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Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Tuesday Morning News and Notes

- Echoing the letter from NY harness horsemen to NYCOTB CEO Greg Rayburn that I posted about here, the prominent standardbred breeding outfit Blue Chip Farms is also wondering exactly what reduced racing dates for harness tracks and a restoration of a 1% cut in the vendors fee included in the state budget have to do with the bankruptcy reorganization of OTB.

While we obviously recognize that all of the stakeholders in our industry will need to sacrifice something to make any reorganization of NYCOTB work, this plan contains countless "gives" to the track owners - including upstate VLT operators with virtually no financial interest in the bankruptcy - with absolutely nothing but "takes" from the breeders, horsemen and multitude of related agricultural industries and professions. [Harness Link]
- Blame drilled a half mile at Keeneland in 47.60 seconds, and will work there again before vanning over to Churchill to prepare for the Classic. No issue with the Keeneland Poly for trainer Albert Stall; he's two-for-two over the surface there. As a matter of fact, there doesn't seem to be any problems at all with the Polytrack at Keeneland. The times have been snappy, horses are winning on the front end and coming from behind; and though, yes, Kopitar broke down and was euthanized on Sunday of opening weekend, as some in Kentucky like to say, "sometimes accidents happen."

So, here we have one of America's most prestigious race meetings, and the synthetic surface there barely seems to be a story anymore. Seems to me that it's just as much of a synthetic surface success story as Santa Anita was a failure. Yet you won't read that in the mainstream racing press.

While Blame appears to be set for a top effort coming off what I think was a useful prep in the JCGC - note that this horse is three-for-three second time off a layoff line - Pletcher is playing catch-up with Quality Road.
At Belmont Park, Quality Road breezed six furlongs in 1:13.46 as he continues to build stamina in the lead up to the 1 1/4-mile Breeders' Cup Classic, which will be his first start following an easy victory in the Grade 1, 1 1/8-mile Woodward on Sept. 4.

"We're running 1 1/4 miles off a little bit of a layoff, so we want to make sure we have him fit enough," trainer Todd Pletcher said. [DRF]
Of course, nobody forced the Toddster to lay this horse off; it was the plan all along to give him nine weeks off before the Classic. I'm going to be all in against Quality Road, even though his track record running fresh is good. He's a question mark at the mile and a quarter distance to start with (0 for 2, though both on sloppy tracks), and if the trainer is trying to get him fit enough to stay the route with workouts, then I'm going to bet that he doesn't.

- Wow, Cliff Lee was ridiculous, and the Rangers (Texas, not New York) are to be commended for the way they've dominated this series since what seemed at the time like a devastating loss in Game 1. Yankees manager Joe Girardi didn't help matters by overmanaging his way out of any chance to come back in Game 3 when he needlessly replaced Kerry Wood in the 9th after he easily set down the Rangers in 15 pitches the inning prior. At that point, at least Texas manager Ron Washington had to at least consider going to his bullpen after Lee had thrown 122 pitches. Six runs later, it was a moot point. Girardi maintained after the game that he will stick with AJ Burnett in Game 4 despite his going 1-7 with a 6.61 ERA in 12 starts to close out the year. Yikes.


Anonymous said...

So, Keeneland's polytrack is a success?

Not for me, Alan, or a bevy of big bettors I know. My handle has gone from $500 a day, when they had dirt, in the Spring, and $300 a day in the Fall, to less than my daily handle for an entire meet.

I'm not trying to be a wiseguy, and I love Keeneland as a racetrack, but to me it is about as uninteresting as it comes. And, the results cannot be used to predict future performance, thus my Churchill handle has disappeared as well.

Maybe I'm just one man....but I hate it. And I have tried to feel otherwise.

Anonymous said...

I too find the KY circuit unplayable now due to the AWT, at least in CAL the horses have proven form on the stuff due to the year round nature. But switching back and forth makes every race a mystery, especially so the baby races which I used to love to play since I am a pedigree buff.

With no reliable sire stats on the various surface those races are even more of a mystery than usual.

Does anyone have stats on the handle pre and post installation?

I suspect they are down more than the industry mean.

alan said...

Sorry that you guys are having a problem at Keeneland....but if it's due to the fact that you were used to handicapping the main track races there on the basis of the boring speed bias that was there, I have little sympathy. I mean, that shit was just boring to me as a fan.

I took a cursory glance at some handle figures just via Google. I know that the handle this fall thus far is basically flat from last year, and that this year's spring meeting was down around 7%...which I'd say is consistent with industry trends. But more meaningful would be an overall picture since the Poly was installed, and I'll try to get a handle on that handle if I have a little time.

Anonymous said...

A "$500 a day" handle won't put you near any big bettors. Actual big bettors love the field sizes, and they find value in many angles there. Nobody wants to watch sinister minister draw off by 10.

Anonymous said...

I never said I was a big player at $500 a day. In fact, I made that distinction pretty clearly. Unless of course you just wanted to argue.

Hard to believe.

Like I said, I know plenty of big players that no longer play Keeneland. I can easily account for a total of six figures among a very few players.