial government to consider providing support. This is principally an economic development issue and not a horse racing matter."

The report continues: "If diversification at Fort Erie Racetrack leads to stability of the racing enterprise, that will surely inure to the benefit of horse racing. If these plans are likely to go forward, we encourage the provincial government to provide a level of interim subsidization for Fort Erie unconnected to slot revenue in order to keep the track 'alive' in the interim."

The panel was headed by Stanley Sadinsky, a former head of Ontario Lottery and Gaming.

In May 2007, representatives of Nordic Gaming, the company that owns and operates the Fort Erie Race Track, went public with plans to enhance live racing at the 111-year-old border oval property with the development of a "mega resort."

Those plans include the construction of a four-star hotel, a large-scale entertainment complex and a 2,500-unit, timeshare/condominium development.

A spokesman for the track's ownership was not available late last night to comment on the report.

The Fort Erie Race Track has been losing money for several years. Faced with the possibility of losing Fort Erie's largest employer should the track shut down, the town and the Fort Erie Economic Development and Tourism Corporation launched a "Save the Race Track" campaign during the lead up to last October's provincial election. The campaign was aimed at convincing the province to provide short-term assistance to the track in order to keep it financially viable until the redevelopment project is completed.

Among the other recommendations for horse racing in Ontario:

¦ the creation of a "gaming secretariat," to implement a comprehensive strategy for Ontario that includes the horse racing industry and promotes cooperation between different sectors of gaming;

¦ reconstitute and revamp the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association, and rename it as Horse Racing Ontario.

What happens when this idiotic development plan is not deemed viable? There is no way that it is viable. What does Sadinsky say about that possibility?
Once a legitimate viability report is done on this project, and they find that there is no way in hell that the project is viable, what is the government's stance on Fort Erie?


To Enlarge Image, Just Left Click It With Your Mouse
The want claims to be sent to them. I'm wondering if they are refunding bets made on HPI or other ADW's. If so, why would they need a written submission? The ADW's know exactly what was bet on those races. Fort Erie should just give them the go ahead to refund the money into those accounts.
If someone had the triactor in a three horse box and cashed, are they eligible to get $5 or the full $6 back?

Congrats to Not Bourbon. He proved me wrong twice in a row. Usually a horse has to be something else to win at 6 furlongs and at a mile and a quarter within 8 or 9 months.
And Emile Ramsammy proved why jockeys are sometimes called pinheads for his idiotic ride on D. Flutie. Not that the horse would have won or been close with a better ride, but Ramsammy should have known that there was a come from behind bias especially after Emma Aint Bluffin blew by Wild Lucy Dancer the race before the Plate.
Oh yeah, congrats to Roger Attfield for his eighth Queen's Plate victory. Amazing feat.

Woodbine Jockey David Clark To Be Sentenced On Friday. ORC To Review His License After Sentencing. Jail Term Is Very Likely.

IEAH Stables (Big Brown's majority owner) vows to race their horses drug free by October 1st. Though Lasix, with all its masking capabilities, is still going to be allowed by IEAH.

Big Brown's shoe dislodged from his hoof shortly after the start of the Belmont.

More news from Bloodhorse.com

21 June 2008

The 2008 Queen's Plate Prediction: How About A Hail Mary?

Last year I picked Marchfield. I was wrong, but two years ago I picked Edenwold (I even picked the exactor). Emile Ramsammy rode the horse to victory from the inside post. Could tomorrow by D. Flutie's day to shine? Actually D. Flutie did have his day in the sun. Remember this?

I like the way the maiden D. Flutie is progressing. He seems to have good tactical speed and endurance. He has been progressively building stamina each and every race and he has the shortest distance to cover (in theory). The one post may actually help his chances. The one thing I don't like about him is that he seems to hang a bit. I thought that trainer Michael Keogh would put blinkers on for this race, but what do I know?
He made a great middle move last time and totally ran against the bias. The speed figure he earned prior to that race puts him a length behind the two favourites, Not Bourbon and Solitaire.

Now a quick analysis of the field:

1. D. Flutie (ON), 126, Emile Ramsammy
Lets hope he stays on the rail, doesn't get in much traffic, and that there is no outside bias or that there is a rail bias. He is worth the odds.

2. Dylan's Choice (ON), 126, Chantal Sutherland
His former trainer stole in an $8000 maiden claimer at Tampa this year. I'm not much for trainer's stealing at the expense of the owner. The trainer blew the horses maiden condition for chump change (He could have easily won a maiden special up here which has a purse of over 60k) and also risked losing what looks like to be a very nice horse (though the risk was minimal). His last race was good, but he is still 5 or 6 lengths inferior to the top horses in this race. I'm sure Ms. Sutherland will get the most out of him in the Plate.

