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Friday, November 30, 2012

Meadowlands Changes; A Surprise Retirement

The Meadowlands has made some changes for the upcoming meet.  The first change is the post time for evening racing will be 7:15 instead of the previous 7:00pm, no doubt to get a better reception at simulcasting locations.  With the prior post time, there was competition at the start of the card with post times overlapping.  With the later post time, hopefully they will be able to get at least the first race off without any conflicts.

On the betting side, the Pick 6 is history.  When there was a large carryover, the Pick 6 drew the attention of horse players, but otherwise it was lightly supported.  The Pick 6 is just not a wager that does well with harness racing, likely a product of the races being too predictable and the small handles harness racing typically attracts.

The Pick 6 is being replaced with an early Pick  4.  The early Pick 4 will have a nightly guarantee of $25,000 starting in the third race.  The late  Pick 4 will begin in the seventh race with a $50,000 guarantee on weeknights and a $75,000 guarantee on Saturday nights.  The Pick-5 returns with a $15,000 nightly guarantee.

Serious horse players need to look at the Meadowlands this coming meet.  Where else in harness or thoroughbred  racing do you have three large guarantees on a nightly basis?

John Gilmour has hung up his colors for the final time yesterday at Monticello Raceway, retiring at the age of 74.  His retirement was handled quietly with no one knowing of his plans ahead of time.  Deciding to go out a winner, he managed to go wire to wire yesterday in with a hosre he trained and co-owned and after getting his picture taken in the winner's circle, he told the track photographer he was retired.  No ceremony, no commotion; just going out his way.  Gilmour retires with 4,492 wins and over $9.5 million in earnings. 

I remember seeing Gilmour race at Monticello for the longest time, first training and driving many horses and then eventually being limited to horses he trained and owned on his own due to age bias in this sport by owners.  Let's face it, racing is a sport for the young drivers and after a while, people just stop comming to you.

Here's wishing a John a Happy Retirement..

A Proposal Which Needing Fine Tuning

Horsemen have yet to respond to a decision by the Meadowlands, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs  to hire an investigator who will be responsible for ensuring the integrity of racing at the respective ovals.  I expect the horsemen in New Jersey to go along with the program but suspect the horsemen groups represeenting horsemen at Tioga and Vernond Downs  may be challenging the proposal thanks to prodding by outside influences.  Whether they will be ultimately successful in derailing the program in the end is another issue, but what will be really important is despite all the proclamations of wanting a level playing field, it may be the horsemen group's actions which will speak the truth.

One thing is for sure, don't be expecting the horsemen to provide funding for the proposal but that is another issue for a different day.

But what about the program itself as described (page 1)?  Will it solve all the problems of cheating and is the program somewhat overreaching?

Of course it will not solve all the problems of cheating, with respect to drugs but it should make a big difference.  One thing for sure, it will put those horsemen who violate existing medication rules on notice.  Unfortunately, some horsemen will still attempt to push the envelope, at least until they see some trainers sent packing.  The selection of the testing lab in Hong Kong is an excellent choice as they are considered by many as the gold standard when it comes to detecting prohibited substances.

That being said, as known thus far there appears to be some overreaching by Jeff Gural; his intentions to share test results with the racing commission.  As a private operator, Mr. Gural is within his rights to have horsemen agree to a testing program in order to race at his tracks but it is not his right to play regulator.  If tests come back positive, he has every right to decide someone is persona non grata and ban them from participating at his tracks, but he has no right to provide test results to the local racing commission.

Then comes the question of due process.  As a private operator of his tracks, Mr. Gural has the right to exclude whoever he wants.  That being said if Trainer A is asked to leave mid-meet, it won't take a rocket scientist for other track operators to conclude they were caught violating medication rules.  As a result, it is matter of fairness to offer horsemen the option of having a split sample tested before excluding them.

Overall, what Jeff Gural is proposing is a bold proposal which on the whole should be applauded, but some changes are necessary.

Pick-4 Players, You are Obligated to Play the Pompano Park Pick-4
Starting this Monday, Pompano Park is introducing a 10% rake on their Pick 4 for the balance of their meet.  The pool may not be the largest but anyone who plays the Pick-4 has an obligation to suppor the wager at the Florida track. 

Gamblers have been complaining about take outs for years and here is a track willing to cut the rake to a rate which is virtually unheard of.  If horseplayers are unwilling to support this wager, you have no right to expect other tracks to cut their take out rates.  So horseplayers, it is time to put up or shut up.

Change or Eliminate the Sires Stakes Programs
Thre is a story in HRU (page 2) which goes into greater detail as to why Perretti Farms is opening a stallion station in Pennsylvania.  More important is a proposal to open up the NJSS to the off-spring of broodmares who spend at least 180 days in the state prior to foaling, something I have been talking about for ages.  Hopefully, the proposal will be accepted.

To be perfectly honest, the sires stakes programs in all states should be scrapped as they no longer advance the goals orginally established.  When these programs were established, there was no semen transport so standing a stallion in a state actually served a purpose in bringing broodmares into the state to be bred and to remain until the foal was born.  This brought jobs into the state and resulted in developing a real economic stimulus to the states. 

Now, what is the real economic benefit of standing stallions in most states?  Broodmares seldom leave their homes to be bred or foaled as the semen comes to them.  There is no real economic benefit to having a Rocknroll Hanover standing in a particular state, the economic value is now where the broodmares reside.  Instead of having sires stakes programs, states should have programs for the offspring of resident mares.  Having such programs will induce breeders to ship their broodmares to a particular state to be bred and foaled.  A strong program will bring an influx of broodmares into the state and provide the economic engine standing stallions used to..

Deer Racing Anyone?  
See what happens when a trio of deer apparently decide to take to the track to show some horses how racing is done at The Meadows.

It doesn't look like they can trot a lick but it's good to know if they can't work out their gait issues, there is a future for them as steeplechasers. How far is it to Presque Isle Downs?

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Logic Makes Sense; Or Does It?

What does logic have to do with Government?  Apparently not much when it comes to health insurance for the military and their families according to this article written by Andrew Cohen for The Atlantic.  Equine therapy has made a big improvement in this girl's life, the government agrees there is credible proof this form of treatment works yet they refuse to pay for it because there is no proof the treament works.  Confused?  Read the article.  If nothing else, you will see the value of horse therapy.

On the Soap Box

Today, on the USTA website there is an article about the Full Circle Program, a program everyone involved in harness racing should be aware of and ideally participating in.  Granted, it is not the end all regarding unwanted racehorses, but at this time it is what we have.  In the article, Dr. Wooten is quoted as telling his clients to adopt a horse from the Standardbred Retirement Foundation.

Arrghh....  Another article where the Standardbred Retirement Foundation (SRF) is given an implied endorsement.  You would think the SRF is the only rescue which rescues standardbreds.  The problem is they aren't.  Granted the SRF is the largest standardbred rescue in the United States but still, let's give others some publicity.

Now, I have no problem with Dr. Wooten endorsing the SRF nor do I have a problem with the rescue.  Heck, I make donations to them; they do great work.  As for the article, I am sure it mentioned the SRF just because Dr. Wooten mentioned it; no problem with the article itself.  It is a culmination of articles and actions by various sources which makes me comment now.   

