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Friday, 26 December 2014

Western Fair Boxing Day Photos

I spent Boxing Day enjoying the special afternoon card of racing at Western Fair down in London. I woke up early, got my new camera, hopped in my car and drove two and a half hours, got to the Raceway, played some races, and had a great time. Here are some of my favourite shots of the day.
Smockity Frocs wins the 2nd with Lorne House in the bike

11 year old Weskey wins the 4th easily

Leading driver Alfie Carroll wins the 6th with Class Me Nice

Down the stretch in Race 7

Beach Hero and Billy Davis Jr winning the 7th

Beginning of the 9th race

6th race field enters the first turn
Nice action shot of Northern Illusion and Nicholas Steward in Race 9

Irish Thunder and Scott Wray wins the 11th easilly

Beginning of the 12th and final race
      Racing resumes at Western Fair on Monday, December 29th at 6:15 PM, with a 12 race card. My selections will be featured on the live feed and this blog.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Western Fair handles $700k Tuesday Night

The bettors came out in full force at The Raceway on Tuesday night.

       Highlighted by two $7,500 guaranteed Pick 4s and a trio of Preferred 3 events, the 14 race card at the Western Fair District handled $700,685. Both Alfie Carroll and Nick Steward scored driving doubles on the night. Carroll is currently London's leading driver of 2014, with 148 wins. Prior to his double on Tuesday, Carroll had scored seven wins the night before.

      Despite being guaranteed at $7,500, the Pick 4 wagers far exceeded their expectation, with pools of $16,610 and $17,248. Although there were no carryovers or guaranteed pools for the two Super Hi-5 wagers offered, they handled $8,139 and $7,871. The Pick 4 and Super Hi-5 at Western Fair both offer $.20 minimum wagers and reduced 15% takeout.

      On January 3rd, 2014, Western Fair handled $536,725, which Standardbred Canada was quoted as saying was "the highest single night total for the track more than a decade." Tuesday's handle built on that by 30.5%.

     Racing resumes at The Raceway on Friday, December 26th, with a special 1:15 post time for Boxing Day.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Takeout Matters, it's a Fact

Some people want to keep debating this.

      Let's play a hypothetical game. We've got a field of five horses and a win pool of $10,000. Below are the amounts of money wagered on each horse.


  1. $2,000
  2. $1,500
  3. $750
  4. $4,000
  5. $1,750
     The takeout of this pool is 20%. That leaves $8,000 to be paid out to the winners. Below are the odds of each horse at this takeout.

  1. 3-1 ($8)
  2. 4.3-1 ($10.60)
  3. 9.6-1 ($21.20)
  4. 1-1 ($4)
  5. 7-2 ($9)
     But if we slash the takeout to 10%, the odds become
  1. 7-2 ($9)
  2. 5-1 ($12)
  3. 11-1 ($24)
  4. 1.25-1 ($4.50)
  5. 4.1-1 ($10.20)
    By cutting the takeout, your $2 win payout have increased by 12-13%. Which pool would you rather play into?

    One of the arguments that's been used against me is "human nature," saying that if a horse goes up from say 3-1 to 7-2, more people will bet him and his odds will go back down to 3-1. There are two major flaws in this: a) the odds on every horse goes up with lower takeout, and therefore each horse will take more money. However, since a higher percentage of the pool will be paid out, the odds will be higher, and b) if that horse suddenly does take way more money than it normally would at the lower take, the odds on every other goes up. It would even out. 

     The other big argument against lower takeout is that "nobody cares." Let's take a look at a group of gamblers who definitely don't care, slots players. Slots players are people who just want the action, nothing more, nothing less. They are aware that it's a game rigged against them. However, the takeout on a slot machine is (generally) 8%. Not 21%. 8%. Now, if you're dealing with a group of gamblers who blatantly don't care and are playing a game they can never win, why not rake 30%? 40%? Hell, why not rake 87.32%? They don't care. The reason is simple: when people win more, they play more. Churn is an important driver of handle. If a slots player cuts a profit just one night, which he is far more likely to do at 8% takeout than 21%, he is more likely to want to come back and keep playing.

     Takeout makes a difference. Higher takeout leads to lower handle. Lower takeout leads to higher handle and growth for the game. This is a fact. Stop denying it. Stop wallowing in your own ignorance, accept reality, and join the fight to revive horse racing. Racing is losing customers to poker and daily fantasy sports. I don't mean losing potential new customers, I mean losing people who were betting on racing but have left the sport and have started playing other games. It's not because horse racing is for old people. It's because it's a hell of a lot easier to win against a 5% house edge than 21%.

     Maybe takeout doesn't matter to you as an individual. Maybe it's not something you think about when placing a wager. However, regardless of your position as a bettor, fan, horseperson or whoever, understand this: lower takeout will create long term growth for the racing industry. If you want to continue to deny the role that takeout plays, by all means continue to wallow in your own ignorance. I can't force you to believe anything. However, if you want to see racing grow, support lower takeout.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Kickin' It

There's been some chat on social media tonight about David Miller's drive on McWicked at Dover Downs. Some mild controversy has arisen in regards to Miller "kicking" McWicked. "Kicking" is where the driver removes his foot from the stirrups and brushes his boot on the horse's hocks.




     Miller is "aggravated" about the $750 fine.


  • “I take my foot out of the stirrup and he bumps into my foot,” David Miller explained, “I never kick a horse. People have to understand that. His hock comes back and strikes my boot. There is no way in the world that I am hurting a horse or doing any damage to the horse.”
  • “I realize that people are really down on this idea of “kicking” but it was worth every bit of the $750 fine for letting his hock hit my foot."
  • “Unless people have gotten in a bike and trained or driven a horse they can’t know what it is like being in my shoes,” Miller explained, “I drive to win and I would never put myself at risk or anyone else in a race, driver or horse. It’s not cruel or inhumane what we do in a race. The people complaining don’t know what they are talking about and most have never sat behind a horse. I was in the barn before I could walk. I have driven in thousands of races and I know what I am doing as do most of the drivers.”
     So that's the attitude we're dealing with from Miller. This isn't "I didn't realize that this was a rule, I wish I had known." This is "I think this is a stupid rule, and I'm not going to respect the authorities of racing."

     I don't like that viewpoint.


     Now, I'm not here to tell you "kicking" is abusive or not. In my opinion it is, but I'm not a standardbred horseman, I'm never around standardbreds in other situation other than as a fan, it's not my area of expertise. However, perception is a problem. Optically, when you notice a driver letting the horse hit his boot, it looks bad. Purposely scaring a horse (which is what it is) sounds bad. There's no argument that it's good for the horse. Is it abuse? That's up to you, but it's not nice.

    But more importantly than the "is it abuse or not?" debate is the "is it okay to break the rules?" debate. Willfully breaking a rule and going on to say you will continue to break that rule, topping that off with "I'm a driver, you're not so you don't get a say" is a colossal act of arrogance that should not be tolerated.

Fun comment on Facebook; integrity and cheating are nonsense. Racing has problems
    There is a rule against "kicking." You may not agree with it, you may think it's the stupidest rule you've ever seen in your life, but too bad. It's a rule. We all know it's a rule. If you're a driver, follow the rule. Keep your feet in the stirrups, or pay the fine and shut up. If you don't like it, appeal the fine. Outright saying to the media "It's worth the $750 fine" basically says "to hell with the rules."

    But you can't blame Miller entirely; he's driven for a long time and gotten away with it. He can afford a $750 fine. This is where racing needs to step its game up. Enforce the damn rules. Stop letting these drivers get away with breaking the rules, and sure as hell don't let them outright say "I'm not going to start following this rule." There's no point in having rules if you let your participants break them. Be no nonsense. Make your drivers and trainers perfectly aware that you won't get away with pushing the envelope. Be the adult in the room. The horsemen sure aren't going to.

     Racing has an integrity issue. Having rules and not enforcing them isn't helping it. Drivers who say "I'm going to break this rule." isn't helping either. The integrity of the sport is not nonsense. Enough is enough. Make the game respectable. Put an end to this issue, and move on to bigger things.
     

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Aqueduct Handle Down 13.6%

Aqueduct Racetrack concluded the first portion of their 2014-2015 winter meet on Sunday. The meet, which held the same number of race days and races as last year, saw a 13.6% decline in handle.

    Total handle for the 26 race cards was $158,268,874, averaging $6,087,264 per day and $676,362 per race. In 2013 these figures were $184,204,040, $7,084,770 and $787,196, respectively. Average field size also took a hit, dropping 8.6% from 8.73 horses/race in 2013 to 7.98. The average $2 win payout was $12.19, about even with last year's $12.02.

