Will Racing Sleep With The Fishes?

BY THE TERRIBLE TOUT

I can’t believe this is my 50th column for Public Opinion. Or that you’ve allowed me to bore you to death for so long. Ah, well, once more onto the breach……

So the racing promoter has a new website.

Nice idea; horrendous execution. The navigational tools are slim to none and Slim long ago left town. Maybe I’m old and tech-stupid (I am) but I can’t navigate either the results or the past performance pages to locate results or past performances for specific historical days. On August 31, while races were in progress, I tried to look at the day’s “Final Programme” only to be forced to view the final programme for August 30 with no way to navigate elsewhere.

But the worst part of the new website is the results page that has eliminated the grade of the races from its records. So, unless you’ve purchased (and kept) the Track and Pools for every race day, you’ll never know what type of race produced the result you’re reviewing. For analytical types like me who must calculate track variants and speed figures to help with identifying future value bets, this is an informational disaster of Trumpian proportions!

PBC’s TV coverage has improved slightly as we seem to be joining the track earlier to catch Howard Abrahams’ standard form preview but this excludes any on-the-spot information and could easily have been broadcast the night before. No human interest stories; no pre-race interviews; no paddock or post parade commentaries by persons actually knowing the difference between a thoroughbred race horse and a donkey; no educational information about bandages, headgear; pre-race antics or anything that might help last-minute bettors make up their minds. All we ever hear is Spuddy’s plaintive “Hurry and wager”. On What? Why?

But the worst thing about PBC’s pathetic “live” racing coverage is that it’s only available on Saturdays. The promoter obviously doesn’t care whether or not anybody new sees what horse racing looks like or is attracted to the sport on a regular basis. Saturday Sabbath keepers are clearly not to know that the sport is available on alternative days.

Jamaican horse racing promoters continue to go through the motions with little apparent interest in profit or promotion. No sport can survive without corporate sponsorship. Corporate sponsorship isn’t interested in reaching an audience narrower than the electorate of PNP delegates. The race track’s capacity is less than 6,000. OTBs add another 2,000-3,000. In a nation of 3 million, that’s a drop in the bucket to any serious sponsor. Without live, entertaining free-to-air coverage of horse racing, the sport will soon be bleeding sponsors and sleeping with more fishes than Luca Brasi.

August 31, 2019 was a sad day as I watched the shambles my favourite race, formerly the Benson and Hedges Gold Cup, has become. A superb race, that used to attract 16 or more of the Island’s best horses at the perfect trip of 1,400m (then seven furlongs) so as to give sprinters and stayers alike equal chances, is now a farce.

I vividly recall, Saturday, December 16, 1972 when 17 of the best contested the year’s most important race. The ultra-classy, most versatile importee Common Market, (129lbs; 1970 joint champion José “Juicy” Bravo) finished 17th. Top class speedsters Blusterous (133lbs; the great Donald Andrade aboard; 13th) and Polka Dotty (130lbs; the other joint 1970 Champion Jockey Richard DePass; 7th) carried them to the top of the lane at an electric gallop. When they came inside the final furlong six or seven were across the track until, out of the blue, legendary one-eyed importee Monte’s Stitch (140lbs; Glenford “Cuttopeg” Walker) flew on the outside to win at 9/2 odds by ¾ length from Zareba (Reprieve’ssister; 102lbs; Carlton “Deuce” Morgan) with Fearless Princess (117lbs; visiting Irish jockey Robert “Bob” Curant) a further neck away third. Half the field finished in a heap including Pops Gem (4th); All Relic (owned by the late, lamented Bobby Carby; 5th); Calejucam (6th) and the “also-rans” included greats like Sarnia Conita; Gabriela; Black Bullet; Klarimosa; Out Yonder and Paddy’s Doll.

Last Saturday, I watched in dismay as She’s A Maneater, at prohibitive 1/9 odds, made hacks of four “opponents” (who were simply making up numbers) in an unsponsored Gold Cup run as the 6th race on an 11 race programme. Racing’s top sponsor now is Government who still inexplicably (and illegally in my opinion) spends millions through the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Commission to sponsor ONE RACE to be run in November. This can’t be real!

