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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The ORC Ruling - Stacking the Deck Against the Plaintiffs?

Let me state right now, I am not saying the ORC made a wrong decision regarding Kevin Wallis or Gene Piroski; the ORC has made its decision so for purposes of an administrative hearing, this is the end of it and they may resume racing in Canada.

I should also say I am not a lawyer and certainly not knowledgeable in Canadian law and administrative procedures.  That said, there is one aspect of the decision the ORC rendered which troubles me.  In my opinion, it gives a person who accused of race fixing in the future a huge advantage in any hearings regarding race fixing.

The ORC found a problem with the lead (racetrack) judge selecting the tapes for review and preparing the testimony regarding the races.  As the ORC hearing correctly pointed out the, racetrack judge reviewed the specific races to prove the allegation of race fixing; hence there is some inherent bias in his testimony.

Meanwhile, after the fact, well-respected horseman D.R. Ackerman reviewed the races after receiving the racetrack judge's comments about the races for Gene Piroski.  Kevin Hardy, the OHHA President, reviewed the judges comments about the races for Kevin Wallis.  Let me state here I am not suggesting Ackerman or Hardy gave false evidence; in fact the two drivers are well respected in the racing industry.

However, as the racetrack judge reviewed the video tapes in an effort to prove an accusation, witnesses for an accused driver could be said to be reviewing the video tapes in an effort to prove the innocence of the driver.  Hence in this case, it was the reputation of the witnesses for the licensees which was given preference over the Windsor Raceway Judge because he reviewed the tapes in an effort to prove malfeasance.  There seems to be a catch-22 here.

With such a standard, how can any Ontario track judge testify successfully about a race in a race fixing scandal?  First of all, when a judge reviews a live race, he/she reviews the race to make sure there are no fouls or violation of the racing rules.  Unless something is blatant, they are not looking for drivers holding back or letting people pass needlessly in conjunction to a betting coup because no one knows an attempt to score a coup exists until after the race has concluded.  To meet one of the biggest complaints the ORC hearing judge is suggesting, once a race is over the probable payoffs would have to be shown to the judges and if something looked suspect, they would then review the entire race on tape looking for drivers not attempting to win, get the wagering records and review them and put their findings in the stewards' report to the commission before making a race official which would cause a longer delay between races as you would have to watch each horse individually in the race and review wagering records.  This is not feasible.

Realistically, the only way race evidence could be collected is the way it was done in this case once the charges from Michigan became known.  Hence the racing commission's judge is starting behind an eight ball as the quality of their testimony is predetermined to have a strike against it.

I would suggest the best way to handle cases like this in the future is the ORC judges select and review the races as they currently are done, which admittedly is somewhat flawed.  The defendants get to select those drivers they wish to review the judges finding's and the race for them.  In this case there is potentitally equal bias.  Here is where things would change.  A third reviewer, selected by the hearing board, and agreeable by both sides would be selected as an unbiased reviewer.  This way when testimony is taken, a neutral person would be able to voice their opinion which would be accepted as unbiased testimony and would be considered by the hearing panel in conjunction with the racetrack judge's and the defendant's testimony.

Unless such a change is made, the ORC may find it hard to take action against a potential race fixer unless the criminal courts act first.

Michican Race Fix Scandal Unravelling?

If you are like me, you may have been wondering where are the indictments from the Michigan race fixing scandal?  After all, back on March 4, 2010, the Michigan State Police and the Michigan Gaming Control Board made a big announcement that they uncovered a race fixing scandal at Hazel Park, Northville Downs and Sports Creek Raceway as well as allegations of possible race fixing at Windsor Raceway in Canada, which being many of these drivers drove there made sense.  A bunch of drivers were suspended along with owners and gamblers were banned for their alleged participation in this scheme or refusing to provide information.  Then we waited for the shoe to drop, and waited, and waited.

Now we know why we have been waiting so long.  The Ontario Racing Commission has reversed its decisions concerning drivers Kevin Wallis (fined $100,000 and suspended 12 years) and Gene Piroski ($100,000 and 10 years) for alleged race fixing at Windsor and the Michigan tracks.  The reason for the reversals?  Lack of evidence on the prosecution's part.  The status of Brad Forward who testified for the prosecution is unknown.  The actual record of the decision has now been made available and if you have the time to read it, you can find it here.

As a result, these two drivers are free to resume driving immediately in Canada and should be able to drive in the United States as Michigan handed down only a six month suspension but it appears they are looking for Michigan to expunge their records as having that suspension on their Michigan record could keep him from driving elsewhere in the United States. 

The status of drivers  John Moody, Don Harmon, Richard Ray, Don Currier Jr, and Wally Mcilmurray Jr who were suspended for not cooperating with the MCGB's investigation is unknown at this time, but if there was no proof in Canada for their two drivers who have been cleared, the possibility of these drivers being cleared is sure to be visited  in the near future.

Well, one can't help but wonder with the ORC is exonerating two of their drivers and Michigan having not indicted anyone yet, is the high profile case collapsing and if collapsing what happened?  Was it a case of overzealous prosecution for reasons unknown?  Was it the case of the wall of silence holding?  Or could they not pin the drivers to the alleged wrong doing? 

A lot of damage has been done to Michigan harness racing.  I think it is time for the MCGB to come out and make a statement as to where the case stands.  It is not fair to keep these drivers hanging.  Either indict or let them walk.  Then it will be up to the individual tracks as to whether they want to exclude them or not.

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Give Me a Break!

It is a sad day when the industry's press has to make an excuse for a certain horse losing a race. has a story where Dave Palone claimed post nine was a 'Death Sentence' for See You At Peelers.  Are we that hard up for our own feel good story that we have to make up reasons that the post position was so bad that SYAP was pre-destined to lose?

I am not disputing Palone's assessment that SYAP's chances for victory were severely compromised by drawing post nine and we will be seeing her in the winners circle again after this, but someone had to get post nine, so why not Peelers?

Yes winning from post nine is very hard at The Meadows with only 6.4% of the horses starting from post nine winning and only 18.2% of them finishing in the top three positions.  I am also certain that Peeler's team knew that as well.  Marcus Johansson made the decision to stay with the script and fire out realizing what happened could happen.  While this is the way SYAP has been winning her races, maybe it would have been the time to try to race Peeler's from off the pace.  I understand it is not the time you want to try a new racing strategy, but sometimes you have no choice; after all there are future races where drawing post nine or ten are possible and I tend to doubt the odds of winning from those posts are much better at those tracks.

Maybe it wasn't post position nine that defeated SYAP.  Perhaps it was her one dimensional style of racing on the engine or up close that defeated her?  If SYAP could race from behind, yesterday's results may have been another story.  So blaming it on post nine at the Meadows is poppycock.

What defeated See You At Peelers was racing luck.  I don't blame Marcus Johansson for the defeat; the decision was made to go for the front and it did not succeed.  Would she have won if she had an inside post?  Most likely yes.  But racing luck is part of the game and racing luck is what makes win streaks of 22 races so special.  Up to yesterday, the racing luck went SYAP's way.  Yesterday it didn't.

Gamblers face this issue every race.  Can the outside horse overcome the disadvantage of the outside posts?  Can the horse leave and outpace the others to the front or will it get hung out?  Can the horse come from off the pace?  This is nothing new; it is part of harness racing.  There is nothing unique about what happened yesterday.

So don't blame it on the track.  She got beat fair and square; there is no need for excuses.  Let's move on to her next race and start a new win streak.

The Year of Jamieson

Every year, harness racing gets defined by a singular horse or event.  We had the Year of Somebeachsomewhere, the Year of Donato Hanover, etc.  This year looked before yesterday, and may still be, the Year of See You At Peelers.  But in my opinion, this year should be defined as The Year of Jody Jamieson.

Last night at Tioga Downs, Jody Jamieson won the Tioga Downs Driving Championship after winning the first leg at the Meadowlands on August 20, defeating Yannick Gingras, Ron Pierce, George Brennan, Brian Sears, Tim Tetrick, Ed Hensley, David Miller, and Andy Miller.  This is an impressive roster of drivers he defeated.

When Jody Jamieson won the World Driving Championship, there were complaints about the format as to how certain drivers seemed to get horses not ready to win all the time or get an unfair share of bad posts.  That may be true, but it is clear now after last night's event, that the right driver won the WDC and the right driver came out on top in last ngiht's driving championsip.

So why should this year be the Year of Jody Jamieson?  Canadian horsemen and fans always new Jody was a top driver and while last year Jody made a few appearances at Tioga and in a few other races, Jamieson expanded his appearance in the United States this year, primarily at the Meadowlands.  So in effect, this year has been a coming out party for Jody Jamieson south of the border and he has done exceptionally well.  I expect Jody will become the driver sought out by trainers.

In defeat, See You at Peelers still get press.  The story of his defeat made news in The Houston Chronicle,  the Washington Observer Reporter, The Washington Post, Wilke-Barre Time Leader, CT Post, Dambiry News Times, San Antoino Express, Stamford Express, Greenwich Time, Sports Illustrated, other papers using the AP story, and Bill Finley covered it for ESPN.  Think of it, news in states like Texas and Louisiana where they probably didn't know about harnesss racing beforehand.  The challenge is what does racing need to do to get this attention in the future.

Tiny Clinton Raceway, a racetrack which features live racing once a week knows how to ingrain itself into the community.  This Sunday, September 4, they are having a Legends Day as a fundraiser to support the Clinton Public Hospital Foundation., featuring a meet and greet and a race where the all-time great will participate in.  Drivers John Campbell, Bud Fritz, Jim Doherty, Ray Remmen, Wally Hennessey, Bill O'Donnell, Ron Waples, and Dough Brown will be competing while Clint Galbraith and Keith Waples will be there to sign autographs with the rest of the drivers.  Canada, being such a hockey country, has inspired Clintron raceway to also have Theo Flurey appearing for autographs,  Track announcers Roger Huston, Frank Salive, Ken Warkentin, Greg Blanchard, Ken Middleton, and Tim O'Conner will be alternating duties behind the mike that afternoon.  This, along with some other activities and races scheduled, promises to draw the attention of the community.

