For photos from the Meadowlands contact

Monday, December 31, 2012

Proposed Rules for Single Pool Wagering

The NJRC has published proposed rules for the introduction of single pool wagering.  This proposal PRN-187 is now available for public comment with all comments due by February 15, 2013.

After reading the proposed rule, there are two terms horseplayers need to learn about single pool wagering.  Specifically:
  • Limit Wager - A gambler can place a bet saying they want to bet $1,000 on the five horse to win if the odds are greater than or equal to 5-1.  Once the betting windows close, the 'odds calculation engine' will determine what part of the wager can be accepted into the pool without dropping the odds below 5-1.  As a result, out of that $1,000 wager, perhaps only $10 of the wager would be accepted with the balance ($990) being refunded to the gambler.  Obviously this is a simple example; others are likely to also place limit wagers. How it is determined what portion of a gambler's wager is actually placed is unknown at this time.
  • All-or-None Wager - A gambler can specify their limit wager is an all-or-none, meaning if the entire wager can't be accepted at the limit odds, none of the wager will be filled. 

So what is the benefit of single pool wagering?  One of the biggest complaints with the existing pari-mutuel system is the last minute odds changes which occurs.  Single Pool wagering takes care of this by offering gamblers a tool to reduce these odds swings; the tool being limit wagers.  Your large gamblers are likely to use the limit wager option.  Since these gamblers bet towards the end of wagering, they are likely to wager using the limit wager specifying odds close to the posted odds at the time the wager is made.  Because of this, whereas $1,000 may have gone on a horse in the last flash, it is possible only $500 may be added to the pool, thus causing a smaller odds shift than if the entire wager was placed.. 

You may ask how does the track and horsemen benefit when whales don't get their wagers filled; isn't there less commission to share?  On the surface it appears that way, but the fact is you may have some new big gamblers looking at your product where they wouldn't have before because the pools were to small because they know the odds won't crash on them..

There are some questions which need to be answered.  Will the CPMA approve single pool wagering?  If not, the co-mingling of Canadian money into the Meadowlands pools may be at risk.  Who is going to be given the right to wager using limits and all-or-none wager options?  Will it be only the whales or will everyone have the right to do so?

It will be interesting to see what the public comments will be.  The first time the NJRC can approve the rules is at its March 20 meeting. 

2013 Predictions

As we are about to turn the page on 2012, one begins to wonder what 2013 will hold for horse racing  Here are some predictions for 2013 (a couple of them come from contributors).  Admittedly, some of these predictions are wishful thinking, a few may be a swing for the fences.  Predictions are listed in no particular order. 

  1. Balmoral Park and the Meadowlands both continue to grow their handle. 
  2. An attempt to pass and have signed a new streamlined racino bill in Illinois in the first full week of January before the new legislative session begins will probably fail.  Another attempt will be made later in the year to make horsemen wonder what can go wrong this time? 
  3. Meanwhile, ADW wagering in Illinois, which becomes illegal on January 1 due to its authorization expiring is renewed before the end of January making it once again legal to wager via phone and/or Internet.  Horsemen are shocked that the legislature can do something right after all.
  4. Valley View Downs remains a dream as another operator fails to secure their funding.
  5. On a macro level, racing will continue to operate with a limited long-term vision.
  6. Racing Under Saddle continues to grow interest off of 2012's re-debut and the product will be better as horsemen realize RUS is not a novelty, but a legitimate expansion of harness racing.   Looking further ahead, I see pari-mutuel racing on monté racing in 2014, 2015  at the latest.
  7. Exchange wagering is successful at Cal-Expo without impacting handle.  It won't be the smashing success some predicted (this is Cal Expo), but a success just the same.
  8. Seeing how exchange wagering is doing at Cal Expo, the Meadowlands and Monmouth Park will ask the NJRC to expedite the rules for exchange wagering in New Jersey, looking at exchange wagering to debut no later than January 1, 2014.
  9. Despite the success of exchange wagering at Cal Expo, thoroughbred horsemen in California refuse to offer their endorsement of exchange wagering.
  10. The NJRC will continue to study a fair start rule for the Garden State, a process which started back in 2010.  Heck, let's make this also the first prediction for 2014 as well. 
  11. Governor Christie wins re-election in New Jersey as Governor, defeating current Senate President Sweeney in November.  Why is this important? See #12 and #13.
  12. Democrats continue to hold sway in the state legislature, but with a smaller majority.  As a result of this, Senate President Sweeney loses his grip on the Senate Presidency for the 2014-2015 legislative session.
  13. Atlantic City casinos continues to lose share yet Governor Christie refuses to endorse a Meadowlands casino.  However, come 2014 the Governor evolves and endorses gaming at the Meadowlands.
  14. New Jersey's attempt to introduce sports wagering which would benefit Atlantic City and horse racing dies as the Federal courts rule against sports wagering proponents.  The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear an appeal having already ruled in favor of the law when Delaware attempted to add single game wagering.
  15. Despite the NJTHA assertions that without sports gaming, Monmouth Park is done racing, the NJTHA applies for racing dates in 2014.
  16. Atlantic City Racecourse once again has a successful mini-meet.  Everyone dismisses its success basically because horsemen want to race as many dates as possible. 
  17. The Meadowlands application for racing dates in 2014 features an increase in racing dates. Those dates will likely be added to the winter and fall meets. 
  18. An annoucement is made that the Meadowlands will be hosting the entire Breeders Crown slate in 2014 over a period of two days (Friday the 2yo and 3yo events; Saturday the Open divisions).
  19. Rumors surface that Freehold Raceway is for sale.  By the end of the year, Pennwood announces 2014 may be Freehold's last year of racing unless slots are approved.
  20. Single pool wagering is approved by the NJRC and implemented in time for the Meadowlands Championship meet. 
  21. The license for the final harness track in New York state is awarded to Bonnie Castle Down in Alexandria Bay over others applicants.  Expect Bonnie Castle Downs to be completed and open before the first shovel of dirt is moved for the Valley View Downs project (if ever).
  22. The Meadowlands, in an experiment, coordinates post times with Vernon Downs on Fridays and Tioga Downs on Saturdays, alternating races with multi-race wagers featuring races from each track.  As part of the experiment, the handicapping show at the Meadowlands will include race analysis for each track along with live interviews from each. 
  23. Plainridge Racecourse wins the slot parlor license in Massachusetts; the local referendum is a squeaker.
  24. Monticello Raceway announces 2014 will be the last year of racing at the current location, with racing moving to the town of Thompson no later than January, 2015.  The inside joke is the new Monticello Raceway will be up and running before the first shovel of dirt is taken at Valley View Downs.     
  25. Without instant racing, another standardbred track closes in Michigan.  Rumors abound that thoroughbred racing may return to Hazel Park in 2014 (the harnes meet remains intact).  The possibility of quarter horses racing at Hazel Park is also rumored. 
  26. Iowa harness racing continues in obscurity.
  27. Speaking of obscurity, new life is breathed into the NJSS program as the races are opened up to NJ-bred horses starting with two year olds in 2014.
  28. As a result of the new funding formula for Ontario tracks, Americans will find themselves on the outside looking in when it comes to overnight events in Ontario.  The plus side is there will be no horse shortage at the Meadowlands this year when Harrah's and Pocono Downs re-open..
  29. Breeders get abused once again at Lexington and Harrisburg (admittedly not much of a prediction).
  30. The New York Legislature again approves casino gambling and it is approved by voters.  Now comes the question of where full casinos are built (tracks, standalone, a combination of).
  31. Horsemen in various states will complain about being frozen out of certain tracks claiming racing should be open to all.  They then negotiate with their local track preferences in an effort to freeze horses and horsemen from other states out.
  32. Other tracks finally wake up and notice Cal Expo and Western Fair District handles when they are on TVG.  All of a sudden, other tracks realize paying to be shown on TVG is smart business.
  33. With the success of the Meadowlands Super Stakes for older pacers and trotters, the Hambletonian Society and Grand Circuit decide to offer super finals for the highest point earners on the Grand Circuit as a way to perk up support for the Grand Circuit races.  Plans are to introduce these races in 2014.
  34. Governor Christie makes the winner's circle presentation for the Hambletonian.
  35. While a noted opponent of heat racing, Ray Schnittker still shocks the standardbred world by scratching his entrant after the first heat of the Hambletonian.
  36. The legislature in Georgia approves a referendum to approve horse racing.  Referendum goes to the voters in 2014. 
  37. Florida legislature decides Barrel Racing is not a legitimate use of a quarter horse track license.  Creek Entertainment Gretna goes to court.  In the meanwhile, no quarter horse or thoroughbred horsemen association agrees to simulcast races to Gretna, but some harness tracks do.
  38. Expanded gaming is approved in New Hampshire.  Harness racing and thoroughbred racing to return in 2014.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Applying the Brakes

