30 August 2008

Curlin Should Romp

Curlin Couldn't Have Handpicked An Easier Field In Today's Woodward

There are no killers in this field (other than Curlin), in fact, there are no attempted murderers either.

I kind of like Out Of Control to possibly rally off the pace and get the place reward, while Past The Point, coming off a lifetime best Beyer, may also hit the board with his tactical speed.

Free past performances for the Woodward can be found at Equidaily under the Curlin mania heading.

Scott Rowe Asks If It Is Time To Ban The Whip (in harness racing)

Baymount Completes Groundbreaking Ceremony Where The New Quinte Exhibition & Raceway Will Be Built
Construction is expected to begin with the month.

Robert Tiller And Louis Cauz Enter Canadian Horse Racing Hall Of Fame
Of course, two doors had to be opened up so that Tiller could fit into the place. That guy is getting pretty large these days. He isn't having his usual stellar year at the track, but he seems to be making up for it at the buffet.

Kidding aside, Tiller has been great for Ontario horse racing, and he is definitely an above average trainer. He has a knack at valuing his stock properly as well, and that takes handicapping ability.

Asmussen Sees Value In Buying Ontario Breds; He Will Attend The Upcoming Yearling Sale
The Sales Catalog can be found here at the CTHS Ontario site.

41 Year Old Apprentice Wins His First Race On Monday At Fort Erie
I was clueless that Devon Johnson is an apprentice who waved his weight allowance. I did actually pick the winner and had the late double that day.

There is racing at the Fort today. Short fields, so it should be easy to pick winners, right? In the second race, I like perennial maiden Countess Olivia to get off the schneid. I like Organ Grinder off the claim in the 6th. He has gone a mile and a quarter before, and came close to winning. And Athenais plunges down to a very likely spot in the 8th.

Tomorrow, Lottaguska in the 2nd should win by half a track, look for Dashing Monty to complete the exactor. Curious why Norman Davies didn't claim Luccirockingbucci last time out. He is a half brother to a consistent mare he reclaimed in the past named Cent T Mint. Heather Dew looks good in the 8th.

Today at Woodbine, Minkredible looks awfully tough with Ramsammy aboard in the first. Longshot plays include Creative Design in the Ontario Colleen Stakes (why is a stake race with the name Ontario in it open to non Ontario breds?). Chantal Sutherland has big shot in the 8th with Dance To My Beat.

Penn to suspend racing to perform track repairs

'Jockey Juan Campos died Aug. 16 from injuries suffered in a racing accident at the Downs at Albuquerque that same day.'

Magna Entertainment Working With Horsemen Group To Come Up With Equitable Solution In ADW Pricing Standoff

Grooms and hotwalkers found to be making below minimum wage in NY backstretch. That is minimum wage without taking stake money into account.

Will the government force trainers to pay minimum wage? And will that mean that backstretch workers won't be able to look forward to stake money in the future.

27 August 2008

Mathematics Of Betting: The Daily Double

Intuitively, if you make bets into a pool that offers a lower takeout, you would expect to do better in the long run. But when we are dealing with win bets versus multi-leg or other exotic bets, this is not the case.

The takeout on daily doubles averages around 20% across North America, while the takeout on win bets averages around 16% (incidentally, Woodbine's takeout on win is 16.95%, and 20.5% on exactors; don't try finding those numbers at their site, it is a secret).

I wanted to devise a way to prove without a doubt that a gambler should expect a better return on daily doubles over the parlaying of two consecutive winners. I think I've found the way using a very simple example.

In my example, there are four horses in 2 consecutive races and each horse has attracted the exact same money bet on them, and each daily double combination has also attracted the same exact money bet on them as well. Each pool has also attracted exactly $10,000 bet.

In the win pool, $2,500 has been bet on each horse. The total amount the track will payout is $8,400 (taking the 16% or $1,600 the track takes out). 8,400 divided by 2,500 equals 3.36, which means the odds on each horse will show up as 2-1, but the payoff odds would be 2.35-1. Without breakage it would be 2.36-1, and jurisdictions where they pay off to the dime instead of the nickel, the payoff would be 2.30-1.

So for a $20 win bet, you would get back $67. Now if you parlayed the $67 onto the winner of the second race, you would get back $224.40 (actually $224.45 without breakage, but even if you could parlay without breakage, you would be parlaying $67.20 onto a horse that paid $6.72, you would get back $225.79)

Now for the Daily Double. There are 16 combinations, which means that there is $625 bet on each combination. The track will pay out only $8,000 ($10,000 minus the 20% takeout). 8,000 divided by 625 equals 12.8, which means that each daily double has a probable payoff of $25.60. So if you took a $20 daily double, you would get back $256.00.

$256.00 is more than 13% higher what you would get by parlaying both horses breakage or no breakage.

It is like magic.

Lets see what would happen if you took a $20 wheel versus an $80 straight be in the first race.

You would get back $256.00 for your daily double bet, but you would get back $268 if you bet the $80 to win (4.6% higher than the daily double return).

Confusing? You bet.

Regarding daily doubles, generally you can get better than the 13% overlay if you stay away from program picks or newspaper selected doubles. Another time you could expect an underlay is when one or more of the horses wins at over 20-1 and the pools are on the small side.

25 August 2008

How About Universal Betting Payouts?

Track payouts are just another example to show how disconnected the racing jurisdictions are to each other. How do we expect universal drug laws from an industry that can't even set payout standards?

What do I mean by payout standards?

Just peruse the results of various racetracks and try to find some consistency when it comes to exotic payouts.