3. East End Tap (ON), 126, Tyler Pizarro
Ran with the bias last time and went backwards. He probably needed the race, but he is a pretender in the Plate.

4. Harvest Home (ON), 126, Corey Fraser
A maiden, who hasn't been 1,2,3 in three starts. Sam-Son horses usually show their real stuff in their third or fourth lifetime races. This one looks like a plodder, but his second last speed number is good enough to contend. Last race was not impressive though.

5. Deputiformer (ON), 126, Jerry Baird
Looks like he can run all day. Though not fast enough for these today. The 35 days off between races will make it near impossible for him to hit the superfecta ticket.

6. Silver Jag (ON), 126, Slade Callaghan
I expected a lot more from him last time in a top notch maiden race on Plate Trial day. He had a bit of a middle move, but flattened out badly in the stretch. The race before was excellent. I don't see him handling the mile and a quarter tomorrow.

7. Palmers (ON), 126, Patrick Husbands
Trainer Mark Casse disappointed last year with Marchfield, and his barn is struggling somewhat this year. No hype for this one though. 15-1 in the morning line is a pretty juicy price. He is progressively getting better with each and every start. Just a few lengths away from the top rated horses in the race, he has excellent late pace and he could pull of the upset here.

8. Mamma's Knight (ON), 126, Justin Stein
His last race was impressive, that is if you don't take times into consideration. He beat up on a very weak Ontario sired field in his latest and he is at least 10 lengths inferior to the top 6 or 7 in this crowd. Another pretender.

9. Shadowless (ON), 126, Emma-Jayne Wilson
Finished behind Palmers last time. Looks like he'll be going to the lead or close to it. He'll make it difficult on Not For Bourbon, but I expect this one to stagger through the last quarter mile at least.

10. Ginger Brew (ON), 121, Javier Castellano
Impressive in the Oaks, her final speed figure wasn't all that great. Brian Lynch horses seem to run their best off 30-60 day layoffs, and this filly has only run two races in a month once (28 days apart). For a filly to come back in two weeks off a top effort in today's world of body draining drugs, and expect her to even top that effort, is asking way too much.

11. Jungle Brew (ON), 126, Eibar Coa James McAleney
Last race was really good. To do what he did off of just one 6 furlong race was pretty remarkable. Still a maiden, this is his third lifetime start. I just see a bounce written all over this one. And what is wrong with Frank Stronach? Jimmy Mac, Woodbine's current leading rider will be watching the Plate in the jocks room while Stronach has imported a foreign rider for Canada's most important race of the year.
Update: Coa got injured yesterday, so Stronach has found it in his heart to use local jockey Jimmy Mac.

12. Solitaire (ON), 126, Robert C. Landry
Another maiden, but this one looks special. He ran against the bias last, and closed very well into a race that had a slow early pace. He was probably the best horse in the Plate Trial and unlike Jungle Brew, I don't see a bounce here. The thing that bugs me about this one is that he is out of a Great Gladiator mare. Not the best recipe for a mile and quarter. His numbers put him right in the hunt.

13. Not Bourbon (ON), 126, Jono C. Jones
I was amazed that he could go a mile and an eighth, but he isn't going a mile and a quarter. 8 of his 9 lifetime races have been sprints, and all but two of those were less than 6 furlongs. He actually had an excellent trip in the Trial, though ran on the outside when the track had a strong rail bias. I'll make a bold prediction: don't use him in your superfecta ticket. Sebastian's Song and Shadowless will make it very difficult for him on Plate day.

14. Sebastian's Song (ON), 126, David Clark
Has no choice but to send. He made a real nice middle move last time in the Plate Trial while running against the bias, and it was a step in the right direction. I just see him faltering again in the stretch, though he might place ahead of Not Bourbon this time out and hang in for a piece.

15. Took the Time (ON), 126, Ramon A. Dominguez
The other Casse horse in the race. This one has 35 days off and looks more like a 7 furlong to mile and a sixteenth horse. The 15 post will definitely hurt his chances, which aren't too good to begin with. I'm a fan of his sire Greenwood Lake though. He is underrated and his offspring seem to like the Polytrack.

D. Flutie

More Notes

I realize a lot of people will be reading this blog today and tomorrow while doing Google searches, so I don't want to look like I'm promoting Woodbine in any way whatsoever.

