Archives for August 2020

Thoroughbred Round Table Conference Speakers Call for Reforms

“A clean sport is good for business.” ~ Greg LeMond, a three-time Tour de France winner

That comment epitomized overarching themes on the importance of integrity and reform in horse racing at the August 16, 2020, 68th Annual Round Table Conference on Matters Pertaining to Racing, which was held virtually on jockeyclub.com and on TVG’s and Racetrack Television Network’s respective platforms.

A video replay of the conference is available on jockeyclub.com, and full transcripts will be available on the same site this week.

Handicapping Tip of the Day #61 – The Extended Layoff Horse

The Best Way to Discern If a Layoff Horse is Ready

By Art Parker for agameofskill.com

 

I call it the extended layoff. That’s when a horse has been away from the track for at least six months. When examining a race these horses present a problem in the selection process. Are they fit and ready to run? Why did they go on the shelf?

Derby144 workout Justify at Santa AnitaThe questions can go on forever. What about the horse than won its last race and then is nowhere to be seen for six months or more? It doesn’t make any sense. Why would you take a horse out of action if he is doing well? Did something go wrong with the horse? Those that were running well and then sidelined are even harder to figure.

A longtime ago a friend of mine told me that no matter what the reason a horse is sidelined for a half-year or longer makes no difference. What one needs to know is if the horse is ready to run now. That’s the real question.

Long Workouts or Bust

Over the years I concluded after much observation that the only way to have confidence in an extended layoff, other than the trainer be successful at long layoffs, is to demand a string of workouts that are long. I define long as five furlongs our longer. In some case good trainers will build their horse up from three furlongs to a half mile and then to five furlongs as race time nears. The question one must ask is, “Has the horse been on a planned return with a series of workouts, preferably long morning drills?”

If the answer to that question is yes then one needs to pay attention to that race entrant.

Bet Big. Win Big at Del Mar

Del Mar racingSource: Del Mar (dmtc.com)

A player at Maryland’s AmTote hub bet big bucks Saturday (8/15/2020) trying to solve the mystery of Del Mar’s Pick Six. He did and took home a prize of $317,002.

To get that winning ticket, our Maryland gambler invested $65,146 which, on the face of it, seems outrageous. But he or she will tell you otherwise tonight as they cashed a bet that roughly came to a 5-1 score.

The winning horses in the exotic wager were: 6th Race — #6 C’mon Jenna ($10.40); 7th Race — #2 Undeniable Proof ($6.40); 8th Race — #5 Forest Caraway ($25.80); 9th Race – #5 Pulpit Rider ($24.80); 10th Race — #6 Pyron ($3.20), and 11th Race — #6 Mithqaal ($18.00).

Did you miss handicapping tip #60 – read it here

Del Mar adds additional day of racing

MGM’s Famous Shareholder Thinking Online Gaming, Sports Betting

A 12% purchase — for $1 billion — in an iconic brand such as MGM Resorts doesn’t automatically raise so many eyebrows.

But on Monday, billionaire Barry Diller’s IAC not only made that investment – Diller had an intriguing reason why.

“We are energized and excited to make this investment in MGM,” Diller said, adding his interest in “an area that currently comprises a tiny portion of its revenue — online gaming.”

In a letter to shareholders, Diller and IAC CEO Joey Levin wrote, “We believe MGM represented a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for IAC to own a meaningful piece of a pre-eminent brand in a large category with great potential to move online.. …The value was too compelling to ignore.”

The BetMGM online gambling brand, a partnership with GVC Holdings since 2018, has gotten off to a tepid start — so this investment may pay dividends there.

Pennsylvania Horse Racing handle drops by more than 10% in 2019

Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board released the Annual Racetrack Casino Benchmark Report detailing the impact of Pennsylvania casinos on the Commonwealth’s horse racing industry. The report is now available for download from the PGCB’s web site https://gamingcontrolboard.pa.gov.

The report includes and compares information from calendar year 2019.

The taxable handle generated by Pennsylvania’s six race tracks dropped by more than 10.7% in 2019 to around $300 million, the report shows, a decrease of more than $36.1 million from the previous year.

The taxable handle has dropped every year since the reporting began. In 2006, the taxable handle from all tracks was just under $976 million.

That means handle fell by more than two-thirds in 13 years. The taxable handle was cut in half by 2013 when it dropped to $480.6 million.

That’s not unique to PA, the report notes, and is due to a decreasing demand for retail horse betting.

Turf Paradise Cancels Fall/Winter Meet

Turf Paradise will not run its 2020-21 meet due to challenges related to COVID-19, track representatives told the Arizona Racing Commission in a video conference Aug. 13. The Arizona track has traditionally run a meet from the fall through early May.

Turf Paradise announced last month that it planned to run a shortened season, but a previously-proposed 121-day meet that was to begin Nov. 1 was scrapped early during the commission meeting by track representatives. The track last raced March 10, an early ending to its 2019-20 meet.

Continue reading

Bettor Sues. Wins Settlement in Horse Doping Case

NEW YORK (AP) — An aggrieved harness-racing bettor received $20,000 in the settlement of a first-of-its-kind lawsuit in which he claimed he was cheated out of his winnings when a doped horse won a race in New Jersey in 2016.

After the lawsuit was filed in March 2018, leading figures in harness racing said they had never before heard of such a lawsuit, which accused the trainer of fraud and racketeering. The general practice has been to reallocate the purse to other owners in the event a winning horse is later proven to have been doped, but not to pay back bettors.

