06/09/2008 4:32PM



--Before we get to that promised recap of the five other graded stakes on Belmont Day -- coming later tonight or tomorrow -- could all those who keep insisting the Belmont Stakes payoffs were so fishy that the fix was in please remove their aluminum chapeaux and consider the following realities:

1)There was nothing particularly fishy about the payoffs. The place and show payoffs were entirely square and not too many bridgejumpers are going to unload on a horse with a loudly-publicized foot problem in a 1 1/2-mile race that the Derby-Preakness winner had lost 10 times in a row. Nor were the tri and super payoffs amiss. First of all, people complaining that the tri and super paid "only" $3k and $47k are forgetting that there was a dead heat for third, halving the payoffs. I suspect that many if not most players who had a 6-4-8 also had a 6-4-9 and that super players with a 6-4-8-9 also had a 6-4-9-8 -- if you're playing against Big Brown, I don't think you drew too fine a line between Anak Nakal and Ready's Echo, similar clunk-up-for-third candidates.

Add the two dead-heat payoffs together and you're really looking at a $7,657 tri and a $95,946 super, perfectly reasonable payoffs in a nine-horse field with a 25 percent takeout, only 504 tri and 3,024 super combinations available, and the clear 7-1 second choice -- the only horse in the race other than the favorite who went off at less than 14.50-1 -- finishing second. Also, it is always unreasonable to expect a parallel distribution of exotic bets mirroring the win odds when there is a heavy odds-on favorite. Exotics players are far more adventurous and plenty of them were specifically shooting for a monster payoff by eliminating Big Brown.

2)Suggestions that the favorite's connections loaded up on combos without their own horse and stiffed him to cash tickets make no sense if you consider the larger economics surrounding the race: Big Brown's defeat devalued his estimated paper worth of $60 million by something in the neighborhood of $30 million. While I don't buy the repeated speculation in the general press that a victory would have increased his value to $100 million or more, the idea that he was yanked for parimutuel gain is -- I'll resurrect the word -- absurd, considering how much more they lost in defeat.