We need days like this at all tracks, even at the Meadowlands (they do events similar to this at Tioga).  Not only does it get the community involved with racing for a day; it makes the track a member of the community which is the key to develop a relationship with your market place.  A track which supports the community will get more attention from the local media and the people it serves.

Monday, August 29, 2011

The Streak is No More

Jimmy Takter said if you race long enough, you will get beat.  He was right.

Today was the day as Idyllic defeated See You At Peelers in a track record 1:50 in the Nadia Lobell at the Meadows; snapping the win streak at 22 victories.  See You At Peelers faded badly to finish sixth, though I suspect once it was realized that SYAP was beaten, Marcus Johansson son decided there was no sense in beating a 'dead' horse. 

Post position nine may have been what defeated Peelers today as the filly was stung badly as Myluvmylife and Foxylady forced Peelers to go three wide before getting to the lead and reaching the quarter in :26.1.  Peelers then took the field through a :53.1 half and a 1:21.1 three quarters.  Once they reached the stretch the first time, Idyllic, driven masterfully by David Miller went to the outside to challenge Peelers to the half and all through the third quarter and when they reached the stretch, Idyllic exploded and the others went by See You At Peelers like a swarm of bees.

Yes, post nine helped defeat See You At Peelers, but don't take anything away from Idyllic and don't use that as an excuse for Peelers.  Champions overcome bad posts.  Clearly the race went Idyllic's way, but looking at her earlier races at the Meadowlands, you knew she could compete with See You at Peelers.  She made her own trip making a move after 3/8ths of a mile, racing uncovered on the outside the rest of the way.  Yes, there was luck in Peelers getting stung in the first quarter but today was Idyllic's day.  Isn't that what racing is often all about?

Here is a replay of the race.

Why nothing has been officially said, I would suspect we can forget the Little Brown Jug for See You At Peelers.  First of all, what would happen if See You At Peelers drew an outside post over the venerable half mile oval?  Today's effort shows she is a very very good horse, but like all others, she is dependent on the racing gods so unless she draws the inside in the first heat, her chances of defeating the boys in multiple heats is too much to ask of her.  My guess is Jimmy Takter will take her to the Jugette, if at all to Delaware.  Ironically, See You At Peelers closed as the 3-1 favorite in the first Little Brown Jug future wager.

Today, not only did See You at Peelers lose, the Delaware County Fair may have lost as well.

Monday's Notes

As a reminder, Tioga Downs concludes its driving champion ship this evening and conducts the Filly and Colt divisions of the Zweig Memorial trots tonight as it moved Sunday's race card to this evening.  First post is 6:30pm.  Selections for the card may be found here.

If you don't read all the posts and responses on this blog, you may have missed the comments made by a husband/wife team that are photographers.  They attended the trotting races at The Red Mile for the first time and had a great time.  While at The Red Mile, Wendy was able to take some interesting photos like the one below and she has graciously allowed me to post the following photo and the link to the set.

 Sunset at The Red Mile.  Photo used courtesy of Wendy Wooley/EquiSport Photos

To see a slide show of photos from this collection, you may click here.

Xtreme Horsepower was contested this past Saturday at Georgian Downs and this year they added an exhibition race for horses racing under saddle.  No surprise, the top three horses in the race were ridden by Europeans.  While not as competitive to the monte racing in Europe, this race was more competitive than most previous racing under saddle efforts.  I am convinced if we took it serious enough and had riders dedicated to this style of racing and horses were trained longer in this style of racing it could become popular in North America.  You can't do things halfway and expect it to become popular.

See You At Peelers Goes for Number 23

See You at Peelers goes for win number twenty-three in today's $193,150 Nadia Lobell and for this race she gets blessed with post position nine.  Does she get beat?  If she's fit and well, probably not.  However, when draw the furthest post out, it means there is more opportunities for something to go wrong.  I realize with serious gamblers, this race will not get the play it should with a 35% rake on the Trifecta, so most of the serious play will be on the Exacta.  Of course, you can always look for that upset, realizing you are likely going to loose so if you are going for the upset, you better be getting a good price.

Here is my selections for The Nadia Lobell.
The Meadows 9th Pace - $193,150; The Nadia Lobell - 3yo Fillies
1 - Some Girls Do (Palone, 6-1) - Can never dismiss Palone; with the rail is a live one.
2 - Idyllic (D Miller, 4-1) - Last was disappointing.  Hopefully will bounce back.
3 - Swinging Beauty (McNair, 10-1) - Last effort was a big mile. Should land in number.  Our longshot?
4 - Pretty Katherine (Tetrick, 3-1) - Don't understand the odds.  Can't dismiss, but doesn't inspire me.
5 - Foxy Lady (Gingras, 20-1) - Second tier horse well over her head.
6 - Rocklamation (B Miller, 12-1) - Another one looking for a long day.
7 - Ms Malicious (Ledford, 20-1) - Wouldn't put this one at 20-1 but admittedly will be lucky to get in exotics.
8 - Myluvmylife (Sears, 12-1) - NJSS Champion races well from outside.  Chasing Peelers?
9 - See You At Peelers (Johansson, 2-1) - The one to beat.  Hers to lose.
Selections: 9-8-3
Longshot Play: 3

Sunday, August 28, 2011

No Chester Downs? No Tioga Downs? Try Batavia Downs.

Well with Irene gutting most of the afternoon harness racing programs in the United States, including Chester Downs and Tioga Downs, what is a harness racing fan supposed to do?  Well, I looked at my ADW and afternoon racing available is Scioto Downs and Batavia Downs.  No offense to Scioto Downs, but at quick look at their program made the answer clear.  It's Batavia Downs day.

Now, I must confess, I have never played Batavia before so I can't consider myself an expert but handicapping princples don't change.  A half mile track is a half mile track.  So as a service to you, I decided to handicap the card at Batavia in the event you want a harness track to play this afternoon.

I must confess, being a Daily Double fan, I am in heaven today.  Not only is there the early Double (races 1-2); a middle double (races 4-5); a late double (races 8-9); but they have the late late double (races 10-11).

Other exotics they have are the fifty cent Pick 4 (races 2-5), a $2 Pick 6 (races 7-12) with a guaranteed $1,000 pool (this is a small-time track) and dime superfectas on races 3, 5, 6, 8, 9-12).  Of course all races have exactas and trifectas.

For those who want to try something new, here are my picks for Batavia Downs:

1st Pace - $2,800; $4,000 Claiming Non-Winners of $1,000 Last 5 Starts  Post Time 1:15PM
2 - Rick's On Belief (Whisman, 4-1)
4 - Ideal Escape (D McNeight III, 8-1)
7 - Onehitwonder (Cummings, 10-1)

2nd Trot - $5,000; $7,500 Claiming; AE: NW $2,500 Last 5 Starts
2 - Crown Man (Boring, 5-2)
8 - Winning Agenda (Fisher, 8-1)
3 - Mac Atack Mac (Baumeister, 12-1)

3rd Pace - $3,500; W2-4PM LT
1 - Intermezzo Hanover (J McNeight, 1-1)
5 - Native Run (Page, 12-1)
6 - Ribbons Of Color (D McNeight III, 15-1)
8 - Cashmandu (Boring, 8-1)

4th Pace - $3,000; H&G $4,000 Claiming W/O $1,000 Last 5 Starts
5 - Rembrandt Van Ryn (Flangen, 6-1)
2 - Sound Dragin (D McNeight III, 3-1)
1 - Four Starz Tickets (Cummings, 2-1) 

5th Pace - $2,200; NW $1,000 Last 5 Starts
2 - One More Day (J McNeight, 9-2)
4 - Ellie's Crew (Baumeister, 8-1)
8 - Prolific Pacer (D McNeight III, 12-1)
6 - Kashability (Caprio, 7-2)

6th Pace- $3,800; H&G $5,000 Claiming
1 - Listen Hanover (Mcdonough, 2-1)
2 - Teen Elvis (Boring, 4-1)
5 - Worries Stay Small (Cummings, 7-2)
6 - Nuclear Cam (Page, 20-1)

7th Pace - $3,000; F&M $4,000 Claiming W/O $1,000 Last Starts
2 - Red On A Rose (Fisher, 7-2)
6 - Mystically (D McKneight III, 5-1)
3 - Reatta (Page, 9-2)

8th Pace - $3,000; H&G $4m000 Claiming W/O $1,000 Last 5 Starts
1 - Albagold (J McNeight, 5-2)
7 - Video Express (Cummings, 3-1)
3 - On The Road Ahead (McDonough, 5-1)
2 - Eternal Revenue (D McNeight III, 9-2)

9th Trot - $2,800; 7YO and Under NW 2PM LT
1 - Peter Crossmon (Boring, 6-1)
5 - Euro Zone (Whisman, 8-1)
4 - Off The Deep End (D McNeight Jr, 7-2)
6 - The MExican (Yetman, 5-1)

10th Pace - $5,200; H&G $8,000 Claiming
6 - Brandon's Art (Cummings, 7-2)
2 - Cee Pee Bush (Page, 8-1)
5 - Forever Blue (Flangen, 5-2)
3 - Classy Fun (Cummings, 3-1)

11th Pace - $2,800; $4,000 Claimin NW $1,000 Last 5 Starts
1 - Awesome Ashley (Dahn, 5-1)
2 - Gabby Hays (Yetman, 7-2)
3 - Foxy Moxie (Baumeister, 8-1)
6 - Get Out Of Tune (Page, 3-1)

12th Pace - $3,800; H&G $5,000 Claiming
3 - Hedge Fund (Fisher, 5-2)
6 - Maes Boy Blue ( Cummings, 4-1)
8 - Irish Cowboy (Whisman, 10-1)
2 - Warrawee Kiwi (McNeight, 9-2)   

Blame the Commissions

Unfortunately, in racing there are those who attempt to cheat in an effort to get an advantage over those who play by the rules.  Those who follow harness racing are well aware of the scandals in the past; harness racing is still working its way through the mess in Michigan where race fixing is alleged.

However, while harness racing gets its share of scorn, unfortunately, trouble is not restricted to the standardbred industry.  Of late, Pennsylvania has been getting a lot bad publicity by investigations taking place at Penn National and Parx Racing (formally Philadelphia Park), with the FBI investigating the going ons at Penn National.

