- The Belmont Stakes is the only racing day of the year that I go to the track and actually pay 100% attention to the live races at hand. No simulcasting on Belmont day, which I find to be both a blessing and a curse. Simulcasting is another thing that I actually thought of before anyone else but didn’t do anything about it. To me, the more the merrier, and it doesn’t mean that I’m betting 100 races a day; I actually wager on a very small percentage of the available races, but just the fact that it’s there and that I have a choice of races to bet on makes it valuable and fun. It gets me out to the track more often, since winter racing or wet tracks are no longer a deterrent if there are attractive betting alternatives. It also keeps the atmosphere at the track lively, except in the clubhouse at the Meadowlands, where people watch the races in stoney silence. The Meadowlands is also the only track I know of where people don’t respect seat or table markers. I could have a ten foot neon sign declaring “OCCUPIED” attached to one of the outdoor tables there, and if I stepped away for one minute there’d be a family of five settled in.
I know honestly that I get distracted from the live racing and sometimes get overwhelmed and become unable to concentrate on anything. I also tend to get away from observing horses in the paddock and on the track. Ideally, I stick with the home track and use the simulcasts as alternates when there’s a race I’m not interested in, but I'm not always disciplined enough to do so. So I’m hoping to have a BIG day Saturday to encourage me to exercise discretion when it comes to simulcast distraction.
In that spirit, I’ve gotten right to the handicapping, and right off the bat there’s a very intriguing entry in the first, an entry-level allowance for fillies and mares at 6f. Contrast (Unbridled) is a 3yo who won her only race, a maiden special at Delaware, by 4 lengths with a spectacular 105 Beyer and beating a filly who won her next start. You certainly can’t dismiss big maiden wins at that track these days. Contrast is out of the great champion sprinter Safely Kept, who won 24 out of 31 starts, including the BC Sprint in 1990 when Dayjur jumped a shadow at Belmont in deep stretch. Like Inside Information, about whom it was noted when her Smuggler ran in the Acorn last weekend has disappointed as a broodmare thus far, Safely Kept has had winners but nothing approaching her quality. Perhaps that’s why Contrast went off as the 2-1 second choice. Not here - she looks like she could be 1-5 or less.
The double payoff on Contrast with Sagitta Ra in the second, a filly and mare turf race, will likely be quite short. She got beat a half length at 3-5 in her last; she’s been close in a couple of graded stakes and comes from Frankel with Bailey aboard. But she could be worth a bet-against. She’s burned a lot of money, having not won in 7 tries since her debut, and she draws the 9 post, not a great spot at 9 furlongs on the inner course. Positively Wild has won only once in 27 starts and is 0-14 on the turf, yuck. But since a brief layoff in the spring, she’s put in two nice efforts on the turf with career best Beyers that are competitive here. She closed from way back at this level for third at this level and distance two back, and she finished well for third again against high-priced claimers in her last, keeping pace in a fleet final quarter. Trainer Leo O’Brien hasn’t done much of late, but he’s 10-16 in the money at this meet so far. She switches from Channing Hill to Bejarano, and is 12-1 morning line. Fastidia is the logical second choice for red hot Christophe Clement.
- The 60 Representatives and Senators who make up the Congressional Horse Caucus wrote a letter to Senator John Kyl urging him to ensure that racing is exempted from his proposed bill to ban financial transactions for phone and internet wagering.
The caucus said the draft legislation as written would have the "unintended consequence of block payment processing for account wagers conducted pursuant to the Interstate Horseracing Act, which Congress clearly intended to be legal."
The caucus acknowledged the U.S. Department of Justice position that account wagers violate the federal Wire Act even though Congress amended the IHA in 2000 to clarify that pari-mutuel wagers could be made via telephone or electronic means.
"Ironically, despite the (Department of Justice's) insistence that interstate account wagering violates the Wire Act, the agency has not chosen to prosecute any of a number of companies openly engaging in the process today, so there is no authoritative jurisprudence on the matter," the letter from the caucus said.
The caucus asked Kyl to consider that previous versions of legislation to ban Internet gambling included "clarifications" for pari-mutuel wagering. It said such clarifications--the word exemptions isn't used in the letter--"are obvious steps to implement what has clearly been Congressional intent for several years, and we strongly urge you to include such provisions in your bill." [Bloodhorse]