10/31/2008 7:41PM

Greyhound Time


I haven't stopped playing just because the Breeders' Cup is over. I had to jump into opening day at Aqueduct Wednesday because you always have to bet on your birthday, and after investing just 12 minutes and $192 in the early pick-four, I caught a buck of the $4629 payoff just for beating a bad 2-5 shot in the opening leg. I haven't cashed a ticket since, though not for lack of trying. Today and tomorrow, however, are more about greyhounds than horses.


Halloween is a greyhound-centric event around here but don't worry, I don't dress them up in tutus or anything vile like that. Instead, I delight in the scene that's been repeating itself every five minutes for the last couple of hours: A group of costumed kids rings the doorbell, and three seconds later they're shrieking at the sight of 180 pounds of black-and-white greyhound flying at them toward the glass front door. They scream and run back down the steps, then slowly come back up as they realize the worst thing that could happen would be getting licked to death. Popeye, the spotted one, gets the best comments. The alltime favorites are "Look, Mom, it's a Dalmanatian!" and "Is he a milkdog? Do he give milk?"

Tomorrow's greyhound festivities are more national in nature: The twice-a-year "Night of Stars," greyhound racing's version of a Breeders' Cup. (Here's a link to free past performances for the 17-race card.) Since there are no issues with jockeys being in more than one place at the same time (the main reason the Breeders' Cup can't be run at more than one site), the NOS consists of 17 races run at 17 different tracks, one every 18 to 22 minutes. Each track assembles a "hotbox" field of its best local runners, or schedules the final round of a stakes series to fall on NOS night.

The NOS, unlike the Breeders' Cup, also has an industrywide charitable purpose. Most of the proceeds from the evening go to fund adoption programs for greyhounds when they reach the end of their racing careers. Wouldn't it be nice if horse racing did the same even once a year?

--There's a little ($25,951) carryover into Saturday's Aqueduct card, which can hardly be scarier than Friday's, where the early pick-4 paid $76k and the late one came back $8k. The sequence starts with the 4th at 1:52 pm ET and includes three grass races, including the featured G3 Long Island Handicap at a mile and a half for fillies and mares. A German-owned, French-raced, Andre Fabre-trained entry of the field's only 3-year-olds, Astrologie and Shake the Moon, is listed as the 5-2 morning-line favorite but they don't look any better on paper than stateside favorites J'Ray and Hostess.

Churchill Downs is running an 11-race card with all 2-year-old races, including the G3 Pocahontas for fillies and the G3 Iroquois for colts, both at a flat mile. Those races lead to another all-juvenile card Nov. 29 featuring the G2, 8.5f version of those two races, the Golden Rod and the Kentucky Jockey Club.

Those races, and Aqueduct's Remsen and Demoiselle, are always key events looking ahead to the Triple Crown trail, and perhaps even more so this year: The BC Juvenile winners and likely divisional champions, Midshipman and Stardom Bound, have raced only on synthetic surfaces.

--Here's that column about the ban-greyhound-racing ballot proposition mentioned in a comment below:

