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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing

GOOD NEWS, BAD NEWS AROUND THE CLOCK AND ALL AROUND THE RACING WORLD

It hasn’t been a good week for a couple of Hall of Fame trainers, a Hall of Fame jockey–or for an award-winning turf writer for that matter. And that’s too bad because horse racing has proven a great distraction during these troubled days and nights.

So there has been much news, much of it mixed: Laurel Park opened and once again there is Thoroughbred racing in Maryland. Belmont Park finally opens its delayed meet on Wednesday with a great card and full fields. And The Meadowlands is getting the bikes ready for their Friday opener.

Ironic, and not in a good way, when it comes to field size and how we’ve been preaching that less-is-more for years that it only took a once in a century world wide pandemic to prove the point. But let’s stay positive.

There will be a 2020 Royal Ascot meet, as British racing resumes tomorrow. Monmouth Park got their dates and Keeneland got Ellis Park’s dates, in a good deal for both.

The Ellis Park Derby is a Kentucky Derby qualifier this year with 50 points to the winner, giving Keeneland another qualifier to go with its storied Blue Grass.

The Ohio Derby is in the prep mix, too, although 20 points to the winner for a $500,000 nine-furlong Grade 3 makes it seem hardly worth the effort. But what about racing near the Chicago market?

Will there even be racing in Illinois in 2020? Will the great Arlington Park survive? Maybe not if Churchill Downs Inc. “recaptures” $4.5 million dedicated to Arlington’s purse account and pays it to CDI shareholders instead.

Potentially good news, should suits brought by The Jockey Club, Breeders’ Cup and the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association against the Kentucky HBPA succeed. The horsemen’s group seeks to abolish “house rules” regarding the use of raceday Lasix.

“I want my Lasix,” they cry, completely tone deaf to the rest of the international racing world and wishes of the American public alleging that Lasiux use it’s in the best interests of the horse.

The three groups supporting a track’s right to institute “house rules” are arguing there is no “empirically sustainable” evidence proving Lasix is a beneficial to an otherwise healthy racehorse. While tracks need horsemen, vice versa applies, too, or “you can take your horses someplace else.”

Alas, I forgot: Competition generally wins the day over cooperation. So if some competing track is not considering the bigger picture and the sport’s ultimate survival when major league anything returns, it likely will step into that breach.

The opening of the Oklahoma training track across the street from the storied race course on Union Avenue this week was good news. So is the prospect of a Saratoga race meet, without fans if need be. Saratoga racing is something the racing office wants and what several economies demand.

The good news for New York fans is when Belmont opens Wednesday, it will do so following the strict guidelines in effect at Santa Anita–although there is no requirement that jockeys will be required to pitch a tent in the infield.

All that remains is for the major horsemen and owners, those who have made their reputations and a good deal of value to the stallion and broodmare prospects they train, keep the lion’s share of their operations in New York.

Everyone knows how the business works. It is fair and expected that operations be able to ship wherever they want in their self interests. But everybody knows, too, how these outfits traditionally conduct their operations. Tradition, working in concert with loyalty, matters.

Bets ‘N Pieces

Some equine house cleaning from the last holiday weekend that was pushed aside because of the record pace of developments through Saturday’s races

Dunbar Road showed high class to win her four-year-old debut with a wide brush on the final turn and won driven out. It wasn’t sexy but his Shawnee score looked like a great effort to build on…

At the moment it’s way too early to call her a great turf filly but Sharing just might be on her way. The Juvenile Filly Turf winner was well prepared for her three-year-old debut by Graham Motion, which surprises no one, but to beat a very solid field in the Tepin with her class was eye-opening. Manny Franco sure rides her with a lot of condidence…

If his effort in the Blame is any measure, Owendale, a very good second in his three-year-old finale to older Tom’s D’Etat in the G1 Clark, is going to make himself heard in the handicap division…

We discussed Maxfield‘s superb return in the Matt Winn last weekend but must give some props this week to Pneumatic, who did all the dirt pace work while pressured and battled to the end, understandably tiring in the final jumps. Lightly raced, he rates to improve with racing.

Last weekend’s G1 Shoemaker Mile lived up to its legend. Raging Bull put it all together under perfectly timed handling from Joel Rosario… Stablemate Without Parole suffered through overly cute handling from Irad Ortiz Jr. When saving ground a rider can be a hero or a goat. Less heroism was called for here… Next Shares is an obvious stable mail note, check the video: Race 9, Santa Anita, May 25.

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15 Responses

  1. My good news is that CD is still open and that Belmont will race in a few days.Bad news is that Santa Anita needs miracles to be the track,and reputation of past yrs,decades.Bad news is that the ” rubber” Golden Gate track still has $4000,,$5000 claiming races in 2020.Good news,kind of,is the Surprise that Australia has so many tracks as does Sweden with it’s boring trotting race in an Indian file.Pondering.. if stock brokers had the same (in) ability that the majority of so called handicappers have, they’d be out of that morning line favorite gig.If the ML is one person’s opinion why do most others go along with it? Could it be lazyness,lack of ability and / or robotic reaction like that Pavlov’s Dog syndrome ?Hmnnn!

