30 June 2018

Horse Racing Fixes That Won't Happen, Queen's Plate Picks

I've been doing this blog for quite some time. I've identified horse racing's biggest problems and offered numerous solutions but very few take. It is very frustrating, but what the heck, I have a few minutes of spare time, so lets play the broken record again.


People have many choices when it comes to gambling, from casinos to lottery tickets to fantasy sports. Let's pretend you didn't have a clue about horse racing and decided to investigate it. With a little sleuthing you found out that for every $100 bet, the track only pays out $79. If you were a sane rational human being, would you need to investigate any further? Even compared to fantasy sports where the takeout is around 11%-12% (it used to be 9-11%), horse racing's takeout is far too high to create any sort of buzz.

Can someone become a professional horseplayer anymore and work their way from their mom's basement to Rosedale mansion? Of course not. Horse racing doesn't even try to give you that impression anymore, they've given up on it because it would be an outright lie. Poker and fantasy sports had their success stories, and those very few success stories brought thousands of new players in. News of success stories in gambling have fizzled out as the house advantage as been forced up in the past few years due to extraordinary costs (legal, state licensing, taxes, etc.) gambling companies have had to endure. This hinders growth considerably.

There is no way any horse racing wager should have a takeout of more than 15%, 12% tops for win place and show. But this will never happen because horse racing execs only think short term, as do horsemen groups which have influence on takeout rates in many jurisdictions. Even players who have no clue what the takeout rate is, look into their empty wallet and realize how quickly it was emptied and how little action they had for their buck compared to most other forms of gambling.

With sports betting (average takeout 5%) on the immediate horizon, horse racing is in a heap of trouble.


I watched the entire Congressional Hearings on the Horseracing Integrity Act. I'm still not comfortable with horse racing being one word, but besides that, the hearing was pretty much about Lasix.
Elimination of race day Lasix is a no-brainer. Unfortunately, the proper simple case was not made.

Fact is that horses have one third the lifetime starts that they used to before Lasix became widespread legal. There are other factors besides Lasix which have caused the decline in starts, such as trainers who charge more pick and choose races to keep their averages up, good horses retiring way too early, and a weakening of the breed (which can be linked to Lasix and other drugs).

Yes, other methods to prevent bleeding were used in the old days, but they were mostly only used on known bleeders. But lets say that the 5% of horse who really need race day Lasix are taken out of racing altogether. You end up with 90-95% averaging double or triple the amount of lifetime starts they have today. Think of the field sizes and bigger field sizes means more betting.

Lasix and other drugs drains horses. Back in the 60's and early 70's horse could easily race once a week. Not anymore.

And contrary to what some drug dependent trainers and their owners might say, Lasix has been used historically to mask other drugs. Of course, this would be drugs that are tested for. No need to mask drugs not tested for.

Problem is that most of the biggest barns do not want to change the status quo. They are on top, and any changes to what is legal and what isn't will most likely mean they won't be on top anymore.
And of course vets don't want to lose their cash cow. Just administering Lasix on race day is a multi million dollar business in North America on its own, and if you add in the other part of the kitchen sink super trainers like to throw into a horse's system prior to a race, including drugs that may be masked, vets make out very good. It won't be so good, if race day drugs are banned.


Pretty obvious that if a trainer hits at 25% or greater running against field sizes that average 7 or more, they are using stuff that isn't being tested for. There are only so many ways to train a horse, and it only seems logical that a trainer with 4 horses who is putting in the work, should at least be on the same playing field as a trainer who has 100+ horses and rarely shows up at the track where the horse races.

Horse racing "cheaters" seem to be a step above the testers, even though they are a step behind cheating bicyclists and body builders. As long as Lasix is allowed, testing horses after a race is futile. The ones who are knowingly pushing the limits on legal drugs or banned drugs, pretty much know they won't get a positive. Save money, only test the winners. What is really needed is a list of drugs that trainers can use and they have to stick to those drugs ONLY. If caught using anything else, fines and suspensions need to hurt them. There needs to be a deterrent. I also think there should be more money devoted to ANONYMOUS narcs.

Something needs to be done, as owners are getting more and more discouraged when they lose to that guy/gal. We all know who that guy is. Every track has a few that guys. And the thing is that owners are good to grow the game. They bring new people to the track: Potential owners and bettors. I actually think this is one issue that racetracks support.

Ban race day Lasix and stop testing horses that don't win after a race, and maybe use those funds for retired horses and injured jockey. Sounds good to me.


They've had ample chance and time to reduce takeout and try to lure thoroughbred players. Handle generally sucks for most tracks and the overwhelming majority of purse money for these tracks comes from slots. But for some unknown reason, they won't adopt my maximum 15% takeout rule.

What else can be done? Free past performances will help a lot. If every harness track had free past performances with decent speed figures (yeah I know speed figures aren't as good in Standardbred racing, but we are talking crossover gamblers now).

Another thing they can do at 1/2 or 5/8th tracks is to have separate draws for post positions. I've proposed this before as well. Crickets. How this works is horses who finished first at the same class or greater last two races, along with horses who finished 2nd last race same condition or greater and droppers who finished 4th or better last start all draw for the worst post positions while all the other horses draw for the best positions (


I used to be good at picking the winner in the Queen's Plate. Lately, not so good. I think the last winner I picked was Edenwold back in 2006. This year I'm banking on the Due Theory

I've got the race down to "only" 6 contenders. Here they are in program order:

7. Dixie Moon - beat a tough filly last time out. That race may cause a bounce, and something tells me the distance may prevent a top race by her.
9. Say The Word - looks like one who will like the distance. Speed figs put him right in the mix, and his odds should be more than decent. Trainer Motion knows what he is doing. We might just see a peak performance today.
10. Telekinesis - Lumbered to victory in the Trial. His running style might be compromised with post 10, and the distance might be too far. I don't see value but figs are good enough.
11. Wonder Gadot- Her Kentucky Oaks speed fig destroys this field, but it destroyed the field in the Oaks as well, and she lost. She has had three tough races in a row where she has been the bridesmaid. Do you want to take your chances on a win shy filly in 35 degrees Celsius heat? If she is less than 9-2, probably not.
15. Aheadbyacentury - He was racing for third in the Trial and got it. Galloped out well. The distance shouldn't be an issue, and he has arguably the best Woodbine jockey aboard. With a good trip he could be right there at a really nice price.
16. Rose's Vision - Second best in the Trial. The post position should hurt his chances today due to his running style, but his speed figures give him a chance if he has a peak race in him.

I'm going to go for value and make Aheadbyacentury my pick.