Just realize that Woodbine does not give a rats ass about their customer. If you don't believe me, just check out their track takeout. It is amongst the highest in North America:

Woodbine Takeout Information

Win, place, and show: 16.95%
Exactors and Daily Double: 20.5%
Pick 3 and Superfecta wagering: 26.3%
Triactor wagering: 28.3%
Win 4 wagering: 25%
Pick 7: 26.3%

And very little goes to taxes. So that is not the excuse.

Compared to Keeneland which has the lowest average collective takeout in North America:

Keeneland Takeout Information

Win, place, and show: 16%
Pick 3, 4 and 6: 17%
All other wagers: 19%

In other, don't bet too much on their product. WEG is a rip off organization. If you just want to bet flat, it will probably do you just as well (especially in the long run) to open a Betfair account (not sure if the Plate is on the menu tomorrow) Takeout on Betfair is around 2% on average.

CAW Strike Makes Going To The Queen's Plate Pretty Worthless

Even though patrons will be allowed to park at the Woodbine Centre across from the track, I'm not sure that is such a great idea because it isn't the safest place to park, and it is a good 5 to 7 minute walk from the track.
I'm not a fan of the Canadian Communist Party, err, I mean the CAW. And they are just going to be more hated after tomorrow's planned BBQ at Woodbine.

Good Move By Woodbine

Looks like they upped the claiming price on non winners of two and three races to the $12,500 level. $10,000 was too cheap and it represented the exact same level for the highest claiming tag for conditioned horses at Fort Erie (the purse was much lower at the Fort).
This enables someone to claim a conditioned horse at Fort Erie for $10,000 and move them up to a more realistic level while the horse is in jail.
Of course, people are still hesitant when it comes to claiming an Ontario bred thanks to the absolutely stupid rule in place that eliminates that claimed horse from running for full purses in Ontario.
It has caused more private sales of Ontario bred horses....which makes one wonder, why they put this rule in place to begin with.
When is the impotent HBPA (Ontario Division) going to pull some weight and get this rule changed.

How About A Couple Of Bullets?
Probably one of the biggest hunch bet doubles of all time today at Woodbine: Perfect Bullet in the first race and Bulletonthewire (coming from that good Plate Trial day maiden race) in the second. Their numbers happen to be 1A in the first and 1 in the second. A BULLET DOUBLE; 1-1

UPDATE: I must have a reading comprehension problem. The horse in the second race was named BULLonthewire, not BULLETonthewire. At least I admit to mistakes. And the horse did not run impressively at all, just getting headed for second, while the winner (Grey Boundary) trounced.

19 June 2008

There Will Be A Ban On Same Day Medications Very Soon

I listened to most of today's Congressional Hearing: "Breeding, Drugs, and Breakdowns."
The panels were made up of mostly well versed individuals who are involved in horse racing in various capacities. Richard Dutrow was supposed to make, but called in sick. Actually, the report is that he didn't even bother calling in. I'm glad he wasn't there. He would have added a lot of bs, and this hearing wasn't about bs.

Jack Van Berg was the star of the show as far as I'm concerned. Paraphrasing, he said something like, "the vets are training the horses these days."

One panel member mentioned that vet bills can be as expensive to owners each month as general training bills are.

The panel was unanimous when it came to banning race day drugs, and the majority of the panel members want to ban drugs altogether.

It is almost a guarantee that we will see the race day ban go into place in the USA very shortly. I'm sure Canada will follow. And I'm pretty sure the harness people will have to follow as well.

The other thing that had overwhelming support was the fact that racing needs a commissioner. It needs to have the same rules to apply for all of the 38 racing jurisdictions in the States. Again, I can only see Canada following suit.

Steroids were looked at very negatively as well. Van Berg mentioned that drug testing needs to be more vigorous, and needs to be funded aggressively.

Another very good point was made regarding the weakness of today's thoroughbred. In 1960 the average race horse ran over 11 times a year. Now, the average is just over 6 races per year.

When breeding was talked about, I got the idea that some panel members had different agendas. Suggested were things like banning certain cross breedings. But that bothered a couple of panel members.

Nobody mentioned my idea: Don't allow a horse to stand stud until he reaches the age of six.

And of course, the horseplayer wasn't mentioned. Without the horseplayer, there would be no horse racing. But what do they care?

For a more in depth review of the proceedings, read this. Also read Paul Moran's take on it. He also brings up a Van Berg quote on the state of racing today: "chemical warfare." Moran also writes about a vets testimony regarding lasix. I missed that part of the hearing. Apparently a vet testified that lasix doesn't do what it is intended to do, but in fact, it is great at masking other drugs.

Update: Live blogging report from yesterday by Ray Paulick.

