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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.