For photos from the Meadowlands contact

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Out Sourcing Backstretches?

I have been having conversations with individuals who are unhappy with the fact the Meadowland will be closing their backstretch at the end of September in order to begin the construction of the new grandstand, subject to permits being granted.  While I personally despise the fact racetracks close their backstretches like Hazel Park did this year, at the Meadowlands it is necessary for construction purposes and with the number of training facilities in Central New Jersey which allow horsemen to travel to a multitude of tracks within the vicinity, the need for a backstretch is not critical.  It is not that Jeff Gural is against backstretches; there are backstretches at both Tioga and Vernon Downs.

The problem with maintaining backstretches is it's expensive.  From the insurance which needs to be paid on the backstretch, the employees to secure the backstretch maintaining stalls, taking care of manure removal and other things such a backstretch kitchen, there is a huge expense with maintaining the backstretch.

Still there is no need to close the backstretches.  The key is to outsource running the backstretch.  In any business there are profit centers and cost centers.  Profit centers are areas where revenue is generated and cost centers are areas needed to run a business but don't generate a profit to a company.  For example, a bank makes money from their customers so branches are considered profit centers.  An HR department which hires employees is a cost center, it generates no revenue; just expense.  This is why many companies outsource their HR function to other companies on their behalf because there are other companies with an expertise in that area who can make money and reduce costs in their area of expertise.

Make no mistake, the day of free stabling is over.  Racetracks can no longer afford to offer free backstretches as the cost of supporting them has become a large expense.  Still, some horsemen depend on the backstretch to stable at.  So the question need to be asked what can be done?  Why don't racetracks outsource their backstretch operations instead of closing them?

Let's think of the benefit of outsourcing a backstretch.  A firm can come in and update the backstretch so it is as good as any training center; perhaps adding a swimming pool for horses.  The company running the backstretch will be responsible for paying insurance, hiring employees to operate the backstretch.  They will be responsible for manure removal, maintaining track kitchens, and provide facilities for equine emergencies as well as dormitories.  If there is a training track, they will be responsible for maintaing it.  All the racetrack will be responsible for is running the ship in and race paddocks and making the racetrack available for training.  It can be a win-win situation.  The track loses a cost center; it may becomes a profit center as the outside company will pay a fee to the track for the right to manage the backstretch, yet charge rent and attempt to make the backstretch a better place to stable and train at.  While  horsemen will need to pay for stabling, they will have a first class training facility. 

So the next time a racetrack considers closing their backstretch, why not issue a RFP to see if someone else wants to run their backstretch?  Who knows, something which benefits everyone may happen. 

Yes, for certain tracks the elimination of the backstretch makes sense where there are multiple racetracks operating within the same area and there are sufficient training facilities available, but for other tracks, the need to maintain a backstretch is essential.

It is time to think out of the box when it comes to the backstretch.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Patience is the Word

Some people may be concerned that the thoroughbred horsemen have not yet come to terms with Morris Bailey at Monmouth Park which is necessary for him to take control of Monmouth Park which presumably has some influence on the closing of the lease for the Meadowlands on June 1.  After all, after the holiday concludes today, there is one more day until the June 1 begins.

Well, the date appears to be a target date but not a set in stone date.  I contacted someone at Monmouth Park and when asked if there would be racing next week even if the horsemen did not come to terms.  Hence, I would expect the soonest a drop dead date will apply to Monmouth Park would be June 12, when the initial condition book is completed.

Again, an annoying delay to closing on the Meadowlands lease, but nothing which should keep it from being consummated.  Patience apparently is the word.

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Brioni Wins Elitlopp 2011

After getting into the Elitlopp final due to the disqualification of Canada's Define the Wind, Germany's Brioni wins the 2011 Elitlopp in an exciting finish from post eight coming from last to first in the final quarter in 1:53.2 over the Solvalla oval.  France's Rapide Lebel was just noses out for second after being very rough at the start of the mile.  Sweden's Rakas finished 3rd.  American and second elimination winner, Arch Madness, who was leading into the stretch tired and finished fifth or sixth.


After a recall caused by Lavec Kronos, the first elimination of the Elitlopp was won by Rapide Lobell who was ahead by about three lengths at the wire with American entrant Wishing Stone second and Italy's Libeccio Grif finishing third.  Fourth place was won by Canada's Define The World who was then disqualified for interference which allowed the eventual winner, Brioni to advance to the final.  Time of the mile was 1:53.1.  For  interference with Year in Review, Paul MacDonell was given a $4,800 fine and six day suspension.  Whether Canadian officials will make MacDonell serve the suspension remains to be seen.  

The second elimination was all Arch Madness, who won easily in 1:52.3 once he took control of the race.  Second place in the second elimination went to Sweden's Rakas, third was Sweden's Yarrah Boko with Italy's Lisa America finishing fourth to secure a position in the final.

I found a commercial promoting the Elitlopp this year,  Not as witty as some commercials, but it gets its message across.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Is This Any Way to Run a Business?

Tomorrow is the Elitlopp and some locations will have wagering on races 6-14 of the Solvalla racing program.  So you are excited about it and are looking for a program so you can do your handicapping?  After all, with an 8:35am EDT post time, who is that sharp in the morning.

Now, perhaps your ADW provider is better than the NJAW, run by the incompetent NJSEA is and you have access to the program.  You can show up tomorrow morning at the Meadowlands and you will be able to get some bastardized version of a North American past performance program with perhaps a few minutes left to wager on the V75, but if you are someone who will wager on the Elitlopp using your ADW account (assuming they get the wagering open in time, something NJAW has not been very good at in the past), or if you are resourceful or have a friend who is, you may come across this site where you get the Swedish version of a racing program and hope you can decipher it (now you know how first timers feel about our own past performance program), but heaven forbid anyone makes arrangements to print an North Americanized version of the Swedish program.  But then, that would imply they want  harness gamblers to wager on the races?

Now of course, with regards to the thoroughbreds, it is a different story.  If you are a TVG customer, you can find FREE past performances of international thoroughbrd racing, now the programs are not as detailed as the North American programs, but you can at least make sense of it and make an intelligent wager, and the best thing is the programs are available ahead of time.  Or you can go to Brisnet's site and get Timeform ratings (don't ask me to explain them) or free international past performance programs (if you are a Brisnet customer).

Granted harness racing is not as popular as thoroughbred racing, but it isn't that the information is not available.  A program is available for the normal free V64 and V75 racing programs made available in North America through Track Data Systems using ATG's (the Swedish tote provider) database.  How hard would it be to contract with them to post the information online for the Elitlopp program?

And we wonder why thoroughbred racing is more popular than harness racing?  At least the thoroughbreds make it easy for you to wager on foreign races.  I guess for harness racing, it is a case of pick a name, or in the case of the Elitlopp, you have a Swedish friend who can translate their program for you.

Update In Incompetency: The Meadowlands promoted NJAW will be handling the Elitlopp starting with the first elimination at 8:35.  The sixth and seven races (the eliminations) were run and as typical for NJAW, the pools were still closed for wagering.  If this was only the first time it happened, it would not be a problem, but this is typical for NJAW.  Wagering finally opened in time for the eighth race.  But when it was time for the second heat (11th race), you couldn't wager on it because they didn't update the system with the horses' names; again something they have messed up before.  If nothing else, NJAW once again messed things up.  Hopefully, when the Gural team comes in, things will be better; otherwise, open up New Jersey to other ADWs.

Disappointment in Illinois?; EBC Preview

Illinois horsemen, prepare yourself for disappointment once again regarding slot machines at the racetracks.  Yes, the Illinois House of Representative's executive committee approved a bill permitting slot machines at the tracks, but they also allow for five additional riverboat casinos and for an extended parimutuel meet at the Illinois state fairground and slot machines there as well to be operated while the race meet is underway. 

Okay, I am sure the horse racing people are not thrilled about the additional riverboat casinos, especially with one in Chicago, but political reality is what it is so they have to accept its inclusion in the bill.  Where the idea of an extended parimutuel meet in Springfield with its accompanying slots come from, is a mystery to me.  The Harness Horsemen did not ask for it.  Governor Quinn has already made it known that he opposes a large scale expansion of gaming in the state; whether five racinos reaches that threshold, is unknown, but the Governor has made it known he objects to adding slots to the state fairgrounds.  So perhaps it was a legislator looking to plant a poison pill in the legislation.  Hence, while not certain, assuming the bill gets through the house and the senate before the current legislative session ends on Tuesday, be prepared for the potential of a veto.   

Foiled Again Has a Better Night Than I did - Foiled Again on attempt number three hit won the Molson Pace at Windosr Raceway.  Numbers have not come in, but it looks like the guaranteed Win 4 pool was not hit.  As for my selections; a few winners at miserable prices but not much better.  Part of that has to do with my lack of familiarity with the Canadian racing product outside of WEG tracks, part of it was I just stunk , plain and simple. 

Any way, here is a replay of the Molson Pace so you can see how easily Folied Again did.

Empire Breeders Championship - The EBC final for 3yo NY sired pacers will be run at Tioga Downs on Sunday night, while the trotting finals will be held at Vernon Downs on Monday.  You may be asking why I am paying so much attention to NY sired races?  The fact is with the lack of racinos and the uncertainty that has been surrounding the Meadowlands, New York sired horses on the whole are superior to New Jersey sired horses.  In addition to the EBCs, we will also look at a couple of finals of late closing series at Tioga Downs.