Just the same, I wish there was more acknowledgement of the other rescues who make a point of rescuing standardbreds. Groups like New Vocations, Horse Lovers United, Helping Hearts Equine Rescue, Horse Rescue United, Racers Pacers, and others.  Many of these other rescues are smaller in size, often in geographical regions not served by the SRF.  While smaller, these rescues face the same issues as SRF with regards to fundraising and having no room in the inn for another horse.  What these rescues tend not to have are the budgets to publicize their groups so free publicity for these groups will go a long way.  Remember, these groups help address the problem of unwanted standardbreds.

Just in case there is any confusion, the intent of this entry is not to be an anti-SRF commentary.  The purpose is to point out there are other groups who do great work and need acknowledgement and support as well.

So unless the standardbred industry wants to see the Standardbred Retirement Foundation as the only rescue dealing with standardbred horses, I suggest the industry give these other groups a few kudos and exposure so they hopefully get some assistance from industry participants.

...Time to get off the soap box.

Meadowlands Hires Private Investigator for the Integrity of Racing

Press release from the Meadowlands:

The Meadowlands Racetrack has been proud to be home to the world’s greatest harness racing since its founding.  In addition, the racetrack takes pride in providing a racing product that is driven by integrity.  In the 2013 Racing Season, the Meadowlands Racetrack will take another booming step in providing that integrity driven product. 
The Meadowlands Racetrack is proud to announce the hiring of a private investigator who will be focused on the integrity of racing at the New Meadowlands Racetrack, Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs.

Chairman of New Meadowlands Racetrack LLC, Jeff Gural, shared the following, “It has always been one of my top priorities to provide a racing product whose integrity the betting public can be proud of.  I feel that this step is a significant one in achieving that goal at The Meadowlands Racetrack as well as Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs.  I look forward to working with our field investigator to support the world class, integrity driven racing product the betting public wants and deserves.”
Gural continued, “Our goal is to provide an integrity driven racing product at the three tracks as we continue to ensure the health and welfare of our equine athletes both on and off the track. I am personally disappointed that so far we have not been able to come up with a program where a small portion of slots money is used for testing and marketing purposes, so I will make this important first step as for me anything less than a level playing field is unacceptable.  Anyone who feels as I do and who would interested in sharing the cost of this new integrity program at the Meadowlands, Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs, should contact Jason M. Settlemoir at”

An important aspect of the new field investigators duties are outlined in Section 27 of the 2013 Meadowlands Racetrack Racing Application.  Upon applying for participation to race at The Meadowlands, Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs during the 2013 meet, horsemen and trainers must grant unfettered access to Meadowlands Racetrack officers, agents or representatives, to their ship-in stalls, training facilities, etc., as discussed in Section 27 of the application.

  It reads as follows:

27. In consideration of the Meadowlands granting me the privilege of racing at Meadowlands Racetrack, I hereby appoint the Meadowlands Racetrack, its officers, agents or representatives as my agent for the limited purpose and authority to enter, without prior notice, the ship in stalls at Meadowlands Racetrack and/or any other premises, either in-state or out-of-state, including but not limited to any off-track stabling facilities, farms, training centers or other racetrack facilities, for the purpose of checking on the wellbeing and health of any racehorse listed on this application or entered in any upcoming Meadowlands race by me as trainer. Checking on the wellbeing and health of any such racehorse shall include but not be limited to the taking of blood or urine or other testing procedures by the Meadowlands officer, agent or representative.  By acknowledgement of this limited agency given by me to the Meadowlands officers, agents or representatives, I acknowledge and agree that the Meadowlands officer, agent or representative is my agent or guest or invitee and is permitted to enter any of the above mentioned premises as my agent, guest or invitee. Additionally, I agree to produce at my own cost and within 24 hours of a request by the Meadowlands officer, agent or representative, any horse listed on this application or any horse which is entered in any Meadowlands race which is under my custody and control and which I am listed as trainer of record, for the purpose of blood, urine or other testing procedures at a designated location at Meadowlands Racetrack or other location designated by the Meadowlands. In Meadowlands sole discretion and for good cause shown, this time frame can be extended at my written request. In the event of non-cooperation and failure to adhere to these conditions, I am subject to the loss of privileges to enter horses at Meadowlands Racetrack. By signing this application, I further acknowledge and agree that the grant of racing privileges at the Meadowlands Racetrack is a privilege afforded me by Meadowlands Racetrack and is not a property right.


Arlington Park Got Chutzpah

As a rule, I don't cover thoroughbred doings in this blog, but once in a while something happens which makes me break my own rule, this is the beauty of being a blogmeister.  Today is one of those days.

Crain's Chicago Business reports Arlington Park is suing the Illinois Racing Board  (IRB) for their decision to take 18 simulcast days away from them, awarding them instead to Hawthorne.  In Illinois if a track is awarded simulcast days they are considered the hub track for simulcasting and receive the larger share of track commissions even if a bet is made at another Illinois track.  How big a deal is it to be named the host track?  The estimate is these eighteen days are worth $1 million for the Hawthorne (hence costing Arlington the same).

The suit claims the IRB took those 18 days away from Arlington Park in retaliation for Churchill Downs not including the Illinois Derby, contested at Hawthorne, in their new road to the Kentucky Derby.  With the Illinois Derby no longer considered part of the road to the Kentucky Derby, Hawthorne is anticipated to be hurt financially.  Arlington Park claims they should not be penalized for the downgrading of the Illinois Derby because of a decision made by Churchill Downs.  Their own newsletter, lays out their argument:

With that in mind, we can’t help but be perplexed by the Illinois Racing Board’s punitive action taken against Arlington Park. That action – or punishment as described in the Chicago Tribune – seemingly came as a reaction to decisions made by an organization in another state; decisions made completely independent of Arlington; decisions made by an organization beyond the jurisdiction of the Racing Board.

They certainly have chutzpah at Arlington Park.  Of course, they fail to mention the decision was made by Churchill Downs, a company which owns Arlington Park; a company whose largest shareholder is the Chairman of Arlington Park.  Arlington Park wants us to believe Churchill Downs dropping of the Illinois Derby from the road to the Kentucky Derby was not done because the race is contested at a competitor of Arlington Park, which in effect is a competitor of Churchill Downs?  As a certain vice-president would say, "Malarky".

Clearly the IRB is punishing Churchill Downs for their decision.  If an independent committee came up with the stakes races to include in the road the IRB may not have liked it but would have accepted the decision, but in this case, the only logical conclusion is the decision to drop the Illinois Derby was a business decision to help a sister track over the long run. 

The courts, as so often these days, will have the last word in this dispute.  But to claim Arlington Park is completely blameless in this dispute simply rings hollow.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Nostalgia Time

If you are like me, a person who used to make the ninety minute trek virtually every Sunday to Monticello Raceway for an afternoon of racing, here is a chance to relive some of that nostalgia as Monticello Raceway will be racing on Sunday, December 16

Make no mistake, it will not be the Sunday afternoon of yore, as the grandstand has seen better days and the crowds are likely to be inside on the casino floor, but it is Sunday racing just the same, so if you have a chance it may be worth the trip as these days just don't come around that often anymore.

