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Monday, November 16, 2009

A Decision By Horseplayers

Here's a great post on Pull the Pocket about Bill Belichick's ultimately ill-fated decision to go for it on a 4th down deep in the Pats' own territory last night, comparing it to a "horseplayer decision."

Fortunately, we can mess around and check the numbers, like a bettor does when making a value decision on a horse in the 4th. What would you have bet [on] the Patriots before the play? What would you have bet on Indy to win if they are stopped. What would you have bet on Indy if they receive the ball on a punt instead? What would you have bet [on] the Pats, if Indy scores quickly and they needed a field goal to win?

Speaking with a professional bettor who runs these numbers better than I can, said "He [Belichick] made the right call because the odds favored him. It was probably around 60-40 call - at the very least a coin flip - and nothing out of the ordinary if you run the numbers." In effect, Belichick made a value bet.
(My take is that is was a bold ploy by a team with not that much to lose considering the quality of the divisional foes chasing them. You play to win the game, as some guy once said, and Belichick was two yards away from winning this one. So, while I can't stand the guy, I don't at all disagree with the move.)

The choice between Rachel Alexandra and Zenyatta may not be a "horseplayer decision" in the same sense since the deciders have nothing to win or lose themselves. However, it is a decision to be made by horseplayers; because, after all, I don't know of a single turf writer or voting employee of the Racing Form or NTRA who is not a horseplayer him or herself, do you? And this idea that there should be an option to vote for both of them is just plain unbecoming to our breed. Like betting a quinella, and what self-respecting player does that anymore? (Uh oh, just got myself in trouble.)

So, cut the crap and just decide on one or the other. Either of them will do the title of Horse of the Year proud, and neither's accomplishments will be diminished if they lose. Quit waffling, just be a man (Uh oh, probably just got myself in trouble again!), and vote for one of the distinguished ladies.

- Mike Watchmaker agrees with the above opinion, but adds: Rachel Alexandra should not be penalized for not competing in the Breeders' Cup. [DRF, subscription]
Sure, it would have been nice if Rachel Alexandra was there. And yes, the Breeders' Cup is always a fantastic event no matter who is or isn't there. But just because the Breeders' Cup markets itself as a "World Championship" event, that doesn't make it so. It has never been a requirement that you had to run in the Breeders' Cup in order to win a championship, and here's hoping that it never becomes one.
Here, I respectfully disagree with the esteemed Racing Form columnist. Is it a "requirement," as in a "prerequisite?" No, certainly not. However, once the Triple Crown has concluded, and even before so for the horses not involved, all we hear is owners and trainers plotting the interim period before the Breeders' Cup with that event in mind. And this has effectively ruined the summer and fall seasons during which championships used to be determined, turning it into a long series of prep races (the lame Win And Yer In concept notwithstanding). So as long as the Breeders' Cup exists and bills itself as a championship event, it better damn well be a crucial determinant of the year-end awards. I believe that some judicial activism on the part of the voters to encourage intransigent owners who hold out for no other reason than to serve their own interests and ego is not only appropriate, but demanded. Otherwise, we might as well scrap the whole idea of a World Championship event, and go back to the old way which, by the way, served us quite well during the glory days of the sport.


jk said...

In my opinion, the Bruno trial will make Malcolm Smith and Co think twice before self dealing themselves the Big A Racino.

Ex-Bruno secretary admits she ripped him off for ‘retaliation’
November 16, 2009 at 4:31 pm by Robert Gavin

The retired Senate secretary of former Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno once stole money from the legislative leader’s personal account as “retaliation” for him treating her poorly, her testimony revealed today.

Patricia Stackrow acknowledged swiping the money when Assistant U.S. Attorney William Pericak confronted the retiree with her past testimony before a federal grand jury.

Stackrow had told the grand jury she stole the money as “retaliation for the way he treated me at the time,” calling it demeaning and degrading.

Specifics of how much was stolen were not immediately known.

