For photos from the Meadowlands contact

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Exchange Wagering Can't Get Here Fast Enough

After last night, I have decided Exchange Wagering can't get to New Jersey fast enough.  Whether it is mid-year 2011 or later depending on legal fights, I plan on saying good bye to the parimutuel pools and head over to the exchanges as soon as it is becomes available to me.  Last night at the Meadowlands, was the final straw.

Watching the Meadowlands on TVG last night in the first race Meirs Hanover was 2-1 just before post time.  As soon as the race went off, Meirs Hanover was even money.  Okay, less than I hoped for but still acceptable.  Then, just before the field reached the half mile pole, the odds changed to 2-5; can anyone say "Crap"?  Visions of a $6 payoff became an acceptable $4 payoff before ending up as a $2.40 payoff.

Then came the third race where Rush Of Fools was 10-1 just before the race and again, when the race went off, the 10-1 odds dropped slightly to 9-1; still a great price for me.  Then came the dreaded half-mile pole and sure enough, by that time the odds dropped to 6-1.  My potential $20 pay off become $15.40 a cut of 23%.  If you were a $20 player that was looking at getting back $200, imagine your disappointment when you ended up collecting only $154.00.  I felt just as robbed as if I got hit by an NYCOTB surcharge.  Winning never felt so bad.  Is it any wonder why we have a hard time attracting new gamblers to racing?

Now, I know the drill; it has become quite rote.   "Wagering stops once the bell goes off.  What you are seeing is the last minute updating of the odds due to the money coming in from other simulcast and ADW locations, but you can rest assured no one was betting after the race started".  Then there is the line "Sure, in this case the odds went down, but there are times the odds on a horse goes up'.  And of course, we can't forget the infamous "I don't hear you complaining when you get paid more than what you thought you were getting" (sadly, I don't hear that one often enough).

Now, being someone who has been "improving the breed" for more years than I care to admit, I am going nowhere; I'll bide my time until exchange wagering shows up and I'll take my fixed odds payoff rather than dealing with the outdated parimutuel system.  Yes, there will be a chance I may have gotten a better payoff if I had waited longer or if I even bet through the parimutuels, but I'll take my chances; if nothing else, at least I will know what I will be getting if I win my bet.  It's bad enough you need to beat the takeout rate, but to also deal with the odds changing after the race is underway is more than anyone should have to deal with.  After all, if I feel like I am be cheated, what are novices or potential gamblers going to be thinking?

You will hear industry insiders bemoan the real or perceived integrity issues in horse racing, but the one issue they ignore is the perceived lack of  integrity with the tote system.  You can tell people there is no past posting but all they see is the odds dropping significantly after the race starts and they can't help but wonder if the tote system is being manipulated. 

One way the problem can be fixed is the closing of the mutuel pools before the starting car begins moving; perhaps at a specified time.  The track operators will tell you that would cost them huge amounts of money as the large gamblers bet at the very last moment (as they still will when the last moment comes earlier).  In fairness, there probably would be some loss of wagering by those who wait to see which horses may be going off stride beforehand but that may be somewhat offset by more wagering due to the tote system being perceived as secure.  Sure odds may still drop at the last moment but if the odds dropped before the race began, at least people would feel they are be treated fairly.  Realizing that will not happen, the horse racing industry must work with tote vendors to develop a way to process last minute wagers much faster so it doesn't seem the computers being used are Commadore 64s.  Or the industry can do nothing and eventually bemoan the flight of money from the parimutuel pools into the exchange market.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Ideal Meet, Part 2

In a prior entry, I listed my suggestion for how to set up the Meadowlands meet in 2011.  While to most people Freehold Raceway is an afterthought, the question needs to be asked how would a Freehold meet look like in 2011?  I will attempt to offer a suggested schedule here.  When constructing a calendar the following assumptions are being made:  Most, but not all of the Freehold Raceway meets will be run at a different time than the Meadowlands.  While a Freehold meet can race when Pocono Downs is racing, the goal should be to avoid racing head-to-head against Chester Downs where possible; not saying they can't run during the same time, but you don't want both tracks racing a Friday afternoon card against each other if it can be avoided.

So how would a schedule possibly look like?

Freehold would race an abbreviated Winter meet.  In January, Freehold would race Saturday afternoons only and in February and March, Freehold would race on Saturdays and Sundays.  You are probably thinking, Sundays?  Didn't Freehold try Sunday racing and give it up after one or two days?  It's true that Freehold tried Sundays before and it failed horribly, but that was before the advent of ADW wagering; when on-track handle had a much bigger impact on track's success.  It is a much different story now as many people bet from home.  With fewer thoroughbred tracks operating this time of year, there is some room on the satellites for simulcasting on Sundays.  There is little competition between harness tracks racing on Sunday afternoon with Scarborough Downs and Saratoga the only tracks that race in the early afternoon.  Now for Sunday racing to work there is a couple of requirements.  First of all, Freehold would have to have employees working without a Sunday premium; possibly requiring renegotiation of labor contracts.  Secondly, there would need to be a commitment from the Meadowlands drivers to drive at Freehold at least on Sundays during the winter meet.  While the caliber of horse may not be best; the presence of Meadowlands drivers would encourage interest in wagering on the Sunday afternoon card.  If after a month, Sundays were not lucrative enough, the Sunday cards could be moved to Mondays where the only competition for harness simulcasting in the afternoon would be Monticello and there are few thoroughbred tracks racing (Meadowlands drivers would be expected to race on Mondays).  The winter meet would race a total of 21 days.

The spring meet would be raced March 31 thru May 30, racing Thurday thru Saturday and on Monday, May 30 for Memorial Day.  NJSS races for three year olds would be raced late April through May.  The spring meet will be 28 days long for a total of 49 days for the year thus far. 

Freehold would conduct a three week Summer meet which is to be raced primarily between the Meadowlands Summer and Fall meets from September 9 through the 27th.  This would be a somewhat elite meet as what NJ Sired stakes Freehold has would be conducted during this period along with NJSS races for two year olds.  Racing will occur Fridays, Saturdays, Mondays, and Tuesdays, competing against Monticello for simulcast dollars.  This mini-meet is only 12 days long for a total of 61 days for the year.     

The year closes out at Freehold with a Fall meet to be contested from November 8 through December 31 with racing occurring Tuesday through Saturday with the track being closed for Christmas Eve and with an early post time on Thanksgiving.  Some people would question the wisdom of racing the week before and after Christmas.  While it is true some people are not interested in racing that time of year, the dearth of tracks operating during this period should allow Freehold to get a good portion of what is being wagered.  This would result in a 39 day race meet for a total of 100 days for the year.     

By putting the bulk of the race meet in the colder months, it would give a place for New Jersey horsemen to race when many tracks are closed; thus given them the opportunity to race elsewhere during the summer when horse shortages develop.  It is not the ideal schedule but it is a plan worth considering.

Friday, October 29, 2010

A Road Block to Exchange Wagering?

A news story in The Record reports there is a difference of opinion regarding the legality of exchange wagering in the United States.    New Jersey State Senator Ray Lesniak, a supporter of horse racing, points out that the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act (PASPA) of 1992 allows for gambling nationwide only for lotteries and for "pari-mutuel animal racing or jai lai".  Of course, the racing industry claims for the purposes of PASPA, exchange wagering is considered parimutuel racing; as gamblers are betting against each other versus other forms of gambling where people wager against the house.

So the question needs to be asked what is parimutuel wagering?  According to Wikipedia, "Parimutuel betting differs from fixed-odds betting in that the final payout is not determined until the pool is closed – in fixed odds betting, the payout is agreed at the time the bet is sold".  Under this definition, it would certainly appear that exchange wagering would be in violation of PASPA under as strict interpretation.  

One would like to think it is just another case where the law has not kept up with technology.  Certainly the intent of PASPA was to allow for the continuation of horse racing, greyhound racing, and jai lai, but exchange wagering was not on the radar back then.  Unfortunately, this deficiency in the law will likely give anti-gambling forces a weapon to delay the implementation of exchange wagering.  I say delay and not kill exchange wagering because I believe eventually the courts will interpret the intent of the law was to permit legalized wagering on horse racing and for the purpose of PASPA, exchange wagering is permitted, but it may take a few years to work its way through the courts to be resolved. 

While Senator Lesniak has a suit to have PASPA overturned as being unconstitutional with respect to sports wagering, New Jersey and California (scheduled for exchange wagering in May 2012) horse racing interests would be wise to contact their U.S. Senators and Representatives to get an amendment to PASPA passed to avoid the potential of a lengthy roadblock and the slight possibility that courts may declare exchange wagering illegal.   

Racing can't afford to be reactive with regards to exchange wagering.  It is a question of survival.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

The Ideal Meet

Let me preface this by saying I don't believe a hundred day race meet at the Meadowlands would be 'elite'.  To be an elite meet, the meet needs to be short enough to maintain the attention of the racing public and needs to be high quality.  This is why meets like Del Mar, Keenland, Monmouth, and Saratoga get well supported and maintains the interest of the gamblers; those that attend the races in person and those who wager via ADWs and simulcasting.  Otherwise, without that certain spark, gamblers will continue to wager on the races they are familiar with.  A hundred day meet will not gain any notice, even with a purse subsidy which is uncertain at best; certainly with thoroughbred playerss who will be needed to boost handle substantially.

Won't standardbred players flock to the Meadowlands product?  Even if they would, how many standardbred gamblers are out there and from what market is the money going to come from?  California?  Not likely as those standarbred players tend to come on line at 9:00pm Eastern.  Chicago?  Believe me, if they are still playing the Balmoral and Maywood product it is highly unlikely they are going to switch to the Meadowlands; the best hope would be the Illinois horsemen deciding not to race the early part of the year to boost their purse account so they can address the recapture payments.  New York?  There may be some players who may switch if the Meadowlands' meet becomes high caliber, but realistically you would need dark days at Yonkers in order to draw the bulk of their wagering, and the horsemen there are not looking to cut any of their racing dates to help the Meadowlands out.

That being the case, I understand the desire and need for horsemen to race as many days as they think the purse account will accomodate.  Not only do the horsemen need a place to race, but there needs to be sufficient opportunity for New Jersey Breds to race in order to help booster the demand for state breds.  Let's assume for argument sake they are committed to the hundred day meet.  So what would the ideal meet look like?

First of all, there would be no hundred day meet; it is too long.  This is not to say we won't race a hundred days, but there will be three distinct meets, complete with breaks between them.  There will be a winter meet, a summer meet, and a fall championship meet.  The early and late closing events would be visited  to cull some of the less subscribed events and certain stakes races will either be shifted or eliminated in an effort to prop up the purse account.  This is not saying any of the meets would be bare bones, but reality says the Meadowlands will be unable to support the stakes program they have in the past.  Secondly, Freehold would race primarily during the dark times at the Meadowlands; a spring meet, a late summer meet (with some overlap) and a late fall meet.

The winter meet would be held from January 1 through March 27.  The meet would typically race Thursday through Saturday except on holidays when there would be 4:00pm racing on Martin Luther King's birthday, Sunday (that's right Sunday) before Presidents' Day and closing day Sunday, March 27.  Opening day, New Year's Day would host a double header.  The Presidential series for older pacers and The Su Mac Lad for older trotters would under go a format change so they would have a similar format as Yonker's Levy series; attempting not to conflict with the Levy.  Other than that, the meet would the typical Meadowlands fare for the winter with some races restricted to NJ Breds.  Total number of racing days: 41 days.