I am not here to take glee on troubles our thoroughbred brethren are having; not here to say one form of horse racing is more trouble prone than others. The point is the racing commissions are too lean when it comes to medication infractions and other acts of misconduct.

Complaints are dismissed as jealous trainers making a lot of noise.  Perhaps there are instances of jealousy, but to dismiss all issues as such is a mistake.  As the expression goes, where there is smoke, there is fire. The biggest problem is racing and racing commissions take this attitude because they figure the racing public will accept it.  Sadly, they are true.  Sure some people may finally have enough, but for the most part, people accept cheating as part of the game.

This is unacceptable.  Racing commissions and racing must respect its customers.  Gamblers must demand integrity.  It is time to clean racing up and eliminate as much fraud and wrong doing in horse racing, regardless of breed, be it standardbred, quarterhorse, or thoroughbred.    

Zweig Memorial - Monday Evening

For those handicapping Tioga's Championship Day (The second leg of the Driver's Challenge and the Zweig Memorials), mother nature has given you an extra day of handicapping as the Sunday afternoon card has been rescheduled to race Monday evening, starting at 6:30pm.  As previously stated, Tioga has lifted the detention rules and has been urging entrants to get their horses to Tioga sooner than later.   Those who rather wait till the last minute will be shipping in on Monday.
For those interested in just the Zweig divisions, I have posted my analysis and selections with the balance of my selections following after.
Tioga Downs 3rd Trot - $65,332; Dr Harry M Zweig Memorial - 3yo Fillies (1st Division)
1 - Brithday Bonus (Braden 15-1) - Problems staying on stride.  Pass.
2 - Sheer Glide (A Miller, 10-1) - Second tier trotter.
3 - Miss Sue V (Sears, 8-1) - Races well with state breds.
4 - Massive Drama (Tetrick, 6-1) - Caught in stretch in NYSF.
5 - Jezzy (Schnittker, 5-2) - Returns to NY tracks.  The one to beat.
6 - Beatgoeson Hanover (D Miller, 4-1) - Filly fits these and may compete.
7 - Bold And Fresh (Brennan, 3-1) - Oaks winner draws the worst of it when compared to Jezzy.
8 - Cedar Dove (Pierce, 8-1) - Seems to have become unglued of late.
Selections: 5-7-6

Tioga Downs 5th TRot - $65,332; Dr Harry M Zweig Memorial - 3yo Fillies (2nd Division)
1 - Celebrity Katie (B Miller, 7-2) - Given time off.  May need a start.
2 - Pantholops (A Miller, 6-1) - Raced well in Duena and second tier stakes.  Not to ignore.
3-  Tap Tap Dance (Daley, 12-1) - Still winless this year.  'Nuff said.
4 - Brooklyn (Tetrick, 9-2) - Winner of NYSF.  Must steop it up.
5 - Some Girls (Sears, 3-1) - Another NYSF winner; more impressive than #4.
6 - Epona Blue Chip (Schnittker, 8-1) - Another winless horses.  Finished second behind #4 in last.
7 - Pacific Splash (Norris, 10-1) - Finsihed 2nd in Horsemen Futurity.  Comes east.  Don't ignore.
8 - Temper Of Will (Brennn, 8-1) - Won last week from post eight will need to again.
Selections: 8-2-5

Tioga Downs 7th Trot - $124,920; Dr Harr M Zweig Memorial - 2yo Colts (1st Division)
1 - Whatever It Takes (A Miller, 9-2) - Toss last.  Back to comfortable level.
2 - Highland Thunder (Tetrick, 6-1) - Seems to been meting slight better,
3 - Pay The Winner (Gingras, 8-1) - Occasionl checks in NYSS events.
4 - Charlie De Vie (D Miller, 3-1) - Sharp in Colonial Consolations; rounding into form.
5 - Bambino Hall (Pierce, 7-2) - Wiped out in Hambo elim; not bad since.
6 - Evil Urges (Whittemore, 5-1) - Can't recommend off last.
7 - Vindicate (Sears, 10-1) - May be ready to take the next step up.
8 - Winuendo (Schnittker, 12-1) - No chance from here.
Selections:  7-5-4-3

Tioga Downs 9th Trot - $122,420 5; Dr Harry M Zweig, Memroail - 11 3yo Colts (2nd division)
1 - For You Almostfree (Jamieson, 9-2) - Appears to be in deep.
2 - All In Tadd (Schnittker, 6-1) - Won last in NYSS.  Fairly productive on the local track.
3 - Typical Newyorker (Paquest, 8-1) - Consisten sort but will need to step it up
4 - VC Chocoholic (Sears, 7-2) - Raced well in Coloinial Consolation.  Must step up.
5 - Broad Bahn (Brennan, 2-1) - Hambo winner gave it up late last week. Peaked?
6 - New Zion (Pierce, 12-1) - Second stringer.
7 - Surface Tension (Daley, 10-1) - Shows an occasional effort but is stepping up.

For the rest of the card, here are my selections for the other races.  Races part of the Driver's Challenge will be denoted with an asterisk.

1st Pace - $9,300; NW $4,501 Last 5 Starts*
4 - Hi Ho Steverino (A Miller, 10-1)
3 - Arabica (Sears, 7-2)
9 - Red Star Paylater (Hensley, 10-1)

2nd Trot - 1 1/4 miles - $6.600; Non Winners $2,801 Last 5 Starts*
1 - Only On Braodway (Brennan, 3-1)
5 - George Is a Hit (Tetrick, 6-1)
9 - Red Rocks (A Miller, 8-1)

4th Pace - $9,900; Claiming $10,000*
1 - Windsun Twister (Sears, 3-1)
3 - Kiss My Cam (Hensley, 9-2)
4 - See You Smile (Pierce, 6-1)
6 - Broule Hanover (Gingras, 8-1)

6th Trpt - $9,300; NW $4,501 Last 5 Starts*
8 - Notorious Buck (Pierce, 10-1)
1 - Smooth Power (Jamieson, 3-1)
3 - Rose Run Ivan (D Miller, 6-1)

8th Pace -$6,600; NW $2,801 Last 5 Starts*
7 - Sun Moon Lake (Sears, 9-2)
5 - Prince Polaris (Hensley, 10-1)
9 - Iron Byron (Pierce, 8-1)

10th Pace- $13,500; NW $7,001 Last 5 Starts*
2 - Arockin Hanover (Pierce, 7-2)
3 - Handsome Harry (Gingras, 3-1)
6 - Voice Of Truth (Tetrick, 6-1)

11th Pace - $18,000 Open
2 - Pangiorno (Jamieson, 3-1)
8 - Sheer Brilliance (Tetrick , 7-2)
1 - Summer Camp (A Miller, 6-1)

12th Pace - $3,800; NW $1,601 Last 5 Starts
5 - Lightning Strike (D Miller, 3-1)
1 - Winbak Fox (Fluet)
7 - Cardio Yankee (Sears, 7-2)

13th Pace - $4,400; Claiming $5,000
4 - ML's Boy (Davis, 6-1)
7 - Sure Duffy (Tetrick, 3-1)
1 - Rollin On (Paquet, 10-1)
8 - Glashedy (Hensley, 9-2)

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Tioga Championship Day is Moved

Due to the weather conditions, Tioga Downs has moved Sunday's Driver's Championship and Zweig Memorials to Monday, August 29, starting at 6:30pm.  The entire Sunday matinee card is being moved over.

Ocean Downs has also cancelled for Saturday and Sunday nights, being it was the scheduled end of the meet it is unknown at this time if the dates will be rescheduled or lost.  Yonkers Raceway has cancelled Saturday night as well.

Looks like business will be good at tracks like Balmoral Park this evening and with the Am-Nationals, there is no better time to give the Chicago track a chance.  In addition, there is always Cal-Expo if you are looking for late action. 

Tioga Friday Draw Moved to Tuesday

The draw for races on Friday, September 2nd at Tioga Downs has been moved to Tuesday, August 30 with the box closing at 9AM. The Race Office phone is (607) 699-7688 and the next condition sheet is available here. (Tioga Downs)

Historic Freshmen and Free For All Trotters at Vernon Next Friday

Aspiration and accomplishment will merge at Vernon Downs on Friday, September 2nd when the Historic, Credit Winner and Muscle Hill stakes are contested at the venerable central New York facility.

Entries will be accepted by the Race Office at (315) 829-6825 until the box closes at 9AM on Tuesday, August 30. The condition sheet and other pertinent information will be available here. (Vernon Downs)

Saturday Night Spotlight Races

There are some good races Saturday night and the main focus for the night is Balmoral Park (Mohawk could be argued to have the big races, but they are eliminations) with the American-Nationals for 3yo trotters.  The Hambo and Oaks winners are scheduled to race Sunday in the Zweig Memorial at Tioga Downs, assuming they get the card in.  Just the same, the Am-Nats are worth watching.

A couple of interesting points regarding the now controversial Crys Dream.  First of all, she gets to race without getting a court order.  Did the IRB capitulate?  No, their rules only allow for reciprocity for licensees, and as we know, horses don't apply for licenses so they could not ban the horse from racing during the 90 day suspension from the ORC.  However, next time it may be tougher as the IRB is considering changing their rules to apply reciprocity for horses as well.  In addition, Crys Dream has a new driver and trainer, Jean Dubois, who is the majority owner and comes in from France for the driving assignment.  Is it a displeasure with Henrik Hollsten which necessitated the change?  My guess is Dubois is in for the upcoming yearling sales and decided to take over the reins since he is in the states.

Since the favorites will be going off at low odds in both divisions of the American-National, we are going to try to beat Crys Dream and Whit respectively.

We'll also take a look at a few NYSS races from Vernon Downs for 3yo pacing colts as we can expect to see some of them racing at Delaware and Lexington.   