ORC rules that WEG must accept entries by standardbred owners ROBERT HAMATHER, LLOYD NICHOLSON, GARY SMITH & GEOFFREY MOUND

Man accused of attempted murder used to work in the Fort Erie backstretch

Horseplayers are organizing. The internet is a wonder thing. HANA - The Horseplayers Association of North America has been formed. Read more about it at Pull The Pocket.
Like Pull The Pocket, I too found the post by a Pace Advantage member to be right on, so I've got to reprint it too:

Horseplayers have become increasingly more and more fed up with the way the industry is being run. Horsemen withholding signals from ADWs, track management's disdain towards the customer, trainers who are constantly rewarded for cheating, and a tote system based on obsolete technology - these facets of the game and more have resulted in an industry that is, to put it kindly, no longer mainstream.

An entire generation now exists who could care less about racing.

Yet, over the past two decades while racing has been alienating itself from an entire generation of potential new fans, almost all other forms of gambling have seen explosive growth. Go to almost any casino and you will find a young vibrant crowd (the generation that racing failed to win over) having fun feeding tokens into slot machines.

There is a formula for success in business that I remember from a strategic management class I took in college. Ok. I turned 50 in the past year so I've been out of college and part of the real world for a while now. But what they taught us back in 1977 is every bit as valid today as it was back then:

Define your market space and target customer. Understand your target customer's needs and wants. Figure out how to satisfy those needs and wants and (amazingly) your business will grow.

Every successful Fortune 500 company practices this. By itself it doesn't guarantee success. But failure to practice it practically guarantees failure.

The reason I get so pissed off at the people who run the horse racing industry is that they so completely fail to put this into practice.

And failure to put this into practice just widens the chasm that exists between the industry and its customers. I am both amazed and disgusted by the way that horsemen and track management continually appear so completely clueless that a problem even exists at all.

A grass roots effort has been started over at the PA site to organize horseplayers. I have attended two meetings (conducted in the PA War Room) where we adopted a name and agreed to get a website started.

I was charged with creating the group's mission statement. The mission statement that I wrote up has not yet been officially sanctioned by the group. And somebody else will probably end up doing the official site.

For the benefit of those interested I've created a mock up web page - a rough draft - that shows what we are working towards. Here's the link:

Woodbine Poly appears safer than the old dirt track. That is if you only use last years deaths on the track versus the deaths on the track the year before.
Different types of injuries happen to horses who run on the Poly. The long term affect can't be measured yet.

I was wrong. I expected 9 or 10 horses in the Plate, but it wound up with 15. In my next post, I will analyze the race.

NY bettors commenting on Steven Crist's Blog threaten to boycott NY racing because of idiotic increase in track takeout

Great Idea to get new fans: The Sixty Minute Six Get some network involved to show it every week on national TV, and open the doors so that everyone (including Canadians and Europeans) can bet on it.

Fort Erie Tote Hiccup
A reader informed me that on Tuesday in the last race, the number 6 horse was mysteriously removed from the tote board as if scratched. I'm not sure for how long, but I do know that quite a few people went back to the windows to cancel their tickets with the 6 horse on it. They most likely bet other tickets with their case dough (it was the last race after all).
Problem is that the 6 horse wasn't scratched, and appeared back on the tote board, at least during the running of the race (I'm not sure the length or minutes to post that he was temporarily removed). The other problem is that the horse WON.

The horse should only have run for purse money. I wonder if anyone is looking into this.

17 June 2008

NY State Takeover Of NY OTBs Will Result In A Higher Track Takeout

State of New York's Takeover Of New York OTBs To Result In Higher Takeouts In NY. The resulting 1% increase will still make the total takeout nowhere close to the highway robbery WEG charges on their own product, but this shows the complete stupidity of just about everyone in control of horse racing. They "think" that raising takeouts will result in more money to divide up. They are complete lunatics. All that is going to happen is that they will end up with less customers and less money.

In Depth Report On Thoroughbred Horse Racing's Catastrophic Injuries

Over 5000 Race Horses Have Died At Racing Facilities (including race tracks of course) In North America since 2003
The majority were put down on the track.

Opinion Piece: Problem Gamblers Should Seek Help, Not Legal Advice
People should be responsible for their own actions. Imagine if liquor stores had to keep alcoholics from buying booze. The lawsuit is against the OLG is ridiculous.

Mark Frostad's wife Pam appointed as a Commissioner for the Ontario Racing Commission

Huge $439 Million Gamble By OLG In Windsor; Will It Payoff? Caesar's in Windsor Opens On Thursday OLG can afford to gamble, as they continue to rake it in. There is no reason that they can't up the horsemen's rake at Fort Erie to 15% or even 20%. The idea of building Racinos was to benefit the racing industry, which is very large in Ontario. A special case could be made for Fort Erie because it is the only "dirt" track alternative for Ontario breds who don't run well on Polytrack. Harness horsemen have many options to keep their horses running in Ontario, while thoroughbred horsemen have few options.

