Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Big A Quick Pick

Still in Recovery mode for Superstorm Sandy with only an occasional eye on Racing.  However two races on Today's card at the Aqueduct seem worthy of dipping into my NYRA Rewards account for a try.

In Race 3, I will place a Win bet on Mordi's Miracle in a $67K Maiden Race for 3 year olds on the dirt going a mile. This Todd Pletcher Horse has been tough to handle in the Paddock and on the race course, but if he ever breaks well out of the gate today, maybe today is the day. Plus Pletcher doesn't seem to want to give up on this horse, so there must be something there. Watch the board, morning line odds are 6-1 on him.

In Race 8, FiftyFour Forever, (ML 5-2) a 3 year old filly trained by blog favorite Anthony Quartarolo,  runs back on just 5 days rest, having won here going 1 mile at the Big A on 11/29. She cuts back here in distance going 6 1/2 furlongs. She's a pure sprinter and prefers the shorter distances, so should have no problem with the short rest. Also like Villanesca (ML 6-1) cutting back in distance for Trainer K. McLaughlin and CatinaTree (ML 10-1) who figures to go out early with Fiftyfour Forever.  Try these 3 in a Trifecta Box.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Came and Went

Well that was quick.

Seems like the Breeder's Cup came quickly and than left quickly, nary any lingering stories to debate  or talk about.Nothing too surprising of note to come out of the day. I have taken a liking to 2 year old undefeated  Shanghai Bobby, having seen him win up at the Spa this summer but we know how Pletcher 2 year old's do as 3 year old's of late.

 Of course, its' all relative and from my vantage being eyeballs deep in Superstorm Sandy insurance claims, the BC just wasn't all that important to me this year.

Seeing the devastation Mother Nature brought upon the Northeast, especially the New Jersey-New York metro area has been unbelievable. I have been through many storms but this one is the worst. The recovery will be long and painful.

If you want to help the best thing to do is donate money to a legitimate charity organization that can properly allocate your funds to the relief effort. May I suggest the Red Cross at   www.redcross.org or if want a specific racing related charity you can donate to the New York Racetrack Chaplaincy at www.rtcany.org

Be well and have a great Thanksgiving.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Wednesday Quick Pick 3

At Belmont today, let's try the early Pick 3 (Races 1-3).

In Race 1, Colassal Gift (4-1) gets our money. Rick Dutrow, with latest appeal denied, keeps plowing forward. Colassal Gift has been knocking at the door, being on the board in 7 of 12 tries on the turf.

In Race 2, Fast Filly Fiftyfour Forever (3-1), raced gamely two weeks ago in the Dream Supreme Stakes going 7 furlongs and holding on for 3rd. With the cutback to 6 furlongs here and the main speed look for a wire to wire win.

In Race 3 Book Review (4-5) will get most of the money. Let's stay away from the short price and take a stab with Lady Cohiba (5-1). Also keep an eye on the board for Munnings Sister (8-1). She was 1st in the Dream Supreme Stakes (see above Race 2) and will stretch out here in the One 1/16 mile contest on the Dirt.

Pick 3 Races 1-3 : 2/3/1,3

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Thursday Quick Pick

The beautiful weather has awakened me from my blogging slumber of late.

In today's eight race at Belmont, let's place a wager on Mr. Algebra at 15-1 in this 8 horse field for 3 year olds and up going one mile on the Turf in a 25K claimer. After breaking his maiden 4 races back at the spa, Mr. A. treaded into deeper waters, failing to place in 3 straight allowance races. He now drops down and shortens up a bit in distance.

Look for most of the money to flow to the Pletcher entry Caption Webb and the Linda Rice horse English Major who Rice claimed from Pletcher last race back.

We love the drop down angle with Trainer Anthony Quartarolo, who loves to pick his spots and is sporting a a % of 50% at this fall Belmont meet.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Artwork bid for NYRA

 The Times Union in NY Times fashion felt fit to have an above the fold front page story tweaking NYRA. This one is about an art mural commissioned by NYRA focusing on the last decade and featuring 100 racing figures including the recently ousted NYRA CEO Charlie Hayward.

Renowned racing artist Pierre Bellocg  known as "Peb," will recieve $250,000 for the artwork.

Seems the focus on Charlie Hayward in the piece is a little petty and piling on at this point. But should Emperor/Governor Cuomo squash the deal I hereby submit my artwork with a more modest quote of $25 (or best offer).

