This Week in Racing

Nothing like a cliff note version of what’s going on. Don’t think of it as a cheat sheet as there are many issues that deserve a fuller explanation. – But here are a few items that caught my eye and as usual, the opinions here are just that. Remember what your high school teacher used to tell you. 1. – Don’t take yourself too seriously. #2 – Take in all info before taking a stance. #3 – See rule #1….


Keeneland raises the takeout

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If you’ve been under a rock or incommunicado, the Brigadoon of the racing world has raised the takeout rate. The win-place-show will go from 16% – 17.5 % and some exotic wagers will jump from 19% – 22%. – Now before you start sweating and threaten to quit betting Keeneland. Here is a little excerpt from the Paulick Report: Racecourses in Kentucky are allowed to increase take out to the maximum percentages when daily on-track handle averages lower than $1.2 million, which has been the case at Keeneland for several years. Churchill Downs boosted its rates to the same thresholds in 2014, and records indicate that despite horseplayer backlash handle has continued to increase slightly over the past several years, from $501.3 million in 2014 to $511.8 million in 2015 and $516.9 million last year.

All this and a bottle of beer will make for some great talk. When the bottom line comes out. It won’t matter a hill of beans. That’s the reason they are raising the rates in the first place. – There will be threats a plenty from horse player groups, and many will start handicapping Ajax Downs instead. – Keeneland has given us full fields, incredible purses, and stakes that draw runners from around the world. – Yeah, I’m gonna’ quit betting that signal right now…..

Before you have my noggin examined. Here are some feelings from a handicapper who enjoys being called a gambler. – Keeneland is raising rates to bolster the purses. They are not putting it in their pockets, and just because it’s not raining now isn’t a good reason not to buy an umbrella. – I’m not a big fan of raising or even lowering the rate. Leave them alone. – If you remember the lowering craze of Canterbury Park you’ll have another reason of why we should leave the rates alone. I must admit they swung for the fences and the management tried to please their greatest asset; the players. Here is an article from the Thoroughbred Daily News with an Op/Ed piece from 1/20/17 –

I’m not crazy about the idea of having my win payoff drop from $9.80 – $9.20, but that’s just business. We’ve trusted in the leadership Keeneland has always provided. Don’t only be happy when it benefits you and poo-poo an idea if you lose a couple of pennies on the dollar. – If you’ve never been to Keeneland make the trip and see for yourself. If you’re on the side that is threatening to jump off the wagering wagon. Just sit back and have a nice Kentucky Bourbon. Sip slowly while you watch the thundering hooves round the turn for home. – Just think to yourself on Fall Stars Weekend how you’d rather be watching and wagering on Acme Downs in a state of confusion.


Throw the book at him

Athletes have been trying to gain an edge since the fig leaf was removed in the 1st Olympics for the sprinters. – We all have tricks used to give us that little extra something. But, sooner than later the sporting police catches up with you and exposes you to the light of truth.  Indiana Grand has suspended Didiel Osorio for being in possession of an illegal electrical device following the fifth race at Indiana Grand on Thursday. – According to the Paulick Report;  According to senior state steward Stan Bowker, Indiana Horse Racing Commission investigator Toni Sperle conducted a search that began in the winner’s circle while Osorio was weighing in after the fifth race and ended in the jockeys’ room. Electrical devices, made from small batteries, wires, and electrical tape, can be concealed in a jockey’s hand during a race and are used to shock or stimulate a horse. Commonly referred to as buzzers, batteries or machines, they are illegal in racing and can lead to lengthy suspensions.

This isn’t the first time a “machine” has been used to give that little extra umm-pff to a runner’s effort. They are homemade for the most part and look like they’re built at the kitchen table with grand dreams of beating the system. – The first time I saw one was at a farm where my horse was turned out. They had a small training track with an old starting gate. I would see old nags come flying out of the gate with their tail on fire.

Osorio was removed from his remaining mounts at Indiana Grand on Thursday and a summary suspension was issued Friday that will be reciprocated in other states. An initial hearing has been set for Aug. 22. The summary suspension, pending completion of an investigation, cites a violation of IHRC Rule #71 IAC 7.5-6-5 (d) (4), and states that “possession of an electrical device on the grounds of an association is conduct that is against the best interest of horse racing or compromises the integrity of racing.” Osorio, a 23-year-old native of Panama, has been riding at both Indiana Grand and Ellis Park in Kentucky, where he ranks third in the current jockey standings, with 13 wins from 80 mounts. Osorio was leading rider at Ellis Park in 2015, winning 25 races from 171 mounts. He began his U.S. riding career in 2013 and has 235 wins from 2,037 mounts. Bowker said the maximum penalty the stewards can assess for possession of an electrical device is a one-year license suspension and $5,000 fine, but the case may be referred to the commission, which has the authority to issue additional sanctions.

After reading the report I just shook my head. – Indiana Grand has great purses, exciting races and a future that looks bright ahead. They don’t need people like this in the sport and more importantly calling into question the integrity of the track. I hope the book is tossed at him and they build a room under the jail for this guy. – Sorry, Didiel. I enjoyed watching you ride. – You had some talent and a bright future, but now we’ll never know.