Supreme Court Reject Appeal On Horse Slaughter Ban In The USA

The Thoroughbred Safety Committee Recommends Banning Steroids and Toe Grabs

Harlem Rocker Is Out Of The Plate And Ginger Brew Will Be Supplemented I don't think Ginger Brew is going to hit the superfecta.

11 June 2008

Big Brown Log: The Blame Game

Beyer blames the trainer. Hey, didn't I blame the Dutrow, before the race? Here is what I said: "I just don't like the foot problems Big Brown experienced after the Preakness. It had to take away from his training. Also, Richard Dutrow has been very cocky going into this race which could be a negative."

Meanwhile, Dutrow blames Desourmeaux. Dutrow isn't classy enough to blame himself or at least take part of the blame.

PETA may be happy with the pulling up of Big Brown, but if it became a common happening to pull up horses who the jockey "didn't think" would hit the board, how would that look to the public? There are some jockeys that already have the reputation of taking it easy on horses in the stretch somewhat if they don't think the horse will be first or second. Lots of leading jocks have a lot of wins but very few thirds.
It isn't good for triactor or superfecta players.

Bill Finley sarcastically slams Canadian and North American racing

'Not doping horses is Un-American.'

Live video outage at Mountaineer on Monday leads to a 67% drop in handle And there are still many tracks that don't give their video out for free? Again, racing execs are collectively STUPID. Fort Erie has a free video stream link for anyone to view. At least they do one thing right there.

Ginger Brew romps in Oaks, expected to miss the Queen's Plate Her number wasn't that good anyway. She beat up on a weak field. The Stronach boys are at least slightly better than her.

Pimlico Handle Drops 17%
17% seems to be the average these days. The business model is busted and the racing execs are still clueless. Nobody wants to take the lead to fix things.

New Leaf Coach Ron Wilson Grew Up In Fort Erie
. He jokingly blames his departure from Fort Erie on the Leafs 40 plus year Stanley Cup drought:
"I left Fort Erie in 1967 right after the Leafs won the Stanley Cup, so it might be my fault."
I was a big Ron Wilson fan when he played with the Leafs. He just seemed to make all the right moves from the point on the power play. Just a real smart player, now wonder he became a successful coach.

Baymount Announces Results Of Annual Meeting

Woodbine Pick 7 Still Up For Grabs (Carryover is now $145,000)
Could go tonight. It is really a Pick 6, if Drunken Love runs to form (first leg). He is at least 6 lengths superior to the field in the second race.

The inside has been pretty good of late, especially in sprints. Horses just stalking the leaders had the advantage last week.
Trainer Norman McKnight is on fire. Meanwhile his former boss Colebrook Farms continues to struggle badly at Woodbine as Ashlee Brnjas is 2 for 53 (though Brnjas is 5 for 10 at Fort Erie).
Jerry Baird is the hot jock right now. That won't last.
Owner Bruno Schickedanz, who in the last few years has been use to winning at above average percentages, must be feeling a lot of pain this year, as both his Fort Erie and Woodbine operations have yielded sub par results to date.
Is Josie Carroll really 2 for 60? She finally got half a million dollar purchase Sarcasm to break her maiden. Had to take her to Fort Erie to do it in a fake maiden allowance race. But Sarcasm's time was very impressive. Another 50 wins like that and the owners will be close to even on her.

Baffert, Lucas, and Zito to train for Legend Fund What? No Dutrow?

Don't forget about checking out the online version of Down The Stretch. Lots of stories related to horse racing in Canada, of course the bulk of the stories have to do with Woodbine.

Pretty funny. BetUSA is giving odds on the next NFL Arrest. You can bet the team that the arrested player is on (no surprise, you only get 5-1 if you bet on the Bengals), or the type of offense the player will be arrested for (only 2-1 for a drug arrest versus 25-1 for tax evasion).

Crime Stoppers Gives Award To ORC
Not sure how the relationship which began last fall is working. There was a recent big bust of a steroid dealer (Harnick) but no follow up I'm aware of. Who did Harnick sell to, and where are the subsequent punishments?
In fact, is there any link to ORC fines and suspensions when it comes to thoroughbreds?
I can't find them on the ORC site.