My piece is probably more crude and simple than Peb's piece. His took months while mine took about 3 minutes this afternoon while I was on a conference call. I chose a simple theme featuring the same 3 NYRA figures Peb had in his piece plus 2 horses. I was going to put in some jockeys and trainers but I that would have took longer than 3 minutes and I wanted to keep the fee at $25.

In addition I offer framed copies of the piece to the general public for a mere $50 plus shipping and handling fees of $9.95. If you act now you get 2 for the price of one (plus shipping and handling of course). If acceptable please contact me to make arrangements for payment. Paypal or cash orders only. 

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Latest NY Times Crusade against Racing

 Another article in the NY Times 2012 crusade against the game of Horse racing . This article  is titled "Racing Economics Collide with Vetenerian's Oath" with a subtitle of " Horse-racing veterinarians are both doctor and drugstore; the more drugs they prescribe, the more money they make"

Typical Doom and Gloom from Author Joe Drape and his Co-author Walter Bogdanich.

The article is lengthy, and the authors jump back and forth throughout the article talking about Thoroughbred's, Quarter Horses, and Standardbred's (Harness).

Do you think the laymen can get through this article, actually read the entire article, and differentiate between the 3 different type of racing?

We all desire a clean game and the best in animal welfare. The issue of the Vetenerian's role should be examined and no doubt a Vetenerian's financial greed sometimes takes over, with or without the Trainer's blessing or knowledge, but where in the NY Times article is the statement about the many caring vetenerian's working under the watching eyes of honorable Trainer's and Owner's?

Maybe include a look into the recent care of the ailing Paynter, owned by Zayat Stables. The public received almost daily Twitter updates about Paynter's medical condition, treatment, complications and expected progress from Twitter Accounts authored by @A.Zayat and @JustinZayat of Zayat Stables.

There is good in the sport, and bad, let's have a balanced look. Banish for life the cheaters and animal abusers and put a spotlight on the owners, trainers and Vets who are doing it right.


Sunday, September 02, 2012

Trying to get off the Duck

We all know Todd Pletcher has the Saratoga 2012 training title wrapped up with enough distance over runner up Chad Brown, but who is at the bottom of  the rankings.

Who has no wins with double digit starts at this meet? One Trainer trying to get shipping money and get off the Duck is William Badgett Jr.

Out of 25 starters he is sitting with a duck with no winners and only 2 seconds and 4 thirds for the meet.

If you  play your betting money figuring Badgett Jr. has to get a win before shipping day, you will have two shots today as he saddles NY Bred 8-1 shot U Whippersnapper in a 20K Maiden Claimer in Race 3 and His Own Beat a Kentucky Bred 3 year old going in a 65K Maiden Claimer at 15-1 in Race 4.

He has nobody running on Monday so today has to be the day for Badgett to get out of  Spa  Town with a win.

Already assured of a Duck at the meet is Barclay Tagg with 0 wins out of 24 Starters. He has no entries today or tomorrow.

Barclay swung for the fences yesterday with 4 entries and coming close with Sky Blazer 3rd in the Bernard Baruch and Jersey Town 3rd in the Forego Stakes.

Monday, August 27, 2012

Dead Heat Travers Reflections

Another Travers, another memorable race. I'll let others argue about the quality of the horses in the race, all  I can say I was among the 46,000 plus fans who witnessed the dead heat photo finish between Alpha and Golden Ticket.

Here's my reflections on this years Travers Stakes Day:

Alpha ended up being a pretty good bet. I know many prior to the race were bashing Alpha, but I felt the combo of Mclaughlin and Dominguez would be enough and publicly (on Thorofan's website) picked him as the winner. Yeah he was the favorite, but getting $4.10 back and doubling your money is not bad.

The betting day for me on the whole was a wash. I had a small win bet on Alpha, but missed all day on my exotics and the 3 pick 4's.

Made a bad audible call on leaving my Clubhouse seats to join friends at the Porch for table seating. We were at the far end of the porch, where the view of the track from our table was not all that good. Plus we got hit with the $18 "seating" fee which applies per person, not per table. My salad dish with 2 bottles of Bottled water cost me $50 not counting the tip (which the waiter expects to be calculated on the lunch and seating fee).

Next time I stick with my usual method of watching the races from my seats and grabbing lunch at the Shack Shack where I grab a Shake Burger and Beer for the more manageable $9 cost and mingle with friends at the Paddock Bar.

The post Travers fun included a fantastic dinner at The Wishing Well where I had Swordfish and for desert the classic creamy New York Style Cheeseake from the Nuns of New Skete followed by drinks downtown at the Adelphi and Sperry's.

