Ok, Santa, I have been nice, not naughty this year. I did some charitable work. I opened doors for my wife. I ate my vegetables. I even did the laundry.
Below is my Christmas wish list, which I am sure will be similar to many other devoted horseplayers’. I will be happy to email it or text it to you in time to celebrate the Holiday Season. Just send me your contact information.
In descending order, here is my Horseplayer’s Top Ten Wish list for 2018:
10. One more good horse for trainer Ron McAnally. Trainer of champions like John Henry, Bayakoa, Candy Ride, and Paseana, McAnally has not forgotten how to train. Like many other greats, he has simply outlived his clientele. Here’s hoping he gets one more quality horse to remind horseplayers just how good a conditioner he is.
9. Show all probable payoffs in the minimum wager increment. Nothing is more confusing than to show probable payoffs in $2 increments when the minimum wager amount is as low as $.20.
While tracks are at it, please make sure the increment is shown along with the probable payoffs. I don’t like guessing.
8. For Keeneland, a reminder that horseplayers have grown accustomed to and are dependent upon the colored saddlecloths to identify their horses. There is no need to go to single color saddlecloth (all white, all blue, all purple, etc.) for your biggest and best Stakes races and make it tough on those who are invested in your races and driving your handle. Why bet what you can’t see?
7. In California, less reliance on stewards to determine if an infraction “cost a horse a placing” and more reliance on a “foul is a foul”. If there is any question at all that a foul could have even POSSIBLY cost a horse their best chance, enforce the rule. Another memo to the stewards: A foul can and often does occur early in a race, too, not just in the stretch. See Bayern in the 2014 Breeders Cup Classic as an example.
6. Uniform claiming rules across the country. How is it that a trainer based in New York or Florida can come out to California, claim some horses, and immediately ship them out of state when those same horsemen from California are not allowed to do the same thing under other state jurisdictions?
Field size and horse population are the keys to driving handle. Just make for a level playing field for all states.
5. Eliminate the “voided” claim rule. The claiming process regulates itself. When horsemen try to steal a purse by dropping a horse below their true value, they must assume the risk.
The trainers and owners who do their homework can weed out the live droppers from damaged goods. If a barn only drops damaged horses, competitors will not touch them with a 10 foot pole. No need to bail out lazy barns who just drop claim slips in bulk looking for numbers without doing the due diligence.
4. Uniform wagering menus across the country. How is the horse racing industry supposed to develop new devoted horseplayers when they don’t know if the Pick Five is in the first five races in one state and the last five races in another? Why are there rolling Super High Fives at one track and just one similar wager at another?
When I was a kid my dad would meet his buddies for coffee each Saturday morning and discuss who they liked in the Daily Double (there was only ONE Daily Double) before sending one of the guys to the track to make the bet. They knew when each wager was on the card each day. We are past the saturation point as far as many wagering menus are concerned.
3. Uniform medication rules. Right now horseplayers have to guess whether horses going to different states will move forward or regress. With consistent medication rules nationwide, instant form reversals are likely to be seen less often. It could help cure the “Super Trainer” paradox.
2. Consistency from the Stewards stand. Right now, when the inquiry sign goes up in California, I truly have no idea what the stewards will do regarding potential disqualifications.
I used to know, but there is so much gray area now. Make sure horseplayers know what to expect so they do not question the integrity of the game. It is gambling, after all, so transparency is a necessity.
1. Stagger the post times of the major tracks. Nothing drives me nuts more than major tracks like Santa Anita and Keeneland running their races right on top of one another. It is not that difficult to stagger the few major race signals so horseplayers have time to (1) make a wager, and (2) watch the results of their investment. If I can’t watch both races live, I will not bet on one of them. The handle loss can be blamed on the tracks.
Play of the Week: Gulfstream Park, Wednesday, Race 3 – Red Dread (7 post). Two-year-old filly has shown she runs well fresh. She is bred to like sprinting on turf and should get a nice trip stalking the early speed from the outside. She has upset value at 10/1 on the morning line.