The summer meet would be held from May 27 through September 10.  The meet would typically race Friday and Saturday with the exception of the Sunday before Memorial Day when racing begins at 4:00pm,  Sunday, July 3 when racing would be at 7:00pm to allow for a fireworks display, and a twilight card on September 4 (Labor Day weekend).  The Historic Grand Circuit meet unfortunately would be eliminated.  The two year old stakes; the Harriman, Acorn, Goshen Cup, and Debutante stakes would be released and offered to other tracks while the three year old races would be retained and fit into the regular schedule. 

But this wouldn't be the only changes to the summer meet.  The only action two year olds would see are baby races as no two year old races are to be carded during the summer meet.  Races with inexperienced two year olds are hated by most serious gamblers so why card races that gamblers hate?  The three year old NJSS races would be run during the summer meet as they are now.  With the exception of the Peter Haughton Memorial, Merrie Annabelle, Woodrow Wilson, and Sweetheart which are to be raced during the fall meet, the other two year old events get dropped.  Let the two year olds get their experience elsewhere.  Total number of days of the Summer meet:  35 days (76 days total).

The fall meet runs from September 29 through November 19.  The initial part of the meet races Thursday thru Saturday through Novmeber 5 with a twilight card on October 10 (Columbus Day).  During this time, the NJSS races for two year olds are to be carded with additional races for two year olds added to the regular overnight fare.  Some races for NJ Bred three year old and older would be added (Breeders Crown is at Woodbine on October 29).  Starting November 7 through November 19 racing goes Monday-Saturday and would be similar to the Grand Circuit meet at Lexington.  The Peter Haughton, Merrie Annabelle, Woodrow Wilson and Sweetheart moved from the summer meet are to be contested during this two week period.  Total number of days for the Fall Meet: 24 days (100 days total).     

Hopefully the three meet idea will break up the monotony which currently is experienced in the January thru August meet the Meadowlands has had for years and increase interest from people who would go to the track as well as bet over the Internet.  By eliminating two year old races until later in the year, there will be less drain on the handle by inexperienced horses.  Lastly, the racing calendar for the year would end with a bang with the best horses in the nation gracing the East Rutherford oval; possibly part of a festival style meet.  Something like this probably should have happened before; perhaps the current situation in New Jersey would make horsemen and track management make changes to the traditional calendar.  Whether these suggestions are the answer or not is unknown.  All I know is somethings gotta give.

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

New Jersey 2011 Coming into Focus

A special edition of Harness Racing Update, discussing the current situation in New Jersey has been published and finally, what harness racing will look like in New Jersey is becoming clearer.  There will be less racing opportunities at the Meadowlands and Freehold so the pain will be felt by the lower and higher caliber horses alike.  At least for the lower caliber horses, the purses are expected to remain similar to this year's purses at Freehold but for the higher caliber horses at the Meadowlands, the potential of a purse cut despite less days of racing is a real possibility.

The standardbred racing plan calls for 100 days of racing at the Meadowlands.  The winter meet is expected to be four months long with racing occurring three days a week.  Racing at the Meadowlands will then take a break and when it returns the schedule for the balance of the year will be two days (Friday and Saturdays plus holidays) is anticipated.  Freehold will also race 100 days, an even greater reduction of days than the Meadowlands.  While there will be some overlap of racing dates, the intention is to have each track race most of their days while the other track is dark.

As for purses, Freehold is anticipating being able to keep purse levels close to this year's; anticipating a daily purse distribution of $40-45,000 a day.  The Meadowlands is another story.  Without any subsidy from the state, it is anticipated the daily purse distribution for non-stake days will be about $135,000 a night; down from the $170,000 a night level in 2010.  With a subsidy from the state, ,the hope is the nightly purse distribution would be a whopping $320,000.

While the SBOANJ and others are optimistic that Christie will relent and give harness racing a bridge subsidy until the 'reforms' are implemented, I am not that optimistic.  If I had to bet, I would suspect Christie will continue his hard line stance with regards to subsidies.  Politically, it makes sense for Christie to stand firm.  First of all, unless you are a teacher, state worker, or a person who has suffered from a program cut, most voters are in favor of his cutting of state spending and will continue to support his fiscal conservatism for the foreseeable future.  In addition, Christie's wielding of the budget axe has made him a star in the national Republican party and if he has any plans of seeking higher office in the future (which some political insiders expect he will), adhering to his fiscal conservatism policies will benefit him.  So while the Democrats may be willing to offer a subsidy, the Governor has the veto pen.

Update:  Governor Christie is expected to officially cancel the ARC project (a project to build a new rail tunnel to NYC) citing the fact New Jersey would be responsible for any cost overruns.  This despite the Federal Government and the Port Authority of NY/NJ putting up a combined $6 billion dollars for the project.  Does this sound like a person who is going to allow state funds to be used for purse supplements for standardbred and thoroughbred racing?

If no subsidy comes to fruition, the Meadowlands meet will be a disaster.  At a $170,000 a night, you saw how the Meadowlands was racing with short fields and even carding $7,500 claimers at times this past year.  At a $135,000 a night, expect even fewer horses entering races and possibly $6,000 claimers gracing the Meadowlands oval.

While the plans are to enhance the New Jersey Sires Stakes program, horsemen who have lower to mid-level overnight horses will have a hard time getting in to race in New York and Delaware.  Delaware has its policies to keep out of state owners with lower class horses out of Delaware and with New York's new ability to write races restricted to horses that have raced 75% of their recent starts in New York, it will be harder to get into the entry box in New York until a horse has made six starts in New York and even then, expect horses that race in the lower classes to have a hard time getting in to race as the entry box will be overflowing.  Also, if the NYCOTB reorganization is approved, Monticello Raceway may be closed in the winter months, making it even harder to get race in New York. 

Of course, expect reforms to allow additional OTWs to finally be built, exchange wagering to make its appearance, and it appears Instant Racing (pari-mutuel wagering on previously run races) may make its debut in New Jersey.  However, any real benefit from these income generators will likely not make a significant difference to purses until 2012 at the earliest.

While things may not be pretty next year, it buys racing some time.  More importantly, it keeps racing around until the next Gubernatorial election and the possibility of  new Governor who may be more sympathetic to racing if Christie's fortunes change.  Even more importantly, by keeps racing in the Meadowlands racing will have to be cut in for a share of the casino profit when it becomes obvious that the hoped for revival of Atlantic City's fortunes is not going to materialize and a casino comes to the Meadowlands.

One thing for sure, things are going to be very interesting in New Jersey.

Valley View Downs Lives

American Harness Tracks, LLC has won the bidding to take over the casino/harness racing license previously owned by Centaur Inc. which filed for bankruptcy.  Assuming the bankruptcy court approves the winning bid, the stalled Valley View Downs project will resume and there will be another harness track in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.  Just what harness racing doesn't need.

Just what we need is another racetrack in Pennsylvania; one that is about an hour away from the Meadows.  Yes, it will be a mile track but do we need another harness track in Western Pennsylvania; one that is about an hour away from the Meadows?  At the best, it means the Meadows will cut back on race dates to facilitate a race meet at Valley View Downs.  At the worst, we have another track competing against the Meadows, further diluting wagering interest there and decreasing the number of available horses.  In addition, a new racino at Valley View Downs will take business away from the racino at the Meadows which will financially hurt the company that operates the Meadows.  This will reduce the slot subsidy the Meadows will receive, which the state is already reducing and possibly puts the Meadows in danger of financial distress.  If the company goes into financial distress, how long will it be before they attempt to rid themselves of racing?

Then let's put Ohio into the mix.  Northfield Park is roughly eighty-five miles away from Valley View Downs.  As we know how well states coordinate race dates, there will certainly be two tracks operating within an hour and half of each other and possibly three tracks.  The quality of racing in Western Pennsylvania and Ohio is likely going to suffer.       

Then there is the wild card in the mix.  Prexque Isle Downs in Erie, PA races thoroughbreds.  Rest assured if that track fails, thoroughbred horsemen will be looking for another racing opportunity in Western Pennsylvania and their eyes will be gazing towards Valley View Downs with their mile track.  Being thoroughbred racing is more popular than harness racing, the possibility exists for the flow of gambling dollars from standardbred racing to the thoroughbreds if such a move occurs.

So horsemen will be welcoming Valley View Downs.  Here's hoping they don't regret it in the long run.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Interested in Horse Rescue Groups? Finding the Right Group for You.

Let me preface this entry by explaining why I am writing about this subject and to provide a disclaimer.  The unwanted horse issue is a subject all racing breeds including harness racing as well as non-racing breeds are facing.  In addition, there are horsemen and fans who are involved and/or want to support horse rescue groups.  By discussing this issue, I hope to provide some assistance for those who are interested in supporting horse rescue groups.  As a disclaimer, I am a supporter of the Standardbred Retirement Foundation, Horse Rescue United, and also have provided periodic support to Lifesavers Wildhorse Rescue.  These are my personal choices; there are many other good ones out there.   

I have recently gotten involved with rescue groups that save horses (of all breeds) that are in the slaughter pipeline; primarily by buying horses out of grade auctions.  The process of rescuing horses destined for slaughter is a nasty business.  Rescuers are forced to deal with people who look at horses as piece of meat to make money off of whether through selling the horse to a slaughterhouse or a rescuer.  Sick and injured horses who go through the auction process (in violation of USDA rules).  The perfectly healthy horse who for some reason have ended up in the slaughter pipeline.  Playing God deciding who shall live (by being rescued) and who shall die (by not buying).  Horse lovers like myself are thankful there are people who do this work. 

The problem is in some ways the horse rescue business is like the wild west; especially those groups that acquire their horses through auctions and kill brokers.  There are many good legitimate horse rescue groups but unfortunately there are groups out there who may be well intentioned, but bite off more than they can chew and even rescues more interested in personal glory or self enrichment.  The problem is there is no national organization which specifically certifies horse rescues.  There is the Animal Rescue Association of America, which offers certification but their current code of ethics is geared more toward small animal rescues.  There needs to be a national organization which certifies and monitors horse rescue groups.  While you can't force rescues to become members of a national organization, if one existed legitimate rescues would become members and donors would be able to look for rescue groups that are members and accredited. 

So the question needs to be asked, how do we get such an accreditation group established?  The national breed registries for horses such as the AQHA, Jockey Club, USTA, and the other racing and non-racing registries should provide funding to establish and maintain an accreditation organization as they have indirectly contributed to the unwanted horse problem.  Either one of  the breed registries can take on the accreditation process or  a group like the Animal Rescue Association of America can be contracted with to handle the accreditation process as well as handle reports of malfeasance.

In the meanwhile, potential donors need to do their own research and find the rescue group(s) they wish to support.  I am not here to tell you which group is good or which group is bad, but here are some screening questions you may want to use to find a rescue which meets your particular interests; some of these questions could be used to accredit rescues in the future.  A legitimate rescue should list this information on their website or be willing to answer these questions for you.

