For photos from the Meadowlands contact

Friday, September 30, 2011

Friday at The Red Mile, Pick 4 Guarantee Raised to $20,000

Headlining Friday's races at The Red Mile are four divisions of the $340,000 Walnut Hall LTD Cup Bluegrass Stake for 2YO trotting colts and two splits of the Walnut Hall Stock Farm sponsored $270,000 Bluegrass for 2YO filly pacers.

Trotting colts will take the stage in races 4, 7, 9 & 11 and Ray Schnittker's Delano is the morning line choice in division one. The Credit Winner colt has won five of nine this season, including a track record 1:55.2f in a NYSS event at Tioga Downs. Ray bypassed the $175,000 NYSS final over the half-mile track at Saratoga to race this colt over Lexington's one mile clay strip, so he's here with a purpose.

The powerful Takter stable's only entrant in this stake is Little Brown Fox, who will come to the race as the linemaker's choice in race seven fresh off his third place finish in the rich Wellwood stakes at Mohawk. He's lightly raced and improving rapidly. Fashion Farm and trainer Jim Campbell have several impressive freshman trotters and will be well represented in the ninth race by Pekoe Fashion, who looks to rebound from his first career loss in the PASS final. In the eleventh race, the speedy American Gangster will attempt to redeem himself from an untimely break as the odds on favorite in the Wellwood final after setting a Canadian record in his elimination for owners, the Hausers and Tudiscos.

In the filly pace the undisputed queen of the castle, Brittany Farm's American Jewel, makes her Red Mile debut for trainer Jimmy Takter. The American Ideal filly has won all seven of her starts while amassing nearly $600,000 and lowering the World Record for her division to 1:50.2 in the process.

The wickedly fast Economy Terror has lost only two races in her brief career, both of those to the aforementioned American Jewel, and was in close attendance both times. Economy Terror has a speed standard of her own of 1:51.1f taken in the PASS final for trainer Chris Oakes. Marty Party set all the fractions for the PASS final, held game 'til the bitter end to be third and has her sights set on revenge.

The Red Mile and the USTA are very pleased to announce an immediate increase in the guarantee amount to $20,000 for Friday's Pick 4 pool. Bolstered by a $5609 carryover from Thursday night's card, both organizations are confident the betting public will find great value in Friday night's Pick 4 wager.

Post time for the Red Mile card is 7:00 PM on Friday and Saturday, with a 1:00 PM matinee on Sunday's Kentucky Futurity Day program. Visit for more information.

An Inspiring Piece

The Winner's Wire has an interesting piece on Ricky Macomber Jr.  Ricky is a successful driver in the Midwest and Florida.  Some of the Eastern track elitists may disagree, but while Ricky may never make it to the tracks in the East he is a champion driver in his own way.  I will let you read the article to discover on your own why.

The sales at Lexington are about to begin and it promises to be a better year than last year, though I am not sure as good as some people think it will be.  A good predictor is the Morrisville College sale was up 10.4% this year, but horses that sell at Lexington tend to more royally bred.  While you would think this will bode well for the sale, we need to remember they are selling Cadillacs at Lexington, not Chevys as at Morrisville so the entry price will be higher.Hence, a 10.4% increase involves a lot more dollars.   Also, these buyers will likely be impacted more by the recent stock market swoon and you will see more partnerships on the top horses so owners who could afford to bid on the regally-bred horses will not be bidding against each other.  So while prices will likely increase, the increases may be more modest.

It will be interesting to see how New Jersey breds do at Lexington.  While the Meadowlands will be racing next year, racing dates in New Jersey will roughly 160 days, including Freehold which limits the ability of lesser NJ breds to race in state-restricted overnights.  I am also curious to see how Perretti's horses do as this is the next to last year they are offering yearlings for sale.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

2011 Grand Circuit At The Red Mile

For many fans of harness racing, the most wonderful time of the year begins on Thursday, September 29th with the start of Grand Circuit racing at the Historic Red Mile racetrack in Lexington, KY. This season will bring with it change, as the races will be contested under the lights with a 7:00 PM post time employed for the Thursday, Friday and Saturday cards each week. Sunday afternoon racing is another new addition in 2011, with the meet’s marquee races carded as Sunday matinees at 1 PM.This schedule will serve for both weeks of the Grand Circuit for 2011.

Opening day of the Grand Circuit meet will feature the $326,000 Norman Woolworth Memorial / Bluegrass Stakes 2YO Filly Trot which required three divisions to accommodate the 29 fillies declared to the race. A solid slate of Late Closing events featuring 2YO colt trotters and 2YO filly pacers fills out a very attractive 12 race program.

Friday’s 13 race extravaganza is headlined by two divisions of the $270,000 Bluegrass Stakes for 2YO Pacing Fillies (Sponsored by: Walnut Hall Stock Farm) and a four way split of the $340,000 Walnut Hall, LTD Cup / Bluegrass Stakes 2YO Colt Trot.

The action heats up seriously on Saturday when the Free For Allers invade Lexington in the Allerage Farms Series. The very finest older pacing and trotting horses are scheduled to race over the famed red clay for purses estimated at $200,000 for each division. The Western Ideal / Bluegrass Stakes for 2YO Pacing Colts required four divisions, each for a purse of nearly $100,000. The ten best 3YO Pacing Fillies currently racing will assemble for a single division of the $153,000 Bluegrass Stakes named for the great pacing mare Darlin’s Delight.

The 119th Kentucky Futurity 3YO Colt Trot will be raced on the Sunday, October 2nd card for an estimated purse of $700,000, offering another glimpse into the puzzle that is a division still waiting for a clear leader to emerge. The $400,000e Kentucky Filly Futurity, $200,000e Bluegrass Stakes 3YO Colt Pace and $85,000e Allerage FFA Mare races support the jewel of the meet on what promises to be a remarkable day of racing.

The daily wagering menu will include Exacta, $.50 Trifecta and dime Superfecta on all races, along with a $10,000 Guaranteed Pool Pick 4 offered each day as part of the USTA Strategic Wagering Initiative.

The 2011 Lexington Selected Yearling Sale begins at 7 PM Monday, October 3rd with evening sessions on Tuesday & Wednesday and an 11:30 AM start on Thursday & Friday.

The Red Mile recently launched a brand new “state-of-the-art” website which will supply further important information on all details pertinent to the Grand Circuit race meet.

Contact the Red Mile General Offices at (859) 255-0752.

Columbus, OH --- A check of the status of 2011 Hambletonian winner Broad Bahn on the eve of the 120th anniversary Kentucky Futurity is the lead on this week’s edition of “Eye on Harness Racing,” the U.S. Trotting Association’s weekly online video magazine.

Also, the program will feature stakes highlights and a brief look back at the color and excitement of the 66th Little Brown Jug.

Eye on Harness Racing may be seen by clicking on the above link or by visiting At the latter website, the USTA's YouTube channel, you can also see past editions of the program -- and dozens of other harness racing videos.

The USTA also has a "Media" page at its website, at, where all USTA-produced videos and audio podcasts may also be seen or heard.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Flaming Out

At the most recent Virginia Racing Commission meeting, the Colonial Downs board of directors has proposed a 24 day harness meet in 2012 which would result in losing 6 days when compared to the 2011 racing calendar.  Not good, but considering everything else, not the worst.  But it does get worse.  In 2013, they are proposing to go to an eighteen day race card which becomes a net loss of 12 days when compared to 2011.

However, in 2014, Colonial Downs is proposing a 'massive' (sarcasm intended) standardbred meet of four days.  Just four days of harness racing at Colonial Downs.  This is beginning to look a lot like Iowa with the exception being Colonial Downs will not fund a fair meet in Virginia as Prairie Meadows does in Iowa. While the Virginia Racing Commission needs to approve these dates, it appears Virginia is facing the threat of flaming out with regards to standardbred racing.  Hopefully, it can be prevented, but when a track is looking to drop down to a four day meet, it is never a good sign.

Columbus, we have a problem.  Pari-mutuel racing in Iowa has, for all purposes flamed out, if Colonial Downs gets their way, it will flame out in Virginia.  Other relatively new tracks are not doing particularly well either; handles so low that there are times horses are not being bet in all the pools often.  Colonial Downs often has pools with less than $1,800 in them so there is no way big gamblers will even go near a track like that.  Colonial Downs has no slot machines so in some ways, can you blame them for wanting to get rid of harness racing?

But it is more than that, Prairie Meadows has a casino so they subsidize the purses there.  Horse racing is a money loser, but necessary for slot machines.  However, they are willing to pay $1 million a year NOT to race harness racing at the track, but instead have them race at fairs to cut their losses on the sport while they  still race thoroughbreds and quarterhorses at Prairie Meadows.  Yes, they have slots to subsidize horse racing, but even if they are expecting racing to be a loss leader, it is one thing to lose money on racing; it is another thing to hemorrhage money on racing.  If you are a multi-breed track, you are going to jettison the breed which costs you the most.  Sadly, we know which breed is going to cost tracks the most to race due to putrid handles.  As we can see in Iowa, slot machines don't guarantee you racing; handle matters; even at racinos.

And now we are looking to get harness racing in Georgia?  With our track record, there is a chance harness racing may crash and burn there if parimutuel racing gets approved in Georgia.  Harness racing may get in to Georgia but if it is at a multi-breed track, harness racing may not be there that long because we don't know how to introduce the sport into a new market.

I used the expression, "Columbus, we have a problem." as a matter of poetic license.  Yes, the USTA  should coordinate a group to come up with best practices for introducing standardbred racing into new markets to lessen the chance we flame out like we did in Iowa and we may be doing in Virginia, but the USTA is not to blame alone.  The entire industry needs to work together on this.  If we leave it up to horsemen in one state to market the sport, we are destined to failure.