The blockbuster admission, covered by immunity, came amid testimony from Stackrow that showed she played a key role as a messenger for Bruno’s private business dealings — even working out of an ”office” in the Loudon Arms apartment complex in Albany.

Stackrow, among other activities, delivered messages in three-way horse ownership negotiations between Bruno, former New York Racing & Wagering Board chair Jerry Bilinski and Loudonville businessman Jared Abbruzzese.

Cross-examination was ongoing.

Alan Mann said...

jk - Isn't that fodder for the defense to impugn her testimony on the grounds that she had a personal grudge against Bruno?

jk said...

I am no legal eagle but what you are saying makes sense.

I doubt Malcolm and Co want their dirty laundry aired the way Bruno's has been for the last week.

Anonymous said...

i'm with watchmaker.

but are you being sarcastic?

the plotting of owners and trainers has ruined the old summer and fall seasons which determined champions but we'd better make voters give the breeders cup a lot of influence or we'll have to go back to the old way that was better. huh?

DiscreetPicks said...

I posted about this very subject on the HorseRacingTalk forum yesterday. Just my opinion, of course, but here's what i said:

What a cop-out it would be to give the award to both horses.

Bottom line, and regardless of which horse you think had the better year, the fact of the matter is that one horse showed up for the championship event (and won it), while the other one didn't.

Game, set, match.

Besides, i don't think you can reward Jess Jackson for keeping his superstar filly on the sidelines on the biggest racing day of the year. In addition to being wrong, what kind of example would that set?

"Keep your star colt out of the Breeders Cup, and we'll give you HOTY anyway, so you can retire him early and then enjoy plastering 'Horse of the Year' all over your breeding advertisments. Just stay home, and forget about the risk of actually losing a big race."

Horses are being retired early for no good reason ALREADY (Zensational being a prime recent example), and in my opinion giving Rachel HOTY after skipping the Breeders Cup would cause that problem to worsen even further. Horses like Fusaichi Pegasus or Big Brown might start skipping the BC Classic, figuring they've already sewn everything up and can just head straight to the breeding shed without even running in the big race.


Anonymous said...

Watchful Horseman

reply - jk said 8.49am

Enticing comment, as Bruno was a while back, what direction
are u coming from ?

Anonymous said...

Who is Malcolm Smith and Co? I know he's a Senator involved in the decision, but what company is his?

Anonymous said...

Watchful Horseman

Media love a conspiratory story, as long as it has the following days legs, but there are those in Queens, that devout horse meat…. daily.

jk, do u have an agenda on yr very interesting Bruno / Aqueduct comment, as I have to now
re-search past articles, as yr many, past comments, are constructive and have open disclosure ?

Anonymous said...

DiscreetPicks, you make the best argument I have seen so far, since it is a toss up why reward the connections of the horse that ducked the BC, sets bad precedent.

Agree wholeheartedly.

Not entirely fair to the horse, but I doubt her feelings will be hurt and in truth no one will give a crap about this ten years down the road anyway, both will be remembered as great fillies than never met due to the intransigence of their connections and the stupidity of the BC committee.

Anonymous said...

Alan, regarding "the call" as it is being described, you hit the nail on the head, from a risk reward standpoint it was worth it, had the Jets won Sunday I think he punts.

El Angelo said...

Flip the order of finish in the Classic. You've then got a horse that won 5 Grade I's on the year on multiple surfaces and multiple coasts and beat a curious field in the Classic. Yet, I suspect that with the exception of Alan and a couple of others, the support for Gio Ponti as HOTY would have been next to nothing.

So why should Zenyatta win when she did even less than Gio Ponti this year before the Breeders Cup?

Anonymous said...