     The New York Racing Association has announced that they will be increasing their signal fee along with upping prices for group sales and parking for 2015. The increased signal fee could lead to more handle declines in the future.

     The Aqueduct meet switches over to the inner dirt surface today (Wed. Dec. 3) and will stay there until late March (no exact date available at this time.)

Friday, 7 November 2014

Photos from Flamboro Downs

I'm not super happy with these pictures, but I've never shot at night before and they aren't horrible. Practice will make perfect.

     Anyways, I drove out to Flamboro Downs on Thursday night to take some pictures of harness racing. It was my first time at Flamboro, and it's an okay little track. Is it the nicest B-track in Ontario? No, but it's certainly not bad. Here are the shots I thought were worthy of sharing. They aren't as good as the Ajax ones, but oh well.
The Flamboro Grandstand: made for winter racing
The track logo at the main entrance


Horses entering the first turn

Start of a race

Past winners of the Confederation Cup, Flamboro's no-longer run signature event

Chestnut gelding Eagle Scout rallied wide to pull a 21-1 upset in the 9th

Warrawee Phoenix was an impressive winner in the 8th

Enough About You (5) pulled a 7-1 upset in the feature, a Preferred 2 Handicap Trot

Equity warms up for the Preferred 2 Trot. He made an early break in the race
Savethelastdancforme (3) wired the field in the finale


New Favorite (6) did make up a lot of ground late
     I hope you enjoy these pictures. Any constructive criticism is welcome, especially if you're a photographer.

Wednesday, 5 November 2014

Crying Bias... Again

Earlier this year I wrote a post called "Crying Bias." I wrote it after Social Inclusion beat Honor Code at Gulfstream by 10 lengths, and everyone went and said he only won because of a track bias. It was hilarious because the track was not truly biased that day. Social Inclusion was just better.

     Well, it seems we've got another case of people using a speed bias as an excuse because a horse they didn't like won a big race with Bayern's Breeders' Cup Classic.

     First off, let me get this straight: I didn't like Bayern in the race, I was not happy that he won, and I'm not a fan of Bob Baffert. I wouldn't have cashed any tickets even if Bayern had been DQd because I tossed California Chrome too. So I have no good reason to be defending Bayern. I'm not trying to defend Bayern. I'm trying to defend logical thought.

     A track bias is a situation in which the track is playing in a manner where horses with a particular trip are winning when they shouldn't be. Therefore, a speed bias is where speed horses are holding on when they shouldn't be, and the closers aren't able to make up ground on them.

     A lot of people are saying that the track at Santa Anita on Saturday was speed biased. Those people are wrong. In the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, the top four finishers were 11th, 10th, 8th, and 7th after a quarter mile. In the Filly and Mare Sprint, the top four were 5th, 10th, 4th and 1st after a 1/4. You did not need to be on the front to win. Even look at the Juvenile Fillies. The winner went wire to wire, but the horses who tracked in 2nd and 3rd finished 8th and 12th, and the 2nd and 3rd place finishers were 6th and 8th after a quarter.

    Now let's look at Bayern, a natural speed horse. We all know that the best trip in racing is alone on the front going reasonable fractions. Where was Bayern, a natural speed horse, in the Classic? Alone on the lead going reasonable fractions. "Doug, those fractions were super quick!" It's Santa Anita, it's a fast track. Those are reasonable fractions there, and he won. He may have barely held, but he won. Simple as that.

     So let me put it this way: if you thought Bayern would be unable to make ten furlongs, then don't use a phony track bias that did not exist to make up for the fact that you were wrong. Just admit that you were wrong. Quit crying bias.

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Are the Handle Gains at Gulfstream West as Good as they Look?

With October over, we have finished the first of two months of racing from Gulfstream Park West. The re-branding of Calder Race Course has proven to be successful, with handle growths compared to 2013 and 2012. But has it been as successful as we think?

     Here are the handle figures:

GPW Wed Oct 8 2014 - $1,434,678 - 10 races
GPW Thu Oct 9 2014 - $2,192,435 - 10 races
GPW Fri Oct 10 2014 - $2,930,049 - 10 races
GPW Sat Oct 11 2014 - $3,475,300 - 10 races
GPW Sun Oct 12 2014 - $2,630,470 - 10 races
GPW Mon Oct 13 2014 - $2,872,972 - 10 races
GPW Thu Oct 16 2014 - $2,145,811 - 10 races
GPW Fri Oct 17 2014 - $2,655,455 - 10 races
GPW Sat Oct 18 2014 - $4,092,233 - 10 races
GPW Sun Oct 19 2014 - $2,830,191 - 10 races
GPW Mon Oct 20 2014 - $1,885,744 - 10 races
GPW Wed Oct 22 2014 - $1,997,669 - 10 races
GPW Thu Oct 23 2014 - $2,157,233 - 10 races
GPW Fri Oct 24 2014 - $2,210,351 - 10 races
GPW Sat Oct 25 2014 - $3,519,650 - 10 races
GPW Sun Oct 26 2014 - $2,885,732 - 10 races
GPW Mon Oct 27 2014 - $1,792,186 - 10 races
GPW Wed Oct 29 2014 - $2,054,966 - 10 races
GPW Thu Oct 30 2014 - $2,342,457 - 10 races
GPW Fri Oct 31 2014 - $3,435,327 - 10 races
Total - $51,540,909 - 200 races
Average - $2,577,045/day - $257,704/race

CRC Fri Oct 4 2013 - $1,122,329 - 8 races
CRC Sat Oct 5 2013 - $856,150 - 9 races
CRC Sun Oct 6 2013 - $861,335 - 8 races
CRC Fri Oct 11 2013 - $1,130,032 - 8 races
CRC Sat Oct 12 2013 - $1,881,575 - 9 races
CRC Sun Oct 13 2013  - $986,411 - 8 races
CRC Fri Oct 18 2013 - $1,292,693 - 8 races
CRC Sat Oct 19 2013 - $1,028,557 - 9 races
CRC Sun Oct 20 2013 - $1,017,729 - 8 races
CRC Fri Oct 25 2013 - $1,066,367 - 8 races
CRC Sat Oct 26 2013 - $1,324,492 - 9 races
CRC Sun Oct 27 2013 - $806,761 - 8 races
Total - $13,374,431 - 100 races
Average - $1,114,535/day - $133,744/race

GP Sat Oct 5 2013 - $2,057,206 - 8 races
GP Sun Oct 6 2013 - $1,538,438 - 8 races
GP Sat Oct 12 2013 - $2,167,441 - 8 races
GP Sun Oct 13 2013 - $1,898,563 - 8 races
GP Sat Oct 19 2013 - $1,854,226 - 8 races
GP Sun Oct 20 2013 - $1,649,200 - 8 races
GP Sat Oct 26 2013 - $2,003,030 - 8 races
GP Sun Oct 27 2013 - $2,426,243 - 8 races
Total - $15,594,347 - 64 races
Average - $1,949,293/day - $243,661/race

2013 combined - $28,968,778 - 164 races
Average - $1,448,438/day - $176,638/day

CRC Wed Oct 3 2012 - $1,367,128 - 8 races
CRC Thu Oct 4 2012 - $894,088 - 9 races
CRC Fri Oct 5 2012 - $1,398,618 - 11 races
CRC Sat Oct 6 2012 - $1,286,381 - 12 races
CRC Sun Oct 7 2012 - $897,866 - 9 races
CRC Wed Oct 10 2012 - $1,243,043 - 8 races
CRC Thu Oct 11 2012 - $935,972 - 9 races
CRC Fri Oct 12 2012 - $1,129,669 - 10 races
CRC Sat Oct 13 2012 - $1,858,535 - 12 races
CRC Sun Oct 14 2012 - $1,075,987 - 8 races
CRC Wed Oct 17 2012 - $1,082,736 - 8 races
CRC Thu Oct 18 2012 - $837,982 - 9 races
CRC Fri Oct 19 2012 - $1,327,107 - 11 races
CRC Sat Oct 20 2012 - $1,293,111 - 12 races
CRC Sun Oct 21 2012 - $1,018,715 - 8 races
CRC Wed Oct 24 2012 - $958,236 - 8 races
CRC Thu Oct 25 2012 - $772,922 - 9 races
CRC Fri Oct 26 2012 - $998,807 - 10 races
CRC Sat Oct 27 2012 - $1,083,074 - 12 races
CRC Sun Oct 28 2012 - $870,337 - 8 races
CRC Wed Oct 31 2012 - $1,159,830 - 8 races
Total - $23,490,144 - 199 races
Average - $1,118,578/day - $118,040/race

     Average handle per race when compared to both Florida tracks in 2013 is up 45.89%, and 118.31% when compared to Calder in 2012.

