Santa Anita runner named AGameofSkill Claimer of the Week

Claimer of the Week at AGameofSkill.comAfter winning at $25,000 three weeks ago, El Martillo took a sharp drop in class when meeting $10,000 claimers at Santa Anita Saturday afternoon and recorded another career victory. The bay horse defeated his foes going a mile on the main track in 137.53 for his seventh career win. El Martillo stalked the leaders, took over in mid-stretch and won by an easy 5 lengths. The winner paid $3.20 and was ridden by Martin Garcia. Sired by champion Tiznow, the 7 year old has won on dirt, turf and artificial surfaces. The versatile Bob Baffert trainee has also won going one turn and two turns. From 31 career starts he has finished in the money 15 times and earned $260,000. El Martillo was claimed from the race by trainer Dean Greenman for the Luch Racing Stables.
-Art Parker

Prosico named Claimer of the Week

Claimer of the Week at AGameofSkill.comAfter stopping in his previous race, Prosico did just the opposite Friday night to win the fifth event at Turfway Park. The 9-year old son of Siphon grabbed the lead right out of the gate and kept going. Prosico easily led the six furlong procession into the stretch and held off the second choice in the final furlong stopping the timer at 112.59. The $5,000 claiming race was for non winners of two races in a year. Felipe Villeda, a 10 pound bug, managed the winner like an experienced journeyman and gave owner/trainer Ronald Burch his first training win of 2012. Prosico paid a generous $55.20 to win and triggered a $19,000 plus superfecta. Purchased at auction in 2005 for $110,000, Prosico has now won 13 times and holds 29 in the money finishes from 52 lifetime starts. The bay gelding has career earnings over $220,000 lifetime.

— Art Parker

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Linebacker named’s Claimer of the Week

Claimer of the Week at AGameofSkill.comCapturing his second straight victory, Linebacker completed a very successful 2011 campaign with an impressive win at Parx Saturday afternoon. It was the fifth win of the year for the Guadalupe Preciado trainee. The 5 year old gelding has won 5 races this year with a pair of wins coming at Parx, while notching other victories at Monmouth, Delaware and Penn National. In Saturday’s race the 2-turn specialist stalked a slow running pacesetter and seized the lead at the quarter pole. When asked for his best by veteran rider Jose Flores, Linebacker responded very well and proved much the best in the $25,000 event at a mile. Linebacker paid a whopping $17.40 top win while competing in a very small field. Sired by Yonaguska, Linebacker has won 10 times from 41 career starts and finished in the money 23 times. He is owned by B-c Stables and his career earnings are approaching $300,000. Linebacker cost $45,000 at the 2007 Keeneland September sale. With the NFL playoffs about to start, the appropriately-named Linebacker is’s Claimer of the Week.

— Art Parker


Grand Daddy named Claimer of the Week

It was a grand day for Grand Daddy at Turfway Park last Friday night (12/23/11). The Thomas Drury trainee was laid up from early July to mid-November when he returned to the track and just missed at the $25,000 level. His second race back was a winning effort as the son of Johannesburg captured a $40,000 optional event with his usual off the pace style. Grand Daddy was handled perfectly by top rider Claimer of the Week at AGameofSkill.comVictor Lebron, who kept the 5 year old in the clear on the outside and away from the pace. Grand Daddy was wide in the turn but had the opponents measured all the way. Owned by Pattons Creek Farm, Grand Daddy has made a pretty good living on the Kentucky circuit. His victory last week shoved his career earnings in excess of $125,000. Grand Daddy has an excellent career record of 7 wins from 21 starts and has finished in the money 13 times. — Art Parker

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A Simple Way to Get New Fans

The following piece appeared in the Oct. 8, 2011 edition of Thoroughbred Times and has been reprinted with their permission.

Racing needs to pay attention to P. T. Barnum


Mark Simon, editor of the Thoroughbred Times

Mark Simon, editor of the Thoroughbred Times

SOME racing executives or track owners believe the sport has to compete with lotteries. So they come up with bets that are difficult to win and are likely to produce a large payoff. That, they think, will draw attention to the sport, and result in more people coming to the track. It has not worked out that way. If racing wants to attract new fans, it is time to go back to the basics and keep things simple.

Bets such as the super high five, superfecta, and pick six can produce large payoffs, but they are not substitutes for lotteries or competition with lotteries. First, they appeal to two different audiences. Second, they are nothing alike.

Lotteries—and by the same token slot machines and video lottery terminals (VLTs)—require no skill or thought. The results are random. 

With super high fives, superfectas, and pick sixes, the results are not random. The horses with the better form, jockeys, trainers, class, post, distance proclivity, surface proclivity, et cetera, have a better chance of winning or finishing in the first four or five. Handicapping—skill—comes into play.

The large majority of those attracted to mindless lotteries and VLTs because they are mindless and random are poor candidates to ever be involved betting on races. First, they have to find themselves at the racetrack. Second, if they are at the track, how could they compete in a game of skill with no prior experience?

When that fan starts to look at each individual horse and why it could win, then you have someone who may move on to show or win betting.

In racing, those with more money, and who can cover more combinations, have a much greater chance of winning than someone who randomly plays a single ticket.

An advantage that lotteries have on racing is distribution, with countless stores and outlets, as opposed to racing, which has a brick-and-mortar facility, and maybe some off-track betting outlets. Lotteries reach millions of potential players daily, and they are well promoted through television and newspapers ads.

Racing has a difficult time promoting new bets, even to existing fans. The super high five was introduced in 2007, but has not gotten much traction. With a $1 minimum, it also is expensive, so not popular among those with little resources. In a ten-horse field, the super high five has 30,240 possible combinations.

Its unpopularity is evident on racing’s biggest day, the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, when all the big bettors come out and play in earnest since all the pools are large.

Last year, in the Breeders’ Cup Classic (G1), the super high five pool was just $269,513. By comparison, the superfecta had a pool of $3,289,617, the trifecta a pool of $5,983,837, and the exacta a pool of $5,909,080.

Rather than try promoting an obscure bet with limited appeal, racing should introduce a simple wager easily understood by a novice. When a couple goes to the track and one knows a lot more about racing than the other, while one is betting superfectas and trifectas and exactas, the other can get their feet wet by betting an odd-even proposition, for example. If the race winner carries an odd-numbered saddle cloth, that is the bet winner, and if the winner carries an even-numbered saddle cloth, that is the bet winner. In a Breeders’ Cup race, that would give a novice bettor six or seven chances to win.

After a few races, someone making that bet may start to wonder why the payoffs between odd and even are not exactly the same, and you have the beginning of the education of a fan. When that fan starts to look at each individual horse and why it could win, then you have someone who may move on to show or win betting.

That process, of getting new fans started in the sport relatively simply so they are not intimidated to play or worried about looking foolish, is worth far more than the meager returns from an obscure, hard-to-win bet like the super high five.

P. T. Barnum had it figured out a century ago: No one ever got rich overestimating the intelligence of the American public. Do we need any more evidence today than slots, VLTs, and lotteries?

Let’s keep it simple, folks.

Mark Simon is editor of Thoroughbred Times. His e-mail address is



Horse Racing - A Game of Skill

Horse Racing, a game of skill.

Slot Machines and Video Poker, mindless games that fund the casino’s coffers.