The lack of regular Sunday racing at Monticello is a sign of times which all tracks face.  The wagering is not occurring at the track; most of the money coming in via simulcasting and ADWs.  While a few tracks are attempting to reverse the trend, for the most part it is not a question of when the most people can get to the track anymore, it is racing when you can get the most outlets for your simulcasting and the least competition.  This is why Monticello will be racing six days straight starting on December 16, to take advantage of NYRA's and others holiday break (the same reason Cal Expo will be racing three days, December 20-22 in the afternoon).  It's also the reason Monticello doesn't race on holidays when NYRA decides to race, there is a finite number of dollars available to wager and sadly, standardbred racing is the ugly stepchild to most gamblers.

Still, while I understand the business case not to race on Sunday afternoons, it would be nice if Monticello threw in a few Sunday afternoons in each year, perhaps a Sunday every two or three months not, just for nostalgia sake but to allow people in the area to be exposed to racing.  After all, you can't expect people to be interested in horse racing if they can't see it live once in a while.

PTP adapts the Eight Things Racing Needs to Do to Get Better for North American racing.  It is something everyone needs to read.  Perhaps most important of the eight items on the list is number six.  Horseplayers and track operators have known it for ages; horsemen groups and breeders still tend not to get it.

Saskatchewan Horsemen Have the Right Idea - The provincial government in Saskatchewan has cut off its financial support to racing in Saskatchewan.  Rest assured the horsemen and racetracks aren't happy about it but rather than kicking and screaming about it, they have come up with a logical solution.  They are asking the province to grant the individual harness tracks Home Market Areas, allowing them to build a network of OTWs, with the hope the industry can generate enough income from the betting sites to make up the funding lost from the province for purses. 

Wednesday Briefs

The Federal Government has formally been invited to intervene in the New Jersey Sports Betting Lawsuit. With the judge now issuing an Order of Constitutional Question, the federal government has until January 20 to intervene in the case. Presumably, if the Feds don't intervene by then, the government will not be defending the law prohibiting sports wagering in the Garden State. One would presume the Justice Department will have their say.

Will Valley View Downs ever get built? Endeka Entertainment, the third company to be granted the right to operate the proposed Western Pennsylvania casino (and racetrack) has asked for a thirty-day extension to apply for a license from the PGCB to operate a casino by the PHRC. Their request was approved with a new deadline is January 25. Time to get ready for operator number four?

Racing returns to the Meadowlands in one month. Mark December 28 on your calendar.

Any New Jersey horsemen who may have been hoping Governor Christie would not run for re-election are now dealing with the reality he is in the race. If you go by polls, they better get used to the idea the Governor will be around, at least through election day 2016. Seventy-seven percent of NJ residents surveyed think the Governor is doing a good job with fifty-nine percent thinking he should be re-elected to a second terml darn good numbers for a Republican in a traditionally Democratic state. Heck, even sixty-seven percent of Democrats think he is doing a great job. Of course, these numbers are skewed thanks to the Governor's response to Superstorm Sandy; the numbers will trend south from here but he's off to a good start and may scare off some of the Democratic hopefuls.

Personally, I wouldn't worry about the Governor, the problem is the leadership in the State Senate. Until Senate President Sweeney acquiesces and allows legislation permiting an expansion of gaming in the state to reach the floor, it doesn't matter who the Governor is. Being Sweeney is beholden to a South Jersey party boss, I don't see Sweeney changing his position. The best thing which could happen for pro-racing interests is the Democrats get thumped (but not enough to cause them to lose majority status) enough in the next election to cause Democratic legislators to demand a change in leadership which may put control of the leadership roles back in the hands of Northern New Jersey officials..

The bill allowing wagering using mobile devices at racetracks is scheduled for a vote in the New Jersey Senate today. The bill still needs to get through the Assembly if it advances. There is no reason to suspect it will not pass.

I received my ballot of nominees for possible induction into The Living Horse Hall of Fame and there are four candidates up for election; Bettor's Delight (nominated as a racehorse), Fool's Goal (racehorse), Life Sign (stallion), Precious Bunny (racehorse), and Real Desire (racehorse).  Under the rules of voting, I get to vote for two of these nominees.  To me there is no question as to Precious Bunny getting my vote   After all, Precious Bunny was a lifetime winner of $2,281,142 which was in the days before slots at tracks.  Bunny retired as the single-season moneywinning standardbred record holder  and  a lifetime record of 39-21-5-4 and a mark of 1:49.4 as a three year old back in 1991.  Precious Bunny was the winner of the North American Cup, Meadowlands Pace, Art Rooney Pace, Adios, Cleveland Classic, and Windy City Pace.

My second choice was a little more difficult, but I ended up going with Fool's Goal, a winner of $3,057,070 over seven seasons with a lifetime mark of 122-35-9-10 with a lifetime mark, trotting in 1:51.3.    The gelding won the Breeders Crown Open Trot two years in a row, won the Titan Cup three times in four years.  Fool's Goal was also the winner of the Cutler Memorial, TItan Cup, Maple Leaf Trot, and Nat Ray Trot. 

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Joe F Takes on the O'Brien Awards

The following is a guest blog by VFTRG's own resident contributor Joe F. who after doing a great job regarding breeding now takes on the role of Prognosticator by handicapping the O'Brien awards, even before the nominations are released.  Here is Joe's take on Canada's highest honors in harness racing.

An O’Brien Awards Preview
The O’Brien awards nominations will be appearing soon. Trying to handicap these awards—equine or human—is much harder than predicting the results of the Dan Patch Award voting which tends to be relatively straightforward. The O’Brien is a Canadian award, but it isn’t limited to Canadian bred, owned or trained horses. The horse simply has to have raced in Canada three times during the season and made an exemplary contribution to the sport in that country. That’s what makes it so hard to handicap. A given voters concept of which horse made the greatest contribution to harness racing in Canada may be at odds with the typical metrics involved with choosing the most talented and accomplished horse.

“Who votes for the O'Brien Awards? Every media person across Canada who covers harness racing on a regular basis receives a ballot, this includes writers for the various trade publications as well as those in print, radio and television. All Canadian race secretaries and track publicists also participate in the voting.”

For instance, American Jewel and Economy Terror were the two nominees in the 2-year-old filly category last year, with Jewel being voted the winner. She won three times up North, including the She’s A Great Lady and Eternal Camnation, while Economy Terror won the BC at Woodbine. Neither is considered a Canadian horse. This was a clear cut case of the more accomplished filly winning the award.
On the other hand, if there’s any wiggle room at all the voters can be very provincial: in 2010 Heaven beat Sportswriter 24 votes to 13 in the sophomore colt pacer division. Heaven was beaten by Sportswriter in the NA Cup, but that was the Artsplace colt’s only win of 2010. Heaven won the Jug, BC, Tattersalls, Bluegrass, Battle of Brandywine, Matron and Messenger.

For 2012:
2-year-old colt trotter—Wheeling N Dealin—Undefeated. Won the BC, Wellwood and Champlain. Should be unanimous. He’s a Cantab Hall colt. He will also win the Dan Patch.

