For photos from the Meadowlands contact

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Meanwhile On the Other Side of the Pond....

Commander Crowe, driven by Christopher Martens, put on an impressive show while securing victory in the 1,750,000SK Hugo Åbergs Memorial - World Summer Cup I (Gr. I - UET Masters Series) today at Jägersro Racetrack in Malmö, Sweden, winning the one mile contest in a kilometer rate of 1:08.9 (1:50.4).  The 1:50.4 equals the world record for trotting over a 5/8 oval which was set by Googoo Gaagaa at Pocono Downs.  For his efforts, Commander Crowe adds another 1,000,000SK to his earnings.  This horses is simply amazing going around the first two turns three-four wide before getting the lead.

Here is the field and replay of the race.

 1  Lavec Kronos - Lutfi Kolgjini
 2 Quaker Jet - Jean Etienne Dubois
 3 Oracle - Erik Adielsson
 4 Tamla Celeber - Torbjörn Jansson
 5 Commander Crowe - Christophe Martens
 6 Caballion - Fredrik B Larsson
 7 Orecchietti - Örjan Kihlström
 8 Sanity - Johnny Takter
 9 Quarcio du Chene - Björn Goop
10 Sebastian K - Åke Svanstedt

Oaks and Hambletonian Post Draw and Guaranteed Pools

Hambletonian Day at the Meadowlands (Saturday, August 4, 2012) begins at 12:00 noon and features a stakes-laden fifteen race wagering card (only one race is an overnight race) which also features a non-wagering $15,000 RUS.  The post positions and the morning line have been set for the Hambletonian Oaks and Hambletonian at the Hambletonian press conference.

While some of the drivers did attend the press conference, a number of the drivers were not and their absence was noted.  It is kind of sad to note these drivers couldn't make time to attend while Jody Jamieson was able to make the effort to come down from Canada for the press conference.

Here are the post positions and morning line for the Oaks and Hambletonian.  George Brennan needs to make a decision as to whether or not to drive Uncommon Knight or Dream On Hanover in the Hambletonian Oaks.

11th Trot - $714,050; Hambletonian Oaks (Estimated Post 4:13) - Start of Hambletonian Oaks-Hambletonian Daily Double, Start of Pick 3
  1 - Superstar Hanover (Takter, 15-1)
  2 – Check Me Out (Tetrick, 4-5)
  3 – Maven  (Gingras, 5-2)
  4 – Personal Style (D Miller, 12-1)
  5 - Uncommon Knight (Brennan, 15-1)
  6 – Real Babe (Schnittker, 20-1)
  7 – Win Missy B (Sears, 8-1)
  8 – Dream On Hanover (Brennan, 30-1)
  9 – Holier Than Thou (Pierce, 20-1)
10 -  Sassy Syrinx (Morrill, 30-1)

12th Trot - $1,500,000; Hambletonian (Estimated Post 4:42) - $200,000 Guaranteed Exacta Pool, Start of $100,000 Guaranteed Pick 4
  1 – Uncle Peter (Pierce, 5-2) 
  2 – Market Share (Tetrick, 4-1)    
  3 - Knows Nothing (Jamieson, 7-2)  
  4 - Archangel (Morrill, 9-2)
  5 - My Mvp (Lachance, 15-1)
  6 - Prestidigitator (Filion, 12-1)
  7 - Guccio (Takter, 8-1) 
  8 - Stormin Normand (Palone, 15-1) 
  9 – Money On My Mind (A Miller, 15-1) 
10 - Gym Tan Laundry (Brennan, 30-1) 

There are plenty of guaranteed pools on Hambletonian Day.  Here is a list of the pools being guaranteed as well as the exotic wagering menu for the fifteen race card. 