One of the complaints you hear from some people is there is no marketing at Colonial Downs of harness racing.  Now, not being from Virginia, I don't know specifically what kind of marketing, if there is any, Colonial Downs does for harness racing.  This should be a wake up call for those that say the track should do the promoting alone.  If the tracks are not going to promote on their own, horsemen better be willing to work with them to promote; otherwise failure is guaranteed. 

$1,800 pools indicate there is no interest in their racing product.  Why is that?  First we need to know why the sport is being repudiated by the local population.  Is it the sports perception?  If so, horsemen all over the country have some responsibility for this and we need to get this sport a better perception. 

Another reason is there is too much racing going on and Colonial Downs is being bypassed.  Now, assuming takeouts are reasonable, people would play Colonial Downs if there were not too many tracks racing at the same time.  We are spreading what wagering on standardbred racing is taking place over too many tracks at a given time.  In some ways, we need to lead our customers to wager on these tracks and that is done by not having all these tracks racing and competing at the same time.  Maybe racing at different times of the day would work, maybe not racing all year at some tracks or six days a week would help.  Yes, things may be wonderful at some tracks with racinos, but unless horsemen nationally are willing to work together, some tracks are not going to make it as far as harness racing goes, even if they have racinos; we are guaranteeing failure of the sport nationwide.

Why should horsemen in state A care about what is happening in state B?  If racing fails in state B, state C, D, and E may be next.  As existing harness racing fans stop wagering due to death or attrition, there will be no new horseplayers because the sport no longer exists in these state.  As the harness racing market shrinks, soon enough, even your handle will decline; decline to the point you can be sure your harness tracks will be sure to go to legislators to kick horse racing out.

So don't look at Iowa and now Virginia as isolataed incidents.  Their failure does not bode well for the sport nationally, the first dominos are tumbling.  Sooner or later, if steps are not taken, the other dominos will all fall.

The Meadowlands posted a video to allow people to meet their new GM, Mike Newlin.  Here it is.


Illinois and Maryland Blues

Illinois Politics

Earlier this week, we talked how the race date game has begun.  Well in Illinois, the IRB has issued the harness dates for 2012 in Illinois.  Balmoral will race Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday all year long while Maywood Park will race on Thursdays and Fridays.  The IRB reserves the right to cancel Tuesday racing at Balmoral if state budget cuts reduces funding for the IRB or the field sizes are not sufficient. On the thoroughbred side, Chruchill Downs was denied in their request for Arlington Park to take over the lucrative spring meet from Hawthorne Racecourse.  Arlington Park was granted the right by the IRB and Balmoral Park, which has exclusivity for evening hours in Chicago to race three evenings starting at 6:30pm.  However, with the denial of the request for the spring dates, Arlington Park may not take advantage of this.

With regards to the current slot bill, most experts have conceeded, the current casino bill in Illinois will not become law as is.  The question is will Governor Quinn's objections be addressed in a trailer bill, a bill which overlays part of the original bill, or if there will be an outright conditional or full veto of the legislation?

Once again, horse racing of both breeds is being held hostage to other objections.  With the exception of slots at the state fair, Quinn apparently has no problem with slots at the racetracks.  Right now, his primary objection seems to be with a casino in Chicago.  Currently, all casinos in Illinois are controlled by the Illinois Gaming Board (IGB).  Since the Chicago casino is to be operated by the City of Chicago, the current legislation calls for the casino to be controlled by Chicago's own gaming board.  As history indicates, Chicago having its own gaming board would be akin to having the fox guarding the chicken coop; there is no way Quinn will accept that.  Sure there are other objections, but the problem is this existing gambling bill was passed with a coalition of politicians who have their own interests.  While a trailing bill can address the Governor's objections, the question is will the coalition which passed the original bill hold together to pass a trailing bill?  If someone's interest in the original gaming bill is cut out, you run the risk of that politician abandoning the bill and there are not many votes gaming supporters can afford to lose.

The IHHA is pushing Quinn to accept the bill as is, but that is not going to happen.  Their concern lies with the legislators, and there lies the problem.  Unless a legislator has a racetrack or horse farms in their legislative district, they don't care about horse racing.  As much as the IHHA would like to think they can influence the debate, I fear they, like the racetracks, are merely bystanders in this debate.

Maryland Blues

Of course, things in Maryland are not much better.  Rosecroft which has reopened and is set to offer their first live racing card in late October, may not have a long life under Penn National Gaming if Eric Olson, a councilman for Prince George County where Rosecroft is located, has his way.  Olson would like to see Prince George County ban slot machines from the county on morally-rooted grounds.  He claims slots are not a good fit for Prince George County, claiming . “We have record foreclosures . . . slots could take from people in vulnerable economic positions.

An admirable, but naive position, Mr. Olson.  The inference is people who have no business gambling will gamble if slots are put in Prince George County (PGC).  Perhaps they shouldn't, but you can't legislate responsible behavoir.  Perhaps if PGC was an island nation where their constituition allows them to ban their own citizens from the casinos (casinos only for tourists), it would make sense.  But they can't do it in America.  Does Mr. Olson really think not allowing a casino in PGC will keep those who shouldn't gamble from gambling?  Rest assured if so inclined, these people will be getting in their cars or casinos out of county will be providing buses to take these people to their casinos.  It is up to the individual person to make their own decision whether to gamble or not.

Of course, while the county may pass such legislations, it is possible the state could pass a law calling for a constituional ammendment which will override any such ban.  However, if the county is opposed to slots, it will make it harder to get enabling legislation through the state legislature.  We know Penn National Gaming's interest in Rosecroft is to get slots at the track.  If that avenue is closed off, how long will they keep running the track?

After today, I will be taking a couple of days off. If I don't post again today, I would like to wish my Jewish readers a Happy New year.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Reality Checks and Misconceptions

Now that the Meadowlands is saved, people have some misconceptions regarding racing in New Jersey and the Meadowlands in particular.  The very same people who were praising Jeff Gural coming in to save the Meadowlands are now critical as they are not seeing racing return to the way it was back in 1980.  So let's do a reality check and clear up some misconceptions.

Jeff Gural is not Midas, and contrary to what some people say, everything he touches does not turn to gold.  However, with Jeff Gural, harness racing has someone willing to do his best to save harness racing and is willing to invest in the sport. 

Jeff Gural is not just a casino operator.  He has a breeding farm and invests in racehorses like many horsemen.  Yes, he owns Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs because he was able to open racinos.  .  However,  he supports racing.  There are backstretches at Tioga and Vernon Downs; how many tracks have closed their backstretches?  You go to Tioga and Vernon Downs you know where the racetrack is; it is not hidden as it is at some racinos.

Jeff Gural and his partners have leased the Meadowlands hoping the track gets slots.  What is the crime in that?  Show me a person who opens a racetrack without a prospect of slots and I will show you a fool about to go bankrupt.  While the racing model is broken; not only does racing not make sense without slots, but operating a racetrack without slots doesn't make sense either.  How would racing in New Jersey look if it all depended on Freehold Raceway's success?

Yes, the press release issued by the SBOANJ yesterday talking about the upcoming season at the Meadowlands was an effort to improve the price of NJ-sired yearlings being sold at Lexington and Harrisburg.  Yes, some of the stakes races being moved to the Meadowlands are open stakes, but they are races that two and three year olds can enter so someone can take a mid-level NJ-sired horse and race at the Meadowlands and make money instead of being eaten alive in Pennsylvania or New York.   The Reynolds and the Simpson stakes being moved to the Meadowlands are minor stakes, but stakes where horses can make money. The top three year olds will continue doing what they are doing now, making short stops at the Meadowlands and then return to Pennsylvania and go fishing for the best races races in Canada.  However, a program is being set up for the second string NJ-sired horses who have few racing options elsewhere.

The NJSS has stunk for years and will continue to stink for the foreseeable future.  There are only two legs of eliminations before the $175,000 final.  However, the sire stakes is not magically going to improve.  Where does the NJSS revenue come from?  A percentage of the takeout and fees from NJ-sired horses.  With wagering at the Meadowlands decreased and almost negligible at Freehold and less NJ-sired horses being produced, what is going to make the NJSS become more lucrative?  Hopefully, over time it will improve.  The program is bolstered by races the SBOANJ sponsors.

The Meadowlands was able to attract horses it had no business based on handle to attract thanks to subsidies from Atlantic City.  With those subsidies gone, what you saw last year are the horses the handle deserved to attract.  With no new revenue sources next year, why would anyone expect the racing quality to improve.  The best horses will be racing in Pennsylvania and New York.  What would make people think that all of a sudden your best horses will race at the Meadowlands next year?  The goal of the Meadowlands is to stabilize its horse population and while not attracting the best racing in the country, offer a race program which is still attractive to wagering and offer bettable races.

No, the number of racing dates will not increase.  You can't get away from the fact purses are determined by the purse account divided by the number of days you race.  You can offer $7,500 purses for $10,000 claimers or double the number of race dates and have those $10,000 claimers race for $3,750.

Gural is trying some new programs to attract people to the track; including making it a family event.  We see how current marketing plans work; they don't, so what is the harm of trying something new; can it hurt?  After all, I don't see anyone breaking down the fences getting into other tracks.

Gural does believe in horsemen contributing to efforts to improve the business.  Many horsemen say it should be up to the track to improve the business without their help.  Newsflash: horsemen contributed to the mess, so they should help dig the sport out of the mess it is in.  Track operators didn't screw things up on their own.

People are comparing the Meadowlands to the existing business model and says the idea for the Meadowlands will not work.  Correction, the current business model doesn't work.  If racetracks had to operate without slot revenue the races would be going for $1,700 to $5,000 purses so those who represent these tracks should not be sitting there so smug.  At least the Meadowlands can race $10,000 claimers on their handle.  At most tracks, if they had no slot revenue they will be racing $2,000 claimers.

