At least the bare bones of live horseracing have returned to TV via simulcast on PBCJ.
This is a good thing. As I wrote last issue, horse racing’s major investors, without whom the sport can’t survive, are punters. Unless racing can attract new bettors willing to wager their hard-earned in the Tote or with a licensed bookie, it’s likely to shrivel up and die. In today’s world where a variety of campaigners (now includes ALL sports) compete for the betting dollar supported by live broadcasts on several platforms, the antiquated concept of hiding racing from the public to deter illegal bookies is just plain stupid.
So, welcome back live horse racing on TV. May it live long and prosper. More importantly, may it attract a new set of turfites as potential investors whether as owners, breeders or punters. There’s still a long way to go since the races, whether on radio or TV, can’t stand alone and currently, media coverage of local horseracing is more antiquated and boring than Joe Biden.
Current coverage of horse racing lacks imagination, creativity or competence. Preview programs feed listeners with dreary, mostly unreasoned predictions that most favourites will win (statistically impossible). In-depth information, critique or human-interest stories have been non starters for years. Recently, we were advised by a leading public tipster with access to more than one media outlet that the long odds-on favourite for the Oaks had to fall down to lose despite the fact that her chance on a thorough analysis of her true form was slim to none and Slim had left town. After the race, that same intrepid tipster complained bitterly that the jockey was mindless in riding her “as if he could do anything and win”. But that same tipster had informed the jockey in writing that this was the case. Sigh.
That same public tipster seemingly in love with losing favourites proclaimed that Saratoga Sight, an importee of obvious talent, was “right” (cute) for May 11’s feature a competitive Overnight Allowance with 16 starters. But not one “analyst’ including our so-called expert, has ever informed the public that this 6yo son of Tapit lost an eye as a foal (hence the name) and, as such, badly needed the inside rail for guidance whenever running around left-handed turns. Followers of The Terrible Tout’s twitter feed were informed that, from his wide draw in a big field, Saratoga Sight had no business to be a favourite and had as much chance of winning as I had of flying backways on a broomstick to the moon. Touty made him the LAY OF THE DAY.
Unfortunately, my Twitter timeline has only a couple of followers so, thanks to all the hype from our leading public tipster, Saratoga Sight started even money favourite but, wide throughout, could only manage 5th. Ye Olde intrepid tipster noted on Sunday that Saratoga Sight raced wide but complained bitterly about his being bumped by Lottery Ticket (the eventual winner’s stable mate). But what unbiased observers, including the Stewards who held an enquiry, saw was Saratoga Sight’s predictably desperate efforts to get to the rail which meant he had to run through Lottery Ticket (among others) on his left.
In depth pre-race analysis, based on painstaking study and seeking of fact, would have revealed the result as clearly as any crystal ball. None of the above is available to consumers of horse racing analysis in Jamaica. So the promoter needs to put together a team of serious, young, hard-working, clear thinking analysts and colour commentators who can put together a show around the live broadcast of races to include human interest stories, interviews, in-depth information and analysis. The reason independent analysts are sent to the race track on race day by media houses is to inform punters/turfites who can’t be present what is happening AT THE TRACK not to regurgitate what they said during Friday night’s mundane preview.
I repeat. This is NOT the 1980s. It’s not even the 1990s. Horse racing is no longer the only game in town. It must compete.
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 2/5ths of a second). Variants beside horse’s names represent the difference between its official time and the grade standard.
May 4, 2019 [TV+0.5 per 200m (Round); +8 (Straight)]
PRINCE CHARLES (-2) was the only runner to post a time faster than standard on a very slow track (Race 7; 3yonw2/Imported maidens; 1100m Round; TV+3) winning by 2 lengths from ROY ROGERS (-0) in 1:07.3 (CT 1:07.0) effectively equaling the standard for nw3. But the winner is an unexposed 3yo sure to improve so can go in again.
The 2nd (CT 1:07.2) posted a CT 3/5th second faster than nw2 so compensation awaits him at this level.
Overseas Betting Opportunities (OBOs)
Readers of last issue were rewarded with the winner of the English 2,000 Guineas as MAGNA GRECIA was a comfortable winner at the value price of 11/2. Kentucky Derby pick Tacitus wasn’t so lucky as the skies opened at Churchill Downs and he failed to cope with the flood-like conditions until very late in the race, staying on for 4th (awarded 3rd) at 6/1. He strikes me as a perfect candidate for the Belmont especially on a dry track.
The race itself turned out to be a bit of a farce so it was only in character for the Stewards to take down the number of a winner who made all and won on merit because a 3yo in May drifted out on a track that would have made Noah’s Ark yaw causing mild discomfort to a rival with no chance
The sloppy conditions and sealed track handed a significant advantage to front-runners so the winner definitely got the run of the race. For first past the post Maximum Security, THIS might’ve been the one that got away (oops, sorry, was TAKEN away). So, I empathize with Luis Saez and Jason Service (whose brother John won the race with Smarty Jones) who did an excellent job. Most of all I weep for owners Gary and Mary West who represent racing’s heart and soul by plugging on year after year only to have their dreams come true and then stolen in a flash.
Tomorrow Newbury hosts the Group 1 Lockinge Stakes over a mile and, providing the ground is no softer than good, it could provide MUSTASHRY with his best chance to win in the top grade after progressing well through the ranks in four races as a 5yo before not handling the softish ground in the Breeders Cup Mile at Churchill Downs.
But, by the time this is published, the year’s second Major Golf Championship, the PGA (rescheduled to May to accommodate late season features like the Fedex Cup and Olympics) will have completed its first round. Everybody will be focused on Tiger who has a chance second to none of winning his second major on this course and his 16th overall but, unfortunately, this includes the Bookies who have run for cover and once more offer only single-digit odds against his victory. There’s more value in backing Justin Thomas or JASON DAY whose games are as suited to the course (Bethpage Black) as Tiger’s. The latter gets a marginal vote at the odds on offer.
But if Tiger starts slowly and his odds lengthen at the end of the first round, don’t hesitate to hop on board! Anything approaching 15/1 would be acceptable. 20/1 or more would be a gift.
As usual, we close with a notebook horse:
GABRIAL THE ONE [3yo bg Zoffany-Guilia (Galileo)] Got off the mark on his sixth and last 2yo start in a one mile nursery at Pontefract appreciating every yard of the extended trip and coming through to win readily from off the pace keeping on like one sure to improve again for longer distances this year. On his second 2019 outing, he suffered a nightmare trip at Chester (May 9; 12f) reared start; very wide throughout; eye-catching headway (wide) to challenge for the lead 1½ furlongs out; but flattened out final furlong. DEFINITELY has races to win at 10-12f this year especially on soft. He has done all his racing since debut (13½ lengths 5th of 7) on tight turning tracks.