Read about this weekend’s Alabama Stakes at Saratoga

The settlement, reached in July and made public Wednesday, resulted from extensive negotiations on behalf of the bettor, Jeffrey Tretter, and the lawsuit’s two defendants – trainer Robert Bresnahan Jr, and the horse’s owner, J.L. Sadowsky.

Under the settlement, the defendants agreed to pay Tretter $20,000, and Tretter agreed to donate $7,500 of that sum to a racehorse adoption program .

The settlement bars the parties from making any future claims related to the case and stipulates that the agreement does not constitute an admission of liability.

The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District Court in New Jersey, was financed by People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals to open the gates for more litigation by bettors, which the animal rights group hopes would dramatically curtail illegal horse doping. PETA contends that injured horses are sometimes dying on the tracks because they were doped illegally or overmedicated to keep them running when they should be recuperating.

Tretter, an experienced gambler from Granite City, Illinois, said he hoped the lawsuit would strengthen efforts to “clean up harness racing.”

“We faced a lot of opposition because of the precedent involved, but I hope this will open the door for others to come forward and hold those responsible accountable for their blatant cheating at tracks across North America,” he said in a written statement. “Bettors must organize and go after the cheats for every verifiable dime that was lost. ”

Andrew Benedict, one of Bresnahan’s lawyers, described the case as “a David vs. Goliath type thing,” with PETA able to finance extensive litigation against two defendants who were not major figures in harness racing and had far fewer resources.

“It was rough for us to defend this case on all fronts, because of the amount of money that PETA was pouring into it,” he said. “It shows they had no evidence of criminal wrongdoing or they wouldn’t have settled so cheaply.”

The lawsuit said Tretter placed wagers through an online betting site on a harness race at the Meadowlands Racetrack on Jan. 15, 2016. The horses he picked to place first through fourth instead finished behind Tag Up and Go, who had been a longshot in the race.

Meadowlands later revealed that Tag Up and Go had tested positive for EPO, a banned performance-enhancing substance, based on blood samples taken in December. As a result, Bresnahan was barred from competing at Meadowlands, but there was no redress for bettors such as Tretter.

According to his lawsuit, he correctly picked the horses that finished second, third, fourth and fifth behind the doped horse in a variety of wagers that would have paid a combined $31,835 if Tag Up and Go had been disqualified.

The lawsuit alleged fraud on the part of Bresnahan and the company that owned Tag Up and Go. It also alleged violations of the federal and state anti-racketeering laws known as RICO (Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act), contending that the federal law was violated because Bresnahan was engaging in interstate commerce.

The owner of Meadowlands, Jeff Gural, has been among the leaders in harness racing trying to curb doping. The Tag Up and Go doping case emerged through one of his initiatives, establishing “out of competition” drug testing that subjects horses to the possibility of testing at any time.

PETA is critical of horse racing, but is pushing for reforms rather than actively campaigning for an all-out ban.

Alabama Stakes Set for August 15 at the Spa

 

The year 2020 will be the only time the Travers has been run before the Kentucky Derby and the only time The Alabama has been run before the Kentucky Oaks.

By Art Parker

Like the Travers Stakes, the Alabama Stakes is one of the great historic races held annually at Saratoga. Like the Travers it is run at 1 ¼ miles and usually one week before it. This year the Alabama will be run on August 15th, a week after the Travers due to COVID-19 rescheduling. The Alabama is restricted to three year old fillies.

walking horse through Saratoga crowdThe Alabama was first run in 1872 making it one of the oldest races for females in America and the longest continuously run stakes race for three year old fillies. The race is named in honor of William Cottrell of Alabama. The race is named in honor of the Confederate Captain who was heavily involved with thoroughbred racing and breeding before and after his service in the Civil War. When approached by the Saratoga Association in 1872 about having a race named in his honor, he declined and requested the race instead be named for his home state of Alabama. Cottrell used his activity in racing to help and mend relations between the North and the South after the Civil War.

While the Kentucky Oaks stands as the female version of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, the Alabama is the female edition of the Travers Stakes, which is open to all 3-year-olds at Saratoga.

The great filly Go For Wand set the stakes record in 1990 for the Alabama at 2:00 4/5 minutes.

Jockeys Jorge Velasquez, Jerry D. Bailey and Mike Smith have all won five Alabama Stakes.

Many great fillies have won the Alabama such as:  Elate, Songbird, Royal Delta, Silverbulletday, Heavenly Prize, Sky Beauty, Open Mind, Shuvee, Gamely, Vagrancy and Beldame to name a few.

Only four fillies and have ever won the Kentucky Oaks and the Alabama Stakes: Open Mind, Make Sail, Princess of Sylmar and Blind Luck.

The year 2020 will be the only time the Travers has been run before the Kentucky Derby and the only time The Alabama has been run before the Kentucky Oaks.

The purse for the 2020 Alabama is $600,000.

Did you miss?

Handicapping Tip #60 – Watch ’em and Learn

Is Horse Racing Dead? Not in Kentucky

Mdspwt Purses between $70,000 and $97,000

Projected autumn purse levels for maiden special weight races on the Kentucky circuit were revealed during a video meeting of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund (KTDF) advisory committee on Tuesday.

Ben Huffman, director of racing at Churchill Downs, said, “We’re going to have two [MSW] purses. We’re going to supercharge [GI Kentucky] Derby week, like we’ve been doing. And that maiden purse Derby week is going to be $97,000. The remaining nine days are going to be $75,000.”

Churchill had closed out its spring/summer season at the $79,000 level for MSW races.

Great Horse Racing Video Series – The Pick 6 Boys

Vintage 1999 video of the Pick-6 boys from California, featuring well known handicapper and TV personality Christian Hellmers.

Handicapping author Jim Quinn is also featured in this short video segment.