  2. $10,
    Indeed, good and bad makes the world go round but do take exception to “boring Trotting races” from Sweden. I live them, but everyone’s entitled. But disagree about Indian file. They actually launch three and four wide there routinely, and the finish of yesterday’s Elittlopp proves that, see of you can find it…

    ML is one guy’s opinion, that’s why in our analyses we try to set a fair odds for straight betting relative to what we believe a horse’s chances are of winning.

  3. Yes, guys like you, M.Watchmaker..but you’re a minority. You wouldn’t want me to remind you of all My favorite pickers ,Chalkers, in the NY metro area, right?Newsday still has someone who dislikes faves.. I admire that. It’s Gutsy!

  4. Must be talking about man man, Steve Matthews. Yes, he throws deep. But in this age of popular horizontal wagers, a winning short priced single is very helpful. Of course, beating one is better…

    1. Do you remember Keats? Competed w/Clocker Lawton and others. Once was on a bus from PA to The Big M and a man climbed aboard to sell his Keats sheet. And who can ever forget Mike Warren who was mostly sports but would cover big races. Gave out Seattle Slew in Wood Memorial as Five Star Special. Hey, he was right but at a win mutual of $2.20 I’ll take wmcorrow’s advice and pass the race. Please tell us why Jean Cruguet either gave up his mount on Slew or was replaced by Angel Cordero. Cruguet wins Triple Crown and then gets shown the door. Doesn’t make sense. Must’ve been trouble with Slew Crew. Even the partners dissolved their partnership. Not as bad as Zayat Stable but when you get a great horse some not so great things can happen…

      1. Please, they fired (at that time) the only horseman to train an undefeated Triple Crown winner. Jockey switches are quite routine.

        1. Speaking of race callers, I remember when their was a teller’s strike at NYRA. Big A was running at the time and temporary help was brought in. I was in the clubhouse and went to cash a winning ticket. The man behind the window handed me five hundred dollar bills in winnings and said in his familiar voice, “congratulations.” It was track announcer Marshal Cassidy filling in as a teller.

    2. Horizontal$, remind me of when I refused to plunk down $ 128 x a pk 5 or 6 investment at Aquaduct and then while betting each race ,WP,rooting against my last two picks with D.Nelson ,JL Samyn on top..That day nobody hit the gimmick.it was in my notebook..$ 20,000 worth of it..True happening like it it must have happened to many,weekly…Had the money but not the guts…Now I rarely go past a pick3,from DD $ as my starting point.But not as painful as when,while watching it live on Saturday nights I hit the First Five # of a weekly $2 million lottery while I was working in Merrick,L.I,late 70s.Did not get my last number but my body was off the ground,sure that I would hit it.Called my mother to tell about it,,She answered the phone yelling ” Nonna Died” !,,,When I went to get my winnings x Five #s,I got some $ 300 plus,, that’s it.In Those days the pool,pot l x Five right picks was just $ 100,000.Too many had the same combinations W/O that missing 18..Don’t wish it on Anyone!

      1. And here I was talking about racing distraction and you provide two sad, real world event. Sorry for the loss of your mother. As to the other, I would come home from the track and say to Toni, “I saved $6 today.” Always knowing the outcome, her response was “how much did it cost you.” I learned from a smart horseplayer once that “the greatest mistakes are those of omission, not commission.” My response was “what if your bankroll is limited?”

        1. How Much Did That Win Cost You is s smart ? That I often ask Myself or to a few close friends. Their answer to themselves is more important than what they’ll say.. My conscience is clean. I keep tab$.I rarely lack notebook or pens. NO Pencils ! Smart better half! Priceless.. PS, :Nonna is Grandma Carmela. Rip.
          Mom is still alive

  5. John: I am interested in both your take, as well as Tom’s, with regard to the renewal of the “exclusivity” wars. In the current world of COVID-19, it seems that cooperation among industry participants is, unfortunately, pretty near impossible. It should be no surprise that Tony Allevato, former chief at TVG, and now running NYRA Bets, is the sine qua non as to another round of exclusivity. It only caused unnecessary inconvenience, the first time around, in the old TVG/HRTV wars, and it will be another irritant in 2020. How long this lasts will be the lingering question. It took years until the inevitable merger between TVG and HRTV the first time around. I suspect that we will be toggling between FOX and TVG for several more years before the warring parties agree on the next round of corporate combination.

  6. One more example of why there never will be meaningful cooperation between tracks.

    The tragic COVID circumstances brought to the fore how the only thing that matters are the ADW’s. Fans are collateral damage.

    1. After twenty plus years TVG will no longer show NYRA races. So says friend from Player’s Club. Hey, that’s why I chose to get TVG to begin with…

      1. Saw one of TVG’s 2nd stringers boast how he had never even been to New York. Not to cover the Belmont or for anything else. I almost fell out of my chair hearing this. Hard to believe he would willingly skip a visit to my kind of town, Manhattan is. Foolish remark.

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