Just For Ponies.com

Ava Flores
• Saturday, 15 May, 2021
• 19 min read

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Cantata and her foal enjoying a beautiful spring day in Maryland. Pose, a Welsh yearling filly loves to play with water.

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It will be a nice sunny day for a competitive Grade 3 sprint, the Mr. Prospector for 3YO and upwards running for a purse of $100,000. A field of seven has entered and there is plenty of front end speed to contend with.

After looking them over I can see several claiming victory today, I don’t see any clear-cut favorites, it’s that wide open. Pompey is a dangerous trainer and with Pace Lopez staying in the irons makes him even tougher.

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James Toner takes over, and he has a decent record with first timers (his ROI is a staggering $5.37), and puts on Volcano. You can’t ignore Ben Perkins connecting with Elvis Trujillo, 23% winning record together.

He likes to go to the front, and the only weakness is does he have the speed to stay with the top contenders? He has faced much tougher and has the class edge, but I wonder about his confidence going forward.

I respect David Fawkes, and he has put Seize back on top, which might be the answer. If this was 7 panels or a mile, he would be the top dog, not saying he can’t win, but the speed burners in this mix will be long gone before he wakes up.

As you know, slots have entered various jurisdictions with almost all the proceeds going to purses (and some capital improvements, mostly for horse people). This has not helped handles, as witnessed by the massive betting losses since slots have been introduced in the mid-1990's.

“The new Aqueduct racing is providing NRA with as much as $100 million a year for purses and capital improvements, and some slice of that should be redirected to the public in the form of lower takeout. NRA can finally afford it, and the crumbling of the state’s OTB system removes a major impediment to enacting it.

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I thought it might be nice to present you the horse player with a contrast of two cities (racing jurisdictions) this Holiday Season. Despite perfect weather and Monday being a Federal Holiday, all sources handle was up just 7% vs. opening day the year before.

Quotes like the one above, coupled with player reaction to the takeout increase resulted in a Cal Racing public relations nightmare. Last spring, representatives from Hand met with leadership from Track Management and the TOC.

It’s a safe bet the words “NRA Lowers Takeout on Exotics” were crafted in hopes NRA can avoid the kind of handle debacle CAL Racing experienced as a direct result of poor decision-making by the TOC and Curb. On December 9, 2011, Richard Eng penned an article for the Las Vegas Review Journal calling for NRA to lower takeout.

“IT WAS the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way- in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.” Before we dive into Weekend Handicapping, I would like to wish all the readers of the Hand blog site a Happy Holiday.

Probably should be the second choice but not sure if she will bounce back from that ugly race at the G2 level on dirt. With 2YO’s I worry about confidence issues and it puzzles me when connections have what appears to be a solid turf horse and then stick them in a high class race on a different surface.

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You could say the whole field is dark horses but I’ve picked two and the #4 looks ready to make her move. While Mate doesn’t have the strongest stakes record, he is consistent all across the board and brings Bravo to ride her today.

Her Beyer’s are consistent, and she bounced back nicely after the bad race in the Natalia at Woodbine. You can’t ignore her turf breeding; Mark Case has an excellent record with 2YO’s and stakes races.

Amy Tarrant doesn’t run a big string, but her success can’t be ignored. This filly cost a lot of money, $190,000, and I’m thinking with her last outing a victory on turf they might have found the magic with her.

If you cash an ex or DD at Portland or a Pick 4 at Turf way over the holidays, there's a little extra in your stocking. For almost a year some of you've asked why NRA continued to take 26% in some exotic bets after September 15, 2010.

Our streak eked by with Cherokee Queen winning yesterday at the Fair Grounds. So today we slip back over to Gulf stream and will try to make sense of the Dania Beach $100,000 for 2YO going a mile on turf.

ponies against each
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Personally I find 2YO difficult, but the blessing today is there are no first time starters, just winners. The BC Juvenile was a huge field and appears to have been knocked around a bit, so will toss it.

If the BC Juvenile didn’t hurt his confidence then he should be right at the front, it won’t be easy, but he can certainly win it. This 2YO is making his third start, and is coming off a fine effort in the King Cut ($60K).

The only issues are is that he hasn’t won on turf and Ian Black doesn’t have the best record with 2YO’s. Mira shows good results across the board with his training of 2YO’s and puts the wily Cast anon on today.

What makes him scary is wired that field going long, and now cutting back to a mile, you would think this would be easy for him. Last weekend saw our top pick hit the wire on Saturday and then Sunday, our “Bombs Away” selection gave us our fist long shot winner of the year.

It’s the 4th running of the Blushing K. D. Handicap, having a purse of $75,000 for fillies and mares 3YO and upwards. I’m going to toss out here last two long races and look at her success at a mile and today’s distance.

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If you look back she wins at a mile and won the Rooney Memorial at Delaware at 1 1/16, she also posts strong Beyer’s at these distances. She has won 2 of 3 turf races here at the Fair Grounds in her day, and Graham is back on, which is a good sign.