  • Early Pick 5 (Races 1-5) with a 15% take out - $25,000 guarantee
  • Early Pick 4 (Races 6-9) with a 15% take out - $50,000 guarantee
  • Late Pick 5 (Races 8-12) with a 15% take out - $25,000 guarantee
  • Late Pick 4 (Races 12-15) with a 15% take out - $200,000 guarantee
  • 12th race Exacta will feature a $200,000 guaranteed pool.
  • Exacta and Trifecta - All races
  • Superfecta - All races except the final race (15th race)
  • Super High Five - Last race (15th race)
  • Daily Double - Beginning with the 1st, 11th, and 14th race
  • Pick 3 - Beginning with the 2nd, 5th, 7th, 9th, 10th, 11th, and 13th race
  • Pick 4 - Beginning with the 6th and 12th race
  • Pick 5 - Beginning with the 1st and 8th race
  • Pick 6 - Beginning with the 4th race
Racing Under Saddle News - The field has been drawn for the non-wagering RUS under saddle event being contested on Hambletonian Day during the racing program.  Malin Beras, the number one monté driver in Norway, is saddled with post position ten while Armbro Doyle, the trotter who set the world record for RUS on a 5/8 mile oval at Pocono Downs was saddled with post position nine.  Provisional driver Karen Isbell who is a former thoroughbred jockey draws post three.  Here is the complete field for the non-wagering event.
NB Trot - $15,000 RUS Open (Post 1:20) 
PP Horse Rider Trainer
1 Windsun Galaxie Leigh Nichol Tyler Raymer
2 Ripped Emma Peterson Gary Napierala
3 Muscolo Karen Isbell Ray Schnittker
4 Celebrity Playboy Maria Andersson Ron Burke
5 Master Pine Helene Gregory Julie Miller
6 Take My Picture Therese Lindgren Nikolas Drennan
7 Chinese Cuisine Tina Duer John Duer
8 Zuerest Susanne Kovacic Joseph Poliseno
9 Armbro Doyle Jennifer Connor Tracy Brainard
10 Blacktuxwhitesocks Malin Beraas Trond Smedshammer

Pool Integrity and Outsourcing

Updated: Corrected the date of the race.  We have talked in the past about the integrity of wagering, but here is a case where we need to talk about it again.

On Thursday, July 26 at the Meadows, the eleventh race seemed like every other race.  Take a look at this screen capture as the horses go just past the 3/4 mile pole.

Nothing unusual, the #4 horse, On The Tab is on his way to victory at a nice 4-1 mutuel.  That's fine, but let's take a look at the payoffs:
Race 11    ONE MILE    Dirt

Purse: $13500.00        


4  On the Tab

Aaron Merriman
1  Tough Call
Dan Rawlings

3  Trou Normand
Mike Wilder

What happened to make #4 On The Tab a winner at 1.80-1 instead of the 4-1 winner he appeared to be with a 1/4 of a mile to go?  We know due to simulcasting, it takes longer for the final odds to be determined, but those odds are typically updated by the time the field reaches the half mile pole.  Was there a problem with a transmission of final bets from a wagering hub?  Was someone allowed to cancel a large wager on another horse after the race started?  Ore more troubling, did the wagering windows not get shut at a remote location or at the Meadows?   We don't know.  What we do know is those who cashed a ticket on the winner can't help but feel they were cheated.

An inquiry has been sent to the judges at The Meadows for an explanation.  Should I hear back from the judges, I will update you accordingly.

As important as racing integrity is, pool integrity is just as important, yet we seem to fail every racing day.  Now, I am realistic in knowing that racinos who consider racing a necessary evil and regular racetracks which are trying to hold on financially are not about to spend a lot of money on fixing the problem but the problem needs to be addressed if you want wagering to grow.  I am also aware of tracks are reluctant to close their wagering at post time to get all the money in before the race actually starts, so what can be done?

Maybe it is time to do what other business do when there is a particular function of their business they are unable to do well; outsource.  The time has come to outsource the wagering function to an outside firm.  A firm willing to expend the money necessary to modernize tote systems as well as the infrastructure needed at racetracks for a set percentage of the wagering handle.  One can go further and outsource the mutuel tellers as well to this company and they would be responsible for staffing at the track where instead of the track paying the tote company a percentage, the tote company pays the track and the horsemen either a set amount or a percentage of the wagering to put on the races.

In effect, what I am suggesting is we have something like New Zealand's TAB, which is the retail size of the New Zealand Racing Board.  Now, I am not suggesting the state(s) operate the TAB business, but a company out there can perform these functions (though they would have to compete with the existing ADWs).

Clearly, the tracks are unable or unwilling to fix this problem.  Let's let a company who knows what to do take over the wagering function and solve these problems once and for all. 

Monday, July 30, 2012

Rule Change Proposals

The USTA is requesting proposals for rule changes to be considered at USTA district meetings and at 2013's annual board meeting.  Hard to believe we are talking about 2013 already, but with the deadline for proposals being September 4, 2012, a mere month after the Hambletonian, it is time to think about it.

You may ask why don't I submit these proposals?  Well, the proposals would carry more weight if they came from an active USTA member, rather than someone who is not currently racing a horse.  I realize by not submitting these changes myself, the odds of them coming in front of the USTA for discussion are slim, but hopefully someone who fits the bill will read this and decide there is merit in some of these suggestions.