Sunday, May 29, 2011 - Tioga Downs
4th Pace - $279,175 - Empire Breeders Classic - 3yo Filly Final
1 - New Album (Brennan, 9-2) - Finished 1st in her elimination, must include.
2 - Whats New Pussycat (Sears, 20-1) - Barely qualified.  Will be no where at the end.
3 - See You at Peelers (Johansson, 2-5) - Take the 2-5.  She's as sure as it gets.
4 - Shyaway (Miller, 12-1) - Shocked bettors with second play finish against New Album.  Minor spoils at best.
5 - Southwind Jazmin (Miller, 8-1) - Parked to a third place finish.  Consider for exotics.
6 - Swinging Beauty (Zeron, 10-1) - Rounding into form.  Second best.
7 - Winbak Corazon (Fluet, 50-1) -  A distant fifth in last.  Will  be distant this week.
8 - Song In A Major (Merton, 50-1) - Bad draw and tested for class. 
9 - Miss Annie J (Tetrick, 25-1) - Distant third to Peelers. Draws poorly.
Selections: 3-6-1-5

7th- Pace - $32,700; The M&J Oil & Lube Pace - 3o Filly Final.
1 - Maggy's Tart (Merton, 10-1) - Winner of last week's leg.  Serious contender.
2 - Arts Beach Babe (Lancaster, 10-1) - Slightly tailed off from first leg.
3 - Artsy Princess (Hensley, 5-2) - Won last week in speedy :53.4,  One to beat.
4 - Shabalalabadingdong (Miller,  8-1) - Meeting slightly tougher this week.  Pass.
5 - White Jade (Brennan, 9-2) -  Has been running off-on week after week. Last week was an off; who knows?
 6  - Boat House Row (Braden, 15-1) - Upset victor last week.  This week it won't happen again.
7 - Busybeingfabulous (Mukkerm 7-2) - Best efforts from the outside.  Expect better effort this week.
8 - Carole;s Bullville (Tetrick, 6-1) - Picks up Tetrick this week.  Upset possibility.
9 - Bettor B Genuine (Kakaley, 15-1) - Won last week but gets the worst of the draw.
Selections: 3-7-1-2

8th Pace - $289,925; Empire Breeders Classic - 3yo Colts
1 - Roadside Delight (Brennan, 3-1) - WLikes on elimination; albeit weaker division.  Must be respected.
2 - Fantaddy (Zeron, 4-1) - Parked out victor in last week's elimination.  Can;t ignore.
3 - Sir Ziggy's Z Tam (Lachance, 12-1) - Trounced last week.  Don't expect improvement.
4 - Samandar (Kakaley, 8-1) - Finished second with broken equipment.  Worth a look at long odds.
5 - Fashion Delight (Miller, 7-2) - Just missed in seasonal return and draws in.  One to beat.
6 - Feel Like A Fool (Sears, 9 2) - Followed up Simpson victory with a flop.  Still has plenty of class.
7 - Flipper J (Tetrick, 15-1) - Fair effort for seasonal debut.  Draws fair.
8 - Bettor's Green (Grismore, 20-1) -  Seems not to have a good chance here.
9 - American Allard (10-1) - Likes outside post but may be in deep.
Selection: 5-6-9-1

9th Trot - $30,900; The Tioga Country Club Trot - 3yo Filly Trot
1 - Balmy Breeze (Mattison, 7-2) - Won first week and took week off.  Draws rail which must help.
2 - Lotto Winner (Schillaci, 8-1) - Won last week so can't be totally disregarded.  But others appear better.
3 - Cameo Credit (Marohn, 8-1) - Finished second off mini vacation.  May be a threat if improves.
4 - Cash On The Rail (Tetrick, 5-1) - A little flat in last race but picks up Tetrick.
5 - Broadway Starlet (Hensley, 9-2) - Came back strong this year.  One to beat.
6 - Bonbon (Ackerman, 10-1) - Lightly raced filly finished twice in seris.  Needs agressive drive.
7 - Tui (Paquet, 3-1) - Eye opening victory in last race and must be respected.  This race does figure to go faster.
8 - Sleek Jessie (Fluet, 15-1) - Won last week but draws outside.
9 - Amourus (Rattray, 10-1) -  Two seconds in series but moves outside.
Selections: 5-1-9

Monday, May 30, 2011 - Vernon Downs
6th Trot - $283,475; Empire Breeders Classic - 3yo Colts
   3 - Evil Urges (Whittemore, 5-1) - Won last week and draws rail once again.  Would not shock.
   1 - Dejarmbro (Smedshammer, 9-5) - NYSS Champion returned strong in first start.  One to beat.
1A - I'm The Answer (Sears, 9-5) - Won his elimination in faster time.  Completes strong entry.
   2 - All In Tad (Schnittker, 3-1) - Finished 3rd to top choice last week.  Likely outcome this week.
   4 - Surface Tension (Daley, 8-1) - Has yet to get on track this year.
   5 - Keenan (Lems, 10-1) - Lands share with best effort.
   6 - Whatever It Takes (Miller, 6-1) - Finished second to top choice in last.  Completes Trifecta.
2A - Whitewater Rapids (Gregory, 3-1) - Draws poorly again.  Tab for later.
2B - Wheels (Tetrick, 3-1) - Another draws poorly.  Will have his chance; just not this week.
Selections: 1-1A-2-6

9th Trot - $238,225 - Empire Breeders Classic - 3yo Fillies
   2 - Temper of Will (Whittemore, 10-1) - Expect improvement with move to the rail, but may not be enough.
   3 - Em El Cash (Smedshammer, 6-1) - Still a maiden.  Will still be a maiden.
   1 - Jezzy (Tetrick, 2-1) - Never lost in upstate New York, but odds will be too low.
   4 - Four Damsals (Gregory, 9-2) - Much improved this year.  2 for 2.  Could win at decent odds.
1A - Epona Blue chip (Schnittker, 2-1) -  Hasn't been a factor yet this year. 
   5 - Imageofasweetday (Stark,, 8-1) - Finished second to Jezzy in last, but moves out.
   6 - Leah's Ex (Mac Donald, 10-1) - Follows up decent Simpson effort with lackluster effort.
   7 - Miss Sue V (Miller, 3-1) - Ran out of steam in first start.  Likely nees another start.
1B - Some Girls (Sears, 2-1) -  Draws the worst of it.  But picks up Sears.  Not totally out of it.
Selections: 4-1-3

I'm not one for elimination or preliminary legs of races, but The Maxie Lee late closer's 1st leg at Chester Downs has a strong field of trotters, including Pilgrims Chuckie, Corleone Kosmos, and Buck I St Pat.  So let's take a look at this race wgucg will be contested Sunday.

Chester Downs, 5th Trot - $40,000; The Maxie Lee LC #6; 1st Leg
1 - Syenite (Callahan, 12-1) - Has not raced against this caliber.
2 - Hot Shot Blue Chip (Miller, 10-1) - Habit to break has cost him fame.  Your guess if the good or bad Hot Shot shows up.
3 - Pilgrims Chuckie (Dube, 9-2) - Needs a few starts to hit peak.  Tab for later.
4 - Corleone Kosmos (Campbell, 7-2) - Won Inv at Meadowlands.  Horse to beat.
5 - Anders Bluestone 9Pierce, 5-1) - Winner of six starts this year. Trying better this week and should hold her own.
6 - Looking Hanover (Gingras, 8-1) - Finished well beaten fifth at Meadowlands.
7 - Buck I St Pat (Tetrick, 5-2) - Finshed 2nd in Cutler.  Will land share but don't expect aggressive drive in leg 1.
Selections: 4-5-7 

Friday, May 27, 2011

Dan Patch Invitational Preview and New Jersey's Best 3YO Pacers

This weekend, there are two big races for older pacers.  Friday night brings us the Molson Pace at Western Fair Raceway, part of HANA's 'Pool Party' (selections for the entire Western Fair card may be found here) and Saturday night brings us the $200,000 Dan Patch Invitational which features a $20,000 guaranteed Superfecta payout.  Also, the SBOANJ hosts at the Meadowlands the $150,000 Miss New Jersey and $400,000 New Jersey Classic for New Jersey sired horses.  Not to be excluded, there will be selections for the $109,750 Rowe Memorial Cup at Georgain Downs and the $150,000 Betsy Ross at Chester Downs (Sunday).  The Empire Breeders Championships will be covered in another post.

Here is my analysis of these races.  Also, at the end is a brief anaylsis of the two Cal-Expo Pick 4s, including the $20,000 guaranteed Pick 4.:

 Hoosier Park, 12th Pace - $200,000; Dan Patch Invitational
1 - Won The West (Macomber, 6-1) - Off to a slow start, but at these odds you can't ignore.
2 - Hypnotic Blue Chip (Tr Tetrick, 5-1) - Seems to be up against stronger here.  Pass.
3 - Vintage Master (Dube, 3-1) - Beat St Elmo Hero at Pocono in last.  Will be a strong contender here.
4 - Golden Receiver (Wrenn, 8-1) -  Solidly defeated by #3 in last start.  Pass.
5 - Allthatglitrsisgold (Da Magee, 5-2) - Local representative who is 7 for 8.  Won at Meadowlands early this year. 
6 - Here We Go Again (Sutton, 10-1) - Appears over matched.
7 - Giddy Up Lucky (Goodell, 2-1) - Solid efforts in Levy, Graduate Elim; winner in Open Hcp at YR.   Don't dismiss.
8 - Foreign Officer (Widger, 15-1) - Like until last week.  Must improve dramatically to compete here.
Selections: 1-5-3-7

I know it will be easy to dismiss Allthatglitrsisgold being he has raced predominantly at Hoosier Park.  For those who want to dismiss him, just remember Won The West used to race for a time exclusively in the Mid-West before he moved up into the FFA ranks. Speaking of Won The West, if he can get an easy trip without getting parked, I think there is enough back class for him to win.  At 6-1 how can you let him go?  Vintage Master raced real good last week with a sub-1:0 mile beating St Elmo Hero, however, I think St Elmo Hero, while a very nice horse, is not a FFA-caliber horse.  Giddy Up Lucky appears to have been pointed for this race.  Qualified for the Graduate Final yet decided to race at Yonkers in a Open Handicap.  That being said, I can't pick him to win at 2-1.

Meadowlands, 3rd Pace - $150,000; Thomas D'Altrui SBOA Miss New Jersey - 3yo NJ Sired Fillies
1 - I Kill Time (Pierce, 8-1) - Draws rail and will be tougher from here.
2 - Pretty Katherine (D Miller, 5-2) - Finished second in first start and moved inside.  Will be tough.
3 - Krispy Apple (T Tetrick, 8-5) - Prep winner is likely favorite. Your choice if you want odds on.
4 - Rocklamation (A Miller, 4-1) - Just missed last week and can't be disregarded.
5 - Weekend Update (J Campbell, 12-1) - Appears to have improved greatly from last year.  First time at Big M.  Longshot play.
6 - So Perfect (Sears, 15-1) - Far back in first start.  Will need big improvement to contend.
7 - Honky Tonk Woman (Gingras, 10-1) - Fair efforts on Grand Circuit.  Lost in NW3 at Chester.
8 - Myluvmylife (Lachance, 15-1) - Not off recent starts.
Selections: 2-4-3 Longshot: 5

You will note I have a long shot play for the Miss New Jersey.  I like Pretty Katherine to win but if the odds are too low and Weekend Update is 10-1 or higher, I may take a stab with Weekend Update.  On the program, her effort in the American-National at Balmoral shows her running out of steam, but it appears she has come back better this year, so I will be willing to take a chance on her first try on the East Coast; if the price is right.

Meadowlands, 6th Pace - $400,000; Anthony Abbatiello SBOA New Jersey Classic - 3yo Open
1 - Shadyshark Hanover (T Tetrick, 3-1) - Draws rail.  If anyone going to upset the big guy; it's him.
2 - Roll'Em Up (A Miller, 8-1) - Finished 3rd next week, may land share this week too.
3 - Lizard King (D Miller, 12-1) - Still looking for win #2.  Pass.
4 - RU Ready To Rock (Gingras, 20-1) - Never involved last week and won't be this week.
5 - High Noon (Pierce, 15-1) - Saw them all last week and likely will this week.
6 - Doin Time Together (Allard, 15-1) - Needs to step it up big time to land share.
7 - Lookinforadventure (B Miller, 12-1) - Draws poorly after last week's effort.  Can't help.
8 - Big Jim (Hudon, 8-5) - No doubt the one to beat, but give big post advantage to #1.
9 - Grams Legacy (Sears, 5-1) - Was impressive in second place finish.  Definite Trifecta possibility.
10 - Jo Pa's Pe III (Campbell, 20-1) - Overmatched and draws poorly.  Never a good combination.
Selections: 1-8-9

That's right, I am going against Big Jim.  Big Jim is likely odds-on making him not a value play.  Shadyshark Hanover bypassed the prelim to race at Chester last week scoring a 1:51.3 victory.  In last year's Governor Cup, Shadyshark Hanover finished 2nd to Big Jim.  If I can get 3-1 or better, I'll take a stab with Shadyshark Hanover.  At 5-2, I will just play an 8-1 Exacta straight and a 8-1-9 Trifecta.