Balmoral Park 4th Trot - $121,500; American-National - 3yo Fillies
9 - Lady Rainbow (Zeron, 8-1)
7 - Crys Dream (Dubois, 6-5)
2 - Wincinnatti (Whittemore, 6-1)
1 - Iron Lady (Magee. 9-2)
LADY RAINBOW got away slow in the Oaks and was parked, yet closed from eighth to miss winning the race by 1/2 a length.  Draws outside but that should not present a problem.  CRYS DREAM of course is the best 3yo filly trotter around but moves out.  Dubois should give a good account of himself but at likely 3-5 odds, we'll try to beat her.  WINCINNATTI came back from a dull Oaks and finished a respectable 3rd in the NJSS.  IRON LADY had no chance in the Oaks; races lile she did in the elimination and she should complete the superfecta.

Balmoral Park 5th Trot - $113,000; American National - 3yo Colts and Geldings
4 - GH Photo Victory (Miller, 8-1)
2 -Whit  (Whittemore, 2-1)
3 - Ax Man (Zeron, 4-1)
1 - Valiant Warrior( Carpemter, 10-1)
GH PHOTO VICTORY has been racing well at Balmoral and devestated them at Springfield in the State Fair trot.  Never better and worth a shot.  WHIT finished 2nd in NJSS last start and has raced well back east, but just hasn't set himself apart.  At 2-1 ML, I'm passing.  AX MAN finished second in the Review Stakes at Springfield and has raced well in 2nd tier stakes; can improe.  VALIANT WARRIOR has had a middlin season but with the rail may land the final spot in the super.

Vernon Downs 4th - $49,289; NYSS - 3yo Colts and Geldings (1st Division)
4 - Sea Vemture (Stratton, 5-2)
1 - Denver Dolly (Bouchard, 12-1)
3 - Overnight Delight (Morrill, 7-2)
6 - Test Of Will (Lems, 6-1)

Vernon Downs 7th - $49,289; NYSS - 3yo Colts and Geldings (2nd Division)
4 - American Rage (Stratton, 9-2)
3 - Mojo Terror (Morrill, 6-1)
7 - Wind Me Up (Teague, 5-2)
2 - JK Camelot (Merton, 7-2)

Vernon Downs 10th - $49,289; NYSS - 3yo Colts and Geldings (3rd Division)
7 - Feel Like A Fool (Teague, 8-1)
1 - Fantaddy (Morril, 9-2)
3 - Flipper J (Straton, 5-2)
9 - Art Z (Simpson, 7-2)

Friday, August 26, 2011

No Detention for Zweig Trot

Tioga Downs has cancelled the scheduled detention for those horses racing in the Zweig Memorial 3YO Colt Trot on Sunday, August 28, due to weather concerns. Horsemen are urged to ship to Tioga sooner rather than later and stalls will be available to those that desire to stay overnight Saturday, but there will be no formal detention and an overnight stay is NOT mandatory.

There are NO CHANGES to the race card as scheduled, still set to go at 1:30PM on Sunday afternoon. Tioga officials are monitoring the weather as the storm progresses. (Tioga Downs)

The Kindergarten Classic - Feature Race of the Week

This week's feature race is the first leg of The Kindergarten Classic at Vernon Downs which is being contested on Friday night.  There are four legs to this series with the first and fourth leg being contested at Vernon Downs while the second and third legs are contested at The Red Mile.  The purse amounts are not that great with $10,000 eliminations, but for those who make it to the final on October 26 at Vernon Downs, they will be racing for an estimated $200,000 for the colts and $180,000 for the fillies.

For Friday night, the 2yo Filly trotters take to the track in three divisions.  Here is my analysis for all three divisions.

Vernon 4th Trot - $10,000; The Kindergarten Classic - 2yo Fillies (1st Leg-1st Division)
1 - The Sorceress (Stark, 5-2) - Nice qualifier and draws rail.
2 - Angel Eyes Hanover (Whittemore, 6-1) - Should eat this field for lunch.  Ignore odds.
3 - Alexandria Lindy (Antonacci, 8-1) - Jumped at start of last week.  Must get away slow.
4 - Vari Forgetful (Clarke, 9-2) - Came back nice after short break.  Seems to be a good one.
5 - She's All In (Miller, 7-2) - Showed one good effort at Big M, but also throws clunkers.  Which one shows up.
6 - Soprano Hanover (Lopez, 8-1) - Makes first start.  Tab for later.
7 - Ladycane (Lems, 10-1) - Another first time starter.
8 - Sweet Sally (Okusko, 15-1) - Doesn't seem ready.
9 - Goddess Of Time (Johnson, 12-1) - Post should eliminate.
Selections: 2-4-1-5

Vernon 7th Trot - $10,000; The Kindergarten Classic - 2yo Fillies (1st Leg-2nd Division)

1 - Angus Princesse (Mac Donald, 15-1) - First time starter.  Need to see how fast.
2 - Sandra Volo (Johnson, 5-2) - Won at Chester in 2nd level PA Sired race.
3 - Bridge The Way (Hegdal, 8-1) - Good in the morning and bad in the afternoon.  Use caution.
4 - Aldebaran Malibu (Whittemore, 8-1) - Not ready for prime time.
5 - Southwind Syrinx (Miller, 7-2) - May be ready at first chance.
6 - Deweyneedmorewine (Ray Schnittker, 9-2) - Has shown some good efforts.
7 - Pretend To Be Nice (Huckabone, 8-1) - NYSS winner draws outside.  Don't rule out.
8 - Lindy's Madonna (Antonacci, 10-1) - Broke tired last start.  Need to see.
9 - Ava Marior (Okusko, 12-1) - Broke on lead in stretch.  Hard luck thus far.
Selections: 5-2-6-7

Vernon 9th Trot - $10,000; The Kindergarten Classic - 2yo Fillies (1st Leg-3rd Division)
1 - Mrs D (Whittemore, 12-1) - Woke up in morning race.  Hard to gauge.
2 - Holier Than Thou (Milby, 6-1) -May have found the right level.  Consider.
3 - Joy To The World (Schnittker, 7-2) - First time starter.
4 - Asian Pageant (Lopez, 8-1) - Not able to keep up with field.
5 - Hula La (Meittinis, 10-1) - Fair effort at Meadowlands.
6 - Lady Andi (Lems, 9-2) - Woke up last time at long odds  Not sure.
7 - Donatoprincess (Miller, 5-2) - Jumped off earl and often.
8 - Celebrity Lovin (Lind, 8-1) -  Consistent sort.  May be the best
Selections: 8-3-1

Sunday at Tioga Downs is the second leg of the Tioga Driving Championship and the East Coast is due a visit from Hurricane Irene.  Unless the forecast changes, expect a lot of tracks to be cancelling for the day.  With luck Tioga will be able to race.  Hopefully, those of you on the East coast will take the appropriate steps to be safe.  Safety comes first; you can always play the horses tomorrow.  Here is a link for hurricane safety tips.    

Thursday, August 25, 2011

NMRLLC Racing Structure Starts to Take Shape

Time to learn a new set of initials.  The NJSEA is being phased out as it concerns the Meadowlands Racetrack.  NMRLLC is the new organization which takes over the racing at the Meadowlands.

According to, some of  the employment positions in the New Meadowlands Racetrack LLC (NMRLLC) have been filled.  The most visible to racing fans is the track announcer; Sam McKee and Ken Warkentin remain in their positions.  As for horsemen, Racing Secretary Peter Koch  remains in place.

Alex Dadoyan, joins the NMRLLC and moves over to a new position.  He joins the organization as Director of Racing Development and will be charged with the opening of the Bayonne OTW site (and any others to come) as well as working on the new racetrack structure.  The position of General Manager, perhaps the most important position there is in the new organization has not yet been filled as there are several candidates.

Coming to Your Local Track: Starters Allowances?

Yes, you read the title right.  Starters Allowance.  Cal Expo opens this week on Friday and for those who will be wagering on their card, they will be greeted with a new race type for harness racing, the Starters Allowance.

You heard me right.  The Starters Allowance is coming to Cal Expo.  No, not your traditional Starters Allowance you see in thoroughbred racing, but a Starters Allowance just the same.  We can anticipate seeing these types of races for about six weeks as these races are meant to be a means for California horsemen to race their claiming horses without the fear of them being claimed.  The main condition will be written without a claiming provision, but if a trainer wants to enter the horse to be claimed, the trainer can enter the horse through the also eligible condition. 

What is the rationale for having these races?  A reward to the California Horsemen who stayed in California and trained, fed, and shod their horses over the break period when there was no harness racing in the Golden State.  By having these types of races, these horsemen and owners who invested their time and effort during the break to keep their horses in peak form can race without fear of having a horse claimed off them for these six weeks or so, giving owners and horsemen a chance to make some of the money back they spent during the down time by racing them in the proper classes instead of having to race over their head to avoid being claimed..

Unfair?  Not really.  After all, how many horsemen from outside of California are heading to Cal Expo to race and even then, there is nothing to keep them from benefiting from the same conditions.

Here are a few examples of Starters Allowance races we will see this weekend at Cal Expo:

  • Starters Allowance - (Group 1) For horses that started for $2500 or less in their last start  AE: $2500 claiming
  • FM -Starters Allowance - For horses that made their last start for a base clmg price of $2500 or less and have averaged $100 or less per start in 2011 or n/w $500 in last 5 starts. AE: FM that fit condition and can be claimed for $2500
  • Starters Allowance - For Horses that made their last start for a base clmg price of  $6,000 or less or FM NWof a race in 2011  AE: $6000 claiming (FM Draw Inside)

For this weekend, there will be conditioned races and these Starters Allowances; no straight claiming races available.  I know some of these races on the weekend's card look like conditioned claiming races, but the big difference is an owner has the option of the protecting their horse from being claimed or not while racing a horse in a class they race well in.  No loss of a horse at the claiming box unless you want to. 

I give the racing secretary and management at Cal Expo credit for trying something new to reward the local horsemen who stuck around without an opportunity to make money.  The question is does it make the races more competitive, and how will they be accepted by the wagering public?  My guess is it makes races more competitive as owners will have no need to race their horse in a higher class to make sure the horse is not claimed.  As for the wagering public, we should know their answer by the end of the six week period..   

Who knows, maybe this can be the start of a new trend in harness racing elsewhere?  The racing establishment on the East coast and Mid-west would do well to check out this experiment as it should be interesting to see how the racing goes at Cal Expo.  I am not suggesting eliminating the plain claiming race, but a Starters Allowance may be another tool in the racing secretary's tool box. 