I.  Racing Under Saddle
No specific rule change here to suggest.  Just with Racing Under Saddle (RUS) getting more intention, no doubt with the possibility of making these now exhibition races a parimutuel event, it will be necessary to codify the rules monté racing in the USTA rule book.  Before each state can permit parimutuel racing on these RUS events, the racing commissions will have to adopt their own rules.  By  the USTA adopting such rules, it will provide each individual state a set of model rules to adopt, or as often is the case, tweak.  Without USTA rules, the chances of any state approving RUS for wagering is slim.  Even if for some reason RUS doesn't catch on, there is no harm in making the appropriate changes.

II.  Timing of Races
Here we go again.  Every year a proposal to individually time horses in hundredths of seconds is proposed and it gets rejected or withdrawn before being voted up.  Well, maybe it is time to make a change which would provide more accurate information yet not be too difficult to implement.

Instead of timing races in fifths of seconds, races should be timed in tenths of seconds, which will allow times to be more accurate and standardize the unit of timing to the one used outside of North America.  Instead of determining the race time of trailing horses under the standard of one length equal to 1/5th of a second, change the standard to  1/2 length being equal to 1/10th or a second. 

III.  Odd Distance Racing
As tracks attempt to sell their signal to overseas interests, it makes sense to report race times in a method they are used to but also benefit our domestic gamblers as well as yearling buyers.  At the standard mile, the changes are minimal but when you factor in odd distance racing, these races become hard to handicap as well as interpret when a horse returns to the mile distance.  Several changes are necessary.

Reporting race times and positions.  At distances of a mile or less, report fractional times as follows:

Quarter Time Half Time Three Quarters Time Winning Time
Race less than 1/4 mile

Race less than 1/2 mile

Race less than 3/4 mile

Race less than 1 mile

At the above aboce distances, the program shall show the horses position and lengths back (or ahead) at the points times are in addition to the stretch position.

At distances of more than a mile, the following fractional times shall be reported.

Leader's time at the  Leader's time at the  Leader's time at the  Winner's
1 1/8 mile or less 1/4 1/2 3/4 Final Time
1 1/2 mile or less 1/4 1/2 1 Final Time
2 miles or less 1/4  1 1 1/2 Final Time
More than 2 miles 1/2  1 1 1/2 Final Time

The charted line for each horse shall show the horse's position and lengths back (or ahead) at the above points of call in addition to the stretch call.

On each charted line, the horse's final quarter mile time will be reported unless the race is less than  a 1/4 mile long.

For races at a distance of one mile, the horse's final time will be reported as is.  For races less than or greater than a mile, the final time will be the mile rate; a time calculated based on the horse's actual final time modified to reflect the distance of the race.

Horse's lifetime mark and seasonal win time.  For purposes of past performances, the lifetime mark and seasonal win times will reflect the horse's best time at the distance of today's contest.  If the horse does not have a mark at today's distance, the mile times will be used along with a designation of (1) to indicate it is at the mile. 

Lifetime Record - In addition to the current and prior season's summary, the lifetime record (Starts, 1sts, 2nds, 3rds and earnings) at today's distance will be reported.

IV.  Stakes Races
Late Closing Events - Past performance lines will show conditions or late closing events, not names.
Invitational Races - Will show 'Inv' in the past performance line, not names.

Early Closing, Futurities - Past performance lines may show the name of these events and grading if appropriate.

Grading of Stakes. - Races restricted to state bred or foal programs may not be graded.  Early Closing and Futurity races may be graded as follows:

Grade 1 - Races where the field is determined by the horses with the highest earnings or points earned and a minimum purse of $250,000 is required.  No eliminations are allowed.  Heats permitted.

Grade 2 - Races where eliminations are contested to determine the final field or a race which meets the basic guidelines of Grade 1 with a final purse of less than $250,000 but not less than $150,000.

Grade 3 - Races which will be contested in divisions or meets the basic guidelines of Grade 1 or 2 with a purse of less than $150,000 but not less than $100,000..

Ungraded - Any other early closing or futurity race with a purse less than $100,000

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Post-Elimination Thoughts

Before we go further, here are the 'official' observations on the Hambletonian Oaks and Hambletonian eliminations.  One thing for certain, is the finals promise to be exciting.

In the first Oaks elimination, what can you say about Check Me Out that hasn't been said already?  She looked very good winning in 1:53.4 over the good track.  The one thing thing which needs to be pointed out is the early fractions (:28.1, :57.1) were not overly challenging and it seemed like everyone was just waiting for Check Me Out to go by them.   Otherwise, no one else in the race didn't impress me.