I think Michael Stigma has Weekend Party in here to be the rabbit for her, and she has the ability to take this group. I do have an issue that they have going in the wrong direction (94-93-90), making me wonder of her form cycle.

There is no doubt if Carl Bowman has her ready, and she can pick her way through this crowd she will make a run for it, just not sure she will. Won the G3, Suwanee River at GP back in February with an eye popping 97.

After three rough outings her owners moved her to Steve Marigolds, who does well with first time starters when he takes over. The key’s for this 7YO is she is having a good season winning 3 of 6, trained by the crafty and always dangerous, Steve Rasmussen.

I think her chances are stronger if she races more mid pack than in the back with Ravi’s Song. Here speed figures don’t match the contenders but are moving in the right direction (68 -71- 73 -77).

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The form cycle suggest that she might still mature and can make that big leap in this one. Barman doesn’t run a big stable but his charges win, and he keeps Butler in the irons.

Toss in a big weight drop and this mare could just be finding her ceiling. The racing at Aqueduct has been churning out some huge revenues, most of which will go into purses, just like it has in numerous jurisdictions around North America.

Meanwhile, customers have never shared in the windfall, and they continue to leave in droves. Some industry watchers, bettors and fans have had enough, and they're letting everyone know they have. “Today it was announced that the Aqueduct casino is the most successful in all of New York State.

“NRA Needs to Give Back: With the Aqueduct casino in full operation, purses in the Big Apple are going to increase by $100,000 on Jan. 1, and by the time we get to Saratoga, they may be offering close to $1 million per day in purses. The New York Racing Association could start a good trend by lowering takeout and building handle.

Places that have had slots have done the same thing with the money, with rarely a thought to help our betting game be more attractive enabling it to grow. Recently at Hollywood Park, a horse who was only reported gelded 30 minutes before post time (giving no chance for horizontal handicappers to change their tickets, or use the information) won, paying $56.

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Currently, the trainer is fined $1000 for not giving the race office the information on time, so the betting public has full disclosure. I am writing to urge the Commissioners of the Curb to vote in favor of improving the integrity of California racing.

The proposed rule change, whereby a horse gelded since its most recent start (but not reported as gelded by the horse’s connections) will be allowed to run for purse money on race day does not go far enough to preserve the integrity of the game. By ordering such horses scratched and not allowing the connections to earn purse money with such horses on race day, you will be sending a very clear message to tracks, horsemen, AND THE WAGERING PUBLIC that the integrity of the game is of the utmost importance.

We're glad he chose horse racing too, as he's an invaluable resource to the Hand Board. The Sugar Swirl turned out to be a nice 1 -2 with Pomeroy Pistol and Pica Slew paying a $53 exact.

We have been a run now, with three in a row and today we head back north to Aqueduct. Improving Beyer’s over the last three (79-88-91), last 2 wins came against older horses and Du trow has been hot of late.

He has won 2 races in 4 attempts, including breaking his maiden on the inner track here at Aqueduct. It looks like McLaughlin has him primed to go and can wire a field easily.

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The only thing and not sure if it’s contractual, but Dominguez moves to the #2 and doesn’t stay on what looks like a lock. He is a classic bouncer, and we should get a nice run today if he stays to form.

He likes to rate just off the pace and with the front end speed today, he might be in a good spot to collect a winning ticket. You have to respect his 2YO campaign, winning 3 of 5, including 2 sizeable stakes races at Finger Lakes.

The only knock is 1 win in 13 attempts, but a cut back in distance could be the tonic today. Ancient Rome hung on to win the Spectacular Bid Stakes at Gulf stream paying $4.80.

Then Eagle Poise connects in the Valedictorian on closing day at Woodbine, for an $8.80 winning ticket. A field of eight is scheduled, and this group is loaded with front end speed.

Tossing out the BC Sprint, she has posted consistent speed, winning a G2 at Belmont and being in the hunt in all her races. She should tuck up close and pounce on this field unless one of these underachievers breaks loose, and that is possible.

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My take on this horse, is her connections are confused, can’t settle on a trainer and messing up this lightly raced filly. She has all the ability to wire this field and if the past hasn’t spooked her, watch out, a real danger here to run away from them all.

She has won 4 in a row, popping some nice Beyer’s, granted some races were with state bred company, but you can ignore her ability to run off and hide. Some might have her in the top three and would not argue against that, but her inconsistency and coming up empty in her last makes me question her form here.

There has been a trainer change to Wins who does well with 1st timers winning 27% and puts Bravo on board. Started off this season with a win in an Optional Claiming $100k, and then she has been in a rut of a day late/dollar short.

This will be Pace Lopez third try and last outing he brought her closer to the action and her Beyer popped up. For as long as we all can remember, horse racing's publicized churn rate (the number of times you as a player, collectively, roll over your bankroll, explained in detail here) was 7.

If everyone at the track had $100,000 in their pockets, chances are handle would have been somewhere around $700,000. Two major variables that go into the churn rate, as the article alludes are: In macro-terms, with a $10B annual handle in the US, that means there is about $2.5 billion in players wallets to bet racing.

ponies deviantart
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Graham Motion is a solid trainer in these situations and Husbands is staying with him. Bill Mott has him in good shape and brings Chantal back to ride him.