  1. Does the rescue deal with a specific breed of horse or all breeds?  This is a matter of personal preference.
  2. Is the rescue a non-profit corporation or a 501(c)3?  Donors need to know a 501(c)3 does not mean legitimacy; to the donor all it means is the donations are tax deductible.  There are non-501(c)3 rescues which are just as legitimate as a 501(c)3.  Yes, a rescue may have paid employees depending on the size of the rescue.  What you want to know is the founder and officers are not enriching themselves.
  3. Does the rescue have their own facilities or do they rent or lease their facilities?  If they rent or lease facilities, does an officer have a financial interest in the arrangement?  Once again, an officer should not be enriching themselves. 
  4. Does the rescue buy horses or are all the horses who come in to the rescue surrenders?  A point of information.
  5. If the rescue buys horses destined for slaughter, do they buy them directly through auctions or a kill-broker?  What auctions do they buy or intend to buy horses from?  Amongst rescues, there is a debate about buying through a kill-broker as they are financially benefiting versus bidding in an auction.  In my opinion, it is a matter of personal preference.
  6. If the rescue buys horses from an auction or a kill broker, do any of the officers or directors stand to gain financially through such business relationships?  In my opinion, a yes answer is totally unacceptable.  
  7. If a rescue raises money to bail a specific horse out, do they offer refunds if the horse is not purchased?  Another group may purchase the horse.  I want to deal with a rescue that at least offers a refund if they can't purchase a horse that they specifically raised funds for.  I may tell them to keep the money for another purpose, but it says something of the rescue for offering.
  8. Who are the vets the rescue uses?  Does any of the officers stand to benefit directly or indirectly from using the vet(s) for the rescue?  If the vet is an director, officer or partner of same, they better be charging for expenses only.
  9. Does the rescue pre-screen adopters?  An absolute requirement.
  10. Does the rescue maintain ownership of the horse or does ownership transfer to the adopter?  If ownership is transferred, there is a potential for the horse to be at risk at a later time. 
  11. Does the rescue require the horse to be returned to them if the adopter is no longer able or unwilling to take care of the horse?  An important requirement for the safety of the horse.
  12. Does the rescue do home checks and/or require periodic vet reports?  At a minimum, the rescue must require periodic vet reports.  You want to know how frequently a horse is checked on as sometimes well meaning adopters may run into problems and be too embarassed to say they can't support the horse(s).  
  13. Does the rescue allow adoptees to be used for breeding as a broodmare or stallion?  Do I need to explain this one?   
  14. If a 501(c)3 or a registered non-profit, their most recent audited financial statement and/or Form 990 should be available on their website.  You need to be comfortable with the percentage of donations being used on the horses versus administrative expenses.  Also, a legitimate rescue should have no problem making this information available.  Some larger more established groups may also have information available on sites like Charity Navigator.
  15. What are their metrics (new horses entering the program, horses returned, horses adopted out initially, horses re-adopted) over the past year?  You want to know how successful the rescue is and that they are not biting off more than they can chew.
  16. How many horses that have been in the rescue's control more than thirty days have been euthanized or died within the first year?  Too many deaths may indicate the rescue is unable to take care of the horses in their control.
  17. Does the rescue provide accurate updates to donors on the horses they help?  Do they maintain on their website a list (and pictures) of horses available for adoption, horses who are not adoptable and have become wards of the rescue, horses that have been adopted and where they are?  A memoriam section on the web of equines that passed through the rescue at one time or another?  Nothing like transparency.   
Now, I am not naive, some groups may lie when it comes to answering some questions.  This is why there needs to be an accreditation organization who can police rescues that wish to be accredited.  In the interim, if their answers say one thing and their actions say something else, it should be a warning sign. 

By all means, support horse rescue groups but make sure you are comfortable that your support is going to a group that is doing what they say they are and more importantly, doing what you want.

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Time to Rethink Stakes Scheduling?

You have seen it.  The big stakes race and on the bottom of the program you see the denotation about a couple of horses being in the same stable but racing uncoupled.  In some cases, you will see several horses listed.  For example, in today's sixth race at The Red Mile (The Allerage Farms Open), Ron Burke has three horses (Won The West, Foiled Again, and Atochia) out of the eight horses competing.  In today's, finale at the Red Mile, Jerry Silverman and Ron Burke both have two horses racing in the Tattersalls uncoupled.  In this year's Hambletonian Final, Jimmy Takter had three horses competing. 

Coupled entries are bad for harness racing as it makes races unbettable for serious handicappers.  Uncoupled entries are bad for harness racing as it leads to real or perceived conflicts of interest for stables.  What is racing supposed to do?

Stables like the Burke, Campbell, Coleman, Schnittker, Sylvester, and Takter's are very popular amongst horse owners.  One can expect owners to send their best horses to these stables to train.  While there are many trainers out there who are more than competent, you can't force owners to use these non-name trainers as it takes away from their ownership rights.  Besides, what good is this if owner John Doe sends two leading three year old colts to different trainers and have both of them show up for the Meadowlands Pace?  You have the same situation occurring, this time with owners having more than one interest in the race.

Well, why don't we limit the number of horses a stable can enter into a race?  Let's say in a race like the the Battle of Brandywine which selects its field from the top money earners amongst three year olds, the conditions are changed so only one horse from each stable can be entered?  What likely will happen is a mid-west stable with two contenders will give one of their horses to a Pennsylvania-based trainer shortly before the big race to skirt the rules.  After all, could you imagine a trainer training for two owners and telling one of the owners that their horse needs to sit in the barn while the other owner's horse is racing for a $500,000 purse?

The real problem we have is there are too few stakes options available to trainers that they are forced to send their first, second, and sometimes third best horses to race in the same event.  As a result, we get the big stables sending all their stakes caliber horses into one races which allows the top stables to dominate the major stakes events and filling the races with coupled or uncoupled entries which cause issues for the bettors.  In addition, it doesn't allow the smaller trainers to show their ability which perpetuates the problem.

What we need to do is arrange our stakes differently.  Each year the racing secretaries meet and try to arrange the stakes schedule in an effort to reduce conflicts between the major events.  The end result is races are laid out so the big stables can send all their top horses to one event after another which causes all these uncoupled entries and allows them to haul in all the purse money.  What we need to do is actually set up some deliberate conflicts to give the big stables more options for their horses.

What if the $200,000 Dan Patch Pace and the $100,000 Battle of Lake Erie were scheduled for the same day?   Most likely top stables would send their number one horse to compete in the Dan Patch and send their number two horse to race in the Battle of Lake Erie.  This would reduce the likelihood of entries in each event.  Yes, maybe Northfield Park, the host of the Battle of Lake Erie may not get the top FFA pacer, but the second best horse from a major stable is not exactly chopped liver.  Gamblers at each track will not need to worry about entries, the perception of stablemates helping each other is eliminated, and as a side benefit, it may actually make some of the purse money which comes from the local horsemen's purse account available to the local horsemen instead of being picked up by the out of state stables.

Other couplings could be the Adios and the Art Rooney, The Meadowlands Pace and the Battle of the Brandywine.  All races which could still be competitive without any trainers flooding the entry box for each race.  Instead of having a trainer pick up the purse money for the first three finishers in a race, it will allow some other trainer's owners pick up purse money as well. 

The bettors also get a benefit; more bettable races.  With the top horses being spread between different races, it gives the gambler more options.  Sure, the race winner may be none, but with the top stables sending horses to different tracks, what may be chalky exotic wagers may be less certain and better values.


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Criticism From The Top

In the upcoming edition of Hoof Beats magazine (November, 2010), there was a letter in the Readers Forum section which laments the current condition of harness racing and in particular takes the sport's leadership to task; from the owners and horsemen all the way up to racetrack operators and the USTA board members.  As the writer put it the leadership is ancient and they don't want to or know how to connect with the current generation of customers.  He laments the lack of youth in the executive level.  The writer cites how every successful company has leadership which is able to understand the new world and act on it; something racing for the most part is not doing.

Being the writer wrote this letter in response to a column written by the USTA Chairman Ivan Axelrod, Mr. Axelrod decided to respond to the writer.  What may surprise many people is that Axelrod agrees with the writer for the most part.  As Mr. Axelrod states:

"With harness racing, we have a much bigger challenge as you mentioned many different groups in your letter; USTA directors, racetrack management, horsemen and others within the industry. They all have opinions on how we should do things and as you state many of them just want to do what we did 25 years ago. They are not prepared and may not have the energy, drive or financial support to move into this new era of gaming."

Well, there are a lot of people who don't get it.  Ivan Axelrod gets it.  In his columns, he has been refreshingly frank about the current situation and has never been one to say everything is wonderful.  Quite the opposite.  He knows there is trouble in River City and he has been sounding the alarm for most of his term as Chairman.  Mr. Axelrod goes on to say:

"....I do not believe my opinions or yours are shared by enough people as of yet. It is somewhat like an addict.  Until they have hit the absolute bottom, they do not think that anything is really wrong and everything is fine as it is. Unfortunately, I do not believe the industry has hit bottom yet. The new states with slots are real happy and continue to rake in the money. But we know this is a short-term solution that needs a long-term plan for success." 

Mr. Axelrod then goes on to indicate instead of the stakeholders working together, everyone is busy going in different directions.  He realizes everyone must work together towards the same goal and quite honestly he is not sure the industry will get their act together in time.

Mr. Axelrod's comments are going to make many people angry.  Angry because what he says is true and there are people from USTA directors, track operators, and horsemen associations who will feel it is an attack on them.  If they feel it is an attack on them it means one thing; it's hitting home.  Those are the people we need to get out of leadership positions.  The rank and file in the horsemen and owner associations need to ask themselves if their leaders are part of the solution or part of the problem and elect officers and directors who agree with Axelrod.  Maybe then we can get the ship righted and move ahead.

The Meadowlands opens on Saturday night and the meet picks up where it ended in August as only four of the eleven races have full fields with three races only having seven horses going to the gate.  In addition, the evening concludes with a field of $10,000 claimers.  The sad thing is if enough racing days are not pared from next year's racing schedule, we may looking back fondly when the bottom class was $10,000 claimers.   

Forget Football; The Red Mile Concludes

I like college football as much as anyone else but this Saturday is one day where football takes a back seat during the early afternoon as The Red Mile's 2010 harness meet comes to a conclusion. To say the meet ends on a high note is an understatement.  What you will be seeing at The Red Mile is arguably one of the best harness cards of the year.  While the races may not be the best wagering opportunities, if you love harness racing this is one race card you must see.  So if you don't have an account wagering account and can't see the races over the Internet, head over to your local racetrack and catch the simulcast of the days action from Lexington, Kentucky (shame on any harness track not handling the closing day card).

How good is the card?  Buck I St Pat kicks off the first race in the Allerage Farms Filly and Mare Trot; Break The Bank K, Il Villaggio, Lucky Chucky, and Wishing Stone compete in two divisions of the Bluegrass for 3yo trotting colts and geldings; Enough Talk and Lucky Jim face off in the Allerage Farms Open Trot; Big Bad John competes in the International Stallion Stake for 2yo pacing colts and geldings; Foiled Again, Vintage Master and Won The West do battle in the Allerage Farms Open Pace; and this year's stakes season concludes with One More Laugh and Rock N Roll Heaven doing battle possibly for the last time in the Tattersalls.  With the winter racing season beginning after Saturday's card, the next time you will see so many high quality horses competing on a single card will be Hambletonian Day next year. 

Here is my analysis of the Saturday afternoon card at The Red Mile.  First race is at 12:30pm.