2-year-old filly trotter—Bee A Magician—Kadabra—Excelled inside the ONSS and in the open stakes world. Won more than 390K in restricted money and 365K in opens. Beat To Dream On, who will win the Dan Patch, in the Peaceful Way. She won the Champlain and the ONSS Super Final.

2-year-old colt pacer—Captaintreacherous—won the Metro and Nassagaweya at Mohawk. He also won the Wilson, Bluegrass and ISS. His 49.3 win in the Wilson represented a track and stakes record. It was the first sub-50 mile ever at The Meadowlands by a two-year-old.

Mach Pride and Windsong Jack were good in the ONSS and will get votes. Again, Captain will win but there’s no telling how many votes Mach Pride will get.

2-year-old filly pacer—This is a tough one. I Luv The Nitelife, Somwherovrarainbow and L Dees Lioness all have factors in their favor. Rainbow won the BC in impressive fashion. Earlier in the year she was third in the Eternal Camnation, which was won by L Dees Lioness. She finished out in her She’s A Great Lady elimination, which was also won by L Dees Lioness.

Nitelife beat Lioness in the Great Lady and finished second in the BC and the Champlain, which was won by Lioness.
Nitelife earned the most money—690K with four wins. Rainbow was next with 527K with seven wins. And L Dees Lioness earned 474K with five wins.

Love Canal, It’s No Secret and Kim’s Royal Day were all good in the ONSS and they will definitely get support, but it’s hard to see any of them beating the above mentioned trio.
Somwherovrarainbow beat a field of pretend fillies in the Matron after Nitelife and Lioness had called it a season. Regardless, the momentum from that win, on the heels of the BC win, gives her some momentum.

L Dees Lioness is trained by Casie Coleman and driven by Scott Zeron. I think Rainbow may win the Dan Patch, but Lioness will take the O’Brien. I like Nitelife the best.

3-year-old colt pacer—Michaels Power won’t win the Dan Patch but he should take the O’Brien. He earned almost $1.5 million, with more than 400K of that coming from the ONSS account. He won all over the North country: the Confederation Cup at Flamboro; the 300K Super Final at Woodbine; a GF at Rideau Carleton; another GF at Georgian Downs; a division of the SBSW at Mohawk; the Canadian Breeders at Mohawk; and the Jug, of course. A prohibitive choice.
The competition comes in the form of Bob McIntosh’s Thinking Out Loud, who won the NA Cup and the Bluegrass. He earned $1.1 million off of seven wins and sports a mark of :47.4. TOL won his Matron elimination and drew the rail for the final. A win in the Matron followed up by a win in the Cleveland Classic, which he’s also staked to, would generate some support. That Cup win goes a long way.

If Needy, who completed his second season without a single open stakes win, gets a single vote…..

3-year-old filly pacer—American Jewel won the BC at Woodbine and set a WR of :48.2 in winning the Fan Hanover at Mohawk. She also won the Simcoe at that track. Her Canadian credentials are impressive. She also took the Bluegrass, ISS and Am-Nat. Jewel set a :49.2 record for a three-year-old filly on a 5/8 track when she won the Lynch at Pocono. She had nine wins and earned more than $1.1 million.
Mach A Wish had a very good year. She won the 300K Super Final as well as a 130K GF. She earned 334K on eight wins. Still, more than 80% of her money was accumulated in restricted races.

Apogee Hanover earned 90% of her dough in restricted races. They’ll both get votes, but as I pointed out earlier, this election generates some weird results.

3-year-old colt trotter—Market Share is the kingpin of the division and a sure bet to win the Dan Patch, and he did win the $1 million Canadian Trotting Classic, which is a big deal in this process. However, Intimidate crushed all comers in the BC, and that also counts for a lot.
After arriving from Quebec, Intimidate had an excellent second to LBF in the Simcoe, and then won a series of condition races, before taking his elimination and the final of the BC.

Market Share won the CTC handily at 3/5, but he was second to Intimidate in his BC elimination and third in the final.
Market Share earned $2 million on ten wins. He won the Hambletonion, CTC, Zweig, Am-Nat and Galt. His :50.3 mark is two seconds faster than that of Intimidate. The latter banked 421K on thirteen wins. The BC was his only stakes win.

This is a tough one. Last year Monkey beat Peelers 48 to 12 in the O’Brien voting off of her BC win. She was no match for the GC fillies when she did try them during the year and enjoyed some success in the ONSS, but it was the BC win that got the O’Brien for her. I look for the same thing to happen here with Intimidate.
Prestidigitator cleaned up in the ONSS, to the tune of 375K. His overall earnings stand at 550K. He was no match for the best colts in the CTC and the BC, but he will definitely get support.

Knows Nothing won a heat of the Hambletonion, the Canadian Breeders Championship and the Tie Silk. And less than 30% of his bankroll came from the ONSS. He will also get some votes.

3-year-old filly trotter—Miss Paris and Sugar Wheeler both had good years within the SS program, but either CMO or Maven should win.
CMO won the final and her elimination of the Elegant Image at Mohawk. She was third behind Maven and Win Missy B in the BC. CMO won eleven times and earned more than 950K. She set a WR of :51.2. Aside from the Elegant Image, she won the Del Miller, Bluegrass, Hudson Filly and Zweig.

Maven earned almost 800K on eight wins. She finished second to CMO in the Elegantimage and beat that one in the BC. She also won the Moni Maker and the Am-Nat.
The NA Cup always plays in a horse’s favor, but that’s not necessarily the case with the BC. Bettor Sweet won that race last year at Woodbine and got no votes for the O’Brien, while Lisagain and Elmo each got one and Alexi Mattosie got three. Miss Paris was 27/1 and finished out in the BC. She then finished out at 3/5 from the rail in the ONSS Super Final. No, it has to be CMO or Maven, and I’ll take the former.

Herbie beat Chapter Seven in the Maple Leaf, but was no match for that one in the BC. No matter, Chapter Seven only started twice in Canada so I don’t think he’s eligible for an O’Brien. Herbie by default.

Frenchfrys in a walk on the distaff side of the ledger.

Cheddar was beaten by Foiled in the CPD and by WWS in the Mohawk Gold Cup. And he didn’t start in the BC. However, Coleman’s charge will win the O’Brien. He won a few opens as well as the Des Smith in Canada and was a monster in the Franklin at Pocono.

Is it POAS, Rocklamation or Anndrovette? Show spent the most time in Canada and was a dominatrix in the open class. She’s the fastest aged pacing mare ever.  The latter won the BC—again—as well as the Roses Are Red in a WR :48.1 performance. POAS had no stakes wins in Canada this year.
Rocklamation has earned more than the other two. She has two good stakes wins in Canada, the Milton at Mohawk and the Forest City at Western Fair. She broke the TR in the latter.

This is a difficult choice. And Rebeka, a local favorite, will also get votes. She won the Golden Girls, but that was in New Jersey.
I think POAS wins the O’Brien. She’s slated to start in a 50K mares open at Harrah’s this week and may race right into 2013, possibly taking on the boys in the Presidential. She’ll be retired to broodmare duty after that. An O’Brien would be a nice going away present.