Note: Base does not mean minimum bet, it means how the payoff is shown on Equibase and at ADWs.

Woodbine uses $1 base for Pick 3's, Pick 4's, and Supers, while using a $2 base price for triactors.

Ellis Park and Saratoga use a $2 base for all exotics.

Monmouth uses a $1 base price for all exotics (excluding doubles and exactors) except for their Pick 5 which uses a $0.50 base.

Del Mar (California main circuit) uses a $1 base for most exotics, including exactors (almost every other track uses a $2 base for exactors), except they use a $2 base for doubles, quinellas, and the Pick 6.

Mountaineer uses a $2 base for everything. But they call exactors "perfectas" (there has to be a Pulp Fiction joke in there somewhere).

I think I'll stop here. I've made my point.

The main problem I have with all this is when I view probable payoffs or results that don't have the base amount next to it. And this happens a lot. I have to take an educated guess many times, and sometimes I'm wrong, and even if I'm right, it sometimes needlessly hurts my brain.

Maybe HANA (The Horseplayers Association Of North America) can get the industry to at least fix this. Then maybe we can get uniform drug rules too, and maybe I'll win a giant lottery too.

Did You Know?

Helen Marie King is Helen Marie Vanek's new name. She is riding at Prairie Meadows right now.

Also, Patricia Trimble is riding at Pinnacle these days.

Northland Park did over $1 million in handle on "Derby Day"
Almost as much as Woodbine does on a Wednesday night. Maybe their management needs to takeover at WEG. Imagine, what kind of handle they could have had if they were dealing with WEG's audience and resources.

Ellis raises purses another 10%

21 August 2008

I Found A Few Queen's Plate Programs From Yesteryear

I knew I had some old programs somewhere. They were hiding in a closet. Queen's Plate programs from 1959, 1960, 1962, and 1963. I know I have the Northern Dancer program from 1964 too, and I think I know where it is, but I'm too lazy to dig for it right now.

I was born in 1961, so I didn't collect these programs firsthand. I am missing the 1961 program though. Blue Light won that year. The name had nothing to do with the beer.

So how did I get my paws on these programs? I used to sell Racing Forms at Woodbine and Greenwood when I was in my teens to early 20's (my great uncle had the concession rights). Actually just before I was a teen, in 1973, I sold them prior to the first race on Secretariat Day. I wound up watching the race in the dining room (my mother had a table there).

When form guys came in from selling, we would go to the "program room." "Pinky" ran the program sales. Always had a cigar in his mouth. He seemed all business, and I don't think he bet. It took me what it seemed like years just to talk to the guy. Eventually, I got the nerve to ask him for a few programs that were stashed away under the counter (they were all Queen's Plate programs). I don't know why he was saving them. I think old unsold programs were usually just eventually trashed. But maybe he just couldn't get himself to throw these ones out. I took one of each. To be honest, they didn't mean much to me back then, but I wound up saving them.
People at the track were characters back then. Working for Pinky back then were guys with names like Philly (his brother), Nookie, and Herbie (actually, Herbie is now the main owner of California Stables. He had the Daily Star concession at the track as well for many years. Who would have known you can get rich selling programs and newspapers?

I don't think I ever found out Pinky, Philly, or Nookie's real names.

CLICK TO ENLARGE The program on the right is a very familiar one. I'm sure they used the same cover throughout much of the 60's. This one is from 1963. The one with the Queen is dated 1960:

Interestingly, the only exotic bets that existed back in the early 60s was one daily double (and if you didn't bet it by 10 minutes to post in the first, you were shut out) and one quinella. The quinella was really an exactor. Click and enlarge the rules to see what I mean (it looks like the track had the option to allow the bet to either be exactor-like or quinella-like):

One reason people kept coming back was that the track didn't get all your money most of the time, because betting was pretty much restricted to win, place, and show.

I tried to find track takeout info, but none of the programs printed that. I'm pretty sure it was around 12-14% back then, if memory serves correctly.

I'm reading Steven Crist's book "Exotic Wagering," and it is amazing how young most exotic bets really are. In the first Breeder's Cup, they put a minimum on exactor bets at $5, because the powers that be wanted to save the bettor from themselves. In other words, they wanted to sway the people who couldn't afford to get wiped out from exactor bets from playing them.
Nowadays, the powers just don't care. Not only are there dime minimums in many jurisdictions, but the takeout rates for many exotic bets are unconscionably high.

When was the last time Jen Morrison made the morning line of a horse 1-5. I'm sure Jen wasn't the one who made the odds on Victoria Park in 1960:) Check the purse out in the 8th race too(less than $2000). That is what Woodbine would be giving out without slots today (OK, I'm exaggerating a little):

How dare they "shakedown" Sadler's barn? Doesn't matter if they found all kinds of illegal substances or not. (sarcasm off)

They should shakedown just about every trainer who hits at around 22% and higher. No trainer is that good, I don't care what his or her excuse is.

Religious trainer won't race his horses on Saturdays, no matter what is at stake. I didn't know that the Seventh-day Adventists had their Sabbath Day on the same day as the Jews (Saturday). Doesn't this guy know that God Is For Suckers?

Will Fort Erie end up on this list?

NY backing off increasing takeout on bets made with NY state on out of state tracks. Still going ahead with their moronic 1% increase on NYRA tracks. We'll see how that works out for them. I won't bet a NYRA track, so they lost me.

Shizuka will make her lifetime debut today at Woodbine in the first race. Why care? She is the first foal of Ginger Gold. Remember her? She won the Oaks and wound up with over $1 million in earnings.
5 and a half will probably be too short for her, but she is worth watching.

