Tuesday, November 12, 2013

A word on Moran

It is with sadness that I note the passing of award winning journalist Paul Moran, dead at only 66.
He was a wordsmith till the end with his last column published on the ESPN website on 10/28/13.

New York City metro readers of old will remember him from Newsday, back in the day when the NY Post, NY Daily News and Newsday all had multiple pages on racing every day. That's almost all gone now as are the days of racetrack patrons walking around the track with the entries and writer selections cut out from their favorite NY tabloid sticking out of their hand or back pocket. 

Here in upstate NY I can still read the daily entries and selections of the NYRA tracks in my local paper of choice, The Times Union, but how much longer will that last?

I will miss Moran and his way with words and his biting wit that would shine through in his columns. The game goes on, just now without one of its' best writers.

Saturday, November 02, 2013

Breeders Cup 2013 Halftime Thoughts

Day One of Breeders Cup 2013 is in the books. Here are my thoughts thus far:

Track Bias anyone? I'm no expert but looked like a speed track to me. Following those who do seem to know on Twitter it seemed most agreed track was souped up for speed.

 And Todd Pletcher had this to say after watching the Dirt Mile : "“This track is so speed favoring and everyone is just send, send, send. It changes everything.”

Watching on TV the crowd seemed full but not that lively. Attendance listed at 35,833 but I saw plenty of empty seats.

NBC did  ok with Day 1 broadcast. Plenty of coverage before each race of the Paddock and Post Parade with Odds constantly running on bottom of screen. Randy Moss and Jerry Bailey did usual good jobs.

 But don't understand the purpose of the miles per hour time shown during the race. Why do this when the viewer is used to seeing split times all year long watching simulcast races? 

Friday, October 25, 2013



As the Breeders Cup 2013 version fast approaches, Here are some thoughts from this neck of the woods:

Things go up, things go down. Maybe you caught Keith Olberman's show on ESPN2 this week about baseball television ratings. In 1971 37 Million people watched a Sunday afternoon Pirates World Series Game 3 win over the Baltimore Orioles. There were 61 million people in the United States at the time.

The 2013 World Series average game so far has about 12 million watching out of 300 million people.

But we live in a different world now, flooded with endless choices of entertainment including cable systems that gives you hundreds of channel choices as opposed to the 5 channel choices you had in 1971. We could do anything at anytime, between our TV's, computer and Smartphone it is all there at our fingertips. Today a weekday, I can choose from 24 different live sports events from college football, Pro Hockey, Pro Soccer, Golf, College Hockey, College Soccer, NBA Exhibition and more to watch on my cable system. Tomorrow, Saturday, that number will go over 100.  Throw in non sports entertainment choices and the choices are in the thousands.

Baseball, like Horse Racing is still very popular and those who love it will do so devotedly. When considering the other choices out there, it's actually amazing how both games have endured and how, in Racing, how many people weed through all the choices and choose to watch and bet on it.

Friday, August 23, 2013

The Midsummer Derby-The Travers Stakes

With clear skies and comfortable temperatures the place to be on Saturday, August 24th, 2013 will be Saratoga Race Course. Yours Truly will be there all day roaming between the Clubhouse, the rail and the Paddock Post Bar area so stop and say Hi if you see me. Always fun to chat with fellow fans.

 This year's Midsummer Derby, the 144th Travers Stakes, features Palace Malice, the Belmont and Jim Dandy stakes winner, Kentucky Derby winner Orb and Haskell winner Verrazano. If you can't make it to the Track, The Travers will be shown live on NBC in a 90-minute broadcast that begins at 4:30 p.m. Eastern.

Who do I like? For me I think Palice Malice continues to mature and move forward and I would not be surprised to see him win rather easily. As for the rest of the spots and my thoughts on the Trifecta, you can read my thoughts over at the Thorofan website

Monday, August 05, 2013

Whitney Weekend Attendance Look

No signs of the Debbie Downer articles after a weekend of spectacular weather at the Spa.

Saturday's Whitney Stakes Day crowd was 33,148 up from last years Whitney attendance of 30,841. 

All Source handle was up from last years $15,966,346 to $16,356,246.

On Sunday attendance was 24,133 up from last years Sunday crowd of 19,762. Handle was also up this year at $9,864,118 from last years $9,431,729.

Word is the Times Union (Albany NY) has abruptly cancelled their expanded investigative upcoming report on Saratoga declining attendance.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Saratoga Attendance and Handle Early Look

After an initial first week that had some folks out on social media questioning the first weeks relatively low Saratoga attendance, things have sprung back to normal this past weekend.

This Saturday's Jim Dandy card had an attendance of 25,375 and Handle of $15,999,087 beating last year's Jim Dandy Day attendance and handle figures of 24,548 and $13,164,684.