As for the HOY, last year San Pail was as big a slam dunk as you can get, yet the final tally looked like this:
San Pail – 56
Daylon Magician - 1
Monkey On My Wheel - 1
See You At Peelers - 1
Up The Credit - 1
No Vote – 1

There is no San Pail out there this time around, so all the contrarians will have fun with this one. I’ll go with Michaels Power, who performed at a very high level, races for a popular trainer-driver duo and has built up plenty of good will by racing at a number of satellite tracks.

Monday, November 26, 2012

The Youth Movement

I have said for years harness racing needs a more youthful leadership, specifically to get away from people whose stock answer tends to be 'This is the way we have always done it'.  Well, the youth movement is alive and well at the tracks operated or leased by Jeff Gural (the Meadowlands, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs), and continues with the appointment of Darin Zoccali as the Director of Racing Operations at the Meadowlands.

If you read the biography provided in the press release, you will see Zoccali gave up a career in law for his passion, racing.  This is something common in the appointments being made at the three tracks in question; passion.  These younger individuals don't look at racing as a job, but a way of life.  You don't see racing as a dead industry playing out the string but an industry which still has legs on it, you just need to develop it right.  When you are passionate about something you don't accept 'this is the way things have always been', you make things work and if it doesn't work, you change the rules so it can work.  New ideas are encouraged, not dreaded.

Of course, while the youth movement at the Meadowlands, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs is welcome, we need the youth movement to expand to horsemen groups as well as regulatory agencies and others for while tracks like the Meadowlands may lead in innovation and experimentation, unless we have others willing to buy in, all we are doing is spinning our wheels. 

This is not to say there is no future for the veterans in racetrack management and racing, but it is time for them to step down from the leadership roles and let the youngsters take a crack at things.  With youth comes hunger and it is time to let the hunger work for racing.

New Jersey Doings:  The SBOANJ and Freehold Raceway have come to an agreement on racing dates for 2013, settling on 110 racing days.  Freehold originally applied for 90 days which was rejected by the horsemen who by state law can veto anything under 180 days.  The horsemen originally wanted 120 days.

Remember when racing was declared dead in Quebec?  Well, a rebirth is underway in La Belle Province.  Granted not back to where it once was, but it is growing.  It's a long way back but back is better than going.  You can hear about their progress here.

Horse Welfare Under the Microscope

Earlier this month in Australia, Animals Australia took aim at the racing industry with respect to what industry insiders call 'wastage'.  The result of this was the production of a video which takes aim at racings' practices regarding equine participants.

Lest you think this is a bunch of 'tree huggers' complaining, the Australian Broadcasting Company ran a feature on how horses end up being killed for their meat when their racing careers come to an end, assuming they made it that far.  Clearly concern for the horse is becoming a bigger issue globally,including North America..

Be forewarned, both of these sites have graphic on them.  The videos are not for the faint of heart.  I have seen other videos of similar nature, but this is the first time I saw horses violently trembling with fear before they were put in the kill box.  It was this trembling which shook me to the core.

Both of these reports are talking about the runners, but let's not kid ourselves in thinking the standardbred industry doesn't have its own 'wastage' problem.  Rest assured, Animals Australia and other groups are going after harness racing as well.

Ironically, it may have very well been the threat of a wholesale slaughter of racing stock in Ontario which may have given racing a reprieve by the provincial government.  In comments made by Ontario Racing Commission Chairman Rod Seiling to industry leaders about the public perception of horse welfare, he noted:

Beyond efficiencies, I also think it is important to point out that the health and welfare of the horse is becoming an even more pressing issue for horse racing. Some will say the prospect of abandoned horses has influenced the government’s decision to restate its willingness to work with industry. Regardless, the public’s view on that industry with respect to the ethical treatment of race horses is in a state of flux.

Racing can no longer be passive and pay lip service to the treatment of horses.  Seiling went on to note the public wants to know what the industry is going to do about horse welfare and how it is not just the activists who are involved, the mainstream media is getting involved.  The ORC Chairman goes on to note the public's standard is changing, what went on in the past is unacceptable.  Specifically:

Most people have a natural affinity toward the horse. For the horse racing industry, that is a double edged sword: the public is concerned about the welfare of the horse but they also want to know what you intend to do about it. Recent stories in the local, as well as US and international media, demonstrate this changing public standard.

The USTA's Full Circle program is a start, but it is too little; the time for voluntary programs has past.   The industry and its leaders must come together and commit to mandatory steps.  The thoroughbred industry gets it and has committed to the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance (TAA), yet the standardbred industry has yet to step up to the plate.

We can't say the industry is against the slaughter of our equine athletes when tracks allow horse dealers to visit the backstretches of our racetracks on qualifying days.  If the industry was against horse slaughter it would not oppose the use of microchips, it would support and lobby for laws banning the transport and slaughter of horses for human consumption, sanction and where appropriate ban those participants who don't do due diligence when retiring a horse from racing or breeding.

We can't say the industry is for humane treatment of horses when we don't seriously restrict the use of whips, allow drivers to get $25 and $50 fines for kicking or excessive whipping either.  While the industry needs breeding in order to survive, steps need to be taken to set standards for stallions and broodmares entering and remaining in breeding duty; no sense in continuing to breed when the track record is poor.

Talk is cheap.  Action speaks louder than words.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Let's Hear from the Public

Sudbury Downs concluded their 2012 season last night which probably signals the end of racing at the track thanks to the cancellation of the Slots at Racetrack program.  The Sudbury Star paper also had an article about the end of racing there.  In the article, there are the expected comments from horsemen and employees lamenting the likely passing of an era there.  The handle on the final night of racing at Sudbury was $17,502 while purses were $59,600.

If you are reading this blog, you can pretty much imagine the comments coming from horse people and those directly impacted by the closing of the track but what about the comments from the general public?  To say those comments cut like a knife would be an understatement.

One individual, who from the comments appears to be a race fan stated:
Just what did the Downs spend the money from OLG on? The money meant to be used to to try to increase interest in racing?

What they didn't spend it on was anything to attract people to the track. Including the restaurant.

Another, in response to a quote in the article which states horse racing can't survive the relocation of the slot machines:
So what he is saying is that from 1974 to 1999 a 25 year period they managed to stay in business, and now that the SLOTS are leaving after 13 years being their, they can no longer continue to operate? WOW sounds like a bad business...I guess there really is no interest for horse racing in sudbury [sic] if for 13 years this business only survived thanks to OLG....Well then SEE YA LATER...just be thankfull  [sic] for the extra 13 years you had and couldn't turn a profit without those OLG Slots! 

Here we have someone who feels sorry for those being put out of work:
In a way it is OK to feel sorry for the handlers, the groomers, the other people working at the track, the farmers who sold the feed and the rest of the people who didn't make a lot of money but loved the animals.

To the owners who made a lot of money, I don't feel sorry one bit.

Now granted, this shouldn't be considered a scientific sampling.  These are three people who happened to take the time to comment on a newspaper article.  How many others are sympathetic to the plight of horsemen (as well as those not)?  Who knows?  Abacus does or do they?.