Spirit of Seattle should be real tough in the 5th at Woodbine today with Chantal up. How about Dubai Gold in the 6th? At Ellis Park today, To Order should take the first. Yikes has a great shot in the 4th and Annie Dugan will be tough to beat in the 5th. Tomorrow at Woodbine on the turf in the last, I like slight longshot, Agon Bon.

Harness Racing Blog has a neat post up where they have run a program to display words most used on certain blogs.

Looks like the my most popular words are "race" "track" and "takeout." Who would have guessed that:)

19 August 2008

Hastings Reduces Takeout On Show Bets; Cangamble Unenthused

One Really Small Step In The Right Direction?

Hastings recently announced that they lowered their track takeout on show bets from 17% to 12%.

It might mean that tracks are starting to get it (wishful thinking, and most likely not the case here), but I'm not a great fan of gimmick reductions. The idea behind gimmick reductions is to attract NEW money to a particular track in a particular pool, possibly getting more people to handicap races at that track (who may not have looked at that track previously), so they might bet into the larger takeout pools as well.

The result will hardly be more churn, or the possibility that more winners or those who come close to break even, will be created.

I'm not enthused by this particular reduction anyway. For one thing, I don't bet show, for a few reasons. The main one is that I'm in for the home run and usually focus on exotics, but another reason to sway away from show bets is BREAKAGE.

Tracks round down to the nearest dime when a payoff is calculated. So if you bet a horse for show and collect $3.00, the price could easily have been $3.09. But the average payoff would be $3.05. What this means is the track is taking an extra 5% of what you deserved to collect on average in this particular example. Obviously, the higher the payoff, the smaller the percentage, the track takes due to breakage.

Note: In many jurisdictions in the USA, payoffs are rounded down to the nearest 20 cent payoff, not 10 cents. So in my example of $3.00 to show, the average real payoff should be around $3.10, so the track is raking in 10% of profits that really should belong to you.

The reality is that show betting is the worst bet available to any gambler. Even at 12%, the real takeout is much higher thanks to breakage.

Today's Fort Erie Rumour
A reader has tipped me off saying that Marty Mercieca is hanging up his tack after today's sixth race.
He has a real live mount that race in Cat Train. Dean Deverell recently retired after he won his last race a few weeks ago, and I remember when John Bell won his last race at Greenwood around a quarter of a Century ago. It was almost like the other jockeys let him go out in style.
Update: Oops! The tip said 8th race (not 6th), and sure enough Mercieca has a mount in that race, but unless the 7 horse is out and out stiffed, he won't be winning that one. Could get a piece of the pie though, with the 4 year old firster.

Good card today at the Fort. It would have been better if they were able to run on the grass (they are off today). Two good betting, large fields will most likely be reduced in size.

I'm trying to figure out how Sinister Ruckus won't win the 8th race by at least 5 lengths today, and I think the only way it will happen is if she is scratched.

I expect a few claims today as well. There are quite a few horses that look like they have future potential.

Speaking of claims, trainer Susan Stephenson (who is off to a great start), claimed two horses in the same race yesterday, for $5,000 each, that both look like sure money makers thanks to the quick time they ran (Thunder Fox and Organ Grinder ran one two in the fifth race). I'm not a big fan of claiming older horses who have no conditions, but both these horses should be should be solid performers in the $7500-$10,000 range for as long as they stay sound.
Organ Grinder is actually a non winner on the year at least.

Beulah Park and River Downs Apply For Quarterhorse Dates Only Next Year

Not sure if this is just a sincere way for these tracks to go (in light of current conditions in racing overall and especially racing in Ohio), or if it is power play against the horsemen's group, or a power play against the Ohio government for not allowing slots. It could be a combination of two or three of the possibilities cited.

Former Finger Lakes jockey, and now exercise rider for Steve Asmussen, Parker Buckley is in critical condition.

UPDATE: Unfortunately Buckley has died.

Turf Writers Find A Home In The Blogosphere
"It's a far from perfect medium. A lack of editors is not always a good thing, and many blogs are perpetrated by amateurs with limited credibility or journalistic training. But it's a racket that's shaking itself out like any other market, and the best of the current blogs are among the most interesting racing journalism (outside these pages, of course) being practiced anywhere: Check out Alan Mann's Left at the Gate, Jessica Chapel's Railbird, Seth Merrow's Equidaily, Kevin Martin's Colin's Ghost, or the eponymous Kennedy's Corridor. Their authors are all passionate fans of the game, which is more than you can say for the bowling or hunting writer who gets stuck covering the occasional horse race for a metropolitan daily."
I'm not too happy with Steven Crist's wording here. Is he calling me an amateur hack? I have a good mind to flush his book "Exotic Betting" down the toilet. It is only a foot away right now from the toilet, because I'm currently reading it. I'm only on page 8, but I had bran flakes for breakfast so I should be able to get through another ten pages today:)

Prairie Meadows trainer gets suspended for a year for using a Viagra ingredient. I wonder if Ontario tests for sildenafil, because some trainers must be using something. No trainer can hit at 30% without undetectable dope.
(h/t Equidaily)

Video Tribute To Genuine Risk who just died at 31 (h/t The Paulick Report):

California to end all exclusive ADW deals by the end of this year. Another step in the right direction. Let the ADW's compete for the player's business. Without collusion, if that is at all possible. It will lead to higher rebates or lower takeouts on average.