If this weekend is any indicator, the Meadowlands will be having a good meet this year.  After having a 24% increase in overall handle on Friday night, handle was up 6% on Saturday which considering there was a snow storm was not too shabby.

No doubt the dropping of the Pick 6 and addition of a second Pick 4 is responsible partially for the increase but one has to wonder if in the longer term the addition of the second Pick 4 will be detrimental to the health of racing?  After all, this seems to be the tool tracks are using to increase handle.  Yes, people support the Pick 4 (especially if guaranteed), but while these types of wagers offers a decent (for racing) takeout rate and attracts wagering dollars, the problem is the payoffs tend to be restricted to a smaller population of horseplayers, meaning more losing players and less churn. 

Adding jackpot wagers alone is not the long term answer for any track.  One suspects without the gaming product being otherwise improved, what we are seeing is a braking measure, slowing down the long term decline of racing. 

With respect to classified racing, it is obviously too early to see if its intended goals of making races more open and competitive without a parade of odds-on favorites is being attained.  True, only two odds on favorites won over twenty five races this weekend, but one must realize the transition of conditioned horses to classified horses presents a unique challenge to handicappers in determining whether or not a horse is in its proper class.  They key is what happens in a few weeks when horses settle into their proper levels and are showing classified lines in their past performance lines.  Then we will see if payoffs are truly improved.  However, at this juncture things look good.


Saturday, December 29, 2012

Saturday Doings

The Meadowlands had a bang up opening night with handle up 24% over last year's opener with the total just under $2.7 million dollars, no doubt helped by the addition of the early Pick 4.  As for the payoffs, two favorites won but they both paid north of $5 so for at least one night, odds on favorites were kept at bay.  But there were longshots galore, topped off with a couple of triple digit ($240.80,  $107.40) win mutuels,.    As good as the payoffs were last night, I was bad when it came to my handicapping so I wont subject you to my selections for tonight.

Speaking of success, Rosecroft Raceway's fall meet concluded with handle up a strong 70%.  Despite the improvement, if slots come to National Harbor without the licensee being Penn National, the long term survival of the track remains in question. 

Up north, fallout as a result of the OLGL's termination of the SAR program continues.  In order to ensure they can complete the winter meet, Western Fair District is cutting purses for their winter meet by 12%.  While they expect to receive some type of subsidy to head their way, it was felt by track management and horsemen as the responsible way to go.  Expect to hear some similar announcements elsewhere.

Meanwhile, PTP posts an article on how Standardbred Canada has jumped the shark over the SAR program cancellation.  Yes, it hurts racing but it was never really about trying to hurt racing, it's about the province trying to bring in as much money as possible with paying the least amount of money in expenses; the same thing racing would try to do if it had the opportunity.

Horse Rescue United reaches out and thanks Mark McKelvie, the Hambletonian Society, and the Gural-operated racetracks for their donations as a result of The Pen vs. The Chip Handicapping Challenge.

Friday, December 28, 2012

Grading the Stakes - Part 4

VFTRG contributor Joe F. continues with his grading of harness racing stakes; this time looking at stakes for 2yo trotting colts and fillies.

Two-Year-Old Trotting Colts
Grade 1

Breeders Crown—Pocono—October--$591,000 in 2012
Wheeling N Dealin was the seemingly invincible winner of this year’s BC, but then again the three previous winners all disappointed us at three. Pilgrim’s Taj won a heat of the Hambo. MOMM won the Kentucky Futurity, Colonial and Stanley Dancer, as well as a heat of the Hambo, but he still proved to be a disappointment. MOMM won his Hambletonion elimination at 2/5 and was the 8/5 favorite in the final. He broke at mid-stretch while moving on Broad Bahn. He was second choice in the BC but, once again, broke at the top of the stretch. And Uncle Peter won the Stanley Dancer and a heat of the Hambo. Let’s hope W N D has better luck next year.