Georgian Downs, 7th Trot - $109,750; Honourable Earl Rowe Memorial Cup Gold Division
1 - All Cantab (Ritchie, 9-2) - Slow start this year, perhaps the third time is the charm.
2 - Armbro Chronicle (Byron, 7-2) - Toss last.  Been consistent in Woodbine Preferreds.
3 - Triumphant Caviar (Ouellette, 5-1) - Appears to be overmatched.
4 - Rose Run Hooligan (S Zeron, 6-1) - Seems to be tailing off.
5 - Windsong Soprano (Waples, 10-1) - Wiped out in return, was racing with the big guns last year.  Chance.
6 - Windsong Geant (R Zeron, 8-1) - Best efforts against Ontario Sires Stakes.  Not here.
7 - Slave Dream (Brown, 3-1) - At the top of his game.  The one to beat.
8 - Enough Talk (M MacDonald, 4-1) - Has not been able to complete his drive in the stretch.
9 - He's A Demon (Jamieson, 2-1) - Finished second to Canadian monster Sand Pail.  Post hurts.
AE - Yursa Hanover (Baillargeon, NL) - Expect improvement off first start back if draws in.
Selections: 7-9-5-8

If it is Saturday night, it is Pick 4 night at Cal Expo.  Here are my selections for the Pick 4s there:
Early Pick 4 (Race 4-7; 15% take out)  - 6/3,4/2,5,6/3 - $6
Late Pick 4 (Races 11-14; $15,000gtd) - 2,5,6/5,6/1,5/4 - $12

On Sunday, Harrah's Chester Downs plays host to teh Betty Ross LC for Pacing Mares.

Chester Downs, 9th Pace - $150,000; The Betsy Ross LC #5 - Mares FFA
1 - Anndrovette (Tetrick, 9-2) - Looks to control pace from the rail  One to beat.
2 - Ginger And Fred (Pierce, 5-1) - Bes6-8t efforts on the hald mile oval.
3 - Chancey Lady (Callahan, 10-1) - Not off recent.
4 - Rock N Soul (Gingras, 8-1) - Last two were bad but showed ability earlier.  Not out of it.
5 - Higher And Higher (Bier, 5-2) - Elimination winner figures to land share.
6 - Shacked Up (Goodell, 12-1) - Moves in from a bad post.  Improvement expected.
7 - Laughandbehappy (Miller, 7-2) - Has not shown staying power.
8 - Omen Hanover (Pantaleano, 15-1) - Consistently lands share.
Selections: 1-6-8
Holiday Programming Note: With the Memorial Day Holiday, Tioga Downs will be racing at night on Sunday with their weekly matinee card being held on Monday.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

HANA Pool Party - Molson Pace Card Selections

Friday night is the first HANA Pool Party for harness racing and as you may know, a pool party is when people support a specific wager.  The wager we will be supporting is the late Win 4 (Pick 4) starting with race 9.  The Win 4 has a 15% takeout and features a guaranteed $10,000 pool.  As part of the Pool Party,  Western Fair has allowed HANA Harness and harness racing fans alike to select three of the four races to be included in the Win 4.  The races which have been selected, along with their legs are the Ontario Sires State Gold Final #1 for 3yo filly pacers - leg 1; Fillies and Mares Preferred - leg 3; Invitational Pace - leg 4.  The Molson Pace will be included in the Win 4 as the second leg.

Since Western Fair is putting on a top-notch card on their closing night, I will be providing you my selections for all races with more detail provided for the Win 4 Sequence.  For purposes of handicapping, be aware the AEs can get into a race as late at noon on race day.

If you don't have a program yet for Western Fair's Molson card, you can get it here.  For those whose ADW does not carry Western Fair or does not show their races, here's a link to their live video link. 

For those who are not familiar with Western Fair, here is the menu for exotic wagers:
Daily Double - Races 1-2; Races 13-14
Win 4 - Races 4-7; Races 9-12
Exactor - All races
Triactor - All races
Superfecta - All races

Western Fair Raceway, Friday May 27, 2011 - Horses Score Seven Across; First Post 7:05PM
1st Pace - $10,000; Colts and Geldings - N/W $6,000 Last 3 Starts
6 - Donegal Mac (Henry, 9-2)
8 - McMaverick (Gingras, 8-1)
7 - Pacific Prince (Steward, 8-1)
3 - Philana Chalice (Jamieson, 7-2)

2nd Trot - $55,800; City of London Trotting Series - Fillies and Mares Final
4 - Althea M (Gingras, 3-1)
8 - Defy Time (Sheperd, 1-1)
3 - Mischievous Grin (Jones, 10-1)
6 - Soverign Ley (Williams, 9-2)

3rd Trot - $58,600; City of London Trotting Series - Colts and Geldings Final
4 - Vesa T (Horner, 3-1)
6 - Baileys Magic (Green, 8-5)
9 - Count Strike (Rekila, AE)
1 - Tymal Tonka (Saftic, 7-1)
5 - P C Dream Ride (Battin, 9-2)
#9 - Count Strike is an also eligible.  In the event of a scratch she will race from the post of the scratched horse but will race with head number nine.  If Count Strike draws in and gets post six or seven, I would remove the horse form my selections.  If draws post eight, keep in the selections.

4th Pace - $10,000; Colts and Geldings - N/W $6,000 Last 3 Starts (Start of Early Win 4)
6 - Annieswesterncard (Jamieson, 2-1)
8 - Justalittleluck (Steward, 9-2)
7 - Seymour Dinomyte (Wall, 8-1)
4 - Bulldog Tenacity (Williams, 5-2)

5th Trot - $130,000 - OnSS Gold Final #1 - 3yo Filly Trot
1 - Lukes Sophie (Jamieson, 1-1)
5 - My Whispering Eye  (J MacDonald, 12-1)
2 - L A Freeway (Byron, 6-1)
6 - Pretty Crafty (Filion, 10-1)

6th Trot - $25,000 - Invitation Trot
1 - Power Shot (Filion), 5-2
3 - Long Ago (Richardson, 6-1)
7 - Berosus (Henry, 4-1)
8 - Rudy Rocks (Coulter, 9-2)

7th Pace - $60,600; City of London Pacing Series - Colts and Geldings Final
8 - Bazilla (Shepherd, 1-1)
1 - Classic Call (Sowerby, 7-1)
9 - Diamond Duster (Richardson, AE)
3 - Distinctiv Richie (Carroll, 9-2)
5 - Tim The Man (Baillargeon, 6-1)
#9 - Diamond Duster is an also eligible.  In the event of a scratch, he will race from the position of the scratched horse but race with head number nine. If Diamond Duster draws in and get a post position outside of post four, remove from my selections.

8th Pace - $56,200; City of London Pacing Series - Fillies and Mares Final
7 - Cheryls Surprise (Jamieson, 2-1)
8 - Patsys Luck (Saftic, 6-5)
1 - Playboy Mansion (Hendry, 10-1)
4 - Lucky Real One (Sowerby, 9-2)

9th Pace - $130,000; OnSS Gold Final #1 - 3yo Filly Pace (Start of $10,000GTD Win 4)
1 - Monkey On My Wheel (Zeron, 7-5) - Finished 2nd in first start of year.  Eligible to improve.
2 - Smartygirl (MacDonald, 10-1) - Showed nothing in last start.  Inside not best spot.
3 - Village Janus (Gingras, 3-1) - 2 for 2 this year.  Won't get away with slow second quarter tonight.
4 - Shipps Xanadu (Battin, 8-1) -Toss last.  Finished 3rd in Super Final last year.  Ready for top effort.
5 - Camille (Brewer, 2-1) - The horse to beat.  What's there to say?
6 - Mach Lady (Jamieson, 6-1) - Winless this year.  Don't see a win today.
7 - Look Cheap (Shepherd, 10-1) - Expects a more aggressive drive.  Worth a look depending on odds.
8 - Lauren (Saftic, 9-2) - Should be able to get involved from second tier.  Don't ignore.
Also Eligible
9 - Mias Star (Steward, NL) - Entered at Hiawatha Horse Park on May 26.  Threw in clunker in elim.
10 - Modern Connection (M MacDonald, NL) - Bombed in second start.  Note horse won Super Final last year.
Selections: 5-7-1-8
Win 4 Leg A Horses: 1,5,7,10 (AE)

10th Pace - $300,000 Molson Pace Final - FFA (Estimated Post Time 10:15PM)
1 - Legal Litigator (M Macdonald, 4-1) - Needs some Coleman magic to be a factor.
2 - Anderlecht (Coulter, 10-1) - Finished second to elimination winner.  Attractive odds.
3 - Foiled Again (Gingras, 7-5) - Showed why he is a half mile specialist.  The one to beat.
4 - Aracache Hanover (Filion, 8-1) - Much better draw this week.  Can't dismiss.
5 - Valentino (Brewer, 10-1) - Horrible trip last week, don't see much better trip this week.
6 - Art Professor (Jamieson, 7-2) - Was going to get caught last week even without DQ.  Fires out.
7 - Rock Me Please (Saftic, 12-1) - Post does him in again this week.  Pass.
8 - Atochia (Palone, 5-2) - Would've won last week if not impeded. Dead if inside doesn't leave.
Also Eligible
9 - Four Starz Trace (Ouellette, NL) - Will need plenty of help if draws in.
10 - Lucky Man (MacDonald, NL) - Was blocked last week.  Interesting if he draws in.
Selections: 3-2-4-8
Win 4 Leg B Horses: 2,3, 10(AE)

11th Pace - $12,500; Fillies and Mares - Preferred
1 - Call Me Yours (Sowerby, 3-1) - Winner in last at Grand River.  Has won here before.  Live one.
2 - Miss Maverick (Richardson, 7-2) - Has raced well at Hazel Park despite outside draws.  Fits here.
3 - Grandma Dorothy (Dustin, 12-1) - Seems to be well over her head.
4 - Exquisite Alberta (M MacDonald, 9-5) - Won two back at Grand River but lost to #1 last week.
5 - Racy Gal Hanover (Baillargeon, 2-1) - Been racing at Woodbine.  Hard to gauge; I'll pass.
6 - Misty Moonstone (Core, 5-1) - Races well at Western Fair.  Toss last two.
7 - Chief Karen (Jamieson, 7-1) - Has not had success from outer posts.  Pass.
8 - Sammy Syd (Whelan, 5-1) - Won at Flamboro but this is much tougher.  Pass.
Selections: 1-2-6-5
Win 4 Leg C Horses: 1,2,6 