16 August 2008

Aqueduct: How To Fit In With The Crowd

I went to Aqueduct only once. It was way back around 1982 or 1983 during the Winter meet. If I recall, I went to the track twice during my visit. The first day, me and Bill (a race track buddy of mine also from Toronto), walked from the hotel to the track. Don't ask me the name of the hotel or anything like that. It will never come back to me.

I remember walking through a neighbourhood though, somewhat paranoid from all the bad stuff I heard about New York. The houses were small and they lots almost smaller if I recall correctly. They reminded of the houses shown at the end of every All In The Family episode. It took around 20 minutes, but we made it safely to the track.

I also remember that I made money that weekend. I don't think it was from winning at the track. Bill was bugging me to go to Atlantic City by shuttle with him to play blackjack. I had absolutely no interest, but I gave him a vote of confidence by buying into his action. I don't remember if I bought into 50% of what he made or lost, or 25%, but what I do know is he handed me something like $300 when he got back in the morning.

The last day we took the subway. I found that scarier than walking. I think I broke around even, but I made another score (sort of). Some rounder approached me to sell his leather jacket for $25. It was kind of a cool looking motorcycle jacket (most likely worth $200), which meant it was the opposite of something I would normally buy. Also I knew, or at least thought that it must be "hot." I bought it, and got 4 or 5 good years out of it. When I became white collar, I decided to give it away to a musician friend of mine. It never was my style, but I felt good wearing it.

Enough about me. I read a post this morning on Pace Advantage by "Stevie Belmont" that has to be one of the funniest pieces ever written about horse racing or horseplayers. Here it is:

Wait till January and check out da Big A...

Go down to the Port Authority in New York. On your way you can pick up a 5 dollar umbrella from some dude named Ching-Ming-Wong.
After that go buy a cup of coffee and a NY Post, or a Form (should have the form scoped out already) for your trip in on the A Train. Just don’t stare at anyone. You can either look tough or rock back and forth mumbling The Teletubbies are not gay. Don’t want to read about it on the local News.

Once you get to Aqueduct to you can take that walk from the subway, or squeeze on the bus with same people trying to snag the early Mike Luzzi/Jose Espinoza double for the past 10 years. There is some powerful insight on those buses. Just think of it as a poor mans Siro’s Seminar.

Once you get in…Let the good times roll. If you need company…You have some choices. The Jamaicans will be more than glad to help out a Homie of a different ilk. They will give you some solid pedigree info. No turf during the cold months though, but they do dirt as well. You can also get smoked up with them to. So regardless if you are winning or losing, you won’t give a rats ass if you get nipped at the wire and lose a $300 early double. However, you might think the walls of the building are moving or watching the race seems like it 15 min long. Other than that..should be A OK.

If that’s not for you, don’t worry. Options abound at the great Big A. You can hang out in the “Sunny Jim” Fitzsimmons room. You will see some great old timers in there. Some even saw Man O’ War race. The stories are great. The good ole days. Ain’t like it used to be and so on. The smell could be a bit much. Some are going 2 days with out a Depends change. I ask who cares? These guys are great. Last time I was there I was doing the track announcing for them. I was yelling at the top of my lungs in this one dude’s ear. Dudes wanted Shoe Info. Who knew? Man that got me tired. Also made some coffee runs. Dude tipped me a nickel. I refused it.

Still have not found the perfect group? You can make yourself at home wandering the grandstand level. Where some of the strangest, vile and some what sharpest people ever roam freely for hours upon hours staring and yelling at TV Monitors. Some can even recite Shakespeare, or go into an in depth discussion on evolution, yet they can’t even tie their shoelaces, let alone tell you when the Breeder’s Cup is. You can mingle with the ticket picker uppers, they are an interesting breed. They scan the floor, hoping, praying to find a winner. It’s a maniacal quest that never ends. One warning, this is not a social group, so I would back off these guys.

Still no luck? It doesn’t end there. Let’s see some horses! This is what going to the track is all about, right? Hang outside with your umbrella that was made by a 4 year old in a sweat shop in Pang-Hi China who is making 3 dollars a week and working 70 hours. Scan the paddock for that sharp looking colt or filly. Detecting sweat will be a bit difficult considering the rain. Here you can chat it up with some so called physical cappers. Hear the latest gossip. See if the trainer is sporting a tie. Or just wait to see which horse takes a dump last and run to the windows.

Watching the race outside has it advantages to. They run right by you, so you can see it. The flip side is when a can or bottle gets thrown in disgust by a dude named Tyrone who blew is last $5 on a 75/1 Candlin/Espinoza 7,500 claimer. Heads up is a commonly yelled phrase.

If you are of the solitary kind, Don’t fret. It’s a paradise for those who roam alone. Examples swearing jockeys names use of the word Pig a lot and loud, why did he wait so long? Things like that. You will fit right in. Constant talking to oneself is key. You will look like a tracky. Keep as many forms and papers visible under the arms and back pocket. Have a look of utter disgust and agitation at all time, as if you are one more loss away from going ballistic. Make sure your hair is a little messed up to. No one would even consider bothering you for anything. This assures a care free day at the races

Hope this helps. Good luck and cash some winners.

Make sure after you leave, all this is left at the track. You could get locked up in real society with this behavior.

The Aqueduct crowd sounds something very similar to the old Greenwood crowds of the 70's and 80's, especially on the ground floor. The Woodbine crowd was a bit more sophisticated, since Woodbine back then was very difficult to access by public transportation, and it is a lot farther away from the mental health centers found on Queen St. in Toronto.

Turns out that "Stevie," like me, is a member of the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance. Check out his site Thoroughbred Zone.

