03/30/2011 4:59PM

Dubai, Aqueduct and Uncoupled Entries


"The Dubai World Cup used to rank up with the Arc and the Breeders' Cup Classic as a race almost guaranteed to throw up a superstar, but the world's richest race has lost some of its shine..."

"Saturday saw the second running of the Dubai World Cup on a synthetic surface and, just like last year, the form was well below championship standard....[T]he 2010 and 2011 World Cups have the distinction of being the lowest-rated in the history of the event."

That's not me being crabby about synthetic racing surfaces again: Those words come from Sam Walker of The Racing Post, the British racing newspaper that gave last Saturday's World Cup an international Racing Post Rating of just 120, not even among the top 15 performances of the first three months of the year.

Just like last year, this World Cup unfolded as a ridiculously slow-paced farce, with the entire field virtually walking to the top of the stretch and then sprinting home with little change of position. Only Mirco Demuro, on the victorious Victoire Pisa, seemed to understand that the race was going at a crawl and made an early last-to-second surge that put him in position to run down the 40-1 pacesetter Transcend.

The whole notion of the world's richest race being run on a Tapeta track remains a contradiction. This is no knock on the surface itself, but there are so few important races worldwide run on synthetic surfaces that there is no appropriate population of world-class synthetic-surface specialists to support the race or justify its outlandish purse. The only other synthetic Grade 1 unrestricted races at classic distances are the Hollywood Gold Cup and Pacific Classic. Richard's Kid, who won the last two Pacific Classics, ran 12th at 23-1.  

It should be clear by now that the best American dirt runners are not going to contest the World Cup on the new surface. If they're not going to return to dirt racing, the Maktoums should perhaps consider running all three of their big races -- the $5 milllion Duty Free, the $5 million Sheema and the $10 million World Cup -- on grass, or drop one of them and offer a pair of $10 million grass races.

Another unintended consequence of the premature move to a synthetic surface for the Cup has been to rob those grass races of major competitors. Grass horses who would never have run in a dirt World Cup (e.g., Twice Over, Cape Blanco and Gio Ponti, the three World Cup favorites) are now taking a shot because of the doubled purse instead of running where they excel -- on grass. So instead of having two important grass races and one for the world's best dirt horses, there are now two watered-down grass races and an unappealing hybrid of a World Cup.


--Spring unofficially returned to New York racing today with the shift from the inner to the main track for the last 18 cards at Aqueduct until November. (It should be 20, but state legislators still lack the moxie to rescind the antiquated bans on Palm Sunday and Easter Sunday racing, a restriction not extended to the state's lotteries and casinos.) 

There wasn't a dramatic change in the fare -- the day's first three races offered a total of 14 betting interests, and winning mutuels of $3.00, $2.80 and $6.10 -- but at least the caliber of the stakes racing will improve sharply: There were only four graded stakes during the first three months of the year, all Grade 3's, but the April main-track meet has seven including the G1 Wood and Carter and the G2 Distaff and Jerome:



--The California Horse Racing Board is expected to approve the uncoupling of all entries at its April 28 meeting, mirroring a national trend prompted by short fields amid a declining horse population. While reading through the proposed amendments to California racing statutes (yes, I really do need to get out more), I came across some oddities.

All rules governing exactas are in a section titled "Special Quinella" and pick-x bets are addressed in one called "Unlimited Sweepstakes." I asked four Californians with a combined 150 years of racing and wagering experience if they had ever heard of a Special Quinella or Unlimited Sweepstakes; none had. I suppose there's no harm in leaving bizarre and obsolete terminology in the statues, but then why did someone bother to include in the amendments an incorrect change of the spelling of every mention of "parimutuel" to the improperly-hyphenated "pari-mutuel"?

Here's part of the proposed amendment that, if approved, will give trackgoers a daily, splitting headache: There's language requiring that every time there are 2+ horses in a race from the same owner and/or trainer, the public must be informed including "announcing the circumstances over the public address system." I'm not aware of such a requirement anywhere else where entries are uncoupled. One notice at the beginning of the day sounds like more than enough. 


