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Sunday, October 28, 2012

HANA Harness Wraps Up Year Long Contest; Thanks Sponsors, Over $4,000 For Horse Rescues



For Immediate Release                                                                                                                  
FFI – Contact Allan Schott at allan@hanaweb.org

Mark McKelvie Crowned The Pen vs. The Chip Champion 

 (October 28, 2012) – After sixty-three race cards consisting of eight hundred and eight races handicapped, Pen Handicapper Mark McKelvie was crowned champion of HANA Harness’ The Pen vs. The Chip Handicapping Challenge sponsored by the Hambletonian Society, Meadowlands, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs on Saturday night at Woodbine Racetrack on Breeders Crown Night.   

Not that it was an easy victory.  McKelvie, who was cruising on the lead for most of the contest, was under pressure from Chip Handicapper Earl the Pearl in the final leg as Earl had surged from sixth place to start the evening in second place, just $37.90 behind McKelvie.  When Earl scored in the seventh race with Rockin Amadeus who paid $37.00 to win, it seemed like an upset was in the making but it was not to be as Mark finished in front, a mere 0.012 ahead in the ROI with a difference of $19.90 separating the top two.  Pen Handicapper Bobby Z finished third for the competition.   

In tonight’s final leg, Pandy finished on top with a Win ROI of 2.554, grossing $61.30 with five winners selected on the twelve race program.  Finishing second was Trackmaster’s Chatsworth Consortium with a ROI of 1.688 ($40.50) while Earl the Pearl took the show spot with a 1.542 rating ($37.00).  While falling short, Earl managed to cash in big Saturday evening as besides having Rockin Amadeus to win, Earl also had the $304.60 exacta and $586.20 trifecta nailed cold in the seventh race.  

 The final standings (sixty-three legs) for the competition are as follows:
Position
Name
$ Won
ROI
ROI Back
Legs
Prev Pos
1st
Mark McKelvie (P)
$1,453.50
0.899

63
1st
2nd
Earl the Pearl (C)
$1,433.60
0.887
0.012
63
2nd
3rd
Bobby Z (P)
$1,322.90
0.862
0.037
60
3rd
4th
Pandy (C)
$1,353.80
0.838
0.061
63
5th
5th
Mr, Trifecta (P)
$1,345.50
0.833
0.066
63
4th
6th
Chatsworth Consortium (C)
$1,301.00
0.805
0.094
63
6th
7th
Scott Alberg (P)
$1,273.10
0.788
0.111
63
7th
8th
Ray's Robot (C)
$1,239.40
0.767
0.132
63
8th

As a result of Mark’s accomplishment, Horse Rescue United (HRU), McKelvie’s designated standardbred rescue, will be the recipient of donations of totaling $2,100 from the four sponsors and the Horseplayers Association of North America.  In addition, other donations in Mark’s name will be made to HRU and local rescues by the associate sponsors.   

 In Canada, donations will be made to the Ontario Standardbred Adoption Society or local rescues of the track’s choice.  A total of $4,250 in donations has been pledged to various standardbred rescues as a result of the handicapping challenge.
With respect to the Exacta Key side competition, Earl the Pearl won the evening with an Exacta ROI of 6.622, grossing $304.60 for the evening.  Pandy took the place spot with a ROI of 1.450 ($69.60) with Bobby Z taking the final placing with a rating of 1.146 ($55.00).  McKelvie was the overall winner for exactas as well, this time with a much more comfortable lead, finishing with an impressive 0.989 ROI.  The final exacta standings are:

Position
Name
$ Won
ROI
1st
Mark McKelvie (P)
$3,129.00
0.989
2nd
Bobby Z (P)
$2,583.80
0.865
3rd
Earl the Pearl (C)
$2,658.60
0.843
4th
Ray's Robot (C)
$2,514.20
0.802
5th
Pandy (C)
$2,520.70
0.798
6th
Chatsworth Consortium (C)
$2,437.40
0.783
7th
Scott Alberg (P)
$2,280.60
0.730
8th
Mr. Trifecta (P)
$2,186.80
0.693
  
On Friday night, the final leg of The Pen vs. The Chip Challenge at Vernon Downs was contested and as a result, Earl the Pearl was the handicapper who finished the best overall at Vernon Downs.  As a result of Earl’s accomplishments, Vernon Downs is making a donation to the Standardbred Rescue Foundation in Earl’s name.

HANA Harness would like to once again thank our four major sponsors, the Hambletonian Society, Meadowlands, Tioga Downs, Vernon Downs and our associate sponsors, Grand River Raceway, Harrington Raceway, Horseplayers Association of North America, The Gold Cup and Saucer (Red Shores Charlottetown Driving Park), Illinois Harness Horsemen’s Association, Indiana Downs, Little Brown Jug (Delaware County Fair),  and Woodbine Entertainment Group for their generosity in agreeing to make donations to the standardbred rescue cause.   

For the further information about The Pen vs. The Chip Handicapping Challenge, including additional final statistics, please visit http://hanaharnesscontest.blogspot.com.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Michael Chiklis for Horse Racing Commissioner

Tuesday's this fall a new 1950's set crime drama debuted on CBS called "Vegas". For those over the age of 35, no it does not star any character with the name "Dan Tanna".

I decided to give it a watch the other day, and one scene was pretty apt when we discuss horse racing.