1st Trot - $74,000; Allerage Farms Fillies and Mares Open
1 - Windsong Soprano (Pierce, 9-2) - Horrible trip in last.  With the rail, may be able to score the minor upset.
2 - Autumn Escapade (D Miller, 3-1) - Chased #6 around the Pocono oval in the Crown.  Figures to try same strategy this week.
3 - Yursa Hanover (Dube, 6-1) - Best efforts seem to come on the smaller ovals.  Don't see her finishing in the top three.
4 - Easy Dream (Palone, 15-1) - The proverbial sacrifical lamb.  Pass.
5 - Southwind Wasabi (Gingras, 8-1) - Never regained her form since the scratch sick in early September.
6 - Buck I St Pat (Tetrick, 1-1) - Champion looking to take a victory lap here.  The horse to beat.
Selections: 1-6-2

2nd Pace - $77,000; Allerage Farms Fillies and Mares Open
1 - On The Glass (Gingras, 7-2) - Ran out of steam setting blistering fractions at Pocono.  May be a factor if beter rated.
2 - Tug River Princess (Campbell, 3-1) - Had an impossible trip in the Crown when bothered.  May be able to take it all with better racing luck.
3 - Forever Ivy (Norris, 10-1) - Tough spot to return after three weeks and scratching sick.  Pass.
4 - Southwind Tempo (Tetrick, 5-2) - Mare draws well for the first time in four starts.  Expect her to make the most of it.
5 - Chancey Lady (A Miller, 4-1) - Seems to be up against it this week.
6 - Ginger And Fred (Sears, 6-1) - Lands share with a trip.  Completes exotics.
7 - Cadie's Gotta Gun (Pierce, 15-1) - No idea why she's even in the race.  No chance.
Selections: 2-4-6

3rd Trot - $121,500; Bluegrass Series 3yo Colts and Geldings (1st Division)
1 - Jetblue Volo (Brennan, 12-1) - Seems to be over his head against these.  Pass.
2 - Sailaway Dream (Tetrick, 12-1) - Another one that appears overmatched. 
3 - Winning Fireworks (Morrill, 8-1) - Interesting possibilty helped out by drawing into weaker division.  Upset chance?
4 - Kash's Caviar (Campbell, 8-1) - Sharp qualifier last week.  Better than he shows.
5 - Break The Bank K (Sears, 6-5) - No Wishing Stone, Lucky Chucky here.  One to beat.  Odds-on.
6 - Il Villaggio (Jamieson, 4-1) - Top colt last year only making third start of the year.  May be trying to salvage a breeding deal.  Don't ignore.
7 - Classic Son (A. Miller, 6-1) - Lightly raced son of Classic Photo will need to get involved early to factor.
8 - Shaq Is Back (Schnittker, 10-1) - Will be hard pressed to get involved here.  Pass.
Selections: 5-4-7-3

4th Trot - $143,000; Allerage Farms Open
1 - Enough Talk (Pierce, 9-5) -  Breeders Crown winner is the horse to beat but somewhat suspect.  Will try to beat him..  
2 - Slave Dream (Campbell, 6-1) - Will be there if top two falter which is not out of the question.
3 - All Cantab (Jamieson, 12-1) - No chance at Pocono.  Don't ignore in your trifectas.
4 - Lanson (Lachance, 10-1) -  Has lost a step.  Not against these.
5 - Lucky Jim (A Miller, 2-1)  - Clearly not the horse of last year.  Wary of break in last.
6 - Hot Shot Blue Chip (D Miller, 9-2) - Tends to be his own worst enemy.  Must behave to land share.
7 - Airzoom Lindy (Tetrick, 12-1) - Top conditioned trotter is over his head here.  Pass.
Selections: 2-1-5

5th Pace - $145,000; International Stallion Stake 2yo Colts and Geldings (1st Division)
1 - Samandar (Brennan, 9-2) - Best efforts come against state-breds.  Pass.
2 - Lookinforadventure (Dube, 9-5) - Draws inside.  Collared in 26.4 final quarter in Bluegrass.  Wins with a better rated trip.
3 - Risk Management (Mcnair, 10-1) - Looking to break his maiden.  Don't see that happening here.
4 - Big Bad John (Palone, 2-1) - Sharp victory in last off a scratched-sick.  Expect improvement.
5 - Sharp West Hanover (Pierce, 15-1) - Start is likely another tightener.  Pass.
6 - Lizard King (D Miller, 6-1) - May be able to spice up exotics.
7 - Real Special (Lachance, 12-1)  - Still just a step below the top tier.  May be interesting next year.
Selections: 2-6-4

6th Pace - $144,100; Allerage Farms Open
1 - Won The West (D Miller, 3-1) - Breeders Crown champ looks to take a victory lap here.  Odds will be much lower than 3-1.
2 - Bettor Sweet (Sears, 4-1) - May have only one victory this year but will still be heard from here. 
3 - Vintage Masster (Dube, 7-2) - Didn't look good in his return.  Want to see more.
4 - Foiled Again (Gingras, 9-2) - Slowly losing his reputation as a half mile specialist. Worth a look if you are trying to beat the favorite.
5 - Dali (Jamieson, 12-1) - Aired it out last week before spitting out the bit in a 1:22.4 three quarters.  May sneak into the superfecta.
6 - Atoichia (Morrill, 8-1) - Is finally developing into a top trottter.  Expect a big year next year.
7 - Dial Or Nodial (Brennan, 6-1) -  Sharp 1:49.4 last week but this will be tougher.  Pass.
8 - Annieswesterncard (Pierce, 15-1) - A great upper conditioned pacer.  This will be too tough.
Selections: 1-4-2-6

7th Pace - $146,000; International Stallion Stake 2yo Colts and Geldings (2nd Division)
1 - Fashion Delight (D Miller, 3-1) - Wilson winner cna take it all and you may get decent odds as well..   
2 - Air Wing Hanover (Gingras, 20-1) - Not even sure why this one is entered.  Pass.
3 - Something For Doc (Morrill, 6-1) - Came home in a fast quarter against #5 but loses Tetrick.
4 - Sir Ziggy's Z Tam (P Lachance, 6-1) - Shows he can compete against open company but still in tough.
5 - Feel Like A Fool (Sears, 2-1) - The horse to beat but is no certain lock.
6 - Mystic Desire (Tetrick, 7-2) - Has improved since shipped to the mid-west.  Tetrick's choice here.
7 - Four Starzzz Z (Pierce, 12-1) - Appears to be racing better.  Pass.
8 -  Ray's San (Brennan, 20-1) - Second tier horse hoping for minor spoils at best.
Selections: 1-5-3-6

8th Trot - $121,500; Bluegrass Series 3yo Colts and Geldings (2nd Division)
1 - He's A Demon (Jamieson, 4-1) - Has had little success against these.  Share with a trip.
2 - Flex The Muscle (Schnittker, 8-1) - Great on the half, bad on the larger oval.  Nothing to like. 
3 - Takeachancewithme (Tetrick, 15-1) - Consistent B track sort ships down to race against better.  May spice up the exotics.
4 - Lucky Chucky (Campbell, 2-1) -  Eventual 3yo trotter of the year turns the table on #8.
5 - Brother Glide (Dube, 12-1) - Canadian shipping south off a two race win streak.  Trifecta contender.
6 - Hard Livin (Gingras, 10-1)  - Second tier colts will be hard pressed to have success here.  Pass.
7 - Bullet (D Miller, 20-1) - Taking up space on the starting gate.
8 - Wishing Stone (Brennan, 9-5) -  Futurity winner draws the worst of it.  May be the difference here.
Selections: 4-8-5-3

9th Pace - $604,000; Tattersalls 3yo Open
  1 - Urgent Action (Miller, 15-1) - Has blossomed on the larger oval.  May factor into the exotics.
  2 - Shoobee's Place (Pierce, 12-1) - Showed nothing last week and no reason to expect better.
  3 - Rock N Roll Heaven (Dube, 2-1) - 3yo pacing colt of the year looking to make possible final start a winning effort.  The one to beat.
  4 - Dreamlands Art (Morrill, 12-1) - Was able to use the rail last week to suck along and land second.  Don't see that happening this week.
  5 - One More Laugh (Tetrick, 5-2) - Division runner-up looking to sting the favorite one last time.  Not out of the question.
  6 - Rockin Image (Gingras, 8-1) - May be hard to get involved.  Pass.
  7 - Allthatgltrsisgold (Magee, 20-1) - A good horse but way over his head.
  8 - World Of Rocknroll (Sears, 20-1) - Early season sensation has cooled off.  Pass.
  9 -  Aracache Hanover (Mcnair, 15-1) - Confederation Cup winner draws horribly.  Pass.
10 - Piece Of The Rock (Brennan, 20-1) - Draws the far outside in an overflow field.  Never a good thing.
11 - Razzle Dazzle (Campbell, 6-1) - Starts in the second tier behind horses likely not to leave.  May land share.
Selections: 3-5-1-11

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Cal Expo Bucks the California Trend; Farewell to the Grey Gladiator

Some horseplayers are very upset that the California's legislature has approved legislation allowing racetracks to raise their takeout rates on exotic wagers so horsemen and tracks can make more money; this despite all the evidence showing handle will go down.  Some horseplayers are so angry that these horsemen and tracks are sticking it to them that they are ready to boycott California racing. 

If you are thinking of scratching California from your wagering menu as a result of the legislature's action, you should know that Cal Expo has no plans to raise their takeout rate on exotics, according to Assistant General Manger and Director of Racing Dave Elliot.  Their takeout rate on WPS wagers remains at 16.43% and exotics remain at 24.18% with the exception of the Pick-4 on Saturday nights which features a 15% takeout rate.  Cal Expo is also looking at some options to make some of their wagers a 'must play' proposition.

So while Cal Expo is not lowering their takeout rate at present, if you are inclined to punish the California thoroughbred and quarterhorse industries for their greed, you may want to give Cal Expo another look.  

Sad news has been received regarding the passing of the Grey Gladiator, Admirals Express, one of the all-time favorites in Canada.  The fourteen year old gelding apparently sufffered a leg injury at the farm he was retired to which required his being euthanized.  Horses like Admirals Express don't come around that often and even though he was retired, he will be missed.  RIP Admiral. 

Here is a video about Admirals Express:

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie continues to say he is for the horse racing industry surviving if it can survive without a state subsidy.  His latest comments come in response to a question regarding the Democratic proposal to save the casino and horse racing industry.  He claims there are similarities between the Hanson Report and the Democratic proposal and is sure things can be worked out.

Time to let out a collective sigh of relief?  It depends on what your definition of a subsidy is.  If you subscribe to the view point that money given to the horsemen by the state for purses is a subsidy, then things while not ideal, are not as bad as it could be.  However, if you consider funding a governmental agency (the NJSEA) which loses money operating racetracks a subsidy, even if it generates revenue elsewhere, then there is plenty reason to still concerned.  Based on Governor Christie's track record, now is not the time rest easy.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Democratic Plan to Save NJ Racing

Legislative Democrats have released their plan to save both New Jersey Racing and the Atlantic City Casino industry.  The Democrats plan to introduce the enacting legislation by November 8.  Needless to say, there will be no slots or purse subsidies for the racing industry.

Among the things the plan calls for a referndum to all the introduction of intrastate Internet wagering at racetracks and the state overseeing through the Casino Redevelopment Agency the Atlantic City gaming district.  In addition, the plan calls for a referendum to allow sports wagering in New Jersey which would go into effect should the federal ban is overturned or repealed.   
With regards to the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park, the plan calls for the streamlining of operations at the two tracks to reduce expenses and the introduction of new wagers including exchange wagering and more 'single pool' wagers, and the build out of the state OTW network to bring additional revenue to the racetracks.

As for the breeding side of the racing industry, the plan calls for the enhancement of the New Jersey Sires Stakes and Breeding Development Programs to entice breeders to remain in the state.