12th Pace - $25,000; Invitation Pace
1 - Blissfull Breeze (Henry, 2-1) - Coming off a win at Grand River but meeting better.  Lands share.
2 - Daddy Mac (Gingras, 3-1) - Woodbine shipped shows little success over the half miler.  Pass.
3 - Four Starz Trace (Jamieson, 5-1) - Overmatched in Molson.  This field may be more to his liking. 
4 - Part Shark (Coulter, 4-1) - No chance in last.  The horse to beat.
5 - Awesome Armbron N (Palone, 9-2) - Can't bypass this one.  Must have on ticket.
6 - Shadywood Baron (Carroll, 12-1) - Seems to be coming back into form but has tough task today.
7 - Upfront Hoosierboy (Baillargeon, 5-2) - Class of race but saddled with post.
Selections: 4-3-7-5
Win 4 Leg D Horses: 3,4,5,7 
Win 4 Ticket: 1,5,7,10(AE)/2,3, 10(AE)/1,2,6/3,4,5,7 - $72 (disregarding AEs).  Where listed in selections, consider the AEs if they draw in.
For Track Announcer Greg Blanchard's picks in this Win 4, see the video at the end of this post.
13th Pace - $10,000; Fillies and Mares - N/W $6,000 Last 3 Starts
5 - So Rammie (Wall, 12-1)
7  - Manvers Short Cut (Henry, 3-1)
1 - Richlyn Tessa (Sowerby, 9-2)
2 - Mach Dismissal (Richardson, 7-2)

14th Trot - $15,000; Preferred
3 - Flora Dream (Jamieson, 5-2)
5 - Flashback (Baillargeon, 3-1)
2 - Just One Day (Holliday, 5-1)
7 - Big changes (Dustin, 12-1)

As promised, here is Greg Blanchard's picks for the $10,000 guaranteed Win 4 Pool:

Good luck on Friday night.  Even if you don't typically play the Pick 4 wager, please play a few Pick 4 tickets in support of the good work Western Fair is doing for the race fan.

Elitlopp 2011 - Is This America's Year?

Yes, we are late this year regarding discussing the Elitlopp which will be held Sunday at Solvalla.  The Meadowlands and the NJAW ADW will be broadcasting and accepting wagers on the Elitlopp starting at 8:35am.  Consult with your local ADW and simulcast locations to see if they will be carrying the Solvalla card as well as the time and races they will be handling.  In a change, the Meadowlands will begin covering the races with race 6, the first elimination of the Elitlopp (in the past they did not accept wagering on the eliminations but only the final). This also allows horseplayers to play the popular V75 wager.  The V75 will consist of races 6 thru 13 (Race 11, the Elitlopp final is not included). Also unique this year is those wagering on the Solvalla simulcast will be able to wager on Cold Bloods, a different breed from the standardbred, in race 8.

Everyone is talking about this is the year the Star Spangled Banner gets played at Solvalla as many of the experts are picking Arch Madness to win the Elitlopp.  Make no mistake, based on Arch Madness' victory in the Grand Prix of Oslo, he is the well-deserved favorite, but if there is one thing I have learned, the trotters in Europe seem to be able to pop up after a disappointing effort.  I don't know if it is due to the way they train their horses, the fact they race different distances (the Elitlopp is at a mile), and/or the fact some races are vault started and others use the starting gate.  So while it looks like it is the year of America, don't be shocked if the anthem of another nation is played after the final heat.

Here is the field for the two eliminations of the Elitlopp

Elimination race 1 (race 6):
1. Rapide Lebel (France) - Eric Raffin
2. Year In Review (Sweden) - Per Lennartsson
3. Brioni (Germany) - Joakim Lövgren
4. Define The World (Canada) - Paul McDonell
5. Reven d'Amour (Sweden) - Fredrik B. Larsson
6. Wishing Stone (Denmark) - Jean Michel Bazire
7. Lavec Kronos (Sweden) - Lutfi Kolgjini
8. Libeccio Grif (Italy) - Marco Smorgon

Elimination race 2 (race 7):
1. Yarrah Boko (Norway) - Ulf Ohlsson
2. Arch Madness (USA) - Björn Goop
3. Iceland (Sweden) - Örjan Kihlström
4. Oyonnax (France) - Sébastien Ernault
5. Rakas (Sweden) - Per Lennartsson
6. Prince Tagg (Sweden) - Ralf Karlstedt
7. Lisa America (Italy) - Torbjörn Jansson
8. Commander Crowe (Sweden)

ATG provides an online program with the Swedish version of past performances which you can print out and it may be found here.  You will need to pick Sunday; then select the WS tab; pick the race you want and then click on past performances; then click on print.  You need to repeat these steps for each race.  Unfortunately, the past performance information is totally different from the program we are used to (another reason why past performance information needs to be standardized globally).  The Meadowlands and other sources may provide programs easier to understand.  To assist you on your picks, here is a tip sheet on the entire Elitlopp card.

Here are my selections for the Elitlopp divisions and final:

1st Elimination  - Lavec Kronos, Reven D'Amour, Define the World, Rapide Lobell
2nd Elimination -  Oyonnax, Arch Madness, Lisa America, Iceland
Final: Oyannax, Lavec Kronos, Arch Madness.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Here's to you Barry Irwin

Not being a thoroughbred fan, I must confess not paying attention to the Kentucky Derby and Preakness.  Being I didn't pay attention to those races, I didn't see any of the post race comments.  I wish I did.  Apparently, Barry Irwin, owner of Animal Kingdom, raised quite a stir with his comments after winning the Kentucky Derby.  Apparently, in the aftermath of his Derby win, Irwin went on a tear and blasted thoroughbred racing for trainers who don't tell their owners the truth, and more importantly, how certain trainers are using designer drugs which can't be detected and he called for a FBI investigation into 'designer' drugs.  As you can imagine Barry Irwin is in favor of federal legislation outlawing race day medication.  In addition, he felt that his comments made some consider him a pariah and a 'boy scout'.

And I was wondering why they were putting 24 hour guards on Animal Kingdom after the Kentucky Derby.  I guess I got my answer now.  I am sure some called him a pariah, boy scout, and something worse as Irwin broke the unspoken code of not talking publicly about cheating trainers and drug use in racing.

Well Equidaily has a transcript of NBC's Bob Costas with Barry Irwin after the running of this past weekend's Preakness and it makes for interesting reading.   Here is just one exchange:

Bob Costas: OK. Part of your concern -- and it's shared by many -- is the rampant use of drugs in the sport. It's much more tightly controlled in Europe and Australia for example. There's bipartisan legislation now that would tighten things up across the country. You favor it?

Barry Irwin: I'm all for it. I can't wait. One thing I'd like to see happen in this sport is I'd like to see the FBI get involved. There are a certain amount of guys that are always going to want to cheat. There's tons of guys out there that will sell drugs to these people but there's only a few guys that can use it and it's the same guys year-in and year-out. I'm not talking about the drugs people know everyday - bute, lasix, all that stuff - I'm talking designer drugs. Drugs like the BALCO guys had. We need to get the FBI to investigate that kind of stuff. Pass this legislation that's three strikes and you're out. And then root these guys out of the sport.

These same comments can be made for standardbred racing.  Let's face it, there are poor trainers, good trainers, and better trainers, but let's face it, while some trainers have unique ways to do things, the concept of training is the same.  The biggest difference between trainers is the shallow or deep pockets of their owners and the people they are able to employ.  But we have some trainers, year in and year out who have phenomenal success.  You can have great success one year, possibly two but if year after year a trainer is leaps and bounds above everyone else, you have to wonder if something's not kosher.  After all, the law of averages has to catch up to a trainer.

I do have some bad news Mr. Irwin, unless federal legislation concerning medication in horse racing is passed, don't expect to see the FBI getting involved.  I understand the fear the racing industry has of Federal intervention, but unless racing can get its hand around the medication problem, perhaps Federal intervention is needed.  I am not saying the proposed legislation is perfect; it does need some changes, but the concept is good.  Whether it is the lack of desire or financal issues, racing has not been able to get its hand around the problem of illegal drugs and it won't.

I feel sorry for Barry Irwin.  I am sure he is financially sound, but if he gets treated like a certain harness racing individual got treated last year for raising a similar issue, there are going to be people ready to drill him a proverbial 'new one'.  And Barry Irwin's crime?  He spoke the truth.  

Hold Off on the Champage For Now

John Brennan from The Record, writes on his blog that Morris Bailey, the supposed operator of Monmouth Park is still having problems with the NJTHA and the thoroughbred breeders with regards to the number of racing days and purse levels which Bailey believes he can operate Monmouth at.

As a result of this, unless the horsemen come around  it is possible Monmouth Park will not have a lease agreement by June 1 which may result in a shutdown of racing at Oceanport track.  If, as Governor Christie has indicated, he wants to have both leases resolved at the same time, it is possible that Jeff Gural may not be able to officially take over the Meadowlands on June 1.  To make matters worse, if the thoroughbred horsemen are not racing, there is a good chance that thoroughbred simulcasting can come to an end state-wide.

Quite honestly, I don't understand why the thoroughbred horsemen are having a problem with this.  First of all, if they acccept the terms offered by Bailey, they will be racing as many days as last year.  Yes, the purses will be about half of last year, but with the big out of state stables not being at Monmouth this year, New Jersey horsemen will have better chances of winning purse money than they had last year.

I used to think standardbred horsemen were clueless.  I guess I was wrong.

Wednesday Notes

Marketing, More Specifically, Marketing What?  Dean over at Pull The Pocket hits it out of the ball park once again on the subject of marketing.  More specifically, what are we marketing (shared this link yesterday) and how to position racing.  The industry needs to decide what standardbred racing is.  Is it entertainment?  Is it gambling?  Is it both (it can be but the emphasis needs to be gambling as it pays the bills)?  However, my question is this, who decides how the sport is marketed?  Does each track go it alone which is expensive and results in a non-unified message, or do we try to put together a unified message through joint marketing?  The logical answer would be joint marketing but the problem is are you going to get racinos to market against their slot machines and/or table games?  Not very likely.  We need to be able to show racinos that horse racing can be a profitable part of their gaming portfolio and not a loss leader (their way to keep a racino). 

See You At Peelers Takes on the Boys:  News comes out that the amazing filly See you at Peelers will be taking on the boys next week in the $307,734 Art Rooney Pace.  Yes, for the owners of See You At Peelers, a half mile specialist (and you need to be if you are going to go undefeated on the NYSS circuit), this is not only a good time to see how she measures up against the boys, but they figure why give up a large pay check they believe is within their reach?  Unfortunately, a lot of owners have no problem leaving money on the table as there is no need for elimination races this week with only six horses entered.  Same thing for the $197,634 Lismore which drew only seven horses.  But after last year, we shouldn't complain; last year the Rooney was raced as a non-wagering event before the evening's wagering card. However, with three of the horses in the Rooney being coupled (common ownership), if the race does get on the wagering card there probably will be Win and Exacta wagering only.

