Horse Racing Archives

May
2016
06

Pick for the 142nd Kentucky Derby

Sorry, but I have been busy having fun here in Louisville to write anything on the Kentucky Oaks. I would not have given you the winner anyways. I have only handicapped the Derby on tomorrow’s card. I don’t have a lot of conviction this year. My pick is based almost exclusively on gut and not really based on form. The favorite Nyquist has the most exquisite form as he is undefeated in 7 races. Nyquist also has a owner, trainer and jockey team that was won this race this decade. Paul Reddam, Doug O’Neill and Mario Gutierrez won the “Run for the Roses” in 2012 with I’ll Have Another. Again my gut feels that it won’t be their day, but some are comparing Nyquist to Triple Crown Winner American Pharoah. Anyway I’m going to throw out the favorite with my picks, but I do obviously will be including him in many of my bets, but ultimately still will be looking to try to get him beat and looking to try to profit if he doesn’t hit the board.

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11 – Exaggerator (8-1) I have always been a big fan of jockey Kent Desormeaux as he as won this race 3 times. This year he is riding for his trainer brother Keith and will try to earn him his first Derby. Exaggerator has lost to Nyquist twice, but I think third time will be the charm. He won the Santa Anita Derby and has a lot of experience in stakes races hitting the board 6 out of 7 times with 3 wins. In just now checking the ownership the first line is “Big Chief Racing, LLC”, with many other partnership groups and a et al. Unfortunately I have nothing to do with that, but I have to root for Big Chief Racing.

3 – Creator (10-1) Winner of the Louisiana Derby who continues to improve. He is a deep deep closer and will need some speed at the front which I think is a strong possibility. I have always enjoyed backing deep closers and he shouldn’t have a problem with the distance. It does feel like a natural name combo exacta.

8 – Lani (30-1) I am a sucker for International horses and Lani’s owner, trainer and jockey combination are Japanese. He qualified by winning the UAE Derby on Dubai Cup day. I’m not hearing great things about his training and he is known for acting up, but I was extremely impressed with his run in Dubai and think he can handle the distance which is always a big question over the mile and quarter over the Churchill Downs track.

2 – Suddenbreakingnews (20-1) I don’t love the post position, but I think he can hit the board or be a factor in the superfecta as he has hit the board in 7 of 8 races. He just narrowly lost to Creator in the Louisiana Derby. Suddenbreakingnews is another closer who should have no problem making the distance.

I wouldn’t read too much into these picks as I have been more involved with the party and am not with media.

Feb
2016
04

A Sports Fans Argument Against Donald Trump

As the domain name suggests since starting this blog in the summer of 2009 I have written almost exclusively about sports. Starting in September of 2015 I decided to venture into the world of politics. The plan was just to provide color on the various different wagers offered on the Betfair.com exchange on the 2016 US Presidential election and stay out of the political discussion. Though it was impossible not to observe the campaigns and watch the debates without having an opinion. Quickly I realized that this race wasn’t about who I wanted to see win, but who I didn’t what as our next Commander-in-Chief. I’m 39 and the United States is the most divided it has been in my lifetime and I believe will become only more fractured if Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders or Donald Trump were to win.

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Mrs. Clinton is a criminal and is despised by a very large portion of this country. Senator Sanders is a communist (socialist I guess), but I can’t believe we have to defend capitalism in America. Mr. Trump is a clown that has hijacked the Republican Party using hateful rhetoric and his celebrity. Trump is by far the most divisive of the candidates and the one that I fear the most for the future of this country (Congress won’t let Sanders abandon capitalism). I think Donald Trump is vastly unqualified to be the POTUS.

Trump is one of the most overrated business men of all time. He is fooling his conservative supporters and true conservatives have spoken out against him. “The Donald” says he will put together a great team of people, but has Sarah Palin stumping for him. He is a phony and a fake that has flipped-flopped on his positions countless times. The whole campaign is a charade and he consistently insults his base of support and they are too stupid to even realize it. He is a brilliant showman and a gifted politician, but it would be an embarrassment if he were elected President of the United States. I will use just his interactions with the sports world to demonstrate this.

Donald Trump is an Overrated Businessman

Fred (“KKK”) Trump may have been a brilliant businessman, but his son Donald Trump inherited his money. Forbes magazine estimated Donald’s worth at $200 million in 1982. Had he invested that money in the S&P 500 he would be worth $8.3 billion today instead of the $4 billion currently estimated by Forbes. He has lived lavishly and had to pay for a couple of divorces, but he has made a lot of money in Reality TV and by selling his “brand”. The Kardashian family has made a lot of money in “non-scripted” television and branding as well. With all this money and the zest for fame you would think Donald Trump would own a sports franchise. He once did. In 1983 he purchased the New Jersey Generals of the newly inaugurated USFL (United States Football League). Trump encouraged the league that played in the spring to compete directly with the NFL and move to the fall. He was hoping to force a merger as a way to get into the NFL. This decision and the impending failed law suit sunk the upstart football leagueand that was his only foray into ownership of a professional sports team. There is an ESPN “30 for 30” documentary titled “Small Potatoes: Who Killed the USFL?” As you can see from this trailer we know who the filmmaker thinks is the culprit.

Virtually any purchase of a sports franchise in one of the big 4 US team sports leagues in the early 1980’s would have outperformed Trump’s real estate returns and it would have been much harder to go bankrupt, especially if he bought in his native New York City. Trump said he was interested in buying the Buffalo Bills when they came up for sale in 2014. He said he could have bought them if he really wanted them, but wasn’t going to pay the “ridiculous” price of $1.4 billion Terry Pegula paid. Self-made billionaire and Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said Trump wasn’t liquid enough to buy the Bills on his own while calling him a “paper tiger”. I would be shocked that even if Trump had made the highest bid 24 of 31 other NFL owners would have approved the purchase as required by league rules. By pushing the USFL to the fall the “great dealmaker” blew his opportunity to ever buy into the exclusive NFL club that is seemingly a license to print money. Now he is on to bigger and better things, but I think Trump’s current political rhetoric would not make him welcome with any major sports league. As a huge horse racing fan I am thrilled that the billionaire has never been involved in any capacity in the “Sport of Kings”. That probably is a smart business decision, but what is the point of being a billionaire and not having a Kentucky Derby horse every year?

Donald Trump and Eminent Domain Abuse

The conservative magazine National Review published an article titled “Conservatives against Trump” in their most recent issue (that I am realizing that I am ripping off a bit). They filled two football teams of conservatives, 22 who tried to convince fellow conservatives that Trump is not one of them. They seemingly didn’t come close to succeeding as Trump support has only been stronger after the issue was released. One of the issues repeatedly mentioned is Trump’s support of eminent domain (resumption or compulsory acquisition for you Aussies). They either mentioned the issue by name or talked about previous bullying tactics while developing properties. I thought the government seizing land without adequate compensation was a major conservative ideal. The Trump supporters are seemingly blind to his support for eminent domain abuse. Can you imagine how much land the government would have to seize to build his “Great Big Beautiful Wall?” To illustrate Trump’s ideology it is easiest to just watch this short segment from HBO’s Real Sports.