So there you have it, another year older for all of us, another Travers Stakes in the books. They are unique, all so different, and this one will be etched in my memory bank forever.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

When is Dead not Dead??

 If your listed as dead, does that mean you are really dead? No, not if the New York State Racing and Wagering Board lists you as Dead.

For the second time in 3 months the New York State Racing and Wagering Board listed a horse on their Equine Breakdown, Death, Injury and Incident Database as an "Equine Death" when in fact the horse was alive.

On Wednesday in the 8th race at Saratoga Race Course, a horse,  Bluember, fell just short of the finish line while racing, throwing Ramon Dominguez to the ground. Another horse, Money in Motion, was injured while he tried to avoid the spill. It looked bad and that evening I checked the Racing and Wagering Board website and found both horses listed as dead.

I questioned the Money in Motion death on Twitter Thursday morning as I thought it was strange no one in the Media reported the death.  Later that day Intrepid writer/reporter/blogger Teresa Genaro confirmed on Twitter that indeed Money in Motion was actually alive and well,  and not dead as reported by the State Racing and Wagering Board.

This same error happened in June when Giant Ryan was injured racing at Belmont Park. Giant Ryan was listed that evening as an "Equine Death" on the website only to later be declared alive and well. That time the Board chalked it up to "basic human error". After that Screw up Board Spokesperson Lee Park reported to Teresa Genaro on her blog ( that:
 “As of this morning we are implementing internal controls to ensure that a second set of eyes sees the information before it is formally published."
Perhaps New York State now needs to hire a 3rd person (complete with union wages and a generous benefit plan) to become involved in the quality control.
Personally I think racing deaths and injuries should be reported and listed on the New York Racing Association website ( How many people are even aware of the Racing and Wagering Board website? Let's be transparent like the NFL where a detailed injury list for every team is reported daily and easily accessible in most daily newspapers and on the NFL website. Accurate, Accountable and Transparent, is that too much to ask?

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Saratoga Sunday Quick Picks

Since this blind Squirrel found two nuts yesterday with my picks, let's keep this party going.

In the 9th Race at the Spa, a 65K Optional Claimer for fillies & Mare going 7 furlongs on the dirt, we have a field of 11. This type of race is what makes the Spa great, a large field with some juicy morning line odds.

Fiftyfour Forever, at 8-1 Morning line odds presents tremendous valve. I would expect her post time odds to be like 4-1 or 5-1 but if her odds stay up anywhere near 8-1 she is a must use in your exotics. Blog Favorite Trainer Anthony Quartarolo is hot with 2 wins from his last 2 starts including yesterday's Nelson Avenue win.

Ode to Sami at 3-1 figures to benefit from the jockey change from Rosie Napravnik to Javier Castellano. Speaking of Jockey changes Royal Sighting, 6-1 ML odds, gets an upgrade with Ramon Dominquez on board for the first time. Be sure to watch the odds board late on this one including looking at Princess Mara, who cuts back in distance and returns to dirt for trainer Dale Romans. Playing with these four horses in your Trifecta's and exacta's could result in some nice payouts.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Saturday Alabama Day Quick Picks

Surprisingly with more than half the meet done, I'm actually $5 in the black this meet, according to the historical wagers tab of my NYRA Rewards account. So, let give out some picks.

In the 5th , a Maiden 65K on the inner Turf at the Spa, you should get a square price on Nelson Avenue whose morning line odds are 6-1. In his last just 10 days ago in a similar 65K, Nelson Avenue placed 3rd at 26-1 odds, part of a $1900+ trifecta. Trained by former Meadowlands Harness Trainer/Driver Anthony Quartarolo, who's had a decent meet with 5 horses in the money out of 8 starters. Quartarolo comes off of a nice win with his last starter, Mr. Algebra, who broke his maiden on Wednesday at 11-1 odds.

In the Alabama, Grace Hall may be much the best but won't get my money at 7-5 morning line odds. My call is on Questing. Coming off a impressive win at the Spa in the CCA Oaks on the first Saturday of the meet at 1 1/8 miles looks like Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin has her primed and ready to take a step up at 1 1/4 miles. If her jock can control the drifting out she did last out, Questing seems the valve play.

Should be a great day, let's hope the showers get out in time and sun prevails.

Monday, August 13, 2012

Half Way Observations at Saratoga

Day 22 of this 40 Day Saratoga meet is now complete.

