Track Times Today

Friday, October 21, 2016
Both coming off record years . . .

    With three months gone in the Florida pari-mutuel fiscal year, and six months gone in New York, it appears as though we can unofficially state that the racino boom has reached its apex in both states. 

    Let's start with Florida. From the time Gulfstream Park opened its slots parlor in November of 2006, the total "credits in" from all eight South Florida venues has increased every fiscal year through the last one which ended on June 30. The total amount sent through the machines at Gulfstream, Calder, Miami Jai Alai, Flagler dog track, Hialeah Park, Pompano Park, Hollywood dog track and Dania Jai Alai for 2015-2016 was a little more than $8.23 billion. 

    Through Sept. 30, or one quarter into the 2016-2017 fiscal year, the total is $2.01 billion, and projecting that for 12 months means the current-year numbers may not quite reach last year's record. However, with nine months remaining, anything can happen.

    In New York, where the fiscal year ends on March 31, last year's contributions to the coffers came to a record $20.4 billion. The last 6 1/2 months have been pretty much on a par with last season, and the credits played number is $11.22 billion. So New York is still on track to beat its record year, but it may be close.

    Pompano Park still leads the South Florida venues by a wide margin, followed by Flagler dogs, Hialeah Park, Miami Jai Alai and Calder, in that order. Gulfstream has taken a bigger lead over neighboring Hollywood dogs strictly from the amount of play angle, but its profit margin is much smaller because the dogs have a much larger takeout - 8.20% to Gulfstream's 7.12%. Why people would subject themselves to an extra 1.08% takeout when the two facilities are two minutes apart is beyond comprehension.

    As for Dania Jai Alai, sandwiched between the others and with a limited chance for drawing players from the outer areas, play has been dismal since it reopened after spending a ton of cash and time on renovations. Even so, Dania's net slots revenue, less the 35% tax to the state, comes to $3.1 million.  

    SECOND-CROP SUCCESS - In the past 10 years, there have been precious few Florida stallions who have reached $2 million in progeny earnings as second-crop sires. Before this year, the last ones to achieve that level were With Distinction ($2.7 million) and Pomeroy ($2.1 million) in 2011. The year before, it was the incredible Wildcat Heir ($4.5 million) and Consolidator ($2 million). In 2009, Chapel Royal reached $2.9 million, but all of it came from his two first two crops of Kentuckians.

    This year, two more names have been added to the list, Double Diamond Farm's First Dude and Northwest Stud's Gone Astray. Both have a chance to add to their totals in the next 2-plus months, especially with the Breeders' Cup coming up. Gone Astray, of course, will have unbeaten Three Rules in the Juvenile, and all Florida horsemen will be watching that one.        


Sunday, October 16, 2016 spot a blatant lie . . .

    Is it humanly possible that the people behind the scenes at TVG are unaware that we the people who watch the races on a daily or almost daily basis are being driven to insanity by the four advertisements that are repeated about 40 times (just a guess) each day?

     Just how many times can a person watch the same ads for,, Mesothelioma and Betfair Casino before being sent to the nuthouse? Especially the ads which inform us - about 20 times on each spot - that we can get a website FOR FREE! It wouldn't be quite so bad if it were true, but it's a blatant lie! I know from firsthand experience; before I had the former homepage for this site revamped to how it looks now, I went for the FREE spiel. It was a disaster.

    First of all, the so-called "professional webmaker" didn't know a thing about racing. He asked me a bunch of questions about myself, then began to build a site - in slow motion. He took all my bank information, too, because after one month, they were going to start billing me for hosting , maintenance, etc. - $119.95 a month. That's the "one, low monthly fee" they talk about in the ad.

    The professional web.maker procrastinated so much - I called every day to see how he was coming along - that it was almost a month before he finally had something for me to see. It was horrendous, four square boxes with my bio in them, after I specifically told him to follow the outline of the previous site. He also threw in a picture of a horse - I'm pretty sure it was stolen from a Clydesdale ad. And, to add insult to injury, before he got my approval of his work, he took down the old site, put up his new abortion for all to see, and charged my bank account $119.95 for the first month's fee. For this FREE website. That's $1,439.40 a year for the FREE site. "Not fake free, but real free." I canceled the deal immediately and even though they took my money in five seconds, it was more than a week before they returned it. 

    Viewers should get the idea via just one phrase uttered in the ad by a guy in a black shirt - "before I even paid them a cent." How can you pound FREE down our throats for however many seconds the ad takes, then sneak in, "before I even paid them a cent."