Unfortunately I am not able to find the full clip, but there is a full-length documentary titled “You’ve Been Trumped” by Anthony Baxter about the saga of Michael Forbes and other residents of Aberdeenshire, Scotland. Forbes was a major holdout not willing to sell his land to Trump so he could develop a golf course. As you would expect it illustrates Trump’s bullying tactics like cutting off water and electricity and surrounding a man’s home with a wall of bulldozed earth. Could you imagine if he had the power of the Presidency how much land Trump would have the government seize for his projects?

Donald Trump is the Brain Damage Candidate

Donald Trump now claims he is happy he isn’t an owner in the NFL and says he barely watches the sport any more. He uses the NFL player safety rules as a metaphor for how America has become soft. This is actually quite sickening to listen to considering what we know now about the dangers head injuries.

I am certain that the play he is referring to was this clearly illegal hit to the head of Pittsburgh Steelers superstar wide receiver Antonio Brown in the AFC Wild Card round by Cincinnati Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict. Brown suffered a concussion and was unable to play the following week against the Denver Broncos. Trump also gets the details of the game completely backwards. Football fans listen clearly at the 1:14 mark of Trump’s speech. Somehow the penalty on the “great tackle” didn’t allow the Steelers to kick the field goal?

As you can see this hit never would have been considered a “great tackle” as Trump put it. It wouldn’t have been penalized back in the “good old days” of football, but we have learned the damage these types of hits have caused. This hit along with other actions in that game and a history of dirty play earned Vontaze Burfict a 3-game suspension by the NFL. I guess Donald Trump hasn’t read or watched “League of Denial” or the fictionalized version “Concussion”. This is an example of Trump not caring about the facts, science and most importantly the health of professional football players. He has been dubbed the “brain damage candidate”, which certainly explains Sarah Palin being part of Team Trump.

I’m sorry but I couldn’t resist. She really is too good to be true for the comics out there in America. I am not a fan of Stephen Colbert but calling former Alaska Governor Palin “The Original Material Girl” is dead on. This is another reason to be scared of Donald Trump, the potential for Sarah Palin to be part of the federal government. Trump has had a lot of athletes endorse him. Another clown in former NBA star Dennis Rodman is pro-Trump. A real team player (tongue firmly in cheek) former NFL wide receiver Terrell Owens has backed “The Donald”. Trump also has the support of a convicted rapist in former heavyweight boxing champ Mike Tyson and a confirmed racist in former MLB relief pitcher John Rocker. Rocker’s hate speech made him infamous and hated especially here in New York with us Mets fans as a member of the Atlanta Braves. Here are a couple of Rocker’s quotes: “The biggest thing I don’t like about New York are the foreigners. I’m not a very big fan of foreigners… How the hell did they get in this country?” and riding the 7 train in NYC is “like you’re [riding through] Beirut next to some kid with purple hair next to some queer with AIDS right next to some dude who just got out of jail for the fourth time right next to some 20-year-old mom with four kids.” John Rocker is the quintessential “Trumpeter”, I would consider him “right wingin” and “bitter clingin’”.

Donald Trump always says he has great judgment. I will have to respectfully disagree that 3 marriages, 4 bankruptcies and leaving the house with that ridiculous second base to home plate orange-dyed comb over is good judgment. On a side note the three top Republican candidates all rock the comb over. Trump goes from second to home while both Marco Rubio and Ted Cruz go the more traditional first base to third. Anyways Donald Trump also has been quoted that he has a great memory. I would have to question if Trump has suffered some brain damage. After the tragic terrorist attack in San Bernardino, California President Barack Obama said in a speech that “Muslim-Americans are our sports heroes”. To which Donald Trump tweeted:

trumptweetmusath

I listened to President Obama’s speech live and I hiccupped at first, but within a second or two figured out exactly who the POTUS was talking about. How Donald Trump could write this whole tweet out without scanning his brain of the great athletes he has met that could have been Muslim. Meeting “the Don” as he likes to call himself should equate to greatness and how could he forget about these two guys.

trump ali

Alonzo Mourning Charities

I could see Mr. Trump not knowing that Shaquille O’Neal is Muslim, but not to immediately think of Muhammad Ali? Then once your mind goes there how do you not think of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar? Ali is “The Greatest” and was ranked number 2 in the ESPN SportsCentury: Top 100 American Athletes of the 20th Century. Kareem, the NBA’s all-time leading scorer was 26th on that list. If that list were to include the last 15 years certainly both Shaq and former NBA Hall of Famer Hakeem Olajuwon would be added to it. Considering that Muslim-Americans make up only about 1% of the US population they are easily over represented on this list. Especially when the list contains just 97 humans that can even have a religion. Three thoroughbreds: Secretariat (35th), Man O’ War (84th) and Citation (97th) made the list. If we did add the last 15 years we certainly would lose Man O’ War and Citation, but we would pick up American Pharoah who would probably be around 75th with Secretariat dropping to about 50th. Sorry another aside from a horse racing enthusiast which directly leads into my next sports fan argument against Donald Trump.

Donald Trump and the Proposed Muslim Ban

Donald Trump has called for a “total and complete shutdown of Muslims entering the United States until our country’s representatives can figure out what is going on.” When pressed on this Trump has said it would apply to “everyone” including “tourists” and didn’t list any exceptions. The fact that he won’t back down is just another example of hateful rhetoric that would be impossible to enforce. How would this work? Indonesia is a country of 260 million people of which 95% are of Muslim faith. You would ban virtually the entire country from traveling to the United States. Would they not reciprocate and ban travelers from the US to travel to Indonesia? I have a small investment in some real estate in Bali and I would like to travel there some time. This plan would shut down much of the world to American citizens and I am not going to get bogged down in the ripple effects as I want to get back to sports. There are a total of 1.6 billion Muslims in the world the vast majority living in peace with no gripe with America. Muslims are more likely to be victims of fundamental Islamic terrorism and are our allies in fighting Islamic extremism in the Middle East. Only one of the main stage GOP Party candidates has stood up to Trump and that was Jeb Bush. He has made the argument this policy makes it harder to fight ISIS and the former Florida Governor is 100% right. Sadly it has not helped him in the polls, I guess having a brain AND a heart is a negative for right-wing voters. In one of the undercard Republican debates the best argument against the Muslim ban was made by South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham.