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Dave P More than 1 year ago
Read your article Saturday morning April 9th about tracks trying to come up with cheaper exotic bets that spark the interest of race players. One thing i have to disagree with you on was your reference that gulfstream pick 6 carryover did not attract as much $ as you thought it might or should for a $900 k carryover. well when you bet only 10 cent minimum it is not going to show huge amounts. I think the 200 k plus bet into that pool was big. As for easter sunday and people being locked out hey if your a gambler and want to play that pool and live in new york jump into a car an drive to new jersey, pennsylvania, deleware, maryland or call a friend and have them make the bet if not who cares you can find a way if you want. Same thing you have to do if you dont live in Vegas for the Super bowl. If you want to bet fly to vegas or find a bookie otherwise your outta luck. Many others agree with me if you cant find away to bet on that carryover on easter sunday im happy that means more $ for me and better odds i hit it $$$$$$$ ......so PLEASE GULFSTREAM DO NOT CATER to a few states that cant bet that day they can find a way to bet we all can find a way if we want :) Keep that Mandatory Pick 6 Payout on Easter Sunday :)
Henry B More than 1 year ago
Racing is coming to the end of the line. It will probably wind up like the harness races. After looking at the entries at Aqueduct for the past winter, it seemed like every race had four or five horses in it. After the politicians got through with horse racing, it is ravaged like a war torn country. The excessive takeout (my favorite topic) has sent the serious horse player into oblivion. The horse player can't support every person connected to racing. With their pensions.
jerry More than 1 year ago
Hate to go off on my entry rant but what they term a racing card at Aqueduct on sunday is the worst of the season yet. 59 betting interests to start; 11 late scratches! Why bother trying to run turf races? 48 horses for 9 races. Pardon the grammar but NYRA-- No Yuse Running Atall.
ML/NJ More than 1 year ago
"the day's first three races offered a total of 14 betting interests, and winning mutuels of $3.00, $2.80 and $6.10" Ah. But in yesterday's 5th, Dr. Tom romped in 1:14 at 25-1 and put me ahead for the year. That's what this game is all about. I hate to sound like a broken record but all the advertising of Uncle Mo really hurts racing. How many times is he going to show up in NY this year? Three? Maybe four. (If they're lucky.) There will be about 250 other days of racing, and the entire direction of throughbred racing's publicity since Secretariat tells people they would be stupid to show up or pay any attention on any of those 250 days. Dr. Tom, or someone else like him might be running in every race.
gordon p More than 1 year ago
two words for new york so called horse racing... WHY BOTHER!!! IT'S PURE GARBAGE
dave stein More than 1 year ago
in regards to the coupling and uncoupling of horses......i do not believe that the integrity of the game should be put at risk due to difficult times. the coupling rules were put in place to help avoid the appearance of impropriety. clearly, the chrb proposal tries to defend that concept in stating that numerous pa announcements will be made to keep the public informed of the common trainer and owner of multiple entries. i have seldom seen, in the business world, moving black and white ethical issues to grey, lead to long term success. leave the coupling rule in place, and find more meaningful, long term solutions to increasing fields. and, if this is about increasing handle and keeping the serious gambler engaged, i would rather see rebates offered.
Dogs UP More than 1 year ago
Sure wish the DRF had a speed rating and track variant for the Santa Anita races for horses Derby bound and at-large also. Why are these numbers missing? [Because they have a new racing surface at this meet so it is impossible to compare times at this meeting to the three-year best times that are the basis of the old-style speed ratings and track variants. -SC]
Walt P. More than 1 year ago
Tony: The parade of favorites have been a problem, but I suspect it's also the situation of five-day-a-week racing and the need to fill fields. The real problem is the antiquated law that requires NYRA to run a minimum number of days (I believe 95) in the winter. While I realize that shutting down entirely in the winter isn't really an option at this point (even though Parx Racing, 90-100 miles southwest of the Big A I suspect would have no problems taking on the extra horses if NYRA shut down in the winter), there definitely needs to be some changes made in the format to reduce the number of days from an overall perspective NYRA runs in the winter while maximizing on days people are more likely to come out. As I would do it: The Saturday after Thanksgiving would be the last day of racing in New York until December 26, regardless of what day of the week that happens to fall on. There then would be 7-10 consecutive days of racing from Dec. 26 through Jan. 1-4 (January 1 if that day falls on Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday, with the corresponding Sunday after 1/1 being the last day of that stretch otherwise). All programs during this period would be 10 races with a Noon ET first post (Nine races daily if there is racing straight through from Dec. 26-Jan.4). After New Year's, there would be racing on Saturdays and Sundays ONLY (plus Martin Luther King Day) for the rest of January. These would also be 10 race programs with first post at Noon, expanding to 11 races the last weekend in January. February would go to a three-day week, with eight races on Fridays, nine on Super Bowl Sunday and 11 races otherwise on Saturdays, Sundays and Presidents Day. First post would be 1:00 PM on Fridays and Noon otherwise. The same schedule would be in effect through the Saturday preceding the second Sunday in March (when the clocks change), except those Saturday programs would be 12 races. Once the clocks change, weekend first race post time goes to 12:30 PM for the rest of the winter-spring season at Aqueduct (staying at 1:00 PM on Fridays) with 12-race cards on Saturdays and Sundays. Wood Memorial Day and the two Saturdays preceding Palm and Easter Sunday would be 13-race programs (if one of those is the Wood Memorial program, that card is then 14 races), with eight-race Thursday programs (1:00 PM ET first post) added to those weeks. Obviously, in this format, the focus would be on weekend racing, borrowing a page from Monmouth Park and the success they had with their meet last summer (and from what I understand, that won't be the case this year, which the horsemen I suspect don't realize will come back to haunt them). With declining foal crops, taking a page from Japan, which focuses on weekend racing and has done so for years.
rwwupl More than 1 year ago
The uncoupling thing has many different opinions and I have my own, but Horseplayers Association of North America ( HANA) has taken a poll which indicates most players feel under today’s conditions (short fields) the trade off between the public perception of integrity issues VS. larger fields, it would be worth it to uncouple. That information has been sent to the CHRB for their consideration.