Part Three Of The Behind The Scenes Dealings To "Save Fort Erie Race Track"
Fort Erie has only one chance: the government has to force Nordic to sell the track to someone who gives a rat's ass about racing.
Personally, I can't wait until the Sadinsky Report becomes public. If Sadinsky doesn't come out and say that the number one reason the game isn't growing, is due to pricing (ridiculously high takeouts), it means the report is pretty useless.

8 June 2008

Big Brown Log; Is Fort Erie Done After This Year?

Sportscaster Jim McKay, who died yesterday at 86, prior to Big Brown's attempt at becoming the first Triple Crown winner in 30 years, coined the famous phrase, "the agony of defeat."
That sure was agony watching Big Brown trying to pick it up in the far turn. Agony for the fans and his connections. It was agony for me too, because I had an exactor box with Da'Tara and Big Brown, as well as Da'Tara and Icabad Crane. I had heard the announcers say Icabad Crane was making a move, but I had no idea from where, I had no idea who was in second, third, and fourth place as Da'Tara was romping home. The announcer was overwhelmed with Big Brown not firing and then pulling up, and it wasn't until late in the stretch that I found out I had no shot of catching the exactor. Pure agony.

I guess we will find out what happened today or tomorrow or the next day. Was it the fact that his last dose of Winstrol was April 15th? Did Da'Tara hurt him bad when kicked near the start of the race? Was the quarter crack a factor? Was the horse undertrained because of a combination of the quarter crack and sheer cockiness by Dutrow? How about the heat affecting him? Maybe the EPO has worn off? (OK, that was a cheap shot).

Part Two of the Three Part Expose On The Behind The Scenes Dealing For The Fort Erie Save Our Race Track Campaign

Nordic Gaming and EDTC agree on how the $2 million grant will be spent

'The provincial grant money will help cover costs to build models of what the development will look like.

It will also allow for a sooner understanding of engineering feasibility, market analysis, and environmental planning.

"This will include various studies that we're encouraging to take place sooner than later," said (Jim)Thibert (GM of the EDTC).'

I can tell you what the feasibility study will say right now: It is one of the stupidest ideas ever. Fort Erie has no chance of being a tourist destination, and slot machines and a B race track doesn't change that.

This is the ugly part of the article:
'the proposed development is separate from the looming question of whether live racing will be available next year, in the long run it will have an impact.'
Now for the UGLY RUMOUR I heard this week:

Ajax Downs (formerly Picov Downs) is currently building a five eighth's race track. Why do they need to build a track that size for quarter horses? They don't.
Ajax has a great location for slots. But they only have 200 slots, and they have demand for many more. They firmly believe (according to my sources) that they are going to get thoroughbred dates thanks to fact that Fort Erie will close. This will enable them to lobby for more slots from OLG.

What will happen to Fort Erie race track? It looks like the government's free grant to Nordic will allow them to value the land for development purposes. In other words, don't expect a five star hotel or a water park, but just residential homes being built, or perhaps industrial if it is determined there wouldn't be enough buyers. The feasibility study will help Nordic figure out how much the land is worth. I wonder if the study is going to take into account the glut of homes that will be sold if Fort Erie race track is no more.

Another crucial part of the rumour is that the ORC seems to be cognizant of the move to Ajax from Fort Erie. One of Ajax's lead advisers supposedly has inside info that this move is a sure thing.

Maybe the rumour is false, or half true. I don't know, but it sure seems plausible, considering that Nordic is really just a development company who lucked into slots and horse racing for a few years.

Back to 2008 Racing

Article on trainer Tony Alderson and Sandspit

Holy Bull, Mr. Prospector Hall Of Fame Trainer Jimmy Croll Dead At 88

Owner Stephen Chesney moved his barn of eight horses back to Daryl Ezra after Friday's dismal performances at Woodbine. Chesney's horses were running like Big Brown did in yesterday's Belmont. I'm A Pretty One was pulled from today's second race at Woodbine due to the change.

Woodbine's Pick Seven Keeps Growing
Today is the first day that it is conceivable that the Pick Seven will be hit. Of course, it depends on a couple of key favourites winning. Bonanza looks like a stand out in the 6th race (The Victoria Park), though Matt's Broken Vow, who beat Bonanza last time, could be used on a few tickets as well. If the Pick Seven is to go, Ginger Brew has to win the Oaks, or perhaps Shilla, if most of the other races go to chalks. Personally, I think both Ginger Brew and Shilla can be beat, but probably won't be beat. The other races could go to a few 10-1 shots, in what might be a Pick 5.
Anyway, I'm not betting another dollar at Woodbine. Too tough. Not worth the effort it takes to handicap races. It would be tough if the takeout was 12% (and I'd still be playing), but at an average of around 21%, FORGET ABOUT IT!
I still do research and handicap the card, because of consulting business, but Woodbine will be done in a HANDICAPPING LITE way for now on.