The worst part is that Trump doesn’t believe in this policy and knows he can’t enforce it. As Jeb Bush said “it is another example of how he (Trump) is not a serious candidate”. It is all part of riling up his crowd and saying whatever they want to hear. So odd that a man who “owns” all these golf courses and hotels he would want to ban all those tourists and all that cash from visiting America.

What does this have to do with horse racing? I can’t think of sport where foreign Muslims play a bigger role in the economics and history of the industry. I do again remind you horses can’t have a religion. If they did the foundation bloodstock of the Thoroughbred horse breed would be Muslim. Thoroughbreds were developed in England after importing three foundation stallions from the greater Middle East. The Byerley Turk (1684) was stolen from the Ottoman Empire. The Darley Arabian (1704) purchased from Aleppo, Syria. The Godolphin Arabian (1724) was born in Yemen then traveled from Syria to Tunisia then on to France before finally ending up in England. To be honest if I saw a military aged male who followed that same travel path, Donald Trump and I would be in agreement. Currently some of the biggest players in Thoroughbred racing around the world are Muslim. Darley Stud, Darley Stables, Godolphin Stables are all owned by Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai. Venerable US based auction house Fasig-Tipton is owned by a Dubai based company. There are significant owners in another one of the Emirates, Abu Dhabi and neighboring Qatar. One of my favorite sporting events I have traveled to is the the Dubai World Cup. I would hate to think I could travel back to one, but much more importantly if there was a reciprocal ban then an American owner, trainer and jockey couldn’t travel with their horse to Dubai to compete for a share of the biggest purse in the sport. The big race has a $10 million purse and the total for the night is $27 million. It doesn’t seem very American if our policies wouldn’t allow a citizen to compete for that kind of prize money. It also wouldn’t be American either if Godolphin couldn’t bring their trainer if they have a horse racing in the USA. Here is a shot I took as part of the press corps as the sun rose over Meydan Racecouse in Dubai.

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I said I didn’t want to mention the ripple effects of the Muslim ban, but I actually am as sports are a big part of that ripple. Toronto Maple Leafs center and natural born Canadian citizen Nazem Kadri, is a practicing Muslim and would be subject to this ban. You know how loyal hockey players are and if one is banned from a country the other 19 aren’t going to be going either. Edmonton Oilers right winger and 2012 number one overall NHL draft pick Nail Yakupov is a Russian citizen and also of Muslim faith. He is from Tatarstan which is a peaceful Russian Republic of 3.8 million people of which 55% practice Sunni Islam. The most beautiful woman (inside and out) I know is a Muslim from Tatarstan, another reason why Trump’s ban is terrible idea. Yesterday it was announced that Mexican Saul “Canelo” Alvarez will fight Amir Khan for the WBC Middleweight title on Derby Day May 7th. Khan is a UK citizen and of Muslim faith with his family roots from Pakistan. This bout will be a huge money making event on Cinco de Mayo weekend for Las Vegas. Think about it Donald, a Mexican and Muslim are going to beat the crap out of each other and it will be a huge boon for the Vegas economy why would you want to ban that? The sport that would be affected most in our global standing is in soccer. Many of the world’s soccer stars are of Islamic faith. Mesut Ozil of Germany, Franck Ribery of France, Edin Dzeko of Bosnia, Yaya Toure of Ivory Coast and Marouane Fellaini of Belgium are just a small diverse handful of Muslim soccer stars. City Football Group own Manchester City Football Club, New York City F.C. and Melbourne City F.C. Their primary owner is Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan of Abu Dhabi. These three clubs on three different continents share a color scheme and I personally think is one of the cooler ownership groups in the world. As a New Yorker who hates Red Bull and correspond in Melbourne, Australia for 7 years it is only fitting I support the three teams in this group.

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Donald Trump and the WWE

I have been trashing Donald Trump, but I would be remiss not mention he has been inducted into a national “sports” hall of fame. I put the word sports in quotes as Trump was inducted into the World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE formally WWF) Hall of Fame in 2013. Wow! What an honor to be inducted into the Hall of Fame of a fake sport that has a terrible history of abusing their entertainers/athletes. I have no real problem with professional wrestling, but I think it is very unbecoming of a Presidential candidate. More importantly it represents what the Trump campaign is about. Phony manufactured scripted entertainment, but unfortunately unlike in wrestling, the “fans” don’t know it is all a fraud. He really should be a WWE HOFer as there isn’t a professional wrestler who does a better job insulting their opponent or “laying the smack down” verbally. Here is the billionaire’s performance in Wrestlemania 23.

Conclusions

If I can’t support a “criminal” a “communist” and especially not the “clown” Donald Trump that doesn’t leave a lot of other viable options. I don’t think Florida Senator Marco Rubio will do a terrible job. Most importantly I think the majority of Americans can stomach him. That is a ringing endorsement! As I am posting this Rubio has 55% chance of the nomination and a 25% chance of being elected President. I like Ohio Governor John Kasich he is a moderate and has tons of experience, but is a 500-1 chance to become the next Commander-in-Chief. I also am a big fan of former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg who still may enter the race at is a 75-1 chance to be elected to the hardest job in the nation.

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I will leave you with maybe Donald Trump’s worse crime in sports. He has been accused of being a golf cheat. In September the Washington Post quoted three different people that alleged Trump cheats at a game based on honor. Rock star Alice Cooper said “The worst celebrity golf cheat? I wish I could tell you that. It would be a shocker. I played golf with Donald Trump one time. That’s all I’m going to say”. Jumping on as well is actor Samuel L. Jackson who has been in a golf feud with Trump. Sorry this ended up being a lot longer than originally planned, but the evidence continued to pile up.

Nov
2015
02

Recap of Breeders Cup 2015

American Pharoah breezed to an easy 6 ½ length win in the Breeders’ Cup Classic to complete the first Grand Slam of Horse Racing. The comments written in the official chart were simple and eloquent: “Gallantly, widening”. Gallantly is the perfect description. The moment was like a prince ascending to the throne and being crowned king. He went from being among the legends of the sport after ending the 37-year Triple Crown drought into the discussion of being the one of the of 2 or 3 greatest American race horses. Against older horses for the first time and having never raced on the track before it was effortless in beating the best the world has to offer in dirt race horses. World is a bit of a stretch, but Gleneagles the European invader was in the race and finished. Unfortunately unlike the New York City Marathon you don’t get a medal for finishing a horse race. Gleneagles was 12 ½ lengths behind not AP, but the 7th place finisher Frosted (my awful pick, sorry about that) and 25+ lengths behind the great champion. This went to my first adage of Breeders’ Cup racing: circle the Europeans on grass, draw a line threw them on dirt. I will have to more to say about the Euros on the grass shortly.