Improving the Meadowlands is going to take time.  The goal right now is stabilization.  Get racing stabilized and then work on new programs to get new people to the track; yes that six letter word, families.  What age were you when you got involved in racing?  If not introduced as a youngster, there is a good chance you are not going to develop new gamblers.  Once slots come to the Meadowlands, not a certain thing, then purses can escalate along with race dates and then surrounding states will once again be hurting with regards to racing.

Lastly, New Jersey racing is a mess.  It doesn't turn around overnight.  It takes time to rebuild the racing program in the state.  Time will tell if Gural's team can pull it off.  At least he is willing to try.  I didn't see anyone else step up and try to save New Jersey racing.  When people put their time and money up to solve the problem they can have a seat at the table and decide how things should go.  It's easy to be critical when you have no skin in the game.

You can be part of the solution or part of the problem.  Make your choice and be ready to live with the consequences of your decision.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Racetrack Closures

In an article on the Blood Horse website, Jennifer-Worth Ice wrote a story about some of the thoroughbred tracks which have been closed and the loss of history that came with the demolition.  It got me to think about the standardbred tracks which have vanished during my days of being a fan of the sport, and it makes me think about the history which has been lost. 

In no particular order, the loss of Roosevelt Raceway, now a shopping mall.  With the exception of the archival project the Harness Racing Museum has undertaken, who will remember the days of the Roosevelt International and The Challenge Cup?  All those great foreign horses that graced the Westbury oval over the years; especially when no track has picked up the mantle to restore the great international  races of the past.

What about Garden State Park, the home of the famous March of Dimes Trot where some of Europe's best horses came to do battle in Cherry Hill, New Jersey?  Where Nihalator raced, where Sugarcane Hanover came out victorious in the forementioned March of Dime Trot.

The loss of Louisville Downs, home of the Kentucky Pacing Derby, a $200,000 race which drew so much attention that it was actually shown on PBS in the New York City area.  For fourteen years, the nation's best two year olds raced over the half mile oval to do battle, including a horse named Niatross; the long forgotten Witsend's Wizard (winner of the 1984 Kentucky Pacing Derby), and Albert Albert.  Okay, Louisville Downs may not have be torn down, but is used as an off-track wagering facility by Churchill Downs during Derby Week and up to recently was used as a training facility for thoroughbreds.

Brandywine Raceway, where the original Battle of The Brandywine was contested, won by horses long gone, Overcall, Romulous Hanover, Fulla Naploean, Columbia George, Albatross, Keystone Ore, No No Yankee, Sonsam, and Albatross and other great horses starting their racing career there as many of the best racing stables called Brandywine Raceway home. 

Liberty Bell Park, in Northeast Philadelphia, a standardbred track now a shopping center which at one time ran a thoroughbred race meet before Keystone Racetrack opened.  Drivers such as Ross Hayter, Eddie Davis, Eddie Cobb and others raced there.  Horses like Seven O Clock and Ronstadt doing battle in a PASS (Ronstadt finished second thastt day and showed up at Monticello Raceway the next week, giving me my greatest score wheeling her in everything).  The 5/8 harness track was built inside of the thoroughbred track sharing only a common homestretch. Hot Hitter with Herve Fillion gracing the track.  Pats Gypsy, another great one that raced there.  I remember when they closed the day Garden State Park opened, saying they couldn't compete (if they only could have waited it out).    

All tracks long gone, no monuments, all history consigned to the memory of those few who lived or witnessed great races, memories fading along with the memories of participants, often being lost as these witnesses to history die off.  Maybe these tracks mean nothing to you if you are from the Mid-west or the West coast; you have your own memories of tracks like Latonia Raceway, Washington Park, Hollywood Park, Quad City Downs and others.  History which would have shown how great this sport once was and as were the greats who practiced their profession over these ovals.  Perhaps even more important than those greats who practiced their trade there were those people who toiled away anonymously there; their contributions to the sport wiped out as the grandstands came tumbling down. 

It is not just the parimutuel tracks, but fair tracks as well.  A few years ago, I went to the Altamont Fairgrounds in New York where harness racing was contested for a concert and it was held inside the old harness track where racing was held a long time ago.  You could still see where the track once was and I wondered who raced over this long lost oval.   Perhaps some famous horse or horseman started out here?

As much as these tracks meant something to those who played or toiled there, society itself is poorer for not even realizing what was once there as they walk, driver cares or live on these hallowed grounds.  If you happen to know where some of  these tracks were, you can stand there and for a moment step back in time, sensing the history which once transpired there.  Hearing in your mind the track announcer calling the names of racing's greatest start, both equine and human.

A little bit of this sport dies and is lost each time a racetrack is closed.   No matter how little or how big a racetrack is, steps should be taken to keeping them going.  Faling that, the history of what transpired there should never be allowed to be forgotten.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

The Racing Date Game Begins

As well as being championship season, this time of year brings us the more mundane, yet important part of the racing season; race date allocations.  While racing dates are not finalized this early, racetracks start to put in their request for racing dates, often asking for less dates than the current year which brings howls of protest from horsemen with the final allocations coming later in the year.

This year, we have a slightly different scenario playing out in the thoroughbred world out in Illinois as Churchill Downs is seeking to take Hawthorne Racecourse's lucrative spring dates to gain the dark day revenue on out of state races that Hawthorne received for the first four months of the year and make Hawthorne race only their less prosperous fall/winter meet.  Of course, this is raising an outcry not only from Hawthorne but the thoroughbred horsemen.  How the Illinois Racing Board (IRB) will decide this matter is unknown, after all the IRB took away harness dates from Hawthorne years ago and gave exclusivity to Balmoral and Maywood Park.  For the standardbreds, how the meet will look like depends on the final  disposition of the casino expansion legislation.  Should the legislation be vetoed and a new bill not be approved, Maywood Park may close.

In Iowa, we will likely see the death knell for harness racing at Prairie Meadows as the standardbreds in 2012 will be racing only on the fair circuit, still being funded by Prairie Meadows.  It is a sad state of affairs when someone pays you to race elsewhere.  The Iowa situation should be a case study in how not to introduce standardbred racing at a racetrack as it never took hold at Prairie Meadows.  Was it the track, horsemen, or a combination of the two which could be blamed for race meets that failed miserably?  This is important to know should the trotters ever race at a parimutuel facility in Georgia.

In New Jersey, we will see the allocation of race dates by the tracks which they want as New Jersey law now allows tracks to set their own race dates.  Will some type of detente be reached between Gural and Harrah's to coordinate some of the racing dates?  Hopefully, by the time race dates are formalized, the NMRLLC and Monmouth Park's new owners will be formally licensed by the NJRC.

In New York, will we see Tioga and Vernon Downs request their typical meets or will there be some changes to the days of the week these tracks race to complement racing at the Meadowlands?

Will we be seeing one of the last race meets at Plainridge Racecourse in MA?  The state is considering legislation allowing casino gambling in the state.  The problem is the proposed legislation allows only three resort casinos in the state and one slot parlor; it is assumed the slot parlor will be at a racetrack, but there is some talk that the bill is being written with the idea that Suffolk Downs will be the recipient of the slot license.  The future of racing at Plainridge may depend on the outcome of the legislation and the awarding of the slot license.  One can only hope the bidding for the slot license will be fair.

Yes, the action on the track is what most people will be paying attention to, but there will be action off the track worth paying attention to as well.

International Report

With the Little Brown Jug having been raced and the Grand Circuit arriving at Lexington on September 29, now is as good a time as any to take a look at some international racing.  In particular, we will look at three heats of the Italian Trotting Derby which was held yesterday in Rome.  The Italian Trotting Derby's three eliminations heats were raced for 44,000 Euros ($59,356) and competed at a distance of 2100 meters (1.3 miles).  The final will be held next week.  In addition, in Holland we will look at the 4yo Championship.

The first heat was won by Obamaa Gar (SJ's Photo) in a kilometer rate of 1:13.1 (1:57)

The second heat was won by Oscar di Jesolo (Love You) in a 1:14.1 kilometer rate (1:58.3).

The third heat was won by Occhione Jet (Pine Chip) in a kilometer rate of 1:12.9  (1:56.3).

The final of the Italian Trotting Derby will be contested next week.

Meanwhile, in Holland, Aido Boko won the Championship of four year olds at Wolveva in Holland in a 1:14.3 km rate (1:58.4) for the 2100 meter race the race had a purse of  48,500 Euros ($65,416).

On the domestic front, Brian Callahan has had his head handed to him by the Delaware Racing Commission for running ineligible horses in Delaware owned races.  In addition to the $190K in purse money which needs to be refunded over the past three years of racing, Callahan has been suspended for two years and handed a $5,000 fine. 

Don't give up on New Jersey bred horses, yet.  A press release has come out indicating the full slate of NJ Sired stakes will be contested next year at the Meadowlands, including the NJSS where the finals in each division will be 175,000 each, the same as it was this year.  In addition, the racing secretaries at all three Gural operated tracks have promised there will be no conflict with the NJ stakes program.  Admittedly, this will work for the better NJ sired horses.  The typical New Jersey sired horses which will not be racing in these stakes races will find racing opportunities limited at the  Meadowlands as the Meadowlands will race two or three days a week.  Make no mistake as to the timing and purpose of this announcement; a week before the yearling sales being in Lexington and intended to keep the decline in Jersey bred horses to a minimum.

Monticello Being Threatened?  After having its plans to build an Indian Casino frustrated, Monticello is being threatened with its existence as Concord Associates is applying for a license by the NYSRWB and the NY lottery to operate a racino on the former property of the Concord, only five miles away from Monticello Raceway.  At one point, Empire Resorts was a partner in the new track and was considering moving Monticello to the Concord property.  While Empire Resorts has pulled out of this plan, the other parties are continuing to move forward.  Empire Resorts, has made it clear it will file an objection to the application as building a racetrack that close to Monticello would be a financial disaster leading to the raceway's shuttering.