Based on these proposals, it appears racing is going to have to live off the money wagered on the races as there will be no source of revenue for enhancing purses.  As a result, both Monmouth and the Meadowlands will be forced to race 'elite' meets or race longer meets with substandard purses.  There is no doubt the runners will remain with the elite meet format which was successful for them but the standardbred interests have some serious decisions to make.  Either race a 100 day meet with good purses or race 141 days as some people want and have smaller purses and inferior racing.

Is this the legislative proposal horse racing interests wanted?  Absolutely not, but the reality is this is likely the best deal they can get at this time.  More importantly, it buys them time and keeps them around when the inevitable casino is built in the Meadowlands.

Of course, all this depends on the acceptance of these proposals by the Christie administration (no sure thing) as the Democrats lack the votes necessary to override a potential veto.  This means while there will be racing at the Meadowlands next year, it still remains to be seen what kind of racing it will be.  Keep tuned.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Take This Title... Please!

So who wants to be the three year old male trotter of the year?  This year it appears no one wants it; at least by winning the title in convincing manner.  Muscle Massive started of his candidacy for the title with his victory in the Hambletonian only to have the frontrunner's status taken away by Lucky Chucky in subsequent battles.  At this point, it certainly looked like the title was all Lucky Chucky's for his taking.

Then came the Breeders Crown where Break the Bank K threw his hat into the ring with his win in the Breeders Crown.  Lucky Chucky it turns out had a foot problem which may have explained his poor performance in the Crown and Muscle Massive decided it was time to toss his hat out of the ring with an ill-timed break which took him out of the race.  Was Break the Bank K just a case of a trotter putting things together towards the end of the season and deserving of end of season honors?  On to Lexington.

With the Kentucky Futurity over. all we can say for sure is, at least for this division, it doesn't come down to the Breeders Crown as another trotter, Wishing Stone, took top honors by winning the Kentucky Futurity in two straight heats for driver George Brennan and trainer Dewayne Minor.  Not that Wishing Stone is a bad horse, he has been racing under the radar (at least to the East Coast elitists).  After all, how many Kentucky Futurity winners are found winning a NYSS event at Tioga Downs, especially after being defeated by the top colts in the Colonial Trot at Chester in August?  But here Wishing Stone was, after two wins this season (in the Am-Nat at Balmoral and the NYSS event at Tioga), the king of harness racing at least for one day.

So who will be the three year old trotting colt and gelding of the year?  We may know Saturday as the top contenders are eligible to the Bluegrass on closing day of the Red Mile meet.  This year, it all boils down to The Red Mile.

For those that missed the Futurity, here is the replay of both heats.

Here is the first heat.

The second and final heat.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Finley Speaks; Kentucky Futurity Day Selections

In Thursday's edition of Harness Racing Update, editor Bill Finley wrote a piece regarding the current situation in New Jersey and he can't be any more on the mark regarding the viability of Atlantic City; there is none.  As Finley writes:

Atlantic City doesn’t work and it’s not ever going to work again. The first casino opened there in 1979 and its only competition was way out in Las Vegas. It was Atlantic City  and Las Vegas and nothing else, which meant building a business model that depended on a rundown Jersey Shore
town getting customers from all over the eastern half of the United States. When you have something that close to a monopoly, of course you’re going to be successful.

 In the 31 years since the first casino opened in Atlantic City, the gaming industry has undergone tremendous change. Casino customers base their decisions on where to play on a few factors, but none of them are more important than convenience.

Atlantic City did nothing to reinvent themselves as casinos and racinos were opening up all over the East Coast to entice gamblers to still come to Atlantic City and nothing was done to build the city up to be a legitimate resort.  When casinos opened up in the mid-Atlantic region, that was the straw that broke the camel's back and what we have our gambling palaces over built resulting in casino companies filing for bankruptcy and in one case, handing the keys to the place over to the lender and saying it was all theirs.  Christie says develop Atlantic City as a family resort with beaches and what do you have; a family destination; a model Las Vegas tried and jettisoned.  As Finley goes on to say:

Yet Christie’s minions on the Governor’s Advisory Commission on New Jersey Gaming, Sports and Entertainment believe they can revive Atlantic City by turning it into some sort of Las Vegas East, a destination location. To do so, they’re willing to have the state take over the area of the city where the casinos are and invest a fortune to fix something that is broken beyond repair.

It’s a terrible idea. Atlantic City is never going to be what Las Vegas is. Retirees from Oshkosh are never coming there, no matter what the state might do to spruce the place up or make it something more than a crappy town that happens to have a few casinos. Atlantic City is not making a comeback.  It can only be one of many places to go gamble amid of glut of gambling opportunities on the Eastern seaboard.

So while Atlantic City is moribound with their only real solution a casino operation in the Meadowlands to prop them up, Finley argues racing still has some life in it, citing the success of the Monmouth meet and with a little more tweaking to that model, racing can also be profitable once again.  So why does Christie and Hanson favor sacrificing the racing industry for the casino interests?

Anyone with a brain can figure that out. Christie isn’t stupid and neither is Hanson. And the people running the casinos in Atlantic City certainly aren’t dumb. They argue they can’t have a casino at the Meadowlands because that would cripple their business in Atlantic City, but I believe their real reason for opposing slots at the tracks is a lot more insidious. They are working behind the scenes to put racing, particularly harness racing, out of business in New Jersey and in Christie and Hanson, they have willing coconspirators.  Once they kill the Meadowlands and racing, they can move into the fertile North Jersey market and won’t have to share a penny of their profits with the horses.
To read the whole column, you can find it in Thursday's edition of Harness Racing Update (page 9).   

Friday's selections at The Red Mile may be seen here.  However, if you are looking for additional racing action on Friday evening, Vernon Downs is hosting the finals for the New York Late Closer series.  My selections for those four races are:

Vernon Downs; Friday, October 15
4th Pace - $30,000; New York Late Closer Final - 2yo Colts
5 - Gamblers Island (Allen, 5-2)
2 - Mosee Terror (Lems, 7-2)
6 - Denver Dolly (Paquet, 9-2)
4 - A Major Haze (Mattison, 10-1)

5th Trot - $30,000; New York Late Closer Final - 2yo Fillies
1 - Dreamy Dawn (Lems, 5-2)
7 - Appomattox Lady (Paquet, 7-2)
9 - Kendall Blue (Bailey, 8-1)

6th Trot - $30,000; New York Late Closer Final - 2yo Colts
3 - Winona (Okusko, 7-2)
9 - Hellogottagobuhbye (Bailey, 9-2)
5 - Cash Poor (Allen, 6-1)

7th Pace - $30,000; New York Late Closer Final - 2yo Fillies
3 - All About Kisses (Conner, 5-2)
2 - JK Geronimo (Huckabone, 10-1)
1 - The Filly Princess (Aldrich, 6-1)
6 - Wizzard Queen (Simpson, 15-1)

This year with the altered racing schedule for the Grand Circuit at The Red Mile, The Kentucy Futurity and Filly Futurity are being contested on the first Saturday of the two week meet.  In the Filly Futurity, I see it as a contest between Ultimate Cameron and Bramalea Hanover in the first elimination and Costa Rica (who bled her elimination of the Breeders Crown and adds lasix) and Christiana Hanover.  Some people will be discounting Christiana Hanover but she shocked a strong field in the Moni Maker at The Red Mile back on August 19th at 52-1.  Many of Christiana Hanover's victories have come with a powerful closing kick off of speedy fracions.  If you think there is any chance of a fast mile and you can get Christiana Hanover and driver Riina Rekila (with a .398 UDR) at 12-1 or higher, she may be worth a shot.  Come the second heat, I expect Costa Rica to  be able to defeat Ultimate Cameron but with this crop of fillies, I would not be shocked if we end up with a third heat race-off.

In the Kentucky Futurity, I am looking for Lucky Chucky to rebound and win the Futurity in straight heats.  This is the second start with lasix and last week in the Breeders Crown, he finished a tired third off of a three week layoff.  Lucky Chucky is not a horse who races at his best off a layoff so with a start under his belt, he should be ready for a more typical performance.  Contendors for second are Breeders Crown champion Break The Bank K and Wishing Stone. 

In the first race, Vintage Master is the class of the field but one has to wonder if he is going to be ready to win in his first race back.  The 1:55 qualifier at Freehold indicates he is ready but with bigger fish to fry next week I am not sure we are going to see his best effort this week and while he certainly can win, I am not going to take a chance at a likely 3-2 or less. 

In the first division of the Bluegrass for 3yo Colts and Geldings, expect One More Laugh to bounce back from his break in the Breeders Crown in what was an obvious speed break in a 1:19.4 three quarters.  With this field going nowhere close to those fractions this week, OML should take this field easily.  Of course, the question is are you willing to accept 4-5 or less.   

In the second division of the Bluegrass for 3yo Colts and Geldings, it is not a mistake; I am picking against Rock N Roll Heaven, the likely Horse of the Year for 2010.  While Rock N Roll Heaven is the likely winner, I can't recommend him at a likely 3-5 or less from post position ten.  The horse I am banking on for a possible shocker is Aracache Hanover who has showed some wicked fractions in Canada.  He picks up Tim Tetrick this week, replacing regular reinsman Doug Mcnair.  The only real clunker he has shown of late is the Little Brown Jug where he drew post eight and was hard used during the mile.  With the return to a larger oval, he should be able to put in a better performance. 

Here are my selections for Saturday's Red Mile card which starts at 12:30pm.

Saturday, October 16
1st Pace - $7,500; Open Allerage Farms Eligible Preferred
4 - Dial Or No Dial (Brennan, 3-1)
5 - Vintage Master (Dube, 2-1)
3 - Dali (A Miller, 5-2)

2nd Pace - $128,000; Bluegrass Series - 2yo Colts and Geldings
7 - Westwardho Hanover (Tetrick, 2-1)
6 - Rollwithitharry (Gingras, 5-2)
2 - Sir Ziggy's Z Tam (P Lachance, 7-2)

3rd Pace - $129,000; Bluegrass Series - 2yo Colts and Geldings
3 - Prana (Morrill, 9-2)
8 - Lookinforadventure (Dube, 9-5)
1 - Lizard King (D Miller, 12-1)
2 - Feel Like A Fool (Sears, 2-1)

4th Trot - $69,975; Kentucky Filly Futurity - 3yo Fillies 1st Heat Elimination 1
4 - Ultimate Cameron (Brennan, 7-2)
5 - Bramalea Hanover (D Miller, 9-2)
2 - Cantab It All (Gingras, 8-1)
8 - Impressive Kemp (Morrill, 5-2)

5th Trot - $69,975; Kentucky Filly Futurity - 3yo Fillies 1st Heat Elimination 2 
5 - Costa Rica (Pierce, 7-2)
7 - Christiana Hanover (Rekila, 8-1)
4 - Spicy Wings (Campbell, 9-2)
8 - Glide Power (Sears, 6-1)

6th Trot - $200,400; Kentucky Futurity - 3yo Open  1st Heat
  6 - Lucky Chucky (Campbell, 2-1)
  9 - Break The Bank K (Sears, 7-2)
  2 - Wishing Stone (Brennan, 6-1)
10 - Temple of Doom (D Miller, 12-1)

7th Pace - $111,500; Bluegrass Series - 3yo Colts and Geldings 
  8 - One More Laugh (Tetrick, 7-5)
  9 - Shoobee's Place (Pierce, 10-1)
  4 - Kyle Major (Brennan, 7-2)
10 - Four Starz Trace (Palone, 20-1)

8th Trot - $108,850; Kentucky Filly Futurity - 3yo Fillies 2nd Heat 
Top five horses from the fourth and fifth races return for the second heat.  Winners draw for posts 1 and 2; second place for posts 3 and 4 and so forth.

