Friday, April 19, 2013
Derby trainer has cyber winner in Horse Races Now
Kenny McPeek, who has Blue Grass winner Java's War and Frac Daddy qualified for the Kentucky Derby, has created a website, Horse Races Now, which is a dream come true for racing fans. Everything to make every day a day at the races is available with a click on iPhones, iPads and other devices: entries, results and replays, as well as horse, trainer and jockey watches. Those are just some of the features accessible via a simple click. There are also links to advanced deposit wagering sites. The best part? Access to Horse Races Now is free now and McPeek says the business plan calls for it to always remain free.
MIAMI, April 19, 2013--The internet put the knowledge of the world at our fingertips. Kenny McPeek is using the technology to do the same for the world of horse racing.
McPeek, the veteran trainer whose Javaâs War upset the Blue Grass last week and will join barn mate Frac Daddy in the Kentucky Derby on May 4, has created a website, Horse Races Now, which offers everything a racing fan might want except guaranteed winners. But all the tools are there to find more winners.
Horse Races Now makes every day a day at the races: workout reports; entries; live race video; results; video replays; even the winnerâs circle ceremonies. All you have to do is activate the computer ap Horse at 84700. (Check out a demonstration video, hosted by McPeek, at http://www.horseracesnow.com
There are even horsey sound effects. If youâre tracking the activities of a horse, trainer or jockey, youâll hear hooves striking the track when they work out or appear in the entries.
Fifteen minutes from post time at any track you designate, the call to the post sounds off.
As the start of a race in which you have indicated an interest approaches, Keeneland race caller Kurt Beckerâs voice can be heard saying, âThe horses are approaching the starting gate. Theyâre at the post.â
Official results produce the optimistic clang of a cash register.
When a video replay is posted, along with the chart, a horseâs whinny can be heard. Horse Races Now maintains an archive that allows previous starts to be reviewed for up to two years, according to McPeek.
If all you want is a workout report, they are accompanied by the click of a stopwatch.
Not everyone wants to walk around sounding like a character from âGuys and Dolls,â so all it takes is a click to kill the sound track, which can be reactivated with another click.
Nothing has been overlooked. There are even links to the most popular advanced deposit wagering sites. So if you learn a horse you have been following is running, you can click right over and make a bet.
The best part for players is itâs all free. (One exception is paid handicapping sites, such as the Ragozin Sheets. There is a link for those, too.)
Skeptics might scoff and figure this is a bait-then-pay lure to get you hooked before a regular fee is imposed. Not so, McPeek promises. Heâs not a philanthropist. He does have a business plan to eventually generate revenue, which he is keeping under wraps for competitive reasons. But, he reiterated, it does not involve user fees. âOur goal is Horse Races Now will always be free to download and watch.â
Whatever profits McPeek eventually makes, he deserves. âWe have been the Lewis & Clark of this expedition,â he said. âI have financed this on my own.â
The idea struck McPeek about three years ago. âI had some time to kill so I was channel surfing. I came upon something titled âPlanet of the Aps.â I Googled to see if there was an ap for horse racing. There werenât any,â he said. âThere were a massive number for other sports but nothing for horse racing.â
His reaction? âThis is terrible.â âSomeone needs to do something.â
You know the expression, âIf you want something done, do it yourself.â McPeek is a subscriber.
He approached tech experts and inquired how much it might cost to develop what has become Horse Races Now. The initial quote was about $45,000. âMy payroll is more than that,â he reasoned.
Alas, he quickly relearned the lesson that few things cost as little as the first estimate. âIt turned into more than 20 times that,â he says. This isnât a complaint. âIt has been worth every dime.â
You would think the racing industry would be cheering him on. Check that. If you donât know the racing industry, you would think it would be cheering him on.
âThey put up repeated roadblocks. A lot of industry factions were opposed,â McPeek said. âThey like things the way they are. They are absolutely dug in.â
McPeek persevered anyway. He got the site off the ground and now gets some form of cooperation from much of the industry. More than 90 tracks make their information and video available to Horse Races Now. McPeek is optimistic the day will come when Horse Races Now has so many followers that tracks will not be able to ignore it.