DEPARTMENTS:

Clocked-In

This regular review of local performances is based on REAL times.

Abbreviations: CT = “Corrected Time”; TV = “Track Variant” (a calculation of the effect of track conditions on official times to arrive at “real” or “corrected” times); TVs are in fifths of a second; “minus” means a fast track; “plus” a slow track (e.g. -2 means fast by 2/5th of a second). Variants beside horse’s names represent the difference between its official time and the grade standard.

Space and time didn’t permit a review of the August 6 race day in our last two conversations so we’ll catch up.

AUGUST 6 [TV+0.3 per 200m (Round) +3 (Sparkle Diamond) -3 (DM Cutie)]

Msmyrtlerichiegirl (-6) finally came good (Race 9; 4yonw2; 1300m; TV+2) winning as she liked by five lengths in 1:21.2! Her CT (1:21.0) is 3/5th second faster than nw3 so she should be able to win again over this sort of trip. The 2nd Miss Linda Wray (-1) produced a CT of 1:22.0 which is 3/5th second faster than nw2.This is her first run since April and her first sign of form this year so she’s one of those fillies to follow in the autumn.

N.B: On August 17, Miss Linda Wray trotted up over 1,600m (probably the limit of her stamina) at 6/1. There’s more to come from her.

Livi’s Outrageous (-4) beat a depleted field (Race 6; 3yomsw; 1300m; TV+2) clocking 1:21.1! Her CT, 1:20.4, is 2/5th second faster than nw2. She’s unexposed (only 3 lifetime starts) so has more in the tank. The second Father Ken (-2’) ran green (second career run in 6 days) but kept on very well last 200m and his CT (1:21.0’) is almost a full second faster than maiden special weight so, once he stays sound (obviously has problems) is nailed on to win at least a maiden at 1400m+

AUGUST 31, 2019 [TV+0.9 per 200m (Round) +1 (straight)]

Baltusrol (+1) lost by a whisker to Ali (Race 9; 3yonw2; 1200m; TV+5) in 1:14.3! His CT, 1:13.3, is 4/5th second faster than the grade so he should be a cinch next time. This could turn out to be a KEY RACE as the 3rd (Kingsman) and 4th (Enuffisenuff) were separated by a head just 1¼ lengths away.

Overseas Betting Opportunities (OBOs)

Tomorrow’s big race is the Group 1 Haydock Sprint Cup (6f; 1610GMT; 10:10 a.m. Jamaica Time) where I expect Ten Sovereigns, if he takes up this entry, to continue his upward progress now that he has been confined to sprints.  Big favourite at the moment is Advertise after his narrow defeat of Brando in the 6½ furlongs Group 1 Larc Prix Maurice de Gheest at Deauville. But that win only confirms for me he’s best suited by further than 6 Furlongs at which he was 2¾ lengths 2nd to Ten Sovereigns in the July Cup.

Before we meet again, the English St Leger will be run at Doncaster (September 14; 14f; 1535GMT; 9.35a.m. Jamaica Time) where John Gosden’s unbeaten (4 for 4) Logician, a son of Frankel, is the howling ante-post favourite to turn back the Irish challenge from Ballydoyle headed by Sir Dragonet, Il Paradiso and Constantinople. Logician beat Constantinople by 1¾ lengths in the Group 2 Great Voltigeur (York; 12f) – a 5 horse race run at a muddling pace. Both of Constantinople’s wins have come on good to firm ground and he seems to be begging for 14 furlongs so, if the ground quickens up, he could turn the tables.

Conversely, Il Paradiso seems best suited by further than 14f so the one to be on is Sir Dragonet who was uncomfortable at Epsom in the Derby and returned for a warm up over a grossly inadequate 10f at the Curragh in August. He has been laid out for this and is going to run his boots off.

Let’s close with a notebook horse:

Derevo [3yo b.c. Dansili-Pavlosk (Arch)] has improved markedly this year winning twice from two starts showing no particular preference for either the turf or tapeta surfaces encountered. His last run stepped up to 12.5 furlongs at Newcastle showed he was definitely headed in the right direction and is the sort to consider for a late season big handicap like the Cambridgeshire.

 Good Luck!

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