9th Trot - $200,400; Kentucky Futurity - 3yo Open 2nd Heat
All the horses from the sixth race return for the second heat.  Post positions will be assigned based on the official order of finish of the first heat. 

10th Pace - $129,000; Bluegrass Series - 2yo Colts and Geldings
1 - Big Bad John (Palone, 5-2)
2 - Line Officer (Brennan, 2-1)
5 - Mystic Desire (Tetrick, 3-1)
8 - Real Special (Lachance, 8-1)

11th Pace - $11,500; Bluegrass Series - 3yo Colts and Geldings
  8 - Aracache Hanover (Tetrick, 12-1)
10 - Rock N Roll Heaven (Dube, 1-1)
  2 - Rockin Image (Gingras, 9-2)
  7 - World of Rocknroll (Sears, 15-1)

12th Trot - $62,200; Kentucky Filly Futurity - 3yo Filies - 3rd Heat Race-off (If needed)
If no filly has won two heats, all three heat winners return for the third heat.

13th Trot - $100,200; Kentucky Futurity - 3yo Open - 3rd Heat Race-off (If needed)
If no horse has won two heats, all three heat winners return for the third heat.

Who's Watching out for the Public's Interests?; Thurs-Fri Lex Preview

Dean Towers, writing for the Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA), discusses a recent article regarding unclaimed tickets and how the horseplayer's money is going to everyone but the gambler.  The argument made is no matter how well-intentioned the distribution of unclaimed money is, it is not the racing industry's money to distribute; it belongs to the bettors and should be used for the bettors' benefit.

Dean goes on to report how in 2007 there was an wagering conference in Canada where the issue of unclaimed tickets was discussed and a proposal was approved in near unanimity (out of the three hundered people there, one person (a horseman) opposed an idea to use uncashed winning tickets to lower takeout, fund jackpot wagers, and giveaways to bettors.  Done in public it seemed like a no-brainer it would happen, right?

In a subsequent meeting out of the public eye, the horsemen and track operators who got a share of the uncashed tickets vetoed the idea and the government agency killed the proposal.  Once again, something which could be done to benefit the public was killed off.

This issue goes beyond the uncashed tickets.  The question which begs to be asked is who is watching out for the public's interest when it comes to racing?  Certainly not the tracks and the horsemen; it must be the racing commission?  Do you really think so?  Not in the United States.

A prime example of this is the lack of a fair start rule.  Not to rehash this subject (you can refer to a prior blog entry), when the recall rules were changed in North America, the Canadian racing commissions protected the customer by instituting a fair start rule.  In the United States, with the exception of North Dakota (which took their cue from their Canadian counterparts north of their border), there was no fair start rule implemented at the behest of the horsemen and track operators who did not want to refund wagers to horseplayers as it would reduce what they earned for their purse accounts/racing expenses.  Whereas, the racing commissions had the ability to stand up for the public and institute a fair start rule to protect the public, the decision was made in a "the public be damned" arrogance and a protection the horseplayer had was eliminated just like that.

Well, in New Jersey, the racing commission may be changing their tune.  A proposal to implement a fair start rule is on the table and is the period of public comment.  Once the public comment period is over, the racing commission will consider giving final approval to this rule change which will protect the wagering public.  Make not mistake, the horsemen and track operators will likely be opposed to this rule proposal.  It is important that the horseplaying public make their support for this proposal known.  We will then see if the NJRC will stand up and protect the public or once again side with the industry. 

The Red Mile Grand Circuit meet is underway with the Kentucky Futurity scheduled for this Saturday, instead of their normal second Saturday slot, as a result of the delay in their meet due to the World Equestrian Games being conducted in Lexington.  The first week of the Red Mile meet is always challenging as horses are shipping in from everywhere in an effort to get a fast mark on them before the racing season shifts into winter mode.  A lot of favorites will be leading at the wire, but every once in a while, you will see a horse come off the beaten path and upend the favorites; especially in some of the late closing series which are contested. 

For those looking to play The Red Mile, here are my selections for Thursday's and Friday's card. 

Thursday, October 14
1st Trot - $87,500; Bluegrass Series - 2yo Fillies
6 - Cedar Dove (Pierce, 5-2)
1 - Celebrity Katie (Sears, 3-1)
4 - Pacific Splash (Norris, 9-2)

2nd Trot - $10,000; 2yo Colts and Geldings Late Closer - NW 2 PM or $15,000 LT
1 - Soulful Delight (Pierce, 5-2)
7 - For You Almostfree (Campbell, 3-1)
6 - Big Tuna (Tetrick, 7-2)

3rd Trot - $10,000; 3-5yo Colts and Geldings Late Closer - NW 3 PM or $40,000 LT
2 - Classic Sone (A Miller, 1-1)
4 - Super Sonic Flash (Magee, 3-1)
6 - Martoddi (Hochstetler, 8-1)

4th Trot - $88,500; Bluegrass Series - 2yo Fillies
2 - Andover The Top (Palone, 8-5)
4 - Epona Blue Chip (Schnittker, 6-1)
5 - Celebrity Obsesion (Sears, 5-1)
8 - Sashay (Pierce, 12-1)

5th Trot - $10,000; 3-5yo Colts and Geldings Late Closer - NW 3 PM or $40,000 LT
6 - Fool's Revenue (Campbell, 2-1)
7 - Under The Stars (Hochstetler, 8-1)
3 - Madoffwiththemoni (Tetrick, 8-1)
5 - Bullet (D Miller, 5-2)

6th Pace - $10,000; 3-5yo Colts and Geldings Late Closer - NW 3 PM or $40,000 LT
6 - Private Interview (Sears, 5-2)
1 - Rojette's Best (Noble, 3-1)
5 - Show Me Glory (Pierce, 7-2)

7th Trot - $88,500; Bluegrass Series - 2yo Fillies
8 - Sweet Love (D Miller, 7-2)
3 - Sacred Saint (Tetrick, 8-1)
5 - Creme De Cocoa (DR Ackerman, 5-2)
4 - Lady Rainbow (Zeron, 3-1)

8th Trot - $10,000; 2yo Colts and Geldings Late Closer - NW 2 PM or $15,000 Lifetime
4 - Cash On Delivery (Campbell, 7-2)
6 - Permanent Joy (Tr Tetrick, 7-5)
1 - Northern Photo (Sears, 9-2)
8 - Cantabourway (Loney, 15-1)

9th Trot - $88,500; Bluegrass Series - 2yo Fillies
1 - Tango Dancer (Palone, 7-2)
5 - Caitrin Hall (Tetrick, 6-1)
8 - Tight Pants (D Miller, 5-2)
3 - After Dark (Lachance, 15-1)

10th Pace - $12,000; 2yo Colts and Geldings Late Closer - NW 2 PM or $15,000 Lifetime
  5 - Real Or Magic (Tetrick, 6-1)
12 - Cam's Tux (Palone, 8-1)
  9 - Eat Your Art Out (Campbell, 4-1)
  6 - We The People (Sears, 7-2)

11th Trot - $3,000; 5yo and Under - NW 2 Races (NW 1 draws inside)
2 - Mucho Cerveza (Campbell, 7-2)
1 - Sunny Victory (Steck, 5-2)
9 - Massasauga (D Miller, 4-1)
8 - The Queen (Wrenn, 8-1)

Friday, October 15
1st Pace - $2,800; NW 1 PM (Mares 2) or $12,000 Life
2 - Jade Mountain (Loney, 5-2)
5 - Fortune Road (A Miller, 7-2)
3 - Cascata (D Miller, 2-1)

2nd Trot - $88,500; Bluegrass Series - 2yo Colts and Geldings
2 - Evil Urgfes (Hochstetler, 4-1)
4 - Big Rigs (Tetrick, 2-1)
5 - Live Jazz (Campbell, 5-2)
1 - JR Alber (Pierce, 6-1)

3rd Trot - $10,000; 3-5yo Colts and Geldings Late Closer - NW 3 PM or $40,000 Lifetime
6 - Strong Hope (Pierce, 2-1)
7 - Sharp Edge (A Miller, 5-2)
3 - Mr Caviar (Loney, 9-2)
2 - Stretch Limo (Lighthill, 15-1)

4th Pace - $105,000; Bluegrass Series - 2yo Fillies
2 - Honky Tonk Woman (D Miller, 9-5)
3 - Say Anything (Lachance, 8-1)
4 - Cold Mist (Tetrick, 2-1)

5th  Trot - $88,500; Bluegrass Series - 2yo Colts and Geldings
2 - Whit (A Miller, 8-1)
4 - Opening Night (Sears, 8-1)
1 - Johnny B Kemp (Takter, 5-2)
5 - Blue Porsche (Ritchie, 3-1)

6th Pace - $105,000; Bluegrass Series - 2yo Fillies
2 - Music Row (Tetrick, 8-1)
4 - Shyaway (Sears, 2-1)
5 - Fashion Mystery (Pierce, 9-2)

7th Trot - $88,500; Bluegrass Serires - 2yo Colts and Geldings
5 - Pegasus Blue Chip (Ritchie, 3-1)
2 - Spring Goal (Tetrick, 12-1)
1 - Fawkes (D Miller, 12-1)
6 - High Pan Tolerance (Pierce, 8-1)

8th Pace - $185,000; Bluegrass Series - 3yo Fillies
  8 - Full Picture (Pierce, 6-1)
11 - Ticket To Rock (D Miller, 7-2)
  7 -  Best Boss (Lachance, 9-2)
  4 - Western Royaly (Wrenn, 10-1)

9th Trot - $88,500; Bluegrass Series - 2yo Colts and Geldings
5 - Neal (Sears, 5-2)
7 - Kash's Cantab (Paver, 9-2)
4 - Mythical Hall (Pierce, 7-2)
1 - Not Nice (Gingras, 3-1)

10th Pace - $105,000; Bluegrass Series - 2yo Fillies
3 - Strike An Attitude (Campbell, 1-1)
5 - All Tucked Up (Jamieson, 6-1)
6 - Asteria Blue Chip (Tetrick, 8-1)

11th Trot - $10,000; 2yo Colts and Geldings Late Closer - NW 2 PM or $15,000 Lifetime
2 - Haulin Laser (D Miller, 7-2)
5 - Valiant Warrior (Tr Tetrick, 3-1)
6 - Ax Man (Wrenn, 5-2)
9 - Total Outlaw (Pierce, 15-1)

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Surprise, Surprise

A casino opens in Maryland.  Atlantic City is hurt by it.  Nothing new here.  However, what is new is Dover Downs and Harrington are hurting as a result of the first casino in Maryland opening and will likely be hurt further as additional casinos open in Maryland.  The immediate consequence will be reduced purses for horsemen and if revenue estimates for the state continue to drop, horsemen and track operators may face a state looking to cut horse racing's percentage or open additional casinos to get some of the revenue flowing to Maryland back into Delaware which may further cut the horsemen's share and purses.