Here are my mid meet observations and thoughts:

All Sources Handle is up 6.5 % over last year.  I think this year the cards at Delmar have seemed pretty weak, and I think the money has flowed towards Saratoga in kind.

On Track Handle is slightly down when compared to last year at 0.8%. There have been a few brutally hot days so far and a couple of crummy rain days including this past Saturday.

Wagering is slightly up (0.8%) at the Belmont Cafe and Aqueduct Simulcast center.

Long Card equals Long Day.

I love movies, I just don't love them as much when they go over 2 hours, and I don't like race days with 11 and 12 races. It's just too long for the average fan to stay and bet. Saturday was particularly brutal with the feature race, The Fourstardave Handicap, not going off till 6:45, almost 6 hours after the first race. I had to vacate the premises before that race for obligations at home, and I wasn't the only one as a steady stream of patrons walked out with me. 

Especially with the increase in betting at home via the computer, NYRA really has to quicken up these cards to keep attendance up. Yes I know Saratoga is a treasure but I can treasure it in 5 hours and don't need 6.

The food options have been great this year at the Track with the addition of Bettie's Cakes (pretty good), Poutines at Shirley's Restaurant (very good) and a Beer Garden near the Carousel.

My personal favorites remain the Shake Shack, the relocated Hattie's and the Paddock Bar (officially titled "The Bar at the Post").  This 3 year old bar is so popular its' hard to remember it not being there.

All in all, it's Saratoga so despite the long race days it's Saratoga.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Rule of 3

I've always been puzzled by the Giveaway Days at Saratoga. The Giveaway Days are the most attended Days of the meet, but not really. The problem is the track is reporting "spinners", those that pay multiple admissions to get multiple tickets for extra giveaways.

It's amazing to watch many of these people, walk in, pay multiple admissions, get in line for the giveaways and walk out of the track by 1:00 pm even before the first race goes off.

How many actual people were there? Or more importantly what is the effect on handle.

I use the Rule of 3. Expect no more than a third of the spinner reported attendance to actually place a bet on a giveaway day.

The reported Giveaway attendance yesterday was 50,727 with an on track handle of $3,071,438. That amounts to per person wager amount of only $60.54.

Compare this to the prior Sunday, where there was no giveaway item. The attendance was a modest 18,425 however the handle was $3,021,079. This is only $50,000 less than the giveaway Sunday handle yet there was  32,302 less bodies at the track that day. The  per person wager amount was a healthy $167.83.

Using the Rule of 3 for Giveaway Days the formula works out like this

Attendance (50,727) divided by 3 = 16,909 people who actually attend the track on a giveaway day AND actually place a bet.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Saratoga 2012....Looking forward to...

Looking forward to:

1.Opening Day, just before Race # 1: Having the crowd join race caller Tom Durkin with his classic "and They're off" call. Never gets old.

2.Betting that first race at the windows: Even though I have a Smartphone and can bet through my phone via NYRA rewards, or try the new Wi-Fi betting platform at the track, there is something to be said for betting at the windows and holding that piece of paper in your hand.

3.People watching: See # 1 -never gets old

4. Eating: Gambling is not enough for me. Yours truly likes to eat while at the track. A Hattie's Chicken Sandwich (yes I will walk the extra distance to the new spot in the Carousel area) and a Shake Shack Burger are a must.

5. Drinking: Yours truly also likes to drink (responsibly). The Bar at the Post (aka the Paddock bar) serves this purpose nicely, complete with betting machines right on the bar. Also looking forward to checking out the new Beer Garden in front of the Carousel.

6. Post Race Saratoga Dining: Big fan of Maestro's, Wishing Well, One Caroline St. Bistro and Hattie's. Looking forward to trying out new spots including Boca Bistro (on Broadway).

7. Free Parking spots downtown: I have the perfect spot, free and so close to Broadway it's almost comical how many people don't know you can park there. Went to dinner last Saturday night, the town was packed but cruised into my trusty spot with no problems while many drove around in circles looking for a spot.  

8. Seeing Friends: It's amazing how many people now bet from home year round via the computer, tablet or Smartphone. Many of us have horse racing friends through Twitter or other social media who we never actually meet or see. But this is one track they do come out for, and Saratoga is often the only time I see these people and it's a treat to socialize with them.

Friday, July 06, 2012

The End of Hattie's at Saratoga Race Course?

Can it be, Say no for this would be Blasphemy.