Truthfully, the only reason I’ve got him in this spot is out of respect for him winning the BC Marathon. Other than that 95 at Churchill his Beyer’s have average, just don’t see him repeating that great effort in the Breeders Cup.

Good steady Beyer’s, can handle the distance and has won four of ten at Woodbine. Forested is getting him into form and this could be the break out race, he has shown a liking to the synthetic and has the sharpshooter in Contreras in the saddle.

He likes to stay close and if the front-runners get bogged down he could shoot through. He has won three of ten at Woodbine with two seconds, and Pizarro has been aboard for all his victories.

Gulf stream Park has decided to forgo some April dates to run the entire month of December. To kick of the Gulf stream meet, we will look at the 32nd running of The Spectacular Bid Stakes for 2YO’s going 6 furlongs for a purse of $100,000.

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We’ve got a nice field of 8, and let’s get this meet and month off to a good start, meaning cashing some tickets. He comes back in perfect time to take on his first stakes race, where again Du trow’s record is outstanding.

The only challenge I see for him is he likes to come off the pace, and while there is no blow away speed here he could get lost in the shuffle. His works have been sharp, he gets Castellano back in the saddle and could be ready to find his rhythm.

Minor point is that he appears to run better in smaller fields, this one is a middling group so might find himself in good sorts this time. He has won 2 of 5 over at Calder, winning his last outing in a $125,000 Juvenile event posting a Beyer of 77.

After a nice hiatus, he comes back to win at first asking, he could be fresh and ready to go today. There are two angles here for me; the runner-up in his last race, Martini Madness, won a N1x with an 80 Beyer at Calder.

There is a fair discussion going on over at the Pauli ck Report regarding Tampa Bay Downs. Peter Be rube was interviewed and shares some of his thoughts regarding this meet, and Tampa's business model. As you most know, Tampa opens their next meet with a 3% cut to WPS takeout (from 17.5% to 17%) and a new 15% pick 5, replacing the high rake, little played pick 6.

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Industry watcher and gambling expert Hartley Henderson wrote a hard-hitting article this week about (primarily) horse racing. In the article he examines what companies are doing to grow in the tough economy and compares it to racing.

“Churchill Downs Inc. announced that it was cutting incentives for all but the largest players who wager at their Twin Spires website. Under the system players will be given rewards cards and only those who wager $25,000 or more at the 4 Churchill Downs tracks (Churchill Downs, Arlington Park, Calder Race Course and Fair Grounds) or on the Inspire’s website in a year will be entitled to “elite rewards” which include free parking, programs, etc.

Further, tracks like Woodbine in Canada, and the state of Virginia have enacted similar, that are looked at by Mr. Henderson. You might not like what he says, but from a horse player group with more than 2000 members, we can honestly tell you: A lot of what he speaks is the truth.

The Blood-Horse is reporting that KY Steward John Vetch has been dismissed effective immediately. Earlier this month, Layton requested and received a 30-day extension in which to complete his report.

Haynes field was right there to strike but never fired, in fact, he looked like he wanted to lug out off the rail. Today, we head back up to Canada for the $150,000 Display Stakes going a mile and one-sixteenth over the synthetic surface for 2YO's.

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He had a great effort in the Coronation coming way wide; his Beyer’s are the best of the bunch. You got a turf to synthetic play, first time blinkers and Johnny V coming north to ride him.

His last two races were in Graded company and wasn’t totally blown off the track, decent Beyer’s, and we know he can handle the distance. Comes off a strong win in the Coronation, has put together a string of pearls with his Beyer’s (72-73-72-79).

Contreras has ridden four times well and with Attar having a decent stakes record. Beat Bridge burner in winning his maiden in September running a competitive 72 Beyer.

After a smashing 3 of 6 in 2010, we all but thought he would dominate this year, but those 2 starts in graded company were duds. Three races don’t make a season, and he might not have been in shape for the Met or Westchester.

I liked this 3YO in the BC Classic, and sadly had a rough trip after getting close. Granted Caixa hasn’t won at this level either, but you can’t ignore the 6YO improving Beyer’s (100-99-96).

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I would call this one a soft Bombs Away, but there is a good possibility he will be the real overlay in this field. March is doing well and stays in the irons, and maybe if he pushes to the front or closer like in the Bird stone he might win this one.

A young standard bred trainer being profiled in a magazine piece about his thoughts on what lies in store for his generation in racing. The young blood in the sport is much more open to growing horse racing, and we hope this catches on throughout the industry.

The drop of three percentage points reflects an overall takeout reduction of 12% for the four bets. For their fall 2011 meet, Hawthorne announced a reduced takeout pick 5 at 14%.

Calder GM John Marshall campaigned without success for further takeout reductions as he was met with resistance from Florida horsemen. Tampa Bay Downs announced for the start of their 2011-2012 meet, they are reducing takeout on WPS wagers to 17.0% from 17.5%.

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