NYRA Might Just Understand The Negatives Of Proposed Takeout Hike

NYRA and NYC OTB are now against the proposed takeout increase that is about to come into affect in NY in September.
Is the industry starting to come to their senses? They are starting to get that this move will make it more difficult for NY to compete with the rest of the country. What this means, is that an increase in takeout will most probably lead to an overall decrease in revenues.

If you increase takeout on your product, less gamblers from outside the state will play. And from within the state, you will just be collecting your customer's money faster, but in the end, they will lose around exactly the same as they would have no matter what the takeout is, because customers collectively only have so much to lose in a year, and in fact, as takeouts are increased, other forms of gambling become more appealing, so there is a great chance, that players will lose more on NY racing collectively and lose on lotteries or casinos, or sports betting instead.

Look no further than Woodbine when it comes to turning off the international crowd by having ridiculously high takeouts. Price sensitive gamblers avoid betting Woodbine like the plague.

New Improved Track Takeout Chart

Speaking of track takeout, HANA (the Horseplayers Association Of North America) has revised the takeout chart, correcting a few errors (the averages are still off a bit, I'll have to email Chicken Head to correct them).

Some Steroids Don't Turn Horses Into The Hulk

At the Woodbine Blog, Renee Kierans asks if steroids are misunderstood?
I had to comment there:
"Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think steroid use wasn't happening in the 60's when horses averaged 9 starts a year in North America. Now horses average just over 6 races a year.
So maybe there might be something else going on when it comes to recovering from a race.
Maybe a bit of recovering from Lasix and other drugs and add to that the fact that horses are bred today for speed and not so much endurance as they were in the 50's and 60's.
Probably, the horses today are bred to need Lasix and steroids. It isn't right, but it is pretty much fact."

Slots Come To Hastings Yesterday was the grand opening.

Lots of horses look alike, but....

Tioga issues statement regarding wrong horse running in Open
"...this was an unfortunate mistake where a misidentification of a horse took place, and there was no intent to deceive the public by anyone. There was also an internal review of the betting patterns which shows no irregularities that we can speak to, but we await the final outcome and decision from the New York State Racing and Wagering Board."

You have to wonder how many times this has happened across North America where the wrong horse ran and nobody found out. I don't think the answer is none.

ORC Clamping Down On Whipping Violations

ORC reinforces whipping suspension for driver Trevor Henry
"The penalties arose after Henry's drive, Lord Luck, was found to have cuts on his sheath after the race and Grand Rivers on July 11, and finish photos showed the whip was illegally lodged between the horse's hind legs."

The Fort Erie Smoke and Mirrors Project

Apparently Fort Erie race track took out a full page ad in Thoroughbred Style Magazine. I'll be honest. I never heard of the magazine before. According to the ad rates quoted on the site, the ad could have cost as much as $11,000. I doubt Fort Erie paid that amount, but who knows? They have a couple of million to blow on their campaign to try to suck the government into their farcical $300 million project. Note to Fort Erie and the government: housing starts in the Niagara region are dropping. The Douglas Memorial (Fort Erie's hospital) is closing their emergency ward most likely (seniors will now be less attracted to live in Fort Erie thanks to that). The Holiday Inn (Fort Erie's number one hotel) is mostly barren, and yet it is only a 5 minute drive from the Racino. In other words, this project has absolutely no viability.

Fort Erie needs to put a stop to this facade NOW. Let Nordic Gaming assess what they have, and no doubt, the price will become realistic without the "what ifs that never will happen" are attached. Maybe then, an operator will come along that will attempt to grow horse racing in Fort Erie, and the track will be saved.

Today at Woodbine, the second exactor looks as easy as 1-2, actually 1A-2.
It is Serenading's turn today. I think she'll beat Bear Now in the Belle Mahone (4th race). Tomorrow, Bold Corky might upset in the Victoriana (8th race). Theatrical View is going to be very tough in the 9th if the race remains on the lawn. She is a strong gate to wire threat with Richard Dos Ramos aboard. Josie Carroll is starting to get some wins, and filly last raced against Classy Landlady who came back for an upset win in an allowance race in yesterday's finale.
At Fort Erie tomorrow, Egbert Dolly is the horse to beat in the 5th and Shot Gun Ella has a big chance in the Rainbow Connection Stakes (8th race).

13 August 2008

Horse Racing Lacks Proper Disclosure

Some other thoughts regarding horse racing and disclosure, a topic I touched upon over a week ago here:

Why is it that when you visit a racetrack's website you can't find information on track takeout? It can't be that it isn't important, the DRF has a page devoted to each racetrack and takeout information is shown. Just one page per track, and takeout takes up around 20% of the script.
Check out the DRF description for Woodbine.
Now try to find takeout information at Woodbine's own site. Thousands of pages are there, and not one that I know of, that gives information of track takeout on their own product. I even tried to do a "takeout" search there......no luck.

Does this mean that a track can change the takeout, and if it escapes the media, the player may not be aware of it for months? The answer is yes. Hardly one peep was mentioned when Woodbine changed their takeout back on Win 4's back from 14% to over 25% a few years ago. I didn't realize it for at least 6 months.

I'd figure, in Canada especially, that racetracks would be REQUIRED to disclose takeout information on their websites. Does anyone give a hoot about the consumer anymore?