Foodie writer Steve Barnes of the Times Union (Albany, NY) reports that the Hattie's Trackside location has been moved this year to the Carousel Area. Barnes describes the new area as an "out-of- the -way former crepe spot". Must of been out of the way-I never saw it. Crepe Spot? Who eats crepes at a race track anyway?

Barnes further reports that Hattie's owner Beth Alexander thinks the location is "horrible".

The Hattie's former location at the track was located in a very convenient spot in the backyard just outside the escalators leading to the 2nd floor of the clubhouse. As I wrote on this blog in 2010
"I find a Hattie’s fried chicken sandwich eaten around the 6th race or so has just the perfect mix of ingredients to give me the proper nourishment to continue on for the remainder of the card."

Now what to do should Hattie's go forward on their threat to stay away due to the expense involved in making the new space work? Sure, there is still the Paddock Bar and Shake Shack, but there is no duplicate to the splendid, messy, calorie filled, almost orgasmic inducing Hattie's fried chicken sandwich. Nothing available at the track comes close, nothing, nada, zilch.

Is this what we can expect from the Governor Cuomo (aka Emperor Cuomo) controlled "new NYRA". Give me the old NYRA than. Ousted CEO Charlie knew a good meal when he saw one and surely would have never moved Hattie's.

The Government can't run the DMV, we expect them to know good food?

Monday, June 25, 2012

Grading the 2012 Saratoga Giveaway Items

The Giveaway days, aka non-betting cheap people bumping into you at the Track Day, continues under the watch of Governor aka Emperor Cuomo. Here's my quickie review and grade for the 2012 items (photos of items released by NYRA):


Love the Galloping Horse added to the Bill-looks a lot classier than past years ball caps

Grade: A-


A checkered color mat with a snazzy looking handle-look's okay enough to keep in your car for spontaneous use.

Grade: B


Does this look Tall, slender and tapered to you? Nope, plus a true Pilsner glass has an even taper without curvature. This looks more like a pint glass to me. Can we expect Cuomo to blame exiled NYRA CEO Charles Hayward for this one? For the lack of accuracy the item should get an F, but lets face it, this is a beer glass after all and I expect a large turnout for this misnamed item.

Grade: C


This Wal Mart quality item probably costs about 60 cents to make. Will look good enough till you try to wash it and run it through the dryer. After one wash/dry cycle it will make your snuggie appear high quality.

Grade: C

Monday, June 11, 2012

Post-Belmont Stakes 2012 Thoughts

 In a sentence great day, great time. The Gang of Four I was part of arrived well before race #1 and once again Beautiful Belmont Park did not disappoint.

Belmont is one of the few tracks where even on big stakes days you can feel comfortable and not overwhelmed by the crowds. After 100,000 or so the place starts to feel tight, but Belmont comfortably handles a crowd of 85,000 plus.

Emperor Cuomo, you missed a good time.  

Here are some photographs taken by yours truly with my Blackberry cell phone camera:

Loved seeing John Ortiz (back to the camera) aka Turo Escalante of the prematurely cancelled series Luck, throughout the day bounding through the Belmont Park like a kid on Christmas Day.

The vastness of this track never ceases to amaze me. Here is a photo of the final turn taken before the 1st race of the day.

                       Union Rags warming up on the track before the Belmont Stakes Start

                                            Atigun looked real good pre race

                                         Mike Smith up on Paynter approaching the starting gate

                   And down the stretch the come with Union Rags coming up on the rail.

All this access with no seats and simply paying Clubhouse Admission pricing and walking around. What a game.

Thursday, June 07, 2012

11 Reasons I'LL Have Another won't win the Triple Crown

There is a lot of talk about the number 11 going into the 2012 Belmont Stakes. Numerology fans rooting for I'll Have Another's bid for the Triple Crown point out that there have been 11 Triple Crown Winners, 11 horses have failed in the final leg at Belmont Stakes since Affirmed won the TC, and now I'll Have Another is in the 11 hole for the Belmont.

