Sunday, July 27, 2014

You Be The Judge

The second parimutuel race for RUS was conducted at Hanover Raceway last night and was won by Radical Dreamer in 2:03 for rider Marit Valstad in the first leg of the Norway vs. Canada RUS series.  Once again the race was well-contested (due to video quality issues, I am not posting it but you can find it here).  Wagering was once again robust with a combined handle (WPS, Exactor and Triactor) of $2,726, the highest individual race handle of the evening, even exceeding the eliminations for the Dream of Glory stakes which were contested last night.

You Be the Judge
This edition of You Be the Judge uses the second elimination of the John Cashman Jr. Memorial last night at the Meadowlands and involves Sebastian K, in particular driver Ake Svandstedt's drive.

You can watch the entire race or if you prefer you can go to the 49 second mark and pick it up from there.  If you start at the :49 point, You will have see Creatine, after setting a :26 first quarter apply the brakes in an effort to get a breather.  Then you see Svanstedt look over at Mister Herbie once, then twice before deciding to make a move.  Well, you take a look.

After the second look, Svanstedt moves Sebastian K to the outside when Mister Herbie is already up to Svandstedt's helmet.  At first glance, it certainly looked too close to comfort.  The judges decided no place was required.  What do you think?

After watching the replay several times I noticed Tim Tetrick having applied the whip before Sebastian K made his move, had stopped the whip and re-applied it after Sebastian K was clear.  However, as the horse made his move, Tetrick didn't do anything to take up his horse.  Some people would say the fact Tetrick stopped using the whip should indicate interference.  However, at this point in the race, a driver should not be constantly using the whip so the lack of whip usage doesn't indicate taking Mister Herbie up.

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Improving RUS

Last night's final preliminary leg for the Hambletonian RUS late closer was contested and whereas there were two division last week, a single field of seven trotters met the starting gate this week.  What we saw was arguably the best RUS event of the year thus far as Stephanie Werder, in from Norway to prepare for next week's $28,000 final showed patience and composure as she waited to split horses late to gain a victory for O U Gus in 1:59.4.

Something I noticed this year is the riders are being much more patient and rating the horses better.  Last year, it was all out in the beginning and the trotters would slow up in the final half of the race.  This week's race was typical of this year's events, quarters of :29.1, :31.1. :30.2 and :29.  These riders have been working hard in improving their skills and it shows.

I can't wait for next week's final which will be occuring on Friday night, August 1; a day prior to the Hambletonian.  In the meanwhile, Hanover Raceway's 3rd race tonight is another RUS event with wagering.  A field of 7 are competing in the tilt.   For those of you able to wager on Hanover Raceway via your ADW or on track, here is a link to their program.  My selections for the race are: 6 - Dayplanner (Amundsen, 2-1), 1 - Callie Magoo (Berg, 7-1), 2 - Radical Dreamer (Valstad, 9-5).  If you are unable to wager on the race, the race will be shown live on Hanover Raceway's website.  My guess is we will see parimutuel wagering on RUS in the United States come 2015.

Kiss the match up of Hambletonian winners of Royalty For Life and Market Share good bye as Harness Racing Update reports Royalty For Life most likely suffering a career ending injury.  The official call has not been made, but right now Royalty For Life has been scratched from his elimination of the John Cashman Jr.

At Monmouth Park, the Haskell is being contested tomorrow.  Why do I mention this race?  This is the second year the Haskell and Hambletonian have been decoupled, previously being raced two days in a row.  While the intentions may have been well-intentioned, the races do better as stand alone events; having their own weekends of attention in the media.

Friday, July 25, 2014

The Great Teaming Debate Comes to an End

So the Great Teaming Debate which plagued the Delvin Miller Memorial has come to an end as the NJRC judges at the Meadowlands found driver Jimmy Takter guilty of interference, not of an unsatisfactory drive in the race where it was alleged he used his horse to benefit an uncoupled stablemate.  As a result, Takter has been given a 3 day driving suspension. for putting a wheel under Designed To Be.