Elsewhere, I read continuing criticism of Jeff Gural as not being a real horsemen and being a slots man.  Buying out his partner will allow him to concentrate more on the racing side.  However, let's say he built the tracks to have slot machines?  Who builds a racetrack these days without the promise of slots?  A fool, as no racetrack covers its own expenses operating just as a racetrack.  I've said it before and will say it again, that  Gural is not fighting against is racing, but the status quo; what is not working.  In a related matter, there should be bylaws in every horsemens' group a terms limit provision.  Whether their leadership is good or bad, it is important to get new views in the leadership of horsemen groups and more important, it keeps individual leaders from forming fiefdoms.  It happened in politics when a mayor sticks around too long, it can happen with horsemen groups.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

ITTP Days Numbered?; Silent Leadership

Can it be that Myo-Inositol TrisPyroPhosphate, more commonly known as ITTP, which is thought to be widely abused in horse racing (not just harness racing) day's are numbered?  As reported in The.Horse.Com, the University of Kentucky has been able to synthesize the drug and create a certified reference standard which is needed to proof the presence of the drug in blood samples.  With a standard developed, the appropriate testing protocols may now be developed.

I would be surprised once testing begins on race samples if a wide-spate of positives show up as either the use of ITTP will have been greatly exaggerated, or those drug cheats will have moved on to the next wonder drug.  What will be interesting to see is if horses start slowing up and the number of records which seemingly have been falling with regularity start standing up.

Roll With Joe heading to the breeding shed after this year, despite the Gural plan to keep horses sired by four year olds out of stake races at the Meadowlands, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs.  Lead owner Tom Grossman claims he has no choice as RWJ had injured an ankle and while he has been racing, it is still a problem and Grossman's fear is if he races next year, the horse may not have a stud career.  We know there will exemptions due to injuries, but for sake of clarity, that standard for an exemption needs to be determined sooner, not later. It is this person's opinion that having exemptions will allow phantom injuries to develop; the best way to handle it is to have four year olds not racing due to injuring themselves at three sit the year out in the field and not stand stud at four. 

With the latest episode of the Farldo-Gural feud, one must question where is the leadership of the other horsemen's associations in the state?  Last I heard is the SOA of NY represents horsemen at Yonkers Raceway and not the other tracks in the state but the other's are conspicuously silent on these issues.  I understand the SOA of NY, representing the horsemen at the largest track in New York state wield the most power, but the other race tracks in New York are not racing for Freehold sized purses either.  The leadership of these horsemen associations represent the horsemen at their tracks and by remaining silent, they are allowing the SOA of NY to speak for all horsemen in the state and are abdicating their responsibility to their membership.  If they are unwilling or unable to speak for their memberships, their leaders should step down.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Rose Colored Glasses

The leadership of the SOA of NY must be looking through rose colored glasses these days with its constant attacks against Jeff Gural.  Anytime Gural say or does something, you can be sure there is a response coming from the SOA and it is never in support of him.  A perfect example of that was the announcement that Gural was helping to save the Meadowlands.  The pronouncement coming from the SOA leadership?  He is doing it for slots which will be coming (so positive slots were coming).  This despite everyone else praising Gural for stepping in as the closure of the Meadowlands would possibly result in the demise of the standardbred racing or at best, make it as popular as professional lacrosse.

Ah, having the rose colored glasses of slots is a wonderful thing.  The amount of handle at Yonkers is no better than Cal Expo.  Wouldn't it be wonderful to be racing for the purses they are racing for in California?  Who cares that Yonkers has closed their backstretch?  At least at Tioga and Vernon Downs, there is a backstretch and there is no stall rent during the racing season (there is rent at Vernon Downs for winter training).  How many tracks are offering free stabling these days?

How much movement has the SOA made had with Rooney regarding moving the finish line back to where it was before they tore the old grandstand down?  None,  As a result, every overnight race is being contested at 1 1/16 mile which frustrates many gamblers in order to avoid horses starting going immediately into the first turn.

There is so much promotion of horse racing at Yonkers; that is if you consider the talking horse in the racino commericals.  When was the last time there was any promotion of racing itself in the regular media?  The SOA is so flush with purse money; as much as they are in Pennsylvania, yet you don't see the SOA partnering with Yonkers Raceway to get naming rights to a sports arena and you don't see any weekly racing show highlighting the racing as done by the PHHA (PA Harnessweek).  There is no PostTime show being shown on local television as is done by the DSBOA.  You don't see any of Yonkers races getting on MAV-TV as done by the PHHA in partnership with the racetrack.  You didn't see Yonkers bid for last year's Breeders Crown which Pocono was able to thanks to the PHHA offering to give up a sizable amount of their purse money to pay for it.   Oh, that's right,. it is the racetracks' responsibility to promote horse racing.

Meanwhile, the SOA's target of opposition, Gural, the so called casino man, spends money on promotions to get people to come out to the track, designs the Tioga Downs casino so it has a harness racing motif and people know harness racing is going on.  The same man who runs promotions both at Tioga and even Vernon, where the horsemen are not exactly friendly with Gural.  The man who has so little interest in harness racing that he sponsors a weekly highlight show which highlights racing at Tioga and Vernon Downs that is shown on cable.  A man who races horses and breeds them.  Yes, he wants casinos, but his desire for casinos allows him to have the harness racing he loves continue, not a person who has harness racing because he has to.  Yes, both tracks have limited race meets; probably because the area can't support unlimited racing (after all, didn't Vernon Downs pre-Gural go through two bankruptcies?); and he believes in making racing something special, not a monotonous gambling sport which goes on and on.  Yes, Gural wants casinos but he is a horsemen and a big supporter of harness racing.

Life is so horrible at Tioga and Vernon Downs for the horsemen?  True, Vernon Downs doesn't race as many dates as in the old days, but how many days were being raced at Vernon when the track was shuttered under bankruptcy?  Gural introduced harness racing at Tioga Downs, a failed quarterhorse track where they had no idea what a harness race even was.  Apparently, Gural gets no credit for saving some classic stakes races which were being shedded by other tracks; some from other racinos.  Where was the Cane Pace going to be raced if not for Gural and the Tioga horsemen (yes, it went to Pocono this year at the last moment due to flooding)?  Where were the old Historic Stakes the Meadowlands shedded going to be raced if not for Tioga Downs?  What about the stakes races created by Gural at Tioga and Vernon Downs to make the tracks a must stop destination for the best horses in the country?  When was the last time Yonkers added a new stakes race?  Other than the Levy Memorial series and NYSS races, when was the last time a full field was had for any of their major stakes races?  Not only is it a  case of the half mile oval being a hindrance, but the high sustaining and starting fees to get into these stakes.  If the SOA added more money to the stakes programs, the entry fees may not have to be so high, thus encouraging more of the top horses to race in them.  When it comes to racing in the big races, the top horses in the country and Canada look at Tioga and Vernon Downs, not Yonkers Raceway.

Does this sound like Gural is the enemy of harness racing in New York?  No, the problem appears to be Jeff Gural is looking for changes to improve the sport and the SOA appears to be satisfied with the status quo.  Gural doesn't wear rose colored glasses and he sees what is going on and what will be if fundamental changes are not made.  The SOA never takes those glasses off.

No doubt the heavy gamblers in New York are at Yonkers.  However, let's compare the geographic areas of the tracks.  If Yonkers didn't have a higher handle, there would be a real problem.  The Tioga horsemen agreed to reducing takeout in an effort to build the business.  Would the SOA agree to a lower takeout?

Sitting on that stack of slot money allows people to look through rose colored glasses.  As perverted as it sounds, if not for 9-11 there would not have been slot machines at racetracks in New York that quickly and there is a good chance Yonkers Raceway would have closed long before they arrived..  If not for the fact a Rooney ran Yonkers, the track would have been long closed; not much longer after the closing of Roosevelt.

Gural the enemy of harness racing?  Horsemen in any other state would be happy to have someone like him to work with.  But not in New York.  Why not?  Because he wants horsemen to put their money up along with the tracks in promoting the sport.  The SOA leadership will argue that they put on the show and invest money in racehorses; it is up to the tracks to do the promotion (not that they invest in their tracks).  Well, where would the show be performing if not for the tracks?

Rose colored glasses, in the form of slot money hide a lot of the flaws and problems.  I suggest the SOA leadership team take them off and maybe then realize what Gural is doing for standardbred racing.  Sure there will be differences, but there is a difference between having a difference of opinion and seemingly going against every proposal Gural makes.

Yes, there are time Gural proposes things to benefit the casino end of the business, but remember without racinos, there is a good chance the only harness racing in the State of New York would be at Goshen and the county fair level.  Remember, Jeff Gural may head the operations of Tioga and Vernon Downs but there are other people who have money invested in these racetracks.  These people want to see a profit on their investment and it is not coming from racing.  So maybe there are times he looks out for his partners' interest, he has a fiduciary responsibility to do so.  (Update as of 9/22:  Jeff Gural's company Tioga Downs LLC has bought out his partners at American Racing and Entertainment and merged Tioda Downs LLC into AR&E.) His doing so allows racing to continue in New York, not only at this tracks.  Have a problem with what he proposes?  Fine.  Address them through the proper channels; there is no need to resort to attack press releases.

Delaware County Fair - Jug Day Selections

First of all, if you are looking for Wednesday's selections, click here.  For the rest of you, the big day is upon us.  Thursday is the 66th edition of the Little Brown Jug.  Jug day, without a third heat race-off, consists of a twenty-four race card.  As I mentioned yesterday, due to tote limitations, there are two race programs on Thursday.  The first program consists of five races; the second program nineteen races, twenty if a race-off is necesssary.

