Another column about the California boycott that I'm not completely in sync with is the one by Steve Davidowitz. While in favor of the boycott in principle, Davidowitz argues that this is not the right time; that the movement should wait until wagering patterns are established to the point where the effect of a boycott could be clearly demonstrated. And, he says:
Because the handle may not be negatively impacted by anything anytime soon given that southern California players have wanted to handicap and play races on dirt for too long to suddenly abandon such plans.That's the part I don't quite get; not saying that I at all disagree with him that this will happen. But I would question horseplayers who claim that they've been discerning enough to have avoided synthetic tracks on the grounds that the results are too undependable; but would now rush in at the beginning of this meet and pour in pent-up betting dollars on dirt races which feature horses whose only such races have come at Fairplex. It's not very discerning in my view to leap in with abandon at this point without letting some form develop. Then you're just betting on dirt just for the sake of it, and just to drive home the point that you hate synthetics without thinking more about your actions....in my opinion, anyway.
That's the kind of bumper sticker mentality that I sense from HANA on the takeout issue - either my way or the highway, brook no dissent, you're either with us or against us, and just shut up if the latter. HANA recommends that players refrain from even reading the past performances of California tracks. If those who commented on the last post actually took the time to actually read it and the past post I referred to, they'd know that I've never suggested that I'm in favor of higher takeout; only that its significance varies to different horseplayers depending upon what they're looking to get out of their racetrack experience. But there's no room for nuance of any kind, just like the Tea Party to whom I compared the group in that post from earlier in the year. California is in a bad spot right now with slots out of the question, and the CHRB sees higher takeout on exotics as a way to enhance purses, and thus attract and retain horses to fatten its fields and increase its handle. Is that a good idea? I'd say that it's not; rather, it's one borne out of the desperation of the situation. But one thing I don't see from HANA or in Finley's column is an alternative solution to the industry's immediate woes. Other than, of course, lowering the takeout, which may indeed bear fruit over a longer period of time. But unfortunately, it doesn't, in the short-term, suit an industry already reeling from declining handle in these difficult times.
HANA says they only have California racing's best interests in mind. But then, on their rambling Players Boycott site, they actually suggest that players wager on California races through offshore outlets that return nothing to the tracks, to the horsemen, to the backstretch workers, or to anyone. That's destructive and self-serving to the point that it suggests to me that they're really only interested in themselves.
- Brad Free reports that the main dirt track is fast (though the forecast calls for a 50% chance of showers tonight into tomorrow morning). No word on turf racing, which is too bad, as I'd like to focus on those races given the difficulties handicapping the dirt races that I described above. And I wouldn't mind taking a stab against Sidney's Candy (8-5) in the G2 Sir Beaufort given the soft conditions from a foot of recent rain, and the presence of the speedy Blue Panis breaking from the rail. Make Music For Me (8-1) showed much promise on the AWT at two, and in winning an overnight stakes over this course in his three-year old debut before an ill-fated journey on the Derby Trail (though he did rally for 4th in the big race). Always like to see a talented horse like this recover as he did with his win, with blinkers off, on the turf over entry-level allowance company that he was still amazingly eligible for. Interesting runner, but a big step up here; still, might be worth a shot here wheeling back two weeks later with Mike Smith, who rode him in that stakes win, returning to the saddle, though I'd want more than his 6-1 morning line. Bogie (8-1) returns from a six month layoff from a narrow loss in a G3 turf stakes; nice works, eligible to step up here. Sebastian Flyte (3-1) may prefer longer.
In the wide-open Malibu, Twirling Candy (3-1) cuts back to a sprint after faltering late as the favorite in his tough assignment against older horses in the G1 Goodwood. Surface aside, he looks like a solid choice here. However, as you may know, I'm a strong believer in the Harvey Pack mantra to never bet a favorite doing something it's never done before. Noble's Promise (5-1) is a colt who piqued my interest in the spring, and he gave a good account of himself in the Derby despite his own trainer's misgivings about his distance ability. Now he's apparently committed to the sprinting game, and comes off a solid win, on dirt and with a 102 Beyer, in a six furlong stakes at Churchill. Good tactical speed should put him in good position in this large field. Smiling Tiger (7-2) has never been out of the money, and ran quite well on dirt finishing third in the BC Sprint; obvious contender. Brad Free writes in the Form that there's a buzz for Setsuko (20-1). Although he has not raced since April, Setsuko has trained super for his race-8 comeback. This will be, however, his first sprint effort since his career debut Sept 2009.