whobet More than 1 year ago
http://www.baltimoresun.com/sports/horseracing/bal-sp.horses23jun23,0,1636449.story http://sports-talkers.com/horseboards/yabb/YaBB.pl?action=usersrecentposts;username=SPICYTOMATO Spicey was right, read above comment
spice More than 1 year ago
i watched the post parade on this one, i wonder if anyone saw the rear left hoof wobble before ** he hit the tunnel , i noted the horse had a problem there, later it was reported that , he indeed had a loose shoe , i wonder if anyone can actually pull up that part of the broadcast, the horse was just about ready to enter that very loud tunnel they call it , his walking was different , back left was dragging, i was wondering, since it was reported to be true, what kind of person lets such a valuable animal go out with a loose shoe, if i could see it from the post parade coverage , just how do they explain that part, its true and was reported, , also , if anyone actually rides horses, loose shoe or bur or anything in the tender part of the hoof will cause great mental stress on an animal already stressed with the race its about to run, in his head and heart he wanted it bad, that i could see very well, , what is your take on reading body language in animals,
Steven_Crist More than 1 year ago
kstafford, Thanks for the heartfelt and interesting post, but I honestly wasn't talking about bloggers in general or you in particular. And I think we'd actually sell more rather than fewer newspapers if there were a juicy Belmont Stakes race-fixing trial, so I think you need a better theory regarding my supposed lack of objectivity.
kstafford More than 1 year ago
Well, I'm one of those bloggers you are probably talking about. If so, I'd like to point out that I never said the fix was in - only suggested it was possible that some foul play was involved. I stand by that claim. I'm not naive enough to think that when tens of millions of dollars are changing hands and Rick Dutrow is involved that it is "absurd" to think something fishy may be going on. You are dealing with a known cheater in Dutrow - every time he's cheated in the past, folks have lost money due to his actions. Also, as you are connected with the DRF - a publication whose value/sales depend on people having an interest in the sport, it seems to me you aren't exactly an objective source on this matter. If it were to come out that the race was thrown, or if suspicions of the race being thrown were to become common place, it might be assumed that folks would shy away from tracks and conceivably fewer DRFs would fly off the shelves of local convenience stores. Look, all I'm saying is that if you want to point fingers at people and call them names and depict them wearing tinfoil hats - how's about pointing fingers at asshats like Dutrow that drug their horses and are known to try and cheat the system,thereby screwing over bettors and other horsemen alike. Seems to me you might find more fault with them than those who suggest that (oh heavens, perish the thought!)perhaps Dutrow and company may have been up to old tricks. Again, not one of those people looking to make an excuse for losing a bet. I had blogged for weeks that I'd pay any sum to see Dutrow have to eat crow. I happily parted with my money to see that outcome - all I'm saying is that in a day and age where the integrity of EVERY sport seems to be called into question on a daily basis (think of spy-gate in the NFL and the recent claims of referree malfeasance in the NBA), that now probably isn't the time to put the blindfolds on and act like all is well when KNOWN CHEATERS like Dutrow are involved in something just a tad eyebrow raising. Do I really think it was fixed? No, absolutely not. Do I think it's possible some dirty play may have been afoot? I think the answer to that question is abundantly clear. In fact, I'll re-resurrect your own word and say it's ABSURD to suggest that those concerned with the possibility of a fix are being absurd. Fair enough? Now can we cease with the childish antics (i.e., tin foil hat comments, etc.)and move on?
Marc More than 1 year ago
Thanks for the information. Of course the size of the field would have something to do with that and so would how "odds on" each were.
Ray Johnny More than 1 year ago
Hey Steve, I have a high level of respect for your writings, and I understand your need to protect the game to some point but... While your analysis on the payouts not being "fishy" was good, that doesn't mean someone still couldn't have cashed a boatload of tickets if they "knew" Big Brown would not run his race, and/or not be able to pressure obvious lone speed Da'Tara, who also happened to have a good stamina pedigree and a trainer who had won the race before A check of the betting patterns would have at least been in order considering the horse’s connections, the magnitude of the race, and the fact that he was eased in the stretch. Additionally, racehorses do often get prerace shots - they come in large hypodermic syringes in various colors and consistencies (if you've been in the backstretch on the morning of a race you would know this) - you really think the trainer has any idea what is in these shots half the time? You really think they are all testable? Think again. Maybe that didn't happen in this case, but... there are ways... That being said, Big Brown's figs weren't all that great going into the race, and we have all seen the media and the public jump all over horses that romp over mediocre fields - only to flop when the pressure gets serious. The great ones always find a way to overcome, and Big Brown appears not to be one of them. He was not able to overcome the unfamiliar surface, a new distance, early trouble, lack of his favored steroid, a quarter crack etc. While Desormeaux's mistakes early in the race may have played a factor in Big Brown's loss, they were certainly not the only contributing factors. It