Peter Haughton Memorial—Meadowlands—August--$387,250 in 2012

The race honors Peter Haughton, who was killed when his car hit a pole on route 20 in January, 1980. Express Ride, Supergill, Westgate Crown, Donerail, Donato, Muscle Hill and Holiday Road are a few of the past winners.
Jim Oscarrson won with Aperfectyankee in 2012.

William Wellwood Memorial—Mohawk—September--$462,000 in 2012

In 2005 the Campbleville Stakes (1988-2004) was renamed to honor Wellwood, who passed in February, 2003.
There were three $30,000 eliminations this year. W N D won the final.

Valley Victory—Meadowlands—fall

The Big M is supposedly reviving the Valley Victory during their fall meet. The V V was raced at GSP from 1990 to 2000 and has since bounced around between the Meadowlands, the WEG tracks and Chester. It was not on anyone’s calendar last year.
The purse was $539,000 when Blue Porsche won at Woodbine in 2010.

Grade 2
Bluegrass—Lexington—September--$350,000 divided into 4 divisions in 2012

The fact that it’s split into four divisions makes it a two. The 2012 winners weren’t at the top end of the ladder. Major Athens won the Keystone Classic in addition to the Bluegrass, but All Laid Out, Creatine and Punxsutawney had no other significant wins.

International Stallion Stakes—Lexington—September--$400,000 divided by 4 in 2012
Super Bowl and Flush won the two splits of the inaugural ISS in 1971. You’re So Vain, Fashion Blizzard, Pine Credit and Royalty For Life won this year.

When the 2010 winner, MOMM, was retired last year after his sophomore campaign, Jeff Gural was none too pleased about it. Realizing that he was powerless to do anything about it, Gural pointed out that MOMM wasn’t exactly going to pack his grandstand anyway. Actually MOMM was very popular with the bettors. They have a soft spot for mercurial horses with extreme speed—jump or win.
MOMM served 128 mares in 2012. Kentuckiana recently announced that he will remain in Ontario. His fee was $7,000 last year.

Champlain—Mohawk—August—2 divisions @ $140,000 each in 2012

Good race but the splits drop it to a two. W N D won this year.
IN 2011 there were three divisions that raced for $101,000 each; Guccio, Weingartner and Money On My Mind were the winners.

The Champlain goes back to 1961.

Text Winner won the Matron in 2012. Chapter Seven won in 2010, Lucky Chucky in 2009 and Explosive matter in 2008.

The Matron was held in Michigan from 1970 to the mid-eighties. It relocated to Pompano until 1996, when it was moved to Dover.

Grade 3 or 4
American-National—Balmoral—September--$76,000 in 2012

Good history. From 1968. Longwell won in 2012. Single dash since 2002. Raced in two divisions more often than not prior to that.

Standardbred—Delaware, Ohio—September--$65,000

Single dash in 2012. Generally goes in 4-7 divisions. Race held at Pocono in 2012. In 2013 the Reynolds will be raced at Tioga, later in the season.

Arden—Meadows—July--$80,000 divided
Three divisions in 2012 and 4 in 2011.

Harold Dancer—Freehold—September--$60,000
From 1985. Single dash. King Muscles won in 2012, Muscolo in 2011 and Chapter Seven in 2010.

John W Simpson—VD in 2013—fall

Will be scheduled for later in the season. In 2010 at VD there were two divisions @ $35,000.

Bridger Series—Mohawk—August--$50,000 final
First leg $20,000 and second $30,000.

Two-Year-Old Trotting Fillies

Grade 1
Breeders Crown—Pocono—October--$591,000 in 2012

TDO won as the 8/5 second choice out of the eight this year. The 6/5 favorite, Bee A Magician, had run down TDO several weeks before the BC in the Peaceful Way. In that one TDO was the 1/5 favorite and Bee the 5/2 second choice. Between the Peaceful Way and the BC TDO won the Bluegrass and the ISS.
TDO won the Dan Patch with 80% of the vote, while Bee got 17%. Chances are that Bee, who won the OSS Super Final after losing the BC, will win the O’Brien. Welcome to the sectarian world of harness racing.

Merrie Annabelle—Meadowlands—August--$354,000 in 2012
To Dream On set a TR in winning the 2012 edition in :50.4 from way off the pace.

The MA goes back to 1977. Royal Prestige, Alf Palema, Winkys Goal, Supergill, Duke Of York and Jezzy are a few of the trotters out of Merrie Annabelle winners.

Peaceful Way—Mohawk—September--$470,000
Bee A Magician closed on TDO and won the 2012 edition.  The race was the Oakville prior to 2008.

Last year Win Missy B upset CMO in her PW elimination off a pocket trip. In the final Missy trotted away from the field and CMO couldn’t quite reel her in. The Conway Hall filly set a track, stakes and Canadian record of :53.3.

Goldsmith Maid—Meadowlands—fall
Jeff Gural is supposed to be bringing the Goldsmith Maid back at the Meadowlands fall meet. It wasn’t raced last year. Crys Dream won the GM in 2010 over Cedar Dove at Woodbine. The purse was $502,000. Win Missy B beat Superstar Hanover in 2011 at Harrah’s. The purse was $365,000.

Grade 2

Five divisions in 2012, three in 2011 and five in 2010
2012 winners were Frau Blucher, Upfrontcarol, Aspidistra Hanover, Time To Kill and TDO.

Goes back to 1976. Winners include Peace Corps, Winkys Goal, Continentalvictory, Pizza Dolce, Maven and CMO.

International Stallion Stakes—Lexington--$300,000
Three $98,000 divisions in 2012. Winners: TDO, Fashion Athena and Mystery Woman.

Champlain—Mohawk—late August/September--$265,000
Bee A Magician and Zorgwijk Nova won $120,000 divisions of the Champlain in 2012.

Matron—Dover—November--$129,000 in 2012

Royal Assets beat 1/5 favorite, Time To Kill, in the 2012 Matron.
Last year Check Me Out was 1/9 and the other six fillies entered were listed at 99/1. The bridge jumpers groaned when CMO broke on the first turn and dropped back 25 lengths behind the leader. Fortunately for Tetrick, Schnittker and the high-rollers the competition consisted of pretend trotters, and Tetrick circled the field with the Donato filly for a $2.10 win.

Grade 3 or 4

Reynolds—Tioga in 2013—July—3 divisions @ $27,000 each in 2012
Sturdy Muscles, Find The Magic and TDO won the three divisions in 2012.