With that in mind here is 11 reasons why I'll Have Another will not be a Triple Crown horse:

1. Gallops only since the Preakness, no official workouts.

2 He really looked at the end of his tether going 1 1/4 in Kentucky Derby effort

3. Early pace will be strong enough to soften up I'll Have Another

4. Looks like a horse that will be decelerating last 1/8th a mile in a race where others (like Dullahan) will be accelerating

5. He's had 2 near perfect trips at Derby and Belmont-think he really get another?

6. Enough Bad Karma around Horses Connections to screw it up (i.e. Big Brown Factor)

7. Rookie Jockey

8. Big enough field for race riding against I'll have Another to be a factor

9. Great horses win the Triple Crown, not very good horses

10. If he loses, that eliminates all the "what will this win do for the game" articles. Enough of a reason alone for him to lose

11. The most important # is 11 and there are 11 other horse in the race and one of them will be the winner

UPDATE: I'LL Have Another was scratched on Friday with a Tendon Injury to his left front leg

Monday, May 28, 2012

New York Racing-On the Track

After a few weeks of NYRA bashing complete with Emperor Cuomo and New York State taking control of New York Racing, it was nice to change the focus of New York racing to where it should be-On the Track. For all the bad headlines about NYRA, about bad trainers and possible drugged horses, here was a Memorial Day which showed how good New York racing can be.

The topper of the day was the Met Mile, a small but spectacular field of 6 runners and run they did. How fitting was it that Shackleford was able to outlast a fast charging Caleb's Posse with a $1.33.30 winning time in the mile race. I love the Shack, and I'm a big fan of his trainer Dale Romans.

While other trainers hold back their horses and pick their spots, Romans does no such thing with the Shack. Shack, as Andy Serling stated on Monday's MSG Network coverage of the race, comes to the dance every time. In an era where critics abound and often state that horses are over raced, how come Shackleford shines under a very busy schedule? Maybe because he is a gifted animal who loves to work and compete. This is a horse who ran every leg of the Triple Crown series last year, something only two horses are trying this year (I'll Have Another and Optimizer). He also had a busy schedule in 2012, most recently a win in the Grade II Churchill Downs Handicap on Kentucky Derby Day.

Attendance was up also at Belmont Park, at a healthy 10,577 and total handle for the day was $14,444,665. So, racing is far from dead, especially in New York, where you can see the best horses run in the best races, despite what one may read from the critics. Now it's on to the Belmont Stakes, another big New York Day.

As for Shackleford, expect this gallant horse to show up next in Saratoga, looking to dance in the Whitney.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Hey What about Me?

Not your usual Preakness Stakes week. Usually the Kentucky Derby Winner gets all the ink, with speculation on if this will the year for a triple crown and who if anyone can beat him. Not this year.

The Preakness week has been dominated by articles about Bodemeister, the runner up in the Derby. In fact if you landed on earth this week after being away awhile, you would have thought Bodemeister won the Derby. And in these parts of the East, specifically New York, the media, web and twitter have been dominated by Takeout-Gate and the resulting duel between New York State and NYRA. With Emperor Cuomo and his Racing and Waging Board political hacks gunning for NYRA there has been plenty of ink and computer strokes dedicated to this story.

 So in the background goes Derby winner I'll Have Another, trying to nose in front of the Bodemeister and NYRA stories. Will he do it. Sorry I'll Have Another. I'll have him on my exotic tickets, but see Went the Day Well crossing the line first, followed by Bodemeister with I'll Have Another fighting for the bottom of the ticket.

Thursday, May 03, 2012

Kentucky Derby Exotic Angles

Everybody has their own Derby betting methods. Most are wrong. So lets have fun with some different betting angles:
The BC Juvenile Replay Superfecta: Bet the 1st 4 finishers of this race: Hansen, Union Rags, Creative Cause, Dullahan
The Upside Down BC Juvenile Superfecta: Bet the last 3 finishers from the BC Juvy : Alpha, Daddy Long Legs, Prospective
Father, Father Exacta: Daddy Nose Best, Daddy Long Legs
The I Told You so Exacta: Prospective, Rousing Sermon
The Control Freak Exacta: Alpha, Take Charge Indy
The Who trains that horse? Exacta: Done Talking, Trinniberg
The Shut up and Drink Exacta: Done Talking, I’ll Have Another

Monday, April 30, 2012

The Latest NYRA Mess

Well, I guess this NYRA mess makes for more interesting reading than the over analysis of who is going to win the Kentucky Derby, especially the whole involvement of Daily Racing Form publisher Steven Crist. I went back and read some of the reporting on the issue when the NYRA takeout story broke in December of 2011. I found this nugget from the ever astute Alan Mann over at his Left at the Gate blog in his 12/22/11 post. Mann, writing about Steven Crist not noticing the takeout withholding mistake, said this:
"If he missed it, then I suppose anyone could have. Still, the whole thing is really kinda weird."
Yep, weird it is. Looks to me like Crist has some explaining to do.