In a survey done in August, Abacus Data (who was commissioned by Racing Future) found that 17% supported the plan to end the SAR program while 41% opposed the plan.  Case closed, victory for the horse industry right?  The press release announcing the results of the survey indicate three out of four oppose ending the SAR program.  Of course, if you look only at those with firm opinions, you can make this argument.  But there is 42% who were indifferent to what happens to the SAR program, which is a problem in itself as you can argue indifferent is a nice term for 'I could care less'.  Mind you, since this survey was commissioned by Racing Future, odds are the question was worded in favor of racing.  I would suggest the 42% who are indifferent about the SAR program is what allowed the Liberals to take aim at the racing industry. 

Being South of the Border, I am not really connected to Ontario politics but if I had to venture whether or not the Liberals control Parliament after the next election, it probably be more about other issues, such as the decision to prorogue (suspending) Parliament, questionable decision which appear to be costing Ontario taxpayers money than it would be about ending the SAR programs.  This is a problem for Ontario racing interests, and doesn't bode well down the road for American racing interests unless they somehow engage the general public.

In the meanwhile, here is a photo gallery from what was likely the final night of racing at Sudbury Downs.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Sports Betting Lawsuit - NJ's Response

Not that I am one for sports betting (other than harness racing), but being part of horse racing's success in New Jersey will be tied to the potential of sports wagering, it would be a dereliction of duty to ignore the subject.

As you may be aware, MLB, NFL, NHL, NBA, and NCAA is suing the State of New Jersey over their sports wagering bill.  John Brennan of The Record is doing an excellent job covering the lawsuit and in his blog today, he goes over the State of New Jersey's response to the Plaintiffs' case.

If the leagues want to argue the Federal law against sports gaming outside of the four states who have it takes precedence over the state law fine.  Let the State argue that statute is unconstitutional and let the chips fall where they may.  Don't argue that gambling hurts the sport.  After all, when you provide injury reports to the press, promote NCAA March Madness brackets, as well as fantasy leagues, you lose that argument..

OLG (and Liberals) Say: "Die Racing Die" - Retraction

This story has been deleted due to an error in the source material, primarily the CBC. 

Ontario racetracks may bid for casino licenses but if they win, they it will be under the new funding scheme, with no fixed amount dedicated to racing.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The State of Racing in New Jersey

So how are things in New Jersey when it comes to racing?  Not well.

The NJTHA, in seeking to intervene in the lawsuit against the State of New Jersey regarding sports wagering, claims an injunction against the  state with regards to sports wagering would "likely sound the death knell" for Monmouth Park and the state's thoroughbred breeding industry.  According to John Brennan from The Record, the NJTHA strategy for keeping Monmouth Park open depends on the revenue from sports wagering.  While this may be an overstatement, with the Governor being intransigent with regards to slots at the tracks, this appears to be the only significant revenue stream racetracks can tap into.

Meanwhile, on the standardbred front, with Perretti's defection from the New Jersey market, sending their stallions to Pennsylvania, you don't even need a full hand to count all the stallions standing in New Jersey.   Why abandon the New Jersey market?  As Perretti's Bob Marks states "Nobody can exist when nearly half a great stallion's crop sells for $15,000 or less".  Of course, when the NJSS finals are being contested for a mere $150,000 final with only two preliminary legs at the Meadowlands and the second tier finals are contested for a whopping $25,000 at Freehold, there is not much interest in yearlings if they don't come from top stallions and mares and have perfect conformation.  Only those looking to race on the Grand Circuit are willing to pay top price; those interested in the local circuit would do better finding a good $7,500-$10,000 claimer to race at the Meadowlands.  

Last year you couldn't even get ten horses to drop in the box for all the 2yo trotting finals at the Meadowlands.  Unless things dramatically change by 2015, we will be seeing walkovers in the sires stakes, if they even exist.  People used to talk about the big three jurisdictions of New Jersey, New York, and Ontario when it comes to sires stakes; now New Jersey may find itself grouped with Massachusetts and Virginia.  Of course, if the state comes up with a way to make racing state sired horses profitable in New Jersey, the slide would level off and possibly reverse itself somewhat. 

While the Governor has made it abundantly clear he is not in favor of putting slots at the racetracks (at least until the 2013 gubernatorial election has concluded)  to help the racetracks, perhaps he could be persuaded to provide support for the sires stakes programs and a similar program for thoroughbreds for a relative pittance (in state budget terms) to stabilize the breeding industry in the state while the racetracks work on reviving their wagering business.  The NJSS finals in 2012 went for $150,000 each.  Would it be that much of a hardship for the state to increase the 2yo finals in 2015 by $100,000 each and 2yo and 3yo events in 2016 to help maintain interest in New Jersey stallions?   For the Green Acres finals, the state could add $50,000 per division to ensure those races go for $75,000 each.  This would result in an expense of $1.2 million per year starting in 2016.  For argument purposes, let's say thoroughbred interests received the identical amount of funding for state bred stakes.  This would be $2.4 million, a far cry from the $30 million the casino industry provided each year for purses before Christie was elected.

Of course, not every horse makes it to the sires stakes.  What can be done to make purchasing a NJ-sired horse more attractive?  Recently, Freehold Raceway and the SBOANJ agreed that 40% of all races would have a preference for NJOS stock.  Assuming Freehold will be racing in January, while not give preference to NJOS horses in all races for the first three months of the meet when many tracks are closed to ensure local horses have more racing opportunities?

The point is some steps can be taken to help shore up or at least stem the decline of the breeding industry in New Jersey.  It just takes some creativity.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

People and Things to be Thankful For

As is my tradition for each Thanksgiving, it gives me great pride to present my list of People and groups within harness racing that make harness racing proud either within the industry or in their respective communities.  As you will see, it is not all about winning the next race or increasing profits; it is about going above and beyond and making a difference.

When reviewing this list, please don't think the order they are listed in matters.  As far as I am concerned, they are all equal.  If I missed anything or anyone, please add them by posting them as responses.

I am thankful for....