Harold Dancer—Freehold—September--$58,000

Standardbred—Delaware, Ohio—September--$62,000


Simpson—Vernon in 2013—fall
$10,000 divisions at M1 in June 2012

Circle City—Indiana Downs—October--$60,000

Two divisions. Pine Credit won in a weak four horse field. Drink The Wine won the other.  Goes back to 1945.

It's About Time

Note:  If you are looking for my Meadowlands opening night selections, they may be found here.

It's about time New Jersey horsemen with the help of Freehold Raceway fight back and look out for their own interests by developing preference rules which favor them.  Usually I abhor such parochialism but when everyone else is stomping all over you with their own preference rules, there is a need to defend yourself.

For the next two years, during the peak season (when Pennsylvania and upstate New York tracks are closed) at the entry box, preference rules will be in effect to favor New Jersey horsemen and those who race regularly at Freehold.  For races with purses of $5,000 or less, preference will be given to horses that are NJ sired, NJ owned, or trained by New Jersey based trainers who have had at least fifteen starters during the an established time period at Freehold Raceway.  If a race is over filled, preference will be further given to horses who made two of their last three starts at Freehold.  Those who don't draw in because of the second preference will be given preference the next time they drop in the box provided they are entered in the same class.  For races with purses exceeding $5,000, preference will be given to those horses who made two of their last three starts at Freehold. 

Of course, with these preference rules comes responsibility.  With the welcome mat being pulled during the late fall - late spring calendar period, one should not expect scorned horsemen to flock to Freehold once other tracks open for the year.  Therefore, it is incumbent for these horsemen who are benefiting from these rules to support the Freehold program once other tracks open. 

Tattler's Jet made the New York Times two days running with his second place finish in the Au Revoir Race at Monticello Raceway.  This is the type of press racing should be getting. 

How many years has racing complained about offshore sites and ADWs taking racetrack's signals and making money on them without paying or paying little to the tracks and horsemen for their product?  Isn't it ironic how New Jersey horsemen and racetracks (along with the casinos) are looking to offer sports wagering to bolster their bottom lines without paying any commission to the sports leagues?  Just saying...

Thursday, December 27, 2012

It Begs to be Asked

The NYSRWB has approved live video streaming of standardbred and thoroughbred racing in 2013, meaning New York State tracks can continue to show their races live on their websites.  While we applaud the action, my question is why in the year 2012 does this need to be an annual decision?  Make no mistake, the industry is not one to quickly innovate, but when your racing operations are so tightly controlled by a state agency, it makes it that much harder to innovate.

Of course, this begs us to ask another question.  In states where racing is controlled by the same state board which regulates casino gaming, there maybe an inherent conflict of interest within the boards themselves.  Let's say New Jersey combined their casino control board with their racing commission.  With the lobbying dollars flowing from Atlantic City casino interests, who is to say such a combined board would act equally in the best interests of the casino and racing industries?  Would it be more likely for the board act in the best interests of casino gaming and let horse racing wallow in the status quo?

Congratulations to trainer Linda Toscano for winning the Trainer of the Year award, becoming the first woman to win the honor.  For years owners would never use a female trainer but they have become widely accepted.  Of course it begs to be asked, with women trainers now accepted, why is there still such a hesitation to use women drivers?  Yes, there has been a few female drivers in the past who have had success, but it seems unless they own their own horse, good luck in seeing a female driver on the track.

I have said it before and say it again, it is a blight on the industry that it refuses to give women a real chance to compete in the sulky as it gives them on the training farms.  The industry needs to take some serious steps to ensure women get a fair shot to make it as drivers.  While it may be a long time for a woman to become Driver of the Year, there is no reason why women shouldn't be competing for Driver of the Meet these days.

We're in the New York Times (Positive yet)! - The story of Tattler's Jet who is making his final pari-mutuel start in the Au Revoir race at Monticello Raceway today is in the New York Times.  Tattler's Jet has made 460 career starts behind the starting gate and will go out a champion regardless of how he finishes in today's pari-mutuel finale (USTA rules allow a horse to race past fourteen in amateur and county fair races).

Horses like Tattler's Jet need to be celebrated; the war horses are the one who keep racing going at racetracks competing in overnights and/or fairs.  The champions are here for a relative brief time and disappear.  This is one of the beauties of harness racing, its blue collar roots; something to be celebrated.  With monté racing being added to the mix, we are showing how versatile standardbreds on the track and when they move 'graduate' to the show ring or mounted police units.  So it begs to be asked, when are we going to stop trying to be like thoroughbred racing?  We never will be as popular so don't try to be.  Celebrate and market the sport as it is, a blue collar sport; a piece of Americana.


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Meadowlands Opening Nite Selections

A new season, new hopes.  The Meadowlands opens up Friday evening using the classified system with conditioned races for NW3 and lower as well as claiming races.  One thing to be aware of is each evening, one race will consist of a twelve horse field.

This year opening night will be tougher with use of a 45 day entry box so you have plenty of horses who haven't raced in a whle skipping qualifiers.  Watching the board may be your best guide as to if these horses are worth your support.

Here are my top four horses in each race.  The type of exotic wagers offered each race is indicated.  As always, these are my early selections.  Depending on odds, some of my selections may move higher up in my ratings.

Meadowlands, December 28, 2012
1st Trot - $12,000; B-2 (Post Time 7:15) - EX, TRI, DD, P5 ($15,000 Gtd Pool)
  6 - Armor Hanover (Pierce, 3-1)
  8 - Over And Out (Tetrick, 5-1)
  1 - Celebrity Hercules (D Miller, 7-2)
  5 - R Sam (Abbatiello, 10-1)

2nd Pace - $12,500; FM NW3CD 3 and 4yos - EX, TRI, P3
  1 - Aint Got A Home (A Miller, 8-1)
  9 - Shes Lovin It (Tetrick, 7-2)
  8 - Fast And Fiesty (Carlson, 3-1)
  7 - Odds On Guinevere (Manzi, 15-1)

3rd Pace - $10,500; $20,000 Claiming - EX, TRI, P4 ($25,000 Gtd Pool)
  5 - Northern River (Macomber, 15-1)
  7 - Tiger Williams (D Miller, 6-1)
  4 - Flowmaster  (Tetrick, 3-1)
  2 - Fresco Blue (Kakaley, 12-1)

4th Trot - $14,000; B-1 - EX, TRI, SUPER, P3
  1 - Soap Sap (Gingras, 4-1)
  4 - Sarkozy (Pierce, 3-1)
  7 - Spice It Up Lindy (Mettinis, 15-1)
  6 - Aruba Bacation (Tetrick, 8-1)