This year, the Little Brown Jug is a wide-open affair.  Sure there are favorites such as Big Bad John, Roll With Joe, Custard The Dragon, and Betterthancheddar, but no one horse has been dominating all year.  So it would not be a shock if one of the other horses takes down the title of Little Brown Jug Champion.  Unfortunately, with only twelve horses entered, we are dealt with two six-horse fields so getting a good value wager may be a challenge.

Program 1
1st Pace - $26,794; Ohio Breeders Championship 3yo Colts and Geldings - No Show Wagering
1 - Hare Craft (A Byron, 5-2)
4 - Dancin Yankee (D Miller, 2-1)
2 - Lonesome Attack (C Noble, 6-1)

2nd Pace - NW $2,000L5 Starts
6 - Irish Big Guy (D Noble, 9-2)
4 - Picasso's Dream (JD Wengerd, 8-1)
9 - Key Western (R Pierce, 4-1)
1 - My Lifes Desire (D Miller, 5-2)
#9 - Key Western scores from the second tier.

3rd Pace - $2,200; NW $15,000 in 2011  AE: NW $40,000LT
5 - EJ's Pocket Rocket (T Smith, 3-1)
6 - Northern Breakout (B Sears, 6-1)
3 - Artie Bacardi (D Noble, 12-1)
4 - Upfront Ellijay Ed (A Merriman, 5-2)
#9 - Rapid Pursuit scores from the second tier.

4th Pace - $2,600; FM NW $15,000LT
3 - Eckley Lane Emily (J Lighthill, 6-1)
8 - Perfectly Royal (D Noble, 3-1)
1 - Midnight Mass (E Greeno Jr, 8-1)
9 0 Dont Blame Cruiser (G Brennan, 4-1)
#9 Dont Blame Cruiser and #10 Lillyhillbilly score from the second tier.

5th Trot - $38, 316; The Standardbred Stakey - 2yo Colts and Geldings
1 - Beer Summit (G Brennan, 3-1)
2 - Prayer Session (R Pierce, 5-2)
4 - Can Do (R Paver, 8-1)
6 - Frost Bites K (C Norris,  8-1)

Program 2
1st Pace - $13,500; Delaware Open Series 2yo Colts and Geldings
6 - Abbeylara (T Tetrick, 3-1)
7 - Carol's Comet (D Miller, 4-1)
1 - Eyes Only For You (D Noble, 6-1)
4 - Bruisen N Cruisen (B Miller, 12-1)
Eyes Only For You and Beach Buff - Douglas W Millard owner entry.

2nd Pace - $4,000; Signature Series Final
2 - Hez Automatic (D Noble, 4-1)
1 - Lightning Desire (R Malone, 7-2)
5 - Caramel Dumpling (R Burns, 5-2)
4 - Mark's Eyes (R Wilson, 3-1)

3rd Trot - $38,316; The Standardbred Stake 2yo Colts and Geldings
4 - Go Tapaigh (C Noble, 9-5)
2 - Avenue Of Dreams (R Hammer, 4-1)
5 - Brussel Sprout (E Lohmeyer, 15-1)
6 - Top Biling Mindale (K Kauffman, 7-2)

4th Pace - $33,566; The Standardbred Stake 2yo Fillies (1st Division)
5 - Destiny's Chance (Y Gingras, 5-2)
6 - Miss Lucy O (J Campbell, 8-1)
3 - Western Drag (B Miller, 6-1)

5th Pace - $18,422; Ohio Breeders Championship 3yo Fillies (1st Division)
7 - Pantsuit Hilary (R Pierce, 6-1)
3 - Ocean Pearl (C Noble, 7-2)
1 - Roseann Ken Win (D Palone, 5-2)

6th Pace - $33,566; The Standardbred Stake  2yo Fillies (2nd Division)
2 - Jinxy's Delight (J Jamieson, 6-1)
7 - Moonlit Dragon (D Miller, 2-1)
3 - Thats My Girl G (Y Gingras, 10-1)
1 - Sectionline Yankee (C Page, 5-2)

7th Pace - $18,422; Ohio Breeders Championshp 3yo Fillies (2nd Division) $25,000 Gtd Pick 4
4 - Osborne's Sweeper (R Stahl, 3-1)
3 - Sparkling Yankee (B Miller, 4-1)
5 - Special Dark (K Fortney, 10-1)
7 - Crossthreaded (A Merriman, 5-2)

8th Pace - $30,212; The Standardbred Stake 2yo Colts and Geldings (1st Division)
6 - Rockin Finish (J Jamieson, 7-2)
1 - Whirl Monroe (M Teague, 3-1)
3 - Divulge (R Pierce, 6-1)

9th Trot - $90,000; Ms Versatility Final
5 - Autumn Escapade (D Miller, 3-1)
3 - Action-Broadway (B Sears, 5-2)
2 - Pembroke Heat Wave (Y Gingras, 4-1)

10th Pace - $30,212; The Standardbred Stake 2yo Colts and Geldings (2nd Division)
7 - Cold Hearted Shark (M Teague, 3-1)
4 - Blueridge Dancer (B Sears, 4-1)
2 - Metro's Escape (D Miller, 8-1)

11th Trot - $121,750; Old Oaken Bucket - 3yo Colts and Geldings
1 - Soulful Delight (R Pierce, 5-2)
3 - Bloomington (K Bolon, 10-1)
7 - Ax Man (P Wrenn, 8-1)
4 - Celebrity Bombay (B Miller, 7-2)
Coupled: Soulful Delight and Haulin Laser - Dm Stables owned entry.

12th Pace - $30,212; The Standardbred Stake 2yo Colts and Geldings (3rd Division)
3 - All Stienam (R Pierce, 6-1)
4 - Caviart Key (D Noble, 3-1)
6 - Special Forces (T Tetrick, 5-2)

13th Pace - $10,300; Delaware Open Series 3yo Colts and Geldings  $40,000 Gtd Pick-4
2 - Full Of Sand (R Paver, 4-1)
8 - M K G (D Palone, 12-1)
4 - Major Tipper (J Jamieson, 6-1)
1 - Selection Barack (C Page, 8-1)
#9 Jangon Yankee and #10 Tidewater Tomcat score from the second tier.

14th Pace - $84,288; Little Brow Jug 3yo Open First Heat (1st Elimination) $20,000 Gtd Pick-3
6 - High Noon (M Macdonald, 15-1)
2 - Big Bad John (D Miller, 8-5)
1 - Something For Doc (R Pierce, 10-1)
5 - Custard The Dragon (M Teague, 5-1)

15th Pace - $84,288; Little Brown Jug 3yo Open First Heat (2nd Elimination)4 - Betterthancheddar (G Brennan, 3-1)
5 - Roll With Joe (R Pierce, 2-1)
2 - Hugadragon (Y Gingras, 10-1)
3 - Wink N Atcha (B Sears, 6-1)

16th Pace - $2,200; NW $15,000 in 2011 AE: NW $40,000LT
3 - Sandbar Slugger (D Miller, 4-1)
2 - Category Six (D Noble, 3-1)
7 - Charmed Beauty (B Miller, 6-1)
9 - Taxed (Y Gingras, 15-1)
#9 Taxed and #10 A Little Crazy scores from the second tier.

17th Pace - $58,050; Winback Pace Aged Colts and Geldings
1 - Aracache Hanover (D Mcnair, 2-1)
4 - Doc's Yankee (D Noble, 12-1)
6 - Meirs Hanover (B Sears. 4-1)
7 - Four Starz Trace (D Paline, 12-1)
#9 Summer Camp scores from the second tier.

18th Pace - $252,864; Little Brown Jug 3yo Open 2nd Heat
Top four horses from the 14th and 15th races return for the second heat.  If my selections advance, here is my selections for this race:
1st - High Noon
2nd - Betterwithcheddar
3rd - Roll With Joe
4th - Big Bad John

19th Pace - $2,000; NW $2,000L5 Winner of $15,000 Ineligible
1 - Valid Moment (T Rush, 15-1)
2 - Motrocyclemike (D Miler, 12-1)
5 - Brass Cap (B Sears, 5-2)
8 - Bobbys On The Move (P Ungashick, 12-1)
#9 Yoo Hoo Bunny and #10 Now Really score from the second tier.

20th Pace (if needed) - $105360; Little Brown Jug  3yo Open 3rd Heat
If no horse won two heats, the winners of the 14th, 15th, and 18tu return for the race off.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Jeff Gural Responds; You Decide Whose Right

In a press release Jeff Gural responded to Joe Faraldo's comments claiming Jeff Gural was mischaracterizing the drug problem and claiming that horsemen are not serious about addressing the drug problem and was wrong to call the drug problem an epidemic.

To be fair to all, here is a follow-up after his testimony by Joe Faraldo, President of the SOA of NY, to members of the legislature which was released publicly by the SOA.


I want to thank you again for the opportunity to testify at last week’s Senate hearing on the proposed constitutional amendment. While I am confident that my submitted testimony on that important issue accurately identified the horsemen’s position for the record, there was another issue discussed during questioning after my testimony – the recent legal case involving the NYS Racing & Wagering and out-of-competition testing – that I believe requires further clarification.

Quite frankly, we are grateful that you asked about the case, because clearly the upstate track owner who apparently raised the issue of drug testing in horse racing at your September 6th hearing unfairly characterized both the overall issue and, more specifically, the lawsuit brought against the Racing & Wagering Board.

First and foremost, you should know that there is no group of individuals with a more compelling and direct interest in protecting the integrity of horse racing than the horsemen. The security of our financial investments in this sport – from horses to farms to equipment – is directly related to ensuring that racing is conducted fairly and legally, and therefore we have every interest in making sure that racing is as well-regulated as possible. Any inference that the horsemen believe differently – whether it is specifically related to drug testing or any other regulatory requirement – is both unfair and simply not grounded in this factual reality.