    However, Gulfstream West's average per race handle is up only 5.76% from Gulfstream 2013. In 2013, Gulfstream was running head to head with Calder. It would not have been difficult to have grown handle at both tracks in 2013, but poor management cost both tracks.

    Let's say Calder cuts Sundays in 2013, a poor day for them in both 2012 and 2013, and moves them to Wednesday, their best performing day in 2012. A day of head to head competition with Gulfstream has now been eliminated, boosting handle at Gulfstream for Sundays, and they've just put themselves into a slot that was averaging $145,274/race in 2012 instead of the $114,757/race that 2013 Sundays were doing, a theoretical increase of 21.01%.

     So while it's nice to see gains at Gulfstream Park West, we have to understand that realistically, the only reason we're seeing these gains is because of CDI's poor management of Calder in 2013. Handle declines are a trend in North America, and Gulfstream Park West shouldn't be an exception. It is simply a beneficiary of a badly thought out situation the previous year. 

Sunday, 2 November 2014

Santa Anita is Gorgeous and the Breeders' Cup is Spectacular

Pretty blunt title, but I think it effectively sums up my thought's about my recent trip.

     But honestly, I've never really understood why people from SoCal are so defensive about how great SoCal is, both as a place and in horse racing. While I still don't think the quality of their racing is as high as what they've got out east, I definitely understand why they love their home so much; what a breathtakingly beautiful place.

     There's truly something special about being at a racetrack with tens of thousands of people, all there to appreciate the best Thoroughbred racing has to offer, and Santa Anita did a fantastic job hosting the event. Everything about the Arcadia racetrack feels racing oriented; it's a terrific place to spend a day at the races. I could wax poetic I suppose, but I would prefer to share some of the photos I took on a little digital camera. These definitely aren't the best shots you'll find on the internet, but I hope you enjoy them.

   

An elegant entrance for an elegant racetrack

The mountains provide a beautiful backdrop

Breeders' Cup Classic winner Bayern in post parade

Karaokonite (JPN) after his win in the Breeders' Cup Mile

Post parade for the Breeders' Cup Mile from grandstand

A lovely statue of Zenyatta & and a fountain overlook the grandstand entrance

The crowd circles the paddock

Over 60,000 people filled the seats on Saturday

The starting gate was parked right in front of my seat for a while

Illinois bred Work All Week after winning the Breeders' Cup Sprint

Admiring the grandstand from the walking ring on Friday

Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile field running to the first turn; Goldencents was the winner

Santa Anita can take pride in having the only digital tote board with any charm to it
The sun begins to set after the Breeders' Cup Classic
 
     Santa Anita truly is a fantastic racetrack, and the Breeders' Cup is an event that every racing fan must attend at least once. I hope everyone had a great weekend, made some money at the windows, and most of all, really appreciated the terrific racing we are blessed enough to behold. I know that a certain inquiry may have put a damper on the mood, but all in all, this is a truly special sport.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Keeneland Recap: It Just Didn't Feel Right

The 2014 October meet is now finished at Keeneland, and the highlight of course was the brand new dirt surface, replacing the polytrack that bettors had grown to love (or hate) since it's introduction in 2006. Now I, just like everyone else, love Keeneland, but this meet left a bitter taste in my mouth. It just didn't feel right.
   
      I've been in racing my entire life, but I've only been handicapping and betting for about four years now, so the only Keeneland I've ever known is polytrack Keeneland. I was never bothered by handicapping polytrack; my home track is Woodbine so polytrack is what I learned on. I've written about my concerns regarding the true safety of polytrack in the past (not a fan) but as a horseplayer, it has never bothered me. Keeneland always had huge fields, and the races were not easy. It was a lot of fun. The new dirt track wasn't as difficult, and it shows in the field sizes and win payouts.
   
     Last year's fall meet had an average field size of 9.85, but this year that fell almost a horse and a half per race to 8.42, a 14.6% drop. The average $2 win return last year was $17.14, but with the smaller fields and simpler handicapping that came with this meet, that dropped to $11.60, a decline of 32.4%. The value in betting Keeneland's races went down significantly, and that showed in the handle.
   
     This meet mirrored last year's in terms of number of races, with 160 races held over 17 days. In 2013 handle totaled $139,667,317, with a daily average of $8,215,724 and $872,920 per race. This year, the total handle was $122,904,389, a decline of 12.1%. Almost $17 million in handle lost. That's a very significant number. Excuses have been made, most notably possible loss of some major players, which I cannot verify, and the weather, which is just ridiculous. If it is the loss of a whale, step back and ask yourself: why did he/she stop playing? The answer is simple: the value was gone. This isn't necessarily a case of all-weather being "better" than dirt or people betting all-weather because it's all-weather. This is a case of value being better than no value, and the bigger fields that all-weather attracted created the value.
   
     Briefly touching on the weather idea, one of the concerns voiced by horseplayers before the meet was how dirt would affect off-turf races, so I took a look at that. In 2013, there were six races moved from turf to the polytrack. Six horses were listed as off-turf scratches in those races. This year, five races were moved from the turf to the dirt, and 20 horses were listed as off-turf scratches. We've gone from losing one horse per race to four horses per race when the turf is rained off. So that was a valid concern.
   
     Perhaps the most frustrating part about this meet was the fact that there was really nothing that made it stand out, nothing that you couldn't find at other tracks. Instead of a continuation of the player friendly Kentucky Downs, this year's fall-meet felt more like Santa Anita, with the shorter field sizes and speed favouring dirt sprints. An average field size of 8.42 isn't special; Hawthorne's current average field size is 8.68. Keeneland is well regarded for their low takeout, but they're only the lowest with triactors and superfectas. Win/Place/Show are lower at Northlands, Woodbine, Hastings and in California, Exactors are lower at Kentucky Downs and NYRA, and when it comes to multi-race wagers you can get lower prices at Houston, Retama, Northlands, Tampa, the Meadowlands, NYRA, and several more depending on which specific Pick X wager you're looking for. Now that their field sizes don't reign supreme, Keeneland is no longer the best.
   
     Going back to "speed favouring dirt sprints," one thing that was frequently discussed over the meet was how fair the track was. A lot of people claimed it was too speed favouring, others claimed it was very fair. Well, I have the break down. Seventy-five dirt sprints were run, of which 35 were won by speed, 28 were won by stalkers, and 12 were won by closers. Speed won 46.6% of the sprints. That's a pro-speed bias. Routes played fairer, with speed winning 14 of 46, stalkers winning 22, and closers winning 10. On the turf, there were only four sprints run, with two speed winners and two closing winners. Turf routes were about as fair to speed as dirt sprints were to closers. Speed went four for 35, with stalkers winning 20 and closers winning 11.
         
     Now, was everything about this meet bad? Absolutely not. Despite what I've been told was one of poorest meets weather-wise, average daily attendence was 14,798, only a 5.6% drop from last year and live handle was down only 3%. As racing fans, we witnessed a terrific Fall Stars weekend, with several Breeders' Cup contenders making their final preps. We could talk about how great they all are, but I think we should take a moment to appreciate the one and only Wise Dan, who will miss this year's Breeders' Cup Mile due to an injury. Wise Dan's win in the Shadwell Turf Mile was easily my favourite Wise Dan race. Nothing went well trip-wise for the veteran gelding, and down the stretch I was sure he would be off the board, but in the fashion of truely great racehorses, he fought back and won nicely. There aren't many horses as great as Wise Dan, and he deserves his place in history.
   
     With this meet in the books, we're left waiting until April for the Spring meet to see if the new dirt track will be the beginning of a trend of lower handles and field sizes, or if Keeneland can attract more horses and turn things around. Keeneland is still a top-class track that tries to act with both horseplayers and horsemen in mind, and it deserves praise for that. This was certainly an interesting meet. It just wasn't as interesting as we have gotten used to.

Wednesday, 22 October 2014

Favourites in the Breeders' Cup Pt 2

We recently looked at the performance of favourites in the original Breeders' Cup races, now it's time to look at the races that have been added to the Championship event since then.