5th Pace - $14,000; FM B-1 - EX, TRI, SUPER, P3
  4 -  Real Ravishing (A Miller, 12-1)
  8 -  Wildfire Osborne (Tetrick, 7-2)
  1 -  Ole Miss (Gingras, 12-1)
  3 -  One Night (Simpson, 12-1)

6th Trot - $20,000; A-2 - EX, TR,, SUPER
  5 - Ellen's Isle (A Miller, 2-1)
  1 -  All Munky Business (Gingras, 4-1)
  2  - The Budster (Carlson, 6-1)
  6 - Sea Raven (Simons, 8-1)

7th Pace - $20,000; FM A-2 - EX, TRI, P4 ($50,000 Gtd Pool)
  1 -  All About Kisses (Simons, 15-1)
  2 - Warrawee Koine (Tetrick, 6-1)
  9 - MJ's Bid (D Miller, 3-1)
  5 - Chief Karen (Callahan, 6-1)

8th Trot - $20,000; A-2  - EX, TRI, SUPER, P3
  5 - Wind Surfer (Gingras, 4-1)
  2 - Bambino Hall (Dube, 12-1)
  3 - Ice Machine (Callahan, 8-1)
  7 - The Evictor (Simpson, 8-1)

9th Pace - $14,000; FM B-1 - EX, TRI, SUPER, P3
  7 - Go On BB (Gingras, 3-1)
  3 - Mystical MJ (Pierce, 10-1)
  1 - Carolsideal (D Miller, 5-1)
  9 - Ryder Blue Chip (Tetrick, 9-2)

10th Pace - $11,200; C-2 H&G - EX, TRI, SUPER, P3
  6 - Celebrity Scandal (Simons, 8-1)
  1 - Brandon's Colt (Gingras, 7-2)
  4 - Bronson Blue Chip (A Miller, 12-1)
  9 - Palm's Beach (Carlson, 9-2)
#11 - Inform and #12 Upfront Cosmo score from the 2nd tier

11th Pace - $12,000; FM B-2 - EX, TRI, DD, SUPER
  6 - Pay Tribute (Dube, 15-1)
  5 - Love You Bye (Carlson, 10-1)
  8 - Elleofnxample (D Miller, 10-1)
  9 - Hannah Isabel (Kakaley, 6-1)

12th Pace - $8,500; Claiming $15,000 - EX, TRI, SUPER
  6 - Dave Panlone (Manzi, 7-2)
  1 - Wildsville (Dube, 6-1)
  4 - Stormin Rustler (Gingras, 9-2)
  7 - Manofleisuresuit (Tetrick, 3-1)

Good luck to all playing the card.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

An Industry Beaten into Submission?

In Sunday's Harness Racing Update, Dean Powers write about a fictional holiday cocktail party.  While written in a tongue-in-cheek fashion, most of what is written is based on truth, though I think Towers is overly optimistic regarding Governor Christie and slots (at least for this year).  But heck, it's Christmas time.  If you can't dream.........

Two hundered and forty horses dropped in the box for opening night at the Meadowlands where classified racing makes it debut.  As a result, there will be twelve races with full fields including one contest which features twelve contestants.  While the FFA trotting class didn't fill, all the other races  filled on their own without needing to resort to mixed class handicaps.  Wondering what class your favorite horse has been assigned?  You can see the opening week's classifications here.

For those planning on attending the Prix d' Amérique this year, here is a list of horses consigned to the sale being conducted there. 

Also in HRU, Jeff Gural addresses several issues, including the innuendo from the prior week that Gural would treat the Linda Toscano situation differently out of favoritism.  His response (page six) should address that question but in this industry, people will believe what they want to, regardless of the facts.

In his response, Gural talks about post time delays and the lack of grading races, freely admitting the Meadowlands delays post times because they live on handle and their large players have told them they don't bet until zero minutes to post.  He also mentions there is no interest within racing to grade races though he feels it should be done.

The industry may feel grading races is the least of their problems but if people left their egos at the door, it would take roughly a day or two to grade these stakes.  Isn't it worth spending a little time to get these 'easy' problems out of the way?  Perhaps grading the races wouldn't do much, but considering how little time would be necessary to address the issue, why not do it?

Same thing for post times.  Let's get away from  first race, second race, etc. and go to the 7:15 at the Meadowlands, 7:20 at Northfield, and 7:25 at Yonkers and close the betting windsors at post time.  If tracks would cooperate and schedule their races at fixed times, wagering may go down for a week or so but gamblers aren't that dumb.  Once they realize post time means the windows are closed, no ifs ands or buts, and they could make their wagers in the last minute knowing wagering is closing at post time, they will adapt; probably even appreciating the change in the long run as it would protect their investment.

Has this industry been so beaten into submission that easy changes like this are beyond their scope of handling?  If so, it may be time to turn off the lights and go home for if they can't deal with easy things like this, how will they ever handle the difficult tasks? 

Grading the Stakes - Part 3

It is with pleasure that I post Joe F's, third installment regarding grading the stakes.  This time, Joe takes on the Freshman stakes.


Grading the freshman stakes is more complicated than doing so for older horses; the races cover a broader swath of territory, literally and figuratively, and many of them are contested in divisions. Some people automatically discount any stakes race that is split, and it’s hard to argue with that. Here’s a look at the two-year-old pacers.
Two-Year-old Colt Pacers

Grade 1
Metro—Mohawk—September--$1 million

This race offers the highest purse available to freshman pacers. Whether the changes in Ontario will alter that remains to be seen at this point. The first edition was in 1988. Pacer of the Year Captaintreacherous won in 2012, followed by Odds On Equuleus, Apprentice Hanover and Rockin Amadeus.

Breeders Crown—October--$600,000

First year sire Tyler B swept the two-year-old pacing divisions of the BC during the inaugural edition of the race. The outstanding filly, Amneris, won the lion’s share of the $555,000 filly purse at Maywood Park and Dragon’s Lair beat back Nihilator in dramatic fashion to take the $772,500 colt division at The Meadows. The fillies now race for $500,000 and the colts for $600,000 so the opportunities for both groups have receded over the course of the last twenty-eight years.

The Governor’s Cup—Meadowlands—fall

The Big M is bringing back the Governor’s Cup in 2013. This race ran at GSP from 1985 through 2000, and from that point on it bounced around between the Meadowlands, Mohawk, Woodbine, Harrah’s and DuQuoin. When ARNRD won it in 2011 at Harrah’s the purse was $510,000.
The Wilson, which has been eliminated, carried a $310,000 purse last year. I’m not sure what purse the GC will carry in 2013.