Lets move on. What about thoroughbred suspensions and fines. If not at the Woodbine site, where again, I can't find any links to recent fines and suspensions, how about the ORC (Ontario Racing Commission) site? They do have a pretty good resource called the Officials' Lists where one can find the Vet List, Stewards List, Procaine List, and the Cryoanaesthesia and Nerve List. But where can I find recent suspensions and fines?
I tried, I really tried. But I came up empty.
Apparently, they are shown in the Racing Form, and the on track programs. But we are in the information age. Why can't we get this kind of information by just making a couple of mouse clicks? I don't want to depend on the media to inform me of whipping or drug violations. I recently read that Chantal Sutherland was appealing her 4th whip violation of the year. The fact that I didn't even know about the other three is a big problem.

This funny blog post from Turf Luck is getting lots of attention: Love's Labor...lost It seems that a blogger's love affair with Mountaineer race track is like Adelaide St. in Toronto....it is a one way street.

Oregon ADW numbers: Most individual ADWs are up, but the total money bet through Oregon was down thanks mainly to the closing of IRG, and possibly a decline in total betting across North America. Related: Handle down at Arlington Park.

Jeff Klenner: Racetracks should encourage dialogue between racing execs and track patrons.
"One of the things that I, as a track manager, used to do at the end of the race day was to position myself outside the main exit prior to the running of the final race on the card. Then as the crowd filtered out after the race, I would smile to people and thank them for coming—almost as if every one of them were a visiting dignitary who had been sent a personal invitation to attend on that day."

Update: Pull The Pocket Has A Must See Post Post; How Does Offshore Wagering Help? The answer is that it doesn't, but the big question is why offshore wagering exists in the first place?

Don't forget to join the Horseplayers Association Of North America, if things like high takeout rates bug the heck out you. We are starting to make some strides.

Article on rookie trainer Willy Armata. Sad news: 10 year old Very Professional dies of an apparent heart attack. He wasn't coming close this year. I was questioning why he was still racing.

Racing UK pull plug on Youtube Videos More stupidity from a dysfunctional industry.

Woodbine Bias Report: Speed and the rail suck big time (though the rail wasn't bad on Sunday). Chantal is hot hot hot, while trainer Alex McPherson is riding out a slump. Constant Montpellier hasn't hit the board in 17 races and Steven Bahen hasn't been in the winner's circle of late.

The Dart Board
If What So What looks like an immortal cinch in the first today at Woodbine. I expect the third to be off the turf, a race that win shy Muskwa, will be the boss.
Looks like Gonzalez might be trying to steal in the 7th with Name In Lights (mind you, the horse wore fronts for the first time, last race).

Tomorrow, go to the beach. It is one really bad card, even for a Thursday.

10 August 2008

Chantal Sutherland Wins 5, Three By A Nose

Sutherland wins 5

I don't remember a jockey ever winning three races in a card by a nose. Has it been done before? Probably. I'm just not aware of it.
Sutherland just seems to have a style that works great on the poly and the turf. She relaxes horses early, usually gets good position, and I have to say that from what I've seen, she is completely aware of track biases as well.
Her timing is impeccable many times as well. And when she finally asks a horse, she gets the same response as if she was zapping the horse with a buzzer (and no, I'm not implying that she uses a buzzer).
Some jockeys are just naturals, like Daniel David. Chantal is not only a natural, she also has brains as well (her analytical side comes out in her interviews).
She was also smart to appeal her suspension for "using her whip in an excessive and aggressive manner" in Sunday's Breeders. I'm not 100% sure, but I think she would have missed yesterday's great day if she accepted the suspension.
Today, she has a very light day. And it could get lighter if they take the races off the grass.

Mark Casse finally got his 1000th win yesterday. ZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzzzzz

X-Treme Racing: The Thrill Is Gone

I watched most of the X-Treme racing card on HPITV last night, and I have to say, that it wasn't like last year. I got that "been there, done that" feeling after watching a couple of dashes.
Announcer Larry Lederman didn't even seem as funny this year.
That being said, I think harness racing could use different distances like 5/8ths or 3/4's, as well as either 1 mile and quarter, or 1 mile and 3/8ths.
But what harness racing really needs is exchange betting. The pools in Ontario are usually not big enough to attract me to even think about betting, but exchange betting would probably change things immensely.
I'll admit, I'm not a harness racing fan. I find it monotonous compared to thoroughbred racing, and just too open to larceny. It wasn't bad enough that in the old days many of the drivers and trainers were related to each other, but now when you add drugs into the equation, I find the game unplayable, especially when you are asked to overcome a 22% (on average) track takeout.
I couldn't bet the card last night, even though I had second thoughts when I picked the first exactor cold, as well as the early double. I just couldn't bet into those puny pools.
I definitely would have played last night if it was available on an exchange though.
I still commend Georgian Downs and Great Canadian Gaming for at least trying something different.

Legends On Tour
On October 18th at Santa Anita, 8 retired jockey legends will compete once more. The distance will be 6 furlongs, and the weight assigned will be 126 pounds for all. Competing will be Angel Cordero Jr., 65; Jacinto Vasquez, 64; Sandy Hawley, 59; Pat Day, 55; Chris McCarron, 53; Jerry Bailey, 51; Gary Stevens, 45, and Julie Krone, 45.
I wonder if they all can make the weight.
It is a parimutuel event and will be run as the fourth race that day.

Ellis Park to increase purses by 5% Increasing the signal fee amounts to ADWs is definitely the biggest reason for this increase. Open access is a big reason as well. Ellis Park is also available to Premier Turf Club customers. Of course, this isn't the case with the California horsemen group, who refuse to sign a contract with Premier. Meanwhile, Del Mar is cutting purses.

Finally, HANA has a neat looking track takeout chart for North American thoroughbred tracks. Check it out.
There is also a track takeout chart available for Harness tracks at The Harness Racing Blog.