Michael Chiklis, who plays a casino owner, has to hire a new manager so he calls "head office" and they send someone into town. She is Wharton schooled, a daughter of the 'big boss', and deals pretty well with numbers. What she lacks in experience is made up for in book smarts. She gets the count room humming and all seems well.

However, while scanning the casino floor she notices that dealers are not hitting on a soft 17 at blackjack (e.g an ace 6 draw). She confronts Michael Chiklis with this and says:

"We can make another 0.185% by getting dealers to hit on soft 17's"

Chiklis's character notes some disapproval but then gets a call. A few hours later he receives another call, this time from his new employees father asking him to implement her soft 17 rule. He grudgingly does.


A few scenes later he and his new employee are walking the floor. The soft 17 rule change is bringing in more money that week and he complements her on it. She says thank you.

Then he schools the Wharton grad on some common sense gambling economics.

"Yes, we will do better this week, and the squares on vacation won't notice, but over time fewer and fewer people will play blackjack here. They won't be nickel and dimed. They know when they have an edge that's been taken away. They'll play across the street and they won't come back and it will cost me millions. "

Racing needs a Michael Chiklis. Someone to put the hammer down when the suits want to raise horse racing takeout, in the guise of "making more money". Destroying a players' edge might look good on a spreadsheet, or to a bean counter, but in the real life gambling world it's a long-term path to the poorhouse.




Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Front and center for Racing - drugs drugs and more drugs

Earlier today, when I logged into my email account, I read an email from a horseplayer named Bob who had sent me a link to story at NOLA.com about suspensions handed out by the Louisiana State Racing Commission to trainers for Demorphin positives.

Louisiana State Racing Commission imposes harsh penalties upon demorphin trainers:
http://www.nola.com/horseracing/index.ssf/2012/09/louisiana_state_racing_commiss_4.html

The story at the above link confirms what most horseplayers have known for some time:

Racing has a serious drug problem.

While most of us aren't up on what the latest designer drug is or what it does - we are painfully aware that once labs develop tests and protocols for one drug - another designer drug not being tested for will be there to take its place.

Most of us are also painfully aware that at least SOME of the Demorphin suspensions handed out will be appealed in court.

We are also painfully aware the appeals process is likely to drag on through the court system for months (if not years) while the trainer in question continues to train... You know, business as usual.

For Racing's sake, there HAS to be a better way.




A few days ago, Bill Finley penned a story for ESPN.com titled Cheaters Lock Them Up:
http://espn.go.com/horse-racing/story/_/id/8423682/lock-up

There is a current thread about that story on Paceadvantage.com. In that thread I made the following post:




In my humble opinion, the FIRST order of business for running a successful gambling game is that the game itself be regulated in such a way that there is very little question among the wagering public that the game itself is on the up and up.

In my humble opinion, racing's status quo in no way shape or form leads ANYONE to believe that racing as a gambling game is currently being regulated in such a way that the game itself is on the up and up.

Personally, I LIKE the way the drug issue is currently handled by the Hong Kong Jockey Club. There, only the track vet can administer drugs or perform veterinary procedures for horses that are "in training." Every substance administered and every procedure performed is handled by the track vet.

Further, info about meds administered and procedures performed are LOGGED by the track vet as part of the horse’s medical record. From there, one can navigate to the entries page at the official Hong Kong Jockey Club website and view the entries info for any horse entered to race - and when one does this - there is a clickable link where one can view a brief description of the horse’s medical record.

The result?

Transparency and integrity are two things that come to mind.

Compared to North American horse racing, cheating through the use of drugs at Hong Kong’s two tracks (Happy Valley and Sha Tin) is pretty much unheard of. More importantly, there is a prevailing belief among the wagering public that both the racing conducted by the Hong Kong Jockey Club and that regulation of said racing is on the up and up.

Allow me to play "What If" for a second –

What if one or more MAJOR racing jurisdictions (NYRA, SOCAL, KY, etc.) decided to LEAD and implement the following? Or better yet, what if they collectively decided to LEAD and implement the following?

• While a horse is in training, ALL medications administered (both therapeutic and race day) must be administered by the state or track vet.

• While a horse is in training, ALL veterinary procedures performed must be performed by the state or track vet.

• While a horse is in training, ALL veterinary procedures performed and ALL medications administered by the state or track vet must be recorded on a document that acts as the horse’s (for lack of a better term) "medical passport."

• When a horse is claimed, sold, or otherwise changes hands, the medical passport document accompanies the horse (just like foaling papers do.)

• Medical passport documents for ALL horses in training are made available for the world to see (just like horse past performance data.)

• Horses shipping in from a racing jurisdiction where the above rules have not (yet) been adopted, or horses that have been "out of training" can enter "into training" but must first undergo a 45 day quarantine period (where the state/track vet is the one who administers all meds and/or performs all procedures and logs same on the horse’s medical passport) before the horse becomes eligible to race and earn purse money.

• Horses shipping in from a "recognized" racing jurisdiction where the above rules are already in place face NO such quarantine period.

I would argue that if the above model were implemented by NYRA, SOCAL, KY, FL, etc., 90% of the other smaller racing jurisdictions would do the same shortly afterwards.

I would further argue that the above model would go a long way towards pretty much ending racing’s drug problem (and the negative perception among the wagering public that goes with it.)

As always, your thoughts and opinions are welcomed.


Jeff Platt
President, HANA