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Mountains and Molehills .. Uncensored


Fri, May 4, 2018

* Rough winter wagering on a certain neighboring track? Don't beat yourself up. The form of horses nearing the end of long campaigns tends to fluctuate inexplicably. And 2L restricteds are designed to appease breeders, not bettors. And the breeding faction RUNS that place. New regulations actually require the racing sec to SPLIT any state- bred race that draws at least 14 entries. Wow.

* Turf racing, anyone?

* Walter Mitty handicappers who dream that knowledge of the racing form might be parlayed into success as thoroughbred trainers have a guiding saint in Gary Johnson.  Now back to conditioning after a stint on the national handicapping tour, Johnson tore it up at Mahoning this season. Still, I wouldn't try that at home, kids. The cherubic 60- something combines an uncommon grasp of the game with a gift of gab that inspires confidence and attracts owners. And somebody in that barn does the hands -on training VERY proficiently.

* Don't sweat the grade reduction on our WV Derby. Half a mill will attract some very good horses, and NO amount could enable us to compete with the dastardly Haskel. Too much tradition, money, and network coverage. Plus, those stupid hats.  And don't forget it's an "invitational," which means they don't beg, browbeat, cajole, and bribe to get top three-year-olds. No sireeeeeeee.

* Now that the parents have unloaded Pid, can I cease with the charade? I HATE fake surfaces. Nor do I know of ONE serious player who prefers super-ball bits to dirt. Bob Baffert said it best: " Synthetics steal a horse's brilliance." The Gettysburg moment when Santa Anita scraped off that silly oatmeal should be a national holiday.

* Many results at Mahoning strike me as meaningless. Riders there gripe about inadequate banking, and may well have a point. Wide sweepers lose all momentum turning for home and spend most of the stretch attempting a second move at the leaders. Conversely, runners depleted in hard pursuit often rebid with winning moves when dropped inside horses for the drive. It's not natural and defies normal patterns of race-flow.

* Shout out to Chuck and Katherine, two stalwart tellers stationed at the hotel here. And special props to Renee, the undisputed queen of  mutuel clerks. She roots for her customers without being intrusive, and moves bettors through like a conga line.

* That said, I'm still considering a switch to the SAMS.  Who wants ANYBODY to know their business?

* Luis Quinones really sold me at Mahoning. DeShawn Parker's one time understudy has become this region's best tactician, rides each mount like his life hangs in the balance, and continues to improve his mechanics at somewhere near Tom Brady- age.

* Front running winners that leave the gate at 5-1. but wind up paying $7 dollars drive players away in hordes. Look, most bettors realize that most of the win pool pours in late and the system can't cycle it before the bell. But it still feels like reneging.

*Roman officer vs Huntress Helena came as close to a heavyweight title fight as anything Mountaineer can offer. And winning jock Gerald Almodavar should have received a thank you letter, not a fine, for further intensifying the event with his unprecedented taunting. Heaven forbid somebody breath fresh life and modern swag into a dying, antiquated sport. And most unfortunate was the personal embarrassment to the gallant  Huntress Helena. Horses, after all. are people too. And, er , ah, have the same feelings as we do. I'll bet she sulked in her stall for days. And how she must HATE Almodavar.

*Did you know that WV bestowed landmark status on Mnr's grandstand ? Almost unchanged since Hartack rode a bug here, the circular indoor paddock best encapsulates a now legendary vibe that somehow warrants such recognition. And may someday warrant the spreading of a certain someone's ashes. Read “The Tickets,” a blog entry archived under my name

* You did not hear it from me, but a certain one-mile layout of clay and fine-grain river sand ALREADY contains the urn-sized remains of at least several horseplayers.

* Brandy's Play, Bernie Blue, Golden Sylvia, and Big john (etc) all get well deserved props as part of the pantheon when the diminishing ranks of true-believers convene. But when somebody mentions “Steel City' in a suitably reverential tone, I call him friend. The late 60's terror stands above. 

* The win pool reflects four factors, PERIOD : Trainer, track bias, Beyer numbers, and probable race-flow. Which means, simply put, to cash at a good price, you will have to go rogue on some of those considerations.

* 95% of horse racing officials could not explain the bare rudiments of a track variant or Beyer figure. Or identify basic points of call at commonly run distances. They work from skeletal PP proofs and never crack open a racing form. Precious few could name three triple crown winners. These people do not burn with passion for the game. Now that's a profession sharp handicappers COULD excel at.

 * When losing trainers try to rationalize the success of certain peers, the motive is always to assuage their own egos. Cover your ears when some hapless horseman explains (always condescendingly) that some 35% rival “runs them where they belong", or "is a good caretaker: “  No trainer will ever admit that another conditioner knows more or possesses superior skills. Ain't happening. Not ever.

* When the Pirate's third baseman slams a round tripper, do the commentators credit his masseuse, bat-boy, or personal chef?. There simply IS no such thing as an "assist" in thoroughbred racing. For plenty of reasons, the term just doesn't apply. This isn't hockey or hoops. Want to supply bettors with some USEFUL information about  each winning team's "roster?"  Let's start with vets. Oooops. There went the whole Kumbaya vibe. ( Why do I ALWAYS have to do that??)

* And there is likewise no such thing as a 750-win (or 2500, or 7500, for that matter) "milestone." Racing counts by the big-boy thousands. Pushy agents invent those Intermediate markers to promote their jocks.

* So there IS no suitable winter- time gig for a caller like Peter Berry???? Age discrimination at its ugliest. The man has few equals. If any.

* Think elite owner Robert Cole was blunt in that blog I did on he and Kevin Patterson last year? You should see the quotes I didn't DARE include.



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