Some people may contend an accommodation was reached to dispatch this incident as quick and painless as possible, and let's face it when it comes to racing, such speculation is virtually guaranteed.  Without proof of such a 'deal' being made, we must assume the judges handled the case properly.  Regardless, expect Takter in the sulky come Hambletonian Day for first, there is a possibility of an appeal which Takter has 48 hours from Friday to lodge which will put the suspension in abeyance.  However, the judges typically set the suspension to be within two weeks of the finding of guilt.  Even if suspended for the Hambletonian weekend and Takter decides not to appeal, expect him in the bike as a suspended driver may drive in paid-in races if he accepts an additional day on his suspension.

If an appeal is made and later upheld, when would the suspension take place?  With the Meadowlands closing next weekend, the next date the suspension could occur would be August 28 when Freehold Raceway resumes racing, but some judges prefer the dates be served at the track where the infraction took place which  means the suspension wouldn't take place until November when the Meadowlands resumes racing.

Update: The suspension is scheduled to begin August 31.

Adios Preview

With Hambletonian week beginning this weekend, the majority of the harness racing world will be looking towards East Rutherford, NJ for the first Hambletonian week at the new facility.  In a way it is a shame as the Adios and Adioo Volo will be contested at the Meadows once again.

In the Adios, on paper it would like an easy race for McWicked, the 7/5 morning line favorite starting from post 2.  Granted on paper McWicked looks to be the best of the field, especially with his ability to uncork fast final quarters, but for me the question is who has a chance to upset the favorite.  With this in mind, here are my top four horses in the race:

12th Race - Adios Final - The Meadows (Saturday)
1 - Cammikey (Zendt, 8-1) - Make no mistake, the horse is stepping up but a winner of 8 out of 10 starts this year, the horse deserves a chance to take top honors in a minor upset.
4 - Beat The Drum (Pierce, 20-1) - Admittedly at first doesn't much help at this level, but he raced well in the NJSS and was credible in his had excuses in the Meadowlands Pace and North America Up.  Can he win?  Not likely, but with a trip, he may land part.
2 - McWicked (D Miller, 7/5) - The king of the race and a victory wouldn't shock anyone.  Will likely leave and try to wire the field.  Question is will he be able to control the pace?
5 - Somewhere in L A (B Miller, 5-1) - Elimination winner is undervalued at 5-1.  Did win his elimination so may improve his rating.  Depends on a trip to get up there.  Must race close.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Reporting Lines

Give RUS-Ontario credit for advertising on a low budget as they put out a promotional video showing Norway against Canada in two upcoming RUS (wagering) events.

Of course a more important question is being horses which compete in RUS events will tend to race with a sulky as well, how does one report program lines?   So far, there seems to be two methodologies.

In the United States, the USTA is treating RUS racing as if it was the same as a horse changing gaits (i.e., from trot to pace); it is as if the horse never raced other than at that day's gait.  True, the conditions a horse will race in is determined by their performance at that gait or in the RUS world, racing style.  Of course, the problem is a horse may look like it hadn't raced in six months when it may have raced three days earlier nor is there any indication of class.

In Canada, Standardbred Canada is showing RUS lines interspersed with their regular race lines.  This is more accurate and gives gamblers a more complete picture; just as the DRF will show steeplechase or hunt meet lines along with regular races on the flat.

Were I to have a say, the program pages would show both sulky and RUS starts in the program for each horse.  In addition, depending on the type of race, the record for the past two years would reflect the style of racing in the day's event; a RUS event would show RUS records; a sulky race sulky records.  The lifetime summary would reflect a combination of all starts regardless of style of racing.

Why should the program show both type of lines together?  First of all, it will show a horse has been racing recently instead of looking like it hasn't raced in a while.  The two sets of lines will show the class of horse you are dealing with.  If you were dealing with a maiden event for RUS participants, wouldn't you want to know the horse last raced in A-2 company versus C-2 when using a sulky?  Neither has a record to speak of under saddle so it make sense a higher class horse would have an advantage.  Wouldn't you want to know if the horse raced under saddle in 1:57 versus 2:02?

The bottom line is the horseplayer is entitled to as much information as possible when making their wagers.  As long as the gait is the same, there is no problem with showing races of different styles in the program.