Grade 2
Champlain—Mohawk—Sept--$261,000 in 2012

Captive Audience won a single dash against ten competitors in 2012, paying $90. He beat Rockin Amadeus, Odds On Equuleus and Fool Me Once. Last year the Champlain was split into two divisions, with Machapelo and Speed Again each beating a watered down field for $150,000.

Nassagaweya—Mohawk—August—3 divisions @ $108,000 each in 2012.

Captaintreacherous, Apprentice Hanover and Odds On Equuleus won the three divisions this year. This is a popular race that draws the top colts. The fact that it is split keeps it from being a grade one stake.

Bluegrass—October—Lexington—4 divisions @ $96,500 each in 2012. The total purse amounts to $386,000. In 2011 there were five divisions @ $85,800 each.

As is the case with the Nassagaweya, the fact that the quality of competition and purse money are diluted by the multiple divisions relegates this race to the second tier.
International Stallion Stakes—Lexington—October—4 divisions @ $87,550 each in 2012. The winners were Captain…, Fool Me Once, Odds On E and Apprentice. The top colts showed up, but the drawbacks are the same as they are with the Bluegrass.

Matron—Dover—November/December--$156,000 in 2012
The purse was $176,000 in 2011. Twilight Bonfire won this year. The Matron series is held very late in the season and the quality of competition isn’t there. Single dash a week after eliminations—if necessary. A weak two.

Grade 3 and 4
Abe Lincoln—Maywood—November--$110,000 in 2012
Our Dragon King beat a weak five horse field in 2012. Last year, when Fridaynightflight won, the purse was $128,000.

Sheppard—Yonkers—July--$119,000 in 2012
The Sheppard is back after a nine year break. The first edition of the race was won by Bret Hanover in 1964. He was so dominant that he cost the track almost $4,000 in minus pool money. Romeo won it the next year and in subsequent years colts like Albatross, Nero and Hot Hitter won the Sheppard. Bill Haughton lost his life while driving Sonny Key in a Sheppard elimination. All that history notwithstanding, the renewal was something of a glorified SS race, where 35/1 Hail The Taxi upset Doctor Butch. Give it time.

Circle City—Indiana Downs—October--$83,000 in 2012
It was raced in a single dash this year and in divisions in 2010 and 2011. They raced for $47,000 per division in 2011.

The Standardbred—Delaware, Ohio—September--$59,000 in 2012
Reynolds—Meadowlands—July--$36,000 per in 2012

Two divisions in 2012, seven in 2011 and eight in 2010. Moves to Tioga in 2013.

Arden—Meadows--$22,000 per division in 2012

Four divisions in 2012 and six in 2011. The Arden goes back to 1957. Thorpe Hanover won the first one. Bret, Romulus, MHF, Armbro Ranger, BBJ and Sweet Lou all won the Arden.

The Goshen Cup—Vernon—September--$75,000

The GC was raced in heats.

Dream Maker—Mohawk—July--$50,000 final

Two preliminary legs—a twenty and a thirty. TOL won it in 2011.

In 1970 the richest stakes race for two-year-olds was the Fox which took place at the state fair in Indianapolis. The race, which was raced in heats, goes back to 1927. In recent years the likes of Morgan Shark, Con Game and Fridaynightflight have won the Fox, while during the stretch where it was an automatic start for the best colts, Adios, Good Time, Bret, Romeo, Laverne and Albatross won the race. The latter won in straight heats in 1970 for Harry Harvey. Each heat went for more than $31,000—more money than a freshman could race for anywhere else.

The Fox, Little Pat and McMahon were all raced in heats and Good Time won all of them in 1948. Jate Lobell won both The Fox and The Little Pat in straight heats in 1986. And Adios won the Fox in three heats, over his arch rival King’s Counsel, in 1942. Adios made 26 starts at two. Captaintreacherous and BC winner, Rockin Amadeus, each made ten, while Odds On Equuleus made nine. Chapter Seven just retired with 28 lifetime starts.
Someone injected a tranquilizer into Nero prior to the 1974 Fox and it almost killed him. There was no betting on the race.

The top three after the Fox were the $50,000 Roosevelt Futurity, which ran from 1960 to 1977; the $50,000 LB Sheppard (YR), which was just revived after a nine year hiatus; and the $50,000 Illinois Colt Stakes, which was contested at the Illinois State Fair. That one was discontinued in 1985.
The Candler, McMahon and Little Pat followed those three on the purse money tree. There was no million dollar Metro. That race wasn’t born for another eighteen years, and it only went for $300,000 at that point. Races like the Arden Downs, Battle of Saratoga, Goshen Cup, Reynolds, Hoosier Futurity and Batavia Downs Stake were all in the $20,000 range and splits were the norm.

The Sheppard, Roosevelt Futurity and Hanover Filly Stakes were raced in October while the McMahon, Fox and The LaPaloma (fillies) went in September. Most of the season was spent on the GC racing in stakes carrying purses from $7,500 to $15,000.
Simpson—Meadowlands--$14,000 divisions in 2012

Generally two or three divisions. Previously the Hanover-Hempt. Goes back to 1960. Moves back to Vernon in 2013.

Hanover—Balmoral—July—3 divisions @ $28,000 each in 2012

Single dash for the last seven years.

Elevation—Indy--$90,000 each division in 2012
Since 2009. Dance and Lou in 2011.

Two-Year-Old Filly Pacers
Grade 1

She’s A Great Lady—Mohawk—September--$630,000

Three Diamonds—Meadowlands—fall
The Sweetheart has been eliminated and the Three Diamonds is being brought back. The 2009 edition carried a $585,000 purse at Woodbine. In 2011 Economy Terror beat Cookie, Pirouette and Shelliscape in the Three Diamonds at Harrah’s. The purse was $380,000. The race was not contested in 2012. Idyllic won the race in 2010 at Harrah’s. The purse was $501,000.

Breeders Crown—October--$500,000

Grade 2
Champlain—Mohawk—September--$226,000 in 2012

The Champlain was raced in divisions through 2010. The last couple of years it has gone as a single dash with a large field. Big McDeal beat a so so field in 2011, while L Dees Lioness beat Nitelife in 2012. A strong two.

Eternal Camnation—Mohawk—August--$130,000 per division in 2012
This is a strong two, despite the fact that the field is split. Jewel and Romantic Moment won the two divisions last year while Nitelife and Lioness won in 2012.