  • Helene Gregory's persistence in getting Racing Under Saddle (RUS) revived in the United States and North America.  This time it appears it is going to stick thanks to the support of so many individuals, companies, and racetracks, too many to list who provided horses, sponsorship money for purses, and otherwise support the effort.  Look for RUS to return in 2013 even better than this past year.
  • Sam Landy and his Open Space Pace committee who in the face of an enormously discouraged NJ racing industry put on the Open Space Pace Day at Freehold Raceway, an event that raised awareness of the vital importance of harness racing to the agricultural economy of NJ. The day included an equine parade down Main Street in Freehold, exhibitions all day at the track by equines of every sort – from Renaissance jousting to under saddle races, celebrities, a concert by Southside Johnny and more than $10,000 given out to harness racing or agricultural related charities and programs. The vent brought several thousand people who had never been to the track before to harness racing in the most positive light possible. Here’s a video example.  Racing should be thankful that there are individuals like Sam Landy and Peter Grandich whose passion for racing caused them to take such positive action instead of sitting around bemoaning their fate.   
  • Ray Cotolo.  Not too many sportswriters decide to become involved with harness racing but there was Ray, writing press releases at The Red Mile for the Grand Circuit meet.  What makes it special is this scribe has started his career at the age of thirteen.  Someone needs to get him membership in the USHWA. 
  • The various racetracks which were good corporate citizens in supporting recovery efforts with regards to Super storm Sandy.  This makes two years running that severe weather hit on October 29-30.  Perhaps tracks on the east coast would be smart to make these days dark in 2013 and avoid all the confusion.
  • The Delaware County Fair which each year converts the Coliseum and Annex where the Blooded Horse Sale is held into a collection center for PIN (People In Need).  Through PIN's efforts, hundreds of needy families county-wide receive food, clothing, toys and basic household needs just before Christmas.  The use of the facility is donated by the fair and with the exception of PIN's director, all the work is done by volunteers.  A fine job they do as each year they do better than the last. 
  • Harness racing's Heather Moffett and Susan Ehlers for participating in the Polar Mare Plunge, a publicity event to raise awareness and funds for Wells for Ghana.  Okay, the plunge took place at the end of March but the water is still cold.  I can't wait to see what Heather comes up with next.
  • Speaking of Wells for Ghana, we are particularly thankful for owner Ken Wood who puts his money where his mouth is by using purse money earned by his horses for the benefit of his charity. 
  • Jeff Gural for his philanthropy the donations made from his own pocket, publicly and privately.  It is always nice to hear about those who are financially blessed making donations to make their community a better place.
  • All those horse rescues working to find racing's equine retirees a new home when their careers are done.  Trust me, it is a labor of love, especially considering how hard it is to fund raise these days.
  • Those horsemen who do the right things for the horses.  To name just two, Jodie Ann Doherty and Wendi Wiener who run defacto horse rescues single handily, working to place retired race horses on their own, not just horses they own or train.  Doing all this, on their own dime without the benefit of donations.  Then there is Frank Azur, a person who steps up to the plate and quietly and without fanfare reaches deep into his pockets to keep racehorses from slaughter. 
  • The Handicappers who participated in HANA Harness' The Pen vs. The Chip Handicapping Challenge.  Committing to handicapping over 700 races over sixty-three race cards is quite a commitment and we are thankful for the team of handicappers (Scott Alberg, Matt Keller, Mark McKelvie, Robert Pandalfo, Earl Paulson, Ray Schell, David Siegel of Trackmaster, and Bob Zanakis) who persevered through the grueling schedule for the benefit of horse rescues.  Of course I would be remiss if I didn't mention the sponsors (Hambletonian Society, Meadowlands, Tioga Downs, Vernon Downs, Illinois Harness Horsemen's Association, Grand River Raceway, Harrington Raceway, The Gold Cup and Saucer, Indiana Downs, Little Brown Jug, Woodbine Entertainment Group, and HANA) for providing the financial support to make it all happen.
  • For the aged pacing and trotting divisions.  While everyone gets all worked up about the glamour division, give me the battle tested veterans.  They really put on the great racing week in and week out.  A special shout out to Foiled Again – year after year he represents the very best characteristics of a racehorse. He’s truly harness racing’s “War Horse” and I look forward to every week that he races.
  • For the Kentucky Horse Park being the new home for Won The West, who joins Western Dreamer, Staying Together, and Mr. Muscleman in retirement.  I wish I spoke horse because there must be some interesting war stories being told between the four of them.
  • While thankful for all the Publicity Directors, John Manzi of Monticello Raceway deserves special mention.  Not only does John find a story every day of racing at the Catskill Mountains racetrack, he also finds the time to do publicity for the CKG Billings series, Historic Track, Monticello Goshen Chapter of the USHWA, and NAADA.  I wouldn't be surprised if I am missing some other group he does publicity for.   
  • Lastly, the Racing, Medication & Testing Consortium which has spent 10 long, tedious, unglamorous years trying get the racing industry to uniform medication policies, as in model rules, withdrawal times and penalties adopted by every racing commission in the U.S. to insure the fairness and integrity of racing and the safety and health of the racehorse. Could there be a more impossible task? Sisyphus himself would have rejected it as unachievable. Yet the progress the board has made in 10 years has truly been enormous, and I shudder to think what the state of the industry would look like today without their work. They just got a new dynamic director in Dr. Dionne Benson and I expect her to roll that rock to the top of the hill very soon.

Everyone have a great Thanksgiving.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day in the United States. If you are looking for harness racing action tomorrow, you need to look north of the border. Standardbred tracks in Canada racing on Turkey Day are: Kawartha Downs (7:00pm), Rideau Carleton Raceway (6:30pm), and Woodbine Racetrack (special post time of 7:00pm). TVG will be providing coverage of the Woodbine program which should do well being they are the only track scheduled for live coverage by the racing network.

If you're off on Black Friday and are brave enough to take to the roads, the following tracks will be racing Friday afternoon: Freehold Raceway (12:30pm), Plainridge Racecourse (1:00pm), and Scarborough Downs (12:05pm). Of course, there will be the usual assortment of tracks racing on Friday evening.

For those who like to look ahead, Cal Expo is being offered a rare opportunity to race in the afternoon on Friday, December 21 thru Sunday, December 23 at 2:35pm (local time). The opportunity to race in the afternoon was made possible by the decision of North and South California thoroughbred tracks to be dark those days.

    A Look Back at the Harrisburg Sales - Trotting Sires

    Following up on yesterday's column regarding the Pacing Sires at Harrisburg, VFTRG contributor Joe F. takes on the trotting side.

    Twenty-five Muscle Hills sold for an average of more than $56,000. There was balance between the figures for colts and fillies: the 13 colts averaged 53K while the dozen fillies averaged 60K. He does not live in a colt-centric world.
    60% of them sold for 50K or more while only 2—both colts—dipped to the 15K or less level. Four of them—16%--sold for more than 100K—three of them colts.

    Muscle Hill entered the marketplace at a fee of 30K but is currently standing for that nebulous amount, “private treaty.” Now that daddy and Rocknroll have escaped to Pennsylvania, Muscle Hill has NJ to himself. If he can come up with a couple of Horton Hanovers, he’ll dominate the trotting and pacing SS events.
    Muscle Hill’s average was 33% higher than Donato’s. Fifty of the latter’s yearlings sold for an average of almost 38K. This was down 39% from last year when 58 commanded an average of 61K.

    This year 15 Donato’s sold for 50K or more, with five of those bringing in 100K or more. Contrast that with last year’s sale where 27 sold for 50K or more, and 5 of those brought in 100K or more, 2 of them 150K plus and 2 more 200K plus. So, while more than 46% sold at the high end in 2011, only 30% did this year.
    Last year 12% sold for 15K or less while that figure jumped to 28% this year.

    CMO was outstanding and will win her division, but Possess The Will, Weingartner, From Above and the rest of last year’s promising freshman class turned into zeroes who either couldn’t get on the track in the first place or couldn’t beat anyone if they did.
    Donato stands for $20,000 in Pennsylvania.

    Dewey and Donato seem to go together. Dewey left Walnut Hall in Kentucky in January, 2010 and was relocated to Westwind Farm in Strathboy, Ont. The Kentucky politicians refused to commit to a gaming mechanism that would help fund the state’s standardbred breeding program so Alan Leavitt and company reluctantly sent Dewey to a place where he could benefit from the thriving Ontario SS program. Time changes all things. Now that Dewey is selling a crop eligible to that lucrative program, it’s in turmoil.

