01/13/2009 12:37AM

While I Was Out

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I've been out of action for a few days and had to make myself a little cheat sheet of what's been going on in the early days of 2009. Here's a table listing the results of the first nine graded stakes races of the year, all of which have been run at Santa Anita (5), Fair Grounds (2) or Gulfstream (2):

I'd vote for the Old Hat as the strongest of this initial nonet. The race ended in a three-way photo, with Gemswick park nosing out Elusive Heat after those two dueled through a half in 44.92 and 5f in 56.94, with Frolic's Dream just another nose short of catching them both. The final time of 1:09.77 was good for a Beyer of 94, excellent for 3-year-old fillies in January. Elusive Heat (Elusive Quality-Xtra Heat) was making just her second career start after a blistering debut victory at Belmont Oct. 12 and might have the most room for improvement among the three, but it would be no surprise to see all three of them being prominent players, at least in shorter races, at the Grade 1 level in the division.

The season's first Grade 1's are on Jan. 31 -- the Donn Handicap at Gulfstream (9f for older males) and the Santa Monica Handicap at Santa Anita (7f for older fillies.)

I missed almost all the bicoastal carryover excitement and probably saved money doing so. At both Santa Anita and Aqueduct, there were muliple carryovers due to truly difficuly bomb winners. At Aqueduct, where there have been carryovers on five of the year's first nine cards, there was a triple-carry into last Sunday's card, and I put in a small and half-hearted play that didn't come particularly close. The winning sequence -- worth $24k to 25 players -- was one where none of the winners was outlandish but getting them all on the same ticket was very tricky.


--My thanks go out to you for the many heartfelt comments about the passing of Joe Hirsch on the previous post here. His family has asked that any memorial contributions in his honor be made to the Columbia University Center for Parkison's Disease Research (630 West 168th Street, New York, NY 10032, Attn: Dr. Thomas Q. Morris).

