by Ron Gurfein
Tidbits: The good, the bad and the ugly from the Breeders Crown eliminations:
The good: Most of the winners were near or true to form. Two upsets resulted in triple digit win payoffs delivered by Ron Burke and Marcus Melander, two trainers that usually provide odds on results. But both wins came with slightly suspect favorites.
Once again, Tall Dark Stranger provided us with an exciting finish, but I am getting used to his antics and I no longer expect him to falter on the wire. I am convinced with all those breath-holding finishes he could most likely have gone another mile and still won. Cattlewash was fabulous in track record time but will have to have another gear to best TDS.
Southwind Gendry and Perfect Sting were overwhelming on Friday as were Bettors Wish, Kissin In The Sand and Gimpanzee.
The over-all performance of the Nancy Takter trainees makes me wonder if she will equal her dads super crown night of a few years ago. Stay tuned.
The bad: I don’t understand the betting public. Only a week or so ago at the Red Mile, Andy Miller and Venerate made a miscue while about to shatter a world record. How can he not be the favorite in his next start? As it turns out he draws in with the undefeated Captain Corey who has done nothing to write home about in the speed department, and has beaten up on a bunch of indigenous horses. The result Venerate paid $7.00, what a gift.
Why did the Hoosier Park Racing Office jam 12 Crown eliminations into Friday’s card and have only five left for Saturday? A little more balance would have gone a long way.
The ugly: Two of the finest minds our sport has to offer get thrown under the bus by a pathetic production. There are few that rival Gabe Prewitt and Bob Heyden when it comes to presentation of a harness event and they truly did a marvelous job last weekend.
However, the set was horrendous. Friday we had un upskirt view of Holly (Heyden) a sight we did not want or need for the entire night and Gabe’s view was not much better.
They improved the situation slightly Saturday by raising the camera above Bob’s waist. This is the BREEDERS CROWN for God’s sake.
I saw what a beautiful set they had with couches and flowers on Facebook. Why the producers of the show decided to forego the nice set up for a close up of Heyden is a major mystery. If it was Marilyn Monroe I could understand, but Bob?
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I have been in contact with some of the leading standardbred breeders in Sweden and no one seems to know what the chances of the courts over-turning the ridiculous decision to destroy the great Propulsion. They have stripped him of all his victories and some $3 million (U.S.) in purses. Plus they have taken away his ability to stand stud in 2021.
The best is that they stated that in their findings they found “no malicious intent” on the part of Daniel Redén. This writer finds malicious intent on the part of the Swedish Commission. There must be a better resolution to the situation.
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Great news for you yearling buyers next week. I heard it from the grapevine and can’t say it is 100 per cent, but it’s is very likely that the big races dropped by Pocono Downs last year will resume in 2021 and they will add a filly trot to the mix that has always been missing from the inception. It would be like a sister event to the Beal. Keep your fingers crossed. Hopefully a formal announcement will be made before Timonium.
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I hate to say I was right when in my previous assessment of Brady vs. Belichick because in the long haul it’s too early. Personally, I love the missing Robert Kraft high fives. The Belichick performance has been horrendous at best, whereas Foxboro Tom is on a tear. In actuality, his numbers at the ripe old age of 43 are better than they were when he was 30. Passer rating, completions over interceptions are all off the charts. I will leave bragging rights for another day and give Bill a chance to figure it all out, but right now WOW.
How about a Tom Brady / Patrick Mahomes Super Bowl?
Phillip Dodson asks: What is you feeling on the latest Baffert positive?
It’s all too common now. Almost every day there is another bad news story on horse racing. Last week, the Kentucky Commission leaked a report to the New York Times on a class C positive for Gamine in the Kentucky Oaks. Maybe it’s the virus, but too many commissioners in racing are stricken with verbal diarrhea.
The positive for Betamethazone (not a banned substance) was listed with a withdrawal time of 14 days. The drug was administered 17 days prior to the race and still came up with what I would call a less than minuscule amount present in her system. The drug was likely injected in a joint 17 days before race time. No one is ever going to convince me that at that time frame there is any possibility whatsoever that the injection was acting as a performance enhancer to any degree at all.