In the second elimination, Maven was the winner in a 1:52.4 racing a similar style as Check Me Out although it took the filly longer to get to the lead, probably the result of faster fractions (:27.2, :56.2, 1:24.2).  Though the race was not as easy as Check Me Out's, once they got into the stretch, there really was no question as to who the winner was going to be.  Other than Maven, you have to like Win Missy B who didn't fold that easily and figures to be a strong contender should the top two end up getting locked into a speed duel.

Out of the Oaks eliminations the horses to look at next week are Check Me Out , Maven, and Win Missy B.  The others look like they will be racing for the balance of the purse.

In the first elimination of the Hambletonian, Uncle Peter was victorious in 1:53.3 and looks ready for the final with his two-move victory and hook up with Banker Volo past the half .  While Uncle Peter was game, trainer Jimmy Takter is concerned about him should it rain Hambletonian Day. as the shoeing Uncle Peter is wearing doesn't do that well in the slop,  A horse of interest in the race is Prestidigator who finished third after a horrible trip, including being three wide at the quarter and three-quarter pole.  With any type of racing luck or battle on the front end, he can be a factor in the Hambletonian.

The second elimination, Knows Nothing shows he is a major threat to win it all with his victory in 1:53.1.  It should be noted the colt was able to get a trip with the others roughing each other up.  If Knows Nothing is able to get a similar trip next week, he may be there at the wire but I tend to doubt the race will go that way.  Riccolo was a disappointment.  While I didn't expect him to win the race, he doesn't appear to belong in this class.  Stormin Normand, managed to earn the final invitation to the big dance despite the rough trip he went through.

Elimination number three went to Market Share in 1:52.2 by following the NYSS sensation Archangel.  Market Share seems to be peaking at the right time while Archangel should have lost the 'NYSS horse' designation and be considered amongst the best in the country. Little Brown Fox made a speed break being used hard trying to get the lead at the quarter pole thus eliminating him from Hambletonian consideration. 

While the Oaks is a two horse race with the edge to Check Me Out, the Hambletonian figures to be a competitive race.  Even with the three elimination winners getting to choose their post position, there is no guarantee this year's Hambletonian is going to go to them.  Horseplayers will benefit from a $200,000 guaranteed exacta pool on the Hambletonian final.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Bolt The Duer Wins the Adios

Bolt The Duer used the lighting lane to win this year's edition of The Delvin Miller Adios in a world record 1:47.4 at the Meadows after getting a trip behind the leader A Rocknroll Dance who led the entire mile until the passing lane, though he couldn't be blamed for finishing second after going fractions of :25.1, :52.4, and 1:19.2 at the 3/4 pole.  Breakin The Law finished third.

As for Sweet Lou?  Not being able to get to the lead early in the race, it was all over for him as he was roughed up once he went to the outside to try to get the lead.  It was just a question of when he was going to start backing up as one thing we have seen about Sweet Lou  this year is the horse can't be roughed up.

So as the rest of the season has gone, there is no one dominant 3yo pacing colt or gelding this year in the big races and quite honestly, I like it this way.  It makes for exciting racing and good wagering opportunities for the fans harness racing does have.

Buckle your seat belts and get ready for an exciting second half of the stakes season.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Aligning Interests

One of the biggest problems horse racing, be it thoroughbred or standardbred, has when competing against casino games is an issue the horse racing industry doesn’t want to talk about; the interests of a horse’s connections at times are in conflict to the horseplayer.  At a casino, it is simple.  If you win, the casino loses and vice versa although the way the games are  designed ensures in the long run the casino will win.  The following from a piece Bob Marks wrote in the 1990's which appeared in a harness racing publication (the exact publication is not known) no longer published.  Reading Bob's complete column is what inspired me to write this blog entry.

It is imperative to earn purse monies.  Unfortunately, this may not coincide with the WINNING of any one particular race.  Prudence dictates that the flesh and blood standardbred commodity be nursed through his season so as to maintain the capacity to earn.  If this means never overtaxing the animal in one hell for leather attempt to WIN any single race, so be it.  Elementary business procedure makes it expedient to be assured of part of a purse rather than gambler for all or nothing if that means overusing the horse.  Unfortunately, horses must be used hard in order to win, resulting in listless non-competitive animals for several starts thereafter.
In addition, many horses race “hurt”.  Degrees of soundness may determine degrees of usage on any particular night.  Many are competitive at certain levels but non-competitive at higher levels.  Economically, these horses are better off remaining at levels where at least they have the capacity to earn....  However, when winning means class elevation resulting in stable overload within that class, it’s obvious that these individuals are better off staying levels affording maximum race frequency.  There are a number of other related situations that we all know which come under the heading of the realities of racing.  Unfortunately, from a bettor’s point of view, these realities are not in HIS [/HER] best interest.

