Monthly Archives: June 2009

Rachel Raises Attendance AND Handle

Rachel and Calvin bringin’ home the bacon. (Sarah K. Andrew)

I don’t subscribe to the theory that any one thing can “save” racing, but a quick look at the attendance and handle figures from the last two Saturdays at Belmont indicate that having well publicized stars around helps not only attendance but the bottom line.

Saturday June 20th, 2009:

Belmont Park Attendance: 4703

On Track Mutuel Pool: $863,292

ITW Mutuel Pool: $2,116,700

ISW Mutuel Pool: $5,246,269

Saturday June 27th, 2009:

Belmont Park Attendance: 13352

On Track Mutuel Pool: $1,357,534

ITW Mutuel Pool: $2,657,212

ISW Mutuel Pool: $8,361,822

That’s an increase of:

8649 / 65% increase in attendance

$494,242 / 36% of on track handle

$3,115,553 / 37% increase in interstate wagering

I’m never sure if IST/ISW includes ADW wagering, I assume it does. ITW, or tracks within New York, didn’t show a notable increase. Sure, per capita wagering could always be better but you gotta start somewhere!

Players definitely took advantage of getting a freebie in multi-race wagers with the Pick 4 and Pick 6 pools pretty much doubling.

Pick 4 Pool:

Saturday June 20th, 2009: $257,050

Saturday June 27th, 2009: $484,588

$227,538 / 47% increase

Pick 6 Pool:

Saturday June 20th, 2009: $61,617

Saturday June 27th, 2009: $138,250

$76,633 / 55% increase

The feature on the 20th was a Grade 3, not a Grade 1… perhaps a comparison to this coming Saturday, July 4th with the Suburban, Prioress and Dwyer + a holiday would be a better comparison. Either way, I think it’s safe to say that having/keeping stars around can only help.

One Step Closer

Zenyatta and Mike Smith after winning the Milady (Charles Pravata)

Twitter was a buzz this afternoon once the news broke at DRF that Zenyatta’s owners actually want to face Rachel Alexandra after all. Glad to see that Eddie D was right, they were playing coy!

And to add to the drama it was before either race went off.

Rachel in the Mother Goose? Check.


Moss specifically said that it would depend on how Zenyatta did and how she came out of the Vanity.

Zenyatta in the Vanity? Check.


And apparently after the race on TVG Moss confirmed that he’s interested in making this match up happen…

Moss just said he is going to do everything possible to meet up with RA

Fingers crossed that Zenyatta and Rachel come out of their races in good order and that we’ll be looking at match-up. I know several folks who’d love to see them in the Del Cap but is that too soon? Where do you think they should meet?

Riders and the Riderless

Sabastion Morales after being thrown by Kim Karakorum at Belmont (raymond)

If you’re interested in more than just pictures of Chantal Sutherland (something Google can’t tell me), you should check out Alex Brown’s interview of her. While I suspect that ALL that Google traffic isn’t about determining if she’s currently the leading rider at Woodbine, this is the sort of thing you can find out in the interview and frankly, we’re hoping you’re interested in that too.

Admittedly you’d be hard pressed to find out such information at her new web site and that splash screen is NSFW! Fans of more than how hot she is would love to see up to date news prominently placed on her homepage, perhaps with the ability of subscribe to an RSS feed so we could find out things like her upcoming big races, when she hits a milestone, has an appearance or even some new product coming out (as apparently she’s now also a brand… who can blame her?). Here’s hoping her team can steer her more towards a usable interactive experience vs. the equivalent of a magazine spread.

New York rider Maylan Studart seems to be on the mend after her recent accident in the shedrow, sending the following notes to her Facebook Followers:

Hello, my friends!!!! I got a hold of my laptop now, but am still in the hospital. I had an accident during morning workouts where a horse “liked me too much” and knocked me down!!!! LOL!!! I don’t like him that much after this, but he was just showing his love!!! LOL!!!! I broke my left femur Thursday morning and was taken to North Shore Hospital and was operated in the evening. I was walking the next day.

