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Thursday, October 13, 2011

Derby Wars, and the War on Dutrow

Been writing here for some time about the need for online handicapping contests. And, as you may know, the Jockey Club finally caught on and recently announced their free to play game which is long overdue.

However, contests don't only have to be for beginners nor for, on the other end of the scale, the hardercore guys and gals who compete on the NHC circuit. Derby Wars is a new contest site, from the folks behind the Horse Racing Nation site (which claims 3 million visitors a year) which I had the chance to check out as part of a beta group a couple of weeks ago, and it was a hoot and a half. User-friendly with a smooth interface, action packed going back and forth amongst tracks, and a great way to interact with your fellow horseplayers. One of the big paradoxes of this nutty game to me is the way that most of us are not only willing, but eager to expound on a brilliant insight you've learned through some hard work, clever instinct, keen insight, and the wiseness acquired over many a Racing Form, with the people against whom you are directly competing for your share of the 80% or so of the parimutuel pool. So, on Derby Wars, you can chat about the races in a box located right on the main page where you make your selection; track each others' picks, and watch yourself climb up (or crash down) the standings, updated instantly as the results come in. I wasn't SPIKE, as you probably guessed. But I held my own in the top 25, and it felt good to do so against a bunch of sharp folks.

There are contests available for every level, with points to be earned towards free games, games from $6 to $200, and games for ten horseplayers up in increments up to as many as 200. They have contests coming up this weekend, so check it out, maybe I'll run into you there.

Ten years for Dutrow, and I read a tweet asking if Brendan Shanahan was doling out suspensions for the NYS Racing and Wagering Board, in addition to the National Hockey League. There, he's quickly established a reputation as a stern disciplinarian. But, in relative terms, if Shanahan's decisions were really comparable to the Dutrow penalty, I figure he'd have to suspend a guy for around 5 1/2 seasons. In a sport in which the six month suspension of Steve Asmussen and the one year ban of Patrick Biancone qualify as outliers, ten years is so out of proportion that I don't really know what to say in terms of whether it's appropriate, or not.

Without excusing his inexcusable behavior (and his seemingly frivolous attitude about it), Dutrow is surely a victim of circumstance and timing, with the matter of medication in horse racing being the subject of a congressional committee, and front page news in the New York Times, which has accommodated the journalistic crusade by Joe Drape with regular prominent placement. Surely, given his record, it's hard to portray him as a scapegoat. But do you think he's really 20 times worse than virtually all the other offenders?

Well, maybe he is, maybe he's not. One thing is damn sure though. He asked for it. And this time, he got it.


Anonymous said...

Alan, you bring up the NHL. At least the NHL has enough cameras to see what is going on. Look at the head on and the pan of the 9th race at Belmont. If there was a foul who the heck could see it? Glad something did not happen in that race. Now look at the NHL tapes.

Horse racing is a joke if they can take out Dutrow in the name of operating a clean game but do nothing about the use of incompetent camera angles and fuzzy video replays to justify changing the order of finish. At least with Rick Dutrow, I can figure his win percentage into my handicapping. I can not figure out all the disqualifications by the NYRA stewards from the evidance available.

rgustafson said...


Just wanted to thank you for turning me on to the Derby Wars site.I joined up and got lucky and won the "Late Game" contest yesterday. Nice assortment of contests for both the small and large player.

Anonymous said...

I just tried to view some vids from the hrn site, and it seems youtube killed their account for copyright issues. prob europe didnt like them posting the races.


jk said...

Here is a peak at the demographics in place at the Big A....

MTA Swipes Show Subway Trends

Wait for the A train at the Aqueduct Racetrack stop, and one in four people standing with you will likely be a senior citizen. But at the Bedford Avenue stop on the L train—in the middle of hipster Williamsburg—less than 1% use a senior-discount MetroCard.

This and other patterns are revealed by a Wall Street Journal analysis of Metropolitan Transportation Authority data showing which MetroCards are used where. A year's worth of data shows how people move around the city, and how a 7.5% fare increase changed habits.