Dittoes on Belichick's decision, he played the best odds in that situation. Get revenge against Indy in the playoffs, when it counts.....Joe Bruno's trial is a sham, disrespectful, unfair judge has conflicts, defense should go for the mis-trial. Will certainly be appealed since a mis-trial at this level seems unlikely...nice to see Paterson jumping on a winning horse and getting even with The O...Rachel vs Zenyatta....tote up the points a la the old Eclipse system and see which one has the Robin does not make a spring...Kudos to Alan for pointing out the weaknesses of the Breeders has diminished all of the Grade I's between the Derby and BC.. unless there is Triple try in the Belmont...until horses can win HOY by not running in the BC, the prestige Grade I's will continue to that I mean a consistent stakes winner throughout the season could amass enough Eclipse Award points such that a lightly raced winner of the BC Classic could not leap over the consistent winner. With this system you would soon see some changes in how a stable with a top stakes winner would plan the season's campaign. /S/greenmtnpunter

ballyfager said...

Rachel clearly, definitely, and unequivocally had the better year - and by a wide margin.

If HOY means anything, it has to go to Rachel. And, if the voting is honest, she will get it. If they come out with some ruling that it's a tie, then the whole thing is a sham.

I also agree with those who say that the Breeders Cup is only a championship by their own declaration. Remember, it's the BREEDERS Cup and breeders are no friends of horseplayers.

jk said...

Malcolm Smith and Co = Aqueduct Entertainment Group.
According to sources, Smith is urging the Senate to get behind Aqueduct Entertainment Group, one of the lesser-known bidders. The consortium happens to include one of Smith's former business partners and Smith's closest political ally.

My comment on Bruno was to simply point out the man is on trial for corruption and it should give food for thought to others in Albany before deciding the Big A slots deal.

Anonymous said...

So if Smith supports a qualified bidder that he's familiar with then he's corrupt? Who are the "sources" JK names that say Smith is doing all the urging? my guess is the other key senators can think for themselves.

By the way, just for informational purposes, Aqueduct Entertainment members like Turner Construction, Tony Sartor at PS & S Design, and Larry Woolf at Navegante, along with others, are not "lesser-known" in their respective fields, quite the opposite.

To equate the misfortunes of Senator Joe Bruno to whatever Malcolm Smith decides to do is quite a stretch. As that Watchful Horseman suggests, conspiracy theories do make good press!

There's probably a reason that Shelly supports his favorite bidder, same for the Governor. so according to the Smith conspiracy theory, none of the three men can know anything personal about a bidder, follow the same religion, or live in the same community or have ever supported any member of a bidding team ever before or they will be considered "corrupt" like Bruno. give me a break.

I hope Silver, Paterson and Smith all stand up for what they think is best for the Queens community, NY state, and horse racing and breeding interests.

Alan Mann said...

>>So if Smith supports a qualified bidder that he's familiar with then he's corrupt?

Not necessarily. But given the totally closed door proceedings, how are we to know if that's the case or not? Given the history of Albany, as illustrated in part by the testimony in the Bruno trial, and the secrecy of the negotiations, it is PERFECTLY fair for JK and others to speculate that Smith is dealing out of self-interest!

>>I hope Silver, Paterson and Smith all stand up for what they think is best for the Queens community, NY state, and horse racing and breeding interests.

So do we all, but why would we possibly believe that that's the case?

Anonymous said...

Sounds like nobody will ever be convinced that whatever bidder wins there wasn't some undergroaund type plot. Sad state of affairs as it sort of promotes an environment of making no decisions, (maybe that's why we don;t have one?) then you can't be presumed guilty of something!

Smith seeems a kind man liked by his constituents. Just paint Shelly and Paterson with the same brush, as they should be treated no differently than any other elected official in the world of governmental conspiracy theorists.

Alan Mann said...

>>Sounds like nobody will ever be convinced that whatever bidder wins there wasn't some undergroaund type plot.

A very simple way to avert that would have been to make the process transparent, as Pataki did during the franchise bidding when he set up the Ad Hoc Committee. They've totally brought this distrust upon themselves in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

when Spitzer bifurcated the franchise award into racing & gaming he set the stage for the current dysfunction.

Too late now, so let's see how things play out.

jk said...

>>I hope Silver, Paterson and Smith all stand up for what they think is best for the Queens community, NY state, and horse racing and breeding interests.

We have seen the exact opposite for the last 8 years. It has been non-stop land and money grabs by the elected leaders of NY State.