Thursday, 28 March 2013

Fort Erie fights back, other notes

It was announced the other day that Fort Erie, along with Flamboro and Georgian, had reached a transitional funding agreement with the Province. Terrific news.
     Fort Erie will race 50 days this year, starting on May 26th, with the backstretch opening a month prior. Besides that, we don't have any details. We don't know what the purse structure will look like, we don't know about the Prince of Wales, we don't know any details about Quarter Horse racing. We just know that there's 50 days.
     Now, in this post-slots era, there are some positives for the Fort. Total handle was up at the end of last year's meet, although I can't find the total. They introduced a $.20 Pick 5 and a $1 Super High 5, which were both fairly popular wagers, especially considering that they aren't available at Woodbine. There is real potential for Fort Erie to grow. Like other tracks in Ontario, the takeout is high. Last year, the Pick 4 was lowered from 26% to a pretty nice 17%, compared to Woodbine's 25%. If the Fort takes the initiative and can come to an agreement with the horsemen, takeout can be lowered on other wagers, and they can create a dominant Monday-Tuesday product. They need to get big bettors to play their races. If so, Fort Erie can be the first of the Ontario tracks to prove that racing in the province can be sustainable without slots funding. Hopefully, this can become the reality.

Pj Chick In Black tough in West Texas Derby
Pj Chick In Black, winner of last year's RGII New Mexican Spring Futurity and GI Ruidoso Futurity, will be heavily favored in Saturday's GIII West Texas Derby at Sunland Park. After a disappointing 6th place finish in the All American Futurity, Pj Chick In Black was given some time off. She returned on March 8th in her West Texas Derby trial where she drew off to win by an impressive length as the fastest qualifier, covering the 400 yards in 18.841. She will break from gate 3 on Saturday. Among her competition is G1 Southwest Juvenile Championship winner and trial winner Secret Courage, and Icu Deity, who was the fastest qualifier to the GII Sunland Winter Futurity. The West Texas Futurity will go as Race 5 on Saturday, with post time expected to go as 2:15 Mountain, 4:15 Eastern.

Sam Houston starts with trial action
Sam Houston kicks off their Quarter Horse meet tonight (Thursday) with a weekend full of trials. Thursday's card features 7 trials for the Sam Houston Maiden Classic. Then, Friday will hold 7 trials for the Sam Houston Derby, along with the $20,000 Harris County Stakes. Saturday will end the week at Sam Houston with a 15 race card full of trials for the Sam Houston Futurity. Saturday's card will have a special 3:00 Central post time. Thursday's and Friday's cards start at the regular 7:00 Central post time. The meet will also feature occasional Arabian races. Don't forget the Sam Houston has ultra low 12% takeout on Daily Doubles, Pick 3s, Pick 4s, Pick 5s, and Super High 5s, making it one of the best tracks to bet value-wise.

Dubai, Florida, Fair Grounds
Yeah, there's major Thoroughbred stuff going on this weekend, too, specifically on Saturday. First, the U.S. is looking to end their losing streak in the Dubai World Cup with Dullahan, Royal Delta and Animal Kingdom. To be honest, Animal Kingdom looks like the only real hope, now I just gotta look at the internationals. Sorry, Royal Delta fans. Then we have the Florida Derby and the Louisiana Derby. I'm cheering for the ever-improving Orb in the Florida Derby. I haven't looked at the LA Derby yet, but it's a big field with some nice horses.

Good luck to everyone this Easter Weekend.

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