Saturday, October 31, 2009

The Grey Ghost

The fun race for this Halloween is The Grey Ghost, a $35,000 Starter Handicap at the Meadowlands Racetrack reserved only to horses grey or roan in color. The race goes a mile and 1/16th on the Turf. Clever marketing by the Big M and the grey on green contrast coming down the stretch should be fun to watch. There are 9 horses entered in the race.

I also have a vested interest in watching the race as I am somehow still alive in the Meadowlands Survival Challenge Contest after 23 Days of racing. 3,602 players have been eliminated with yours truly among the 1,223 players still active.

The Grey Ghost is one of the 3 races on today's card that active players have to pick a horse in as part of the contest. I put my money on Lightning Power, a 7 year old gelding who was 2nd in last years Grey Ghost.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

NYRA returns Funds

This past July I bitched and wined about the customer disservice reserved seating system "lottery" used by NYRA for clubhouse and grandstand reserved seating at Saratoga. Long story short, you mail your check to NYRA in January, you wait to see what tickets you get, and than wait again for any ticket refund. I wondered when I would get my refund from NYRA as I was not "lucky" enough in the lottery system to get my 1st seating choice this year and would be due a refund from NYRA for the difference in price seating. Here is the NYRA official policy:

"Depositing your check does not guarantee seating. NYRA will not mail any ticket until at least twenty days after your check was deposited to permit your check to clear. If you do not receive seating NYRA will return your funds"

My check was mailed to NYRA on 01/19/09. Well, NYRA did "return my funds" (without interest-NYRA keeps that)...10 months later. See below the envelope mailed by NYRA with the 10/20/09 postmark date.

And they wonder why people just stay at home and bet through ADW accounts.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Yankee Omen

Probably no other sport has as much superstitions as does Baseball. Tonight is Game 6 of the American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium. With the Yanks up 3 games to 2, Yankee fans should be confident. However they were up 3-1 against the Angels and lost game 5.

Now the nervous Yankee fan is thinking maybe this is an omen as they can't help let this creep into their mind- the 2004 ALCS against the hated Boston Red Sox when the Yankees led the series 3 games to 0 and than collapsed losing 4 straight. They must close out this series to slay that dragon. Until they do, the nervous and superstitious Yankee fan will look for signs from the heavens, at the ballpark, across the street, or anywhere, that they will win. And they must avoid all ominous signs also.

Let's hope they avoided yesterday's rain soaked NYRA card at Belmont where Fenway Faithful with Ramon Dominguez aboard was an upset winner in the 2 year old $100K Sleepy Hollow Stakes paying $21.40 to win. A further sign of doom could be seen in the 5th race where Joba, a 2 year old running in a Maiden Special Weight, failed to make a late move, finishing a far behind 9th.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Another one off the List

Maybe it is me, but two weeks to the Breeders Cup yet it seems the anticipation for the event is not building much. Maybe it is the West Coast location again or maybe the number of "name" horses who will not be running in 2 weeks.With Macho Again off the trail, I think I can name more horses not going in the BC this year than those that are showing up.

Trainer Dallas Stewart did not want to go west with a horse not 100%, deciding to "do right by the horse". Don't ever think these trainers don't care about these animals. They are treated better than most pet dogs I have met, something I wish those outside the industry would understand better.

Now I am off to read some European blogs so I can learn about some of these horses.

Saturday, October 17, 2009


Racing needs KISS, no not the rock group but the acronym for Keep it Simple Stupid.

Let's be real, we are living in a real dumbed down society where the basic american will not go out of his way to do anything even remotely complicated or try to learn something he believes to be confusing.

Market racing for the exciting gambling game that it is and market it as easy to try, not hard. I mentioned at the start of the month that I had entered the Meadowlands Survival Challenge, a simple game with a simple concept of picking horses to win, place and show with losers going home and winners advancing with real prizes given out at the end. We are now a quarter way through the meet and I am still alive in 669th place out of 4825 original players.

Hats off to Meadowlands Racetrack for getting a mostly NYRA track bettor like me to pay attention to another track on a daily basis. I have just focused on Jockey/Trainer combos I like, pick my 3 horses in the 3 races every day and let the computer tell me who placed where. Suddenly, instead of just looking at the Belmont Results every day, I also check the Meadowlands results...heck now names like Elvis Trujillo have daily meaning to me. This can only lead to more betting at the Big M, using a very simple concept appealing to the basic tenet of the game-gambling.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Oh Well

As Sea the Stars is now retired, all pre-race speculation on whether he would run in the Breeders Cup Classic is now gone. So instead of talking about a potentially spectacular BC Classic field of Sea the Stars, Zenyatta, Rachel Alexandra, and Summer Bird, the air is out of the balloon and talk has shifted to who will win the Horse of the Year. So maybe no one is talking about the Breeders Cup, but the various horse racing channels of chatter have filled up with who the Horse of the Year should be.

