Track Times Today

Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Monday and Tuesday numbers are embarrassing . . .

    Rich Perloff probably has the toughest job on TVG. While he has an ongoing presence on the weekends when so often there's so much great racing (see Songbird, Nyquist and Exaggerator coming up in a few days), he also has to muddle through the agonizing telecasts by himself on Mondays and Tuesdays when he fields such brilliant questions from the viewing audience as: "Can a jockey be considered great if he doesn't win that much, or even not at all?" I kid you not, that one came up yesterday.

    But the worst part of Perloff's stay on the worst two racing days of the week is trying to make programs at Parx, Finger Lakes, Fort Erie and Zia Park sound exciting. If there's anybody who hasn't been convinced yet that there's a critical shortage of able race horses in this country, one Monday-Tuesday go-around is all one needs.

    Here's a rundown on the performance of the aforementioned tracks over the past two days.

    Parx: 62 runners in nine races on Monday (average 6.8), 74 on Tuesday in nine (average 8.2, not bad).  

    Finger Lakes: 62 runners in nine on Monday (average 6.8), 65 on Tuesday in nine (average 7.2).

    Fort Erie: 55 runners in eight on Tuesday (average 6.8).

    Zia Park: 64 runners on Tuesday in nine (average 7.1). 

    It's never been disputed that short fields result in drastic reductions in handle, and mutuel wagering over the two days was. predictably, disastrous. On Monday at Parx, on-track handle was a miniscule $40,507, and we don't know what all-sources handle was because Equibase got it hopelessly wrong by showing a figure of $1,219. On Tuesday, the numbers were $53,578 and $1,272,787. It's difficult to comprehend how the track can continue to function efficiently. In the grandstand, it must be like walking around in a cemetery at midnight. 

    Finger Lakes is no better, except that the upstate New York purses are miniscule compared to those in Pennsylvania, despite the presence of a very successful racino. On Monday, the Finger Lakes all-sources handle was $1,306,513; no on-track handle was given, which usually means it's too embarrassing to divulge. On Tuesday, all-sources dropped to $1,221,914.

    At Fort Erie on Tuesday, the all-sources handle was $847,862, which was monstrous compared to the debacle they call Zia Park, in New Mexico. At Zia, they aren't shy about revealing attendance - it was 194. I would have guessed that the on-track handle was an all-time record low for any track, anywhere, but Zia may have had some lower. The number was $16,106. I assume they save a ton on mutuel clerks and concessionaires by having just one of each. There was also an ITW figure given - $3,820, and an ISW figure - $337,490.

    One very sad note concerning the racing at Zia. Pat Valenzuela is riding there. This once superior jockey has screwed up his career so many times through alcohol and drug abuse that he's been banned in California, where he rode with such distinction for so many years. One would think everybody in NM would be clamoring for his services, but Pat was aboard just four horses on Tuesday's nine-race card. How the mighty have fallen! 

    The star of Tuesday's races was Indiana Grand, with 93 runners in 10 races for an average of 9.3. They have a solid riding colony, which includes David Flores, Leandro Goncalves and Fernando De la Cruz. Yet, the on-track handle was a paltry $19,957 - all-sources was much better - $1,558,278. 

    I have no clue as to the solution to this dilemma, because there are so many horses being offered at the various auctions. It could be that the buyers with the cash are awaiting the results of the election. If Trump is truly able to make America great again, does that include horse racing? 

     

    

 

Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Monday and Tuesday numbers are embarrassing . . .

    Rich Perloff probably has the toughest job on TVG. While he has an ongoing presence on the weekends when so often there's so much great racing (see Songbird, Nyquist and Exaggerator coming up in a few days), he also has to muddle through the agonizing telecasts by himself on Mondays and Tuesdays when he fields such questions from the viewing audience as: "Can a jockey be considered great if he doesn't win that much, or even not at all?" I kid you not, that one came up yesterday.

    But the worst part of Perloff's stay on the worst two racing days of the week is trying to make programs at Parx, Finger Lakes, Fort Erie and Zia Park sound exciting. If there's anybody who hasn't been convinced yet that there's a critical shortage of able race horses in this country, one Monday-Tuesday go-around is all one needs.

    Here's a rundown on the performance of the aforementioned tracks over the past two days.