This is but another case of 100 per cent transparency that should never have been addressed at all. It really isn’t even newsworthy. Yet, it will be surely blown out of proportion and give more fodder for the likes of Bob Pandolfo to jump on. As I wrote that line he was already crying to his following on social media.
We learn from experience that drug testing is far from an exact science. I hate to say it again, but the procedures that are in place today are far more likely to derail the innocent than the guilty.
In a case like Gamine, there should have been a discussion with the trainer and the veterinarian and the entire case should have ended up in the garbage can.
I went through a similar situation in New York. The Meadowlands was closed and I left one horse and a groom in my barn there because the horse had a race in the New York State Fair in Syracuse and the rest of my horses shipped west to Springfield, IL as I did after the Hambletonian every year.
The horse in question won in Syracuse and came up with a cocaine positive. I explained that there were no horses, people, or veterinarians at the Meadowlands where the horse was stabled and that she shipped in to the state fair early that morning. Subsequently, I was informed that the caretaker was a crack addict, and explained that to the judges. I don’t have to tell you how the horse injested the remnant of cocaine. I am sure you understand.
A week after the hearing, the judges decided that there was no intent whatsoever and therefore no punishment involved.
To me, the thought that all these types of cases are black or white is a big mistake. The commissions must have the ability to take into consideration a gray area where a warning will suffice.
Paul Zipstein asks: I see so many thoroughbred horses win mile races in 1:43 and 1:44, I have to wonder if our 1:47 standardbred could beat them at a gallop?
You are probably correct, that’s the good news. The bad news is you are comparing apples and oranges. Or to be more exacting a $300,000 racehorse and a $3,000 claimer.
Your 1:47 standardbred is a very valuable commodity. For him to compete with a 1:44 thoroughbred he would have to be entered for a price that would value him somewhere near one per cent of his actual worth.
Even with that said, I am not sure that the experiment would work. Don’t forget you are removing a calibrated race bike and adding the dead weight of a 115 pound jockey.
I am not a gambling man, but I would bet against for the simple reason that someone or most likely many in all the years both breeds have existed must have attempted to race a standardbred on the gallop and failed.
Tom Santoro asks: If an owner reclaims a horse that he had previously claimed and paid tax on does he have to pay tax again?
I haven’t claimed a horse in 50 years so I was forced to “phone a friend.” Between Ray Schnittker, Rick Kane and Doug DeFrank, this is what I came up with. For many years, every time a horse was claimed a sales tax was paid. Then many years ago they would only tax a claimed horse once in a calendar year. In today’s world, at least in the state of Pennsylvania, there is no longer a sales tax on claimed horses. The same is true of New York.
In New Jersey, it’s a totally different story. The first time a horse is claimed there is a sales tax of 6.75 per cent. If the horse is claimed again for a higher price, the tax is only on the difference between the original claim and the present price. If the claim is equal or less there is no tax.
Richard Santiago asks: Every day I read about another positive at a thoroughbred track. How come there’s are so few reported in our sport?
You answered the question within the question REPORTING!!!
There are thousands of sports writers covering thoroughbred racing throughout the country that get published weekly or in some cases daily. Harness racing has but a handful with no daily publications at all.
If you are interested in this topic, go to the United States Trotting Assn. website, click on Horseman, then regulatory and lastly fines and suspensions. There are six positives listed this week alone.
It is interesting that there was a Betamethazone positive among the six and I would have found it interesting to see the punishment as Bob Baffert (article above) had a similar positive revealed last week however, unfortunately, the USTA as usual is very lax in its reporting and do not list a definitive fine or suspension just return of the purse.
It seems odd to this writer that in most of these cases you read the purse must be returned. Back in the day no purse was paid until the test results were complete. In our ultra-modern world, how is it possible that it takes longer to receive blood and urine analysis than it did in 1960?
Thanks for all the kind words. Please keep the questions coming. Huge weekend at Hoosier starting tonight with all the Breeders Crown races. Have a wonderful week.
Have a question for The Guru?
Email him at GurfTrot@aol.com.