Some of the factors above can be accounted for by a sophisticated gambler, one that has been around the game long enough.  Obviously a horse can't race all out week in week out, this is where you get the bounce or the horse who decides to catch a trip hoping to win the race without doing all the work and this is fine, provided the end result is attempting to win the race.  But we can't forget the bottom line is the gambler making a wager on today’s race is trying to collect today, not next week or the week after.  The connections of a horse are understandably trying to maximize the earning possibility of a horse over the long turn; how to make the most money during the season.  It is this divergence of interest which threatens the sport. 
Can you imagine how many regular gamblers wouldn't give racing a chance if they realized the interests of an owner competed against theirs?  For the gambling part of the sport to survive, the interests of the gambler and horse’s connections must be aligned as much as possible.  The question is how does one do it?  One thing which can be done is change the way purses are paid out.  The horse should earn only if the public earns.  This means you don’t earn any purse money if your horse is not involved in the mutuel payouts.

Here is an example of how purse distributions could be paid (the exact percentages may change):

Race Programmed As
Win Only
Exacta Wagering
Trifecta Wagering
Superfecta Wagering
High Five Wagering
1st Place
2nd Place
3rd Place
4th Place
5th Place

All starters that finish the race (and those involved in an accident of don’t finish due to broken equipment) earn 2% of the purse in addition to any purse money earned.

Using the chart above, if a race is carded as having a having Win wagering only, the horse who wins the race earns purse money only.  If a race offers only an Exacta, but no Show wagering, only the top two finishers earn purse money.  In these cases, it is the way the race is drawn and state law; the number of purse winners doesn’t get reduced due to scratches or if the track decides not to offer a certain type of wager because of fear of a minus pool.    The other examples show what happens if Trifecta, Superfecta, or High Five Wagering is offered; in those cases purse money is earned through the final position of the exotic wager.  By having this type of purse distribution, saving a horse for another race isn’t going to earn you any purse money this week so there is more incentive for a horse to race competitively instead of racing easy hoping to pick up minor spoils.

Owners of horses will complain this would make it harder to break even with a horse.  In my proposal, this is addressed by all horses in a race, provided the horse finishes (unless involved in an accident or broken equipment), earning a 2% starting fee.  This 2% is earned by all horses in a race including those who earn purse money.  The 2% starting fee would not be included in the horse's earnings and not be held against them in any conditioned racing.  The 2% fee would only go to the owner(s) with trainers and drivers not earning anything from it, so the owner is helped in paying their bills but by horsemen not earning anything from the 2%, they will have more incentive to race competitively.  By having a starting fee which is a percentage of the purse instead of a flat fee, horses will have added incentive to race in the highest possible class as the starting fee will be higher than a horse racing in a lower class.  The starting fee does come out of the purse account so it is conceivable that purses for races would decrease but hopefully the more competitive racing will draw additional wagering action to offset the drain on the purse account.

What about the issue of horses not being able to compete in higher classes; is there something which can be done about it?  While I am a fan of classified racing, I realize the majority of the industry is against it, so there is no sense rehashing the issue, but there may be away a racing secretary can address the situation where horsemen feel they can't win in a higher class; that is by writing the conditions correctly.  For example, assuming you have enough horses entering a race, the race secretary can seed the entries based on purses competed for.  As an example, let's say you have a bunch of horses which enter a Non-winners of $10,000 last 5 starts condition.  The race secretary can divide the field by appending the condition to separate horses that are dropping down versus the horses who may have earned their way into the class.  An example could be appending the conditions after the fact so you have in effect a field of Non-winners of $10,000 last 5 starts that did not start in a race for a purse of $10,000 or more in the last five starts  and a field of Non-winners of $10,000 last 5 starts which started for a purse of $10,000 or more in the last five starts.  The same purses can be offered for both races and in past performance lines, you can have nw10000l5cd-1 and nw10000l5cd-2.

Unless the owners and gamblers interests are tied at the waist, racing is looking to push gamblers towards alternative gaming where the interests of all parties are clear.  Bad enough you have to beat the higher takeout but must there be times where the gambler's belief that interests aligned are at times violated?

Another issue where interests of horsemen and gamblers are not aligned is innocent but still damaging to the game.  It is the size of fields.  Back when I started in this game, the USTA rules allowed for fields of 12 horses on the half mile oval, 14 on the 5/8ths, and 16 horses on the mile track.  One of the neatest races I ever saw was the time 16 green two year old trotters took to the track at the Meadowlands the last week of June for the Harriman Cup which was raced back then at the East Rutherford oval.   While proponents of the rule change which reduced the number of trailers on each track as a safety precaution, the race described above was contested without a problem. 