Still Not Soup:  The NJTHA has still not officially signed off on a 71 day, $400,000 daily purse distribution agreement at Monmouth Park for this year.  As a result, no lease has been officially signed at the Meadowlands or Monmouth Park.  I still expect the thoroughbred horsemen to sign off on the reduced schedule, especially since the NJRC has modified Monmouth's schedule to race only on weekends this summer, but with only seven days remaining until June 1, I must confess I would like to see everything finally settled. 

Drivers Make a Pledge:   Meadowlands drivers John Campbell, Brian Sears, Tim Tetrick, Yannick Gingras, Andy Miller, Ron Pierce, David Miller, Mike Lachance, Jim Meittinis, Simon Allard and Steve Smith have released a letter indicating they will be driving regularly at the Meadowlands despite the fact the potential to make more money elsewhere in an effort to help Jeff Gural rebuild the Meadowlands.  It's nice to know the core of the driving colony will be prominent drivers.  Where is the trainer's pledge?  Don't hold your breath waiting for it.

Well, at Least it is a Full Card:  Thursday night's card at the Meadowlands is prime proof we won't be seeing a trainer's pledge to be loyal to the Meadowlands anytime soon.  Three maiden events, a $10,000 claimer, a NW4000L5 contest are among the races being contested Thursday night.  Six of the ten races are for trotters.  Now, I love trotting events more than most people do, but I realize this is not what most people want to see.  However, on the plus side, nine of the ten races have nine or ten horses entered.  Hey, you do what you have to do.  Speaking of that, one way to help improve the product is to get the Meadowlands' races simulcast abroad on a daily basis and have foreign harness racing simulcasted in.  Of course, the biggest impediment to that is having non-standardized past performance information available.  It is essential that a standard be set globally.

Can Someone Explain This to Me?  Racetracks complain about how little money they receive form ADWs for carrying their races.  Yet with the exception of Churchill Downs with their TwinSpires, no other racetrack or group of racetracks has ever decided on operating their own ADW?  Operate it as a non-profit operation where the commission will cover the expense of operating the ADW and the rest of the money would go to the track and horsemen to improve their bottom lines.  Due to anti-trust laws you would have to continue offering your signal to existing ADWs and you would still need to offer rebates to attract bettors to your ADW, but it would be up to each track to decide what they want to offer as a rebate for wagers on their track.  Fear that racetracks would discontinue rebates?  Only if they want to destroy themselves as they would lose the big time gambler.  Instead of complaining about the ADWs, do something about it.

News Item: Jockeys and Trainers Busted on Race Fixing:  Over in England, a group of jockeys, a trainer, and two horse owners who deliberately lost races and profit by making wagers on exchange wagering pools, wagering on their horses to lose.  It shows that authorities can police exchange wagering.  Make no mistake someone is going to try a similar thing in New Jersey when exchange wagering commences.   Authorities need to be viligant and let people know they not only will lose their licenses but will be making appearances in front of juries when the attempt such actions.  

Meadowlands Downs a bomb?  I had recently mentioned a need to rebrand the Meadowlands after the mishandling of the track for the last couple of years to show it is a new day.  My idea of renaming the Meadowlnds as Meadowlands Downs when the new grandstand is built was not appreciated by one of my readers.  If you decided to rename the Meadowlands, what would you suggest?  Let me know. 

If it is Wednesday, it is Time for Thursday Cal-Expo Pick 4 Selections.  Early Pick 4 selection is 1,4/1,7/1,6/6 ($8) and for the late $10,000gtd Pick 4, my selection is: 3/4,5,8/ 3,4,5,6/2,4,8 ($36).

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Western Fair Pool Party on Tap for Friday

Horseplayers Have Chosen the Pick 4 Races, Advance Deposit Wagering Companies Climb Aboard With New Rewards for the Western Fair $300,000 Molson Pace Pick 4 “Pool Party”


(May 24th, 2011, Charlottesville, VA) - The Horseplayers Association of North America’s Harness Racing division “HANA Harness” has organized it’s very first “Pool Party” for the Western Fair pick 4 on Friday, at that tracks’ signature event, the $300,000 Molson Pace. We are happy to announce the races that were chosen by you – the horseplayer – for the pick 4 sequence are finalized. As well, several Adw’s have jumped on board offering you brand new rewards for the big evening.
“Pool Parties” were first introduced in 2009 where horseplayers gather to bet a specific pool on a specific day or evening to show support for a racetrack who is being customer friendly in myriad ways. Western Fair Raceway has been customer friendly of late, with free programs, a reduction in takeout on their pick 4 of 15%, and guaranteeing pools.

The races which will make up the pick 4 which were chosen by horseplayers via an online survey were as follows: The $300,000 Molson Pace, the $25,000 Molson Pace Consolation/Invitational, a Preferred Pace, and the $130,000 OSS Gold Filly Pace (35%).

We are also pleased to announce several ADWs will be offering brand new rewards for the card, lowering bettors’ effective takeout appreciably.,, and have shown support for the Pool Party with rewards on the whole evening of racing, as well as signup bonuses. Horseplayer Interactive, Woodbine’s online wagering arm, has also instituted a new bonus for the card: 10X reward points on trifectas (triactors). Please visit these Adw’s directly for their deals, residency requirements and full betting menus. If there are any other Adw's who would like to offer their customers added rewards for the evening, please email HANA and we will be happy to inform bettors.

The card will also be simulcast as a part of the Meadowlands race card on Friday, and is being carried by all major ADWs in Canada and the US.

On the HANA Blog this week, we will be posting the program pages for free, analysis from a proprietary software program, a professional harness horseplayer ‘s picks, and a link to “Whatwins”, a pay site for harness picks that uses artificial intelligence which is giving out the card for free. Please watch for that this coming Friday.

To keep informed, or to get involved, please join HANA Harness at Please specify “harness racing” when you sign up.

Email us anytime at

The Horseplayers Association of North America is a grassroots group of horseplayers, not affiliated with any organization, who are not pleased with the direction the game has taken. HANA believes that both tracks and horseman groups have become bogged down with industry infighting and have completely forgotten something: The importance of the customer. HANA hopes, through proactive change on several key issues (including but not limited to), open signal access, lower effective takeouts, wagering integrity, affordable data and customer appreciation, the industry’s handle losses can be reversed. HANA is currently made up of approximately 2000 horseplayers (both harness and thoroughbred) from almost all states and Canadian provinces. It currently represents over $80,000,000 of yearly racing handle.

Our web address is and interested horseplayers can sign up there for free. We are horseplayers, just like you and we are trying to make a difference. We need, appreciate, and ask humbly for your support. (HANA)

Less Purse Money for the Meadowlands?

Just when you though purse contributions to the Meadowlands could not get lower, get ready.  The possibility that the Meadowlands and Monmouth will lose most of the funding they get from the Casino Simulcast Fund which was created years ago to compensate racetracks for the loss of earnings due to racetracks taking simulcasting exists.

Where will that money go?  If the bill is approved, $1 million dollars will go to Atlantic City Race Course for capital improvements as they would get 90% of the Casino Simulcast Fund instead of the 7% ACRC received last year.  The remaining 10% of the fund would be divided equally between Freehold, Meadowlands, and Monmouth Park.  After the first year, the money would be dedicated to adding racing dates at ACRC.  The thoroughbred breeders object to it because it could cost Monmouth Park up to $775,000 in purse money at a time they are seeking sources of funds to boost purses.  The NJTHA actually has no problem with the money going to ACRC provided it be used to boost racing dates and not capital improvements. 

No word comes from the standardbred horsemen as they would lose about $225,000 in purse money which in the grand scheme of things is not that much. 

Atlantic City Race Course officials claim they deserve the bulk of the fund being located about 10 miles from Atlantic City, they are the most impacted track being that close to Atlantic City and one must agree there is some logic there.  They claim they got none of the casino subsidy the other tracks received over the last three years and if they get this money for capital improvements, ACRC could run a true 'elite' meet and possibly attract the Breeders Cup.  The President of ACRC claims it is time for South Jersey to get their share of the money for the first time.

My take is let ACRC get the money and let the first year funds be used for capital improvements.  You will never get a harness meet at Monmouth Park and with ACRC racing a very short thoroughbred meet, anything which improves their physical plant can only make the track more attractive should standardbred interests ever think of expanding race dates by racing at ACRC. 

For once, ACRC deserves to be treated fairly..

Sneak Peak at the Memorial Day Weekend

This holiday weekend, there is plenty of harness racing action to be had.  Starting with Friday evening, the Meadowlands has scheduled a simulcast of the Molson Pace as part of their racing program, this in addition to carrying the entire Western Fair race card as a simulcast program.  Don't forget Western Fair is HANA's first harness racing 'pool party' for their $10,000 guranteed Win 4 which includes the Molson Pace and three additional races picked by harness racing fans (those races should be announced later today).

On Saturday, the Meadowlands hosts the $400,000 SBOANJ Classic for 3yo New Jersey Sired colt and gelding pacers and the $150,000 Miss New Jersey for 3yo NJ sired filly pacers.  Hoosier Park hosts the $200,000 Dan Patch Invitational.  Pocono Downs hosts $60,000 James Lynch Memorial eliminations for 3yo filly pacers.

On Sunday, Tioga Downs hosts the Empire Breeders Classic (EBC) finals for pacers where 3yo pacing colts will be racing for a purse of $289,925 and 3yo fillies will be racing for $279,175.  In addition to the EBC finals, there are finals of two late closing series with purses exceeding $30,000 each.  Chester Downs hosts the $100,000  Betsy Ross for FFA Mares and has the first leg of the Maxie Lee late closer.  The Meadowlands will simulcast the Elitlopp from Sweden starting at 8:35am, picking up the card from race 6 and continuing on through race 14.  This is a change from previous years whre they picked up the Solvalla card with the Elitlopp final.  I have not seen the program for Solvalla, but it would appear fans will be able to wager on the two elimination heats.

On Monday, Tioga Downs is hosting prep races for 3yo NYSS eligible horses with purses of $10,000 each.  This is a welcome chnge from other tracks who scrape the barrel trying to put on an extra race on holiday weekends.  Vernon Downs will be hosting finals of the EBC for 3yo trotters with the colts racing for $283,475 and the fillies going for $238,225.  Both of thees cards will be raced as matinees in the afternoon.  For the first time in ages, the Meadowlands will not be racing on Memorial Day.  Chester Downs hosts the $200,000 PASS for 3yo trotting colts.  Saratoga Harness hosts the $37,400 Battle of Saratoga late closer.  Scioto Downs has the second leg of the OSS for 3yo trotting and pacing colts with $15,000 purses.

Clearly harness fans have their choice of stakes races to watch all weekend.