As if the fact that he will have two colts in the Kentucky Derby isnât endorsement enough, McPeek says creating and establishing Horse Races Now has not detracted from his training. âIâve been doing this for 28 years. I never forget that that is whatâs really important. But I donât play golf and I multi-task really well.â
Heâs even got the cyber lingo down.
Written by Tom Jicha
Friday, April 12, 2013
Equinegate at Derby Time: So, What’s New?
About three dozen horses stabled in Southern California have died suddenly over the past couple of years. Initial reports have tried to sensationalize the tragedies, reporting two of the horses had traces of rat poison in their system. However, the rat poison was found to be at trace levels unlikely to cause death and investigations of all the deaths have turned up no evidence of foul play thus far. This, of course, hasn't deterred racing's detractors, including The New York Times, to turn this into a potential Equinegate scandal, which unfortunately will probably fester throughout the Triple Crown season.
MIAMI, April 12, 2013--Triple Crown season is supposed to be the time of year for a celebration of all that is exhilarating about thoroughbred racing. Apparently this is not going to be the case this year.
On the eve of the final major Kentucky Derby preps, three weeks out from the Run for the Roses, a story has broken about the tragic, sudden, inexplicable deaths of thoroughbred racehorses in California.
About three dozen horses have died suddenly over the past two years. They just dropped dead without warning or symptoms. Reportedly, seven were in the Bob Baffert barn. The Daily Racing Form reported that horses in the barns of Myung Kwon Cho, Kathy Walsh, Sean McCarthy, Mike Mitchell and Jack Van Berg have also fallen to the mysterious killer.
The DRF also reported in an online story Friday that Baffert has had as many as seven instances of horses suffering sudden death in the last 16 months. "During that time, there was at least one prominent instance of sudden death in a Baffert-trained runner when the 5-year-old Irrefutable collapsed after finishing second in the Vernon Underwood Stakes at Hollywood Park in November 2011," the DRF reported.
The headline-making line in many of the reports is that rat poison was found in some of the deceased animals. But based on early reports, thereâs a whole lot more smoke than fire despite the best efforts of racingâs detractors, led by the New York Times, to turn this into Equinegate.
Extensive tests ordered by the California Horse Racing Board reported that rat poison was found in only two horses and in trace levels too low to be responsible for the deaths.
The crucial finding is there is no evidence of foul play. Whatâs more, the number of these type deaths isnât far out of line with recent history. The Daily Racing Form reported that at a meeting of the California Horse Racing Board commissioner Bo Derek quoted California equine medical director Dr. Rick Arthur as saying the ânumber of sudden deaths has been consistent in the past 20 years in the neighborhood of 20 per year.â
Nevertheless, the New York Times has gone into its customary bash racing mode. A lengthy story on the deaths included lines like, âThe inquiry into sudden deaths comes as horse racing is trying to reform a drug culture that its officials concede is diminishing the sportâ and âa New York Times investigationâŚshowed a pervasive drug culture put horses and riders at risk.â
What does any of this have to do with the deaths in question? The Times attitude toward racing seems to be before there is any evidence letâs just assume the worst.
The pity is the TV networksâ news departments and other newspapers take their cues from The Times, so expect this to become a simmering controversy as racingâs finest hours approach.
Of course, more sunlight on the issue would have helped had Mr. Baffert made himself available for comment. Thus far, this has not happened.
has made a tough call that could make him this yearâs jockeysâ handicapping champion or haunt him for years. Castellano opted for Normandy Invasion over Revolutionary as his Kentucky Derby mount.
Castellano won the Withers and Louisiana Derby on Revolutionary. He drove Normandy Invasion, who has only one win in five starts, to a fast-closing second to Verrazano in the Wood Memorial.
Revolutionary is trained by Todd Pletcher. Long range, how wise is it to risk doing anything that might get you on the wrong side of a trainer who has put you on hundreds of winners with the promise of hundreds more.