was easy to see that Big Brown was not the same horse that won the Derby and he Preakness after only five furlongs had been run. Did Desormeaux do the right thing in pulling the horse up? Well, he clearly had no shot of finishing in the top 4, and it was obvious to any serious race watcher and handicapper worth his salt – that something wasn't right with the horse. A horse does not have to be lame to be pulled up - there can still be something wrong internally. Given that the early part of Desormeaux's ride was poor - what would you do if you were sitting on a rocket ship worth $50 million (not in my opinion) that all of a sudden felt like a car with no oil that was out of gas? Considering what happened to Eight Belles, and the perceived value of Big Brown, Desormeaux probably did the right thing. He could have whipped him and hustled all he wanted - but Big Brown was never going to finish better than last on this day. To say he shouldn't have eased Big Brown because he wasn't visibly lame is unfair. How would anyone but Desormeaux know what the horse felt like? And just because the trainer could not find anything wrong with the horse, does not mean there was nothing wrong with the horse. Horses fool average trainers all the time - they even fool the best in the game. Reminds me of a conversation I once heard between a jockey and a trainer. Trainer: You stiffed my horse, why didn't you keep whipping him in the stretch. Jockey: Every time I hit him he went further backwards. If I'd hit him anymore he would have been back in the starting gate. Hopefully Big Brown's debacle will have a positive effect on the sport. Imagine that! Maybe someone will FINALLY stand up at the congressional hearings and describe what some leading trainers do to their horses before EVERY race. (Why do you think the horses in California run like machines? Talk to a few jockeys off the record.) And this doesn’t include the monthly steroid injections, which CAN definitely affect a horse’s attitude, eating habits, aggressiveness etc. Here’s the prerace list: 1. A designer drug cocktail to stimulate the various physiological systems mixed with various "legal" painkillers. 2. The latest un-testable blocking agent for blocking pain in the lower extremities. (Recall a recent suspension?) 3. Lasix and Bute 5. Cortisone in every joint before every race. Why do you think horses continue to break down? Synthetic surfaces are a smokescreen inside political job designed to appease the public - breakdown rates remain the same - and will continue to do so because of the above. Remember when the best horsemen in the business used to win at a 15 percent clip? What happened - did all these 28-35 percent trainers we have nowadays all of a sudden become genius horse whisperers? Much more likely they hired chemists? (And while we’re on the subject, did the trainers of last year’s 1-2 finishers in the Belmont have any previous drug infractions on their records?) Unless a horse needs emergency medication due to severe illness or colic – they should have to go to the farm for administered treatments. Of course, making drug use illegal in racing would reveal the fakers and put them out of business (and some of their well-heeled owners too, some of which have a vested interested in continued drug use in racing). But the truly great horsemen (and horses!) would rise to the top. Who really stands to lose if drugs are outlawed in racing? You'll certainly be able to tell at the upcoming congressional hearings. As a leader in the industry, you should play a major part in getting rid of drugs in racing - all drugs – for the betterment of the breed long term - and for the betting public that support the industry. Maybe that can be your destiny - if you're up to it. I happen to think you just might be. Thanks for listening, Ray
Boscar Obarra More than 1 year ago
Steve, whats really funny is how the public picks on this thing to get all hot and bothered, when the actual boat races that go on under their noses don't get noticed. Aint it grand.
kelso13 More than 1 year ago
I always knew that most horseplayers are stupid and love to blame their losing on conspiracy or jockeys.However, to think that B.B. was stiffed to cash a bet is mind boggling.I am not naive enough to think that in any situation where money is involved that there will not be people trying to take an edge.If B.B. wins the race he and his connections become immortals in the lore of horseracing and the horses value would likely have doubled..How can you compare that to winning a bet. As for the drug issue,we all know that there are certain trainers that are juicing.This must be cleaned up.However, as a player we all know who the cheaters are.Therefore you just factor that into your handicapping process.What does it matter how certain trainers improve their horses.Whether they use legit methods or drugs you must deal with them every day at every track you play.Remember Oscar Barrera back in the day?No one knew for sure how he could claim a horse, move him up in class, run him back in two days and have the horse improve by ten lenghts.You just knew that it would happen and you bet them.I do not condone this situation, but I am a horseplayer and I will always be a horseplayer.This game is greater than all of the problems we have.Men have been racing horses against each other for hundreds of years and will for hundreds more.So, suck it up ,deal with the problems and try to hit that big pick 6 today at Belmont.I know I will be out there today and after 3 dark days I am jacked up and ready to go.
bailey More than 1 year ago
Prozac Jack, a bit blunt, but I saw the sheer incompatability between BB and his jockey also - the results were predictable, and as you siad, BB decided not to respond. Um, yes, horses make choices...
El Angelo More than 1 year ago
Why should Da'Tara have paid more to show when 4 horses had to be paid out?