Congratulations and thank you to the all of the connections. Jockey Victor Espinosa didn’t have to do anything other than not fall off on Saturday, but his ride in the Kentucky Derby navigating the massive field and wild start along with the always difficult 1.5 mile Belmont Stakes is where he earned his share of the glory. The owners, the Zayat family, did not have a good reputation in the sport before AP’s historic run. They have handled themselves with a lot of class and really did share their horse with world. They won themselves a lot of fans by not going the safe route and retiring Pharoah, but racing him through his 3-year old season. Even after being upset in the Travers Stakes at Saratoga (which only adds to the legend of that race and the track known as the “Graveyard of Champions”) they decided to try to go for this Grand Slam. Being the first Triple Crown winner in the Breeders’ Cup Era (1984), this is what the accomplishment was named. I think we would all be surprised to see any horse duplicate this feat anytime soon. AP earned the Zayat’s $8.65 million just in purse money, breeding and stud fees will be multiples more. In 2015, Pharoah ran 8 times with 7 wins and 1 place and earned over $1 million per start.

If someone told me that a horse was going to accomplish this feat and asked me to guess the trainer, I would say Bob Baffert. The first gambling I did was on horse racing as it is legal to bet on the ponies at 18, but casino gambling not until you are 21. Just as I was starting to follow the game closely (only the Triple Crown at that point) Bob Baffert burst on the scene as the best 3-year old trainer. One of my early memories was hitting the win, the exacta and the trifecta on the 1997 Kentucky Derby when Baffert broke his personal “Triple Crown maiden” with Silver Charm. Silver Charm nearly won the Triple Crown, but lost to Touch Gold by less than a length. I didn’t have Real Quiet the next year, but I attended my first Triple Crown race in 1998 at Belmont to see Real Quiet come up just a nose short of winning the Triple Crown. I have attended every Kentucky Derby since and have seen come close again with War Emblem winning the first two legs and Point Given who won the last two legs and may have been just as talented as AP and Baffert probably isn’t certain that Pharoah is better. I have been lucky enough to meet the legendary trainer on a couple of occasions as he goes way back with my Australian racing associates. My Aussie handicapper I had mentioned guaranteed that American Pharoah would win the Triple Crown before the Kentucky Derby and said he could not lose Saturday. Sorry I didn’t pass that on clearer to you. I think you have to consider Baffert along with the other great “coaches” in American sports. He is on the level of a Vince Lombardi (football), Scott Bowman (hockey), Phil Jackson (basketball), Chad Knaus (NASCAR Crew Chief) or Angelo Dundee (boxing trainer), etc.

As for the wagering and my picks, I figured American Pharoah would be a lock as this race set up perfectly for him. I did try to get him beat in many pools, but did single him in the Pick 6 (which I got 5 out of 6). I thought the selections were ok, but the Euros didn’t perform nearly as strong as I thought they would in the turf races. That is what ultimately sunk me. Stephanie’s Kitten won the first leg of the pick 6 at 8-1 beating two Euros I had Legatissimo and Queen’s Jewel who came 2nd and 3rd. I luckily threw Tepin into my pick 6 ticket. I didn’t play him any other way as he won the mile over a slew of Europeans for America. I am so unpatriotic when it come to racing (gambling in general), but I misjudged the quality of the Americans and the conditions of the turf that did not favor Euros has much as other previous Breeders’ Cup sites (Belmont is the best for Europeans, but no longer in the BC rotation). An invader did with the Turf, but it wasn’t the one everybody thought it would be. It was Found over Golden Horn in an all European exacta that paid 20-1. I hit with Wavell Avenue at 10-1 in the Filly and Mare Sprint and hit the exacta cold in the Sprint that paid overs at 11-1. There is always such good value on Breeders’ Cup races in all fields, but those two exactas I mentioned were fantastic. The performance of the day may have been in the opening BC race when Songbird won at 3-5 by nearly 6 lengths in the Juvenile Fillies. I was hoping to get her beat. I also missed on the Turf Sprint when Mongolian Saturday won at odds of over 15-1, I had not considered him.

In retrospect I wish I was there to see history, but I feel the history was really made at the Belmont Stakes which I was able to attend. I loved seeing the Mets win game 3 of the World Series, but losing the next couple of nights had me longing for Lexington. I haven’t seen the World Series/Breeders’ Cup schedule for next year, but I hope there is no conflict as I want to be in Santa Anita in 2016 and to see the New York Mets back in the World Series. From a wagering perspective it was nice to be able to place wagers easily and have live Betfair odds. That mostly helped eliminate horses and worked well for the most part. Although in the Classic the place horse behind American Pharoah, Effinex (named after the owner’s ex-wife, Ha!) was 300-1/800-1 on Betfair. I didn’t put a line through his name. I took a Sharpie and permanently removed him from the form. Those odds actually might have been right as no horse was beating AP on Saturday. The exacta paid $76 for a $2 bet or 37-1. I thought was too low, but I’m sure if you cashed you were pretty happy.

Oct
2015
31

Picks for Breeders’ Cup Saturday

It was a really fun day at home watching on TVG, but I longed to be at the track. Thankfully the New York Mets won last night otherwise I would really be questioning my decision to stay. I did enjoy having the access to the computer and Betfair. Betfair was most useful by being able eliminate horses when odds on BF are much longer than they are at the track. What I really missed was “drinking piss”, well in my case vodka. I couldn’t handle the nerves. It was such a stressful day. I was alive halfway through the pick 6 and was eliminated in the 4th leg, but don’ think I could have taken 2 more races. The pick 6 is a $1 minimum bet this year, it usually is $2 at the BC and most other major tracks. As for the selections they didn’t go so great. A Euro won the Juvenile Turf, but the one I liked the least. I did pick the exacta cold in the Dirt Mile, but it was real easy. It paid $12.20 for every $2 bet. Actually that’s not too bad getting 5-1. The real heartbreak came in the Juvenile Fillies Turf where my picks to win and place, placed and showed. Then the horse racing gods took my heart and stomped on it as the pick to win the Distaff, Stellar Wind lost by a neck. My little South America geography lesson was a disaster as those horses crashed and burned, including Zambian Dream that went from 20-1 morning line to less than 3-1 favorite.

With 9 races and it being 3:33 am just as get started on this, I’m going to be limited to listing picks with little explanation or morning line odds. Good luck! Will be a massive day!

Race 3: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies:
Win: 2-Tap to It
Place: 9-Rachel’s Valentina
Show: 7-Nickname

Trying to get the favorite 10-Songbird beat.

Race 4: Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint:
Win: 7-Green Mask
Place: 12-Ready for Rye
Show: 3-Undrafted

Wesley Ward trains 7-Green Mask and 3-Undrafted, that exacta is highly possible, but probably will underpay. Here I put the Rye in the middle of the sandwich. Sorry it is 4:48 am.

