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Thursday, September 29, 2011


The Super Saturday card at Belmont is a little odd, leading off with three 2yo maiden races. The stakes portion produced some howls I saw regarding the short-ish fields in the six graded stakes (five grade 1's and the G2 Kelso with Uncle Mo). I've have seen worse, I'm sure. It's certainly not a new phenomenon for these types of programs in New York. But the stakes races are surely not without their storylines and, as one long-time local horseplayer said to me: 'we can figure something out.' Daily doubles and Pick 3's on every race; and the guaranteed $500,000 late Pick 4.

Anyway, it was Twitter where I saw the aforementioned grumbling about the fields and the thinness of the stakes and handicap ranks. I saw it on Twitter, and a couple of really smart and witty horseplayers expressed exasperation to the point where they said they hadn't been to the track lately. [I digress: The thing I do like about Twitter is that there are plenty of smart and funny people writing smart and funny things. You know who you are. What I don't need or really care for is the instant updates of press conferences and interviews, nor all of the play-by-play of sporting events. (I can see the need for play-by-play in certain situations, like waking up at 4 AM in a Paris hotel, logging on and getting live updates on a Jets' Sunday night game. But a single pool play-by-twitter would do.)]

And that made me sad to see people I know love the game as much as I be discouraged to the point of inactivity. To me, the game is the game, and there's plenty of it every day at plenty of tracks through plenty of outlets. These stakes days? Yeah, they're not great betting days, but they can be great sporting events, you can hang out with friends, share some bourbon (or not) and have a great time. But for betting, give me the 25K conditioned claiming races at a mile and a sixteenth on the main track (or the turf) any day. And it's available every day. I think we horseplayers are pretty lucky these days.

Speaking of lucky, the Head Chef and I are off on vacation again, and we're truly thankful that we are fortunate enough to be able to do so. And at this point in my life, if not now...when? :-/ So we're off to Paris. I'm lugging along the MacBook so feel free to check in for updates and photos! Unfortunately, my cell phone is inoperable, so I won't be able to Twitter from the track on Sunday, where I'm sitting with people who I expect to be intimately familiar with the European game. Good thing, because I have nary a clue. (Though getting some help from Discreet Picks, who has posted some stories and videos on the Horseracingtalk site.) Anyway, speak to you from there!


Anonymous said...

I know people who are broke because of DiscreetCat.

St.Paddy said...

Well this takes the biscuit for me.
When will someone realise that dirt breeding in the USA is a no goer. You have races run on turf and you cant win them, all the best horses in Europe have some American blood in them, Then have the cheek to come over and nick all the prize money. The potential for good american horses hits you in the face. Get these round tracks demolished. Use this massive breeding stock potential to your best advantage. Start running races called Derby, St Leger, Oaks at distances they were intended and run them on grass.
We Have The Indiana versions running saturday at 1&1/16m on dirt its a disgrace. And because i am in rant mode for which i apologise lets try and go racing without having a bet, i go to Newbury in England quite often with a few bob in my pocket never do i feel the need to have a must bet i just the love horse racing.

Anonymous said...

Solid post, Racing tidbits. The Euros have like 3 horses running on Saturday and they will win all three races. I don't really understand much of your post, as it pertains to round tracks and not having to bet.

Bottom line is, the best race at BEL on saturday is the sprint race. It's a corker. And it makes perfect sense since that has become America's game, races at 2 to 7 furlongs. The rest of the races are either barely marginal, or they suck, so your breeding comments ring true.

As for Discreet Cat, anyone who pays for another person's wagering opinions deserves to be broke, end of story. -jp

John said...

Have a great trip, I had the best hot dog(on a baguette w/dijon) of my life at Longchamp (Arc98-Linamix).

If your hungry get one, would like to know if they are still great.

St.Paddy said...

To Anonymous.
It was a rant and probably OTT.
I truly wish that the US side of horse racing could just get its act together.

I would absolutely love for one day that an american horse could come to the UK and run on a track that is not round and undulates and not come near to last. Heaven forbid take a look at all the tracks in Europe, you can see them in all the videos that i aggregate on the racingtitbits video blog. It is a pure joy.

St.Paddy said...

And i apologise to Alan for not wishing him the very best of trips to the Arc. I hope you come back enlightened and sustained.

As usual every graded race video at that meeting will be published by me.

Dirtyshirt said...