Dean over at PTP has a great article about marketing; specifically what are we marketing?
Ocean Downs Here They Come!  Ocean Downs has released their first condition sheet for their meet which begins on June 19 and it is clear this is not the same Ocean Downs that has raced cheap horses in the past.  Thanks to slot machines being introduced in Maryland, horsemen will be racing for decent money at the Berlin oval, especially if the horses are Maryland Owned and Bred.  Maidens racing for $3,000 which in the past has been pretty much one of the highest purses they have had there.  $4,000 claimers race for $3,000 or $4,500 if the race is filled with Maryland Owned and Bred horses.  Maryland Owned and Bred $10,000 claimers race for $7,500 (the purse level at the Meadowlands) and Maryland $20,000 claimers will be racing for $12,000.  Don't be surprised if some of the Maryland trainers abandon the Meadowlands once Ocean Downs opens. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Horse Rescue on the Air

Horse Rescue on the Air: Anouk Busch, harness trainer and founder of Horse Rescue United, was a guest of Views and Voices a public affairs radio show hosted by Rachel Katz which is heard on WWFM in Mercer County, New Jersey.  You can hear the May 21, 2011 broadcast here with Anouk's interview starting at the 8:47 point in the show.  In addition to talking about horse rescue, Anouk also promotes harness racing.

Back to the Future:  The Meadowlands will simulcast the Molson Pace as part of Friday night's race card, carding it as the 10th race and having their own pool.  In addition, the Meadowlands will carry the entire Western Fair card Friday evening, meaning fans will be able to shop for odds.

Remembering Buddy Gilmour

William "Buddy" Gilmour has passed away last night at the age of 78. Buddy Gilmour was elected to the Canadian Horse Racing Hall of fame in 1988, the Upstate New York USHWA Hall of Fame and was inducted in the Harness Racing Hall of Fame in Goshen at the age of 1989, entering the Hall of Fame with Clint Galbraith.  Buddy was one of four Gilmour brothers who drove, Lloyd, George, and John being the other three.  John Gilmour still drives at Monticello Raceway.  But neither of the two had the success William Buddy Gilmour did.

Buddy started his career racing in Canada in the 1950s before moving to Buffalo and Batavia Raceway where he raced until 1962.  Then misfortune in the form of a barn fire which wiped out his stable at Batavia prompted the then thirty year old to seek his fame on the Yonkers-Roosevelt circuit and there indeed did he achieve the pinnacle of his career.  Driving on the Metropolitan New York Circuit did he race hores like Joie De Vie (of which he was part owner), On the Road Again, Follow My Star, Steinam, Millers Scout and countless others.  1984 and 1985 were perhaps his best years as he raced On The Road Again all over North America at countless tracks.  When the Meadowlands opened up he too drove there and while he may have not had he success he did at Yonkers and Roosevelt, he managed to be a respected driver there as well.  He was a winner of  5,381 wins lifetime with more than $44 million dollars in purse money.  He was one of the all-time greats. 

As for myself, Buddy was one of those great drivers who raced on the Yonkers-Roosevelt circuit before the Meadowlands opened and was part of one of the strongest driving colonies there were, competing against drivers like Del Insko, Carmine Abbatiello, Ben Steall, Herve and Henri Fillion and other top drivers.  His passing is a loss of another of a personality from perhaps one of harness racing's greatest periods and my youth.  My sympathy goes out to his family on their loss.

To read the comments posted in the Hall of Fames about Buddy Gilmour, you can click on this link

Let's take a look at some of Buddy's greatest races:

1985 George Morton Levy Memorial with On The Road Again

The 1982 U.S. Pacing Championship with Millers Scout

Buddy Gilmour with Joie De Vie in the Yonkers Trot

And lastly, since Buddy started his career in Canada, it is only fitting to end with a race in Canada.  Here is Buddy Gilmour and On The Road Again in the 1984 Confederation Cup at Flamboro Downs.

Re-branding the Meadowlands

If one thing is clear, it is the Meadowlands brand name has been severely sullied. A year of virtually no advertising locally and nationally, uncertainty of their status (they have lived and died so many times it was hard to keep track), stop and go racing, less racing dates, and inferior racing when compared to prior meets has irreparably harmed the brand name. Sure, those in the industry know the Meadowlands and its importance to the industry but to those who matter, the horseplayer and potential new customers, the Meadowlands no longer stands out on its own and is just another racetrack.  Something must be done to reinvigorate the brand name.

Once the Gural group officially becomes the lessee of the Meadowlands (things are still be held up by the thoroughbred people but I expect it to be finalized this week), it will be time to re-brand the Meadowlands as soon as possible to show not only new management is in place, but a whole new philosophy towards the racing customer experience at the Big M is in place as well. A new logo branding the Meadowlands as a standardbred track needs to be introduced as soon as practical.  While the ownership of the Meadowlands will not be identical to Tioga and Vernon Downs, Jeff Gural and his team will be in the driver’s seat so it is appropriate that the advertising shows the connection to their existing properties and get the word out throughout the gambling marketplace that the Meadowlands is back and the customer is number one.

I would suggest initially keeping the Meadowlands name, but change the logo so it is similar to the Tioga Downs logo and it be used in all advertising and kick-off campaign.  Picture the Tioga Downs logo and replace "Tioga Downs Racing" with "Meadowlands Racing" and lose the part that says "Casino and Entertainment" (you may want to click on the Tioga/Vernon Downs calendar to the left to get a good look at the logo I suggest be used as a model).  Then, once the new grandstand opens, modify the logo once again so the Meadowlands name is changed to "Meadowlands Downs" and under the Racing part of the logo, put "and Entertainment Center" to re-emphasize the fact entertainment is a big component of the racetrack experience.

Of course, re-branding does no good unless you live up to the promise you are presenting.  Fortunately, knowing Jeff Gural, that promise will be lived up to.  Short of having a casino, the Meadowlands (or Meadowlands Downs) will become the preeminent racing and entertainment destination in the North American racing world.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Big Jim Impresses; Plainridge Racecourse Preview

Big Jim kicked off his sophomore racing season yesterday at the Meadowlands and to say he was impressive, would be downplaying his performance as he won in 1:51.4 easing up as he approached the finish line.  If not for easing up he would have won by three or four lengths; this his first start of the year and a month since he qualified.  The race replay is available via Harness Racing Update, a new feature of HRU.  If he stays healthy, it could be a championship year.

I want to share with you the In the Sulky interview with Larry Lederman of Freehold Raceway.  Considering what he is going through, he is an inspiration.  Enjoy it.

To commemorate the reduction of Plainridge's takeout to 15% for all bets, I have handicapped the Monday afternoon card.  First race is at 4:00PM.  Plainridge Racecourse is a non-racino track so most of the horsemen are local meaning the horses race exclusively at Plainridge which means since their meet only began last week, many of these horses are making their first or second start of the year.  Some of the horses will have had one or two starts at tracks in upstate New York or Maine and some of the horses may have shipped in from Freehold whose spring meet has concluded.

Admittedly, you may have a problem finding an ADW which takes Plainridge's signal since they now chart 8% for the signal to non-racing entities but at a 1% fee for racetracks, your local racetrack maybe simulcasting their races. 

As for the caliber of Plainridge, admittedly it is not one of the higher classes tracks around with a bottom claiming class of $1,500.  If we had to grade them as an A, B, or C track; it would likely be a C track.  Every race features Exacta, Trifecata and Superfecta wagesrs with a 15% takeout at a one dollar minimum (though some tracks and ADWs may require a higher minimum.  Daily Double wagering is offered on the first two and last two races of the program (also 15%) and a Pick 3s are offered starting with race 3 and race 10.  A Pick 4 is offered starting with race 6.  As with the other wagers, there is a 15% rake.
Anyway, here is my review of the races:

Plainridge Racecourse, Monday, May 23; First Post 4:00pm.
1st Pace - $2,000; Conditioned Claiming $2,500 NW1000L5
5 - Dragon Power (Watson, 7-2) - Sharp trip in last; threat
3 - LA Suvera (O'Dea, 3-1) - Just missed in local debut; drops
2 - Pacific Raider (Eaton, 5-1) - First start after two qualifiers.  Should land in money.
7 - So Hot (Anderson, 6-1) - Needs fast pace up front to finish higher.

2nd Pace = $2,500; Conditioned Claiming $2,500 NW1000L5
2 - Burrell A (Eaton, 2-1) - Wired field in seasonal debut.  One to beat despite minor class hike.
3 - Shady Bettor (Dinning, 5-1) - Fell flat in seasonal debut at Buffalo but makes big drop.
5 - Hi Speed Delivery (Hogan, 4-1) - Drops down looking for proper level.
4 - Rare Glory (Kakaley, 3-1) - Nice Qua after disappointing attempt at Freehold.  Meets easier.

3rd Pace -  $2,000; Non-winners of $1,000 Last 5
3 - Beauclaire Bono (Hogan, 2-1) - Steps down after decent effort.
6 - Famed Artist (Eaton, 6-1) -  Folded late and drops; consider.
7 - Deuces N Eights (Watson, 3-1) - Coming a long late against better.
2 - LB Speedn (Kakaley, 5-1) - Plunges in class.  May land share.

4th Pace - $3,000; 5yo and Under - W13PMLT
4 - RD Arty (Eaton, 6-1) - Ships in looking for a field to defeat.
2 - Kiss My Cruiser (Hogan, 3-1) - Seems to be coming into into her own.  Looks to repeat.
6 - Best Class ((O'Dea, 5-1) - Not as good a chance from here.
9 - Cyst To Sister ( Kakaley, 10-1) -  Steps up off win.  Draws the worst of it,

5th Pace - $2,000 -NW1000L5
4  - Billy Madison (O'Deal 6-1) - Shipper drops down and gets good post.  Adds lasix figures)/
3 -   GB's Li'l Misfit (Eaton, 3-1) - Decent effort despite being impeded.  Live one.
2 - CS TA (Bonet, 12-1) - Makes seasonal debut,  Had success here last year.
1 - Softshoe Hanover (Sumner, 7-2) - No shot in local debut.  Lands share with trip.

6th Pace - $4,000 - NW2000L5
6 - Bella's Bombshell (3-1) - Good tightener, the horse to beat.
3 - Mordecai (Eaton, 4-1) - Likes the larger oval.  Threat to top choice.
8 - Winslow Chill (Abdelnour, 10-1) - Perhaps the best horse in race but draws the worst of it.
4 - Chevie Dooley (O'Dea, 8-1) - Faltered late, but should be tighter.

7th Pace - $2.000; 5 year olds and under - NW1PMLT 
2 - AR Special ((Kakely, 7-2) - Just missed in debut; logical choice.
1 - Rushing Hero (Sumner, 3-1) - Finished 3rd from eight hold.  Draws rale in second start. 
5- Occupant (Eaton, 4-1) - Been roughed up; should improve with an easier trip.
7 - Bet Sheasa Manny  (O'Dea, 10-1) - Led half way in first start.  Should be tighter.

8th Pace - $3,000; NW1500L5
6 - Do You Really (Dinning, 3-1) - Finished 2nd is seasonal debut; expect improvement.
8 - Priceless Art (Martellotta, 10-1) - Just missed in Amateur event.  Draws poorly but may be able to improve.
5 - Township Aarpon (Scott, 7-2) - Just missed in seasonal debut.  Look for improvement.
1 - Kilkerran Union (Sumner, 6-1) - May get involved from the rail for Superfectas.