Bluegrass—Lexington—October—3 divisions @ $108,700 each in 2012.
This is another strong two. Nitelife, Ritascape and Nikki Beach won the three divisions in 2012. Last year the race was split into two divisions which raced for $134,700 each. Destinys Chance won one at 30/1 and Jewel won the other at 1/9.

International Stallion Stakes—Lexington—October—3 divisions @ $85,000 each in 2012

Authorize, Parlee Beach and Hit The Curb (17/1) won the three divisions this year. Last year the three divisions went for $84,200 each and in one of them Big McDeal beat Jewel, equaling her WR of :50.2 in the process. The ISS is a strong two.

Matron—Dover—November--$126,000 in 2012
Rainbow crushed a soft field this year. Destinys Chance won last year and KA in 2010. Single dash. A weak two.

Grade 3 and 4
Kentuckiana Stallion Management Stake—Indiana Downs—September—2 divisions @ $118,000 each in 2012. Carol’s Desire and Nikki Beach won this year.

American-National—Balmoral—November--$113,000 in 2012
Always About Katey, the Indiana SS star, prevailed over five softies in 2012. Princess Cruiser beat a soft field competing for an $86,000 purse last year and Pardon beat another field of softies for a $95,000 purse in 2010.

Reynolds—Tioga in 2013—fall—2 divisions @ $32,000 each in 2012
The Reynolds was raced at the Meadowlands in 2012. Nikki Beach and Shebestingin won the two divisions, each containing five weak sisters in addition to the winners. The latter is a very talented but troubled Bettor’s Delight filly who only started a few times. The race returns to Tioga in 2013.

Tompkins-Geers—Tioga—September—2 divisions @ $36,000 per in 2012
There were only two divisions in 2012, which were won by Shebestingin and Aria J. There were five divisions in 2011 and the same number in 2010.

The Standardbred—Delaware, Ohio—September--$55,000 in 2012
This race has been around since 1975 and generally goes in two divisions.

Arden Downs—The Meadows—July—4 divisions @ $21,000 each in 2012.

In 2011 there were six divisions. The total purse of $100,000 doesn’t go far when the race is split so many ways.
The Arden Downs for 2-year-old fillies has been an important race since 1957. Countess Adios, Decorum, Laura’s Image, Tarport Hap, Naughty But Nice and Caressable all won the AD.

Debutante—Vernon--$64,000 in 2012

This race started at Goshen in 1947. It moved to the Meadowlands in 1978 and remained there until 2010. Bonjour Hanover, Saucy Wave and All Alert are former winners. It was relocated to Vernon Downs in 2011. Last year Canary Island was best in a four horse field.


Whenyouwishuponastar—Mohawk—August--$50,000 final


Saturday, December 22, 2012

Saturday Briefs

Eric Carlson is taking his shot at the Meadowlands this winterPersonally I love it when the newcomers come and take their chance at the Meadowlands, it was one of the best things in its early years, when the likes of Peter Blood, William Fahy, Walter Paisley, Gerald Sarama, Greg Wright, and others would decide to take a shot.  Some left after a season or earlier, others stuck around for a while.  The Meadowlands was never an easy track to thrive at and it is still somewhat challenging but it the infusion of new drivers made things interesting and allowed for great wagering opportunities. 

Deweycheatemnhowe is another top stallion to get out of Ontario with all the uncertainty regarding the racing and breeding programs.  The beneficiary of this defection is New York State as Dewey will be standing at Morrisville College for a fee of $10,000.  To see what is happening to what arguably was considered the best breeding program in North America is criminal.

In the meanwhile, slots will remain at Western Fair District and Kawartha Downs as they have signed lease agreements with the OLG to keep the machines running until new casinos are built (possibly at the track).  While the tracks will benefit from this arrangement and keep the tracks operating, it is unknown if this will benefit purses in any manner.

Go West Young Man: Not all of Canada is against racing.  In British Columbia, slot revenue going to horse racing will rise from the current level of 15.5% to 25%, an almost 10% increase in support.  Unfortunately, with only 89 standardbred race days each year, it is not as if BC racing could support a massive influx of horses, but still it is nice to see things go up somewhere in Canada.

Walnridge Farm is the NJ Breeder of the Year.  While congratulations are in order for the Meirs in keeping Walnridge Farm going, we must note the number of breeders competing each year for this award is getting smaller each year.  This is not meant to cheapen the Meir's accomplishment.  Hopefully this will change in the future but right now, things are gloomy in the Garden State.

In Federal court, the Judge handling the New Jersey Sports Wagering lawsuit has found the leagues do have legal standing to contest the state statute authorizing sports wagering in New Jersey.  This was expected even by Governor Christie.  What was not addressed was the question of the constitutionality of the Federal law banning sports wagering.  That question will wait until after January 20 when the Feds need to decide whether or not to defend the constitutionality of the law.  While the state can issue a license to Monmouth Park as soon as January 9, I wouldn't suggest anyone plan on placing a legal wager there as I expect either the state to delay issuing a license or the NFL obtaining an injunction against it.

I realize I am a cynic when it comes to this issue, but I suspect if the leagues got a cut of the action, their opposition to sports wagering would melt away  That being said, what puzzles me is how any state can in effect confiscate the rights of the leagues and offer gambling on their games without paying any compensation to the leagues for the right to use these games.  Alas, I imagine this is the beauty of being the government.

Au Revoir Trot/Pace set for December 27.  Call me a sentimentalist, but I love these Au Revoir-type races, where the 14 year olds get one last chance on the track before they head off for retirement.  To see these horses still competing until this age is a testament to their determination and competitiveness.  While they may not be champions in the classical sense of the term, they are champions in their own right. 

A field of five pacers and two trotters (that's correct) will compete in Monticello Raceway's Au Revoir Race this coming Thursday, December 27.  Thanks to the NYSRWB, an exception has been made to allow the trotters to race with the pacers in a wagering event.  As a result of this decision, the trotters draw the inside two posts and sure enough, the trotter Speedy Big Ras is the morning line favorite.  No matter where they finish, here's wishing these seven horses a wonderful retirement from  racing.  May their retirment off the track last as long as their racing campaigns.

Friday, December 21, 2012

The Naughty and Nice List 2012 Edition

Racing as in past years. has Santa watching out to see who has been naughty or nice.  With Santa getting up there in age, he has asked me to come up with a Naughty or Nice list so he can deliver reward those who were good as well as send the coal to those who deserve it. 

