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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Uninformed Writers and Other Things

Scribe Way Off Base - Yes, most newspapers no longer have a columnist that regularly covers horse racing.  For that racing has no one to blame but itself.  However, sometimes when a newspaper assigns a columnist to cover racing, racing would be better off without anyone covering a race for a newspaper.

Such is the case with The Record's John Rowe who can't seem to get off the I'll Have Another One was scratched story.  I understand I'll Have Another One was the big story going into the Belmont Stakes; the horse that was going to break the 34 year dry spell of Triple Crown winners (as if we can prove something that never happened), but give it a break.  Rowe in his column said of Union Rag's victory: "It didn't matter.  Years from now, Saturday's Belmont will be remembered more for I'll Have Another being scratched the day before the race than the brilliant ride by...".

Clearly, Rowe doesn't follow racing much.  The sad truth is by next year no one is going to remember I'll Have Another One was even supposed to race in the Belmont except the next time the chart of horses that won the first two legs of the Triple Crown but not the Belmont is printed. 

This is the problem of having racing covered by journalists who have close to zero knowledge about the sport.  Stuff happens in racing; sometimes before the race even is run.  If I'll Have Another ran in the Belmont and came up short and we heard about the tendinitis afterwards, a furor would have broken out.  If his connections ran the horse and he broke down, it would have been like Barbaro, possibly leading to the Federal Government's involvement with racing.  If he won or raced respectively, it would have been what drug was Doug O'Neil using on the horse to get him to race so well (the media was already speculating he was scratched because of the detention barn not allowing him to pre-treat the horse).  So, O'Neil did what was best for the horse (and the owner's pocketbook) and what did we get?  They scratched the horse and the race became a nothing event, which as Rowe stated in his column "Which isn't fair to Union Rags".

Newspapers and the rest of the regular media would better serve their customers if instead of sending someone who knows little about horse racing to cover these events, they hired someone with knowledge of racing acting as a pool reporter or getting a special from a source like the Daily Racing Form.

If it wasn't for the fact Thoroughbred's Triple Crown still works from a marketing perspective, it would serve the industry well to change the format if they ever want to see another Triple Crown winner.  Drugs, the fragility of the modern thoroughbred, the schedule plus the fact horses are freshened and/or wait in ambush to take on the triple crown-minded horse in the Belmont Stakes are three factors which practically ensure a horse is unable to score the necessary hat trick. Instead of racing the three races over a six week period, the runners would better be served if they stretched out the Triple Crown over a three month period.

Cal Expo Heading into Closing Weekend - Typically, the fact Cal Expo is heading into the summer break would not be newsworthy, but with the State Fair management declining to operate the harness meet any longer, the question to be asked is, will this truly be THE closing weekend? 

The next meet is tentatively scheduled to resume in late August but at this time it seems unlikely. According to reports, there is hope for harness racing continuing in the Golden State, perhaps even at Cal Expo, but as of today, neither of the two parties involved in discussions, European Wagering Services and breeder-horse owner Ben Kenney, have not made a concrete bid, putting the August 24 start in question.  At the April meeting of the CHRB, it was disclosed that one potential operator is looking possibly at a November-May schedule.  In the meanwhile, with the future uncertain, horsemen have been heading out of town, many of them heading to Running Aces in Minnesota.  Without an all year (ten month) racing schedule, the question may be who is coming back?

He Gets It - Paul Reddam, owner of I'll Have Another and former standardbred owner criticizes the provincal government for ending the Slots at Tracks program in Ontario, but doesn't assign all the blame to the government.  With regards to Windsor Raceway, an entry on a Windsor Star blog says: Reddam didn’t put the entire blame on the government, citing tracks such as Windsor, which did little but pocket the slot revenue it garnered, rarely investing any of its earnings into the facility or the racing product.

Of course, the same can be said of most American tracks that have added slots.  Sure, they have fixed up the slots area, but most racinos have left the racing area go into disrepair.  I just wonder which state is going to be the first one which lowers the boom. 

