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Monday, November 12, 2012

Kiwi Wagering, Propositions, and Other Stuff

Down under in New Zealand, Auckland Reactor's racing career appears to be coming to an inglorious end as he makes his next start in the New Zealand Cup tomorrow (tonight in North America), drawing the outside as he is ruled as being unruly when making standing starts. While he had some good showings since his return to the land of Kiwi, those signs of what once has quickly turned sour; his last two races resulting in eighth place finishes. While his name is still well known in harness circles down under, he appears to be a shadow of himself, becoming another horse whose reputation is continuously cheapened by insisting on racing him, which makes no sense as he is a stallion. Win or lose tomorrow, hopefully his connections will allow him to head to the stallion barn before his worth in the breeding shed is destroyed further.

My selection for the NZ Cup?  If you are looking for a mystery horse, Caribbean Blaster (#2) is an interesting horse, winning three of his last five starts in Australia, all at the standing start of which the NZ Cup is.  Blaster finished 2nd in his last start at 3,150 meters which is good as this race is being contested at 3,200 meters.  The horse is also partly owned by the renowned Alabar Bloodstock.  But my main pick is Sushi Sushi (#5) driven by Natalie Rasmussen, a winner of his last race at 2,400 meters.

Harness racing's future is global wagering with some of America's best races being shown abroad.  Simulcasting to the North America is pretty much limited to the Elitlopp and the Prix d' Amerique.  The only regular importing is two days of racing a week from Sweden when the V75 and V86 take place.  Why we are not importing other races puzzles me.  For example, the New Zealand Cup, a $600,000NZ race for FFA pacers would be an ideal race to import into North America.  The race is scheduled to go off at 11:15pm (EST) tonight, not an unrealistic time, being many ADWs will be carrying Australian flat races at the same time (the first race on the card goes off just before 6:00pm this evening).  Even if not enough money would be handled in the early week, once the post positions were drawn, advance wagering on the Cup could have been offered over a period of a few days.

Remember how exchange wagering was made legal in New Jersey?  All exchange wagering in the Garden State needs is doption of rules by the NJRC?  We are still waiting for exchange wagering's debut in the states but in New Zealand, they go even further with proposition wagering.  There are head-to-head wagers, winning margins, a  particular stable against the rest of the field, age of the winning horse, where the driver comes from; even head to head match-up between two leading stallions.  There is basically something for everyone, no matter the handicapping experience of the bettor.  When exchange wagering finally shows up on our shores, attempts should be made to offer proposition markets as well.     

Despite the defeat at the polls last Tuesday, Penn National Gaming (PNG) has applied for a fifty-four days of racing at Rosecroft for the 2013 season.  Of course, PNG will continue racing until the Prince George County slot license is awarded and their challenges to another casino company, assumingthey lose out, run out.   

Meanwhile, in Virginia, Colonial Downs has received permission to conduct a twenty-four day standardbred meet in 2013.  Twenty-four days may not sound like a long meet, but when you consider the thoroughbreds are looking at a twenty-five day meet, twenty-four days is pretty darn good.  

Jay Bergman at the Daily Racing Form, writes a great article about how drivers are now laying back in the bikes, not only cutting down on air resistence making it easier on horses to race faster, but also adding distance between horses, at least two feet between horses.  It doesn't sound like much but two feet here and two feet there adds up.  All this contributing to the front end speed in the sport.  Bergman proposes the lines be adjusted so a driver must drive the old fashioned way, at a ninety degree angle.  True it would cost nothing to implement a 'Watch Your Posture' rule, but let's see how quick anyone is going to give up the advantage they have now.  I could become commissioner of racing before that happens.

What I wonder is how the heck were sulky manufacturers allowed to get away with offering race bikes that permit laying down in the bike?  Was anyone watching?  It is easy to blame the USTA, but racing commissions didn't think those bikes could be unacceptable?    If you look at those sulkies, you see the seats are formed to permit this type of driving.  While the USTA has been caught in the past trying to restrict sulky types from competition, certainly there would be no problem if the standards were changed to mandate the seats be designed to force the driver to sit up on future bikes.  In fact, retrofits could be ordered on existing bikes to change the seats to get drivers to sit up. 

Also at the DRF, Derick Giwner  interviews Meadowlands Race Secretary Peter Koch about the classified racing system the Meadowlands will be implementing this year.  Giwner correctly suggests handicappers who accept the classified system early will have an advantage over other handicappers who are resistant.  As to whether the classified system is an experiment or a permanent change, Koch indicates it will be up to the gamblers to the decide.

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