As for Discreet Cat, anyone who pays for another person's wagering opinions deserves to be broke, end of story. -jp

I'm on the fence with this. Sometimes I agree, and many sites are outright scams, but DC has some very good knowledge in many situations. If I'm traveling for work, and I'm too busy to handicap at all, I'll throw him a few bucks and bet the live East Coast maidens he has. And stakes races too, I think he gave me Dar Re Mi in Dubai and I made a huge score while I was in Nashville. I'll bang out the West Coast races myself, with insight from about 3 older players I respect highly and several (intelligent albeit degenerate) trainers. Also, DC's contributions to HRT are invaluable.

Anybody who has gone "broke" is a fool, but it sounds like it might just be ANON.

On a lighter note - Have fun Alan, you and the Head Chef really are living the dream. Sorry I never made it down to Del Mar during your trip.

Dirty Shirt

PS. If you have any of your Blame money left - Toss $2 on So You Think and mail me the ticket (Got a new addy - email me). Would really mean a lot to me.

Figless said...

@Racing Tidbits, while I agree with your sentiments (most, I love dirt racing) racing in America is profit driven and is not going to change.

I love distance racing, dirt and turf, and would prefer raceday medication be banned entirely (at a minimum in Graded Stakes), but unfortunately the American public has lost interest in horse racing as a sport. I could not find more than two "fans" to attend Belmont Saturday and I live under 10 miles from the track, from over 20 invites I extended. These folks all watch the Triple Crown, most attend the Belmont Stakes, some play the Breeders Cup (classic, anyway) but the vast majority had no interest in five Grade 1 races tomorrow. My theory is there is just too much competition, both from a sports and gambling perspective, in America, and horse racing has sadly fallen below the radar.

Not sure how/if those that operate the meets in Europe make their money, but in America the vast majority of tracks are "for profit" entities and they are going to run races that receive the most entrants. More horses equals more handle. And in America that means shorter distances and too many races.

The breeders too are now almost entirely commercial, breeding to sell, not to race or improve the breed, and that results in an emphasis on speed.

And yes, international interests tend to purchase and export most of the stamina oriented horses that ARE bred in this country, compounding the problem over time.

My mare is now in foal to Alphabet Soup. I try to breed for classic distances, but the reality is I have to be prepared to race these foals, there is little market for such a foal that figures to be a late developing stamina influenced runner, despite the sire being fairly successful statistically and a Breeders Cup Classic winner I will surely lose money if I sell.

There has been plenty written on the subject by participants more knowledgeable than I, but sadly the prognosis for American racing is not good, long term, I fear.

Unless a very large and well funded non-profit entity is formed, whose true goal is the improvement of the breed, you will never see the changes you, or I, put forth.

Appreciate your comments, very stimulating to read the opinion of a true racing fan from across the pond, unfortunately there are far too few on this side of the Atlantic.

St.Paddy said...

In reply to Figless.

I think we concur.

The words are the only difference.

I occassionally get messages regarding the classic races and how they are interpreted in other countries.

My main example would be a race called The Derby originally The Derby Stakes. In the UK the big race on the flat is The Derby, not the English Derby or the Epsom Derby just The Derby. I feel that due respect should be given to that name and all the classics that are copied in other countries (Oaks, Guineas, St Leger) English is not in the race descriptions.

Go back in history if Lord Bunbury had won the toss of a coin we would have ended up with the Kentucky Bunbury (heaven forbid). Anyhow he got is own back and first Derby Stakes was won by Bunburys horse called Diomed

So lets us have a name commensurate with the race, the Kentucky Derby is not The Derby it is raced under distance and on sand/dirt which disallows any well bred colt beyond US shores ever getting a sniff.

The European classics are open to all without any form of qualification other than ability (when your horse is proven to be unable,withdraw it). Not a war of $ earned getting you in the race.

Also in Europe you will find a horse will run in a £250,000 race against alternative worth £750,000 just because the £250,000 race as more black type.

So in Europe its not the money but Prestige.

Figless said...

Indeed we concur.

The Belmont is our true Derby, even if on true dirt. We do have plenty of 1.5 Mile races on the turf, but mostly for older horses.

I do believe it a good idea for someone to run a 1.5 Mile Turf event restricted to 3yo for big money and create a true Derby in America. Most logical spot is Belmont, perhaps the fist Saturday in July (or Independence Day), which would give the Belmont horses a chance to run back at the same distance albeit over a different surface.

Alan Mann said...

Dirty - Sure thing. Please just email me the new address, can't find your old email at this point.