Sunday's T-Shirt Spinner #'s were 50,727 in attendance compared to last years first Sunday Spinner Day of 47,132. Total Handle this past Sunday was 10,809,456 beating last years figure of 10,047,879.

The first week figures were down due to one reason-the oppressive heat. Weather will and always has been a huge factor in Saratoga Attendance #'s, particularly affecting the local and day tripper attendees decision on whether or not to show up at the track.This week was beautiful and the numbers jumped back up.

It amazes me each year how the Debbie Downer's of the world will jump on low attendance figures as an indication of something wrong with racing, the Spa, etc. instead of looking at the # 1 factor-weather. More and more people are getting use to the ease and convenience of betting year round via a betting account linked too a smart phone, tablet or desktop. Only the best meets with the best weather days will bring the folks out (as well as the corny Sunday Spinner Giveaways). 

Opening weekend was particularly affected as we were basically in the 3rd week of a sustained heat wave and I really believe people were so frustrated of going out in this heat. But now the heat as broken and all is back to normal at the Spa.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Saratoga Silliness

We all know about the near Perfection of Saratoga.....the splendor, the history, the horses.

For a great look at all that, check out the PBS documentary on Saratoga Race Course which premiered last night locally on PBS in the Capital Region area and will be re-broadcast on
Tuesday, July 30th at &:30 pm, and again on August 23 at 9 pm and August 24th at 10:30 am. You can find out more at the WMHT website here.

As for the silliness:

Do we really need the annual "The Sport is Dying" articles to be run across front pages such as sourpuss Jim Odato's take splashed on the front page of the Times Union (Albany, NY) on Sunday?   You lose me quickly Jimmy Boy with illogical and brain dead comparisons.  Comparing this years non Triple Crown Belmont attempt to a Triple Crown attempted (up until the day before) Belmont regarding attendance drop is just plain dumb.  

No Adelphi Hotel? Yes it is true. The Historic Hotel on Broadway, undergoing a complete renovation, has been closed since the end of last years meet and despite the best wishes of many fans, will not reopen in time for this years meet.  The latest news on the place has the owners awaiting approval on their design plans from the Saratoga Springs Design Review Commission. So cross your fingers and hope all gets finished in time for a 2014 meet opening.

More silliness, the plans include a new glass-enclosed “conservatory” that would replace the popular outdoor rear patio.  How silly.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Grading the 2013 Saratoga Giveaway Items

That wonderful time of the year is upon us, when NYRA holds their annual media event announcing the Promotional Giveaway items. You have 4 of them this year: a T-shirt on  7/28; a Fourstardave bobble head on 8/11; a track model on 8/18; and a beer stein on 9/1. Here (courtesy of NYRA) are photos of the items:

 Bobblehead, Beer Stein and T-Shirt

Here is my first look Grades for the items (A-F basis):


After a year hiatus the Short Sleeve White-T Shirt with Red Lettering is back. Folks missed this item which will feature the classic red Saratoga lettering with the 150 year emblem on the front.

T-Shirt Grade: B plus

Fourstardave Bobblehead:

The Bobblehead giveaway returns, after being removed several years ago. This one is of the popular "Sultan of Saratoga" horse that won at least one race at the Spa from 1987-1994. Although often made fun of, Bobblehead items are always sought after by collectors and look for a large turnout for this one.

Fourstardave Bobblehead Grade: A Minus

Beer Stein: 

Another popular item from years back brought back replacing last years Pilsner glass giveaway (it was actually a Pint glass). Like the Bobblehead item, Spinners will clog up the backyard for this one.

Beer Stein Grade: B

Saratoga Race Course Replica Model:

Look for this giveaway to be a "One and Done" item never to be seen again after 2013. This monstrosity looks particularly tacky and cheap, reminding me of a McDonald's Happy Meal plastic piece of crap Toy that you find years later when you clean out the back of your car. This one heads straight to the $1 table at your local Tag Sale this fall.

Race Course Replica Grade: D

Monday, June 10, 2013

Belmont '13 Observations

Spent the day at Belmont with 2 hard core fans and 2 folks who had never before attended a live flat track. Some Random Post Belmont observations:

Seems like NYRA handled the new security protocols well. We drove and upon getting off our NYRA bus shuttle on the grandstand end took only about 10 minutes to get checked and into the building. Maybe others experienced some delay, but my group had no problems.

I had Palice Malice with a small $5 win bet but made the mistake of leaving him off my trifectas. The game seems pretty simple if you just bet on the "Blinkers Off" angle. That and throw in that Curlin as the sire was late maturing and got better as his 3 year old campaign so wouldn't his son do the same angle and there ya go-easy bet right?