    Parx: 62 runners in nine races on Monday (average 6.8), 74 on Tuesday in nine (average 8.2, not bad).  

    Finger Lakes: 62 runners in nine on Monday (average 6.8), 65 on Tuesday in nine (average 7.2).

    Fort Erie: 55 runners in eight on Tuesday (average 6.8).

    Zia Park: 64 runners on Tuesday in nine (average 7.1). 

    It's never been disputed that short fields cause drastic cuts in handle, and mutuel wagering over the two days was disastrous. On Monday at Parx, on-track handle was a miniscule $40,507, and we don't know what all-sources handle was because Equibase got it hopelessly wrong by showing a figure of $1,219. On Tuesday, the numbers were $53,578 and $1,272,787. It's difficult to comprehend how the track can continue to function efficiently. It must be like walking around in a cemetery at midnight. 

    Finger Lakes is no better, except that the upstate New York purses are miniscule compared to those in Pennsylvania, despite the presence of a very successful racino. On Monday, the Finger Lakes all-sources handle was $1,306,513; no on-track handle was given, which usually means it's too embarrassing to divulge. On Tuesday, it was $1,221,914.

    At Fort Erie on Tuesday, the all-sources handle was $847,862, which was monstrous compared to the debacle they call Zia Park, in New Mexico. At Zia, they aren't shy about revealing attendance - it was 194. I would guess that the on-track handle was an all-time record low for any track, anywhere, but Zia may have had some lower. The number was $16,106. I assume they save a ton on mutuel clerks and concessionaires by having just one of each. There was also an ITW figure - $3,820, and an ISW figure - $337,490.

     

    

 

Tuesday, September 13, 2016
Great loss to Florida breeding program . . .

    The announcement that the amazing Kantharos would be leaving Ocala Stud Farm and headed to Hill 'n' Dale in Lexington comes as no surprise to horsemen who have been around Marion County for any length of time. Since the son of Lion Heart is owned by Stonestreet's Barbara Banke, and not Ocala Stud, it was inevitable, just as it was several decades ago when Mr. Prospector and In Reality left town, although the latter occurred near the end of his sterling career. Mr. Prospector, however, was just beginning, and went on to become one of the premier sires ever to stand in the U. S.

    Kantharos came from a sparse freshman crop in Florida, but it wouldn't have mattered. His numbers have been spectacular and have held up for three seasons, beginning with 2014 when his first-crop runners earned $868,968, and continuing into his second season, when he reached $1,780,874. He's right at about $3 million already this year, second on the Florida general sire list, and his final total by Dec. 31 could be anything. That, despite the fact that he has just 79 runners, while the other four of the top five in Florida have more than 100. Deceased Wildcat Heir is the unquestioned leader, but he has 211 at the track.  

    The list of stallions who have been "made" in Florida and left for other lands is long - it includes Congrats, Northern Afleet, Yes It's True, Macho Uno, Stormy Atlantic and Successful Appeal, all of whom continue to remain prominent on the top 75 chart listed in Blood-Horse. 

    Like all of those listed, Florida breeders are going to miss Kantharos. So will this column.

    COME ON ALREADY! - They're still waiting for someone in Pennsylvania to push a button and allow for the dispersal of the more than $6 million in breeders and stallion  awards that horsemen have been waiting for since March. What a colossal joke!

    NOT A RACE - Ocala Stud's Overdriven added to his lead in the all-but-over frosh sire race in Florida when Boot N Loot scored at Gulfstream Park last week. The gelding bred by Tony Everard became winner No. 5 for his sire, going wire-to-wire under Edgard Zayas and winning by four lengths. No other sire on the list has more than one winner. 

Tuesday, September 06, 2016
Everybody is affected by decision . . .

    Disqualifications often fuel heated debates, with those betting on the horse taken down usually getting very vocal about how they were discriminated against. Sometimes, of course, a dq is so blatant, nobody can say a nasty word about the stewards.

    But, we have to remember it's not just the bettors who are affected by the dqs. The owners who get taken down lose a portion of their winnings, the trainers lose a portion of their 10 percent, as do the jockeys. And don't forget about the records of the horses.