They Don't Get It  (Part 1) - In Queensland, Australia, the state is giving the thoroughbreds, standardbreds, and greyhounds a combined $3.5 million (AUS) purse supplement for the upcoming season which begins September 1.  The rationale?  "Better prizemoney will have direct flow on benefits for the entire industry.

Poppycock.  All better prizemoney will do is allow owners to make more money to buy horses.  In the meanwhile, less money will continue to be wagered on the horses (and in this case, the dogs).  You can throw all the money in the world in purse subsidies and the game will continue to wither at the windows.  That $3.5 million would be better spent on improving the game for the customers and drum up gamblers willing to wager on horses.  But then, that would make sense and not enrich the wallets of the participants in a one shot deal. 

Silly me.

They Don't Get It (Part 2) - Hollywood Park is reducing purses this week because of the smaller field sizes and a decline in wagering handle.  Wasn't the most recent takeout hike supposed to address this very problem?  When will racing learn those of us who still have an emotional attachment to the game thanks to the Internet have the ability to shop for the best deal on takeout.  If you want more of the wagering market, you lower takeouts, not raise them.  Of course, track officials are blaming everything but the increased takeout rate for the reduced handle.   

In the meanwhile, Tioga Downs has a strong card today including the Artiscape and the Bettor's Delight.  In addition, there are plenty of NYSS races for 3yo fillies, the regular sires stakes and Excelsior Series (formerly the NY LC series).  Here ais my analysis for the big two races on the card.  They seem to be wide-open affairs.  Horses are listed in post position order.

7th Pace - $184,000; The Artiscape (Open Mares)
   3 - Dreamfair Eternal (Jamieson, 8-1) - Making fourth start this year.  May be ready to unleash a good one.
   1 - Krispy Apple (Brennan, 9-2) - Racing well but takes on better here.
   4 - Chancey Lady (Miller, 12-1) - Has tailed off in recent.  Not here.
   2 - Ginger And Fred (Morrill, 7-2) - Never got into last race.  Needs a good trip.
   5 - Drop The Ball (Gingras, 6-1) - Making first start against older mares today.  Needs a start.
   6 - Higher And Higher (Bier, 9-2) - Roughed up in last.
2A - Rocklamation (Pierce, 7-2) - Batting .500 this year with nice qualifier in last.
   7 - Put On A Show (Sears, 5-2) - The one to beat is saddled with a poor draw.
1A - Anndrovette (Tetrick, 9-2) - Unable to close the deal last week. Draws outside.
   8 - All Spirit (Marohn, 12-1) - Hot mare steps up and lands in second tier
#8 - All Spirit scores from second tier.
Selections: 3-7-1A-2A

9th Pace - $182,000; The Bettor's Delight (Open Horses) - No Show Wagering
   2 - Razzle Dazzle (Sears, 4-1) - Draws rail with plenty who can leave.  Risks getting trapped by early speed.
   3 - Rockincam (Miller, 5-1) - Dan Patch winner being tested for class.
   4 - Arachache Hanover (Mcnair, 10-1) - Could be an interesting long shot.
   1 - Won The West (Morrill, 2-1) - Figures to improve off first start but offers no value.
   5 - Bettor Sweet (Campbell, 6-1) - Still looking for first win in 2012.
1A - Clear Vision (Kakaley, 2-1) - Improving horse just missed in Molson.
1B - Foiled Again (Gingras, 2-1) - Winner of Molson will be gunning from post seven.
1C - Meirs Hanover (Brennan, 2-1) - Weakest portion of four horse entry.
   6 - Real Nice (Barlett, 12-1) - Seems to be in deep.
   7 - We Will See (Pierce, 7-2) - Seemingly prepped for this.  Consider besides outside post.
#7 We Will See scores from second tier.
Selections: 7-5-4-1C

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