kelso13 More than 1 year ago
I was at Gulfstream the year that Gill took that meet by storm.I have been playing for more than 40 years and I have never seen an owner dominate a meet the way he did.Not even in the days of Frank Martin and Oscar Barrera. This was incredible.He was running 6-7 a day and claiming 4-5 a day.If he claimed a horse that looked so-so on paper they would win.If the horse looked good on paper they would win big.Also, any thing claimed from him was a dead piece for their new trainer.I won a lot of bets just blindly betting any thing he claimed and bet against any thing claimed from him.He was a racing secretary's dream.However, it was obvious that he was cheating big time and this is not good for the game.If he is still dominating in the same manner he should be carefully watched and banned if caught cheating.
DRS More than 1 year ago
Sarnatatro: Why on earth would NYRA want Michael Gill on their turf. New York racing is meant for real horsemen with the exception of a few trainers. There is no room for Gill to claim half of the horse population there. I would be interested to think what Mr. Crist would think of Gill invading NY. Maybe they will let him but I can't imagine it. He is not what horse racing is about and lets hope for the sake of the sports survival that he never is given stalls there. Overall, the sport isn't meant to have one person come in and claim everything in site and then drop their horses in claiming price and win tons of money off slot driven purses. Racing could solve a lot of these issues by going back to the old claiming rules where you had to raise a horse in class for so many days after you claimed a horse. Then you wouldn't have guys like Gill claiming 6 horses a card and dropping them in price for the stats. If you think Gill improves handle at racetracks, I suggest you go look at where he runs his horses. Enjoy running your stock at Philly Park and Penn National. It is funny because the favorites at Penn National usually have about $900 bet on them, pretty comical actually. I will say one thing, the sport has nobody but themselves to blame. By relaxing the claiming rules they allowed for this to happen. There is just no way owners/trainers could do what they do today if you had to raise a horse in class after a claim. Back in the day you actually had to use horsemanship and a clever mind to play the claiming game. Now all you need is money and the urge to drop your horses to get wins. Gill has not done one positive thing for this sport since he has been involved, I dare you to try and find one. And no claiming a bunch of horses doesn't make you a good owner. Somehow he won an eclipse award a few years back. I thought that might mean he was being pushed out of the sport in exchange for the award, unfortunately he is back.
bob hinkle More than 1 year ago
how lucky sitting in front of gulfstream park in 1970 and onto hear mr hirch speak on today program.
slewofdamascus More than 1 year ago
DRS, you might be interested in the following book: Not By A Longshot: A season at a hard-luck horse track by T. D. Thornton (degenerate) This is about a season at Suffolk, and there are a great many things to learn about this game that the average player never sees, and our tour guide leaves no doors unopened when describing, among other things, the daily backstretch drama or the jockey fixes that became part of the seasonal motif at Suffolk Downs that year. Included is probably the best, longest published take on Gill, who had a very strong presence at Suffolk that season, with Mark Schuman; Gill was a dividing presence, and you'll just have to read the book to get all the juicy details. Good luck.
Sarnatatro More than 1 year ago
Drs, I have no problem with Michael Gill. He's a guy who's aggressive at the claim box, wants to win races and spots his horses so they're positioned to do so. So why the problem? Delaware Park sure didn't like him much. They were more interested in protecting the interests of trainers who feared losing their horses at the claim box, the same trainers largely responsible for the small fields and low handle common at that track.I never saw a rule that stated another trainer couldn't claim horses from Gill's stable or claim back a horse Gill took from them. Perhaps he intimidates others because he plays the game better. Regarding Mark Shuman, who's no longer affiliated with Gill,please note his high win percentage since leaving. He's obviously a quality trainer.
mark c More than 1 year ago
correct me if I am mistaken,but I think NYRA gave Gill a hard time too. I believe they denied him stall space... I thought the article about Mike Gill in the form was terrific I hope he breaks the record AND makes a ton of money
Silver Charm More than 1 year ago
Fresian Fire ran pretty well and it is still early in the year for an improving sort who posted a 93 Beyer. Remember it was Roger Daltrey who sang, "After The Fire, The Fire Still Burns." So this horse must not bounce.
EJXD2 More than 1 year ago
I'm a little confused about drs's post. He says that MG's horses don't run to form, which makes handicapping boring. Since when do overbet horses not running to form make handicapping boring? To me, that seems like an ideal situation. I also disagree that owners aren't a crucial part of the game. Gamblers help fund their habit, yes, but they help fund ours.
Walt More than 1 year ago
Can anyone remember as bad a stretch as we are currently seeing for this week at Aqueduct? I can't remember there EVER being a stretch of two days at ANY of the NYRA tracks where not a single regular Allowance race was carded, not even an optional claimer as is the case today (Wednesday) and Thursday. Many of the old timers I would think might be spinning in their graves if they saw the kind of cards we see in New York these days!
DRS More than 1 year ago
Hi Steve, I am once again troubled and disappointed at the recent efforts of Michael Gill to get back into the sport of horse racing. Why must the sport continue allow people like this back in? Racing should have banned him and Shuman 6 years ago for what they did to that horse at Gulfstream. But no, we now must watch him run 8 horses a card at each Mid-Atlantic racetrack, often with uncoupled entries and horses with very confusing form. What upsets me even more is the article just posted on him by the DRF. Why does the most influential publication in racing have to portray him to be a positive for the sport when he clearly is not? Why doesn't anyone at the DRF have anything critical to say about his operation? The article goes on to have a quote by trainer Tim Hooper saying Gill is good for owners because it gives them money in their pockets. It amazes me how owners and trainers seem to forget who really makes this sport possible, the gamblers. Horse racing isn't about the owners and it isn't have the trainers. It is about the horses and the gamblers. There is nothing worse than handicapping a race flooded with Gill horses, the situation does not cause people to run to the windows. His horses often do not run to form and they cause handicapping to become boring. Maybe I am the only one to feel this way. I'd be interested to hear what everyone else thinks about his racing operation...