YEAR - ODDS OF FAV - FAV FINISH POSITION - FIELD SIZE - $2 WIN RETURN

BC Filly & Mare Turf
2013 - 1.5 - 1st - 10 - $5
2012 - 1.6 - 3rd - 11 - $20.40
2011 - 1.9 - 10th - 11 - $57.60
2010 - 0.9 - 2nd - 11 - $94
2009 - 2.2 - 3rd - 8 - $6.60
2008 - 2.6 - 7th - 10 - $11.80
2007 - 2.8 - 3rd - 11 - $25.40
2006 - 1.4 - 1st - 10 - $4.80
2005 - 2.3 - 2nd - 14 - $32.20
2004 - 0.9 - 1st - 12 - $3.80
2003 - 2.9- 1st - 12 - $7.80
2002 - 2.8 - 4th - 12 - $28.40
2001 - 2.65 - 11th - 12 - $14
2000 - 1.4 - 5th - 14 - $12
1999 - 3.6 - 1st - 14 - $9.20
# of winning favs - 5
Average odds of winning favs - 2.06
Average odds of favs - 2.09
Median odds of favs - 2.2
Average finish position of favs - 3.6 (4th)
Average field size - 11.46
Average field size when fav wins - 11.6
Average $2 win payout - $22.20
# of NA bred winners - 5
# of non-NA bred winners - 10

BC Turf Sprint
2013 - 2.7 - 1st - 13 - $7.40
2012 - 4.7 - 2nd - 14 - $15.80
2011 - 2.3 - 1st - 14 - $6.60
2010 - 3 - 5th - 14 - $15.80
2009 - 3.4 - 1st - 14 - $8.80
2008 - 4.4 - 4th - 14 - $36.50
# of winning favs - 3
Average odds of winning favs - 2.8
Average odds of favs - 3.41
Median odds of favs - 3.2
Average finish position of favs - 2.3 (2nd)
Average field size - 13.83
Average field size when fav wins - 13.66
Average $2 win payout - $15.15

BC Juvenile Turf
2013 - 1.3 - 3rd - 13 - $14
2012 - 3.9 - 2nd - 14 - $20.60
2011 - 4 - 7th - 14 - $25.20
2010 - 3.7 - 6th - 12 - $14.80
2009 - 2.4 - 1st - 12 - $6.80
2008 - 3.3 - 2nd - 12 - $13.60
2007 - 2.8 - 2nd - 12 - $27.20
# of winning favs - 1
Average finish position of favs - 3.3 (3rd)
Average odds of favs - 3.05
Median odds of favs - 3.3
Average field size - 12.71
Average $2 win payout - $17.45
# of NA bred winners - 4
# of non-NA bred winners - 3

BC Juvenile Fillies Turf
2013 - 2.8 - 7th - 14 - $15.80
2012 - 2.7 - 8th - 14 - $24.80
2011 - 2.8 - 8th - 14 - $14.20
2010 - 1.1 - 2nd - 14 - $29.20
2009 - 1.5 - 8th - 12 - $21.60
2008 - 2.6 - 3rd - 12 - $24.20
Average finish position of favs - 6th
Average odds of favs - 2.25
Median odds of favs - 2.65
Average field size - 13.33
Average $2 win payout - $21.63
# of NA bred winners - 4
# of non-NA bred winners - 2

BC Fillies & Mares Sprint
2013 - 3 - 1st - 12 - $8
2012 - 0.7 - 1st - 10 - $3.40
2011 - 1.4 - 5th - 12 - $42.40
2010 - 4.4 - 4th - 13 - $19.20
2009 - 0.8 - 2nd - 9 - $8.80
2008 - 1.8 - 2nd - 13 - $7.60
2007 - 2.1 - 6th - 10 - $18
# of winning favs - 2
Average odds of winning favs - 1.85
Average odds of favs - 2.02
Median odds of favs - 1.8
Average finish position of favs - 3rd
Average field size - 11.28
Average field size when fav wins - 11
Average $2 win payout - $15.34

BC Dirt Mile
2013 - 2.5 - 4th - 11 - $9.60
2012 - 2.6 - 6th - 9 - $32.60
2011 - 2.6 - 7th - 9 - $15.60
2010 - 2.7 - 11th - 12 - $77.40
2009 - 1.4 - 4th - 10 - $44.60
2008 - 1.2 - 9th - 12 - $14.60
2007 - 1.5 - 3rd - 8 - $9.40
Average finish position of favs - 6.3 (6th)
Average odds of favs - 2.07
Median odds of favs - 2.5
Average field size - 10.14
Average $2 win payout - $29.11

     In these races shorter histories, we see that the Dirt Mile and the two Juvenile Turf races are very good for chalk-faders, while the Turf Sprint and Filly and Mare Turf have been quite chalky. We also see that North American breds still tend to win the majority of the turf races, the Filly and Mare Turf being the exception.

     Again, use these numbers how you will. Have a great night!

Quarter Horse Racing to Return to Kentucky

Keeneland has reached an agreement to purchase Thunder Ridge Raceway, a harness track near Prestonburg, Ky., with plans to replace the raceway with a Quarter Horse track offering Instant Racing machines in Corbin, Ky.

      Regulatory approval is still required before the plan can be made official, but Keeneland chief operating officer Vince Gaffert has said that a short meeting could be held 18 months after final approval. This could mean that Quarter Horse racing will be held in the state as soon as 2016.

     Quarter Horse racing has not been held in Kentucky since 2010, when the Red Mile held a two-day summer meet. The Red Mile had been hosting the meet since 2004. The meet was planned in 2011, but was cancelled due to a lack of horses. Quarter Horse racing had previously been popular in the state, peaking in 1988 with 140 dates split between Bluegrass Downs and Riverside Downs.

     With the continued growth of the Hialeah Park winter meet in Florida, a spring Quarter Horse meet in Kentucky could prove to be successful. With it's location near the Tennessee border, the Instant Racing machines should surely be able to create a strong purse structure.

     Keeneland plans on hosting harness racing at Thunder Ridge in 2015 before shuttering the raceway. Hopefully Keeneland will be sure to keep integrity standards high as they revive Kentucky Quarter Horse racing.

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Average Daily Handle Down at Hawthorne

After the first ten days of live racing, average daily handle at Hawthorne Racecourse is down.

     So far this meet, the Cicero oval has handled $18,299,111, a daily average of $1,829,911. At this point last of the meet last year, 13 cards of racing had been held, with a total handle of $27,044,679, averaging $2,080,359/day. The average daily handle has fallen 12.1%. Average field size this year has been 8.64, up very slightly from 8.58 at this point last year.

     Hawthorne made some changes coming into this meet. First, Sunday racing has been removed from the schedule. Second, $.20 minimums are now offered on all Triactors, Superfectas, Pick 3s, Pick 4s and Pick 5s. While most of these wagers have seen decreases similar to the total handle, Pick 4s are about even with last year and the Pick 5 has seen very significant growth, with it's average daily pool rising from $9,160 to $18,710, an increase of 104%.

     The drop in handle may be explained by theories that high-handle players are beginning to leave the game. Field size can't be blamed, and one would normally assume that handle losses at Keeneland would lead to higher handles at other tracks. This does not appear to be the case.

     Hawthorne races Wednesday through Saturday. Their average field size is actually slightly higher than Keeneland's currently is, and if you like low bet minimums they are worth checking out.

Thursday, 16 October 2014

Favourites in the Breeders' Cup Part 1

Here's something I thought was worth doing a bit of studying into: how do favourites perform in the Breeders' Cup? Which races are most likely to come up with a price? Which ones are more likely to come up chalky? Here's the first part of these stats, looking at the original six Breeders' Cup races. A second entry containing the rest of the races will be up likely tomorrow. Please note that for these stats I have only gone back to 1991 because I used Equibase results charts.