What we are seeing is not only convenience gambling growing, but casino gaming becoming a commodity where there will be a casino popping up all over, cannibalizing existing casino's profitability forcing them to run more efficiently in order to survive on mediocre profits.  When casinos open up in Ohio, racinos in the Western part of Pennsylvania (The Meadows) will be hurt as may racinos in Indiana.  Once a casino or racino opens up at the Meadowlands as will eventually happen, Yonkers (which will already be hurt by the racino at Aqueduct) will be seriously hurt by a Meadowlands gaming parlor as may Pocono Downs.  This process will continue as additional casinos and racinos open up in other states.  As this happens (less dramatic) increased purses at some tracks will be met with corresponding decreased purses at others.  The golden slot revenue will becoming silver or bronze-tinted. 

Hence, it is important racing interests, including track operators, who will be hurt just as much as horsemen, must develop strategies to retain or grow their business further.  It may involve allowing people to make wagers at their local convenience store or lottery outlets or making their facilities full entertainment centers.  And yes, the possibility of cutting race dates to stretch the shrinking slot revenue exists.

Elsewhere, Standardbred Canada has announced an Xtreme racing series where there will be sprint and distance races which will include a second tier.  One of the goals of offering the series will be to determine if sprint and two-tiered distance races will be accepted on a regular basis instead of a once a year event.   

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Breeders Crown Recap and a Big Raspberry

No sense to repeat what was already written so here is Standardbred Canada's recap of all the racing activity from last night.  As for my selections, a few winners (albeit too short in price), a couple of trifecta boxes and a superfecta box.  Not exactly my most shining performance.  Alas, there is always next year.

While Breeders Crown day was successful, the day before was not so good.  I needed to be somewhere on Saturday, so I wanted to play the races the day before via advance wagering (I was going to be out of state and NJAW doesn't allow NJ residents to use the system if out of state).  After all, Breeders Crown day is standardbred racing's day to shine so there must be advance wagering; after all, doesn't the thoroughbred's triple crown events and Breeders Cup have advance wagering?  The Hambletonian?  So I logged in on Friday to make my wagers...

To my surprise, NJAW and the Meadowlands didn't offer advance wagering on the Crown.  Well, I guess I shouldn't have been surprised as I e-mailed their customer service department on Monday to ask if there was going to be advance wagering and I got no response one way or the other (not very good customer service) so that should have been my first warning.  Here is harness racing's day to shine and NJAW, owned by the fine people who own the Meadowlands and Freehold didn't offer advance wagering on the biggest day of  harness racing in the North America?  Catskill OTB in New York was offering advance wagering so it could have been done (but who wants to pay the onerous 5%+ rake OTB takes out of winning bets).

How can we have harness tracks and ADWs not offering advance wagering on the Breeders Crown races; especially the harness tracks?  I am not saying handle would have increased by a million or so if there was advance wagering, but it is a real problem when harness tracks and ADWs don't offer advance wagering.  First of all, how much was it going to cost tracks and ADWs to offer advance wagering?  Tellers would be working anyway at racetracks, and how much does it cost to add advance wagering to the wagering menu at an ADW?  It is not like they had to bounce a lucrative video feed to offer advance wagering on Friday.

The second problem with not offering advance wagering is marketing.  When you offer advance wagering, you are telling gamblers, including thoroughbred players, "This is a big deal".  Maybe, you would have attracted some additional gamblers to cross breeds to play the Crown races in addition to getting wagering dollars from standardbred players who would not be able to play the races the day of the event.  It is not like adding a line to the wagering calendar these wagering outlets put out would have cost anything. 

While we are talking about marketing, a raspberry to NJAW.  On your home page, could you have mentioned the Breeders Crown?  Sent out an email telling your customers that you were offering wagering on the Breeders Crown?  You have no problem promoting the thoroughbred events, but you can't do this for one day of harness racing?  It would be one thing for a Twin Spires, owned by Churchill Downs to do this but for NJAW, owned by harness track operators not to do this is inexcusable.  By not publicizing this to your ADW  customers, you are telling them, the Breeders Crown is just another night of harness racing.

Hopefully, the Hambletonian Society, owner of the Breeders Crown, and the United States Trotting Association can 'strongly' encourage harness tracks and encourage ADWs to offer advance wagering on future Breeders Crowns.  There is no reason this should have happened this year.  It shouldn't happen next year.  

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Breeders Crown Review and Guest Selections

Are you ready for some racing?  For those who are handicapping the Breeders Crown card, I am providing my analysis early.  We also have a guest handicapper who is providing his selections for the card and they are listed after my analysis.

The biggest challenge when handicaping a card of big stakes money is trying to anticipate how the race will be run.  Will there be drivers looking to force the issue in an all or nothing effort to win the race or will it be a case of drivers racing conservatively, racing to secure a portion of the purse instead of taking a chance and possibly ending up with nothing.  Handicapers face this issue every race from a maiden race to the Breeders Crown; it is just magnified when you are on the main stage.

For those who are unable to make it to Pocono Downs and your ADW doesn't broadcast Pocono, the USTA will be showing the Breeders Crown races live on their website. 

For those not familiar with Pocono Downs, here is the wagering menu for Breeders Crown night:
  • Win, Place, and Show - All races
  • Exactas, Trifectas, and Superfectas - All races
  • Daily Doubles - Races 1-2 and 13-14.
  • Pick-4 Races 3-6 ($10,000 added to the pool - 15% takeout)
  • Pick-6 Races 8-13 ($20,000 added to the pool - 15% takeout)
 Here is my analysis of the races.  In addition, we have a guest handicapper, Michigan Mel who has provided us with his selection.  Mel is a pretty good handicapper so having his selections imay be worth your consideration.

1st Trot - $250,000; Breeders Crown - 3 Year Old and Older Mares  Post 5:00pm
1 - Windsong Soprano (Pierce, 7-2) - Knows how to finish second.  Lands share.
2 - Elusive Desire (Campbell, 8-1) - Has not been able to get close of late.  Don't see it changing today.
3 - Yursa Hanover (Dube, 9-2) - Parked on the Dela oval.  Returns to the big track.  A threat.
4 - Southwind Wasabi (Gingras, 6-1) - Making third start of layoff and second off a scratched-sick.  May need another race.
5 - Autumn Escapade (D Miller, 3-1) - Won Ms Versatility at Delaware.  Needs cover to nail the win.  Will she get it?
6 - Jersey As (Brennan, 12-1) - A step below these.  Pass.
7 - Buck I St Pat (Tetrick, 5-2) - Not the horse she has been in the past.  May win but I can't play.  Your guess. 
Selections: 3-5-7-1

2nd Trot - $600,000; Breeders Crown - 3 Year Old and Older Open  Post 5:28pm
1 - Hot Shot Blue Chip (D Miller, 4-1) - Hard to keep flat.  My guess is today he jumps.
2 - Slave Dream (Campbell, 5-1) - Finished second to San Pail at the Hawk.  Could take it all.
3 - Neighsay Hanover (Tetrick, 8-1) - Been saddled with the outside at Yonkers.  Inside will help but still seems to be a tough spot.
4 - Define The World (Brennan, 15-1) - Does not seem to be the same horse who raced in Europe.  Pass.
5 - Enough Talk (Pierce, 6-1) - Not off recent efforts.
6 - Lucky Jim (A Miller, 5-2) - 2009 Champ looks for a repeat.  The horse to beat.
7 - Triumphant Caviar (Ouellette, 7-2) - Lands share with a trip.
8 - All Cantab (Ritchie, 12-1) - Doesn't seem to have the speed necessary.
9 - Lanson (Lachance, 20-1) - A win here would be a shocker.  Pass.
Selections: 6-2-7-9

3rd Trot -$600,000; Breeders Crown - 2 Year Old Fillies  Post 5:56pm
1 - Sweet Love (D Miller, 3-1) - Peaking at the right time.  Legitimate shot.
2 - Lady Rainbow (Zeron, 4-1) - Put it together at the right time.  Consider.
3 - Fitness Girl (Tetrick, 7-2) - Able to take advantage of slow pace.  Faster pace should hamper filly.
4 - Seducedbychocolate (Campbell, 9-2) - Tried to wire and failed.  Hasn't shown the ability to come off the pace.
5  - Hey Mister (Sears, 6-1) - Expect a more aggressive drive this week.  Possibility.
6 - Medusa Blue Chip (Brennan, 10-1) - Probably saw her A game last week.  Pass.
7 - Celebrity Katie (B Miller, 15-1) - Lands share with a trip.
8 - Martiniontherocks (Pierce, 20-1) - Expect a quicker clip which will benefit her.  Consider.
9 - Angelette Hanover (Morril, 8-1) - No excuse in last.  Minor spoils at best.
Selections: 1-5-3-2-

4th Trot - $500,000; Breeders Crown - 3 Year Old Colts and Geldings  Post 6:24pm
1 - Pilgrims Taj (Lachance, 12-1) - Connections hope he may be straightened out.  We'll see.
2 - Take My Picture (A Miller, 15-1) - Jumped in last.  Can spice up exotics if he stays flat.
3 - Flex The Muscle (T Tetrick, 5-1) - Has been a monster over the half mile ovals.  Can't ignore on this streak.
4 - Lucky Chucky (Campbell, 5-2) - Adds lasix off a win in the Canadian Trotting Classic Won CTC,  The one to beat.
5 - Break The Bank K (Sears, 4-1) - Improved of late.  Picks up big portion with a trip.
6 - Hard Livin (Gingras, 20-1) -Nothing to recommend.  Pass.
7 - Muscle Massive (Pierce, 3-1)  - Expect better if rated.  Can win it all.
8 - Temple Of Doom (D Miller, 10-1)  - Never in it last start. May be tailing off.
9 - Wishing Stone (Brennan, 6-1) - Lands share at best.
Selections: 4-3-7-1

5th Pace - $600,000; Breeders Crown - 2 Year Old Fillies  Post 6:52pm
1 - See You At Peelers (Morrill, 5-2) - Looking to run the table here.  The one to beat.
2 - Idyllic (Macdonald, 3-1) - Another undefeated filly.  Her streak against open company.  Two horse race down the stretch. 
3 - Show And Tell (Sears, 12-1) - Interfered with in elim.  May land share.
4 - Cold Mist (B Miller, 6-1) - Best has come against state breds.  Pass.
5 - Honky Tonk Woman (D Miller, 10-1) - Won the Sweetheart in a shocker.  Upset possibility?
6 - Myluvmylife (Brennan, 4-1) - Wins have come against state breds.  Share with best.
7 - Rocklamation (Tetrick, 20-1) - Don't see.  Pass.
8 - Strike An Attitude (Palone, 5-1) - Brutal trip in last.  If top choices hook up she will be flying late.  Upset pick.
9 - Ms Malicious (Pierce, 15-1) - Wasn't able to challenge last week.  Will have to come from far back tonight.
Selections: 8-2-1-3

6th Trot - $600,000; Breeders Crown - 2 Year Old Colts and Geldings  Post 7:20pm
1 - Orlando (Tetrick, 6-1) - Tough to see him here.  Pass.
2 - Big Rigs (Campbell, 4-1) - Upset the favorite in last.  Doubt he repeats.. 
3 - Dejarmbro (Gregory, 5-2) - Took it to his elimination.  NYSS champ looks to add a crown. 
4 - Leader Of The Gang (Pierce, 5-1) - Lacks the killer instinct when it counts.  Share at best.
5 - Pastor Stephen (Gingras, 7-2) - Expect more aggressive drive this week.  May upend #3.
6 - Just In (Palone, 20-1) - Lucky to grab share.
7 - Neal (Sears, 15-1) - Couldn't capitalize with the rail.  Why this week?
8 - Swan In A Million (D Miller, 8-1) - Shows he belongs.  Must get involved earlier.
9 - Manofmanymissions (A Miller, 12-1) - AE moves in an draws a luck post.  Exotics a possibility if he minds his manners.
Selections: 5-3-2-4