    Beyond that, Dewey’s initial freshman class didn’t exactly revolutionize the breed. They were a dominant force in the KYSS, but a non-factor on the GC.
    Dewey, like Donato, stands for $20,000.

    Twenty-seven Deweys sold for an average of more than 26K this year. That was down 11% from last year. The 19 colts averaged 31K, while the 8 fillies averaged less than half that.
    Three colts (11%) sold for 50K or more—two of those for more than 100K. Last year 20% topped the 50K threshold.

    Sixteen percent fell below the 15K mark last year, and double that in 2012.
    The juxtaposition of production, location and stud fee makes for a crooked picture. Something has to give.

    Cantab Hall, the sire of BC winners Wheeling And Deelin and Tamla Celeber, had a good sale. His average was up 15% from 2011—32 sold for more than 37K. Only 2 (6%) of the 30 sold went for 15K or less.
    17% sold for 50K or more last year and that stepped up to 31% in 2012. There were five colts and five fillies.

    Cantab Hall is also the sire of Uncle Peter, Cassis, Superstar Hanover, My MVP. Beer Summit, Money On My Mind, Lindy’s Jersey Boy, Dontyouforgetit and Pastor Stephen.
    He was standing for 12K back in 2007. He currently stands for $7,500.

    Andover Hall had no Detour Hanover to bail him out this year. As a matter of fact, his top colt went for 75K—a 90% drop-off from Detour. Overall his average was down 48%--again Detour plays a large role in this.
    27 Andover Halls sold for a 30K average. Nine percent went for 15K or less and 15% sold for 50K or more—2 colts and 2 fillies.

    Last year 41 sold for a 58K average and 21%--7 fillies and 2 colts—topped 50K. The median price last year was 25K.
    In 2007 Andover Hall stood for 25K; the following year that was upped to 30K. He currently stands for 10K in Pennsylvania.

    Andover Hall is the sire of Handover Belle, Major Athens, Upfrontluckycarol, Big Rigs, Beatgoeson, Cedar Dove, Magic Tonight, Spicy Wings, Pampered Princess and Donato Hanover.

    Kadabra was down 52% at Harrisburg in 2012. Thirty sold for an average of 30K. In 2011 10 sold for a 64K average. While half of last year’s small offering brought 50K or more, only 13% did this year. He did have a colt sell for 175K.
    Only one of the ten sold in 2011 brought 15K or less, while this year 3 fillies and 6 colts (30%) sold for that little.

    Kadabra is the sire of Bee A Magician, Prestidigitator, Knows Nothing, Il Mago, Miss Paris, Smarty Pants, Text Me, Poof She’s Gone, Daylon Magician, The Game Plan and China Pearls.

    Credit Winner sold 62% fewer yearlings at Harrisburg this year but his average was up 30%. Sixteen sold for an average of 64K. Eight of those brought 50K or more, and half of those went for more than 150K. None dipped below that 15K mark.
    Last year 42 sold for a 45K average. Thirty percent brought in 50K or more.

    Credit Winner had a very good year.
    He stood for 10K in 2006, 15K in 2009, and still stands for 15K in NY.

    Credit Winner is the sire of To Dream On, Archangel, Blacktuxwhitesox, Judge Joe, Dejarmbro, Jezzy, Chocolatier, Here Comes Herbie, RC Royalty and Crazed.

    Muscles Yankee, who is hightailing it across the Pennsylvania border and setting up shop in the more hospitable confines of Newtown PA, had a tough sale. He and Rocknroll are being punished for the diminished restricted money opportunities in New Jersey.

    Forty-four Muscles yearlings sold for an average of 28K, down 33% from last year. 57% of his offering sold for 15K or less, while only 16% brought in more than 50K. Last year only 11% sold at the low figure while 27% sold for 50K or more. So, there was an 80% increase in the 15K or less group between 2011 and 2012.
    Contrary to the gender trend, 25 Muscles colts sold for a 20K average while his 19 fillies sold for a 37K average.

    Muscles stood for 20K in 2010 and now stands for 10K.
    Muscles Yankee is the sire of Muscle Hill, Dewey, Blur, Costa Rica, Upside Hanover, Mr Muscleman, Strong Yankee, Tom Ridge, Looking Hanover, Muscle Massive and Neighsay Hanover.

    Explosive Matter sold 57 from his first crop for an average price of 18K. Only two of them brought 50K or more, while 42% sold for 15K or less. Not good.

    Explosive Matter stands for $7,500 in PA.

    Yankee Glide was up more than 43% this year. 25 sold for an average of 38K. The 13 colts averaged 54K and the 12 fillies 20K. This was due in part to the presence of a 250K colt.
    44% of them sold for 15K or less. Last year it was 50%. 20% sold for 50K plus, up from 12% last year.

    Yankee Glide’s fee jumped from 10 to 15 in 2005. He stood for 15K in NJ in 2006, and now stands in Pa for that amount.
    YG is the sire of Matron winner, Guccio, Matron, Oaks and ISS winner, Personal Style, and Aperfect Yankee, Banker Volo, Glidemaster, Fabulous Kemp, Holiday Road, Temple Of Doom, Ultimate Cameron, Passionate Glide, Express Glide, Il Villagio and Ken Warkentin.

    Angus Hall was down 75% at the Canadian Yearling Sale and 73% at Forest City, so I suppose it represents a triumph of sorts that he was only off 40% at Harrisburg.
    Thirteen sold for a 17K average. His colts averaged 13K. Last year 5 colts (19%) brought 50K or more, but this year there weren’t any. 54% sold for 15K or less.

    Angus Hall stood for 20K prior to 2006, at which point his fee dropped to 15. He now stands for ten in Ontario.
    He is the sire of Sugar Wheeler, Frenchfrys, Peaceful Way, Somebody To Love, Oh Sweet Baby, Winning Mister, Cincinnatti Kid, Last Flight Out and Porsche Hall.

    Conway Hall’s average was up 11% this year, as 20 sold for $34,000. 21% sold for 50K or more and the same percentage sold for 15K or less.
    Conway Hall stands in NY for 10K. He is the sire of Win Missy B, Wishing Stone, Windsong’s Legacy, Broadway Hall, Corragioso, Algiers Hall, For A Dancer, Make It Happen, Pizza Dolce, Martiniontherocks and Some Girls.

    Broadway Hall was up 12% from 2011. 15 sold for more than 22K. 53% went for 15K or less. Last year 50% sold at that level.
    Only two, both colts, sold for 50K plus.

    Broadway Hall stood for $6,500 in 2006. He was stepped up to 10K in 2009 and 12K in 2011. He now stands for $7,500 in PA.

    Crazed moved 23 for an average price of 25K this year—up 43% from last year. Only 3 colts (13%) went for 50K or more. 43% sold for 15K or less.
    His 15 colts averaged 33K, while his 8 fillies averaged 10K.

    Last year Crazed sold one plus 100K colt at Harrisburg. 58% of his offering brought in 15K or less.
    His fee was reduced to $3,500 last year.

    Cash Hall, another Empire State stallion who stands for $3,500, was down 31% this year. Last year 67% of his yearlings sold for 15K or less at Harrisburg. This year that figure increased to 100%.