BC Classic
Year - Odds of fav - finish position - field size - $2 win payout
2013 - 1.7 - 9th - 11 - $10
2012 - 1.3 - 7th - 12 - $20.80
2011 - 3.6 - 5th - 12 - $31.60
2010 - 1 - 2nd - 12 - $12.40
2009 - 2.8 - 1st - 12 - $7.60
2008 - 0.9 - 4th - 12 - $29
2007 - 2.5 - 4th - 9 - $10.80
2006 - 1.1 - 2nd - 13 - $15.40
2005 - 2.4 - 1st - 13 - $6.80
2004 - 2.5 - 1st - 13 - $7
2003 - 2.6 - 2nd - 10 - $30.40
2002 - 2.7 - 2nd - 12 - $89
2001 - 2.35 - 8th - 13 - $15.80
2000 - 1.2 - 6th - 13 - $20.40
1999 - 2.3 - 7th - 14 - $41.20
1998 - 1.9 - 6th - 10 - $11.40
1997 - 1.8 - 1st - 9 - $5.60
1996 - 0.65 - 3rd - 13 - $41.70
1995 - 0.7 - 1st - 11 - $3.40
1994 - 3.5 - 2nd - 14 - $17
1993 - 1.2 - 2nd, 4th, 11th (entry) - 13 - $269.20
1992 - 2.1 - 1st - 14 - $6.20
1991 - 3.1 - 6th - 11 - $10
# of winning favs - 6
Average odds of winning favs - 2.05
Average odds of fav - 2.08
Average favourite finish position - 3.77 (4th)
Average field size - 12.54
Average field size when favs win - 10.5
Average $2 win payout - $32.39
Median win payout - $13.90

BC Distaff
2013 - 1.4 - 4th - 6 - $7.60
2012 - 1.7 - 1st - 8 - $5.40
2011 - 2.2 - 1st - 9 - $6.40
2010 - 1.5 - 2nd - 11 - $17
2009 - 1.9 - 8th - 8 - $18.20
2008 - 0.5 - 1st - 8 - $3
2007 - 4.5 - 1st/10th(co-faves) - 12 - $11
2006 - 2.7 - DNF (13th) - 14 - $29.80
2005 - 2.25 - 3rd - 13 - $63.50
2004 - 2 - 1st - 11 - $6
2003 - 0.6 - 4th - 7 - $83.40
2002 - 1.8 - 1st - 8 - $5.60
2001 - 1.15 - 7th - 11 - $26.60
2000 - 0.4 - 7th - 9 - $113.80
1999 - 1.6 - 6th - 8 - $8
1998 - 0.8 - 2nd - 8 - $8
1997 - 1 - 2nd - 8 -$11.60
1996 - 1.3 - 3rd - 6 - $6.80
1995 - 0.8 - 1st - 10 - $3.60
1994 - 1.8 - 6th - 9 - $96.20
1993 - 1.3 - 1st - 8 - $4.60
1992 - 2 - 12th - 14 - $7.40
1991 - 0.5 - 1st - 13 - $3
# of winning favs - 9
Average odds of winning favs - 1.7
Average odds of fav - 1.62
Average fav finish position - 4.2 (4th)
Average field size - 9.95
Average field size when fav wins - 9.66
Average $2 win payout - $25.13
Median win payout - $7.80

BC Turf
2013 - 1.5 - 2nd - 12 - $27
2012 - 2.4 - 2nd - 12 - $36.60
2011 - 2.1 - 4th - 9 - $15.60
2010 - 1.1 - 4th - 7 - $19
2009 - 0.9 - 1st - 7 - $3.80
2008 - 1.6 - 4th - 11 - $13.60
2007 - 0.9 - 5th - 8 - $8
2006 - 2.9 - 6th - 11 - $23.60
2005 - 3.65 - 3rd - 13 - $19.60
2004 - 0.7 - 2nd - 8 - $57.80
2003 - 2 - 7th - 9 - $6.40, $13.60 (DH)
2002 - 0.9 - 1st - 8 - $3.80
2001 - 1.4 - 1st - 11 - $4.80
2000 - 3.2 - 7th - 13 - $11.20
1999 - 1.6 - 1st - 14 - $5.20
1998 - 2.7 - 7th - 13 - $9.20
1997 - 1.9 - 1st - 11 - $5.80
1996 - 1.1 - 2nd,3rd,4th(entry) - 14 - $29.40
1995 - 3.75 - 3rd,4th(entry) - 13 - $9.90
1994 - 0.8 - 3rd - 14 - $35.20
1993 - 1.5 - 1st - 14 - $5
1992 - 0.9 - 2nd - 10 - $30
1991 - 2.8 - 5th - 13 - $86.20
# of winning favs - 6
Average odds of winning favs - 1.36
Average odds of fav - 1.92
Average fav finish position - 3.36 (3rd)
Average field size - 11.5
Average field size when fav wins - 10.83
Average $2 win payout - $21.83
Median win payout - $13.60
# of NA Bred winners - 11
# of non-NA Bred winners - 11

BC Sprint
2013 - 2.5 -1st - 12 - $7
2012 - 3.5 - 8th - 14 - $29.40
2011 - 2.8 - 3rd - 9 - $17.80
2010 - 4.1 - 11th - 12 - $12.40
2009 - 1.8 - 5th - 9 - $52.60
2008 - 2.1 - 3rd - 8 - $7.40
2007 - 2.5 - 1st - 10 - $7
2006 - 1.6 - 14th - 14 - $33.20
2005 - 0.7 - 7th - 11 - $25.80
2004 - 3.6 - 10th - 13 - $9.40
2003 - 2.1 - 6th - 13 - $47.60
2002 - 2.7 - 1st - 13 - $7.40
2001 - 3.5 - 7th - 14 - $21.20
2000 - 1.7 - 1st - 14 - $5.40
1999 - 3.7 - 1st,4th(co-faves) - 14 - $9.40
1998 - 2.5 - 6th - 14 - $9.60
1997 - 3.4 - 6th,13th(co-faves) - 14 - $35.20
1996 - 4.0 - 1st - 13 - $10
1995 - 3.3 - 4th - 13 - $31
1994 - 2.8 - 1st - 14 - $7.60
1993 - 3.2 - 11th - 14 - $12.60
1992 - 2.1 - 3rd - 14 - $39.40
1991 - 0.4 - 9th - 11 - $54.60
# of winning favs - 7
Average odds of winning favs - 2.84
Average odds of favs - 2.75
Average finish position of fav - 5.7 (6th)
Average field size - 13.04
Average field size when fav wins - 12.86
Average $2 win payout - $22.41
Median win payout - $11.20

BC Mile
2013 - 0.8 - 1st - 10 - $3.60
2012 - 1.8 - 1st - 9 - $5.60
2011 - 1.3 - 3rd - 13 - $131.60
2010 - 1.3 - 1st - 11 - $4.60
2009 - 1.4 -1st - 11 - $4.80
2008 - 1.8 - 1st - 11 - $5.60
2007 - 2.1 - 2nd - 13 - $18.40
2006 - 3 - 9th - 14 - $50.60
2005 - 1.35 - 2nd - 12 - $13.20
2004 - 3.8 - 12th - 14 - $35
2003 - 3.1 - 13th - 13 - $12.60
2002 - 0.8 - 2nd - 14 - $54
2001 - 4.1 - 7th - 12 - $12.20
2000 - 3.5 - 1st - 14 - $9
1999 - 3.7 - 5th - 14 - $16.40
1998 - 2.6 - 8th - 14 - $25.20
1997 - 2.1 - 1st - 12 - $6.20
1996 - 1.25 - 9th - 14 - $18.90
1995 - 2.55 - 1st - 13 - $7.10
1994 - 0.9 - 9th - 14 - $22.80
1993 - 1.3 - 1st - 13 - $4.60
1992 - 1.5 - 11th - 14 -$12.80
1991 - 2.2 - 9th - 14 - $55.40
# of winning favs - 9
Average odds of winning favs- 1.83
Average odds of favs - 2.17
Average finish position of favs - 5th
Average field size - 13.32
Average field size when fav wins - 12.89
Average $2 win payout - $24.10
Median win payout - $13
# of NA bred winners - 14
# of non NA bred winners - 8

BC Juvenile
2013 - 2.6 - 2nd - 13 - $23
2012 - 1.3 - 1st - 9 - $4.60
2011 - 1.1 - 2nd - 13 - $16.20
2010 - 1.4 - 1st - 10 - $4.80
2009 - 2.2 - 2nd - 13 - $63.20
2008 - 3.5 - 2nd - 12 - $9.20
2007 - 2.2 - 1st - 11 - $6.40
2006 - 3 - 2nd - 13 - $32.40
2005 - 1.3 - 3rd - 14 - $11
2004 - 2 - 5th - 8 - $58.60
2003 - 1.6 - 12th - 12 - $55.60
2002 - 2.5 - 10th - 13 - $10.20
2001 - 0.75 - 5th - 12 - $16.40
2000 - 2.4 - 14th - 14 - $14.60
1999 - 2.7 - 6th - 14 - $62.60
1998 - 2.7 - 1st - 13 - $7.40
1997 - 1.2 - 1st - 8 - $4.40
1996 - 1.4 - 3rd - 10 - $6.80
1995 - 2.1 - 4th - 13 - $12.40
1994 - 2.4 - 1st - 13 - $6.80
1993 - 0.7 - 8th - 11 - $8
1992 - 2 - 1st - 13 - $6
1991 - 2.1 - 1st - 14 - $6.20
# of winning favs - 8
Average odds of winning favs - 1.91
Average odds of favs - 2.01
Average finish position of fav - 4th
Average field size - 11.91
Average field size when fav wins - 11.37
Average $2 win payout - $20.31
Median win payout - $9.70