    Last Wednesday, I witnessed a strange dq in the 10th race at Gulfstream Park, not because I think they took down a horse who didn't deserve it, but because the stewards didn't go far enough in sorting out the entire incident.

    They were racing 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf course, and in the stretch, Salutation, with Manny Aguilar, and Louie's Baby Boy, with Eddie Castro, were battling for the lead, with Conquest Goinggone, and Tyler Gaffalione, trying to catch them on the outside. Suddenly, Cornelio Velasquez came flying down outside of Conquest Goinggone, and as he was about to sweep by all three leaders, Saluation swerved to the right repeatedly and slammed Louie's Baby Boy, who was forced outward just as Terry's Charm came by. Aside from Louie's Baby Boy getting destroyed, Gaffalione had to stand up on Conquest Goinggone so as not to be crushed between Louie and Terry, and in so doing, he not only lost his irons, he lost fourth place to Matanzas Inlet, who was coming up on the inside.

    Terry's Charm went on to win the race, Salutation held on to second, Louie's Baby Boy was third, Matanzas Inlet fourth and Conquest Goinggone limped home fifth with Tyler still searching for his irons.

    The red signs all lit up, and soon the stewards rendered their decision - Salutation was disqualified from second and placed third. Since Terry's Charm won, and Matanzas Inlet came late and was nowhere near the others, it seemed like a just decision. But was it? The only ones with a legitimate beef were all the connections of Conquest. Here are the paydays each received: Terry's Charm, $21,600; Louie's Baby Boy, $7,200; Salutation, $3,240; Matanzas Inlet, $1,440; and Conquest Goinggone a measly $360, which all the rest of the finishers also got.

    First of all, if not for the infraction, Conquest would have finished no worse than fourth, so he would have collected $1,440. That's more than a thousand bucks than he got. And he might have had enough left to pass a horse or two late. The real question is, how could the stewards not drop Salutation behind Conquest since the foul against him was so blatant? I would imagine his people are wondering the same thing. 

    Finally, it would have changed the order of finish drastically as far as the mutuel payoffs are concerned, and that is a major concern. 

    IT'S ALL OVER-DRIVEN - What there was of the Florida freshman sire race this season is all but over. Ocala Stud's Overdriven picked up his fourth winner on Sept. 2 when Over Limit won at Woodbine, going wire-to-wire and scoring by three-quarters of a length in his second start. The gelding bred by Ocala Stud raced six furlongs in 1:11.24. Over Limit had won his first try, too, but was disqualified and placed second. 

    Biondetti is the only other freshman with a chance to catch Overdriven, but the Woodford stallion has just one winner, and 17 have started. 

    

 

 

Monday, August 29, 2016
Fire the Racing Commission, I say . . .

    The solution to the problem in Pennsylvania concerning the withholding of millions of dollars in breeders and stallion awards is too simple. FIRE ALL THE WEENIES ON THE PENNSYLVANIA HORSE RACING COMMISSION.

    So, there's some problem with the way the statute is worded, and the bozos on the commission have been holding up the payments for months. The amount of cash the breeders are being screwed out of is roughly $6 million. Breeders have told the governor, the commission and legislators they are being forced out of business. I will bet that not one person among those three groups have been living without a paycheck since March, which is when the payments were suspended.

    It has been reported that legislation that would have fixed the language in a new law died in committee. The House indicated it's working on a compromise that one legislator said will be addressed when lawmakers reconvene in September. That will be about six months too late for the guys who are feeling the crunch.

    As  I said before, it's so simple, really. Fire all the guys (and gals) without guts who won't release the funds. Then pay the breeders, and everyone can worry about the repercussions after the horses have eaten and the breeders have paid their bills and employees. Do we have to get Donald Trump involved in this boondoggle? Why is it that bureaucrats and the like get to rule the people who matter no matter how stupid the people in power are? 

    Agriculture Secretary Russell Redding told the breeders the department wants to restore the payments, "but we can't ignore the words in the law." I'll bet Redding went to Bern's Steakhouse in Pennsylvania for dinner sometime this week, if they have the brains to have built a Bern's in Pennsylvania. I doubt it. Probably eats at the Quaker Oats Diner. 

    Here's a quick fix to the problem. Let all the people who are involved in withholding the payments lend money to the breeders and stallion owners and reimburse them on the day the awards become available.