    When you go to a restaurant, the appetizer is free, your drink is free, your entree is free, and your dessert is free. That is, until you finish eating and the server brings you the tab. Then, it's no longer free! Same as 

    Fortunately, PM Advertising does have professionals who build good-looking websites and that's who built this one and Golfer. Of course, if I end up in a home due to being bombarded by the four dreaded TVG ads, it won't matter, anyway. 




Monday, October 10, 2016
Field Commission gelding surprises at 5/2 . . .

    For those who are old enough to remember, the great old comic Red Buttons regularly appeared on various TV variety shows, often employing the same old schtick. He would cover one ear with his hand and utter in feigned amazement: "Strange things are happening."

    Red would have been right at home today, before, during and after the running of the third race at Santa Anita. A few minutes before the start of the $50,000 down to $40,000 claiming race at six furlongs, the TVG commentators were stunned as they watched the No. 9 horse, Mt Lienster, sitting on the board at odds of 3-1. The 2-year-old by Field Commission had finished seventh in his lone start at Del Mar on Sept. 2, beaten 11 1/2 lengths with Tyler Baze aboard, at odds of 24-1. The gelding bred by Johanne Everard at Another Episode Farm in Ocala never made a semblance of a move at any time in the race, although he did show a little kick, if that's the right word, by finishing just one length out of fourth, but still 10 lengths from the winner.

    The TVGers tried to find anything that would cause Mt Lienster to be bet the way he was - his morning line odds were 20-1. They couldn't find a thing, and when the gate opened, he was down to co-favoritism at 5/2. Kurt Hoover, a pretty astute analyst, watched the betting and said a ton of money had showed up on Mt Lienster in the win pool.

    Baze rushed the gelding out of the gate first, then took back to mid-pack, but not too far off the pace. Mt Lienster came five wide on the turn, passed everybody but the other co-favorite early, then ran down his final rival to win going away by 1 1/4 lengths. He paid $7.40, $4.60 and $3.80, the place and show prices being somewhat inflated because he was hammered so hard on the win end only. Owners David Buchanan and Kendall Mann collected the winner's share - $12,945 - and who knows how much at the windows. You can bet the TVG people will go looking to trainer Gary Stute for an answer.

    One reason for the score certainly isn't that Field Commission, who stands at Solera Farm in Williston for longtime breeder Ed Seltzer, is on a hot streak. He has just 36 foals of racing age, with 32 of them 2-year-olds, and Mt Lienster became just his fourth winner. In fact, the entire group had earned $94,906 before today.

    Strange things are happening, and we can hope the TVG crew can solve the mystery.  





Wednesday, October 05, 2016
Three Rules headed for Breeders' Cup

    The last time a Florida-bred colt won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile was in 1993 when Gary Stevens defeated Blumin Affair and Tabasco Cat with Brocco. It marked the third time in the first 10 editions of the race that Florida had walked off with the title, Brocco being preceded by Tasso in 1985 and Gilded Time in 1992. There have been others who were bred by Florida farm owners, such as Answer Lively, by John Franks, and Macho Uno, by Frank Stronach, but they were foaled in Kentucky.

    If the 2016 Juvenile were being run this week, the sensational Florida-bred colt Three Rules would probably be the favorite. The son of Gone Astray is a perfect 5-for-5 and nobody is even close to his nearly $700,000 in earnings - or four straight stakes victories, the last coming at Gulfstream Saturday in the $500,000 In Reality. 

    "He looks 100 percent," owner Bert Pilcher said about the colt he bred with partners Geoff Roy and Tom Fitzgerald. "The race took nothing out of him."

    There has been much speculation about the always-present deluge of offers that pour in when a 2-year-old makes a huge early splash. However, "I haven't had anybody actually give a figure," Pilcher said, "because I never let it get that far."

    Gone Astray's success has come as no surprise to him, because he knew he had something special from the beginning. "The first time I saw him work a quarter I couldn't talk for 30 seconds," Pilcher said. "He's got everything going for him - his mind, his attitude, everything. He takes care of himself. I can't think of one thing I would change about him.

    Pilcher runs Shade Tree Thoroughbreds north of Ocala, the farm that his late father, Hubert, owned and operated for many decades before him housing successful stallions such as Strike the Anvil and Hooched, and where Three Rules was born and raised. Like so many others, there have been tough times, but the $680,640 the colt has earned has more than alleviated the problem.

    "He's a dream horse," Pilcher said, knowing there's plenty of room for many more dreams in the future. When Nyquist won the Juvenile last year, he collected $1.1 million for the Reddam Racing Stable. 

    FROSH RACE HEATS UP - The Florida freshman sire race has taken on a new look. After Ocala Stud's Overdriven took a 5-1 lead over Woodford Thoroughbreds' Biondetti, it appeared as though it was going to be no contest. But Biondetti has quickly added three more winners, the last one being La Zoraya, who paid $134 scoring at Gulfstream last Friday. Even though he trails Overdriven by one winner, Biondetti has jumped into the money lead.