Thanks again for the support guys!!!!! I have great news!!!! I’m leaving the hospital today and going to Glenn Cove Rehab Center at 2p.m.!!!! I will be there from 1-2 weeks but will know exactly after I get there and talk to the physical therapists. I walked a lot today again!!! Much more!!! I went down out the room to the end of the hall to a window and came back to my room!!! It was about 150ft. my Phys.Ther. said

Best of luck for a speedy recovery!

On the riderless front, the previously mentioned Phone Jazz’s triumphant run at Belmont on Saturday did not go unnoticed. ESPN picked up on it, here’s the segment.

The chart doesn’t indicate that she continued on gamely after dumping Jean Luc-Samyn, but we’ll always know she was the best that day!

Over the weekend Val pointed out a disturbing trend in breakdown reportage, or lack of it. The good news is that All Smiles, the filly that was pulled up at the wire and dumped her rider in the Obeah, has come out of surgery at the New Bolton Center and is likely to go home soon! Thanks racing fans and twitter for supplying pertinent information!

Last, but not least and not at all related to the rider theme, I have to give a huge shout out to Woodbine for their exceptional parade camera work! Of the tracks I watch or play regularly I think NYRA has the best parade camera work. But what was so impressive about Woodbine’s was that not only did they label each horse as they followed them during the warm up, they followed them in numerical order! A super extra “well done” to the camera team at Woodbine and if you missed Queen’s Plate day, Keith has a great photo essay.

Pool Party and other Notes of Interest


The HANA Pool Party is back at Monmouth today! It’s the 7th race that goes off around 3:30pm ET, so you still have time to grab the free PP and get in on the action! Update, I had the winner at 11-1!

A few other notes of interest… there goes my Google traffic.

Not only did boozy 20 somethings enjoy Churchill’s historic foray in to night racing, the numbers show a notable increase in handle as well!

It was bona fide dance party at Belmont last night with Disco Diva in the 5th and Danceyoursocksoff in the 7th. In fact, Disco Diva over Gin Tango is quite possibly the best Friday night exacta ever!

Riderless horse Phone Jazz just crushed the field in the 5th at Belmont, good thing I had Hold the Cruiser, the official winner ($19.40) who finished about 3-4 lengths behind the riderless winner. Hopefully the game Phone Jazz was collected without incidence and the rider is ok.

And finally, it was nice to see Ocean Colors, the last foal out of 1988’s Santa Anita & Kentucky Derby winning Winning Colors put it together on turf at Churchill. For those of us who have been following her since Saratoga, it was great to see her show a little front running dazzle that her mother was so famous for.

When You Care Enough to Send the Best

You know you do! (Hello Race Fans ecard collection)

Or at least the most contextually appropriate! And really there is no such thing when it comes to ecards and horse racing, until now!

Check out the Hello Race Fans racing ecards collection! Ecard provider extraordinaire Some Ecards has recently added the ability for users to create cards, so we jumped at the chance to make some racing cards.

Here are a few more.

You can find them all here, and you know we’ll be adding more!

Now That’s a Race

Happy Ticket was just before my time as a racing fan but when I saw the reaction to the news of her death I thought I’d see what I could find out.

There was only one race available on YouTube but what a race it is. Happy Ticket hooks up with Round Pound in the 2006 Azeri Stakes at Oaklawn Park and the two go head to head the whole way.


What a game mare! Owner-breeder Stewart Madison had this to say about her:

She was a once-in-a-lifetime horse. Happy Ticket never disappointed. She had what you can’t breed into them. She had the heart. She loved to run. That’s what Andy always said about her, that ‘She likes to do what she does.’ Hopefully she passed that along.

Condolences to her connections.

Insult to Injury

Zenyatta big foot sighting outside of California (churchilldownsflickr)

If you’re of the mind that you’d like to see the mighty Zenyatta challenged this summer, you will probably find this little news item as annoying as I did.