John Velazquez, in a similar quandary involving Orb and Pletcherâs Verrazano, stuck with Pletcher.
Itâs not as if Castellano is jumping off a longshot for the favorite. Revolutionary, who also has a late-running style that figures to translate well to 10 furlongs at Churchill Downs, could go off a shorter price than Normandy Invasion on May 4.
Jeff Siegel, one of the nation's sharpest evaluators of horse talent, said on HRTVâs âPursuit of the Crownâ that he feels Revolutionary has as much or more upside than any of the potential Derby starters.
Granted, Velazquez is Toddâs main man. However, even riding second call for Pletcher helped the talented Castellano break out of the pack of NYRAâs many gifted jockeys.
On the other hand, itâs hard to go wrong hitching your wagon to the rising star of Chad Brown, trainer of Normandy Invasion and numerous other stakes horses.
Castellano has ridden both horses, so maybe he knows something that isnât obvious to the rest of us.
Still the words of Eddie Arcaro (if memory serves) ring loud and clear: âYou could get rich booking the action in the jockeysâ room.â
Lots of big winners
last weekend but none bigger than Gulfstream Parkâs recently concluded season.
Both Grade 1 races at Aqueduct, the Carter and Wood Memorial, were taken by horses, Swagger Jack and Verrazano, who spent the winter in South Florida. One of the Grade 2âs, the Gazelle, went to Close Hatches, who began her career this winter at Gulfstream. The Grade 3 Bay Shore was upset by Declanâs Warrior, coming off a win and a second at Gulfstream.
Full disclosure: the Grade 2 Ruffian did not go to a Gulfstream ship-in. There were none in the race.
It was the same story at Keeneland. Fridayâs customary opening day feature, the Transylvania, went to Jack Milton, who also spent the winter at Gulfstream.
Nothing changed Saturday. Emollient, beaten 30 lengths only a week earlier in the Gulfstream Oaks, did a complete about face and made a shambles of the Grade 1 Ashland, drawing off to win by 9 lengths despite starting from the often lethal 13 post going two turns.
This is not provincial gloating. Thereâs another stakes festival weekend coming up with the Arkansas Derby the main event at Oaklawn and the Blue Grass as the headliner at Keeneland. There will be Gulfstream shippers in almost all of the major stakes. Ignore them at your own peril.
Written by Tom Jicha
Friday, April 05, 2013
Fillies have no right to complain about Derby points
Fans of outstanding fillies Dreaming of Julia, Midnight Lucky and Unlimited Budget are complaining that the absence of Kentucky Derby qualifying points for stakes restricted to fillies unfairly keeps them out of the Run for the Roses. Not true. They could take on the boys in any number of Derby preps, just as Genuine Risk and Winning Colors did before wearing the blanket of roses. In other issues, the Breeders' Cup has gotten knocked down a few pegs and Frank Stronach has come up with another wacky idea.
MIAMI, April 5, 2013--Another week another Kentucky Derby qualifying points controversy. This time itâs the lack of points recognition for stakes restricted to fillies, which de facto keeps them out of the Kentucky Derby.
The catalyst is Dreaming of Juliaâs demolition of the Gulfstream Oaks field on the heels of Midnight Luckyâs ridiculously easy romp in New Mexico and Unlimited Budget remaining undefeated in New Orleans. Also, letâs not forget Breedersâ Cup Juvenile Fillies winner Beholder, who will be a short price Saturday to cash the biggest check from the Santa Anita Oaks.
It might be interesting to see any or all of the these stellar distaffers line up against the boys on May 4. However, if this was a goal, they could have taken on colts in any of the prep races, as Genuine Risk and Winning Colors did before bringing home the roses.
Sorry, Iâm with Churchill Downs on this one.
Triple Crown conversation tends to suck all the air out of racing talk this time of year. However, there are other things going on that need addressing.
The Breedersâ Cup
decision to cut the Lasix baby in half is cowardly and pointless.