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Searching for the Oaks

I tried looking on the NBC Sports Network website to see if they would be covering the Kentucky Oaks. The website had plenty of Hockey news on the front page, and with they NBC covering the NHL, that makes sense. But I figured there would be a banner ad or something on the homepage which would link to the Kentucky Derby week coverage. After all it is only a week away. No such luck. There is a TV listings link which takes you to a page with the weeks TV listings for the NBC Channels. You can than hit another link to finally get to the page listing by specific day. I learned the coverage on Oaks day goes from 5-6 pm. I guess that means we just get the Oaks race and maybe one race before that. I don't know for sure as the website gives no further information. I am sure I could find out by checking out other sites or contacting the Churchill Downs Media office, but how many people, especially the casual fans, want to go through all those steps?

Sunday, March 25, 2012

HBO's Luck-Series Finale Thoughts

HBO's Luck is now over for good with the season and now series finale airing Sunday night. As a racing fan, the last few weeks have been like a continual nightmare, the really bad one that keeps going forever, the one you think you will never wake up from.

First we hear of the sad news that HBO, under pressure from PETA after a 3rd Horse fatality, quickly decides to cancel Luck. On the real life tracks, we read of the deaths this season on the inner track at Aqueduct. And than, the NY Times this past Friday ran a front page story titled "Death and Disarray at America's racetracks".

With all this dreary news running circles in my head I watched the finale of Luck.
Although it was filmed with the assumption a second season would be coming, the season one finale does serve nicely as a fitting ending to the series.

Many early viewers of the show thought the show was dreary and dark, but there was a lot of hope and optimism in the final episode, from the competitive but mutual admiration of the two trainers, Turo and Walter as their horses finished one, two in the Big Stakes race, Ace reuniting with his grandson, and the Foray Stables Foursome and friends happily celebrating a big win with Mon Gateau.

I admired the many wonderful actors in this show, especially John Ortiz, who could have simply kept quiet after the cancellation news, but instead increased his many tweets (@johnortiz718) about the show, continued to show up for #LuckChat Twitter chats (final session on Monday 3/26 from 9-10pm) and personally tweeted thanks to many viewers who contacted him via Twitter.

As I said in my last post, I can't question HBO's decision to cancel the show. The deaths to the horses happened and despite the care that was taken by the production crew, the reality of what happened had to be dealt with. For some background on the treatment on the horses on set, Ray Paulick in his Paulick Report, details the great care the production crew took with the horses.

How fitting then that the show ended with just one actor on the screen, the equine actor playing 3 year old colt Pint o' Plain, standing peacefully in his stall. We see this beautiful horse poking his head out of the stall, and than the screen fades to black.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Out of Luck

After a reported 3rd death of a horse during the production of HBO's Luck, the series is no more, abruptly cancelled. The final episode of the 9 episode season 1 will be shown this Sunday March 25th. Work had begun on Season 2, but Season 2 is a no go.

No one wants to see animals hurt and not being on the set or knowing the safety protocols in place, I can't possibly argue in good faith that the series should continue. I trust the right decision was made.

I feel saddened for all involved including the fine actors involved. Particularly Richard Kind, John Ortiz and Kevin Dunn who all shined among the large cast.

I've read on the various websites and Twitter that the show was boring or uninteresting. Well TV is art and opinion of art is just that, we all have opinions and its all subjective. It is interesting to note that many of the critics watched only the 1st episode. As any fan of creator David Milch knows, his shows evolve over time with almost every spoken line in one episode a key to be remembered in future episodes. (Syntax is how I know, Syntax!)

Some found the show depressing and saw the characters as "down and out". I'd argue the shows characters were not down and out at all, but rather real people just like the many folks I've met over the years at the track. Look at the evolution of the 4 gamblers who were labeled simply degenerates by critics of the show. Had the critics stuck around to watch these 4 characters develop they would have seen they were more than that, 4 men with dreams and depths of emotions who loved not just gambling but the animals they bet on as well as each other.

What is so ironic with the cancellation is that with each episode you saw how much the human characters really cared for these horses. Last weeks episode faded to black with Dustin Hoffman's character sitting in his bed late at night watching on his laptop via webcam his prized 3 year old horse in his stall.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Luck Starting to Payoff

In our last post yours truly defended HBO's Luck. We argued that these type of series take investment of time and patience. Often it is difficult to see the depth of each character and where they are going but if you stay with it you will be rewarded.

