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Tuesday, September 11, 2007

News and Notes - September 11

- The first post over at the Breeders' Cup site is up now. Thanks so much again for all of the nice feedback and well wishes....and again, thanks to all of you for stopping by. No, I don't believe I can negotiate passes for all of you at this point, but I'll keep that in mind for the future. And yes, the admission, parking, and seating prices are obscene....but I think I'll limit my bitching about that to here... I find it strange to see my name up in lights like that, and being rather shy, I can understand why some people - like Tom Ainslie for example - use different names for their public persona....and why some probably wish they had.

- Here's an odd one. A judge in British Columbia has thus far refused to throw out a lawsuit filed by a bettor against Hastings Racecourse. Seems that Elmer Patzer fed a bunch of betting slips into an Autotote self-service machine there three years ago, and got back a credit voucher in the amount of $6.5 million; a lot of money even in Canadian currency! The track claims that it was a computer error, and that the win was physically impossible because there would not be enough money in a pool at the racetrack to allow for a payout that big. [Vancouver Sun] For example, according to the charts on BRIS, the total handle for Sunday's entire ten-race card was around $300,000. Patzer claims that out of the 20-25 tickets he fed into the machine, four or five were winners. Still, there seems no way he could have won that much at that track. So, while the judge went through what seems to be the formality of ordering the track to produce records and surveillance tapes, I'd say that Patzer's chances rank about 6.5 million to 1. Makes you again wonder about the integrity of the wagering system though.

Speaking of frivolous court cases, a second trial in the matter of jockey overweights in New York began in Saratoga last week. The first proceeding against former NYRA weight clerks Braulio Baeza and Mario Sclafani was halted because a juror wrote a letter to the press complaining that the charges amounted to nothing more than "political grandstanding." And that's because the case is indeed nothing more than that. Then-attorney general and noted corruption-buster (except when it comes to his own staff) Eliot Spitzer decided to re-try the pair, victims of an overzealous NYRA at a time when the pressure was on to show that it was reformed. Bill Finley, writing on last week, noted that the case against them is so flawed it will eventually be thrown out of court; and called for NYRA to rehire them with back pay.

Finley himself would make an excellent witness for the defense. In this column from September, 2005, he noted the incongruities in the state's case based on riders making weight out-of-state within one or two days of races they were supposedly grossly overweight for in New York. Ridiculous.

- And slightly off-topic are the accusations that the New England Patriots illegally taped the defensive signals of the Jets in Sunday's game...well, I guess the topic of cheating is never off-topic in racing, or any sport so it seems this day. I'm reminded a bit of my story about Ernie Cobb and the Boston College point-shaving scandal. I was at the game on Sunday, and the Pats sure seemed to have a handle on the Jets offense. This was mostly, I'd admit, because the Pats are a much better team. But there was one play in particular that my brother and I noticed and commented on at the time. The Jets had tried to blitz the Pats without much success in last year's playoff game, and it was obvious they were trying a different tack this time, often rushing just three linemen. But finally, on one play in the third quarter, the Jets sent defensive backs and linebackers in on an all-out blitz. Tom Brady merely took a step back and dumped a short pass over the oncoming if, as we discussed at that very time, he knew exactly what was coming. The play really stood out to me at the time, and it will be interesting to see if it is cited if and when the NFL conducts a full investigation.


Steve D said...

No comments section at the Breeders Cup site, huh? Well, that sucks but is not surprising.

Glad you were at least a little critical of the "Win and You're In" challenge in it's current form. I realize you couldn't call it the hollow and empty gesture that it is, but at least you didn't completely shill for it either.

The reality is that the industry, as a whole, needs to do a little coordination of the stakes schedule. For Carl Nafzger to have five available preps over two weekends for Street Sense is absurd.

I've always stated that the best thing that the NTRA could do is coordinate post times of major give us simulcast players a little breathing room...and coordinate the graded stakes schedule. Perhaps the Breeders' Cup, with the evolution of the win and your in series, will find a way to make that happen.

Congrats on the new gig.

alan said...

Steve D --


I'm told that a comments section is coming. Coordination of post times and stakes are issues that we've been complaining about for some time now. NTRA just doesn't have the authority or power to get all the tracks together on these things, why some people have called for a racing commish. There are just too many damn stakes races, but how anyone is going to get tracks to give some up is beyond my wildest guess.

Anonymous said...

First the Patriots get caught up in the HGH thing.

Then they are caught stealing signals.

Sounds like some of the racing stables around here.

Perhaps Bellichek is not so much a genius as he is a cheating bastard?

He should be suspended 14 days and his brother made to coach the team in his absence.

That'll teach him.

suebroux said...

Great first Breeders' Cup entry ... and congratulations on the high profile, well-paying, "career". I look forward to your continued musings over the next few weeks and will happily share this with both of my readers.

Like steve d, I'm appreciative of your perspective of "Win and You're In." My morning at the backstretch when I got to eavesdrop on an interview with Asmussen, only two races were even mentioned in Curlin's future - Haskell and Classic. What an exciting fall campaign ...

Walter said...

Oustanding work, as usual. If i had to make a critical remark, i'd say you might've gone a bit overboard with the links. But that's a big part of what makes LATG the best horseracing blog on the web. Probably shouldn't mess with sucess...

tom said...

Alan my horse race betting career started as well of yours. I went to Del Mar and for the first 8 races bet Willie Shoemaker across the board. This was back in 76 I believe. Well he wasn't placed in any of the them . In fact in one race where I bet an entry one of them went to a 4 length lead broke a leg and interefered with the other half of the entry.Of course WS won the ninth but I was out of money by then. Strange enough this day was included in a book about a bettor at Del Mar for the meet.

tom said...

Horse fever by William Murray was the name of the book and it is a fun read.