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Tuesday, May 31, 2005

Cheater, Chekov, Castledale...More Cheaters

- Jeff Mullins told Bill Christine of the LA Times that Buzzards Bay won't run in the Belmont Stakes on June 11.

"The horse is doing fine," Mullins said. "He worked [Monday] in 1:12 3/5 [for six furlongs]. But we're planning to run him as an older horse, and I don't want to beat him up by running him a mile and half now." [LA Times]
As for the connections of Chekov, who thought nothing of sacrificing their Spanish Chestnut in the Derby, why would they let a little 4th place finish in the Peter Pan change their plans for the Belmont?
"He's a mile-and-a-half, mile-and-a-quarter horse; you don't get too many like that, why not?" [trainer Patrick] Biancone said. "We had a plan, we'll follow the plan. Just because something doesn't go the right way, don't change the plan as long as the horse is well." [Daily Racing Form]
Perhaps they should consider a rabbit too.

Mullins sent out Castledale yesterday to win the Shoemaker Mile at Hollywood, making him a Grade 1 winner on turf and dirt (he took the Santa Anita Derby last year). After floundering in last year's Derby and in dirt races earlier this year, this colt has found a new lease on life on the grass. That should be little surprise given his breeding. He is by Peintre Celebre (Nureyev), the Arc de Triomphe winner and European Horse of the Year in 1997; he stands in Ireland for Coolmore at 30,000 Euros for 2005. Also, Castledale is out of a mare by Silver Hawk, himself an accomplished turf runner in Europe and the sire of turf stars such as Hawkster, Memories of Silver, Mubtaker, and Hawk Attack. He also has Roberto, Secretariat, and Amerigo close up on his female side.

- What a mess at Woodbine Saturday night. A “serious tote system failure” caused the cancellation of most of the card, and necessitated refunds on any wagers made on their last 8 live harness races and some 60 simulcast affairs. In an apology that they had posted prominently on their website for about ten minutes so it seemed, the track left no doubt as to exactly who was at fault.
On Saturday night, May 28, 2005 Woodbine’s betting system provided by Scientific Games Racing (SGR) failed with catastrophic consequences for our customers and the Canadian tracks that rely on this system. Since some betting pools could not be closed promptly at the start of a number of live and simulcast races, bets were refunded as mandated by Canadian law.

Woodbine apologizes to all our customers for this unacceptable system failure and will strive to ensure our contractor improves the reliability of their system. [Woodbine]
Bettors who missed out on a winner or two will be comforted to know that they can receive free programs this Saturday.

While at the Woodbine site, I came across this item – an explanation of why the Canadien Pari-Mutuel Agency (CPMA) prohibits Canadian bettors from betting directly into many U.S. pools as long as they permit “bet cancel delays.”
“Bet cancel delays” range between 3-10 seconds depending on the track and are designed to permit tellers to cancel a ticket during the set number of seconds after the start of a race. This usually occurs as a result of the teller making a mistake when punching out the ticket. Many tracks, including all Canadian tracks, operate without any bet cancel delay. Self-serve terminals do not have a bet cancel delay.

To be clear, CPMA’s decision makes it impossible for Canadian tracks to offer their customers access to any of the major U.S. networks, including Meadowlands, Belmont, Churchill, Hollywood etc. unless these U.S. tracks ban teller cancel delays across their networks. [Woodbine]
The CPMA web site offers a further explanation of exactly what the potential for fraud is.
_ Manipulation of odds
_ A so inclined person can watch the start of a race, and if that person does not like how his/her selection looks at the start, they then can cancel their bet or bets.
_ A racehorse travels approximately 5 lengths for each second of a race. Therefore, a four second delay of the bet cancel function, would allow a bet to be cancelled after horses have traveled approximately 20 lengths of the race. Some foreign racetracks allow "Bet Cancel Delay" ranging from 3 seconds to 10 seconds. [CPAM (MS Word download)]
If you think they’re just being paranoid, think again; I’ve seen this with my own eyes, though it was years ago. In the early days of self-service machines at NYRA, the cancel-delay was indeed available on the terminals for those who were clever and unscrupulous enough to know and take advantage of it. I witnessed guys place bets at terminals without lines and near TV monitors, reinsert the tickets into the machine at which point they were given an option to cancel it. (You can still do this now up to post time.) They would then wait until the start of the race, and if they didn’t like what they saw, they would hit ‘cancel.’ I was stupid and lazy enough to not write and report this activity, but wouldn’t make that mistake again - what was I thinking? These guys were taking money out of my pocket! I presume that self-service terminals at all tracks have now corrected that flaw, but I can’t blame the CPMA for their actions, especially with people betting electronically far beyond anyone’s supervision or control. Who knows, really, what goes on there, and the CPMA also points out that this could be responsible for those late odds changes that everyone hates as well.

- Rock Hard Ten is out of training indefinitely, because of recurring body stiffness and soreness.
The 4-year-old colt hasn't raced since winning the Big 'Cap on March 5. His last workout was a 3-furlong breeze on May 15.

He's had his foot problems, nothing major, but the grass is a little easier on him," [owner Frank] Lyons said. "He is a tremendously talented horse." [OC Register]