The newbie's with us liked the day at the track and both of them had the usual observations often said by first time visitors to a track:

Wow, I'm amazed at the amount of different type of people who come out here-plenty of young, old, singles, and couples.

The time between races was way too long. Why is that long between races?

Why can't we hear the race caller over the PA System?

Why did we have to pay once for admission and than again for the race program? Shouldn't the program be free with the paid admission?

All in all the newbie's had fun, and I suspect they will be back, but I wonder how over the top the race experience would be for them if customer service issues like free programs and a working PA system were looked at.  

Friday, May 17, 2013

NBC enters the gate for the Preakness

Orb is not the only winner in the Triple Crown Chase this year as NBC Sports had nice ratings for the Kentucky Derby.

Since than I have seen plenty of commercials on both the NBC and NBC Sports Network plugging the Preakness Stakes. NBC is also live streaming  the Preakness day on all media platforms (mobile, tablets, etc) on  their website.

It will be interesting to see if the Michele Beadle Bashing continues across Twitter. We all have complaints with different Sports commentators, play by play guys, commentators and the like but this particular woman appears to annoy some more than would seem appropriate. I first saw the term Beadle Bashing over at Pull the Pocket's blog and I like his take on the matter.

On Derby Day I was at a house party where you couldn't hear the TV Volume anyway so I can't comment on Beadles work. From the media critics columns I read, she did fine in the job she was employed too do. Where I come from, getting hired to do a job and than doing that job as assigned is a good thing.

Do you really want Beadle to start giving you exotic betting tips. It was not like Beadle was the solo host. If you wanted analysis listen to Randy Moss, Jerry Bailey, and others. If you want straight analysis, can't you just tune over to TVG, HRTV, your local OTB cablecast channel, or even just watch the live stream of your betting account or your Horse people full Twitter feed where analysis is 24/7 (and than some)? I don't see where hiring Beadle led to the letting go of any hard core racing analyst on the telecast (it didn't).

 Rather than lie down and take it, Beadle on her Twitter account gave it right back, probably much to the delight of her both her 750,000 plus followers and NBC executives.

Friday, May 03, 2013

A couple Kentucky Derby Plays

Everybody has their methods; here are two suggested bet methods for the 2013 Kentucky Derby:

15-1 Four Horse Trifecta Box

In a race where you can argue any of 10 horses can win it, why not bet a 15-1 morning line horse than a 7-1 horse. A 4 horse 50 cents Trifecta Box will cost you a mere 12 bucks.
Here are Four 15-1 horses that could easily come in:

 Java's War

 Overlay Exacta:

Both Golden Soul and Frac Daddy are better than their 50-1 odds. Golden Soul will have no problem with the distance. Frac Daddy looks like he will like a heavier, slower track, watch the weather.

Wherever you go tomorrow, have fun with it and have a great Derby Day!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

TV Racing-watching another way

Interesting read over at the Pull the Pocket blog titled "Racing on Television: Why doesn't it work better"

The author gives valid reasons as to limited ratings on Kentucky Derby Prep televised races. He surmises that getting over 1 million people to tune into a Derby prep on television where they don't know the horses, the protagonists change, and they can't even gamble on a gambling outcome, in a  gambling sport, seems to be a fundamental barrier to success.

I also would add two more reasons to the limited ratings:

1. Watching sports via traditional cable subscription (some of the Derby Prep races were on the cable only NBC Sports Network) is down overall as US Households are learning to cut the cord and watch sports via other mediums. The # of US Households that have cut out cable TV from their homes is up 3 million since 2007. Also watching sports via the internet, Smartphone or simply "following" the event via a Twitter feed is more interesting to some, particularly those under the age of 30.

2. Except for the actual Kentucky Derby, which draws in many casual fans, the Derby preps are watched mainly by serious fans/horseplayers and those  people are ensconced in the habit of "watching" racing via the internet where they also can bet on it at the same time through the various betting account websites. People are used to watching via their regular avenues-that being TVG, HRTV, a betting account video, or following via Twitter, and not on a Network.

 I love watching the races in high quality HD, which NBC Sports Network provides, but since I also bet on the Derby Prep races, I usually do what I normally do, that being, I use my I Pad or Laptop to log on to my NYRA Rewards betting account, place my bet and follow from there on the live video feed. Breaking habits for just a few weeks every year is not easy.

The Derby Prep TV ratings will continue to be a low number, especially with the growth of people actually following and watching the race on their Smartphone's, laptops, tablets, Twitter Feed and TVG/HRTV, and not on traditional network TV anymore.

Friday, April 12, 2013

Rainy Day Big A Quick Pick

With rain at the Big A I checked the PP's for any quick picks for some Friday Quick Cash.