I understand horsemen's desire not to have trailers,  a horse going off stride in front of you can interfere with your horse's chance to be competitive; if you pay a nomination fee, you should expect to have your nose on the gate; the modern style of racing makes it that much harder for a second tier horse to win a race at the standard mile.  However, horseplayers in general like more wagering interests, not less so racing should attempt to accommodate their customers, at least in overnight events because the gambler is the lifeblood of racing, either via handle or in the case racinos, the gauge which will be used to determine whether or not slot subsidies shall continue.

There are some carrots which could be used to make a second tier more acceptable.  Horses that draw the second tier and race could have their preference date remain the same as if they never entered the race, ensuring they go to the head of the line for the following week's event; a stipend could be paid to those horses who draw the second tier; a guarantee for an inside post the following start could be offered.  For those events which require payment of a starting fee, a 50% reduction of the starting fee could be offered for those horses who draw the second tier.  Don't want to have a second tier, tracks could be reconfigured to widen the track's outside through the first turn to allow additional horses to line up on the gate.

Horsemen need to remember the gambler is the customer and you need to serve the customers' needs or you will find yourself in a new business.  This particular issue can be easily solved provided the stakeholders are reasonable and understand the big picture.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hambo and Oaks Elim Previews

All the talk about the Hambletonian Oaks has been about Check Me Out who races in the first elimination.  Obviously, she is the one to beat but there are some other horses being ignored in the Oaks; there are some really good ones in these races. 

Even in Check Me Out's division, there is a horse who has an outside chance of pulling off the upset.  For A Dancer is undefeated this year and has an 8-3-0 record for last year in 13 starts.  The only knock is at least this year she's been racing against state breds in New York.  The question is how will she do in open company?  Betting against Check Me Out appears to be a foolish thing to do, but if the odds are as low as I expect, and you are looking to put a small wager down on someone else just in case the favorite decides to throw in a clunker, she is the horse I would want to take a chance on.

But the second division is no chopped liver either with Win Missy B and Maven competing.  Win Missy B finished second to Check Me Out in the Del Miller Memorial and prior to that won in the Reynolds the week before and the Curier and Ives at the Meadows the week before.  With Check Me Out Drawing into the first division, she figures to be prominent in this race.  But don't ignore Maven.  Maven is 4 for 6 this year and is three for four in her most recent starts, the one loss coming against Check Me Out in the Elegantimage final at Mohawk.

3rd Trot - $35,000; Hambletonian Oaks Elimination - 1st Division
1  Sassy Syrinx (Morrill, 12-1) -  Will be happy to advance.
2  Holier Than Thou (Gingras, 12-1) -  Little success here before.  Pass.
3  Check Me Out (Tetrick, 4-5) - The obvious choice; low odds.
4  Superstar Hanover (Takter, 5-1) - Winner in last.  Possibility for place honors.
5  Uncommon Night (Brennan, 15-1) -  Marginal efforts in open company.  Not likely.
6  Valdonna (Pierce, 8-1) - Appears straightened out, but not my pick.
7  For A Dancer (Gregory, 7-2) - Record similar to top choice.  Will see what she is made of.
Selections: 3-7-4-6

4th Trot - $35,000; Hambletonian Oaks Elimination - 2nd Division
1  Personal Style (D Miller, 9-2) -  Lands minor spoils.
2  D'orsay (Johansson, 15-1) -  Unreliable sort.  Pass.
3  Maven (Gingras,7-5) - Was sharp in PASS.  Looking for third in row.  Threat.
4  Win Missy B (Sears, 5-2) - Finished 2nd to Check Me Out.  The one to beat?
5  Can't Have My Moni (Tetrick, 8-1) - Has been improving, but still a tall order.
6  Dream On Hanover (Brennan, 12-1) - Too green for me.  Pass.
7  Real Babe (Schnittker, 10-1) - Winless this year.  Don't see.
Selections: 4-3-1

In the Hambletonian eliminations, there are some competitive horses.  In the first elimination (race five), Uncle Peter figures to be the favorite, but there are those who can give him a run for his money.

The second elimination (race six) has Stormin Normand and Beer Summit competing for top honors, but Riccolo, a horse racing primarily at Balmorl Park is worth a look as being undefeated this ear including his win in an open maks him an interesting proposition.

Finally in the third division (race 8), we'll see if Archangel is able to take on open company going against Market Share and Appomattox.  This promises to be a barn burner.