Apparently there’s a chance that Life is Sweet, touted as a potential “rematch” for Zenyatta in the Vanity might be pointed to the Hollywood Gold Cup, you know, open company.

Mind you, she’s just nominated, but still… at least she’s nominated! Perhaps Shirreffs and Wygod think she’s gotta a better chance against the colts than Zenyatta?

Super 8 is Super Indeed

This morning I, probably along with other bloggers, received an email from someone named Robert Gately politely informing me that he had recently converted some super 8 footage of Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed in their Triple Crown stretch runs in the Belmont and that I could feel free to share the clip if I wanted.

My access to almost anything at work is extremely limited so I had to wait until I got home to have a look…

(Robert Gately)

Thank you Robert Gately! How great is it to have a close up, clear look at these immortals in the parade? They all look fantastic too although I have to say that I think Alydar looked a little a better, good thing I wasn’t wagering. Enjoy!

Kicking off Summer the Right Way

Kent D. and Summer Bird help us kick off summer the right way (budmeister 26.2)

Like Curlin, I do better with an outing on the track before the marquee event. On previous Belmont days I had already been to the classy & classic Belmont at least once prior to the big day, not this year.

After getting into a comfortable groove of playing from home and not worrying about things like factoring in time to wait on line for the bathroom or having to hear annoying conversations all day, would I be able to cash some tickets and enjoy the day? Cash some tickets, one. Enjoy the day, definitely!

Almost immediately we ran into Kevin of Colin’s Ghost, who was sitting not too far from us. During a rousing game of stump the guitarist, we also got a chance to see Miss Brooklyn Backstretch and Alan of Bug Boys. Superfecta, Equispace and Raceday360 were all in attendance, although our paths did not cross. It’s always nice to see one’s online pals offline!

Our seats were fantastic, just shy of the finish line in the 3rd floor grandstand. With only a few brief exceptions our neighbors were enjoyable as well. The couple sitting to our right were real racing fans, she had even placed a $20 win bet on Mine That Bird in the Derby! She said she thought the trainer had a quiet confidence in an interview… that method worked out a lot better than most. Not sure how they fared on the day.

To our left were two tween girls who seemed to come from a racing family as they knew horses, trainers and jockeys by name. Sprinkled in with talk about the horses were copious amounts of giggling about Facebook and some high pitched squealing. Swifty kept reminding me that it was better than drunk frat boys smoking cigars… he was right.

Whoever had tickets directly behind us did not show so we had a rotating cavalcade of guest neighbors. Some were inoffensive but one guy narrated the Acorn on the phone to someone while later on another one ate a stinky sausage sandwich while putting his bare foot on my seat and simultaneously telling his friends that they should “grab some girls on the way to cash their tickets so they could do a lap dance for them”. “Dude, I’m serious”. Good luck with that. Fortunately, neither of these pests lasted more than one race.

I generally ignore my phone at the track (as anyone who has ever tried to call me at the track can attest to) but did manage to check in on twitter from time to time. Here are few notable tweets:

As the stakes portion of the day got underway, Jessica remarked:

Loving hearing the Belmont crowd roar. Nothing beats a big day at the racetrack

The most astute handicapping comment I saw all day came courtesy of Dan Shapiro:

Nice crowd down here at the Plaza for the Belmont. Still thinking Dunkirk, especially after the impressive win by his workmate Munnings

o_crunk had his usually witty observations:

Dunkirk – the best poorly managed horse in the country!

And bloodstock got the biggest chuckle with:

Well at least a horse sporting a pair. Finally won a triple crown race

Sporting a pair or not, there were a lot of impressive performances yesterday but the most impressive was Fabulous Strike’s insane run in the True North. Battling Sixthirteen to run outrageous splits (21.85 / 43.62! / 55.28 / 1:07.85) only to pull away with the authority in the stretch… could that have been the one of the best performances of the year? I didn’t notice the splits until after the race, he made it look so easy that I thought the race was a little hum drum…. ha!