6 June 2008

Casino Drive Might Just Beat Big Brown In Belmont (Update: If He Runs)

I just don't like the foot problems Big Brown experienced after the Preakness. It had to take away from his training. Also, Richard Dutrow has been very cocky going into this race which could be a negative. The one thing in horse racing is that horses who lose races make more adjustments than horses who win races, which usually end up equaling the playing field more next time around.
Casino Drive is very lightly raced, but like Big Brown, he is undefeated. The huge thing that Casino Drive has going for him is the fact that he is a half brother to the last two Belmont winners. His dam Better Than Honour (notice the Canadian spelling) produced both Rags To Riches and Jazil.
After reading Andrew Beyer's article on the background information on Big Brown's connections, I have to say that Casino Drive might be the sentimental favourite for the Belmont. I'm sure though, you could dig up lots on many owners and trainers all over North America. Many people have skeletons in their closets. It is part of being human.
The Belmont seems to be void of any front runners except for Da' Tara, which makes him very dangerous and a horse you have to throw in you triactor and superfecta tickets. It looks like Da' Tara will get an easy mile loose on the lead. Macho Again would be logical speed as well, but because of his successful second in the Preakness, his trainer is kind of handcuffed to keep the same running style he used last time out. I think Macho Again will bounce.
The other horse I like to round out the exotics is Icabad Crane. He looks like he'll easily handle the grueling mile and a half, and he wouldn't be a complete surprise to even win the event.
Belmont Superfecta: 5-1-6-10
Free Past Performances For The Belmont Stakes

UPDATE: Looks like Casino Drive may be scratched.

Surprised that The Score did such a scathing video on David Clark. It was definitely negative and it painted the ORC and WEG in a bad light for morally/ethically allowing Clark to continue riding. Since WEG does a lot with The Score, from live broadcasts to the 1-2-3 Contest, usually these type of reports never make it to broadcast.

PICK 7 at Woodbine Keeps Growing
The Pick 7 hasn't been won once this year. The carryover is up to $75,000, but don't waste your money on it today. The card is next to impossible. You'll be lucky to pick 3 winners if you use 2 horses a race. Buy lottery tickets instead (the takeout is pretty close to what Woodbine charges) Yesterday even with almost $15,000 bet on it, the best anyone could do was pick 4 out of 7.
Handicappers realize that picking winners at Woodbine is a total crap shoot. It is probably the toughest track in North America to handicap, and when you take into consideration their grotesque track takeout, it is hardly worth playing period.
That is one of the reasons the Pick 7 pools has taken almost 35 days to grow into just 75k.
And to think, Woodbine is available just about everywhere while many tracks are involved in ADW wars in the US. This is time for Woodbine to shine, but for the new bettors trying out the track, it is just causing more disillusionment in the WEG product.
If you are going to race big fields on the unpredictable Poly, the track takeout needs to be drastically reduced.

Baymount announces construction firm for new Belleville Racino project.

Fort Erie's Save The Race Track Campaign Marred In Controversy Besides the fact that the $300 million project is just plain ridiculous, it seems that some alleged grey area dealings have been going on. I still don't see why Nordic Gaming's BILLIONAIRE owner (Yitzhak Tshuva) needs government handouts, or why the local government should be spending money that he should be spending in a lobbying effort.
How much money has Nordic spent on their "monorail" (remember the Simpson's episode) project? The reason Tshuva is a billionaire is that he doesn't spend good money after bad money.
There is no way Fort Erie can be a major resort, and especially if SLOTS is all it has to offer outside of a B racetrack. Maybe in 5000 years, when Niagara Falls will be eroded to where Lake Erie and the Niagara River meet.

Canadian Firm That Processed Transactions For American Gamblers Agrees To Pay $9.1 Million For Facilitating Illegal Gambling