So not to break with tradition, here is the list submitted to Santa for his consideration.  First up comes those who were naughty.

  • Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs - I have no problem with offering preferences to PA-sired and horses stabled on the Pocono backstretch, but to offer a preference to those horses stabled in Pennsylvania?  One can only hope the Meadowlands gets slots and has the ability to return the favor leaving Pocono Downs gasping for entries.
  • Plainridge Racecourse President Gary Piontkowski for throwing Walter Case Jr. under the bus when Case applied for a license to race in Massachusetts in 2012.  Piontkowski had no problem going to bat for Case when he was on probation, but now that a slot parlor license is in the mix, it was 'Walter who?'.  Better hope Santa doesn't decide Raynham Park was very good this year because it looks like they want that slot parlor license Piontkowski thought was in the bag for him.
  • The Massachusetts Gaming Commission for turning down Case's license application.  How someone had a license (the predecessor racing commission) a few years earlier and has done nothing wrong since then gets denied a license this past year is beyond me.  Using Case to clean up the commission's own public relations boondoggle is just wrong.
  • Those horsemen at Monticello who took their dirty business off track property when the kill buyers were shown the gate.
  • The NYSRWB for their handling of the Lou Pena case. Yes, a rule is a rule but there is something rotten about the way they handled their investigation. Do the means justify the outcome? I'm not sure and in the long run the courts may not think so either.
  • The New Jersey legislature and Governor Christie for continuing to try to bury the racing industry.  It is one thing to try to help Atlantic City get its groove back (though futile), but to introduce more gaming options for Atlantic City, this time online gaming which will hurt racing further is going overboard.  Here's hoping Santa delivers a State Supreme Court which declares the online gaming bill unconstitutional if Christie signs it.
  • Yonkers Raceway for refusing to open their wallets and move the finish line back to its original spot.  I love half mile track racing but even I can't watch and wager on their races.  Moving the finish line back up the stretch may not allow the outside post positions to win in great abundance but at least it gives them a fighting chance. 
  • The Ontario Liberal Party, need I say more?  Yes, they had the right to end the Slots at Racetracks Program even though their OLG modernization plan defies logic.  That being said, you don't just toss a entire industry under a steam roller the way you did.  A fairer way to end this program would have been to reduce the amount horsemen got over a period of four years; a chance for the industry to truly become self-sufficient.  Santa's thinking about a new Prime Minister. 
  • The Ontario horsemen and tracks.  You are not the innocent victim either.  How much of that slot money did you spend on improving the game for your end customers?  Perhaps if you invested some of that money you wouldn't be in the situation you are in. 

Here is the Nice list:

  • The Badlands Hanover Syndicate who deserves extra, extra treatment for doing their part to prevent the euthanasia of weanlings and broodmares by breeders to avoid paying their stud fee in Ontario.  Santa should deliver the syndicate members a champion or two.
  • Emilio Estevez for deciding to do a film involving harness racing called Johnny Longshot.  Let's not kid ourselves, doing a film involving harness racing is like doing a film on curling.  Santa needs to make sure Estevez gets all the assistance possible in this project.
  • Jeff Gural for beating to his own drum in trying to save racing.  Some people don't like him for what he is doing, but if he was waiting for the rest of the industry to come on board, he may as well close up shop.  Here's hoping Santa delivers Gural the results he seeks.
  • The PHHA (who had nothing to do with the preferences at Pocono Downs) for forsaking higher purses to invest $1.2 million annually in the weekly show PA Harness Week as well as setting aside about $900,000 from their purse account to host the Breeders Crown in 2013.
  • Greg Blanchard, Sarah Imrie et al at The Raceway at Western Fair District.  They work hard to draw interest in their product on and off the track as well as making WFD a destination even when there isn't racing. 
  • Wendi Wiener for treating her horses right.  She recently adopted a horse out right after her horse showed the first time it had enough racing.  No trying to squeeze another race or two out of the horse or dropping it down the conditioned ranks hoping to find a spot or hoping to lose it in a claimer.  Instead, this one person California Standardbred Rescue adopted out a perfectly sound horse ready for a second career.  We can use more owners that listen to what their horses say.  My apologies to those owners who have the same philosophy as Wendi.  If I knew who you were, I would be including you on this list as well.
  • Those horsemen at Monticello who upon hearing what was going on in the backstretch now hold on to those horses instead of selling them to the horse brokers.  Included are those who will put a horse down now if they can't find it a new home to avoid the kill buyer.  No, it's not the ideal situation, but considering the alternative, it is an act of kindness. 
  • Jason Settlemoir's wife for allowing Jason to take on the General Manager job at the Meadowlands in addition to his duties at Tioga, Vernon Downs, the Delaware County Fair, USHWA...., well you get the idea.
  • Trainer Linda Toscano who had a career year in 2012.  While Toscano got nailed for a positive due to the development of a more sensitive test requiring a longer withdrawal time for which neither her veterinarian or her were aware of.  Toscano could have appealed or lawyered her way out of punishment or for a reduction in penalty, but instead she decided to take her lumps under the trainer responsibility rule.and move on; possibly costing her year end awards.  Here's hoping Santa delivers Toscano another career year. 
  • The Breeders who remain in New Jersey.  Lord knows they have every reason to head out of state but they have decided to stick around and tough it out, hoping for a change in circumstances.  Here's hoping Santa delivers their stallions that one foal which forces broodmare owners to take another look at those stallions, delivering them full books.
  • The Monticello Harness Horsemen's Association (MHHA) and Monticello Raceway for once again putting on a great Christmas party for the area's children.  In an area economically disadvantaged, parties like this mean a heck of a lot more than they do elsewhere.  
  •  Joe Faraldo, President of the SOANY.  Yep, your eyes are not deceiving you.  It is no secret that I disagree with Faraldo on numerous matters regarding the state of racing, but kudos are in order regarding his stance regarding the Pena matter (with respect to the methods used by the racing board to hang him) and the NYSRWB's plan to penalize owners for using trainers with checkered pasts.  If the board findsthe engagement of these 'bad' trainers to be that much of a problem then they need to find a way to adjucate fines and suspensions quicker in a timely manner.  I'm all for kicking the cheats out, but there is the right way and the wrong way to do it. 
  • Those rescuers who rescue horses from grade auctions.  It is not an easy job attending these auctions.  Here is hoping Santa provides these rescues with plenty of sponsors willing to give these horses new homes.