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Crist: Many courses on Gulfstream menu
If you’ve been hibernating this winter while waiting for the important racing to start, you really should rouse yourself for Saturday’s 13 races at Gulfstream. Mohaymen in the Fountain of Youth is the obvious headliner, but there are several other highly talented runners well worth watching in the seven other stakes races on the card.
Don’t tune in late. The fourth race, the Grade 3 Gulfstream Sprint Championship, will be X Y Jet’s springboard to the Golden Shaheen in Dubai next month. The 4-year-old Kantharos gelding has won three straight, including the Mr. Prospector and the Sunshine Millions Sprint with Beyer Speed Figures of 105 and 108.
The fifth race, the Grade 2 Davona Dale at a mile for 3-year-old fillies, showcases the undefeated Cathryn Sophia, who has won her three starts by a combined 34 1/2 lengths. After taking her first two starts against overmatched fields on the front end, she was slow from the gate last time out in the Grade 2 Forward Gal but was allowed to settle and romped by 5 1/2 lengths from off the pace. She stretches out beyond seven furlongs for the first time, but that should not be a problem.
Cathryn Sophia already ranks fifth among the nation’s 3-year-old fillies in Mike Watchmaker’s weekly divisional ratings, behind Songbird, Carina Mia, Rachel’s Valentina, and the filly who will make her season debut one race after the Davona Dale in the Grade 3 Herecomesthebride: Catch a Glimpse, the division’s top-ranked grass runner, making her first start since winning the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf on Oct. 30.
The Fountain of Youth drew just six entries, and while there are several talented colts in the field, it looks like a soft spot for the undefeated Mohaymen. The Tapit colt was favored among the individual betting interests in the last Derby Futures pool and is no worse than the nation’s No. 2 Derby prospect behind Nyquist after winning the Holy Bull, Remsen, and Nashua stakes in his last three starts. Mohaymen is the lone proven router and the strongest finisher in a Fountain of Youth that figures to have plenty of pace. If he prevails, he and Nyquist will be a combined 11 for 11 heading into their final scheduled Derby preps.
While X Y Jet, Cathryn Sophia, Catch a Glimpse, and Mohaymen all look like heavy favorites, the other races appear highly competitive. The Grade 3 Canadian Turf for older turf milers drew six graded stakes winners, and the Grade 3 Palm Beach drew 14 3-year-old male turfers. If you haven’t been playing much this year, it’s time to get back into the pool.
Half full or half empty?
The Jockey Club published its annual Fact Book this week (available online at www.jockeyclub.com/default.asp?section=Resources&area=11). It is a trove of fascinating information about the sport, nowhere more so than in its historical presentation of the sport’s economic indicators in various categories.
From a high of 74,071 races in 1989, there were just 38,941 races run in the United States in 2015.
National parimutuel handle, which rose from $9.3 billion in 1990 to a high of $15.1 billion in 2003, declined to $10.7 billion by 2011 but has stabilized since then and was $10.6 billion in 2015.
Gross purses have basically been flat for more than a decade, totaling $1.092 billion in 2004 and $1.093 billion last year.
In 1990, 89,716 horses made a total of 712,494 starts. Last year, 53,365 horses made 329,974 starts. The number of starts per year has declined from 8.03 in 1992 to 6.18 last year.
Put them all together, and the very broad sum is that with roughly half as many horses making fewer starts in half as many races, total purses and total handle have basically been flat, meaning handle per race and purses per race have nearly doubled. An optimist would say that racing has properly downsized itself and that purses and handle are still robust. A pessimist would say that almost half the game has simply disappeared.
What is going down the porcelain faster ? Racing in this country today or DRF?
In my humble opinion the Internet is to blame for racings decline. You see in the past people thought racing was crooked now they are sure. They can research about miracle trainers they can watch the incredibly bad rides over and over and see details that were unavailable in the past. To the jockeys empty stands at the track gives them the false impression that the public is not watching and scrutinizing them but the truth is they are being watched like never before. And people are voting with their feet.
I can make a strong case that there is a direct relationship between (1) the downturn of horse racing in the United States and (2) Steve Crist's tenure as publisher of Daily Racing Form.
What is the average age of todays horse player? I suspect that will tell a big part the story. Even though it's never going to happen unless the colt is a gelding. We need a superstar. Someone to put fans in the seats. We had that last year. Thats why to me when you have a horse like American Pharaoh. The first Triple Crown winner in 37 years he needed to keep racing.Just think of the excitement he would have generated running a 4 year old ! But my point is think of the new fan base he would have attracted to a game where the average age of our fans is ? 62- 65 !!!!!! So when a colt makes more at stud then on the race track ! OTB ! Can you imagine what a monster AP is now at 4 ???? When does a horse reach maturity, I know it's not 3 years old! Anyway I'm 62 and I hope I don't see the end of the sport I love!
The handle numbers simply bear out the fact that a small segment of players are betting huge amounts using computer models to identify advantageous situations. Thus the often seen wild odds changes at post time. This, along with the steady diet of small fields, makes it even harder for whatever ordinary players are still left in the game to survive. The lack of vision displayed by racing's leaders in the 70's and 80's, combined with the "dumbing down" migration of today's gambling population's to casino action, has resulted in the conditions described above. A similar situation is currently taking place in professional football betting where the young crowd is flocking to the fantasy nonsense, and the longtime bettors are turning there backs on the game due to the ridiculous changes instituted by Fidel Goddell that now make the games basically unbettable. This too will not end well once the courts get done doing to fantasy football what it did to online poker.
When I first started in racing, 1987, in the Bay Area, we had some great weekend cards full of quality. Bay area racing, today, is more like what Yakima and Longacres were back in those days, which is to say pretty awful. But I think we all saw the writing on the wall as the sport's popularity plunged into the late 90s and it has certainly played out that way. I am hoping we can have a resurgence of a kind, but the game is tougher to crack today than it has ever been for the casual fan and everyday-goer because of outrageous take-outs.
6 entries in race?...yawn
speaking of many courses steve, why doesn't DRF acknowledge in its pp's that gulfstream has a inner and outer course and actually used 3 courses this weekend. it should show the symbols drf uses for belmont and saratoga.now you have to go into formulator and figure out where they were running by the rail settings. the price of the form keeps going up,but the info it gives remains the same except for new gelding info which is totally useless where a horse shows that it was gelded on monday and he's working out by tuesday. it would be useful if reported properly by trainers