5th Trot - $70,000; Hambletonian Elimination - 1st Division
1  Banker Volo (D Miller, 3-1) - First loss came against race favorite.  Can build upon it.
2  Possess The Will (Tetrick, 9-2) - Making only 3rd seasonal start.  Tight enough?
3  Money On My Mind (A Miller, 6-1) - Don't see him against these.
4  Uncle Peter (Pierce, 2-1) - The one to beat, but with likely odds will try to beat.
5  Magic Tonight (Brennan, 8-1) - Has done little against open company.  Not tonight.
6  Lindys Jersey Boy (Sears, 12-1) - Lands share with trip.
7  From Above (Callahan, 15-1) - Last race has done nothing to make me like this one anymore.
8  Prestidigitator (Filion, 8-1) - Jumped in CBC.  Will pass here.
Selections: 1-2-4-6

6th Trot - $70,000; Hambletonian Elimination - 2nd Division
1  Lightning Storm (Campbell, 12-1) - Showed improvement in last, but needs to improve further to be a factor.
2  Stormin Normand (Palone, 3-1) - The horse to beat in here.
3  Guccio (Takter, 6-1) - Finished second in Dancer, but I must see more.
4  Beer Summit (Brennan, 4-1) - Goodtimes winner looks to rebound from loss in last.  Don't ignore.
5  My MVP (Lachance, 8-1) -  Winner in last can pick up minor share of the race.
6  Knows Nothing (Jamieson, 5-1) - Looks to be a major threat.
7  Riccolo (Smedshammer, 7-2) -   9 for 9 this year but has been racing primarily on Chi-town circuit.  Minor share?
8  One In A Million (Sears, 10-1) - Jumped off in last but qualified nicely.  Your call.
Selections: 2-4-6

8th Trot - $70,000; Hambletonian Elimination - 3rd Division
1  Big Chocolate (Hochstetler, 15-1) - Seems to be out of his league.  Pass.
2  Top Billing (A Miller, 5-1) - A win off freshening, but still must show more.
3  Delano (Schnittker, 10-1) - Coming in off three win streak on NYSS.  Share with a trip.
4  Gym Tan Laundry (Brennan, 8-1) - Would be a major upset for him to factor.
5  Solvato (Smedshammer, 10-1) - Lands share with a trip.
6  Market Share (Tetrick, 9-2) - Shows ability; don't ignore for top spot.
7  Archangel (Morrill, 7-2) - 7 for 8 this year.  Will see if NYSS route is the winning one.
8  Appomattox (Sears, 12-1) - Will be looking for a trip.  Will he get the one he needs?
9  Little Brown Fox (Gingras, 5-2) - 23-1 shocker last time.  This field is tougher.
Selections: 6-7-5

Joe F Comments On Recent Speed Records

VFTRG Guest Blogger Joe F writes about some of the impressive performances this past week at North American Racetracks:

The speed records fall so fast these days that it’s hard to keep up with them. Saturday night at The Meadows, Good Day Mate set a stakes record of 52.2 in the second division of the Albatross. In the following race, Economy Terror broke the track and stakes records in winning the first division of the Romola Hanover in 49.4, by three lengths. Not to be outdone by the Western Terror speedball, Big McDeal broke that one’s newly minted record by three ticks in winning the second division of the Romola Hanover, by the same margin.
Also on Saturday, up at Mohawk, Anndrovette sucked the eyeballs out of our heads with a 48.1 win in the Roses Are Red. This established new Canadian, track and stakes records. And in the following race Chapter Seven, who recently established a world record in the Titan, hit the three-quarter mark in 1:22.3, the fastest three-quarters ever at Mohawk for a trotter. Mister Herbie then took advantage of the fast pace as he won this year’s edition of the Maple Leaf in a stakes record 50.4. You get the point.

But last night at Saratoga it was nice to see the Artiscape colt, Framed Art, break the track record for two-year-old pacing colts, as he wired the field in 53.4 for Mark MacDonald. The latter hustled him away from his rail position and was up by six at the quarter (27). He was still up by two at the half (57), but the field caught up by the five eighths. Dealmaker hadn’t closed the gap because he was spent though, as he went that third quarter in 28.3 and drew off down the stretch, pacing his last quarter in 28.1 to win easily. And he paid $24.80.
In many of these record miles a closer comes along and benefits from the hard work of others, but that certainly wasn’t the case here. MacDonald did a good job holding him together. Maybe he’ll do that with Bolt The Duer, who also has the rail in the Adios on Saturday.

Framed Art’s dam only made $7,000, and his second dam, the Albatross mare Rare Trick, didn’t race at all. However, Rare Trick was half to the Armbro Nesbit mare, Roanoke, the dam of the $235,000 winner, Razzle Hanover. That one gave us Restive Hanover (The Panderosa), a $940,000 winner, who took the BC, Three Diamonds and Cape & Cutter, among others. Razzle Hanover also produced the $800,000 winner Rayson Hanover (Big Towner) and the $465,000 winner Radar Hanover (Tyler B).