7th Trot - $50,000; The Vivid Photo - 3 Year Old Invitational PA Sired  Post 7:48pm
1 - Kirty Dream (Palone, 5-2) - Keystone Classic winner draws rail again.  Main contender.
2 - Hoboken Sonny (J Parker, 6-1) - Has had no success with these.
3 - Freedom Ridge (D Miller, 3-1) - Lands in exotics.
4 - Plan B In Hd (Campbell, 10-1) - Still searching for first win of the year.  Has responded positively to Campbell before.
5 - Fortunes Dream (Gingras, 7-2) - Filly has beaten the boys before Can score the minor upset if Cassis doesn't clear.
6 - Cassis (Schnittker, 2-1) - If he clears before the first quarter it is all over.  Likely odds-on.
Selections: 5-6-1-3

8th Pace - $600,000; Breeders Crown - 2 Year Old Colts and Geldings  Post 8:16pm
1 - Westwardho Hanover (B Miller, 5-1)  - Great Recovery.  Threat if flat.
2 - Fashion Delight (D Miller, 5-2) - Careful planning pays off here.  The one to beat.
3 - Foreclosure N (Tetrick, 3-1) - Elimination winner will look to ride the rail.
4 - Shadyshark Hanover (Morrill, 4-1) - Scored the minor upset in last.  Not out of it.
5 - Hugadragon (Palone, 20-1) - Credible effort in last.  Possible share.
6 - Line Officer (Brennan, 15-1) - Talented colt has not been able to take that final step.  Share at best.
7 - Big Jim (Hudon, 6-1) - Quit late in last off wicked fractions.  Won't be the same here.  Expect rebound.
8 - Great Vintage (Campbell, 10-1) - Will need to get involved early to be a factor.
9 - Lookinforadventure (Dube, 12-1) - AE lucky to move in.  That's where the luck ends.  Pass.
Selections: 7-2-4-6

9th Trot - $500,000; Breeders Crown - 3 Year Old Fillies  Post 8:44pm
1 - Behindclosedoors (Palone, 3-1) - Filly looks to go down the road. Lands share.
2 - Ultimate Cameron (Brennan, 5-2) - Has returned to Meadowlands form.  The one to beat.
3 - Fashion Feline (Morrill, 4-1) - Won her division but comes up against some quality fillies. 
4 - Spicy Wings (Campbell, 5-1) - Filly has not raced well against this caliber of stock.
5 - Impressive Kemp (Pierce, 6-1l) - Finally minding her manners but don't think she matches up against the division elite.  Pass.
6 - Bramalea Hanover (D Miller, 10-1) - May not win but must include in exotics.
7 - Merger Blue Chip (Ouellette, 20-1) - Recovered to finish third.  Share at best if she minds manners.
8 - Up Front Juansteen (Tetrick, 15-1l) - Another second tier filly; one who must deal with an outer post.
9 - Wilsonator (Zeron) - Just missed in last but moves from the rail to the fence.  Too far out to contend.
Selections: 2-6-1-7

10th Pace - $300,000; Breeders Crown - 3 Year Old and Older Mares  Post 9:12pm
1 - Not Enough (Morrill, 7-2) - Got late start this year and may be peaking.  Don't ignore.
2 - Voelz Hanover (Dube, 20-1) - Solid effort of a scratch-sick.  Don't ignore.
3 - Chancey Lady (A Miller, 12-1) - Dull effort in elim.  Out of this league.
4 - Dreamfair Eternal (Waples, 2-1) - The horse to beat.  Likely no value.  
5 - Showherthemoney (Pierce, 10-1) - Not ready to compete against these.  Pass.
6 - Ginger And Fred (Sears, 5-1) -  Will need to catch a trip to contend.
7 - Southwind Tempo (Tetrick, 9-2) - Mare has been steady performer this year.  Just can't seem to get there against the best.  Lands share.
8 - On The Glass (Gingras, 15-1) - Not off recent. 
9 - Tug River Princess (Campbell, 6-1) - Big mile last week.  Threat if able to get a good spot early.
Selections: 4-1-9-6

11th Pace - $500,000; Breeders Crown - 3 Year Old Fillies  Post 9:40pm
1 - Cannae Cammie (Pierce, 7-2) - Never better but has to handle #3.  Legitimate shot.
2 - Higher And Higher (Morrill, 4-1) - Finished second to #3 in elim.  Lands share.
3 - Put On A Show (Tetrick, 5-2) - What's there to say?  The one to beat.
4 - Northwest Hanover (B Miller, 12-1) - Finished second to #3 in Simcoe.  Excellent exacta possibility.
5 - Hula's Z Tam (P Lachance, 15-1) - Appears overmatched.
6 - Rock N Soul (Gingras, 8-1) - May not be able to get close early.
7 - Naughtytiltheend (A Miller, 6-1) - Overreached in elimination.  The class gap will be seen this week.
8 - Western Sislk (Macdonald, 5-1) - Jugette winner needs a lot of help this week to contend.
9 - Panagler (Palone, 20-1) - Too far out to be a factor.  Pass.
Selections: 3-4-1-2

12th Pace - $500,000; Breeders Crown - 3 Year Old and Older Open  Post 10:08pm
1 - Shark Gesture (Brennan, 5-2) - Blistering qualifier. Will he be tight enough in first start back?
2 - Foiled Again (Gingras, 7-2) - Beat Won The West in Quillen.  Definite contender.
3 - Bettor Sweet (Sears, 10-1) -  Will be hard pressed to pick up a check.
4 - Hypnotic Blue Chip (Jamieson, 5-1) - Nice effort in Pocono warm up.  May be a live long shot.
5 - Won The West (D Miller, 3-1) - Leaves the half mile oval and should improve here on the bigger oval.  Will challenge..
6 - Lisagain (A Miller, 10-1) - Post position hampers this one.
7 - Clear Vision (Pierce, 8-1) - Has been over achieving.   Seven hold should bring back to reality.
8 - Blueridge Western (Dube, 15-1) - Game gelding not the same horse he was before.  Appears overmatched.
Selections: 4-5-1-2

13th Pace - $500,000; Breeders Crown - 3 Year Old Colts and Geldings  Post 10:36pm
1 - Shoobee's Place (Pierce, 12-1) - Second tier horse is over his head.  Pass.
2 - One More Laugh (Tetrick, 7-2) - Definite threat here to win but coming up against a buzz saw.
3 - Rock N Roll Heaven (Dube, 2-1) - Winner of four straight can win on or off the pace.  The horse to beat.
4 - He's Gorgeous (Morrill, 10-1) - Belongs back in with state breds.  Pass.
5 - We Will See (B Miller, 6-1) - Will head for the rail and hope the top two drift in the stretch.  Will they?
6 - Art N Charm (Campbell, 20-1) - Too much speed inside.
7 - Fred And Ginger (Sears, 9-2) - Has tailed off and has not regained that magic.
8 - BG's Folly (D Miller, 15-1) - Was freshened but may need a race; especially from here.
9 - Rockin Image (Gingras, 5-1) - Draws the worst of it.  May complete the superfecta.
Selections: 3-5-2-9

14th Pace - $50,000; 3 Year Old Invitational  Post 11:04pm
1- Eagle Jolt (Gingras, 5-1 ) - Draws well enough to get minor spoils
2 - Jimmie Hanover (Brennan, 7-2) - Just missed in NYSS final.  Can he make the transition to open company? 
3 - Oakmont (Teague, 8-1) - Has had little success against this caliber.
4 - Pang Shui (Morrill, 9-2 ) - Never threatened in last.  Meets easier but it may not be enough.
5 - Valentino (Brennan, 3-1) - Tough trip in his elim.  Has big class advantage.  The one to beat.
6 - Fashion Heart (D Miller, 10-1) - Another one seems to be in over his head.
7 - Indelible Hanover (Campbell, 12-1) - Driver change may get him in the exotics.
8 - Versado (Kakaley, 4-1) -  Would be my pick if inside.  Not sure if he can get position early.  Passing on him.
Selections: 5-2-1-7

I am also pleased to provide friend to VFTRG, Daryl's take on the Breeders Crown:

1st Trot - Breeders Crown - 3yo and Older Mares
4- Southwind Wasabi (Gingras, (6-1)
1 - Windsong Soprano (Pierce, 7-2)
7- Buck I St Pat (Tetrick, 5-2)

2nd Pace - Breeders Crown - 3yo and Older Open
6 - Lucky Jim (A Miller, 5-2)
2 - Slave Dream (Campbell, 5-1)
7- Triumphant Caviar (Ouellette, 7-2)

3rd Trot - Breeders Crown - 2yo Fillies
5 - Hey Mister (Sears, 6-1)
3 - Fitness Girl (Tetrick, 7-2)
2 - Lady Rainbow (Zeron, 4-1)

4th Trot - Breeders Crown - 3yo Colts and Geldings
4 - Lucky Chucky (Campbell, 5-2)
3 - Flex The Muscle (Tetrick, 5-1)
5 - Break The Bank K (Sears, 4-1)

5th Pace - Breeders Crown - 2yo Fillies
2 - Idyllic (MacDonald, 3-1)
1 - See You At Peelers (Morrill, 5-2)
4 - Cold Mist (B Miller, 6-1)

6th Trot - Breeders Crown - 2yo Colts and Geldings
4 - Leader Of The Gang (Pierce, 5-1)
2 - Big Rigs (Campbell, 4-1)
3 - Dejarmbro (Gregory, 5-2)

7th Trot - 3yo Invitational
6 - Cassis (Schnittker, 2-1)
1 - Kirty Dream (Palone, 5-2)
3 - Freedom Ridge (D Miller, 9-2)

8th Pace - Breeders Crown - 2yo Colts and Geldings
4 - Shadyshark Hanover (Morrill, 4-1)
2 - Fashion Delight (D Miller, 5-2)
7 - Big Jim (Hudon, 6-1)

9th Trot - Breeders Crown - 3yo Fillies
5 - Impressive Kemp (Pierce, 6-1)
6 - Bramalea Hanover (D Miller, 10-1)
3 - Fashion Feline (Morrill, 4-1)

10th Pace - Breeders Crown - 3yo and Older Mares
4 - Dreamfair Eternal (Waples, 2-1)
3 - Chancey Lady (A Miller, 12-1)
7 - Southwind Tempo (Tetrick, 9-2)

11th Pace - Breeders Crown - 3yo Fillies
3 - Put On A Show (Tetrick, 5-2)
2 - Higher And Higher (Morrill, 4-1)
8 - Western Silk (MacDonald, 5-1)

12th Pace - Breeders Crown - 3yo and Older Open
4 - Hypnotic Blue Chip (Jamieson, 5-1)
5 - Won The West (D Miller, 3-1)
1 - Shark Gesture (G Brennan, 5-2)

13th Pace - Breeders Crown - 3yo Colts and Geldings
3 - Rock N Roll Heaven (Dube, 2-1)
2 - One More Laugh (Tetrick, 7-2)
9 - Rockin Image (Gingras, 5-1)

14th Pace - 3yo Invitational
4 - Pang Shui (Morrill, 9-2)
6 - Fashion Heart (D Miller, 10-1)
5 - Valentino (Brennan, 3-1)