BC Juvenile Fillies
2013 - 2.9 - 4th - 10 - $66.60
2012 - 1.5 - 2nd - 8 - $9.80
2011 - 2.1 - 1st - 14 - $6.20
2010 - 4.2 - 1st,12th(co-faves) - 12 - $10.40
2009 - 3.7 - 3rd - 12 - $16.80
2008 - 1.6 - 1st - 13 - $5.20
2007 - 1.7 - 1st - 13 - $5.40
2006 - 2.6 - 1st - 14 - $7.20
2005 - 2.35 - 1st - 10 - $6.70
2004 - 2.3 - 1st - 12 - $6.60
2003 - 2.3 - 1st - 14 - $6.60
2002 - 0.8 - 1st - 10 - $3.60
2001 - 0.95 - 4th - 9 - $25.80
2000 - 2.5 - 6th - 12 - $96
1999 - 1.5 - 2nd - 9 - $67
1998 - 0.8 - 1st - 10 - $3.60
1997 - 2 - 1st - 14 -  $6
1996 - 1.6 - 1st - 12 - $5.20
1995 - 1.1 - 3rd - 8 - $9
1994 - 0.4 - 1st - 13 - $2.80
1993 - 1.9 - 3rd - 8 - $6.60
1992 - 1.2 - 1st - 12 - $4.40
1991 - 2.4 - 7th - 14 - $13.60
# of winning favs - 14
Average odds of winning favs - 1.85
Average odds of favs - 2.02
Average finish position of favs - 2.6 (3rd)
Average field size - 11.95
Average field size when fav wins - 12.36
Average $2 win payout - $17.54
Median win payout - $6.60

     Looking at these numbers, it's pretty obvious that the Juvenile Fillies is the most chalky of the original six. Favourites have won 63% of the past 22 runnings, have a median win payout of $6.60. The Distaff isn't much better, with a median payout of $7.80 and an average boosted by more >$50 winners than any other race. Value-wise, the Classic, Turf, Sprint and Mile look like races to target, with solid average win payouts, and medians that show the averages aren't strongly altered by bombs.

     Do what you will with these numbers. Have a great evening!

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Ajax Downs Closing Day Selections

Well, we're finally at the end of the road of the 2014 racing season at Ajax Downs. It's been a lot of fun, the racing has been exciting, everything has been amazing. We really appreciate everyone who has joined us this year, and we hope everyone will be back in 2015! For the final time in 2014, here are my program selections.


Race 1: 4-2-5
Welcome to the final day of the 2014 live racing season! We've got a great eight race card to wrap up the meet today. #4 Wild Roze kicked off 2014 with a maiden win, but has been 0-for-six since trying to get her second win. Her speed figures have been consistently higher than the rest of this group's, and she has been in some far tougher spots than this. #2 Imaflysmashingbaby exits a third place finish in a fairly weak Speed Index race last week. He did get a win three starts back, but you have to concerned with his inconsistency. #5 Another Shark dropped in for a $5,000 claiming tag two back and that was all he needed to get the win.He then tried non winners of two on September 30 but did not run very well. He's been on the board in seven of 13 starts and this is a soft bunch, so I think he can round it out. Remember that Early Double wagering is available here!

Race 2: 1-6-5
This race is the start of the Early Pick 3. #1 On The Edge of Glory closed very fast in his second career start to be second by a head. Today he gets an extra 30 yards to work with and has potential to continue to improve with more experience. #6 Dick Greyson has yet to run a bad race in his six race career, but just hasn't been able to get the job done. He exits a good second with a 47 speed figure, a number that makes him look like a big player in this race; he just needs to run like that again. #5 Chicks Kisses has been very close in her last two starts, but is 0-for-17 in her career and is just tough to take as a win proposition. I can definitely see her rounding things out.

Race 3: 3-7-6
#3 Nemos Angle doesn't run very often, but she usually runs very well; she's been second or third in six of her last seven starts. She's a bit win-shy, as are most of her competitors, but she's been earning solid speed figures and has been so close so many times I have to think she's due for a win. #7 I Like Chics has already won twice in only five starts, making him easily the winningest horses in this race percentage wise. He exits a handy win at this distance, albeit against a softer group of horses; has potential to double up today. #6 Oh Gary finished second to Storytime Blue last time, a mare who has some talent. This gelding has been put in some ridiculously tough races that he never belonged in this year, but when he faces these conditioned allowance types he's usually competitive.

Race 4: 6-3-4
This race is the start of the $.20 Pick 4! #6 Ttt Kellys Regan broke his maiden over the sloppy going last week. He had run some good races at tougher tracks like Hialeah and Louisiana Downs prior to his maiden score, and has the highest class rating of the group. #3 Winners Spirit also raced last week, finishing a good second in a weak Speed Index race. He hasn't won since July 2013, but he's been in some tougher groups than he's facing today. #4 I Am Perfect exits a respectable fifth place finish against allowance company. He's not a horse with a lot of ability, but he's maiden win last year came at the end of the meet; we'll see if he runs any better on the class drop.

Race 5: 2-7-6
Tough group of starter allowance horses go to gate here. #2 Jj Maxwell exits back to back wins at this level with very strong speed figures to back it up. He's a horse who knows how to win, with seven victories under his belt and has to be respected here. #7 Channelislandflyer has been in solid form, with three seconds and two wins in his last five starts. He was second to Jj Maxwell last time, defeated the talented Eyesa Zoomn two back, and three back was second to Jj Maxwell again. We'll see if he can turn the tables today. #6 Storytime Blue won very nicely in an Ontario Bred $5,000 claiming race last time, closing late with her ears pointed forward. This is a significantly tougher field, but I think she has the ability to put in a respectable effort.

Race 6: 5-2-4
Co-featured on today's card is this open allowance for older horses going 400 yards. #5 Feature My News is a horse I was high on when he first came here to Ajax, but disappointed me in his first few starts. He then broke through with a great runner up finish in the Bank of America Challenge behind a talented American shipper, and then took an effortless victory in an allowance event. He's a multiple Stakes winner in the States who raced well all over the country, and I think he'll be tough here. #2 One Famous Glass looked very much the one to beat in the Alex Picov Memorial Championship, but didn't get away well and had his running path cut off, resulting in an okay fifth place finish. When this horse is on his game he's extremely tough; he finished fourth in the Grade I Leo Stakes at Remington Park earlier this year. He can certainly rebound today. #4 What Ta Wear was having a great 2014 with three wins and some very good efforts in Stakes company, but then went down to Hazel Park for a small Stakes race ten days ago. In that race she broke great, but took a bad bump, lost her footing and was pulled up. That race is not a reflection of her ability at all, she can rebound at a price. Don't discount #6 First Down the Track either, she is very live and has a big shot to win this. This is one of the most competitive six horse races I've seen in a long time. Remember that the Late Pick 3 starts here.

Race 7: 8-4-1
The other featured race of the day is this open allowance for two year olds going 330 yards. #8 Selective Memory was fourth in the Alex Picov Memorial Futurity two starts back before exploding to win a maiden event very nicely. He has the highest class rating of the bunch and I think there's a good shot that he will double up. #4 Fiesty Icon broke his maiden two back in Ontario Sired company and came back to pull an upset win at this open allowance level. He certainly looked good in that win and he has a big shot to do it again. #1 Speed of Life was second to Fiesty Icon in that open allowance two weeks ago, fighting gamely from the rail but coming out second best. I don't know that she can rebound and get the win today, but I wouldn't totally discount it as a possibility. Be sure to play the Late Double!

Race 8: 6-8-10
Two year old maidens go to gate for the final race of 2014! #6 Chik Flick qualified to the Alex Picov Memorial Futurity, where he ran an okay sixth. He then went into the maiden ranks and finished a good second, but was DQd for veering out and bothering a foe. He seems to be the most talented of this bunch. #8 Fearghas is the foe who was bothered by Chik Flick. This gelding debuted in the race where Chik Flick was second but DQd, and was running fairly well before Chik Flick veered out, causing the rider to have to check, finishing fifth but bumped up to fourth. He can improve second time out with (hopefully) a clear running path. #10 Arctic Gate debuted with a good second in Ontario Sired company before coming back to finish fourth (DQd to ninth after bothering a foe) in a trial for the Ontario Sires Stakes Futurity. She has been running well and deserves a look. The outside post could be beneficial. Thank you to everyone who joined us here at Ajax Downs for this fantastic season of Quarter Horse racing! See you all in 2015!