Illinois race tracks may get a boost from casino revenues

3 June 2008

Queen's Plate Now Has Six Contenders

I just went over the forms and viewed the two races on Sunday that most likely included this year's Plate winner.
I kept in mind that there was a heavy rail bias on Sunday, and front runners did not fare well in the majority of the races.
Lets start with the Plate Trial. Harlem Rocker disappointed in a very large way. Does he hate Polytrack that much? Or was conditioning a factor? It was his first race in 35 days, and he was hung out on the outside while trying to close into a marginally slow early pace. As long as he didn't hurt himself, if I was Stronach, I'd still run him in the Plate. His back numbers still make him the fastest Plate horse.
Not Bourbon not only surprised me, but he also apparently surprised his connections. He totally ran against the bias as he was near the front and on the outside. The slow early pace helped him, but his race was impressive and only a tick or two off Harlem Rocker's best time according to my speed figures. A mile and a quarter and a faster early pace will still make it tough for him to win the Plate. Note: I've been wrong before:)
Right now, I think the maiden,Solitaire, looks like the horse to beat in the Plate. Sure, he was closer to the rail most of the way than any other contender, and he ran completely with the bias, but it was only his second lifetime race, and very first non turf race. He closed very strongly against a slow pace that picked up considerably from the half to finish line.
Sebastion's Song is also a lightly raced horse who made an impressive middle move during a quickening pace. He is getting better, and could run a peak performance in the Plate.
I was a little surprised that the maiden race was a second slower than the Plate Trial considering Harlem Rocker didn't show up. Two up and comers have earned the right to go into the Plate though. D. Flutie was caught wide the whole race, and made a visually strong move into quick middle fractions. Only in his fourth lifetime start, he seems to be getting better each time out. I like his breeding a lot. His biggest problem seems to be hanging. Maybe adding blinkers will fix this.
Finally, Jungle Brew, coming off one lifetime start at 6 furlongs, made an impressive two turn debut. He was more or less on the outside for the second half of the race and never got to the rail early either, but the track did favour closers. Still, he is definitely a contender now.
If you take away the really slow second quarter in the maiden race, the fractions were almost identical for both races on Sunday. And now it will be up to the trainers to get these six horses to peak, because right now, if those six were the only horses in the Plate, we would probably see 6 different outcomes if the race was run 6 different times.

Economics Professor At Clemson University Chimes In On What Hinders Growth In Racing: BACKWARDS ECONOMICS
'Somehow, horse racing has failed to hitch a ride on the nation’s gambling wave, one of the dominant economic trends of the last 30 years. It is not difficult to see why racing’s response to the emergence of competitive alternatives has been ineffective: the sport has been burdened with high takeout rates relative to competitive forms of gambling, a fractured organizational structure, and state regulations that share the spoils while limiting innovation and entrepreneurship.......But the biggest problem facing the sport is its backward economics, first made evident by Secretariat. Quite simply, both potential and actual stars are more valuable in the breeding shed than on the racetrack.'

Canada to get tougher when it comes to preventing money laundering at casinos:
(The) enhanced requirements go into effect on June 23, 2008 and include:

* The reporting of all attempted suspicious transactions
* Ascertaining and recording the identity of individuals on all remittances over $1000
* Mandatory record keeping for all foreign currency exchanges

Kahnawake Gambling empire involved in another scandal
Insiders have allegedly developed software to see hidden cards of poker players. Players who were cheated are in the process of being refunded. The perpetrators have left the company.
At least horse racing doesn't involved any cheating, that is why they charge such high takeouts....yeah right. Horse players don't get their money back when they lose to a horse that was tested positive, or to a horse that had fake or non published workouts.
Speaking about that, Woodbine Entertainment Group CEO David Willmot is still bulgy eyed over the fast one that Richard Dutrow pulled on the betting public in the 2005 Queen's Plate with Wild Desert.:
"It was offensive," Willmot said of the affair. "My reaction was: 'You come up here and use our most important race for a betting coup?' It was outrageous.

"There's nothing wrong with a guy having a bet on a horse and doing very well. But when you try to sneak in and do it under the radar, it's insulting."

It is kind of hypocritical for Willmot to bring up being insulted as if he was a jilted prom date. He insults bettors each and every day he allows track takeouts to be ridiculously high, and higher than just about every other jurisdiction in North America. I guess, what goes around, comes around. His objection obviously is one of being personally offended, and has nothing to do with the betting public, because, if cared, we wouldn't see 28.3% takeouts on triactors, among other ghastly high rates.

In the same article, he mentions that he is against (most?) steroid use.
"I don't know how the public can be asked to accept the rationale which says they're going to do away with it in baseball, football and Olympic sports but not do away with it in horse racing," Willmot said.

Problem is that they are not looking at banning ALL steroid use. So as long as even some steroids remain legal, there will still be a major distinction between horse racing and other sports regarding performance enhancing drugs.
And what about drugs that aren't tested for? Any trainer hitting at 25% plus should be monitored as close to 24/7 as humanly possible.
And of course, until all racing jurisdictions adopt the same exact uniform drug policies, it doesn't matter much what one jurisdiction does. Racing will still be tarnished.

Canada must embrace and regulate online gambling.
"The Internet is worldwide and you can't go into people's houses and stop them doing what they've been doing." -Michael Lipton