Race 5: Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Sprint:
Win: 7-Wavell Avenue
Place: 11-Judy the Beauty
Show: 3-Taris

The 14-Cavorting needs to be played as well, I just don’t like the value. I would box all four of these horizontally and vertically. Very deep race.

Race 6: Breeders’ Cup Filly and Mare Turf:
Win: 3-Legatissimo
Place: 6-Queen’s Jewel
Show: 9-Miss France

Lot’s of Euro’s in this race. These are my three favorites. I will mix in some of the others and 2-Sentiero Italia, that needs to be played with Euros.

Race 7: Breeders’ Cup Sprint:
Win: 5-Runhappy
Place: 13-Private Zone
Show: 4-Limousine Liberal

Going real chalky here with this exacta and I really am having a hard time splitting the two as well. 10-Salutos Amigos should be thrown in the mix as well.

Race 8: Breeders’ Cup Mile:
Win: 3-Make Believe
Place: 5-Impassible
Show: 12-Time Test

Euros galore in this one. Definitely throw in 4-Mondialiste as well. I wish there were few less invaders, it makes it a lot easier when there are just 3 to 5 foreign horses. Watch Betfair closely for market updates as that market will have better info then the US pool.

Race 9: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile:
Win: 9-Exaggerator
Place: 4-Unbridled Outlaw
Show: 13-Nyquist

I swear it’s just a coincidence that again I am picking the 9 in the 9th.

Race 10: Breeders’ Cup Turf:
Win: 1-Golden Horn
Place: 10-The Pizza Man
Show: 9-Found

This will probably be a replay of Liam’s Map Dirt Mile race yesterday in terms of odds, it will be real short, but is highly certain. Though I do think that 10 horse in the 10th race The Pizza Man could deliver.

Race 11: Breeders’ Cup Classic:
Win: 3-Frosted
Place: 4-American Pharoah
Show: 1-Tonalist

I would love to see American Pharoah win this race. This horse has already amazed us all by winning the Triple Crown, capping his career with a Breeders’ Cup Classic win against older horses would move into pantheon of the all-time greats. The first Breeders’ Cup was in 1984 and previous Triple Crown winner to AP was Affirmed in 1978. I am also really happy his connections decided to let him continue his racing career. American Pharoah truly is a gift to American horse racing. This race sets up perfectly for him. He should be singled in the Pick 6, Pick 4’s and on top of Superfectas. However I’m going to try to get him beat and go with Frosted. A back wheel could be a fun hedge, but not the best bet. That is the exacta with all over AP. The thing is with Beholder scratched out of this race there is no speed and American Pharoah should have his way on the lead.

Oct
2015
30

Picks for Breeders’ Cup Friday

For the first time since 2002 when the Breeders’ Cup was held at Arlington Park outside Chicago, Illinois I will not be at the track for the greatest day(s) in horse racing. It breaks my heart not to be there, but the reason is one I am very happy about. I couldn’t make the trip to Keeneland in Lexington, Kentucky because I need to be here in New York supporting my New York Mets in the World Series. This has never been a conflict before and no it’s not because the Mets weren’t in the Fall Classic, which they haven’t been since 2000, but because Major League Baseball pushed the season back a week and now the Breeders’ Cup and the World Series conflict. I really hope this isn’t the case going forward as I am hoping that the Mets making the World Series isn’t a one-off event. My attendance history with the World Thoroughbred Championships only goes back one year. That was a very emotional day at Belmont Park just outside New York City in the fall of 2001. From 2003 in Santa Anita and on some of my great sports and certainly gambling memories were forged at beautiful race tracks across America. I hope this is just a one year hiatus and I will be back in 2016 at Santa Anita.

There is one other huge plus (other than being at a World Series game) to not being at the track on Breeders’ Cup weekend and that is the ability to be at my computer with pages of live information and the ability to place bets easily online. I also think I will have a much easy time of it without the rivers of vodka that flows at a race track. I could only imagine that the Keeneland Breeders’ Cup will be a great party. I think the biggest plus will be able to follow the live odds on Betfair and look for value in the US pools. I also will be able to see “will pays” on both exactas and daily doubles. One of my key handicapping strategies for Breeders’ Cups is to favor heavily towards European invaders in turf races. Also to pretty much ignore them in dirt races. Having access to the live Betfair odds will allow me to figure out which Euros to eliminate in those turf races.

Identical schedule as last year with four Breeders’ Cup races today (races 6-9), though I will throw in some thoughts on the 10th race. Tomorrow there are nine Breeders’ Cup races, highlighted by the Breeders’ Cup Classic and favorite Triple Crown winner American Pharoah. I almost forgot to give the weather, zero chance of rain and temperatures in the mid-50’s. Should be perfect racing conditions. The odds posted with the selections are morning line odds. Good Luck!!!

Race 6: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Turf: We open up with a turf race and we have open and liquid markets on Betfair at 5am ET (9am GMT). That is pretty much as far as I have to look. This juvenile race is for 2-year olds, so there isn’t a whole lot of form to work with. There are five Euros in the mix. I’m going with 4-Shogun [WIN 12-1], on top as he seems to be providing the best value as he is down to 10-1 value on Betfair. He is on Lasix for the first time and trained by the great Aidan O’Brien. I’ll follow that up with the shortest price horse on the morning line 13-Cymric [PLACE 7-2] based on the extremely good form. I will try to juice up the trifecta with 7-Ray’s The Bar [SHOW 20-1]. Even with the great European trainer/jockey combos that travelled, I think that there isn’t a huge drop off with Chad Brown/Javier Castellano and this horse has a definite shot to win. I had a really hard time leaving out 6-Birchwood and would make sure to include him in exotics. I’m less excited about 14-Hit It a Bomb, it is Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore and a 9-2 morning line, yet there was no body willing to back it at anything less than 219-1. Something tells me that of the Euros this is the one to avoid. It probably will win, I hate throwing him out. I think it would probably be best to wait towards post time and check out Twitter, I will try to rank the group based on Betfair odds.