Good luck to everyone playing today! Thanks again from all of us here at Ajax Downs!

Monday, 13 October 2014

Thanksgiving Monday Ajax Downs Selections

We're in the final week of racing at Ajax Downs, so today we have a special 10 race Thanksgiving card. The feature today is the $95,600 Ontario Sires Stakes Futurity. We've got plenty of full fields today, so be sure to have a play! Here are my program selections.


Race 1: 5-2-4
Happy Thanksgiving! Welcome to a terrific 10 race holiday card here at Ajax Downs! #5 Jesse James Alibi raced a very game third last week, breaking from gate #3 on a day that was very outside favouring. Forgetting the race in which she dropped the rider, she has been in very good form and deserves a look here. It's also worth noting that she always races well at the end of the season. #2 Shake Pretty Baby led most of the way in a 350 yard race against Storytime Blue last time, but was run down late to finish fourth, but quite close to being second. Today she drops in class down to $3,000 claiming. #4 Kool N Kinda Special exits the same race as Jesse James Alibi from last week. This gelding broke from the outside post that day and got up in the final stride to win by a nose. The outside post certainly aided him, but he's in good form and has a shot at doubling up. This race starts the Early Double.

Race 2: 7-4-6
This race kicks off the Early Pick 3. #7 Memories Times Six raced in this condition two weeks ago, leading most of the way but getting caught very late to be beaten a head at 350 yards. Today he cuts back to 250 yards, a cutback that I think will be very beneficial. #4 Jess Carolina kicked off 2014 with two runner up finishes, including one against the top level mares, but trailed in her most recent start in top level allowance company. She's had some time off and returns now in softer company. We'll see how she does. #6 A Plain Brown Rapper finished third last time, the same race where Memories Times Six was second. This gelding has talent, he was a Graded Stakes winner at 2 and was beaten a nose in a Grade II in Iowa last September, but after a long 2013 season that included a trip to California and a campaign in Florida, he hasn't been as good this year. He does like 250 yards; let's see if he can get his first 2014 victory. Note that he was a vet scratch last week.

Race 3: 2-6-1
#2 Probie ran alright facing some tough horses in a starter allowance race last time. His three efforts prior, which include a win over a nice horse named Cat Vision and two seconds behind Sign It Down and Bold Six Love were all very respectable efforts. I like the class drop and this is a horse who has been good at the end of the season for the past two years. #6 Catch a Heart was a Stakes winner at Delta Downs when he was two. Since coming to Ajax he has been okay, most recently finishing third against Speed Index company. This horse is capable of winning this race, but he frequently throws clunkers. Which Catch a Heart will we get today? #1 Cameron Dash started the season off with a second and two  wins, but his three most recent performances have all been poor. He does drop  from top level allowance to this non-earners allowance, so improvement is expected. 

Race 4: 7-3-4
The $.20 Pick 4 starts here! #7 Waitin for Momma was beaten only a nose against NW2 allowance company two weeks back, earning a 52 speed figure. He now takes a sideways class move into Speed Index and could be tough breaking from the outside post. #3 Crazy Hearted ran a decent third against NW2 allowance last time back on August 26. Last year her form was strong at the end of the season, we'll see if that pattern continues. #4 Cash In For Sugar was fifth beaten 3/4 of a length in a Speed Index race last time. Most of her races this year have been decent and this is not a tough group.

Race 5: 5-7-8
This race is a 110 yard 'Gridiron Gallop,' so you'll want to be watching this one from the rail! #5 Dm Paid In Cash is one of only two in here who has raced at 110 yards before. He tried the distance on Canada Day, broke very fast and lead most of the way, but was caught late by One Kool Wave, who is a 110 yard specialist. Then on September 1, in a 250 yard allowance, he broke very well again and led most of the way but weakened late. I think 110 yards fits him very well. #7 Pegasos One Underpar is the only other member of this field to try 110 yards, finishing third in the same Canada Day race as Dm Paid In Cash. Last week he ran a very good second behind the very talented Jesskissmytexas. I expect a good run today. #8 Cruwysn the Arctic also ran in the Jesskissmytexas race last week, finishing last. I feel he did not like the sloppy going. He is four-for-eight this year and usually breaks very quickly; 110 yards should work for him.

Race 6: 4-3-6
#4 Red Kelly has a class rating of 59.76, which is 13 points higher than the second highest class rating of this field. He won an Ontario Sired starter allowance two starts back, then finished third behind Channelislandflyer and Eyesa Zoomn last time. This field is significantly easier, and this gelding is a six time winner facing a bunch of non winners of two. Looks very tough to me. #3 Jess What to Wear has been game in her last two starts, races which were won by Noisyboy and I Like Chics, both respectable horses. She should race well here. #6 Sofar Gone broke his maiden by an open length two starts back and came back to be a good third. The runner up in that race, Ssc Eye Get It, came back to win two weeks ago. He may like the outside post.

Race 7: 4-5-6
This race is an open allowance for three year olds going 350 yards. #4 Zoomin On Ice looked like a winner almost the entire time in the Ontario Sires Stakes Derby, but was run down in the final stride by the talented Reckless an Wild. His recent form has been very strong and I'm expecting a good run today. #5 Streakinshagginwagon kicked off the year with wins in a trial for and the final of the Picov Derby, and has continued to be solid. Most recently he finished a good third in an open allowance open to older horses, which was won by talented four year old mare What Ta Wear. He is the highest earner of the field with $69,899 in the bank. #6 Mr Victory Six exits a fourth place finish against older horses in a trial for the Alex Picov Memorial Championship. He did qualify for the final, but flipped in the starting gate and was a late vet scratch. This gelding clearly has plenty of talent, but watch his behavior in the paddock and in the warm up. He may not perform as well after his flip.

Race 8: 1-3-7
#1 This Chics Leavin debuted back on September 16 and finished fourth. She weaved in and out a bit in that race and likely would have been second or third had she stayed straight. I'm looking for some second time out improvement from this mare. #3 Random Audit was at a big disadvantage last week, breaking from the rail post on the sloppy track. She raced an okay third. Her two prior efforts were a close second and a close third. She's been knocking on the door, but just needs to open it. #7 The Diamond Cartel finished second in a maiden $5,000 claiming race last time, and was claimed by Renee Wilson. You don't see many claims here, and the return to a straight maiden as opposed to a claiming event makes me think the new connections think this horse will be alright. We'll see how she does. Remember that the Late Pick 3 begins here.

Race 9: 4-3-9
Today's featured event is the $95,400 Ontario Sires Stakes Futurity. #4 Arctic Special debuted in his trial for this race, and won by an impressive length. He weaved in and out but still drew off late. If he had stayed straight he would have posted the fastest qualifying time. Let's see if we get some second time out improvement. #3 Arizona Bennie broke his maiden in a trial for the Alex Picov Memorial Futurity, and came back to finish second in the final behind the super-tough Jumping Guitar. In his trial for this race he was off a half step slow and took a light bump early but ran on nicely to be second, while the winner, Wild Boyz Victory, had a clean break and a totally clear running path. With a clean break things should work better for this gelding. #9 George Is Dashing was beaten a nose in a maiden race on September 1 and came back to win his trial for this race by a nose. He fought nicely to hold for the win in that race. I don't think he's the fastest in this race, but he does appear to have a lot of try in him. Remember to play the Late Double!

Race 10: 4-7-1
#4 Fool On Fire broke very alertly in his debut but was run down late. He now cuts back 30 yards which should be beneficial if he breaks as well as he did on debut. #7 Okey Dokey Fast exits a third behind Arctic Special in a trial for the Ontario Sires Stakes Futurity. She has also raced well against Sassy N Ready, who's a filly with some talent. She's likely going to be the favourite, and she does deserve it. #1 Fames Winner was third behind Fool On Fire last time. He has been decent so far in his career, and should run well today.

Good luck to everyone playing today, and have a happy Thanksgiving!

Numbers from Gulfstream Park West

After five days of racing at the newly dubbed Gulfstream Park West (Calder) I figured we should take a few minutes to compare the handle to the head-to-head Gulfstream vs. Calder of last year, and to the standalone Calder dates of 2012. Take a look.