Cal Expo Pick 4 Selections will typically be available at the top of the blog home page.  Just click on Cal-Expo Pick 4 Selections above..

If See You At Peelers is going to extend her undefeated lifetime win streak to twenty-three, she is going to have to work for it.  For this coming Monday's $200,000 Nadia Lobell at the Meadows, SYAP draws post position nine.  Of course, this field is not as deep as Sunday's race at Chester Downs was, but whenever you start from the outside, you typically depend more on a good trip to win.  Of course, we are talking about SYAP so the beauty of a horse like this is she makes her own trip; something very wrong would be necessary to beat her. 

For those who are curious about what is happening with Perretti Farms, here is an article which goes into detail. In reality, one can say they are going into hibernation, selling 400 acres and keeping another 700 acres which have a deed restriction. Perretti will be keeping its two biggest stallions, Muscles Yankee and Rock N Roll Hanover and operate as a stallion station. Should alternate gaming come to the New Jersey in the next couple of years, they will be able to reopen easily as a smaller breeding farm.   PTP has an interview with Perretti's Bob Marks, a friend of this blog.  Please give the interview a look.

Previously, we talked about how fines are not high enough to discourage cheating in racing.  Well, in Minnesota, the judges at Running Aces are issuing fines for 'Failure to Give Best Effort', meaning a horse can be allowed to pass inside needlessly or not keeping a hole closed which they should be able to.  Granted, it doesn't mean any fraud is occuring, but a fine of $50?  I realize purses at Running Aces are not like they are on the East coast but when you can allow a courtesy tuck for only $50, how aggressive can the racing be.  So far in this meet, several drivers have had multiple infractions of this rule so obviously the $50 fine is not a deterrent.  Worse yet, the fine is not being increased as the same driver commits the infraction multiple times.  Fans want aggressive driving where no one is being given a friendly tuck or allowed to move up the inside.  I would suggest officials start handing out tougher fines; then maybe drivers will stop giving friends breaks. 

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Big Scandal Breaks in NSW Australia

The Australian Broadcasting Company's program 7:30 last night broadcast a program (you can see the report here) revealing a major scandal at the raceways in New South Wales.  It seems up to now, not every race horse was tested ('swabbed') after they won.  As a result a couple of corrupt stewards, worked with some trainers, drivers, and syndicate gamblers and let them know if they were scheduled to be tested for drugs the next race day.

Well, needless to say, trainers who knew they were not going to be tested for drugs the next day took advantage of the situation and drugged their horses.  When informed they were going to be tested, the trainers obviously didn't use performance enhancing drugs.  In addition, certain gamblers were made aware of which horses were racing with performance enhancing drugs and they made a killing.

Of course, it was a small number of people involved, but imagine the damage these people have done to racing in New South Wales, all in the name of making a profit.  Who knows what the damage will be to harness racing, and more importantly the hardworking honest people in the industry?  Jail time may be awaiting some, but that likely be of little solace to the hardworking people in the industry in Australia who find their industry further marginalized. 

Thankfully, we have not seen anything like this in North America.  Racing must remain ever vigilant looking out for cheaters as it takes only one scandal like this one to kill an entire industry.  In NSW, they are changing the rules to require all winners to be tested and racing goes on, but the damage has been done.  There will be a segment of their wagering population which will not return and that is one thing North American racing can not afford, to lose customers.  There are few enough already. 

UpdateOwner is banned for not handing over phone records.

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

See You at Peelers Being Shown Respect

Obviously there is a lot of respect for See You at Peelers.  How much?  In the first Little Brown Jug Future Pool, See You at Peelers' morning line is 8-1, co-second favorite in the morning line.  Not bad for a horse that may go in the Little Brown Jug or the Jugette.  The 6-1 favorite for the Little Brown Jug is Meadowlands Pace winner Roll With Joe.  See You at Peeler's partner at second favorite is Big Bad John.

Will she or won't she race in the Jug? That is an interesting question and may depend on what is more important to her connections; the winning streak or the possibility to become the first filly to win the Jug since 1981 when the Jug was one by Fan Hanover. While Peelers has shown she can beat the boys, having to beat the boys twice in one day may be dipping into the well once too many, even for her.

Meanwhile, See You at Peelers will go for win number twenty-three Monday at The Meadows, racing in the $200,000 est. Nadia Lobell which formerly was raced at The Red Mile.  Based on her effort at Chester Downs, this should be an easy victory for her.

Michael A Schottland, the lawyer who went to court to get Crys Dream into the Hambletonian Oaks, is aiming higher this time on behalf of the New Jersey thoroughbred breeders, filing a notice of appeal with the courts, challenging Governor Christie's veto of the NJRC's meeting which allocated subsidy money to the racing industry for purses.  No doubt, the argument will be the Governor can not veto the minutes with regards to the subisidy as a law he signed approved the awarding of the subsidies.  Here is one battle I hope Mr. Schottland wins.  After all, who is the Governor to disregard a legally passed law which he himself signed?  Should the thoroughbred forces win, it is likely the standardbred industry would benefit.

I would be remiss if I did not mention that Xtreme Horsepower occurs this Saturday, at Georgian Downs, starting at 6pm.  For those of you unfamiliar with the event, it is an evening of horses racing 1/8 of a mile to 2 1/2 miles.  Horses racing from a standing start or racing in the opposite division.  For those who complain about not enough wagering opportunities, some fields will go with eighteen betting interests.  One thing for certain, the possibility for big payoffs is great.  If you want to get familiar with the types of races being offered, you can click on this link.  


Monday, August 22, 2011

Some Bad News, Georgia Racing?

Driver/Trainer Jay Picianno, who recently was training for Trond Smedshammer and Chuck Slyvester passed away over this weekend at the age of 56.  I remember see Jay drive at The Red Mile and from what I remember about him was that he was a man who had the talent to drive.  Jay got his start break working for George Sholty.  Perhaps in recent years he was working behind the scenes, but he was a credit to the sport.  If any of you had been interested in learning how to drive, there is a good chance you had purchased the DVD/Video "Driving the Trotter and Pacer".  Even if you weren't interested in driving, you may have purchased this video like me to get a better understanding of what is involved in driving the race.  The DVD is still available from some outlets.

The other bad news is the hope that Larry Lederman would be returning to the track announcer's booth for the Fall/Winter meet at Freehold has been dashed as the initial treatment did not accomplish what was desired and he will undergo another round of chemo/radiation.  With luck, we will see Larry back in the booth for the Spring meet.  We wish him well.

On the good news side of the equation, USTA Executive Vice-Pressident Mike Tanner, appeared before The Horse Racing Study Committee of the Georgia legislature to discuss the possibility of introducing pari-mutuel horse racing, including standardbred racing to Georgia.  Other speakers were from the quarterhorse, and steeplechase/hunt, paint racing breeds.  The thoroughbred industry was unable to attend this particular session.  Tanner discussed were the economic benefits of horse racing to the agricultural sector and the fact racing is already in the state at Hawkinsville where there is a harness festival each year.

The focus appears to be on Atlanta and one of the questions raised was about transforming the racetrack for standardbred racing with the opinion extended if you are going to build a track these days it would best to build one facility with separate tracks for standardbreds as with Woodbine.  The question about racinos was raised several times because  it seemed to be a concern of the committee.  Mike feels Georgia can race without racinos as there is no competition in the state with alternate forms of gambling.  The committee while seemingly not interested in racinos, wanted to know what the state traditionally gets from racinos, anticipating the horse racing industry may come back five years later to the state saying they need slots to survive.  From the feeling expressed by the committee leadership, the committee seems to be receptive to a referendum for parimutuel racing. 

The question is, with all types of racing breeds (well, by the time I got off the presentation, the mule racing industry didn't speak).  looking to get into Georgia, will any racetrack in Georgia be a multi-breed track with all breeds welcome or will certain ones be left out?

And We Wonder Why We Have a Problem?

I applaud the USTA for posting the weekly fines and suspensions reports.  In addition to USTA action, it reports all the fines and suspensions reported to the USTA by the various stage regulatory bodies.  Most of the fines and suspensions seem typical, licensing issues, sometimes the use of medications which may be therapeutic but too close to race time; other times the dosage appears to be under or over the limit permitted and then issue related to the conduct of a race.  Then there are times there are things you just can't believe happened. 

Such an incidence happened in this past week's report.

Mr. Brandstatter acting as groom for Patricia Switzer was found guilty of administerg or conspiracy to administer prohibited substances. He was also found guilty of possession of hypodermic apparatus(CH 11 S 1 SUB 13) Mr. Brandstatter was also found guilty of possession of drug paraphenalia(CH 11 S 1 SUB 14)Lastly he was found guilty of the conduct detrimental to the sport.(CH 7 S 68 SUB 2)."

Then there was the companions rulling:


Ms. Switzer was found to be guilty of breaking the trainer responsibility rule. She was also found guilty of breaking the trainer responsibility rule even when a third party was involved (CH 11 S 1 SUB 8) Ms. Switzer was also found guilty of breaking the no prohibited substances rule(CH 7 S 46 SUB 3 E) Lastly, she was found guilty of the conduct detrimental to the sport rule (CH 7 S 68 SUB 2)"

Needless to say the horse involved, Town Fool was scratched that day and is in to go tomorrow at Monticello with a new trainer. 

These findings apparently were issued by the judges of the MHRC at Scarborough Downs.  What were the fines and suspensions issued?  For Peter Z Brandstatter, he was fined $500 and given a one year suspension.  For Patricia J Switzer, she was fined $500 and given a 180 day suspension. Looking at the MHRC rules, the maximum penalty appears to be a $1,000 and a one year suspension and possible expulsison for a first time offense.

Here we are having a hard time to catch the drug cheaters as new drugs show up on the scene and when we catch someone illegally with the tools to inject a horse, you only give them a $500 fine and a year or half a year suspension? 

And we wonder why racing has problems with drugs?

Reading into Things too Much

So some of you may be wondering how I could have picked against See You At Peelers.  Last week as you recall, See You At Peelers, was scratched out of the New York State Fair race she was scheduled to race in after going too warm up miles.  The track was sloppy and it was said she didn't like the surface.