Race 7: Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile: This is an 11-horse field and it will literally be a race of the 3-Liam’s Map [WIN 1-1] versus the field. He is listed at even money in the morning line, but he is 1.80 on Betfair or value of 4/5. I would expect that Liam’s Map will be around 3/5 at the track tomorrow. To play him you will need to really leverage up so single him in the pick 4 or on top of a superfecta, but a win bet isn’t the best idea. I usually like try to get a horse like this beat, but Liam’s Map should be in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and his by far the most talented horse the race. I am going to pick him as if he runs at 80% he can’t lose. This is still the Breeders’ Cup and there are ten other horses. A back wheel is always a fun bet. That would be a bet that Liam’s Map comes in 2nd place by betting all of the other ten horses in an exacta over Liam’s Map. The 5-Lea [PLACE 8-1] I think is the clear second choice and another bet would be a straight exacta 3 over 5, it has to be the only bet you make in that pool (no back wheel too). A potential bomb and a horse that has a chance to juice up that back wheel would be the 6-Street Strategy [SHOW 50-1]. He has morning line odds of 50-1, but buzz around that horse will have it shorter. May be a good play in exotics as that is where you get real bang for your buck with long shots.

Race 8: Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf: I have two superstar handicappers that I must listen to before making my decisions on any big race. One is a personal friend and private person, an Australian who has lived and London and New York. I think that intersection of three different race cultures has allowed him to take things he has learned from one and take it another. He is what you would consider 100% angle player. The other is Brad Thomas, professional handicapper based at Monmouth Park in New Jersey and regular guest on the Mike Francesa show on WFAN in NYC for all of the major race days (Breeders’ Cup and Triple Crown). He is a more of a classic form handicapper and loves value and long shots. You can see why I am a fan. Well when stars align. They both had the same pick for both this and next race. Here they both like 3-Alice Springs [WIN 6-1]. It ticks all of my boxes as well: Euro on turf, first time Lasix, but the most important is always the market. Betfair has Alice Springs, a 6-1 morning line in America, a value of 4.40 or 3.4-1, slightly under 7-2. I would think this horse will be around 3-1 in the US pool. The other great thing is watching other previews/picks made by talking heads I like to fade, this horse has not come up. I don’t think there will be value in the American pool at post time or the Betfair odds will rise as there are big players who “arb” these two market. I also love the jockey/trainer combination with Aidan O’Brien and Ryan Moore. There are a few other Euros in the mix, but the two that stand out are 9-Nemoralia [PLACE 15-1] and 14-Last Waltz [SHOW 20-1]. Nemoralia has strong support in the BF market and good support from traditional handicappers. Last Waltz (love the name, great music documentary) also ticks a lot of boxes, first time Lasix, and has a great American turf trainer in Chad Brown with top jockey Javier Castellano. Hard to leave 10-Illuminate out and I would throw her in exotics. I’m a big fan of jockey Frankie Dettori.

Race 9: Breeders’ Cup Distaff: Those stars aligned again in the feature race of the day and serendipitously the name of the horse 9-Stellar Wind [WIN 12-1] (and yes that is the 9 horse in the 9th race). She has odds of 9-1 value on Betfair and has Triple Crown winning jockey Victor Espinosa aboard. I’m going to go with 7-Wedding Toast [PLACE 4-1]. She is the solid favorite on Betfair and also is supported by quality handicappers. 1-I’m a Chatterbox [SHOW 8-1] is the 3rd choice for the same reason, strong in the market and with respected ‘cappers. I’m basing this only on fuzzy memory, but I feel trainer Larry Jones is always successful in Grade 1 filly and mare races.

Race 10: The Marathon: Very limited coverage on this race as the Grade II Marathon is no longer an official Breeders’ Cup race. I did hit a few years back on a horse named Calidoscopio, a 9-year old from Argentina and it paid handsomely. I loved the visiting the country of Argentina and I am going back to South America for my picks this year as well. I will start in northwest in Peru where 2-Lideris [WIN 4-1] started his racing career. He had success at Monterrico and I hope that translates to Kentucky. Again my fuzzy memory has John Velazquez doing well in this race in the past. I will travel down south, but stay on the west coast as I enter a sliver of country, Chile. It was at Club Hippico that 14-Zambian Dream [PLACE 20-1] got his career started and will have Javier Castellano in the saddle. I’ll head east to Argentina where 11-Desvelo [SHOW 20-1] was bred. His mother was Brazilian. Angel Serpa will be riding. I’m sorry I played a lot of “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” as a kid. Tread lightly as I don’t have Betfair info and this is a wild race.

Sep
2015
24

The 10 and only 10 American Sports

If you are an American sports fan you know all about Daily Fantasy Sports (DFS) and the websites DraftKings and Fanduel as they have inundated TV, radio and internet with countless ads. These sites have taken advantage of a loophole that makes fantasy sports legal to allow Americans to lose a lot of money not gambling. They advertise that it is not gambling and they are going to payout billions of dollars in prize money. We have different definition of gambling and for whatever they pay out you know they are taking in at least 10% more. I wrote about “The Explosion of Daily Fantasy Sports” back in May and you can read the article just by clicking “Fantasy Sports” under categories. Fanduel only allows games in the four major team sports: American Football (NFL an NCAA), Baseball (MLB), Basketball (NBA and NCAA) and Hockey (NHL). DraftKings has all of those and Golf (PGA), Soccer (UCL, EPL, MLS), Auto Racing (NASCAR), and MMA (UFC). I actually enjoy entering contests in PGA, Champions League, Premier League and NASCAR more than the major American team sports (no MMA). It’s not that I am bigger fan of those sports, but that I have played season long fantasy in the Big 4 every year usually with multiple teams. The exception is hockey and because of that I play in many NHL games on the DFS sites. Therefore I play a lot more on the DraftKings platform. Both sites send e-mails at least once daily with some promotion, Tonight DK sent a message “Introducing the next BIG thing.” The last similar announcement was for the debut of DK’s NASCAR daily fantasy contests. Something I had been eagerly awaiting and thought was long overdue. Tonight my reaction was quite different. “1-Day Fantasy eSports are now on DraftKings”. I was in complete shock.

My first reaction was this ridiculous and that DraftKings was really overreaching. E-Sports, is not sports. It is watching people play video games. I don’t understand how this could possibly qualify as a sport. I don’t see how this is entertaining. You could theoretically be watching the demo. How do you know that a human is controlling the characters? I can’t wait for the first major cheating scandal or the six-fingered player, who comes in and dominates the game. Is there Adderall testing? What happens when the game freezes like my old Nintendo used to do? I don’t even know what I’m talking about. I actually went in to make a lineup in a free game in LoL. No, that is not “laughing out loud”, but League of Legends the video game they are playing. The draft screen looked like it was in another language. I skimmed the rules and that didn’t clear anything up. I put in a totally random team that got just under the salary cap. I can’t say I am eagerly awaiting the results.

What really blew me away was how many entries have already been submitted. They had 16k free entries (which is high as you can only make one line per account), but also many pools were already about 20%-30% and these games are being played October 1st, a week from today. DraftKings is obviously not overreaching. They are going to jump in on this gravy train and skim cash from E-Sports fans and will be “LoLing” all the way to the bank.