Download column100308.doc

Jim More than 1 year ago
I enjoy playing the greyhounds just as much as horses. The NOS was an intrgiuing card and it is one of my favorite days of the year. I am very upset, however, that the voters of Massachusetts voted to ban greyhound racing in their state effective 1/1/2010. Raynham-Taunton is the nicest of the greyhound tracks I have ever been to and I know Wonderland has sentimental value to our blogger. It is a sad day.
Justin More than 1 year ago
Unfortunately Steven by a 56-43% margin it appears that dog racing is headed out of MA. I have family in Rhode Island so between Lincoln Park or Twin Falls as it's called now and a few trips North from there, will all be different soon. I guess the voters didn't care about the jobs lost.
Rickhf More than 1 year ago
http://www.thebostonchannel.com/politics/17894393/detail.html The voters have spoken. Dog racing has been banned in the Bay State, by a measure of 56%-44%. The article says that racing must be terminated by 1/1/10. Will this lead to legislation north of the border to end racing at New Hampshire's dog tracks? Or will this help them, bringing in some of the greyhounds that would of originally raced at Wonderland.
Tim More than 1 year ago
Today was a very sad day for racing, as Massachusetts Question #3, which would ban Greyhound racing in the Bay State passed by a 57%-43% margin. Your beloved Wonderland will be no more, and it's a shame. It makes one wonder if the moralists will aim to shut down Suffolk and Plainridge next.
Elron More than 1 year ago
Steve, someone at DRF might let Alan Shuback know that when Dutrow called Goldikova a "freak" it was a compliment.
Jason in Austria More than 1 year ago
The Boys look possessed!! Thanks for the holiday spirit, and nice job on the BC P6.
bochalls More than 1 year ago
Did anyone see the Autumn Tenno Sho from Tokyo on Sat night? I'm no conspiracist, but I swear the jockey of the 2nd place horse held his mount at the finish. Vodka won the photo and Katsumi Ando, the jock of the 2nd place horse, was looking over at the winner for the last 3 or 4 jumps while not riding his mount at all. Anyone agree?????
Allen Klayman More than 1 year ago
Anybody that doesn't think the decline in handle this year throughout the country is caused by some tracks shift to synthetic surfaces obviously has no knowledge of the game. I was at Churchill Downs Saturday for their 2 year old day and after about 3 races I wondered why I was there. There was only about one or two horses in any race that had ever run on conventional dirt and it made handicapping almost impossible. The few horses on the card with good dirt form, were all heavy favorites and all of them promptly won. In all the other races, you had to guess which horse that had only raced on synthetics at either Kenneland, Arlington, Presque Isle and Turfway, would be able to transfer their form to conventional dirt. After a few races I realized I was no longer betting with any knowledge, I was guessing like the average fan that comes to the races. I might as well have bought a lottery ticket. Now some of you will point to the formful races at the Breeders Cup and the fact that Steve was able to hit the Pick 6 to say that the best horse won almost every race, so how hard could it be. But what you all have failed to acknowledge is that very few dirt only horses even bothered to show up at this years Breeders Cup and the fields were filled with horses with established west coast synthetic form and euros that figured to like the surface. Of the eight "dirt race" winners this year only three (Midnight Lute, Zenyatta and Albertus Maximus) had ever even run on dirt. This is a sharp contrast to the last two years of the Breeders Cup where last year, all the dirt winners raced at least once in New York and two years ago where all but one of the dirt winners had preped at either Churchill or New York. Are we supposed to believe that a trend that showed that the good east coast dirt horses were superior to west coast and european horses running on the dirt has suddenly reversed and that now the west coast and european horses are suddenly superior to the east coast dirt horses? Clearly the best horses that were entered and that could handle the synthetic surface did win most of the races, but the BEST horse did not win all the races. Had the Breeders Cup had been held at Churchill or Belmont, both the horses that were entered and the winners would have looked significantly different. I do not think the Breeders Cup was created to what amounts to having 14 grass races. All the major and classic races in this country have always been dirt races, up until about the 60's and 70's , most tracks didn't even have a turf course. Horse racing in the US was created for Dirt races. Breeders in the US breed horses for the dirt and should be rewarded for their efforts by show casing the breed on the dirt, not on synthetics. Horse Racing gamblers bet because we feel like we have an advantage over the average race fan and can turn a profit using that advantage. It is the same reason people play Poker or Blackjack, with knowledge of the game we gain an advantage over others. Synthetics have eliminated the advantage and created for the most part an even playing field again. We must all start from scratch and figure out what we are going to do. For me the answer is simple, I will no longer play any races on circuits with synthetic surfaces. I doubt that I am the only one that feels this way, but I feel this is the only way to perhaps stem the tide of race tracks insistence to cram synthetics down our throat. Racing is the only sport that never has and seemingly never will acknowledge that without the gambler, they have no sport. How many people would show up at the track if we couldn't gamble? Yet we hardly ever get a mention, let alone a voice in any decision that any racetrack makes that effects us. As a former trainer I empathize with the tracks that are trying to make their surfaces safer for the horses, but synthetics are not the panacea they think they are. Synthetics were never designed for American style race tracks that are used year round for both training and racing. Over time every track has shown that the consistency that supposedly makes them safer goes away and they require substantial overhauls to bring them back to their original specs. Horsemen have constantly complained that the track they run on at the beginning of a race meet bears no resemblence to the surface they run on at the end of the meet. Dont get me wrong, I feel these surfaces do have a place at US tracks, I have no problem with using these surfaces for training, they would help horses since in therory you can train on them year round regardless of the weather. They simply should not be used for racing, at least not an any racetrack that considers itself to be a major racetrack. Gamblers across the country are already speaking loudly by holding back their dollars, but racetrack and the Breeders Cup management keep blaming the sharp declines on the economy, while I believe a small percentage of the declines can be blamed on the economy, but I feel the real culprit is synthetics. Horse racing has always been able to weather economic woes in the past, but I doubt it will be able to weather the synthetic woes.
Flipper Dawson More than 1 year ago
I have decided to ask Steve to adopt me until I croak. Old horses get adopted, why not old players? On a more serious note, I have a story of the Breeders Cup, which will be posted when a new blog is started. In the meantime, I agree with a poster who said, (referring to Steve) that it's not hard to pick a winner, but it is hard to craft a ticket to win exotics. Let's face it--SC has this down to a science. I can only advise bloggers to buy his book called EXOTIC BETTING. He deals with the ABC tickets, that he personally uses. The book is available in the DRF book store for starters--maybe at top end book stores as well.(they can order it in for you.) I have the book myself, but did not read it before the BC 2 day betting schedule. Bad move on my part.
fashion slipper More than 1 year ago
I don't post very much but I read this blog as well as the other and enjoy the info and the laughs. It seems as though several of the regulars are from the Boston area like myself. I broke in at Raynham Park back inthe 70's. I have several friends who work as trainers and/or owners. My guess is that the people who want to ban greyhound racing have never set foot in a racing kennel. These dogs want to run. I was present at Wonderland Park in Revere one Sunday morning with my friend who was traing for the Ed Souza kennel and two greyhounds who needed a workout. We hand schooled them from the curtain turn WITH NO RABBIT TO CHASE and these two dogs went around SIX times having a ball. It is what they enjoy. Please all of you, when you go to vote on Q 3 remember this--the greyhounds are being USED by the group that wants to outlaw them as a way of achieving their goals. This is not eve about the greyhounds. A yes vote on Q3 essentially is a vote to allow one group of people to tell another how to live their life. Same as halloween. A school in the Boston area recently did away with a Halloween party for fifth graders because ONE family objected. ONE FAMILY!!! Imagine going to a wedding and one of the guests was a vegetarian and they served tofu to all of us. Vote NO on question 3 not just for the greyhounds but for liberty and justice for all of us. God bless America and thanks for listening fashion slipper