Realizing that it was fighting a losing battle in trying to keep the anti-bleeding medication out of the Breedersâ Cup, the BC tried to save face by continuing its ban on Lasix in the 2-year-old races. So last yearâs juveniles couldnât race on Lasix. Nor can this yearâs. However, they will be able to as 3-year-olds and older.
Try intellectually justifying that.
Itâs a short price that all Breedersâ Cup races will be opened to Lasix use in 2014 and beyond, because horsemen at potential sites have indicated they will not grant simulcast permission if the Lasix ban is in effect. This could have a lot to do with the procrastination in selecting a 2014 site.
The horsemenâs revolt seems to have given the BC a case of the jitters. In addition to the Lasix compromise, the BC announced it will help defray expenses for owners by cutting the entry fee from 3% to 2% of the purse. Also, foreign entrants will be granted a $40,000 expense allotment and a $10,000 stipend will go to domestic horses.
These concessions represent quite a comedown for an organization, which only a year ago felt so omnipotent that it could change the rules of racing by unilateral decree. Suddenly it has been forced to accept that a lot of the racing world can live without the Breedersâ Cup.
God helps those
who help themselves. A constant complaint in the racing business is that the sport no longer gets much attention in the mainstream media.
Gulfstream staged its customary Florida Derby post position draw and luncheon on the Wednesday before the big race. The media, local and national, was represented. Racing wasnât. Not one trainer nor jockey bothered to show up.
brings out the best in some people. Success brings out the worst in Barry Irwin.
Irwin embarrassed himself and racing at the biggest moment in his racing life, the aftermath of Animal Kingdom winning the 2011 Kentucky Derby. Irwin took advantage of an NBC microphone during the post-race festivities to call all trainers liars.
Unchastened by the firestorm of criticism heaped upon him, Irwin did it again after Animal Kingdom won the Dubai World Cup. Commenting on Joel Rosarioâs ride, Irwin said, âAs boneheaded as his ride was last time, he was brilliant this time.â
The reference was to Rosario moving prematurely, in Irwin's opinion, aboard Animal Kingdom in the Gulfstream Turf Handicap. The 2011 Derby winner ran second to Point of Entry, whose superior position on the race track forced Rosario to surge through an opening on the rail going to the far turn. It was a gutsy move that often results in a victory. But not every race has a Point of Entry in it.
If Rosario put up such a bad ride, why did Irwin, who has a self image as racingâs shrewdest person, keep Rosario aboard for the worldâs richest race?
Until Irwin learns to put a governor on his mouth, he should abstain from post-race TV interviews.
must lie awake at night thinking about ways to top himself in coming up with outlandish ideas.
That he could be on the verge of destroying Florida racing with his scorched earth war against Calder has been well documented, so it doesn't need more rehashing.
To refresh your memory, one of Stronach's most outrageous brainstorms came after he bought Santa Anita. He announced his intention to demolish the hillside turf chute, one of the most unique and picturesque courses in racing. Thankfully Californiaâs militant environmentalists put the kibosh to that.
Tearing down old Gulfstream, a beautiful and comfortable facility that hosted three Breedersâ Cups, and replacing it with a structure that is magnificent for almost anything other than watching races is another candidate for the âWhat could he have been thinking?â Hall of Fame. That it was done to build a mall that is already gasping for air makes it more ludicrous.
However, everything else Stronach has done pales in absurdity compared to his latest idea. According to a report on Miami TV, Stronach has commissioned Chinese sculptors to build a horse statue bigger than the Statue of Liberty to be placed at Gulfstream.
The monument will be the centerpiece of a theme park. This would be in addition to the new free-standing casino, a grandstand to be enlarged to hold 50,000 fans and a pair of luxury hotels, which Stronach is also promising for the Gulfstream site.
The words of Hialeah owner John Brunetti, whose family money comes from the construction business, continue to echo. âIâve seen Frankâs plans. If he were to do everything he says he is going to do, he will be building into Dania.â (Dania is a community about five miles north of Gulfstream.)
Brunetti said this before Stronach unveiled his massive statue and theme park plan.
Written by Tom Jicha