I will define sports in the next paragraph, but I will tease that the first condition is “physical exertion”. Playing video games is the opposite of physical exertion. It is what you do to avoid exercise. These players are just using their fingers. I am typing all of these words with my fingers. This is not exertion, my waistline proves that. DraftKings had the gall to call them “athletes” when stating 5 gamers earn over $1 million per year. I put the quotation marks in, they didn’t. DK did also state that E-Sports had $143 million in revenue and a global audience of 134 million with 32 million watching the North American championship. That is obviously significant, but should be classified in a different branch of entertainment, but not sports. It is similar to poker which is shown on ESPN, but requires no physical exertion and is a game not a sport. I can’t say I’m an athlete by pushing in a stack of chips into the middle of a table. All while I’m eating a bag of chips.

When writing about the great sports weekend that was the first weekend of May 2015, I mentioned that I believe there are 10 and only 10 major American sports. I didn’t want to get into the debate at that time, but I will now. First let’s define what a sport is. As you do in the 21st century you type “sport definition” into Google. First thing that pops up: (noun) an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment. I was very happy to read that as I would have had a very similar, but less eloquent definition. The key part of the statement that will disqualify much of what some consider sports is “physical exertion AND skill”.

What that does is eliminate the majority of the “Olympic” sports like track and field and swimming. I don’t believe these are skills. Running, jumping, throwing and even swimming are basic human movements. These are things you learn how to do so you can play a sport. They are not sports by themselves. I would consider track and field as “athletics” and not sports. I look to the Boy Scouts of America. They have separate merit badge for Sports, Swimming and Athletics. To earn the Sports Merit Badge a scout must participate in a season of: baseball, basketball, bowling, cross-country, field hockey, football, ice hockey, lacrosse, soccer, softball, table tennis, tennis, volleyball, water polo. There are various other requirements as well. Cross-country is my only objection as that really is just running. Surprised to see it on the list, every other one is clearly a sport. I’m was a little surprised to see field hockey and softball on this list as these are almost exclusively sports for girls in youth and high school sports. Either way I think there is a clear delineation between sports and other athletic competitions. Ultimately many of these athletic competitions you aren’t really competing with other humans, but with the clock or measuring tape, that’s another knock against.

I am not a fan of the vast majority of the events in the Olympics. I don’t care about them during the 3 years in between and only have passing interest in the Olympics even when a top American is competing. However I downright loathe cycling. I don’t consider it a sport for a bunch of reasons. I don’t think riding a bike is a real skill. It is something you should learn to do as a young child as a mode of transportation. Cycling really just is a test of endurance. The more interesting competition is among the “doctors” who manipulate the human body with drugs and other means of doping. The other problem I have with it is I don’t see how it is entertaining. You are watching people exercise. I would rather watch bike messengers and Chinese food delivery guys navigate the New York City streets than skinny men in bike shorts climbing up a mountain in France. The fact that there is only one event that matters and it is in France would disqualify it from it being major or American.

That leads us to defining what a “major American” sport is. I would think it would require network TV coverage, major annual events on US soil, significant annual attendance, large age range in participants and wagers offered on results (in Nevada) on its professional level. This knocks out the Olympic sports as they don’t have annual events of note or attendance. I also think that extreme sports or the X-Games would not qualify either as there is a very narrow age range in participants and fans. The “X” in the X-Games should stand for exhibition as the only scoring is based on the opinion of the judges.

The ten American sports (note the logos on top of the webpage) are as follows:
American Football
Basketball
Baseball
Ice Hockey
Soccer
Auto Racing
Golf
Boxing/MMA (Fighting Sports)
Tennis
Horse Racing

This list is in order of importance, though it is very hard to differentiate between much of the positioning from sports 4 through 8. I will have more on the ranking of these 10 to come.

I had written way back in May that I lumped together Boxing and MMA into one as “Fighting Sports”. This probably would upset fans of both sports as there seems to be some animosity between the fan bases. I feel that most Americans are fans of one or the other or neither, but very few both. In fact they often have major events on the same night. I am a boxing fan, but not an MMA fan. Without the major cross-over in fans, I think they can be lumped together, just as betting information website Don Best does.

Lacrosse is the 11th sport and I think will be added to the list of major American sports in later part of the next decade. It is still mostly a regional sport and doesn’t have a strong enough professional league. Lacrosse has strong roots in Canada and is very popular in pockets of the Northeast, in the Mid-Atlantic, in areas of the Carolinas and Colorado. The sport is showing incredible growth in the state of California and if it ever gets popular in Texas baseball is in serious trouble. Lacrosse and baseball both share the spring athletic season for youth, scholastic and collegiate sports. Where I grew up in the outskirts of the New York City suburbs there was no lacrosse at all, now there is significant participation taking away from boys and girls who would play baseball or softball. There is a professional league, but it doesn’t move the needle in terms of attendance or TV viewership. Also, I have never seen a betting line or odds to win on any lacrosse game or season. I will need to see available wagering first before it can be considered a major American sport.

Bowling believe it or not might just be the 12th sport. I know it may be hard to consider bowlers “athletes”, but it does fit the definition and qualifies as a sport for the Boy Scouts. There isn’t much physical exertion, but drop a ball on your toe my friend, talk about a rush, you’ll be throbbing, you’ll see visions. There is a significant professional league the Profession Bowlers Association. They play for considerable prize money and players come from around the world. The sport has always had a place on television here the states. ESPNU shows quite a bit of women’s college bowling. It actually is entertaining to watch. There still are a lot of youth leagues, for four seasons I bowled in a league as a kid. There also has been huge growth in the game in urban areas as cool bowling/rock venues have been built, like Brooklyn Bowl in Brooklyn, Las Vegas and London (shameless plug). I haven’t seen any widespread gambling on bowling, though I know that odds are posted for the big PBA event in Reno, Nevada.

A sport I feel I need to mention which certainly isn’t an American sport, but has tremendous growth potential is cricket. To use trader’s speak, along with lacrosse, cricket is a sport to get long. This may sound surprising as our bat and ball game, baseball is losing popularity. Cricket’s growth is all about demographics. I think there will be massive emigration from South Asia to the Western world. The countries of India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Nepal and especially Bangladesh are projected to see explosive population growth while water and consequently food supplies will be a problem. There already is a 24-hour dedicated cricket cable channel that I occasionally will watch, called Willow, which shows games from around the world in stunning HD. The sport is popular on many islands in the West Indies so it does have some “American” roots. I often seen cricket played in fields and even basketball courts throughout the New York City area. I have never seen “stickball” being played, a street version of baseball that is virtually dead in NYC. I can’t imagine the sport will gain many traditional US sports fans, but with the vast number of South Asian and West Indian immigrants along with ex-pats from the UK, Australia, South Africa and New Zealand, cricket will have a increasingly important place in the American sports landscape.

