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Sunday, June 30, 2013

Sunday Notes and Thoughts from Pocono

Here are some thoughts from the stakes action at Pocono Downs last night.  Captaintreacherous was simply amazing last night,  I must admit I am not sure how he managed to pull off his victory in the Max C. Hempt Memorial last night at Pocono in 1:49.2 on the off track.

And what more can be said about Foiled Again, the $5 million horse who won the Ben Franklin FFA in 1:49.2 on the sloppy track?  I've said it before and I will say it again, he reminds me of Rambling Willie.  For those who are thoroughbred fans, he reminds me of Forego (now I am showing my age).

New Yorkers need to contact their legislators to amend the racing law in the state to allow pari-mutuel racing on RUS events.  At the present time, it is illegal to even offer purses in non-wagering events; each horse currently must be paid the same to participate regardless of result.  Granted it may still take a little time to present a product on a regular basis in overnight events, but it takes time to change laws so we need to start now.  Besides, RUS can only increase interest in the sport.

A perfect example of watching the board before wagering came in the Earl Beal Jr.Memorial when Corky went off at 7-1 and won in 1:54.3.  I understand Smiling Eli was the favorite, but to me, there is no way he should have gone off at even money.  Of course it helps that Royalty For Life blew up before the quarter.

In early action on the card, Arch Madness looked more like the horse of old but still finished second to Uncle Peter in the first race Preferred Trot as Uncle Peter ran down Arch Madness to win in a world record 1:50.3.  Hard to believe Arch Madness is still winless this year; his first victory should come any time now.   In the Ben Franklin consolation, Bolt The Duer was victorious in 1:47.4 with Sweet Lou finishing third in the race.

Admittedly I don't watch Pocono action that often so last night provided me the opportunity to watch Lou Pena in action.  Pena was one for three last night.  His UTR is over .300 thus far.

The Ontario Horse Racing Transition Committee has come out with a draft report as to how racing should be supported in Ontario on an ongoing basis.  The current suggestion is there be a dollar for dollar match on commissions derived from live racing in the province with some consideration possible for foreign dollars wagered on the domestic product.  Wagering on races in the United States or elsewhere would not be eligible for matching.

There is also some talk of having an Ontario Live Racing group, a group which will be in charge of distributing purse money depending on the demand for the product at local tracks as well as in charge of branding the product.  It would not be far fetched to see them become like Harness Racing New Zealand which controls all aspects of racing in New Zealand.  There is talk about some lotteries or other gambling products to support racing.

Of concern to Ontario breeders is the potential to de-emphasize or end the Horse Improvement Program which puts the Ontario Sires Stakes and breeders awards at risk.  At this point though, this is only a draft for discussion purposes.

The Meadowlands handle increase continues to impress, even with the stakes action last night at Pocono Downs which pulled the best drivers away for the evening.  An 87% increase on Friday and a 43% increase on Saturday from last year.  Now granted last year was the bottom at the Meadowlands and handle really had nowhere to go but up, but I don't think even these results could have been forecast with or without the betting consortium.  As to the impact of the betting consortium, the impact is not as big as people think; the vast majority of the handle increase comes from regular gamblers.  Handle on track is also making a turn around; it's not just simulcasting.  Now I don't know if or how much the purse account was subsidized at the start of the meet, but I wold think a purse increase should be forthcoming.

Congratulations to Greg Blanchard upon being promoted to Raceway Manager at The Raceway at Western Fair District.  Greg has been one of the hardest working assistant general managers around and will continue to do a great job for WFD as it moves on in the post-slots era.

While it is great that New Jersey has established the Standardbred Development Fund to promote boarding and the foaling of standardbreds in the state, it does come at a cost; the loss of the Green Acres program at Freehold Raceway whose funding will now be used for the SDF.  As a result, by 2016 there will be no NJSS events at Freehold unless the schedule is revised.  Personally, what I would do is race the NJSS for 3yos at the Meadowlands and the 2yo events at Freehold to allow 2yos more time to develop before they compete for NJ-sired money.  This could be a win-win all around.


JLB said...

Greg Blanchard is a class act. Two years ago, I sent a horse up to Canada to race in the Ontario Sires Stakes, and he was the announcer at Woodstock Raceway, which did not simulcast its signal. The switchboard put me through to the announcer's booth, and I was able to hear the live race call. In the few moments we had before he announced the post parade, he impressed me as very knowledgeable and vitally interested in the industry in North America.

Anonymous said...


Captaintreacherous raced three times at Pocono this year and I was there for all three. He didn't look like a winner at the head of the stretch in any of them. He didn't even look like a winner in the Hempt at mid-stretch, but how many gears does this horse have? Dominant during his races? No. Super at the end? Yes! I stand in awe of his performances.

As for RUS races, let's hold off on betting. The ones I've watched aren't competitive at all. I enjoy seeing them, but they should remain exhibitions for now.

Pacingguy said...

I agree, I would not want to bet on RUS as it is right now. However, I think legalizing wagering on it would encourage more trainers to take it seriously. With more horses then willing to participate in the sport, the racing secretary would be able to classify these races so they would be more competitive. Right now for the most part you only have 'Open' races; all comers get thrown in together.

Blaine said...

Captain Treacherous has 5 won races this year, 3 on the front end and 2 from a second over position. He's winning off of class and a desire to win. He needs a week off and Alagna knows it because he's hoping there's no elims for the Meadowlands Pace. Don't be surprised if Rockin Amadeus doesn't find his best form at the Meadowlands.

Martyn said...

Can I also add my Congratulations to Greg Blanchard upon being promoted to Raceway Manager at The Raceway at Western Fair District?

You are quite right that Greg has been one of the hardest working assistant general managers around - here is to his continued success.

Well done for highlighting this promotion

Anonymous said...

99% of people who actually WAGER could care less about RUS events. Racing needs to find ways to get folks to BET more, not to become "fans". Hasn't the experiment of "fan development" failed miserably enough for the industry to move on to something that MIGHT prove beneficial?

Pacingguy said...

For the record, I use the terms fans and gamblers interchangeably as I suspect others do. That being said if fan development has failed, so has gambler development.

RUS, when we have it to a competitive enough level will be something that will help gamblers bet more. You can at least put two more horses on the starting gate which gives gamblers more combinations and the potential for greater payoffs. Having horses race to sulky and then another time under saddle will make the sport more variable, helping to make payoffs greater.