People say horse racing is dying, but I see this type of debate as evidence it is not-sure seems like people care to me. I love these debates, it's like the Mays/DiMaggio/Snider debate, it just goes on and on depending on who you love and why.

What seemed a month ago to be a lock for Rachel Alexandra has tightened up with Summer Bird taking the Jockey Cup Gold Cup against older males and Zenyatta winning another one last week.

Over at the Paulick Report there is a Poll running asking who should win the HOTY if Zenyatta runs in the BC Classic and wins it? At last look 55% go with Zenyatta, 41% for RA and 4% for Summer Bird. Not much love for Summer Bird, but what if he were to win the BC Classic? And if someone else besides Zenyatta and Summer Bird win the the BC Classic, does Rachel still get the nod? As awesome as she is, if RA wins the HOTY she would do so without ever racing the "classic" distance of a 1 mile and a 1/4.

Friday, October 09, 2009

No Surprise

In the least surprising news of the week, Jess Jackson released a statement today confirming what everyone knew-That Rachel Alexandra is done for the year.

Sure I'd love to see her make a go of it in the Breeders Cup, but Jackson just won't send her out west to race on the fake stuff.

She had in a year what most horses never see in a career-8 races, 8 wins, 5 Grade 1 wins, 3 of them against the boys. I look forward to her 2010 campaign.

As for racing this weekend, ESPN Classic will show 3 races from Oak Tree at Santa Anita starting this Saturday at 5 pm- The Goodwood Stakes, Lady's Secret Stakes, Oak Tree Mile Stakes, as well as the Shadwell Turf Mile Stakes from Keeneland. The one that interests me most is the Goodwood Stakes-I have a feeling Colonel John is due to pop one and I'll probably take a long look at Tiago also.

Wednesday, October 07, 2009

Saratoga Expands to 40 Days-Good??

By now you have probably read/heard that NYRA has announced today that they will expand the 2010 Saratoga meet to 40 days.

As a fan I always wish I could wake up every day and go to the Spa, and living close by, it would be easy for me to do-but I think I love the meet so much because it is fairly short. I am old enough to remember when the meet was 24 days, than it expanded to 30, than 36 and now 40. When I think of 40 I think of fasting, not Saratoga.

I thought the expansion from 30 to 36 days was too much. The 5 week meet seemed just about right. With the expansion to 6 weeks, it seemed that that all the air was let out of the balloon once the Travers was over. At 40 days, I can see the meet feeling a little tiresome. I think part of what makes Saratoga special is that it is supposed to be short, a boutique meet of 30 days or so of large fields and a bunch of stakes races. Now at 40 days , it is danger of feeling less special with a bunch of non-stakes races filling up the day.

What makes it so unique is that every year we wait, than it is here, and than- Wham!- it is over...or at least it used to be that way. Now the short meet is close to being a season.

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Sour Grapes

Very interesting post race quotes following the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup win at Belmont by Summer Bird. Despite accurate observations from early one, such as this from Foolish Pleasure, critics are still here. This from Quality Road Jockey Johnny Velazquez:

"I think my horse is better on a dry track. I would like to see both horses on a dry track to see which horse is the best horse. "
Quality Road trainer Todd Pletcher had this to say:

"Summer Bird relishes this type of service. Sometimes you get lucky and it rains when you need it and sometimes it doesn't."
I guess Pletcher and Velazques have decided to throw out the Belmont Stakes win by Summer Bird over a dry and fast track. At this stage the argument is moot, the answer is in the scoreboard and the scoreboard shows 3 Grade 1 wins over both wet(The Travers, JCGC) and dry (The Belmont Stakes) surfaces. Game over.

Friday, October 02, 2009

Survive and Advance

Grand Avenue

I'll never understand the logic of playing slots or the lottery as oppossed to sports gambling and gambling on the ponies-to me the latter is much more engaging, is a game of skill (with luck thrown in) and entertaining.

Yesterday was opening day at the Meadowlands Racetrack in Jersey and I survived Day one of the Meadowlands Survival Challenge. The premise is simple, pick one horse in each of pre-selected 3 races per race day, and you advance if you pick up a 1st, 2nd or 3rd in any race. If no one falls in the money, you are out.

Playing under the moniker of SaratogaSpa, I stand 1842 out of 4825 players. When it comes to betting, I pretty much play the NYRA tracks only, save for the Breeders Cup, the Triple Crown Series and an occasional odd bet thrown down once in a blue moon at other tracks. So, this contest will be a real challenge.

I love games like the Meadowlands Survival Challenge. and believe all racetracks should set up these "Survival" type games on their respective websites. It creates interest, draws people to the website everyday, and I am sure increases handle with real bets thrown in.

Between playing the challenge and playing/watching the great 11 race card at Belmont on Saturday, this will be a full horseplaying weekend. Head over to out TBA home page for all the Belmont entries, picks and PP information.