Well, this week shows you two things.  One, is I would make a lousy meteorologist.  The second thing is I read too much into last weeks event.    Based on the forecasts, I figured the Chester track would be as sloppy as Tioga (if the race was held by me, the track would have been washed out).  Instead the real deluge didn't show up in time down near Philadelphia and the track was rated good.

As for the reading too much into things, I was correct in assuming it was one thing to scratch out of  $22,000 race; but another thing to scratch out of a $350,000 race so I was sure she would race yesterday.  I got that right.  But I figured with a sloppy track and a very good field she was facing, the track may have beaten her yesterday based on her scratch last week.

Oh, how wrong I was.  The track was off a little and it even had a challenge by Idyllic in the second quarter.  However, as soon as Idyllic got within a half length or so, the race was over as See You At Peelers rebuffed the challenge and then went on to win effortlessly. 

I had no doubt See You At Peelers was the best horse in the race, but clearly I over thought last weeks' scratch at Tioga Downs; reading too much into it.  I obviously was not the only one to over think it either as SYAP paid a generous $3.60 for her victory. 

With harness racing talking about keeping their stars racing, it was nice to read this weekend , that we may have SYAP  racing for another two years if all goes well.

As for the MAV TV broadcast of a special edition of PA Harnessweek, I thought it was an excellent show for a cable broadcast.  Steve Ross, and special guest co-host Lou Tilly did a great job as did Heather Moffett, Sharla McBride and Susan Ehlers.  My only complaint was they really didn't go into any detal that Susan Ehlers was the handicapper.  Nothing against Lou Tilly and I realize there is a budget to putting on the show, but for an event like this, having Gary Siebel as a co-host for the broadcast would have added a lot to the show.  We get few times on television these days, so it would have been nice to present the best broadcast team possible.  While, likely a restriction of the budget, it would have been nicer if the graphics when showing the horses had some color instead of the black and white used.

Zweig Memorial Sunday at Tioga

The Dr. Harry M. Zweig Memorial stakes for 3YO colt & filly trotters will be raced on Sunday, August 28 at Tioga Downs as part of the 5th annual Drivers' Championship card.

Among the eligibles are Hambletonian winner Broad Bahn, Colonial winner Manofmanymissions and Colonial Consolation I winner Charlie De Vie. The estimated purse is $235,000 for the Open division. Hambo Oaks winner Bold And Fresh is reported to be headed for the $120,000e filly division.

Supplemental entries are accepted for both Zweig events. Race conditions are available here.

Entries will be taken by the Tioga racing office until the box closes on Thursday, August 25 at 9AM.(Tioga Downs)

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Meadowlands Closes; Things Look Brighter at Cal-Expo

Where has the season gone?

Hard to believe with the Meadowlands concluding their meet last night and today being Super Sunday, the action moves to the Midwest and Upstate New York, before the marquee stops at the Delaware County Fair and The Red Mile.  Before we know it, the talk will be of the yearling sales and the Breeders Crown.  Then comes the argument as to who should win the year end awards.

As for the Meadowlands, it will be an exciting off-season as Jeff Gural and his team will be putting its mark on the New Jersey oval.  The long term goal of the racetrack is to become the number one track but realistically, without slots that is not going to happen.  Racing will for the most part be mid-level so expect one of the major goals for 2012 at the Meadowlands is to return the Meadowlands to the consciousness of lthe local community; to make it a legitimate recreation option.  This is not to say steps won't be taken to increase handle, but you need to get people to the track to do so abd yiu need to grow awareness of the signall .  Another part of the puzzle is how to get the heavy gamblers to pay attention to a track which races two or three days a week instead of racing at least four days a week. 

Bettors going to the races at Cal-Expo, simulcast and ADW customers are going to be pleased with the changes made at Cal-Expo for the upcoming harness meet which starts on August 26.

The tote board has been updated with a new face and the LED indicators on the tote board have been replaced for better visibility. The Cal-Expo signage on top of the tote board has been replaced with a larger sign. A video board has been added to show the races as well as showing the pools. New signage has been added to the chute area.

Picture of New Tote Board During the State Fair T-bred Meet
For anyone viewing the races, the experience should be much better as new finish line poles have been installed and the lighting has been upgraded so the track should have a much brighter look, making viewing of the races much better both on and off track.

Overall, the new look should greatly improve the presentation of the product.

Finally, at Charlottetown Driving Park, Blissful Breeze, drivien by Mark McDonald won the 52nd edition of the Gold Cup and Saucer in 1:53.1.  Being able to wager on the CDP card for the first time I was watching the card and all I can say is while the handle may not be huge there ($275,000) for the card, if you are a harness racing fan, you must add it to your list of races to see.  The evening was a special one.

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Super Sunday - Does The Streak Survive?

And to conclude this weekend, we have Super Sunday at Chester Downs which features The Colonial Trot, The Valley Forge, and of course, The Battle of The Brandywine.  What I love about Super Sunday, is this is the way major stakes should be run.  The top money earners go for the big money, with the others going in sizable consolations.  No questionable eliminations.  Not only is it a great way to decide who races in these stakes, it makes the handicapping more challenging to allow the astute gambler to get some great value.

The big question of Super Sunday is will See You At Peelers' win streak be snapped at 21 or will it continue on?  Some will say there is no question she will move forward to win number 22, but the weather forecast does call for afternoon thunderstorms on Sunday.  If you remember, See You At Peelers was on the track at Tioga last week with two warm-up miles and then was scratched out due to the off surface and Peelers was reported not to be handling the surface that well.  Well, last week they were racing for $22,000 which is no big deal, but with the Valley Forge going for $350,000, it will be a lot harder to scratch out of a lucrative race like that.  Maybe the off track is Peelers' achilles heel.  We will see.

If you are looking for my selections for Saturday's card, you will find they were posted yesterday.  Without further ado, here are my selections for Sunday at Chester Downs.  Post time will be at 2:00PM on Sunday and there are some guaranteed pools.  Where appropriate, I will list those.

1st Trot - $60,000; 3Year Old Open - PA Sired Preferred (Post Time 2:00PM)
6 - Zooming (A Miller, 5-2)
8 - Sevruga (Palone, 9-2)
3 - Broadways Fortune (Schadel, 5-1)

2nd Pace - $60,000; 3 Year Old Open - PA Sired Preferred
6 - Rock'em (D Miller, 10-1)
5 - Mc Rusty (Brennan, 7-2)
3 - Rockstar Temper (Berry, 12-1)

3rd Pace - $75,000; The Valley Forge Consolation II - 3yo Fillies
2 - Emilio's Stride (Palone, 7-2)
5 - Real Amor (B Miller, 12-1)
7 - Cinderosa (G Napolitano, 9-2)
4 - Ms Malicious (Tetrick, 5-2)

4th Trot - $100,000; The Colonial Consolation II - 3yo Open
5 - Luckycharm Hanover (D Miller, 5-1)
2 - Bloomington (Bolon, 12-1)
1 - For Valley As (Napolitano, 9-2)

5th Pace - $100,000; Battle of the Brandywine Consolation II - 3yo Open
1 - Lookinforadventure (Gingras, 9-2)
7 - Wind Me Up (Teague, 7-2)
2 - Prana (Tetrick, 5-2)

6th Pace - $150,000; The Valley Forge Consolation I - 3yo Fillies
6 - Pretty Katherine (D Miller, 7-2)
1 - Strike An Attitude (Campbell, 5-1)
2 - Southwind Jazmin (Gregory, 5-2)
7 - In Deep Thought (B Miller, 8-1)

7th Trot - $200,000; The Colonial Consolation I - 3yo Open ($15,000 Gtd Pick 4 Pool)
2 - Charlie De Vie (D Miller, 7-2)
5 - Magnum Kosmos (Palone, 10-1)
3 - Fawkes (Gingras, 5-1)
4 - Bambino Hall (Pierce, 5-2)

8th Pace - $200,000; Battle of the Brandywine Consolation I - 3yo Open
7 - Hugadragon (Kakaley, 9-2)
1- Real Special (Gingras, 5-2)
2 -Dana's Sharp Smart (Palone, 7-2)
3 - Line Officer (Brennan, 12-1)

9th Pace - $350,000; The Valley Forge - 3yo Fillies ($25,000 Gtd Exacta Pool)
3 - Idyllic (D Miller, 4-1)
4 - Drop The Ball (Gingras, 8-1)
1 - Krispy Apple (Tetrick, 7-2)

10th Trot - $500,000; The Colonial Trot - 3yo Open ($25,000 Gtd Exacta Pool)
1 - Manofmanymissions (D Miller, 7-2)
5 - Broad Bahn (Brennan, 9-2)
7 - Whatever It Takes (A Miller, 10-1)
3 - Opening Night (Campbell, 5-1)

11th Pace - $500,000; Battle of the Brandywine - 3yo Open ($25,000 Gtd Exacata Pool)
5 - Alsace Hanover (S Zeron, 5-2)
1 - Roll With Joe (Pierce, 7-2)
3 - Custard The Dragon (Teague, 9-2)
8 - High Noon (Tetrick, 5-1)

12th Pace - $100,000; 4yo Open
5 - Shoobee's Place (Tetrick, 9-2)
8 - Versado (Gingras, 8-1)
3 - Trick Man (Paver, 10-1)

13th Trot - $100,000; Open
2 - Buck I St Pat (Tetrick, 5-2)
1 - Autumn Escapade (D Miller, 9-2)
8 - Lolique (A Miller, 5-1)

14th Pace - $100,000; Open
6 - Dial Or Nodial (D Miller, 12-1)
5 - Sst Elmo Hero (Tetrick, 5-2)
7 - Vlos (A Miller, 10-1)
3 - Rockincam (Campbell, 7-2)

Remember, there will be a one hour live show on MAV-TV on Sunday at 5:00PM EDT.  If you can't be there live, make sure you catch the show.

Friday, August 19, 2011

No Sense to Dwell, Bring Out the Positive

A friend of mine suggested to me that there is no sense to dwell on the closing of Perretti Farms, it is going to happen and there really is not much more to say about the rationale of its closing.  Instead, we should be talking about the incredible opportunities breeding fams now have as there will be a high quality broodmare band you have never see available for public purchase.

