Saturday, 29 August 2015

The Pharoah

I don't think there were very many racing fans who weren't at least a little surprised that American Pharoah lost the Travers today. There were certainly no shortage of sharp handicappers who were trying to beat him, but I don't think there were many who were flat out expecting him to lose.

      The reality of American Pharoah that seems to have been lost in the Triple Crown hype is that he is a horse. He is a horse who accomplished an absolutely incredible feat and will deservedly go down in history as one of the true greats, but he is a horse. Any horse can lose, and winning the Derby, Preakness and Belmont does not change the fact that you can lose. It happens.

      The difference in Pharoah's four most recent wins and today's loss, as far as I can see, is the pace setup. In the Derby he stalked a contested pace. In the Preakness he was a lone speed on a sloppy track. In the Belmont he secured a clear lead early and no one managed to challenge him. In the Haskell he tracked an outclassed pacesetter and never really had to work after that horse stopped. Nothing went wrong for him in any of those starts. Today, he speed dueled along the rail. Speed dueling is never ideal, but nine times out of ten if you're going to get caught in a speed duel, you're better off to be on the outside.

      We can also factor in the fact that he's shipped back and forth across the country, but it's tough to argue the fact that it's easier to beat a horse when he doesn't have an absolute perfect setup.

      In my opinion, this was actually quite the telling race for Pharoah, in a positive way. The way he fought with Frosted, looked to be done early in the stretch but really dug in and put that rival away is incredibly impressive. The way he battled is the way all truly great race horses battle. The unfortunate reality for Pharoah is that this time around, Keen Ice got the perfect set up and took advantage of it. Keen Ice has shown that he's no slouch so the fact that he could win in the scenario that unfolded today should be no great shock.

      The idea of American Pharoah retiring after this loss is absolutely sickening to me. I can't stand losing these horses to stud deals so early, and I absolutely cannot stand the idea that one absolutely valiant loss that should not cost the horse any respect from any observer with half a brain would be the reason to send him off to the breeding shed. At the very least, give him one more race, put him in Breeders' Cup, put him against the absolute best of the best and give him that final opportunity to go out with a real bang.

      There is no shame in losing, especially in the matter in which American Pharoah lost today. I hope everyone, the connections, the fans, everyone understands that. A great race was run today.


Thursday, 27 August 2015

Feeling Valued as a Customer

I was checking Twitter last night (what else is new?) and I stumbled upon this goodie from Josh Hanson.
Josh, like myself, is a Canadian and bets through HPI. Josh, unlike myself, bets a reasonable amount of money.

At this point in the year, Josh is wagering about $2,300/week. At this point in the year, I have maybe bet $2,500. Maybe a bit more. I'm not sure.

Josh got a nice HPI pen from a customer service rep. I have gotten two nice HPI pens from Grand River Raceway this summer. I lost them both, but that's beyond the point.

If Josh wants a rebate from HPI, based on his weekly average of $2,300, he's at best eligible for a 0.5% rebate. If he lived in Ontario or British Columbia, he could get 0.75% on his province's product.
That's one of the biggest head scratchers in racing, to me. How can a customer worth about $110,000 in handle/year get barely any more respect than a customer worth $5,000 (or less.)? I'm not sure what a customer in racing has to do to be treated well by a track/ADW, but it seems to be quite a bit.

Tuesday, 11 August 2015

NYRA Doesn't Want Trainers to Race at Parx. So What?

Twitter went abuzz yesterday after the DRF's David Grening posted this little ditty.

      I don't get why people are so angry at NYRA for this. I don't get it at all. Parx and Suffolk are both offering ridiculously high purses this fall, and NYRA has to protect their own product. If field sizes during the Belmont fall meet drop, are people going to whine that NYRA did nothing to keep horses racing in New York?

      Other tracks do this, too. Back when Colonial still raced, Charles Town gave horsemen the same warning. It's relatively inconsequential, because when trainers come back to race at whatever track they've shipped out of, the racing secretary is almost never going to say "No, we don't want your horses here, go support that other track like we told you to."

      All this is is an empty threat trying to make NYRA's lives a little easier this fall. I highly doubt they're really going to take anyone's stalls away. To me, this means next to nothing. Why do people find this so ridiculous?

Saturday, 8 August 2015

Kawartha Downs Selections August 8

It's been a while since I've posted my selections from Kawartha or Ajax on my blog so I figured I should get back to that. Nice card of 10 races tonight at Kawartha, first post at 7:00 ET, here is this week's "Doug on the Downs."

Race 1: 6-4-2
#6 THE BAD LIFE makes her first start of the year and only the second start of her career. She comes in off of an easy qualifying win in 2.00.2. If she can shed some time off of that qualifying win she could be a threat. #4 LEAHS JET started from the trailing tier last week and raced very well to be second, making up 5 3/4 lengths in the stretch. I expect her to race well from the improved post. #2 MIDNIGHT JET was a well beaten sixth last week facing much tougher rivals than she does tonight. When she faces this level back on July 18, she finished second in 1.57.2. She is a bit win-shy, only 1 for 17 this year, but she has shown that she can be competitive in these ranks.

Race 2: 1-3-4
#1 STRIKING QUEEN sat the pocket last week, tipped out in the stretch and got up to catch the pacesetter, who went very easy fractious. Her recent form has been good and she draws well. #3 MAJESTIC MAGGIE made a break on July 25 but came back to finish third behind Striking Queen last week. Gord Brown takes the drive and may be able to improve this filly a bit. #4 ZORGWIJK PARKHILL finished fourth in the same race my top two selections exit. Both of his races here at Kawartha have been respectable and he could round this out.