    TV IS TOPS - There was an interesting poll taken by the staff at the Paulick Report last week, asking where people watch their races. TV received 41.61 percent of the votes, followed by computer (28.46), on track (13.35), simulcast/OTB (9.72) and phone/tablet (6.87). Of course, if bettors had access to a track not far from their homes, the on-track would be infinitely greater. How many of us would be at Gulfstream or Tampa Bay Downs much more often if we lived closer to either?   






Thursday, September 29, 2016
The stars come out to play . . .

    Excluding the Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup weekends, which provide enough excitement to last racing fans for weeks, before and during, it's possible that what the nation's tracks are providing on Saturday could be the biggest stakes day in the history of the sport. Actually, I just made that up, because I have no idea if it's true - but it very well could be. It's difficult to digest the number of stakes on tap, so many of them graded, and with a myriad of the upper echelon equines scheduled to participate.

    Let's start with New York. Belmont Park will feature three Gr. I's, the $500,000 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic (with Flintshire), the $400,000 Beldame and the $350,000 Vosburgh (with sensational Florida-bred X Y Jet). Add to that the Gr. II, $300,000 Gallant Bloom, and the Gr. III, $200,000 Pilgrim on the grass, and we have $1,750,000 worth of races featuring horses who will wind up contesting the Breeders' Cup.

    In California, we have five Gr. I's, all with $300,000 on the line - the Frontrunner for 2-year-olds, the Awesome Again (California Chrome and Dortmund return), the Rodeo Drive on the grass, the Zenyatta (Beholder and Stellar Wind face off again), and the Chandelier for 2-year-old fillies (Demigoddess, by First Dude, has drawn post 12). Add to that the ungraded Unzip Me for 3-year-old fillies. There's also the Oak Tree Juvenile being run at Pleasanton.

     At Churchill Downs, the spectacular sprint champ Runhappy returns in the Gr. III, $100,000 Ack Ack Handicap at a flat mile, supported by the $175,000 Lukas Classic and the $100,000 Jefferson Cup on the grass. 

    Laurel Park has a pair of $75,000 sprints, the Politely and the Challedon. Leaving from post 7 in the Challedon is Mylute, owned by Ocala's Gold Mark Farm in partnership with Mandy Pope's Whisper Hill Farm. In Canada, the $125,000 South Ocean is for 2-year-old fillies; Ocala's Gary Boulanger goes from No. 7 with Nineteen Sixteen. The features at Hastings Park in British Columbia are the Gr. III, $100,000 BC Premier's Handicap, the Gr. III, $100,000 Ballerina, and the $50,000 CTHS Sales Stakes, one for colts and geldings and one for fillies.

    Last, but far from least, the stage is set at Gulfstream Park for unbeaten sensation Three Rules, the colt by red-hot Gone Astray who will be looking to add his name to the elite list of colts who have swept the Florida Sire Stakes. Three Rules is 4-for-4 with three stakes victories and he's been all by himself while cruising down the stretch in each race. He'll be a very short price in the $500,000 In Reality at 1 1/16 miles.

    The festivities in Hallandale Beach begin in race 2 with the $150,000 Florida Sire Meadow Star for 3-year-old fillies, followed by the $75,000 Armed Forces Stakes for 2-year-olds at a mile on the grass in race 3. 

    Race 5 is the $75,000 Mr. Steele for 3-year-olds and up at a mile on the grass, and race 6 is the $150,000 Foolish Pleasure at a mile on the main track for 3-year-old colts and geldings. It features most of the best of Ocala's young stallions - Gone Astray, Big Drama (2), High Cotton (2), Hear No Evil, Kantharos (who has left for Kentucky) and Awesome of Course.  The seventh is the $75,000 Our Dear Peggy for 2-year-old fillies at a mile over the turf course.

    The My Dear Girl is race No. 10 and among those shooting for the major shares of the $500,000 purse will be Ocalans Shadybrook Farm, Don Dizney, Bill Rainbow, Sandra Trotter and Curtis Mikkelsen. Curtis, of course, has the unbeaten filly star, Cajun Delta Dawn, the daughter of Kantharos who is also 4-for-4 and looking for a Florida Sire sweep. (Losing Kantharos to Kentucky will be felt for quite a while in Florida). That will be followed by the $75,000 Panama City at a mile on the grass and then the big one, the In Reality.

    All around, a magical day for those who wager via TV, computer, phone, tablet and whatever else they have invented for the purpose. What more could anyone ask, other than a having a nearby TV airing the Ryder Cup?