True North:


The Just A Game marked my first bone head move of the day. In addition to Forever Together I liked Caribbean Sunset, Diamondrella and Modern Look in that order. The thing that kept me from liking Modern Look more was Gomez. In her previous race he gave her what I’ve come to call “The Hard Spun Ride”, strangling her instead of letting her run and it looked to me like that cost her last out (not sure she would have won but think she might have done better). I liked the way Modern Look looked in the parade and went with her instead of Diamondrella. Lo and behold GoGo strangled her on the backstretch and she finished last.

Just A Game:


Bone head move number two came in the Woody Stephens when I dismissed Munnings parade perkiness as being too worked up, something I usually would be all over when playing from home. He looked nervous and little jumpy as they went by the grandstand and then bolted down the track after breaking from the pony. It was a tough call but I decided to go with “too keyed up”… ugh! On the bright side, it felt very much like Teuflesburg’s Woody Stephens (which I loved) where he finally gets the benefit of an optimal distance and puts it all together. (And let’s hope Hello Broadway finally finds his niche, I’d like to see him on turf). I saw Munnings break his maiden at Saratoga and I’m glad to see him find his niche, see you in the King’s Bishop!

Woody Stephens:


While still bone headed, I don’t feel so bad about the Acorn because I at least had Gabby’s Golden Gal in the mix. She looked incredible in the parade, which is why I played her, although my win bet was Funny Moon. There was a tense moment after the race where Gabby’s Golden Gal was a little stressed. I couldn’t totally see what was going on but was glad when she didn’t lay down (although for a moment it looked like she was from my seat, which was extremely upsetting). No doubt Darley is rearranging the giant bags of money in the vault to make some room with their recent purchase of up and coming superstar stud Medaglia d’Oro.



In the Manhattan I played Gio Ponti, Cosmonaut and Cowboy Cal. I had decided earlier in the day that I was not going to play Wesley even though he was my pick in his last out. He looked great in the parade and it was tempting but this was the one time where I had to deliberate during the parade and made the right call. See, there’s always a silver lining even when you lose, or so I tell myself. At least I got to see the race, which is more than can be said for the folks at home!

Woodford Reserve Manhattan:

(NTRA Horse Racing Channel)

Summer Bird did not surprise me as the winner, particularly since I had a nice win bet on him (and Flying Private). I mixed up those two with Mine That Bird in exactas and tris. As the day unfolded and the speed held up I was starting to second guess decision to not use Charitable Man. I was in the camp that his Peter Pan win was a dream trip and I wasn’t convinced that he would get the distance. I thought at the very least my three picks would get distance but thought the pace might be too soft. I had my fingers crossed for a Charitable Man, Miner’s Escape hook up.

The 3 that looked great in the parade were Mine That Bird, Summer Bird and Dunkirk. In fact, after the race Swifty and I both admitted that we had the same thought and decided not to say it out loud “Dunkirk is the only horse that makes me nervous”. Swifty’s play was a Summer Bird, Charitable Man & Mine That Bird trifecta box. Even the screeching tweens sitting beside us liked Dunkirk, “Dunkirk looks awesome” “Totally! He’s gonna WIIIIIIIIIIN”. We were sitting right in front of where they loaded them in the gate, which may have been my favorite part of the whole day.

As Dunkirk not only got the lead but set decent fractions, I was both happy and concerned. My runners were getting their preferred pace but it was Dunkirk, not Charitable Man, who was the speed to worry about. It looked like he was gonna throw in the towel as Mine That Bird came up to him but he held tough. When Summer Bird started to come on Swifty and I gave those tweens a run for their money in the shouting department… we were pretty much going bananas. I needed Mine That Bird to hold on for second and he needed the inquiry to take down Dunkirk, it didn’t work out for either of us but it was a helluva an exciting race!

Belmont Stakes:


Summer Bird ushered in what looks to be a great summer of racing. What seemed like it might be a day full of uncontested chalk turned out to be full of excellent surprises, validations of improving form and notable redemptions. This can only bode well for some exciting racing as the year unfolds, and to quote Swifty, “who deserves it more than us?”