Write The Governor

The New Jersey Farm Bureau and by extension, horsemen groups in the State of New Jersey are asking their members to contact Governor Christie asking him to veto A-2023 and S-1976 which bans the slaughter of horses or horse meat for human consumption in the State of New Jersey in addition to banning the transport of horses out of state for the purpose of slaughter.  The bill in question has passed the legislature overwhelmingly that a veto by the Governor should easily be overridden, unless the Governor demands loyalty from the Republican Caucus.  Being the Governor has done this before, there is no reason to assume automatically that a veto will not be sustained.

Opponents of horse slaughter should not assume the horse industry will be unable to convince the Governor not to veto the legislation.  So it's important for those who wish to see the bill signed contact the Governor accordingly by email or phone (609-292-6000).

The usual arguments are being forwarded that eliminating slaughter in the United States has caused animals to be abused or turned loose in public lands which has been proven to be greatly exaggerated.  In addition, the argument that slaughtering horses in the United States would be much more humane than in Canada or Mexico is a myth.  There were plenty of violations of slaughter regulations in the United States before the ban, so there is no reason we should think there would be no violations this time around, especially since the Department of Agriculture is always stretched resource-wise, assuming they have the desire to enforce the rules which to be perfectly honest, are often overlooked since the animal is going to be dead anyway.  

Of course, that assumes you believe a horse can be humanely slaughtered, something many people don't believe is the case.  If you want to humanely kill a horse, there is only one way, by euthanasia.  Of course, horses that are euthanized can't be used for human consumption and euthanizing a horse involves expense whereas you can earn blood money by paying someone to dispose of your problem. 

The Farm Bureau makes the case that such a legislation impedes interstate and international commerce.  The legislation talks about horses being sent from New Jersey to slaughter, not those from other states so a rig driving through the state without a stop would not be subject to the laws provisions and I am not aware of any international law which says we must supply horse meat to those overseas.    Another complaint is how will inspectors be able to determine whether or not a horse is being transported for slaughter purposes or not?  This is another false argument.  Horses destined for slaughter have a USDA tag on their hind quarters, a horse racing doesn't.  Horses being shipped to Canada or Mexico are not sent on trailers used by horsemen. 

The Farm Bureau also argues that the legislation dictates horses are to be treated as pets; something I didn't read in the legislation myself, so they fear the NJ SPCA getting involved in enforcement.  Let's assume they are true about this.  If horses are being transported as they are supposed to be shipped, there is nothing to fear if the SPCA were to inspect their trailers.  But even if that doesn't satisfy them, they could always ask the Governor to conditionally veto the bill to take out any 'so called' pet designation and allow the rest of the provisions to take effect. 

Let's face it, the reason the farm bureau objects to this legislation is it denies the industry of a way to dispose of horses cheaply and reduce the supply of surplus horses, something which can be addressed by responsible horse ownership.  Responsible horse ownership costs money, dumping a horse in an auction and earnings a couple of hundred dollars doesn't.

So if you are in favor of this legislation, please make your voices heard.  Contact the Governor's office as soon as possible to urge him to sign the legislation.

Not All of Canada Has Turned Against Racing

In Canada, it appears horse racing has a friend, at least in British Columbia.  In the Cloverdale Reporter, British Columbia minister Rich Coleman, who is in charge of horse racing has indicated the province anticipates continuing subsidizing horse racing.  In addition, a five year strategic plan being released in August will call for significant changes to horse racing, but will support continued operation of Fraser Downs as a harness racing only facility with the runners competing at Hastings Park, assuming a lease with the City of Vancouver for Hastings Park is consummated. Of course, it assumes Great Canadian Gaming is willing to continue operating two separate tracks.

The newspaper article does indicate while Fraser Downs' attendance has been flat, wagering is up thanks to online wagering and more standardbreds are being bred in the province.  Of course, racing in British Columbia can be improved.  For one thing, racing approximately eighty days a year (thoroughbreds race sixty-seven days at Hastings) of harness racing keeps British Columbia from becoming a hotbed of racing.

Admittedly, I don't know much about Fraser Downs, but from what I have been able to deduce in the past from afar, it appears to be a first class operation.  In fact, it is one of the few racinos whose website actually lists racing before their casino operations.  Compare this to The Meadows on whose website racing is the last item on the menu, after their bowling alley.  All things considered, it must be nice to know the embattled racing industry has a friend in British Columbia.