I certainly need to mention Rugby as there seems to be some increasing popularity that sport as well. The Rugby World Cup is going on and I have heard quite a bit of buzz about the Eagles, Team USA’s nickname. I am not a rugby fan. The game is similar to football, but without the best part, the forward pass. I’m not sure why it seems like there are more Americans gravitating towards rugby, we have a much better version in gridiron or American tackle football. I feel that in Australia the Victorians and in the South and West have it right. Aussie Rules Football is the superior game as the forward pass makes it far more exciting than the code that is more popular up in New South Wales and Queensland.

Other minor American sports include volleyball, water polo (which is only a major sport in Hungary), field hockey (for girls and women only here in the States.) These are played at the scholastic and collegiate levels, but have little to no professional opportunities. Beach volleyball had a moment of popularity, but was really just a flash in the pan. I should mention sailing as the biggest event in the world is called the America’s Cup. I do think that is a sport, but is an elitist sport and has a similar audience to polo. Polo and sailing as spectator sports are really excuses for the super rich to get drunk together with ultra-luxury brands sponsoring.

There are games that get confused with sports. Like chess, which is a board game and can be played by mail (post or electronic) and by a computer. Poker as I mentioned is not a sport it is a card game. If card games are sports, than I was a world class athlete as I couldn’t be beaten in “Go Fish” as a kid.

Pub and basement games aren’t major American sports. Billiards (pool), ping-pong (table tennis), or darts don’t make the cut. Ping-pong is a sport, but only a major one in Asia and maybe some other pockets. Though I will throw out another shameless plug, if you are looking for a table and are in New York City go to SPIN NYC on 23rd street. I’m not sure if billiards or darts requires enough exertion, sorry Phil Taylor. If darts qualify than it is a major sport in the UK.

I was half joking when I mentioned that watch cycling is watching other people exercise. From what I understand people attend and view on television the Cross Fit Games. This is literally watching people exercise. I am having a hard time figuring out what passes for entertainment these days. The world strongest man competitions were watchable because they were tossing around barrels and doing other crazy feats of strength. Here the competitors are doing squats and pull ups. There is a gym in the building I live in, I could just take a seat there and be a spectator to those exercises. I’m sure that will go over well. Watching people play video games doesn’t sound that bad compared to this. Do the Cross Fit Games have a radio broadcast?

Hopefully I have convinced you that there are only 10 major American sports. I will get into ranking these 10 in the coming days.

Aug
2015
30

Spot on Tradies News in a Nutshell

with Scott on SEN 1116 in Melbourne, Australia

Today I talk about the passing of legendary Australian horse trainer Bart Cummings, I give an update on Jarryd Hayne, discuss the Barclays and the FedEX Cup and Jason Day’s chances for $10 million, US Open Tennis preview from a New Yorker’s perspective and the tragic news of fan dying at Major League Baseball game.

Starts at the 28:10 mark.

Jun
2015
21

Spot on All Night Appetite

On SEN 1116 in Melbourne Australia with Scott Cooney

We discuss Royal Ascot and Wes Welker’s win with Undrafted, the NBA Draft, Oakland Raiders and San Francisco 49ers, the New York Yankees, Women’s World Cup, and US Open Golf.

Starts at 1:39 until the end.

Jun
2015
08

Spot on ANA with Scott

Today on the All Night Appetite

I talk about the NBA Finals and Matthew Dellavedova’s game 2 effort, American Pharoah winning the Triple Crown and USA vs Australia in the Women’s World Cup

Starts at the 16:00 minute mark.

Jun
2015
06

The 147th Running of the Belmont Stakes

What a day of horse racing we have in store from Belmont Park in Elmont, New York. Before last year’s festival the New York Racing Association decided to load up Belmont Stakes day with massive races. This year the 10 races before the Belmont Stakes include eight graded stakes, including five grade 1’s and two grade 2’s with purses totaling $6.14 million. That is all before the grade one, $1.5 million, “Test of the Champion”. The nickname for this race is most appropriate when a horse wins the first two legs of the Triple Crown and is going for immortality. American Pharaoh is attempting to be all-time great race horse, but he will have to pass a test that the last 13 horses have failed. Since Affirmed in 1978, there have been 13 to win the Kentucky Derby and Preakness in the same year and zero Triple Crowns.

According to Betfair the odds of American Pharaoh to win are 1.91 or (-110 or 10/11). Those are the odds of a standard spread/line bet in the US. As special as this horse has looked and as talented he and his team are, I cannot justify backing this horse at these odds. On track AP will be even shorter, his morning line is 3-5 and there are always a significant number of souvenir win tickets that actually affect the odds. I would think that 3-5 maybe 4-5 is where his on-track odds will go out. All reports are American Pharaoh is training great and some brilliant horsemen are predicting that the drought will end. I will have to see it to believe it and I really hope I do. I can only imagine that it will be an amazing sports moment if this horse can pull the feat off. That being said, if he doesn’t I want to walk out of the track with a big wad of cash.

My main premise is that Materiality and American Pharaoh will duel it out in the front and won’t be able to last down the very long stretch. I am making the assumption is that there isn’t any rain after 9am, post time is 6:50pm and it will be a windy day. The Belmont dirt track will earn its nickname “Big Sandy” and make it hard on the two speed horses in the race. That will benefit the stalkers and the closers. After picking an upset in the Champions League Final, I’m picking a huge upset in the Belmont Stakes.

Keen Ice (20-1 ML) This horse was charging in the Kentucky Derby after a tough trip and I think will surprise a lot of people tomorrow. He is probably the wise guy horse and I would expect his odds to be shorter than 20-1. He has a value of 18.5 on Betfair, so odds of 17.5-1. I always think there is smart money on Betfair and they certainly are giving Keen Ice a chance. Being bred from Curlin suggested that distance shouldn’t be a problem.

Frosted (5-1 ML) The other horse that I think will benefit most from the duel up front. He ran a very solid 4th in the Kentucky Derby. The form described it as “churned”, which is perfect for the Belmont Stakes. Probably more likely to win, but not 4 times more likely as the morning line suggests.

Mubtaahij (10-1 ML) I liked this horse from Dubai in the Kentucky Derby, but he struggled finishing 8th. Still not a terrible effort and I think the distance should really help him here. He clearly has the best breeding for distance in the race.

I wouldn’t count out any horse in this race, even Frammento who is 30-1 ML and worth around 50-1 on Betfair. Nick Zito knows how to win this race. Twelve of the thirteen first 2 leg winners ran in the Belmont, 4 of the horses who have prevented the Triple Crown were massive prices. Winners have had odds of 30, 36, 38, and 70 to 1. A mile and a half race is a different beast for these animals.