9th Pace - $2,000; NW1000L5
4 - Dreamy (Kakaley, 2-1) - Finished third in last.  Seems to be the one to beat.
2 - Celebrity Zelda (Hardy, 3-1) - Drops and moves inside. Threat with easier trip.
1 - GH Shady Lady (Quinn, 4-1) - Drops off decent seasonal debut.  May better rating.
7 - Ball Queen (Watson, 6-1) - Drops of lackluster event.  May manage to squeeze in Superfecta.

10th Pace - $3,000; NW1500L5
5 - Jenna's World (Lewis, 5-1) - Looks to repeat in a competitive field.
4 - Picking Up Chicks (Eaton, 3-1) - Toss last.  Was competitive against15K claimers at the Spa.
2 - Up Front Denise (Kakaley, 7-2) - Just missed and drops down.  Logical contender.
1 0 Names Fame (Watson, 6-1) - Hard to gauge YR shipped, looking for first win.  May improve rating.

11th Pace - $4,000; NW2000L5
5 - Lyfslykaboxachoclt  (O'dea, 6-1) - Chicago shipper seems to have a class advantage here.  At these odds worth a stab.
2 - Uprising (Eaton, 8-1) - Fair qualifier and may be worth a try at first asking.
3 - Bull Moose (Kakaley, 7-2) - Won first start at Plainridge.  Was disappointing in bottom classes at Fhld.  Maybe picks up third.
7 - Faiths Tattler (Martellotta, 4-1) - Best of rest.

12th Pace - $5,000; NW4000L5 (#1 and #4 uncoupled entry)
1 - Pembroke Deluxe (Hardy, 6-1) - Wired slightly easier from post seven in last.  One to beat.
2 - Gray Bomber (Nason, 3-1) - Steps up off victory; anticipate good effort.
6 - Iris Elitist (Sumner, 7-2) - Another one that steps up off victory.  May complete Trifecta.
8 - On His Way (O'Dea, 5-1) - Third in last but draws the worst of it.

13th Pace - $3,000; NW1500L5
2 - Lucielle Hall (Therren, 4-1) - Only horse that has a legitimate shot here.
4 - Hey Just Call Me (Hardy, 5-1) - Move inside should allow horse to improve.
7 - JB Ingot (Kakaley, 7-2) - A distant third in first start back.  Potential to improve is there despite post.
5 - Shuffle's Bliss (Eaton, 6-1) - May improve off first start.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Saturday Notes and Spurring Wagering in PA?

If you haven't read the final installment of Having Their Say, you really need to read it now.

Tioga Downs has an excellent racing card on Sunday afternoon.  If you have nothing else planned, you need to watch and wager on their program.  See You at Peelers, Feels Like a Fool and other grace the Tioga card. 

In a sign of support for Plainridge Racecourse reducing their takeout to 15% for all wagers, I will be giving my analysis of their entire card for this Monday.  Selections should be posted sometime on Sunday or early Monday at the latest.  Yes, I do realize with their 8% charge to ADWs, you may need to hunt around to find a way to wager on therm.  My understanding is Twin Spires is handling Plainridge as are many racetracks with simulcasting.

In the Molson Pace Eliminations last night, it was Team Burke night with Foiled Again and Atochia winning both divisions of the eliminations.  Well, Foiled Again won his elimination and Atochia was on the winning end of a judge's inquiry as Art Professor crowded Atochia in the stretch.  The final eight competing for the $300,000 Molson Pace championship are, in post position order, Legal Litigator, Anderlecht, Foiled Again, Aracache Hanover, Valentino, Art Professor, Rock Me Please, and Atochia.

The Meadowlands had Freehold announcer Larry Lederman on their "In the Sulky" segment last night and invited him to call the third race last night.  As you may be aware, Larry is suffering from an inoperable malignent brain tumor which he will begin aggressive treatment of next week.  Larry is one of the most entertaining announcers around and we hope it won't be long before he returns to the announcer's booth full time.

The PHHA, MSBOA amd Pennsylvania harness tracks have announced there will be a $250,000 bonus to any horse that wins the Hempt Memorial, Adios, and Battle of the Brandywine.  This is a nice incentive to keep a top horse that wins the Hempt interested in racing in the Adios, and if victorious there, to go onward to the Battle of the Brandywine.  After all, don't all racetracks want to have a star appear at their track?  This bonus in theory will ensure that at least one horse will make an appearance at Pocono Downs, The Meadows, and Chester Downs.  Isn't it great what slot money allows you to do?

However, despite what Sam Beegle, President of the PHHA, says, the one thing this bonus will not do is  "spur wagering–among fans".  If the horsemen and the tracks want to spur wagering among fans, what is needed is a takeout reduction.  I challenge them to lower their takeout to the minimum allowed in Pennsylvania and if that is not too low, go to the state legislature and ask for the takeout to be reduced in the state of Pennsylvania.  These days, Pennsylvania harness tracks probably have some of the best standardbred racing on a daily basis, yet the pools are so small due to the takeout.  Serious horse players will not be wagering on these races because the pools are so small.  Instead of handing out bonuses to horsemen who are making scads of slot-fueled purses, the smart thing would be to take some of the money being used to benefit horsemen in he forms of bonuses and sponsoring races and use it to seed mutuel pools so the whales will take a look at your racing program. 

But they won't, instead, picure horsemen rolling around in slot money being added to their purse account screaming 'It's mine, It's mine, It's all mine", they are quick to spend that money amongst themselves, but heaven forbid they use any of this money to build a real gambling audience to the game.  .

Having Their Say - Edition 4

For our last segment of Having Their Say, we have Sally, an individual who works in the industry who is responding to the question, why we can't get people to come out to the track.  We are not talking about the big gamblers, we are talking about getting people to come out to just see the races.  The genesis of this series was to find out what are we doing wrong where Atlantic City Race Course can get 9,800 people to show up for one day of a six day meet and we are lucky if we get those many people shoing up at our tracks in the United States and Canada maybe five times a year.  I asked a bunch of people involved in standardbred racing or the industry to offer their opinions.  Here is Sally's thoughts:

I’m not a bettor and never will be. At the races I bet a couple of bucks a night or maybe not at all. When there’s a big Pick 6 or Pick 4 pool, I’ll play it like I play the Megamillions when it gets to $100 million. As Herve loved to say, you can’t win it if you’re not in it. Going to the races has always been a social event for me and an entertainment choice. The racetrack doesn’t care about me and hasn’t for years, as the bottom line has dictated tracks not waste a nickel on anyone who’s not betting. 

People are sheep. Only meta-cool hipsters want to be the only person at an event. The rest of us want company, and the social validation we’ve chosen right. Some events (for example a team like the NY Yankees or a band like U2), can literally charge whatever they want for admission and continue to gouge the consumer for the ancillary costs-parking, food, souvenirs, etc because the market supports them. If you want to go that’s the price point and you can decide if you think it’s worth it or not.

Harness racing is like the Sybil of sports-it doesn’t know who it is or who it wants to be at any given time. We’re a sport, we’re entertainment, we’re a gambling option, we’re a special event….. 

I believe the general public wants decent, affordable food, comfortable surroundings and enough people who think like us and like the same things we like. We don’t want a hassle getting into a place and we don’t want to be treated poorly by anybody, on our way in, out, or during.

Racing used to attract every social strata of society as an entertainment option. Why? I think it stands to reason that young people like other young people (preferably of the opposite sex) around them, families want to take their children somewhere safe, inexpensive with some distractions for the kids and some for the adults, and be near other families…gamblers want all-access to information around them and to be surrounded by like-minded people.

One other thing that has been pounded to death is a run-down or unclean place…in particular the bathrooms.  If that has to be explained to track operators they should have their license to operate a business revoked.

Someone who goes to the track for the first time is intimidated by the info, the ways to bet and how you have to do it. I think racetrack staff should be way more interactive with people in teaching them or offering to help them bet or get closer to the horses and drivers. That’s one big reason why people avoid tellers. Every group sales group that comes to the track should be showered with young and personable people to assist them in betting and touring the track. The experience should be way more interactive. Hippodrome Blue Bonnets had the drivers come up in their colors and trainers mingle with people and point out things in the program or about horses on the track.   

If you want to be an entertainment or social option you have to compete with those around you and offer the same or similar experience for less money or have something another venue cannot have, like a cigar lounge.

Most tracks should position themselves like a minor league baseball or hockey team. That’s realistic and if they can integrate themselves into the community all the better. Large places should use their space for other options and events than racing, consolidating the racing space to what’s needed, ANYTHING to not have an empty venue. And all tracks should work like hell to convert people into bettors, one at a time!

I would like to thank all those who participated in this series.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Sat. Cal Expo Pick 4 - Max Hempt; Tioga EBC Prelims+

Harness Racing Update reports that the Meadowlands deal is in jeopardy as the thoroughbred horsemen have still not approved the agreement with to reduce the racing schedule and the new purse structure.  The thoroughbred horsemen also have a dispute with Freehold Raceway over simulcasting the races from Monmouth Park which threatens thoroughbred simulcasting throughout the state as New Jersey has a law which requires a simulcast offered to one track must be permitted at all tracks and wagering venues.  Despite the concern, I still think the Meadowlands lease will go through.  If push comes to shove, I think Christie will allow the Meadowlands lease to go through if Monmouth is tied up and we could see Monmouth Park shut down.  Besides, I suspect Christie will make it clear to the thoroughbred horsemen the realities they face which will cause the horsemen to acquiesce.

Anyway, it is a  big racing weekend in the Northeast.  The Max Hempt Memorial will be raced on Saturday at Pocono Downs; The Empire Breeders Classic Prelims for trotters at Vernon Downs on Saturday; Tioga Downs hosts the EBC prelims for pacers on Sunday along with a couple of late closing events and a top notch open pace.  But before we review those races, let's take a look at Saturday night's Pick 4 races at Cal-Expo.  Also, don't forget the Molson Prelims at Western Fair on Friday night.  I did tweak my selections in the Molson eliminations as I realized they score seven across and the eight horse races from the second tier so you may wish to look at my comments again.  But in summary, here are my picks for the Molson eliminations:

Western Fair, Friday, May 20, 2011
6th Pace - $20,000; First elimination - Molson Pace FFA
6 - Legal Litigator (Macdonald, 9-2)
3 - Atochia (Gingras, 6-5)
5 - Art Professor (Jamieson, 7-5)
7 - Rock Me Please (Saftic, 7-1)

11th Pace - $20,000; Second elimination - Molson Pace FFA
7 - Ideal Race (Zeron, 10-1)
2 - Foiled Again (Gingras, 3-5)
8 - Aracache Hanover (Filion, 6-1)
6 - Lucky Man (Macdonald, 7-2)   

Cal-Expo Pick 4 Review - Saturday, May 21
Early Pick 4 (15% take out; Races 4-7)

The fourth race looks to be a two horse race.  My first choice is #1 Bronte who at 6-1 adds some value to the Pick 4. Of course, you would be foolish to leave out #5 Quick On My Feet.  If you want to go a little deeper in this race, I would look at #2 Heartland Express who move s to the inside for the first time after three weeks drawing post five and out.  In the fifth race, I need to go three deep with my first choice is #4 Myra's Hiho.  After Myra's Hiho, I would go with #5 The Deadliestcatch and #3 She Is So Glad.  The sixth race is  my single where I will select #3 Tutiming Gal.  If you are looking to go a little deeper, I would include #2 Arts Spice who at 12-1 can boost the pay off.  In the seventh race finale to the early Pick 4, there is a definite single here and that would be #2 Know The Pro who won in an easier conditioned claiming pace; I'll take the chance he can handle the hike up in conditions.