Within this important context, we have sought to work closely and constructively with the Racing & Wagering Board on a wide range of regulatory issues. Unfortunately, on this particular issue (which we acknowledge was well intentioned, but badly handled), the Board chose not to work with us. As you can see from the below copied footnote #3 (page 3) from the judge’s decision (which we have attached), we horsemen simply sought input into the regulatory/rule-writing process, but our efforts were completely ignored by the Board and the new, unrealistic, unworkable regulations were subsequently put in place arbitrarily:

“On or about June 24, 2008, the Board solicited SOA’s review and comments to an earlier draft version of the OCTR’s [out-of-competition testing rules]. On or about July 3, 2008, SOA conveyed to the Board, in writing, various criticisms of the proposed regulations, which largely mirror petitioner’s arguments herein. The Board did not thereafter reply to petitioner’s concern. The next information the petitioners received was the pronouncement that the OCTR’s had been adopted by the Board.”

It is also extremely important to point out that the court’s decision (page 3) strongly reinforced our earlier point about the horsemen’s commitment to integrity in our sport and our understanding of the importance of drug testing:

“It is vital to comprehend, at the outset, that none of these parties are opposed to equine drug testing. All parties concur that drug testing is essential to the integrity of the harness horse racing industry, the betting public’s confidence, and the health of race horses.”

In light of these facts, you can see why we believe it is outrageous that the owner of Tioga Downs would seek to create the impression that the SOA of New York and other harness horsemen are not concerned about helping to resolve any issues with drugs in our sport. Furthermore, his suggestion that illegal drugs are an “epidemic” in harness racing is hyperbole of the worst sort, as it has absolutely no basis in objective fact.

I have attached for your review an article summarizing a new report that was just released by the National Association of Racing Commissioners International, which is the organization representing regulators across both thoroughbred and harness racing nationally. I would call your attention to the very first paragraph, which makes it clear that there is absolutely no evidence to support such sensational claims about an “epidemic” of drugging incidents affecting the integrity of racing:

“With very few exceptions, almost all race horses tested for drugs are found to be clean, a fact that undermines the credibility of those who peddle the perception that racing has an out of control drug problem,” RCI President Ed Martin said today in releasing an RCI report entitled Drugs in Racing 2010-The Facts.

NOTE: Also, in terms of setting the formal record straight, I believe I mentioned a statistic at the hearing of “less than 2% of horses racing in the US who tested positive.” I am pleased to report that it turns out that the actual number, as per this regulators’ report, is, in fact, only “0.015 percent of all samples tested.”

Once again, Senators, I can only speculate why the owner of Tioga Downs would besmirch the racing industry – and in light of the facts and the judge’s decision, it is obvious that these accusations are irresponsible and should call his own credibility into question – but I am grateful for the opportunity to address this issue again in greater detail.

As always, should you ever have any questions about this or any other matter related to harness racing in New York State, please don’t hesitate to call me at 718-544-6800 or our lobbyist, Joni Yoswein, at 212-233-5700. Thank you for letting me set the record straight on this important issue and for your continued interest in our industry.
And the response by Jeff Gural:
I would like to respond to the memorandum that Mr. Faraldo wrote that appeared on the USTA website on Friday, September 16, 2011. The origin of Mr. Faraldo’s comments relate to the fact that I was invited to testify at a State Senate Committee Hearing on the Future of Horse Racing in New York on September 6, 2011 in Canandaigua, N.Y. This was part of a series of hearings that the Senate is conducting to address the needs of horse racing, as well as the possibility of allowing table games at New York racinos. When I was asked about the future I said I saw three major problems which were effecting our growth.

1. The fact that our best horses typically retire at the end of their 3-year-old career, making it difficult for our fan base to identify with the stars of the sport. I told them that I believe that we were addressing that problem as a result of my involvement in the Meadowlands and I thought that was going to be solved.

2. I said that we had an aging fan base that over time was going to disappear and we were not replacing these customers with new younger customers. I suggested that one possible solution would be for the horsemen to take five percent of this $150 million of VGM revenue going to purses, including the Thoroughbreds, and use that $7.5 million to focus on marketing with the emphasis on attracting new younger customers. I pointed out that the existing lottery law, which I helped write in New York, mandated that 10 percent of the money we received from the slots must be used for marketing and four percent must be used for capital expenditures with a cap of $2.5 million per year. I explained it was unlikely that the track owners would divert marketing money from the casinos to racing since the economics did not make sense for them to do so and if we wanted to insure our long-term future it made sense for us to take over the marketing ourselves.

3. Integrity issues. I told the committee that I thought we had a major problem as many of our leading trainers were suspected of using illegal medications and that the consensus of most of our customers was that there were certain drug trainers who could step up a horse when a horse was moved into their barns. I thought this problem could easily be solved if the horsemen would agree to take one percent of the slots revenue or approximately $1.5 million out of the $150 million that we receive and give it to Dr. Maylin in Morrisville in order for him to have more tools at his disposal to catch the chemists that, in my opinion, are hurting us badly. I thought it might even make sense to use some of that money to hire a top flight private investigating firm to try to catch the criminals as well. I concluded by saying that I thought the horsemen would oppose these proposals.

Truthfully, my focus was not really on saving harness racing in New York as my main goal is to try to get a constitutional amendment to allow us to have full scale casinos at our facilities as obviously I am at a major disadvantage when competing with Turning Stone at Vernon and to a lesser extent Pocono Downs with Tioga. As far as I was concerned, I was not planning to make a big issue out of my testimony and I did not expect any legislative changes to occur.

The next day after I testified the Susquehanna River overflowed and flooded Tioga County, along with the adjacent counties and we were forced to evacuate everyone from Tioga and close the facility. It became obvious that this was a major catastrophe and that we were not going to be able to reopen for the weekend in order to host the Cane Pace. We immediately reached out to Pocono Downs to see if they would take the race as I thought it would be unfair to the horsemen who already entered, especially when you consider it was the first leg of the Triple Crown and the winner could supplement to the Jug.

Fortunately, the horsemen and management at Pocono came to the rescue and agreed to take the race as part of their 2-year-old Night of Champions and, as a horseman, I was greatly relieved. What happened next was very disturbing as several of the trainers called us when they learned of the change and advised that they could not race in Pennsylvania because their horses would test positive as a result of the strict protocol used in Pennsylvania. Fortunately, we were able to work out a plan since the race had already been drawn to be raced in New York whereby Pennsylvania authorities agreed to use New York testing protocol and as a result everyone was able to race.

As someone who hates the thought that chemicals are being pumped into horses who have no say and whose long-term effect is unknown, I reached out to find out what the differences in testing procedures were. Some of the differences are simply timing and the amount of medication that is allowed. There is some disagreement over whether Pennsylvania is actually too strict. What disturbed me the most, however, was the fact that I learned New York was not testing for anabolic steroids and Pennsylvania was. Worse yet, the reason that New York was not testing for anabolic steroids was the fact that the equipment to test for steroids had been purchased by the Thoroughbred horsemen. Richard Violette had mentioned this to me previously and he complained that Mr. Faraldo, on behalf of the harness horsemen, had refused to contribute to the cost of purchasing this equipment which I believe was about $400,000. What I did not know and only learned when I inquired about the differences in testing in New York and Pennsylvania was that because the Standardbred horsemen refused to contribute, the Thoroughbred horsemen insisted that the equipment could only be used to test Thoroughbred horses for anabolic steroids and not Standardbreds.

Obviously when Mr. Faraldo made the statement that no group of individuals have a more compelling and direct interest in protecting the integrity of horse racing then his organization, he neglected to mention they cared but they did not care enough to contribute $100,000 or $200,000 from the $50 million that they receive annually in purses at Yonkers to insure that anabolic steroids were not being used in New York.

As to Joe’s contention that I raised the issue of the lawsuit relating to out of competition testing, it is totally untrue because I never raised that issue at all. I only raised the fact that, in my opinion, we had an integrity problem which was effecting the future growth of the sport. Obviously Joe disagrees as he claims there is no evidence to support any claim that there is an epidemic of drugging affecting the integrity of racing. He goes on to point out that only .015% of all samples tested came back positive so obviously we have no problem and that it was unfair of me to besmirch the racing industry. When you have invested $125 million to reopen two bankrupt tracks in Upstate New York, are now planning to invest another $100 million to save the Meadowlands and considering how much time and effort I have put into marketing the sport and how difficult the Meadowlands project is, for Joe to imply that I do not have the best interest of the sport of harness racing at heart is obviously insulting. Truthfully, I was not going to raise the issue of the differences in New York and Pennsylvania as I was planning to work behind the scenes to address the problem and I think that Dr. Maylin is already addressing the steroid issue. However, since Mr. Faraldo chose to attack me I felt compelled to respond.

One thought I have is that it might be a good idea to determine if Mr. Faraldo actually represents the views of the majority of the horsemen. I would like to call on the USTA to do a survey of their members in New York, Pennsylvania and Delaware to determine if horsemen would consider taking one percent of the $500 million going to purses in those three states and use it for drug testing. I would like to think that a majority of the horsemen would support this proposal. I would be happy to pay for the cost of this survey.

I hope this clarifies my position. Frankly, I am glad Joe decided to put his position in writing which clarifies his position as well. The truth is everyone wants the best drug testing available but nobody wants to pay for it. This is true outside of New York as well.

So here you have it.  Both statements.  Since we don't have access to the exact testimony, we are left with both statements to work with.  Here are questions I would love to hear some responses on:

Do you believe illegal drugging is a problem or is it overblown?

Does standardbred racing have an integrity problem regarding drugs?  If so, is it well deserved?

Do you think the standardbred horsemen should have contributed some money towards the machine to check for anabolic steroids?  If not, why?

If a survey was done to see if horsemen in DE, NY, and PA were willing to donate 1% of their purse account towards drug testing, do you think they would say "Yay' or 'Nay'?

Delaware County Fair - Wednesday Analysis

Here are my selections for Wednesday's racing at the Delaware County Fair.  First post is at 11:00AM.  If you are looking for Tuesday's selections, you may find them here.