He's right.

Think about it, the dams of Muscle Massive, Lucky Chucky, Scarlet Knight, Queen Serene, Modern Art and plenty other superstars are going to be made available in this once in a lifetime dispersal.  What breeding farm would not want to pick up all or part of this broodmare disperal?  It seems to me the sales in Lexington and Harrisburg will be getting a lot more talk and press as these broodmares are being added to this sale.

One farms passing provides other farms a great opportunity.  It should be interesting to see where these broodmares end up.  What states will be fortunate to add them to their local breeding programs?

First Leg of the Kindergarten Series at Vernon Downs

The popular Kindergarten Classic series for 2 year old trotters begins at Vernon Downs on Friday, August 26. Entries will be taken by the Vernon Race Office (315) 829-6825 until the box closes at 9AM on Tuesday, August 23. Each leg races for a purse of $10,000, the entry fee is $260 ($250 plus the $10 New York starting fee).

The Red Mile will host two legs this year on September 9th & 22nd, check their condition sheet for entry details.

The series wraps up back at Vernon with the last leg on October 21 and the $200,000E colt and $180,000E filly finals a week later.

All entry information is available at the Vernon Downs website with the complete schedule and list of eligibles here. (Vernon Downs)

The Culmination of Old Home Week - Gold Cup and Saucer

Note:  Anyone looking for my selections for Saturdays, Meadowlands card may look at the posting just before this.

Many Americans for the first time will be given the option to play the Gold Cup and Saucer card from Charlottestown Driving Park (CDP).  To commemerate this, I am posting my selections for the card.  No doubt, many of you are not familiar with CDP.  Harness racing in the Canadian Maritimes is more a hobby than a big-time sport with each track racing a limited number of days.  What they may lack in quality is made up in enthusiasm.  The big race in the Maritimes is the Gold Cup and Saucer, a $60,000 race which is held at midnight on the last night.  To get into the final, horses must compete in "Trials"; this year three trials were held.  Unlike eliminations which are held the same day, one trial was held on each day so the trials were held over a span of three days (Saturday, Sunday, and Monday).  Yes, it may be only a $60,000 race, but owners sometimes buy horses just to compete in this race and most owners, trainers, and drivers in all of Canada dream of winning this race; not just horsemen in the Maritimes.  This year, George Teague Jr, sent three horses to quality for the Gold Cup and Saucer, and only one of them made it.

The race is something you have never seen.  You will see the grandstand apron full, horsemen surrounding the entire track to see the race.  This is their big race and it is the one day of racing at CDP which is covered by WEG and HPI.  It truly is special.

For those unfamiliar with CDP, it is a half mile track with eight horses across.  CDP has a double header on Saturday so make sure you are looking at the evening card if you plan to play the races.  The Maritimes are in ADT instead of the EDT time zone so their 7:00pm first post actually takes place at 6:00pm with the Gold Cup and Saucer taking place at 11:00pm EDT.

Here are my selections for Charlottetown's evening card for Saturday.  Please note some races have Also Eligbles drawn.  If I feel any of them are worth looking at, I will make mentions of it.  The last four races has a special $10,000 guaranteed Pick 4.

1st Pace - $850; NW $351 Last 4 Starts (First Post 6:00PM EDT)
3 - Texas Treasure (Bradley, 5-2)
6 - Bendoughlio (Mackenzie, 3-1)
8 - La Traviata (Arsenault, 8-1)
Also Eligible to Watch: AE2 -  Courtege - Can be very dangerous from the inner posts.

2nd Trot - $6,100; Meridian Trotting Series Final
7 - Diana Car (Campbell, 3-1)
4 - Flashy Image (Chappell, 5-2)
5 - Dusty Lane Shelby (Macpherson, 4-1)

3rd Pace - $1,000; NW $501 Last 4 Starts Conditioned
1 - Liams Legacy (Sehl, 7-2)
8 - Charlottes Art (White, 8-1)
6 - Rombo Challenge (Campbell, 3-1)
Also Eligibles to Watch:  AE1- St Lads Dagwood - Don't see him beating the #1 but can be in exotics if he gets in with the drop in class.  AE2 - Nellies Money - Could give top choice a run provided he draws inside; ignore if he draws outside of post four.

4th Pace - $1,150; NW $651 Last 4 Starts 
1 - Miss All Fun (Ja Macdonald, 3-1)
3 -Cambalibra (White, 5-2)
5 - Leave Me Go (G Macdonald, 7-2)

5th Pace - $5,900; Alpine Claiming Series Final ($3,000 Claiming Fillies and Mares)
8 - Timeless Hanover (Allard, 7-2)
2 - River Swing (Mac Phee, 5-2)
4 - Eagle Sarah (Jo Macdonald, 4-1)

6th Pace - $2,500; The Papermaker Pace
1 - Jepson Hanover (Romo, 5-2)
5 - Outlawpositivcharg (Gallant, 3-1)
2 - Putnams Force (Ellis, 6-1)
4 - Wild Ride Hanover (Jo Macdonald, 7-2)

7th Pace - $1,400; NW $801 Last 4 Starts Conditioned
8 - Roscoes Child (Brode A Mac Phee, 5-2)
5 - Tanks Alot (Brian Macphee, 8-1)
3 - Hornswoggle (Shepherd, 3-1)

8th Pace - $11,000 - Joe Obrien Memorial - 3yo Colts
1 - Woodmere Sandman (Trites, 3-1)
4 - Windemere Express (Allard, 10-1)
3 - Tiger Williams (Smith, 7-2)

9th Pace - $5,700; Alpine Claiming Series ($3,000 Claiming Horses and Geldings)
3 - Roccos Cavallo (Stevenson, 5-2)
8 - M G Hurricane (Arsenault, 12-1)
4 - Camscaper (Smith, 6-1)
Also Eliglble to Watch:  AE1 - Major Venue - Horse appears to race best from mid-post.  If draws in the middle, may get into exotics.

10th Pace - $10,000; Gold Cup and Saucer Consolation #2
4 - Im Gorgeous (Stevenson, 4-1)
2 - As Tuff As Nails (Whebby, 7-2)
6 - Rare Jewel (Ellis, 3-1)

11th Pace - $11,000; Joe Obrien Memorial - 3yo Colts (Start of $10,000 Gtd Pick 4 )
1 - Maritimer (Mary Macdonald, 5-2)
2 - The Eagle (Barrieau, 7-2)
8 - Balbriggan Fox (Jo Macdonald, 4-1)

12th Pace - $2,000; Normal Macphail Memorial Pace
5 - MD Hardlys Success (Barrieau, 5-2)
3 - Truth Or Dare (Campbell, 3-1)
6 - Sombrero Blue Chip (Stevenson, 6-1)

13th Pace -  $8,250; The Spud Island Classic Final
5 - Onehotvett (Barrieau, 3-1)
1 - General Lickpercy (Sshepperd, 7-2)
2 - Grace Amd Jarv )Stevemspm. 4-1)
Also Eligible to Watch: AE1 - Abby Best - Winner at Summerside and Truro when she draws post 2 with similar company.  Can be a threat from posts 1-3.

14th Pace - $60,000; Gold Cup and Saucer (Estimated Post 11:00PM EDT)
1 - Fire On The Water (A Macdonald, 7-2) - Likely won't last with anticipated fractionss.
2 - Firethorn (Jo Macdonald, 8-1) - Trial winner flew home with a :27.1 quarter.  My pick.
3 - Blissfull Breeze (Mark Macdonald, 5-2) - Riding three race win streak.  Legitimate contender.  No value.
4 - Part Shark (Barrieau, 3-1) - Don't expect him to tire this week with fractions expected.  Threat.
5 - Did It Again (Allard, 10-1) - Hung out to dry.  Gets driver change for final.  Don't ignore.
6 - Fleet Sensation (Ja Macdonald, 12-1) - Program shows only wins.  At these odds may need to look.
7 - Pontiac Luck (Shepherd, 6-1) - Was racing nw3 at Mohawk.  Don't see.
8 - Oakmont (Romo, 15-1) - The hometown favorite.  Would be a shocker.
9 - Western Ace (Stevenson, 4-1) - American entrant doesn't seem to rate against these.
AE1 - Strand Hanover - Hung out to dry in trial.  Winner at Big M Inv.  Can win if draws inside.
AE2 - Secret Weapon - Seems off form with last victory at Hanover.  Must step up big time if gets in.
#9 Western Ace scores from second tier.
Selections: 2-4-3

The Curtain Drops on the 2011 Meadowlands Meet

Well, here we go.  Perhaps one of the biggest overall weekends of racing taking place with Saturday night at the Meadowlands being the finale of the 2011 Meadowlands Meet which features not only the first round of the Tioga Driving Championship; it includes The Sweetheart (2yo fillies), Woodrow Wilson (2yo colts and geldings), Golden Girls (FFA Mares), and the William R Haughton Memorial (FFA) stakes for pacers.  For those attending the races live, there will be a fireworks show afterwards.

Meanwhile, up on Prince Edward Island, Charlottetown Driving Park is concluding Old Home Week with the running of the Gold Cup and Saucer, a $60,000 race which is their equivalent of the Little Brown Jug.  Drivers and trainers will come from all over Canada and this year the United States to win the event.  It is only a $60,000 purse but when you consider the lowest class races for $850 dollars, you can imagine how big this $60,000 race.

Finally, on Sunday we have Super Sunday at Chester Downs with a special post time of 2:00pm.  As I mentioned earlier, at 5pm, MAV-TV will have nationally a show from Chester regarding the day's big events.

Due to the number of races I am handicapping, I will keep my postings short.  Instead of full race analysis of the big races, I will just be providing my selections of the race cards.