Race 3: 4-2-7
#4 FONTANA SEELSTER comes in from Dresden where she was most recently third. Although she was beaten 22 lengths, what the PPs don't tell you is that she was only beaten 2 lengths for 2nd, as the winner was a total runaway. She makes her third start of the year and can show some gate speed. #2 FLYUSTOTHEMOON didn't do much last week, showing no early speed starting from post 7 and not making up much ground. Her two prior efforts were respectable and she should be a factor if she gets off the gate well. #7 WINNING SOLUTION started from the trailing tier last week and finished fifth, 3/4 of a length in front of Flyustothemoon. She's a very on and off type, but this isn't the toughest group in the world, either. Tough post to work from, again, however.

Race 4: 1-4-7
#1 ROYAL MACHERY had a tough post at Georgian and didn't fare too well, but his two previous starts here were very good. He should be very tough facing softer rivals. #4 MACHCELLERATOR made his second lifetime start and his first off of a month break last week and raced well to be beaten only 1 3/4 lengths. We may see some improvement in his second start off the bench. #7 FLEETWOOD JEREMES exits the same race as Machcellerator, finishing third by 1 1/2 lengths. He makes his third career start here but has a tough post to work from.

Race 5: 6-5-4
#6 KEYSTONE SAMURAI went a tough trip last week, tipping three wide at the 3/4 and rallied to to be third, beaten nothing for the place spot. She's a rallying type who can do some nice back halfs, and gets a race that looks to be loaded with gate speed. If things set up for her, she could be dangerous. #5 FLEETWOOD ZENA was claimed from trainer Michael Shea on July 18 and brought back a week later at Hanover Raceway, where she raced a very good first over second. Shea claimed her back from that race, gave her a week off and brings her back here. Although most of her wins come racing on the front end, I have a feeling she may be looking to take back a follow the leaders for the early stages of the mile. #4 NORVENA HANOVER exits back to back wins on the front end where she's gone in 1.56.4 and 1.56.3. Of all the speed horses in his race, she is probably the best of them, but if she has to fight on the front we may see her weakening in the final 1/4.

Race 6: 3-9-7
#3 IRONCLAD was in good form back in May and June racing at Clinton, Grand River and Georgian. He was tried in a Racing Under Saddle event on June 20 but made a break at the 3/4. He exits a qualifier where he finished second behind a pacer in 2.01.2. If he returns to his good form, he has a good shot here. #9 LOVE IGNITES had been racing very well up until his most recent start in Sarnia, where he went pretty quick early and stopped. He is capable of better that that and hopefully we'll get to see that tonight. #7 WILL TO DO made his first start off the claim for trainer John MacMillan two weeks ago where he finished last. He is definitely better than that. He was given last week off so hopefully any issue that may have been bothering him has been fixed.

Race 7: 7-4-5
#7 EMMY HANOVER exits back to back second place finishes at this class. Last week she raced first over for half the mile and was beaten only by a horse who got a perfect pocket trip. Although the post is tough, it wouldn't take much for her to turn the tables and win. #4 SONNY THE KID is the horse who sat the perfect pocket trip and beat Emmy Hanover last week. He is capable of some gutsy efforts, July 17 at Grand River he parked the whole mile from post 7 and was beaten 1/2 a length. He does have some breaking issues but when he stays flat he's a tough horse. #5 P L IDOL is a three time winner this year who needs to make the front and get a big breather if she wants to keep going. If she doesn't get her breather, she doesn't stop badly but she doesn't usually have enough left in the stretch to hold on. Last week she showed that, finishing third behind my top two selections.

Race 8: 7-9-4
#7 SPAGO HALL was a well beaten second a Georgian last week after winning in wire to wire fashion here on July 11. He makes his second start off of the three week break and should be tough if he can find position. #9 THREE NEW DAWNS was a winner here on July 4 going in 1.55.2, a very quick mile. He didn't race again until last week, finishing third and being claimed by Patrick Shepherd. He makes his second start off of the break and his first for the new connections. Hopefully he can work out a trip from the trailing post. #4 ARTELOT is a one time winner in his 177 start career, and I'm not expecting him to get the second win tonight. However, the underneath spot in this race is a toss up in my opinion, and his recent races haven't been bad. We'll see what he does tonight.

Race 9: 6-5-4
#6 P L INFERNO is five for nine this year, and the four losses were all very understandable. Last week he finished third after getting shuffled to third in fast fractions and having to tip three wide at 3/4. The rival who beat him last week isn't here tonight, and if this gelding gets to the front he should win. #5 THE ROCK exits a third place finish at Georgian. He has actually beaten P L Inferno once this year, but I don't expect that to be the case tonight. Although he's only hit the board in four of 19 this year, he's been in a lot of tough spots. When he faces reasonable foes he usually races respectably. #4 JARRETS BOY made his first start since 2013 last week, rallying into the fast fractions and getting up to be fourth, almost beaten P L Inferno for third. I don't think we're going to be seeing anything like 3/4 in 1.25.2 this week, and that will make things tougher for this gelding, but he can move forward second off the long layoff.

Race 10: 1-5-6
#1 KNEE SLAPPER is the only horse in this field who has a win in 2015. She has been racing at Mohawk where she has been outclassed most weeks, but some of her miles haven't been bad. She was a sick scratch at Georgian two weeks ago and now makes her return. She should be tough here. #5 BLAZINHEART HANOVER was a good second here back on June 6, then didn't race again until July 25 at Georgian where she finished fifth of six. She makes her second start off of that nearly two month break and has shown she can race well here. #6 DIRT ROADS SCHOLAR hasn't shown much in recent miles, other than and okay fourth at Grand River on July 3. He gets to face a very soft group of rivals tonight.

Good luck to everyone playing tonight!