Please note due to the number of races being held, the tote system can't handle the races as one racing card.  Hence, there are two racing programs today.  Program 1 consists only of one race, so when you are betting the first race on Wednesday, make sure you select program 1 or program 2 as appropriate (On Thursday, there will be five races in program 1).

Wednesday's card has several stakes races, including the Buckette for filly trotters and the Jugette.  For the two divisions of the Jugette (Races 15 & 16), I also list the horse I believe will finish fourth and advance to the second heat as the first four finishers in each division advance.  While the colts on Thursday need to win two heats, hence the possibility of a race-off, starting this year, the winner of the second heat will be the winner of the Jugette.

With the exception of race 3 on the second program which will be contested at a half mile, the balance of the races will be contested at the traditional mile distance.

Program 1
1st Trot - $6,400; Delaware Open Series 3yo Colts and Geldings
3 - Otto (C Noble, 4-1)
5 - Spring Fling (R Miller, 9-5)
2 - Herbie L (D Noble, 8-1)

Program 2
1st Trot - $1,900; Horse and Geldings NW $10,000 in 2011
3 - Too Good Too Pass (D Noble, 5-2)
6 - Near The Limit (JD Wengerd, 4-1)
5 - Final Scorpion (J Coffy, 10-1)

2nd Trot - $6,800; Delaware Open Series 2yo Fillies
5 - Wardon's Daughter (R Stahl, 2-1)
1 - Jailhouse Robbin (A Merriman, 3-1)
3 - Annie's Master (H Dick, 12-1)

3rd Pace - $2,500; Horses and Geldings W/O $1,000 W/O $5,000 in 2011 Ineligible  Distance 1/2 Mile
3 - Morningsailer (D Noble, 6-1)
5 - Sea Of Envy (D Miller, 5-2)
1 - Checkeredsbigchris (JD Wengerd, 10-1)

4th Trot - $1,900; Fillies and Mares; NW $10,000 in 2011
2 - Contech (C Page, 4-1)
5 - Upfront Jesse (D Noble, 5-2)
3 - Katkin (A Merriman, 6-1)

5th Trot - $1,900; Horses and Geldings; NW $10,000 in 2011
8 - Blueridge Tornado (E Greeno Jr, 10-1)
7 - Stormy New York (R Holsapple, 12-1)
1 - Go Jesse Go (D Myers, 4-1)
2 - Win Master (R Stahl, 6-1)

6th Pace - $17,097; Ohio Breeders Championship - 2yo Colts and Geldings (1st Division)
4 - Tatas Flash (R Conner, 6-1)
3 - Four Aces Osborne (R Stahl, 5-2)
6 - Q B Sam (K Alter, 3-1)

7th Trot - $1,900; Fillies and Mares NW $10,000 in 2011
5 - CJ's Super Secret (J Campbell, 2-1)
7 - G S Ren (R Steck, 8-1)
2 - Filly Power (E Greeno Jr, 6-1)
6 - Conway Maid (D Noble, 5-2)

8th Pace - $2,400; 2yo Fillies NW 2 Races or $10,000 LT
2 - Pete's Attitude (J Dailey, 4-1)
6 - Kannon's Flash (A Jones, 6-1)
3 - Caviart Cara (D Noble, 9-5)

9th Trot - $16,447; Ohio Breeders Championship 3yo Fillies (1st Division)
3 - Hardrockenjessica (D Miller, 3-1)
1 - Sleek Jessie (A Merriman, 4-1)
2 - ML Cupcake (C Noble, 5-2)

10th Trot - $33,116; The Standardbred 2yo Fillies
5 - Oasis Dream (D Palone, 8-5)
6 - Pink Cloud (D Snyder, 7-2)
2 - Mighty Gal (R Stahl, 8-1)
3 - Anna Mona Hanover (C Norris, 3-1)

11th Pace - $17,097; Ohio Breeders Championship 2yo Colts and Geldings (2nd Division)
3 - Gun Show (D Noble, 2-1)
5 - Noble Trick (A Merriman, 5-2)
1 - Big Man Osborne (R Stahl, 10-1)

12th Trot - $21,322; Ohio Breeders Championship 3yo Colts and Geldings (1st Division)
5 - J J Hall (C Noble, 1-1)
4 - Rose Run Mac (D McKirgan, 7-2)
1 - Count Howie (D Palone, 10-1)
7 - Calling A Victory (A Merriman, 6-1)

13th Trot - $16,447; Ohio Breeders Championship 3yo Fillies (2nd Division)
2 - Fire In The Cell (R Paver, 2-1)
6 - TT's Honey Bun (R Stahl, 4-1)
4 - count Your Credit (C Noble, 3-1)

14th Trot - $96,800; The Buckette 3yo Fillies (Gtd $25,000 Pick 4 Pool)
3 - Landy Andover (R Pierce, pp 2, 5-2)
8 - Action On George (T Tetrick, pp 9, 3-1)
5 - Swing Anna Cash (C Noble, pp 4, 8-1)
Coupled: Pacific Splash and Pay Me Sister - Robert J Key entry
#8 Action On George races from 2nd tier

15th Pace - $58,470; The Jugette 3yo Fillies - 1st Heat (1st Elimination) 
2 -  Myluvmylife (B Sears, 3-1)
4 - Idyllic (D Miller, 9-5)
5 - Latin Lyric (T Tetrick, 6-1)
3 - Whats New Pussycat (Y Gingras, 5-1)

16th Pace - $58,470; The Jugette 3yo Fillies - 1st Heat (2nd Elimination)
1 - Rocklamation (Y Gingras, 8-1)
4 - Strike An Attitude (D Palone, 2-1)
2 - Musette Mindale (G Grismore, 7-2)
6 - Rockratese (T Tetrick, 10-1)

17th Trot - $21,322; Ohio Breeders Championship 3yo Colts and Geldings (2nd Division)
3 - Quick N' Slick (S Mogan, 4-1)
2 - Brewing Mastser (S Cox, 8-1)
7 - Sack Full Of Gold (D Miller, 6-1)
8 - Hello Andy (B Weaver, 12-1)

18th Trot - $33,116; The Standardbred 2yo Fillies (2nd Division)
6 - End Of Innocence (D Miller, 5-2)
1 - Lindmeyourvictory (R Pierce, 7-2)
8 - Kandian Klub (D Collins, 4-1)
2 - Miss Chip K (C Norris, 3-1)

19th Pace - $175,410; The Jugette 3yo Fillies - 2nd Heat
The top four horses from race 15 and 16 return for the second heat.  Assuming the horses I predict advance, this is my selection for the race:
1st - Idyllic
2nd - Myluvmylife
3rd - Rocklamation
4th - Strick An Attitude

20th Pace - $2,400; Fillies and Mares NW $2,000L5 Winners of $15,000 in 2011 Ineligible
  7 - Deena (D Myers, 8-1)
  6 - Love Your Life (G Grismore, 15-1)
11 - Tarpon Springs (R Paver, 6-1)
  1 - Lavish Liz (C Page, 2-1)
#9 Sadies Desert Fox, #10 Intrewishon, #11 Tarpon Springs score from the second tier. 

Monday, September 19, 2011

Delaware County Fair - Tuesday Analysis

Although the Delaware meet began on Sunday, the signal was not available for simulcasting so we begin our coverage of the Delaware County Fair with Tuesday's card of seventeen races.  One thing I have learned from watching Delaware is those who are from Ohio have a  good sense of who is going to win so it is harder to go against the odds.  This is not to say you can't get a good price on a horse, but it is harder here than an extended pari-mutuel meet where the horses are better known to gamblers.

Not one to endorse any product, but if there is any meet where you need additional help, this is a meet where Trackmaster programs are essential as they allow you to figure out the caliber of horses that race on the fair circuit; the lack of class ratings in traditional programs leave gamblers here blind.  However, if you want to try, the USTA Little Brown Jug mini site does have programs available for free.  Just click on the appropriate day to get the program.

While you will see less of this as the week goes on, you must remember this is a country fair race meet.  As a result, you will find horses making their first starts without a qualifying line and you will see horses that have not raced at an extended parimutuel meet before, so watching the board at the beginning of wagering is essential to see if those first time starters are "live".

Here is my analysis.  Underneath my selections where there is no extended analysis, I will list first time starters (horses that neither raced or qualified).  Also being a fair, they allow provisional drivers to race; I will designate provisional drivers with an asterisk (*).

1st Trot - $2,200; 2yo Colts and Geldings - NW2 Races of $5,000 LT
5 - Hoorayforvacation (D Noble, 5-2)
1 - N A Jessee (P Karcher*, 7-2)
2 - Red Stripe (R Paver, 6-1).
First Time Starters: #3 Pauc; #6 Florida Flophouse

2nd Pace- $1,700; Horses and Geldings - NW $1,000L5; Winners of $10,000 in 2011 Ineligible
2 - Beans And Weenies (R Stahl, 2-1)
5 - Saint Henry (R Paver, 4-1)
4 - Little Gary Perry (D Noble, 6-1)

3rd Trot - $1,750; Horses and Geldings - NW $2,000L5; Winners of $15,000 in 2011 Ineligible
1 - Stock Boy Freddie (D Swaney*, 3-1)
3 - One Sharp Spur (E Greeno Jr, 8-1)
4 - Kaptain Kosmo (R Burns, 10-1)
5 - CR Muscle Power (L Farleyy*, 5-2)

4th Pace - $2,400; 2yo Colts and Geldings - NW2 or $10,000LT 
6 - Jo Jo In The Sky (C Page, 10-1)
1 - Narragansett (R Stahal, 3-1)
2 - Dolly's Rembrandt (D Noble, 6-1)

5th Trot - $20,822; Ohio Breeders Championship - 2yo Colts and Geldings (1st Division)
5 - Count Me In (C Noble, 2-1) - Winner of two straights seems to be at peak right now.
6 - Rose Run Nash (R Stahl, 7-2) - Toss last.  Better than showing.
4 - Carolina Girl )D Myers, 4-1) -  Good when flat.  That is the million dollar question.
2 - Jalibird Jesse (D Noble, 3-1) - Son of popular sire Jailhouse Jesse may find himself in the money.
3 - Blazing Future (D Prister, 8-1) - Won last ,but taking a class hike; lucky to pick up any check.
1 - Master's Fly Trap (J Daley, 6-1) - Racing well on fair circuit but taking a huge class hike.