First up, the Meadowlands for Saturday, August 20, 2011

1st Pace - $16,250; $15,000-$20,000 Claiming Handicap NJOS
7 - Sam Hill (A Miller, 3-1)
4 - Native Ligthning (Brennan, 2-1)
2 - Albion (Tetrick, 5-1)

2nd Pace - $11,250; NW $6,600 Last 5 Starts NJOS (Driving Championship)
8 - Corky Baran (Sears, 3-1)
3 - The Admiral (Pierce, 12-1)
9 - Heart Of Rocknroll (Jamieson, 5-1)

3rd Pace - $27,500; Preferred
5 - Mega Lighting (Brennan, 8-1)
1 - Double Trouble (Sears, 6-1)
4 - Southwestern Dream (Tetrick, 7-2)

4th Pace- $363,900; The Sweetheart - 2yo Fillies
2 - Podges Lady (Sears, 4-1)
3 - Handsofffmycookie (Tetrick, 5-2)
10-Pirouette Hanover (Pierce, 3-1)
6 - Bettor B Lucky (Morrill, 6-1)

5th Pace - $16,000; NW $10,000 Last 5 Starts (Driving Championship)
3 - Allamerican Daddy (Hensley, 12-1)
2 - Frddy Day Hanover (Sears, 8-1)
4 - Epanephrine (A Miller, 5-2)

6th Pace - $317,800; Woodrow Wilson - 2yo Colts and Geldings 
7 - Major Bombay (Sears, 5-1)
3 - Wrubellious (D Miller, 15-1)
6 - Allstar Legend (Tetrick, 8-1)

7th Pace - $235,750; Golden Girls - FFA Mares
2 - Rock N Soul (Gingras, 8-1)
8 - Dreamfair  Eternal (Sears, 2-1)
7 - Shacked Up (Morrill, 10-1)
3 - Hula's Z Tam (Lachance, 15-1)

8th Pace - $22,000; NW $18,000 Last 5 Starts (Driving Championship)
2 - A J Corbelli (Tetrick, 7-2)
3 - Veal Marsala (Jamieson, 3-1)
1 - Blue Rock (Gingras, 9-2)

9th Pace - $523,000; Willam R Haughton Memorial - FFA
1 - We Will See (Pierce, 5-2)
2 - Won The West (D Miller, 3-1)
4 - Foiled Again (Gingras, 5-1)
3 - Ideal Matters (Morrill, 15-1)

10th Pace - $7,500; NW $4,000 Last 5 Starts (Driving Championship)
6 - Wellthereyougo (Sears, 4-1)
3 - Beware Of Darkness (D Miller, 3-1)
9 - Best Magic (Tetrick, 7-2)
1 - Alex Bullville (Brennan, 6-1)

The Closing of Perretti Farms the start of something good?  See Harness Racing Update for why Perretti Farms is closing.  Despite what the Governor is saying, Senator Sweeney and the Governor are jointly responsible.  The Governor for not pushing a North Jersey casino and for not trying to get Senator Sweeney to allow a gaming bill to get to the Senate floor.  Well, the (North Jersey) Democrats are starting to kick up a storm.  Will anything come of it?  Sadly, probably not.  Perhaps the best thing which could possibly be done is a referendum allowing a casino at the Meadowlands to be built when New York allows table games at their racinos or stand-alone casinos.  Even then, Atlantic City won't be able to make a logical argument to deny a casino in North Jersey.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Banned in Philadelphia

Got to love those people who do the commerical for PA Harnessweek.  The following commercial was banned by Comcast who claimed it was "obscene, indecent, and lewd".  I for one think it is a hoot.  Yeah, a bit risque but it will attract a younger crowd.

Here is the commerical that was 'Banned in Philadelphia".

Anyway, there will be a live show on MAV-TV on Sunday, starting at 5pm.  If you have MAV-TV, make sure you catch it.  For those who have Comcast SportsNet in the Philadelphia area, while the commerical won't be shown, the broadcast will be on.

Illinios Racing - The Good and the (Mostly) Bad

Purses have doubled at Chicago area tracks, which while not the greatest purses possible, are a great step forward.  So what could go wrong?  A Governor who looks like he will at least conditionally veto the casino legislation if not out right veto the legislation if the Senate will deliver the approved legislation to him and on top of that, there appears to be some horsemen who raced in Chicago during the period the riverboat casino funds should have been dispensed if the riverboats didn't fight releasing the money who are looking to possibly sue to get what they should have paid if the money was released in a timely manner.

Governor Quinn the other day at the Illinois State Fair made it clearly known that he has no desire for slots at the fairgrounds; something admittedly even I would have a problem with.  Quinn then talks about expanding casino gambling to racetracks as 'canabalizing' the product.  Of course, there was no concern outside of racing by anyone about cannibalizing horse racing when establishing riverboat gambling.  There is talk about a 'trailer bill' to be passed at the October veto session to address Quinn's concerns about the bill, but being one of his concerns is about having casinos at the racetracks, the whole thing may collapse.

As for the horsemen who are looking in effect to possibly sure for back purses, I have mixed feelings about it.  In some way, I feel with this group of horsemen who say they should be entitled for back 'wages', but there was nothing that kept them from leaving Chicago if the pures were so poor.  Yet, there can't be no dial that the money was intended to supplement purses each year.  Conversely, using the funds moving forward will make Chicago racing more relevant instead of it being the joke it has been lately.  The best thing which could happen right now is for the dissident horsemen to negotiate with the current horsemen and tracks to work out a solution which will work best for all of them.   

Clearly things in Illinois are far from settled.  Who knows how it will all play out?  Now that the Meadowlands has been saved, I would hope all those who fought for the Meadowlands' survival will work towards saving Chicago racing as it is the next biggest market outside of the NY/NJ region. 

More Perretti Farms Fall Out - In an article from the Asbury Park Press, [Governor] Christie said he didn’t see the Perretti closing as fallout from this year’s overhaul to the state’s horse racing industry. Christie said he’s hopeful other farms can remain operating despite economic challenges.  Sure, I am sure if the Meadowlands still received a $30 million subsidy and raced a 180 day schedule, Perretti Farms would have still closed.  I suggest the Governor stop with the politics and look at reality.  I talked to an unidentified source who said  It was the Governor's refusal to allow New Jersey racing to compete against the tracks in New York and Pennsylvania on an equal footing (slots) which is directly responsible for the closing of Perrettti Farms.  Any attempt to claim it is another reason is pure BS.  You can spin it anyway you want Governor Christie.  Everyone knows the truth.

Gold Cup and Saucer News:  In addition to offering simulcast wagering at the Meadowlands, Monmouth Park, and Favorites, NJAW will also offer wagering on the entire Gold Cup and Saucer race card.  Sure, the racing is not the level it is in Ontario or even in most of the United States, but it is an experience and for many of us, it will be the closest you will ever get to experiencing it unless you travel to the Canadian Maritime Provinces.  So if available to you through your local track or ADW, take advantage of the opportunity.

A big weekend of racing ahead.  I will attempt to handicap the Charlottetown Driving Park card as well as the Super Sunday card this weekend in addition to the closing day stakes at the Meadowlands (Sweetheart, Woodrow Wilson, Golden Girls, William Haughton Memorial).  So check back over the weekend to see my selections.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Gold Cup and Saucer Comes to the Meadowlands

With the bad news of the past couple of days, it is time for some good news.  The Gold Cup and Saucer comes to the Meadowlands this Saturday.  Well, not really, but the Meadowlands will be simulcasting the entire card 15 race card from Charlottetown Driving Park with the Gold Cup and Saucer taking place at 11:00pm.

No doubt the quality of racing at Charlottetown Driving Park is not the type which typically would interest New Jersey players, but the fact is the Gold Cup and Saucer is the Little Brown Jug of Canada, a race horsemen from the major racing circuit of Canada try to win.  This year, George Teague Jr has a horse racing in the final as well.  The fact the Meadowlands is simulcasting the race, shows that they recognize the significance of this race.  For those attending closing night at the Meadowlands, you should note post time for the first race at CDP is 6:00pm.  Later in the week, I will handicap the entire Charlottetown card. 

In the meanwhile, here is the field for the $60,000 Gold Cup and Saucer.

1 - Fire On the Water (Anthony MacDonald)
2 - Firethorn (John MacDonald)
3 - Blissful Breeze (Mark MacDonald)
4 - Part Shark (Gilles Barrieau)
5 - Did It Again (Simon Allard)
6 - Fleet Senations (James MacDonald)
7 - Pontiac Luck (TBA)
8 - Oakmont (Danny Romo)
9 - Western Ace (Mike Stevenson)

The Fallout - Time for a New Jersey Bred Program

Some people have speculated that Perretti Farms' closing is a vote of no confidence against Jeff Gural's plan for the Meadowlands.  This can't be further than the truth.  The decision to close Perretti Farms was forthcoming regardless of who took over the Meadowlands; the Pope could take over the Meadowlands and the same decision would have been reached.

The fact is no slots or subsidies puts the Meadowlands at a severe disadvantage to any surrounding state.  Horses are fleeing New Jersey as much as casino gamblers are abandoning Atlantic City for destinations out of the state.  True, Jeff Gural is going to be racing half the dates as before, but that is necessary to race a mid-level racing program; the same way the Meadowlands Thoroughbred meet once used to be grossly inferior to the NYRA racing product.  To race the 180 day meet of the past, the Meadowlands would be luck to attract horses of the level of Running Aces or Kentucky (excluding the grand circuit stand),

In concept, I am against slot revenue as subsidies, but realize if every other state has slots, not to embrace them is trying to compete against other tracks with both arms tied behind your back.

Before thoroughbred horsemen  take glee in the situation, I suggest you look at your own breeding industry.  Mike Farrell reports that a total of 200 thoroughbred yearlings will be registered in New Jersey.  Hardly a statistic to say the thoroughbred industry is doing well.  If Jeff Gural's gamble on the Meadowladns does not payoff, it won't be much longer until Monmouth Park ceases operation.

What is clear, is the NJSS will become a beleaguered program.  It would make sense if the sires stake program was converted to a program for Jersey-sired or bred horses and the purse bonuses for New Jersey owned or sired horses be changed to New Jersey owned, sired or bred, to encourage farms like Perretti to remain open (under new management) as nurseries for horses.  Such a change may allow for New Jersey farmland to remain in operation for horses should slots come to the Meadowlands and sires return to the state and in the meanwhile, help ensure a sufficient horse population for the racetracks.

No doubt it is preferable to have programs to encourage the breeding of New Jersey sired horses.  However, as the Meadowlands changes, so must the programs to encourage New Jersey breeding programs; to reflect the new realities.