Selections: 1,5/3,4,5/3/2 - $6 ticket

Late Pick 4 ($15,000 guaranteed pool; 15% take out [0% for tickets purchased at Cal-Expo or thru Twin Spires], Races 11-14)

The eleventh race looks chalky and I will use two horses on my ticket.  #5 Lucky Peterson, who came flying four wide from last at the half to win returns to the same class.  My other choice, #2 Itza Free For All followed the top choice to finish second, but this time moves inside of Lucky Peterson.  In the twelfth race, #4 Steady As A Rock is my top pick at 10-1 as I disregard his last trip when driven by David Siegel; the horse races better when driven by a regular driver.  I need to include #8 Exit Hanover and #1 Accent Seelster.  Yes, #1 has the aforementioned driver David Siegel but from the rail, I expect him to leave and try to hold them off at the end.  In addition Accent Seelster does drop from open claiming into a conditioned claiming event.  The thirteenth race is a wide-open affair and I look to use #1 Barona Destiny, #4 Britts, and #9 Seventh Sin on my ticket.  If we are alive by the fourteenth race, I am going to let it ride on one horse, #4 Ogs Si Bon who hasn't raced well of late, but the last time he was in this class on April 8, she did win.

Selections: 2,5/1,4,8/1,4,9/4 - $18 ticket

Pocono Downs, Saturday, May 21

The Hempt Memorial is is going to be a very interesting race.  Last week's elimination was marred with breakers throughout the mile.  In some ways, you just need to toss the race out.

10th Pace - $300,000; Max C. Hempt Final - 3yo Colts and Geldings
1 - Sharp West Hanover (Buter, 20-1) - Was out of it before wiped out.  Pass.
2 - Pan From Nantucket (Merriman, 10-1) - Jumped at start last week but won PASS last week.   Hard to gauge.
3 - Vegas Rusty (Napolitano, 9-2) - On the way to upset win when impeded in stretch.  Can't ignore.
4 - Reckless Ric (Parker, 15-1) - Far back entire mile.  Pass.
5 - Movie Idol (Callahan, 4-1) - Upset winner won despite being impeded.  Possibility
6 - Prana (Palone, 3-1) - Raced better last year but just rode the rail last week.  Your guess?
7 - Powerful Mist (Pavia, 7-2) - Race not bad considering first start.  Expect improvement.
8 - Smile A Little (McCarthy, 8-1) - Interference break at start but managed to finish third.  Could be the one.
9 - Custard The Dragon (Teagure, 6-1) - Broke in stretch interfering with most of field in last.  Before that looked very good.  Lands share.
* - Dana's Sharp Smart (Kakaley, AE) - Was leading into the stretch and then jumped.  If he draws in he's my pick.
Selections: AE- 8-7-5-9

Tioga Downs, Sunday, May 22

While the whole card looks good on Sunday at Tioga, we are only going to look at the EBC Prelims, the two late closing finals and a bang up Open.  The eighth race is a race which may be a precursor to the 3yo Pacer of the Year award as there are a few top colts in the race.  We will cover these races in race number order.  While I am not handicapping all the races, remember on Sundays, Tioga Downs has a $10,000 guaranteed Pick 6 on the last six races on the card.  Horses will be listed in post position order.  

2nd Trot - $33,000; Morrisville College Sales Final - 3yo Colts
   2 - Biz Z Million (Aldrich, 6-1) - Finished 2nd in both legs and draws the rail.  Live horse.
   1 - Ooga Booga (Simpson, 7-2) - Trounced in PASS in last; won first leg from the outside.  Definite threat.
   3 - Dream Lake (Paquet, 8-1) - When he's good he's good, when bad he's bad.  Which one shows up this week?
   4 - I Love New York (Grismore, 5-2) - No chance in PASS, a possibility here.
   5 - Back From Vacation (Fluet, 8-1) - Has yet to throw in a bad race but won in a slow mile last week.
1A - Take Heart (A Miller, 7-2) - Outclassed in Simpson last week, but won first week.  This race won't be as easy.
   6 - Proud Accolade (Gregory, 10-1) - Ran out of steam last week and draws outside.  Pass.
   7 - Warp Drive (Schillaci, 10-1) - Would need a blistering pace to close late to be a factor.
   8 - Tober (Di Benedetto, 9-2) - Can't rule this one out even from post nine.  Consider if odds are long.
Selections:  2-4-1

5th Pace - $16,500; Open I Handicap
1 - Cactus Creek (Bartlett, 8-1) - Monticello shipper conquered top class there.  Deserves shot.  Note set lifetime record here last year.
2 - Winbak Dimensions (Kakaley, 8-1) - Came back strong winning two straight.  This is a much tougher group.
3 - Goose Creek (Sears, 5-1) - Crushed in Spa Open.  This may be a little easier, but I will pass.
4 - Dry Gulch (Gregory, 7-2) - Running out of gas of late, but draws better.  Don't ignore.
5 - Vlos (A Miller, 9-2) - Has had a hard time coming back but if he makes the gate; can take it all.
6 - Lahaye (Brennan, 3-1) - Should wake up here.  Lands share.
7 - Storyeum (Hensley, 4-1) - Won this class last week but this is tougher.  However, can't totally rule out.
Selections: 5-4-1

6th Pace - $12,500; Empire Breeders Classic Elim - 3yo Fillies 1st Division
1 - Miss Annie J (Bartlett, 9-2) -  Figures to improve but not enough in this division.
2 - Swinging Beauty (Zeron, 15-1) - Grand Circuit filly figures to benefit from her first start.  Lands share.
3 - See You At Peelers (Johansson, 8-5) - Makes first start but it would be a major upset to derail her.  One to beat. No value.
4 - Character Flaw (Kakaley, 3-1) - Must respect her Simpson victory.  Needs fast pace to have a shot.
5 - Sight To See (Sears, 20-1) - Trounced in a step up last week.  This is tougher.  Pass.
6 - JK Geronimo (Marohn, 20-1) - Has been racing credibly against older.  Always a plus.  Should advance to next week.
7 -  Whats New Pussycat (Brennan, 6-1) - Lexington winner makes second start.  Post doesn't help chances.
8 - Winbak Corazon (Fluet, 10-1) - Post eliminates.
Selections: 4-3-2

8th Pace - $12,500; Empire Breeders Classic Elim - 3yo Colts and Geldings 1st Division
1 - Roadside Delight (Brennan, 9-2) - Prepped well in speedy fashion at Chester.  Will be in the Exacta.
2 - Major Way (Bartlett, 12-1) - Tough spot to make his debut.
3 - Sir Ziggy's Z Tam (Lachance, 6-1) - Has credentials but this is a tough division. May complete Trifecta
4 - Feel Like A Fool (Sears, 3-1) - After last week's seasonal debut, how do you ignore him?  You don't.
5 - Nukes Art (Lancaster, 20-1) - This is a huge class hike.  Pass.
6 - Bombay Away (Caruso, 8-1) - Came back strong as a three year old but will be tested for class here.
7 - Townslight Hanover (McCarthy, 5-1) - Nice debut but another one being tested for class.
8 - Fashion Delight (D Miller, 7-2) - Tough spot for his seasonal debut.
9 - American Arena (Allard, 8-1) - A perfect 3 for 3 lifetime.  Perfect record ends today.
Selections: 4-1-3

10th Pace - $12,500; Empire Breeders Classic Elim - 3yo Fillies 2nd Division
1 - My Girl's A Star (Schnittker, 8-1) - No chance in last, will be firing from the start.
2 - Dreamlands Roxy (Gregory, 5-1) - Has not shown 2yo form.
3 - New Album (Brennan, 6-1) - Looks to be the best of them.  One to beat.
4 - Song In A Major (Merton, 15-1) - Faded in Simpson.  Don't expect better this week.
5 - Soutwind Jazmin (A Miller, 3-1) - Appears to have improved over 2yo form.  Will be a major threat.
6 - Asteria Blue Chip (Bartlett, 9-2) - Solid second place finish from an impossible post in debut.  Can't ignore. 
7 - Shyaway (D Miller, 8-1) - Must show he belongs with these.
8 - Some Girls Do (Sears, 7-2) - Can't deny these credentials but draws the worst of it.
Selections: 3-6-5

11th Pace - $34,200 - The Kenneth J Pace Final - 3yo Colts and Geldings
1 - All Tricked Out (Di Benedetto, 5-1) - Swept both legs and draws rail.  Obvious contender.
2 - JK Camelot (A Miller, 7-2) - Just missed last week in faster mile.  Can pull the minor upset.
3 - Black Ace Hanover (Sears, 3-1) - Won both legs and speedier than #1.  The one to beat.
4 - Gotta Love Him (Kakaley, 8-1) - Will have a much tougher time this week.
5 - Nathan Feelsgood (Hensley, 9-2) - Raced well and picks up Hensley.  Does the driver change do it?
6 - Tyler Hanover (Pavia, 6-1) - Consistent sort but would like better from inner post.
7 - Willie's Dragon (D Miller, 10-1) - Not off last start.
8 - Colossal (Merton, 12-1) - Post takes a contender and eliminates him.
9 - Reflection Of Blue (Bartlett, 8-1) - Post rules out.
Selections: 2-3-1

12th Pace - $12,500; Empire Breeders Classic - 3yo Colts and Geldings 2nd Division 
1 - Mosee Terror (Kakaley, 8-1) - Appears to be ambitiously placed.
2 - Upfront Missys Boy (Gregory, 15-1) - Seems to be over his head.
3 - Samandar (Sears, 7-2) - Two sharp qualifiers. Will he win on first start back?
4 - Flipper J (Bartlett, 9-2) - NYSS horse fits here.  Lands part.
5 - Fantaddy (Zeron, 3-1) - Raced well in Wdb7/8 late closer.  Will be a factor.
6 - Bettor's Green (Grismore, 8-1) - Raced poorly in same late closer as #5; pass.
7 - Mat's Delight (Schnittker, 10-1) - Couldn't keep up with monster in last.  Hasn't shown much.
8 - Lucky Cadet (A Miller, 10-1) - Has raced well in local late closer but may not be enough.
9 - Sir Jonathan Z Tam (Lachance, 5-1) - Nice seasonal debut at Meadowlands but post eliminates.
Selections: 3-5-4