My eyes have landed on Pumpkin Lane in a Race 8, a Six Furlong AOC race on the dirt for Fillies and Mares 3 year olds and up.

After 3 Allowance attempts last 3 times out finishing 4th, 5th and 4th,  at 1 mile each time she cuts back in distance.

Her last win was 4 races back on a Muddy Track at the Big A on Jan. 13th.

Her Trainer, Anthony Quartarolo, comes off a big win at Parx with 1st time colt Mewannarose winning at 11-1 this past Tuesday.

Look for Pumpkin Lane to be primed and worth a WPS bet at the morning line odds of 8-1

Friday, April 05, 2013

Wacking the Wood

Spring is here and so is the Wood Memorial. Always the highlight of the Big A Spring season for me, but due too the continued squalid conditions on the racing side of the racino, I'll watch on NBC and bet through my NYRA Rewards account. 

You can catch my complete analysis of the race over at the Thorofan site.

But long story short, I really like Elnaawi to finish in the money. I won't try to beat Verrazano as I see no reason why he would take a step back off his thus far perfect record. The distance won't be a problem and I think Pletcher has him tuned nicely for tomorrow.

 But Elnaawi was third at Aqueduct in the Grade II Gotham won by Vyjack, despite a rough trip. He gets a new jockey in Eddie Castro replacing Channing Hill. I like the tasty 12-1 odds and think this horse is an overlay if post time odds remain in that area.

Wednesday, April 03, 2013

On the Turf

Somehow we are now in April and the 1st quarter of 2013 comes to a close.

What is new? Looks like the same old, same old. A bunch of NY State Politicians get to do the Perp walk, and an early Pletcher Derby Hopeful falls off the trail.

Something new at least for 2013 is Turf racing in New York as 3 races are carded today at the Big A. If the weather cooperates and the races stay on the Turf, my eyes are on the 9th race, where a 16 horse field is entered.

Some horses are I am looking at for a nice score:

Suilleabhain at 6-1 ML has 4 prior starts on Turf. Retired at 8-1 ML is a half brother to 3 grass winners and has also been raced prior on the Turf.

Sayaprayerforme, 20-1 on Morning Line, gets the quick turnaround from Trainer Anthony Quartarolo after racing on dirt at the Big A on March 27th, finishing 9th in a Maiden Special Weight. This 3 year old gelding is out of the Dam Nan's Bay who is a daughter of the great turf racer Dynaformer.

If it stays on Turf and all 3 above stay in, lets try the three  in a Trifecta box

Friday, February 01, 2013

February Thoughts

It's February 2013? How did that happen? Oh well, here is what has happened since I last checked in.

Despite the changing of the guard at NYRA, on track deaths at Aqueduct are just about the same as last years rate.

Starting next week Aqueduct goes to a 4 day race week from the usual 5 to address safety issues and preserve a horse population that has dwindled, apparently at least in part due too more aggressive new drug rules that went into effect prior to this meet. For those holiday planners, no live card on Valentine's Day, so you will have to impress your date by taking her/him elsewhere.

Some highly regarded Pletcher horse goes in the Withers this Saturday at the Big A. You can check out my look at the race over at the Thorofan site.

Thursday, January 10, 2013

A piece of history at the Adelphi Hotel

We arrived at 9:00 am on Broadway in Saratoga and already there was a line extending outside the Adelphi Hotel, dozens and dozens of house lined up on the sidewalk. Luckily the temperatures were relatively mild, in the 30's with some sun peeking out. We waited patiently, hoping that when our turn came to enter into the Adelphi Hotel, there would still be some goodies for us to snag.

The new owners of the Adelphi Hotel had an estate sale, selling off about 30% of  its furniture and decorations before they begin the wholesale renovation of the hotel. The good news is that 70% of the furniture and decorations will be put back where they were once the renovations are completed. And even better news, the Adelphi will be open year round. No longer just a place to get an drink or slice of great pie during the summer Track season but a place to frequent all year round. Plans are to open this spring and than stay open year round.

Some of the best days of my life have consisted of going to the track, followed by a great dinner and than a stop into the Adelphi for an after dinner drink in the back garden.

I don't really need any furniture, my basement already packed with items I don't have a place for, but I was drawn to the sale, like the hundreds others who showed up this first day of the 4 day estate sale.

We waited patiently and upon entering were pleased to see it the items laid out in simple "tag sale" style with a simple price tag on the item. The more ornate dressers and table were already gone but we were not dismayed for we did not have to have any particular item, just something to remind of us the old great hotel on Broadway built in 1877.

We quickly decided on to grab one of the side chairs offered for $10. A simple timeless, classic wood chair, maybe 100 years old, and just perfect.

See you this summer at the Adelphi.