At the very least, on just about every weekend day of racing the “major” racetracks had a feature race. This was almost always a stake, often a graded stake, and was carded towards the end of the program. In New York, way back when, it was the seventh race of nine but later on moved to the eighth of nine, or customarily the next to last race. This gave the racing fans, and bettors alike, something to look forward to. Horse racing is a fantastic sport to view live. It is exciting, competitive and features both phenomenal equine and human athletes. The top horses and riders who competed at these high level meets developed strong followings and people came not only to wager but to see them compete. Along with a changing and evolving world, the Sport of Kings has changed. The history and traditions of the game are evaporating…
We have all heard that old silly question about if a tree falls in the forest and nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound? That is what the recently concluded Global Symposium on Racing reminds me of. Salud to Pat Cummings, Steve Byk, and some others for accurately pointing out some of the issues plaguing the Sport of Kings but all due respect given, identifying the problems has never been the issue. Dealing with and eradicating them has. I don’t see where having even a thousand symposiums will help if nobody is listening — nobody who calls any shots anyway. Several issues are hurting the game that can literally be fixed by post time today if we had the right shot callers. For example, how difficult is it to stagger post times between racetracks? It is not hard, I assure you but you need people who…
As the end of the year approaches, you’d think racing fans and bettors would be focused on the positives we’ve seen on the racetrack the past 11 months. We’ve definitely had our share of performances that would be considered outstanding in any era. Enable takes the Arc and Breeders’ Cup Turf. Justify takes the coveted Triple Crown. Accelerate has a championship caliber older horse year. Monomoy Girl almost runs the table capped by a win verse older in the Breeders’ Cup Distaff. Obviously, the game can still produce. Maybe not on a Wednesday afternoon but all in all we have had some good racing. While some are appreciative and focused on these performances, the majority of fans, as reflected by my observations primarily on social media and when I go to the track and talk to people, is consumed with negativity. Most of it is well founded and unfortunately, it…
I’ve said many times as students and fans of the Sport of Kings we have been quite fortunate the last decade or so. While the game has had a fair share of problems and then some, we have not lacked truly great racehorses. The accomplishments of some of these runners would be superlative in any era. That’s saying something in a game with a history like ours and a list of equine stars miles long. Who would have thought in a year where we had a Triple Crown winner there would be a debate amongst turf writers and racing’s social media ranks over Horse of the Year. What would normally be a foregone conclusion is now a debate due to the early retirement of Justify. That left the door open for Accelerate, and he came crashing through with a decisive victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic. I’m not going to…
If you are in this game at any level, at some point you are going to be humbled. There are two types of horse players; those that have been humbled, and those that will be humbled. As with many aspects of life, it comes down to how you respond to these types of things. I suggest picking yourself up, dusting yourself off, and getting back into the fight. If you backed Abel Tasman in the recently run Breeders' Cup Distaff, it was a humbling experience. While after the race she was easy to knock off the last poor performance, but to do that prior to the race, with conviction you'd have to believe two things. First, that Bob Baffert brings horses to big dances at less than their optimum. Second, that you are smarter than he is at accessing a horses' chances. Both not likely, the latter especially, when it…
By now most of us have at the least finished our preliminary work for the Breeders’ Cup. We know the post positions, fields, probable weather and the wagering menu. Before finalizing decisions, I am going to keep some bullet points in the forefront of my mind. Here we go: The draw is important in some races. Pay attention to it and who it has helped and who it has hindered. Consider rider tendencies when you project how you think the pace will play out. Pace often makes the race. Some riders are more aggressive than others. Anticipating what they are likely to do can be an edge. You have waited a year to get to this dance and you’re in it. Nothing in the rear view matters this weekend. Go in strong and with conviction on your opinions. #NoFear The board is less important this weekend than on any given…
The Breeders’ Cup is a little over a week away. The pre-entry past performances are out. The early weather forecast is in. It is almost time to seal the deal. The Breeders’ Cup is a major wagering event for many of us and there is a good reason for that. There will be a lot of opportunities and a full wagering menu to make the most of them. While final handicapping comes after the draw, I have begun to strategize my attack and will share some early thoughts. Most serious players keep track of where they stand annually. I have for many years. While most years I am usually in a good spot by now and comfortably in the black, this year that is not the case. It has been a rough year on the racetrack for me, but that won’t change anything in my approach. I will kick the…
Timing is everything. Not only in horse racing but in life in general. Timing affects so much in our lives and how things play out. In racing so much is based on timing. It is a focal point of the sport in more than one way. The timing of spaces between races, timing of workouts, timing of claims, and of course the timing of the races themselves. I like to look at times in my handicapping. I look at the fractions of the winner, the leader, and the horses behind. Knowing the fractional splits of all the horses in a race helps me accurately figure out what the pace will be, and when I factor in the trends and intangibles that a computer can’t, it gives me an edge. Paying as close attention as I do to the times of races, including internal fractions, I have always been frustrated by…
The world is full of people who see the glass as half empty. Sometimes it is, and we all know the Sport of Kings has more than its share of issues and things to complain about. If you are a bettor, or racing fan, the Breeders’ Cup is not one of them. Over the past few weeks, as preps were being run, we saw announcements about horses retiring, missing the Breeders’ Cup, training up to the Breeders’ Cup and committing to the Breeders’ Cup. The first three categories prompted many complaints on social media implying this year’s event is subpar. I couldn’t disagree more, and I view the glass as half full. The main reason the masses seem to be complaining is the perceived lack of big-name stars running. The Breeders’ Cup makes stars, and we are sure to recognize some new ones after the two days of racing. Stars…
All too often we see the term “freak” thrown around in horse racing. If we truly had as many freaks as horses the term is used to describe, this would be one heck of a game. People love to throw the label around off one sole performance, especially when it is a debut or easy victory. Often these winners are not only not “freaks”, but not even the best horse in the race. To go a step further, many times the winner is not the best horse in the race and wasn’t the one who ran the most impressively. The above is one of many reasons why I like to take a step back. By taking a step back, I will watch the replay a week or so after the race so all the hype, excitement, and wagering influences die down. I have found over the years, this gives you…