After 5 episodes the payoffs are starting to come in. We now see that these characters are not purely one dimensional, they all have a story to tell. As for the track itself the last two episodes featured beautifully shot races. We all could quibble about the "reality" of the series but I'm enjoying it thus far.

Reviews since Episode 2 seem to be trending positive and twitter interest seems high as evidenced by the Luck Chat series on Monday Nights at 9 on Twitter (enter hastag #LuckChat). The Chats include series regular John Ortiz (Turo Escalante) and Chantel Sutherland among others. If your around Twitter at that time, check it out.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Defending HBO's Luck

Two episodes in for the HBO series Luck and many critics abound, calling it slow, boring, hard to understand, etc.

Maybe because I'm a David Milch (creator of Luck) fan I knew to expect slow character development. I loved his Deadwood series on HBO but watching the show took dedication to the many plot lines and story telling. I'm also a big fan of HBO's series in general, and a lot them also took time. Remember how many times you watched a Soprano's episode, and complained about the lack of action and confusing endings? And how many people missed the brilliance of the HBO series The Wire because they bailed early, confused by the many characters and plots.

These type of shows take investment of time in exchange for a build up and subsequent payoff. Yes reading tweets on twitter will give you an instant payoff but sometimes wading through a long book is worth the later payout.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Luck on HBO gets 2nd Season Go Ahead

After Just one episode Luck on HBO has been renewed for a second season. Based on some articles and blogs I read reviews were mixed. Some were displeased with the the characters in the show, feeling they were stereotypes and exaggerated caricatures. But remember stereotypes are there for a reason, they are usually true.

I have a few friends who are hard core racetrack gamblers who resemble the 4 slovenly gamblers who won the Pick 6 in the first episode. Anytime I have ever been to a track and retreat from the stands to watch the race from an inside simulcast TV, I see folks just like the gamblers portrayed on Luck. I love those guys-they are part of the fabric of the track and to omit them would be a white washing of who really inhabits the track. I also liked that the lingo was not dumbed down for a mass audience.

On the down side, I found the Dustin Hoffman character to be a bit over the top and his front man Dennis Farina, seemed almost too naive to be picked by the Hoffman character as a front man. But HBO dramas typically have a slow character build so lets see what happens.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Breeders' Cup Goes to NBS Sports

Really no surprise ESPN is out as the TV outlet for the Breeders' Cup coverage but I did figure it would happen not now but after their contract ran out in 2013. Over the 6 years ESPN had the Breeders' Cup their overall Horse racing coverage wilted, and this past year it really seemed they were just mailing it in.

So what to expect as the Breeders' Cup moves to NBC and NBC Sports Network (formerly Versus):

Not much bad news, although I will miss Jeannine Edwards and Kenny Mayne. Edwards never mailed it in and the humorous Mayne loves the game. Also, not everyone has the NBC Sports Coverage as part of their cable or satellite subscriptions. With less overall viewers the TV ratings might actually be down this year with the change.

However there is plenty of Good:

We get to keep seeing Randy Moss, who worked this summer for NBC on their "Summer at Saratoga" broadcasts.

We also get better branding as NBC now has the complete Triple Crown Races, a bunch of derby prep races, Saratoga racing coverage and now the BC. Now we know when it comes to racing we can turn on NBC or NBC Sports Network throughout the year, instead of wondering what or where we can find the TV coverage. As NBC continues to grow the NBC Sports Network Channel, it seems they will build it around several sports including Hockey and Horse racing. No longer will it be the ugly stepchild that ESPN treated it like.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Mirahmadi's in the Gate

As we enter 2012 Frank Mirahmadi will be the new race caller at Oaklawn Park taking over for Terry Wallace. Opening Day is January 13, 2012. Frank was the backup announcer to Wallace last year. He has called races all over and also at a stint as an racing analyst at TVG.

People's favorite announcers come down to the style of race calling you like. I like Frank as I like his style of exciting, upbeat and often funny race calls. His comedic talent comes out very easily and is often used in his races. Frank is also a great voice impersonator doing the voices of Rodney Dangerfield, Jack Buck, Hank Stram, Andy Rooney, and the late Kentucky Derby caller Luke Kruytbosch among others.

Some like the straight,by the book, calling the numbers type race call. I'll take the enthusiastic race call spiced up with humour as seen in the calls of NYRA's Tom Durkin. I will bet a Finger Lakes race maybe 2 or 3 times a year, but I do find myself listening to the race calls of Finger Lakes race caller Tony Calo because of his excitement and humour. This is what we will get with Mirahmadi at Oaklawn and that's good for the game.