Alex Brown: The Horse Rescuer
H/T The Paulick Report

Check out the newest version of Down The Stretch Newspaper.

Full Fields At Fort Erie

Lots of big competitive fields at Fort Erie the next three days. Today, One Way Gotaway should take the third. Out Of Session should enjoy the cut back in the fourth race. Will (one for fifty six) 7 year old Dashing Monty finally win his second race today? I say yes. We will know as soon as the official sign goes up in the 9th.
Tomorrow, Malibu Monster, in the 7th, should eat the field, and surf to victory.

Woodbine has a very chalky card set for today, but nothing to get over confident or enthused about. It is probably better to find another track to bet on, or bet it on an exchange like Betfair.

One more note. Emma Jayne Wilson looked like a bad apprentice in the Secretariat yesterday at Arlington. I know she had a bad post, but she didn't help the horse's chances on iota.

7 August 2008

X-Treme News, Odds and Ends

Magna Entertainment's future is in substantial doubt. Losses have totaled over $575 million since 2005 Now, even Santa Anita is on the sales block.

Youbet Considers Merger with TVG

Problem Gamblers Share Their Stories

Chris Connor has a very insightful interview with Chantal Sutherland on the Woodbine Blog

Why did Todd Kabel hang them up for the year? He says it is weight. I'll buy it.
Why did Dean Deverell retire? I heard that he knows he can make more money in construction.
Doesn't Emma Jayne Wilson's new whip look more like a fly swatter? I'm all for it too, if it does the job of waking up a horse during a race or keeping their mind on business, while also eliminating much of the pain.

CTHS September Sales Catalog For This Years Sale Is Up Now On Their Site

Paul Moran tells us how ugly racing has got in Maryland right now

Indiana scribe asks "Can slots buoy fan base?"
The short answer is NO. If anything, slots cannibalizes horse racing. It takes away some of the fringe fans, which has helped make it more difficult for good handicappers to even come close to breaking even, as the "dummy" money is removed from the pools. This causes even more discouragement amongst the regulars, who have now shifted to other forms of gambling that have much lower takeouts or house edges.
Here is yet another article asking the same stupid question.
Slot money might be good for purses, but it is not good when it comes to growing the race track pools.

From The Paulick Report:
Stable owner faces horse abuse charges.

Out of touch with reality: Article about Betfair eying North America states that Betfair is bad because you can bet horses to lose, and that racing should not sell their signals cheap.

I love what a commenter says about the article:

I live in England and bet USA races via betfair.
Lets look at some of your quotes:
.......Losing, on the other hand, requires nothing more than determination,......YOU can bet a horse to lose in USA, you simply bet all the others to win. Look at some of the betfair markets, where 3/5 chances are offered at 3/1 and trail home last, and then tell me that informed USA money isn't already finding its way into the betfair market. I don't want to name names, because your libel laws are amazing, but there are certain jockeys and trainers that crop up again and again with this sort of betting. And those races are where I will play other horses in your pools, because in your pools there are 3/5 chances but betfair tells me that they are really 3/1+.
.......Bettors reportedly wagered more than 80,000 pounds, the equivalent of almost 160,000 U.S. dollars, on this single harness race trial put on by the British Harness Racing Club.......a few years ago betfair offered betting on The Hambletonian. About $4000 was bet. Brits prefer British racing.
.......rampant poaching of bettors by rebate shops as well as other economic nightmares.....perhaps the bettors actually do have a brain cell, and can see that your product is overpriced. I doubt if even a 7% rebate of stakes will make many losers into winners, but if I can buy an identical product for 7% less, then why should I pay you 7% more?
...we've lost not one customer, because exchange customers are no more our customers than those guys on the bar stools....You'll lose me.

Lets face it, if it wasn't for the slots many of your tracks would now be housing estates or shopping malls. So what value does that put on your product? Betfair will give your bettors a chance to win, something that is lacking at the moment for the vast majority of American bettors.

I know that WEG for sure does not want Betfair to deal with the USA. Betfair takes Canadian customers. Often on Betfair you can get 4 or 5-1, on a horse who is at 2-1 or 5-2 on the tote board.

Betfair still has a summer special. Open a new account, and as soon as you bet your first $50 (it doesn't have to be all at once, and it doesn't matter if you win or lose), Betfair will put another $50 into your account.


Georgian Downs Is Gearing Up For Friday Night's X-treme Horsepower Card. Pacers and trotters will go a variety of obscure distances ranging from 3/8 of a mile to 1 7/8th miles. 5 of the 12 races have 18 horse fields. There is a free online contest you can enter. The extremely hilarious announcer Larry Lederman is back to do the calling.

A free complimentary program can be found here.
All forms and programs for all tracks should be free, but that is another story.

Ohio and Maine residents pushing for VLTs.

3 August 2008

The Haskell And The Breeders' Go Today

Here are free past performances for the Haskell. I couldn't find free PP's for the Breeders, so I can't link it.

I did some research and I'm a little disappointed to find out the Haskell is not named for Eddie Haskell.
The way I see the race is like this: Coal Play fights Magical Forest a little for the lead. Big Brown will wait to pounce from third with Atoned sitting fourth or fifth (the other horses in the race won't matter). The questions are 1) Will Desormeaux decide to pull Big Brown up or not midway around the far turn? 2) Will Coal Play get to slow down the pace enough to last in one of the first three positions? 3) Will Magical Forest only have to wear down Coal Play, or will he run second to Big Brown, if BB decides to show up today?

