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Sunday, September 11, 2011

Betterthancheddar Wins the Cane Pace

Betterthancheddar, driven by Yannick Gingras won the Cane Pace at Pocono Downs in a thriller, crossing the finish line in 1:49.2.  It was an exciting race with action throughout the entire mile, something we don't see very much of these days; certainly not in overnight races.  Betterthancheddar took the lead early and after reaching the quarter in :25.4, he yielded the front to Shadyshark Hanover who launched a bid reaching the half mile marker in :53.2.  At that point Betterthancheddar took a seat and watched all the action take place before brushing up the inside at the end to take the Cane in 1:49.2.

And action there was after the half.  Roll With Joe launched a three-wide bid in an attempt to win the race, but he was unable to get past Shadyshark Hanover as the leader hit the 3/4 point in 1:20.4.  The fractions took their toll on Shadyshark Hanover as he started to tire in the stretch allowing Betterthancheddar to burst through along the inside.  But even then the race was not over as Townsight Hanover came along with Betterthancheddar just missing by a neck.  Third was Powerful Mist with Shadyshark Hanover holding on for fourth place.  Rollwithitharry picked up the last purse check, finishing fifth.

This year there were no eliminations as only nine horses dropped in the entry box.  Over the next couple of years, you have to wonder if the race will draw more entrants as individuals who would not pay sustaining payments because the race was contested over a half mile oval will now start making payments.  Technically, the race will return to Freehold after 2012, but odds are it will remain at Tioga Downs.  With the race being contested over the larger oval,, you have to assume more horses will remain eligible and compete.

Remember those days when you went to the teller, made a bet, watched the race and won getting all excited only to realize the teller gave you the bet in the wrong race?  Well that still happens in the self-service world; in my case through my ADW.  Having to be away during the day, I made my bets for the Babic and Babic Filly stakes at Freehold in the morning.  When I handicapped the Babic Filly state, I listed it as the 7th race instead of the 8th race (a typo I since corrected in the blog).  So being in a rush, I logged on to my ADW in the morning and immediately boxed a two horse Exacta in the seventh race, never checking names.  When I got home I read about the results and knowing I had a winner, I logged on to see how much it paid.  Well imagine my surprise when the ADW didn't credit the $71.60 payoff to my account.  That is when I realized I made the mistake as the filly stake was the eighth race.  Moral of the story, always check  the race number and my horse numbers of my selections before using them for wagering purposes; I can and did make a mistake (memo to self: take your own advice).  On the good side, I had the late Pick 4 at Cal Expo on Saturday evening, having three of four on Friday's Pick 4s and Saturday's early Pick 4.  Unfortunately, it was not a high paying Pick 4.  I am not suggesting people play my Pick 4 selections 'as is' at Cal Expo, but at least take a look.

Bill Finley in Harness Racing Update opines on the need to fix the pacing and trotting triple crowns.  He calls for keeping all the races in the crowns, with the exception of the Messenger, replacing that one with the Meadowlands Pace, changing the order of the races, ensuring each race has a $1 million purse with a $1 million bonus to the horse that sweeps all three races or $500,000 for the horse that races in all three races and has the best finish in summary. 

Sounds good, but won't happen.  First, with The Kentucky Futurity and The Little Brown Jug being raced at non-racino facilities, it is highly unlikely those races will attain $1 million purses.  Secondly, what the thoroughbred people have is tradition, and more importantly, a television contract for their racing events.  Even if harness racing agreed to race all crown events in the daytime, unless the sport is willing to pay for the airtime, it won't get on television.  Thirdly, with the Triple Crown events occurring late in the season, you will be competing against college football so even if you got the Jug moved to a Saturday, the on-track attendance will be considerably smaller, which will be detrimental for the Delaware Agricultural Fair which uses the racing program to keep the fair alive.  Finally, Finley talks about the lasting effect of the thoroughbred triple crown has all year up to the Breeders Cup.  Well, with harness racing, the glow of the triple crown events will shine brightly for a real short time as the completion of these races will be just before the Breeders Crown; so after putting up potentially $4 million dollars for the races and the bonus on each side, you will have spent it for maybe a month's worth of afterglow?

Those who want to brush up on their Delaware County Fair handicapping skills, may want to look at the Scarborough Downs racing program today as they will be contesting the Maine Standardbred Breeders Stakes for two year olds.  Not only in these stakes races will you be seeing horses that have raced at fair tracks such as Presque Isle, Skowhegan, Topsham, Windsor, and Union; you will see horses in the regular overnight events who have competed at these fairtracks as well.  Ohio has more fair tracks and different fair circuits, but it gives the handicapper a chance to work on their handicapping skills of equating fair efforts with pari-mutuel track races.

Speaking of Ohio, with all the fair tracks and circuits, I wonder why no one has developed a system to rate the racing programs at the Ohio fairs and include it in the programs?  Trackmaster products do attempt to assign a class rating to races held at these fair tracks, but those working off regular programs are handicapping blind if they are not intimately familiar with the fair circuits in the state.  Yes, knowing this information gives the insider a handicapping advantage, but it also keeps wagering dollars from flowing into these pools from outside states.

It took a while but on the regulatory front, Joshua Marks has had his ORC license revoked in reciprocity of a ruling by the NYSRWB on July 5, 2001.  The ruling came down from Ontario judges on September 8, 2011,  Why it takes two months for a hearing to take place, is unknown.  You can find the original rule from the NYSRWB here (just enter the name and check off main office).  . 

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