2014

GPW Wed Oct 8 - $1,434,678 - 10 races
GPW Thu Oct 9 - $2,192,435 - 10 races
GPW Fri Oct 10 - $2,930,049 - 10 races
GPW Sat Oct 11 - $3,475,300 - 10 races
GPW Sun Oct 12 - $2,630,470 - 10 races
Total - $12,663,080 - 50 races - $253,261.60/race
Fri/Sat/Sun - $9,035,819 - 30 races - $301,193.96/race

2013

CRC Fri Oct 11 - $1,130,032 - 8 races
GP Sat Oct 12 - $2,167,441 - 8 races
CRC Sat Oct 12 - $1,881,575 - 9 races
GP Sun Oct 13 - $1,898,563 - 8 races
CRC Sun Oct 13 - $986,411 - 8 races
CRC Total - $3,998,018 - 25 races - $159,920.72/race
GP Total - $4,066,004 - 16 races - $254,125.25/race

Total - $8,064,022 - 41 races - $196,683.46/race

2012

CRC Wed Oct 10 - $1,243,043 - 8 races
CRC Thu Oct 11 - $935,972 - 9 races
CRC Fri Oct 12 - $1,129,669 - 10 races
CRC Sat Oct 13 - $1,858,535 - 12 races
CRC Sun Oct 14 - $1,075,987 - 8 races
Total - $6,243,206 - 47 races - $132,834.17/race


     First off, I'm completely baffled that Calder was doing better handles in 2013 going to head to head with Gulfstream than they were alone in 2012. Saturday 13, 2012 and Saturday 12, 2013 were Florida Sires Stakes day at Calder, and 2013 completely crushed 2012. But I digress.

     Average daily handle at Gulfstream Park West is practically on par with Gulfstream 2013, and if we look at Friday/Saturday/Sunday handle (the only days there was racing in Florida in 2013) Gulfstream Park West is doing 15.7% more handle per race than Gulfstream was last year.

    One thing we can gather from these numbers is that venue is not as important as brand. Calder and Gulfstream West are the same thing, but bettors respond better to the Gulfstream brand than they did to Calder. The name "Gulfstream" brings to mind a classic, championship winter meet, while "Calder" is a name associated with lower level racing overshadowed by more popular summer meets like Saratoga and Del Mar. If Golden Gate was rebranded as "Santa Anita North," handle would probably go up. People like big name branding.

      People are betting on the Gulfstream Park West races, and they're betting more than they were on Florida racing at this time of year in the past. Racing needs people to bet more money, and in the midst of some disheartening meets elsewhere (which I will cover at a later date) Gulfstream Park West is encouraging. Further updates on the Gulfstream Park West numbers will be provided in the future.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Tuesday Ajax Downs Selections

We're down to the final two weeks and three cards of racing at Ajax Downs. Time flies when you're having fun! This week's Tuesday card consists of nine races headlined by an open allowance for Ontario Sired runners. Here are my program selections.

Race 1: 2-5-1
Welcome back to another great card of racing here at Ajax Downs! #2 Mr Eazy looks very tough in the opener. He exits a pair of good third place finishes with solid speed figures. Back in July he qualified to the Adequan Derby Challenge. It's his race to lose. #5 Chissled and Fiesty is a six year old mare who's the queen of finishing second; 12 runner up finishes in 33 starts. She ran a decent third last time, and prior to that she was second to Code 36 who has been very tough in the Speed Index ranks lately. #1 Theydontlikemyname has finished behind Mr Eazy in her last two starts. Most recently she ran a very even seventh, but she doesn't need to be much better to be third today. Be sure to play the Early Double!

Race 2: 6-1-3
Early Pick 3 wagering is offered here, and we have another one who looks like she should not lose. #6 Sugarspicenotsonice was in way too tough in her last two starts, a trial and the final for the Alex Picov Memorial Champioship, where she ran against the best Quarter Horses in the province. She's about 15 speed figure points the best here. #1 Lose Your Wranglers is the clear second fastest horse in this race according to the speed figures, about 15-20 points faster than everybody except Sugarspicenotsonice. His lone start of 2014 was a trailing effort, but he can improve second off the bench and the rest of the competition is not tough at all. #3 Make Me Caliente raced evenly for $3,000 claiming last time. He's a very average horse, but he hits the board in over half of his starts so he can round things out here.

Race 3: 3-1-4
#3 Ttt Kellys Regan exits a good second behind Runaway Cause, who has since won a NW3 Allowance while he was still eligible for NW2. This gelding has raced well at Louisiana Downs and Hialeah, and today he has found a field that certainly looks beatable. #1 Random Audit has been facing Ontario Sired company and has been racing very well, getting beat only a nose two back and a neck last out. This is a tougher assignment but I think he is capable of running a respectable race here. #4 Tresseis Royal Fame exits the same race as Ttt Kellys Regan, where he finished fourth. He has only raced twice, so some improvement can be expected as he gains more experience.

Race 4: 5-4-1
This race kicks off the $.20 Pick 4, and I think we have a single to start things off. #5 Arctic Fame is in terrific form right now, exiting a second behind classy Stakes level runner Feature My News and a third in the Ontario Sires Stakes Derby. His class and his speed figures make him seem much the best here. #4 Make Me a Miracle finished a close second in her trial for the Ontario Sires Stakes Derby, but trailed in the final. I have no clue why she ran so poorly in that race, but she generally races well so I'll give her a chance to rebound here. #1 Hurricane Alexandra exits a fourth place finish in a trial for the Ontario Sires Stakes Maturity, and was meant to run in the final but was a steward's scratch. Her last wins come at the Speed Index level and she doesn't seem as fast as the favourite, but I think she'll race well today.

Race 5: 4-6-7
#4 Our General Grant exits a win at this $3,000 claiming level. He has run several very good races this year, and I don't see a start in 2014 that I would consider poor. At 7-1 I like him to double up. #6 Extravagant Moves has had a great 2014, compiling a record of 6-2-3-0. She looked like a winner in most of her last race but was just beaten by Hi N Dry. She's in fantastic form and has to be considered the one to beat. #7 Kool N Kinda Special was making up ground late last time to be third behind Extravagant Moves, and before that was second behind Our General Grant. He definitely fits in at this level and has a shot to turn the tables on the top two.

Race 6: 4-2-6
#4 Eye Select debuted against straight Maiden company and ran a decent 5th. She now drops in for the $5,000 claiming tag and looks to improve second time out. #2 Caraways Zoomto Fame dropped down for the tag last time and raced well to be third. He's run 10 times and really hasn't been that close so it's tough to back him to win, but he does usually race well. #6 Everything Fast is a professional maiden, still looking for the first win after 20 starts. He's run several good races this year that should make him competitive, but will he ever win? Will start #21 be the day things work out for him? I'm going with no.

Race 7: 3-6-8
#3 Shesastreakinchick had not been racing very well at all, but turned things around on September the 16th when finished third behind Code 36 and Cold Hearted Shark. This is a softer spot, the big question is will she run as well as she did last time or go back off form? #6 Carbello is quite similar, usually not racing well but exiting a good effort, a second behind Cold Hearted Shark. Just like Shesastreakinchick, he needs to prove that he can run that well again. #8 Yessir E Bob won a NW2 $5,000 claimer two back, but came back to run an even sixth in Shesastreakinchick's last race. Numbers-wise he fits here, we'll see what he does today. Late Pick 3 wagering is available here.

Race 8: 5-2-6
This is our featured race of the day, an open Allowance for Ontario Sired horses. It also kicks off the Late Double. #5 Jesskissmytexas is probably the best Ontario Sired horse currently racing and he's looking to prove it today. He exits an easy win in the Ontario Sires Stakes Maturity, never being challenged. He's won five of his last six, six of 12 lifetime, and has the figures to back it up. Very tough to beat. #2 Reckless an Wild exits a hard fought win in the Ontario Sires Stakes Derby. That was easily the best effort of his career, but he'll need to duplicate that to beat Jesskissmytexas. Talented horse for sure, but the waters are getting a bit deeper. #6 Pegasos One Underpar has hit the board in six of seven starts this year, exiting a second in a 250 yard Allowance. He's an eight time winner, making him the winningest horse in this field.

Race 9: 7-6-2
Ontario bred Maidens wrap up today's card. #7 Jess Fly N High took a couple of starts to get going, but ran a respectable fourth behind horses like Arizona Bennie and Sassy N Ready in an Ontario Sires Stakes Futurity trial. The class drop should be beneficial. #6 Situation Critical debuted against Jess Fly N High and slightly outran him. She hasn't raced since that debut back on August 26, likely because there was no race for her. We'll see if she improves second time out. #2 Mountain Cartel debuted on September 1st and ran an okay fifth. Much like Situation Cartel he is well bred and I'm expecting some second time out improvement.

Good luck to everyone playing today! Just a reminder that next week is our final week of racing, and we will have two cards of racing. There will be racing on Thanksgiving Monday and on Tuesday the 14th.