My selections in order: Magical Forest Big Brown Coal Play and Atoned.

The Breeders

I really like Deputiformer today. All indications are that he is the best grasser in the field, and that this should be his best race of the year (just looking at his current form cycle).
Palmers is the logical second choice. He likes the grass, looks like he can run all day, and Casse won this race last year.
Marlang might last for a piece, depending on how much pressure Pronger is able to give him.
I'd give Cryptonite Kid more consideration if he hadn't been off almost 6 weeks. He still might be good enough to figure into the tri or super.
And East End Tap seems to be maturing into a nice 3 year old. First time on the grass might makes him a difficult bet in exactors.

In the 7th race today at Woodbine, Touched By Madness is finally out again. Last time out he received a horrendous ride. He now gets Woodbine's leading jockey, though he is cutting way back in distance (to 6 1/2 on the turf), I think he'll have no problem mowing down Zetetic and Gantu (who both look like marginal grassers for this level).

Del Mar Cuts Purses Pretty sad that racing is actually going downhill as technology, and the ability to make a bet from anywhere in the world has gotten to an optimum point.
Open access and lower takeouts or forget about it.

Assiniboia Exercise Rider In The Middle of Jockey Betting Scandal Takes Off Back To Jamaica

Super Track Super John Passero leaving NYRA racetracks

Adena Springs Cancels 2009 Sales
Philosophy of not working the horses out fast before the sale may be good for the horse, but it is not so good for the sales price. Adena breds will now go to other sales.

I just check, The Paulick Report has links to most of the above stories as well, and more.

1 August 2008

Eliminating Withholding Tax In The US On Big Wins Is Just One Small Step Towards Industry Growth

From Richard Eng's column: A bill to eliminate the automatic 25 percent federal withholding tax on parimutuel winnings of $5,000 or more for bets that carry odds of 300-1 or higher has been introduced into the U.S. House of Representatives.
Called the "Parimutuel Conformity and Equality Act of 2008" (H.R. 6631), the bill was sponsored by Rep. Charles Boustany (R-La.).
Horseplayers should contact their local Congressman to support this measure.

The timing of this is pretty funny. On Pace Advantage we were having a discussion about the withholding tax. Here is what I wrote on July 27th:

"The money is basically taken out of the system. And any money taken out reduces churn.
The fact that most people (the overwhelming majority plus) lose money betting horses means that this rule is just unfair and has no place in the land of the free.

Maybe on hits of $15,000 or more, I can see it. That person might eek out a winning year when the dust clears."

The Bill was introduced on July 29th:

'Peggy Hendershot, senior vice president of legislative affairs for the NTRA, said the withholding provision “has meant a confiscatory and frequently unfair loss of available capital. That loss of reinvestment, or ‘churn,’ leads to a reduction in overall wagering that in turn means less revenue generated for state governments, racetracks, and purse money for horsemen.'

John Pricci at Racing Insider has a good article on eliminating the ridiculous withholding tax in the US. He says this would be a good first step, but infers that the only way to grow the game will be to reduce track takeouts across the board.

Note: In Canada we aren't subject to withholding tax, and horse race betting growth is non existent. We would be looking at escalating negative growth if we had to deal with it here right now. WEG has everything going for them, and they still suck at growing the game because of their insistence to have outrageous track takeouts.


If you haven't already, please join The Horseplayers Association of North America {HANA}:
We now have around 120 members to date. Not bad, but in order to have clout and be able to help either reduce track takeouts or increase rebates by fighting for open access for all ADWs, we need numbers.
Membership is free. And the only obligation we ask is to at least consider any proposals we have when it comes to avoiding or supporting certain tracks or even ADWs, and also sign online petitions if and when the time comes.
Of course, all members and non members suggestions and contributions are valued as well.
To sign up (FOR FREE), please go to our website :


On the right hand side you will see a BECOME A MEMBER link. Click it, then fill out and submit the form. When asked for "handle" that means "how much you bet yearly"

Thanks, we need your support.

Fort Erie: Nothing But Questions

Still no news on whether racing will happen at Fort Erie in 2009. Ajax Downs is apparently building a bull ring, so their future seems to be bright. Will Ajax Downs get Fort Erie's thoroughbred race dates for next year? Will the Ontario government have the balls/integrity to finally laugh off the proposed $300 million proposed project at Fort Erie? Will Nordic Gaming sell Fort Erie off to someone interested in growing horse racing before Fort Erie race track turns into a giant parking lot?

H/T to The Race Is Not Always To The Swift, for finding this funny, yet informative, yet still confusing video on how Dosages are determined:

Equidaily has some really great links today. Including a picture of Edgar Prado apparently help out Javier Castellano regain his broken reign during a Stake Race at Saratoga on Wednesday.

OLG execs sure make a lot of money. I always laugh whenever I hear the expression "non profit organization." They make sure they don't make a profit, because their workers are paid so well:)

OLG To Probe Lottery Winners Back To 1995

Store Owner Credits Luck for his 167 lottery wins totaling over $1.2 million
Reading the comment section, it seems two of the wins made up most of the total amount won.
From another article:
'Jackson claimed a total of $1,157,000 - most of it in a single February 2000 win worth $1,011,350, according to documents released Tuesday as part of a freedom of information request.

But it was wife Corrie who claimed the bulk of the wins - 127 separate prizes totalling $105,900. Wins in the names of the two children totalled about $15,000.

The family sold the retail outlet four years ago.

"We didn't have anything to hide, as far as I was concerned," Corrie Jackson said. "Whatever Barry won and the boys won and whatever I might have won, was all above board."'