6th Pace - $1,700; Horses and Geldings - NW $1,000L5; Winners of $10,000 Ineligible
1 - Odds On Emanuel (C Page, 4-1)
5 - Lavish Life (D Noble, 6-1)
4 - Kinnick (K Sugg,10-1)

7th Trot - $1,750; Horses and Geldings - NW $2,000L5; Winners of $15,000 in 2011 Ineligible
6 - Parson Brown (D Noble, 3-1)
2 - Victor Victory (J Nsonger, 5-2)
8 - Whatsuppwiththat A (Holoto, 8-1)
3 - Silent Star (K Sugg, 6-1) 
8th Trot - $20,822; Ohio Breeders Championship - 2yo Colts and Geldings (2nd Division)
4 - Al Brown (A Manke III, 4-1) - Winner of three straight seems to be on track for win #4.
5 - Jesse's Touch (T Moore Jr, 3-1) - Triple race winner is racing tough on the fair circuit; handles hike.
6 - Rose Run Noland (D Harvey, 8-1) - Finished second to top choice; may complete Trifecta.
2 - Rock N Jessie (R Paver, 2-1) - Has class edge but seems to be off form of late.
7 - Captain Jesse (D Myers, 12-1) - Racing well on the fair circuit but draws the worst of it.
1 - Countmymuscles (D Mc Kirgan, 6-1) - Off form of late.
3 - Its Jesse Time (K Kauffman, 10-1) - Broke last four starts.  Can't recommend.

9th Pace - $8,500; Delaware Open Series - 3yo Fillies
6 - Simpy Jorgeous (R Paver, 3-1)
2 - Doris Leader (D Noble, 5-2)
3 - Cinder Angelina (R Stahl, 10-1)

10th Pace - $1,700; Fillies and Mares- NW $1,000L5; Winners of $10,000 in 2011 Ineligible (Gtd $5,000 Pick 4 - 15% takeout)

7 - Precious River Del (R Paver, 6-1)
5 - Decided Advantage (H Beatty, 3-1)
4 - Artistic Dynasty (T McRoberts*, 8-1)
6 - Katies Deamboat (D Noble, 12-1)

11th Trot - $2,200; Fillies and Mares - Non-winners $2,000L5; Winners Over $15,000 Ineligible.5 - Should Be Aboy (R Paver, 3-1)
4 - Littlebitofhoney (C Page, 6-1)
1 - She's A Jailbird (M Myers*, 8-1)
8 - Mom's A Hustler (R Burns, 10-1)
#9 Lotta Power socres from second tier
12th Trot - $17,772; Ohio Breeders Championship - 2yo Fillies (1st Division)
1 - Jessica Rayne (D Noble, 9-5) - 5 for 8 lifetime; appears to have big class edge.
3 - Lofty Jssica (J Konesky III, 4-1) -  Been racing well on the fair circuit; second best.
5 - Rose Run Natassia (K Kauffman, 3-1) - Breaking an issue, but when flat she wins.
7 -U R Toast (E Greeno Jr, 10-1) - Last effort was big but draws outside.
2 - I Can Count (A Manke III, 6-1) -Jumping of late.  If flat, may be able to get into exotics.
4 - Bosco's Angel (D Harvey, 8-1) -  Seems to be tailing off.
6 - Sinapede (J Nsonger, 12-1) - Dull qualifier and draws poorly for her.
13th Pace - $1,700; Fillies and Mares - Non-winners of $1,000L5; Winners over $10,000 Ineligible
2 - Quick Pulse (K Kaufman, 5-2)
7 - Mattress Dancing (P Ungshack, 8-1)
8 - Blue Meadow Tara (C Page, 10-1)
5 - Badlands Kate (JD Wengred, 4-1)
14th Trot - $4,000; Signature Series Final
6 - This Sands Hot (J Koinesky III, 3-1)
4 - Bristol (S De Mull, 4-1)
3 - Trple G (H Dick, 6-1)
5 - Rewrite The Rules (L Farley, 5-2)
15th Trot - $17,722; Ohio Breeders Championship - 2yo Fillies (2nd Division)
8 - Yankee's Victory (J Nsonger, 10-1) - May be stepping up, but she's on a tear.  Worth a try at these odds.
4 - Lady At Bat (D Noble, 4-1) - Wins or breaks.  Which will it be today? 
7 - Tesla (K Kauffman, 12-1) - 4 for 7 and shows a good line from post seven.
2 - TT's Taterchip (C Noble, 3-1) - Admittedly can win this but taking a stab against her.
3 - Jumpin Jesse (S Morgan, 12-1) - Still a maiden.  Can get into exotics.
1 - Rose Run Nellie (S Cox, 6-1) - Outpaced om a 2:09.3 mile.  Can't recommend.
5 - Jessica Action (R Stahl, 7-2) - Was on the way to victory when she broke.  Shows record of breaking.
6 - Cinca De Miya (D Myers, 8-1) - Program full of breaks.  Why should this week be different?
16th Pace - $1,700; Fillies and Mares - Non-winners $1,000L5; Winners over $10,000 Ineligible
5 - Broadway Petera (D Noble, 4-1)
7 - Naughty Maude (J Nsonger, 15-1)
1 - Standing Pretty (J D Wengerd, 5-2)
3 - Scootonovernkissme (K Kaufman, 10-1)
17th Pace- $2,000; 2YO Colts and Geldings - NW 1 Race or $2,500LT
3 - Duke Towne (J Nsonger, 7-2)
7 - Winchester's Punch (C Page, 2-1)
6 - Big Red (C Noble, 8-1)
1 - Rocken Camnation (R Stahl, 6-1)

Sunday, September 18, 2011

It's Soup (Again); Quillen Memorial; Falcon Seelster Passes

Unconfirmed rumors indicate Morris Bailey has finally agreed to the lease of Monmouth Park.  Sources, say he agreed to the terms on Friday evening.  No details have yet been released, but it would appear things are a go. for both Monmouth and Meadowlands; provided no further issues arrive.  Truth be told, there have been so many bumps and curves in this story, until both groups are licensed by the NJRC, I'll fully believe it when it is done.

Before the attention of the standardbred racing universe in North America turns to Delaware, Ohio and Lexington Kentucky, there is one more big stakes race occurring elsewhere.  The Quillen Memorial will be contested tomorrow evening at Harrington Raceway.  Here is my analysis for this $335,000 race.

Harrington Raceway - 8th Pace - $335,000; Boby Quillen Memorial Pace Final - Open
1 - Foiled Again (Gingras, 8-5) - Speaking of lucky in the post position draw; it was July 10 when this warh horse drew a post outside of post position four.  A half mile specialist who draws the rail, we know what is going to happen; Giingras will try to leave and take this field the whole way to victory.  No value on this horse, but do you think anyone is going to beat him?

2 - Pangiorno (Wolfenden, 5-1) - Tried to wire the field last week only to get beat by Atochia in the stretch.    If he couldn't pull it off last week, what makes you think he will pull it off on the front end with Foiled Again inside of him?

3 - Go Go Solano (Simpson, 10-1) - An upset chance.  Last week was raced conservatively to grab the final spot.  For this type of money expect him to put in a more aggressive drive.  Past efforts suggest he may try to be much closer to the action and possibly even attempt to get to the front ahead of Foiled Again.  The question is will he and can he hold it.

4 - Mainland Key N (Hanners, 12-1) - Finished third last week racing conservatively.  Seems to be overmatched and will do the same this week, hoping to pick up a check.

5 - Clear Vision (D Miller, 6-1) - Finished second to Foiled Again last week, but realistically don't see him upsetting here.  Just the same, must include in exotics.

6 - Giddy Up Lucky (Dube, 8-1) - Finished third going the overland route to Atochia last week.  My guess is he will stay back and hope for fast fractions in order to make one sweeping move at the end.  The question is will he get the fractions and will he be close enough for the upset?  Another exotic possibility.

7 - Hypnotic Blue Chip (Tetrick, 4-1) - At Chester he has won from outside posts, but I just don't think he will be able to get involved early enough to be a factor from this post. 

8 - Atochia (Pierce, 3-1) - I love these open the draws, the way it should be.  Elimination winner is saddled with post eight this week which is typically the killer on the half mile oval.  While he has the class to overcome the post disadvantage, it will be a tough challenge to win; not as tough to hit the board.

Selections: 1-6-3-5
Longshot Play: 3

Sad news comes to us that Falcon Seelster was euthanized at the age of thirty due to infirmities of old age.  While perhaps his most lasting tribute will be as a sire in New Zealand, where he sired Allstar Blue Jean who raced to a 1:48.4 record and Attorney General who obtained a 1:48.2 record in North America.  He also had a successful career at stud in the United States as well.  However, let's not forget his racing efforts either.  Who can forget this day at Delaware, Ohio?

To give you perspective his 1:51 mile over the half mile oval (which was his lifetime mark) occurred back in 1985 at the age of three. Horses did not race that fast over the half mile oval back then.  Some people call this one of the most impressive races in harness racing history. 

To give you a sense of his success as a sire in New Zealand, here is a promotional video released last year when Falcon Seelster reached the age of 29; an age where most sires are long forgotten about.

Falcon Seelster, he was one of the great ones on the track and in the breeding shed.  May he rest in peace.