Thursday, September 30, 2010

The 1997 Breeders' Cup Juvenile

The 1997 Breeders' Cup at Hollywood Park was memorable for many reasons, among them Skip Away's dominating win in the Classic and Chief Bearhart picking up a win for Canada in the Turf. However, no storyline dominated as much as the Breeders' Cup Juvenile where Favorite Trick was the overwhelming choice to win. Favorite Trick was undefeated entering the race and seemed destined for greatness regardless of the outcome on Breeders' Cup Day.

Well, he certainly lived up to the billing in the Juvenile. He would win by five conclusive lengths and set a stakes record time in doing so as well. The victory capped his undefeated campaign and was part of the resume' he had in being named Horse Of The Year in 1997, the first two-year-old since Secretariat to be accorded that distinction. Needless to say, everyone thought Favorite Trick would be able to carry over his brilliant form into his three-year-old season and win the Kentucky Derby and everything else along the way. As we all know, it didn't quite turn out that way. 1998 was the year of Real Quiet, who was documented earlier this week on this blog following his untimely passing. Favorite Trick ended up running eighth in the 1998 Kentucky Derby and did not race in either of the other two Triple Crown races. He ended up coming back in the summer to win the Saratoga prep for the Travers Stakes, the Jim Dandy, and his connections tried to turn him into a turf miler. He scored a nice win at a mile on the turf at Keeneland and was sent off as the betting choice in the 1998 Breeders' Cup Mile, but ended up running eighth that day as well.

One must wonder what might have happened had Favorite Trick been able to remain with the trainer that guided him to that two-year-old championship campaign. Trainer Patrick Byrne had Favorite Trick ready to go in all eight of those two-year-old efforts and after the successful season, Byrne was hired away by Frank Stronach and left Favorite Trick behind. 1998 Horse Racing Hall Of Famer Bill Mott took over Favorite Trick's training and was never able to achieve the same level of success with the horse that Byrne had.

Favorite Trick perished in a barn fire in New Mexico in 2006. For his career, he started sixteen times, winning twelve and running third once. His career earnings were $1,726,793. If you would like to watch Favorite Trick's performance in the 1997 Breeders' Cup Juvenile, here is the link:

Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

End Of The Line

On Tuesday afternoon, Jess Jackson, owner of 2009 Horse Of The Year, Rachel Alexandra, made an announcement that really shouldn't have surprised anyone that has been paying attention over the last several months. He announced the retirement of the champion filly and plans to breed her to his other Horse Of The Year, Curlin, are already underway. By the way, one can only hope that the progeny will inherit all the champion qualities of those two parents and become yet another champion to wear the yellow and maroon Jackson colors.

I know she never faced Zenyatta, which is only a huge lost opportunity for the sport. However, I would like to offer the following thought as far as Rachel's historical importance: Rachel Alexandra's 2009 season is the greatest single season for any filly anywhere or anytime. Starting with that first start of 2009 in the Martha Washington at Oaklawn Park, Rachel Alexandra never posted a Beyer figure lower than 100. She won seven consecutive Grade 1 or 2 races. That list includes a Triple Crown race (The Preakness), a 20 1/4-length victory in the Kentucky Oaks, a 19 1/4-length victory in the Mother Goose, and back-to-back wins against her male counterparts in the Haskell (against three-year-olds) and the Woodward (against older males). She did things in 2009 that no other three-year-old filly in history has ever done and she captivated the horse racing nation in doing so.

I must admit that I was quite disappointed in her 2010 campaign, which seemed mismanaged by her connections from the start. The results of only two wins in five starts appear to bear that out. I also admit that it was quite disappointing to never see her run with the Grand Dame of the West Coast, Zenyatta. While you must blame her connections also on that front, you must also blame the connections of Zenyatta, who only ventured outside of California once in an effort to match up in what would have an historic Apple Blossom Invitational at Oaklawn Park. One can only wonder what might have happened in such a race, but whether you are in the Zenyatta camp or the Rachel Alexandra camp, you must admit that it would have been incredible to see it happen.

So, Rachel goes off now to have babies with the creme de la creme of the recent times in Thoroughbred racing. It would be tremendous to see her replicate herself, but the odds are very long that would ever happen. I think we should just appreciate what we were able to see from her and accept that she was a great champion. That is all we should ever ask from any great one, isn't it?

Here is the link to watch Rachel Alexandra's win in the 2009 Preakness Stakes: Tune in again tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Real Quiet

One thing that most of my friends and people that know me say about me is that you will usually know exactly where I stand. Very early in my career calling and handicapping races, one of my "certainties" was that Real Quiet (pictured) was not much of a racehorse. I never warmed to him at all and spent most of my time relieved that he failed to join the pantheon on Triple Crown winners by losing the Belmont by a nose to Victory Gallop. One other thing that most people that know me know is that I also can admit when I was wrong.

Real Quiet was a tremendous race horse that came as close as anyone will ever come to winning horse racing's Holy Grail and not doing it. You can almost compare him to the 1986 Boston Red Sox, who came so close yet were so far away from winning that elusive championship. Real Quiet showed guts and determination in winning the Kentucky Derby, Real Quiet showed class and brilliance in winning the Preakness, and Real Quiet showed greatness and fallibility in nearly winning the Belmont Stakes. He deserved the kudos that came his way after his five-week run at immortality (Real Quiet was named Champion Three-Year-Old Colt in 1998). The fact that he didn't quite make it doesn't deter from the fact that he gave it his best.

Real Quiet passed away at the age of fifteen following a fall in his paddock at Penn Ridge Farms on Monday. Looking back on it, he might have been 11th or 12th as far as greatness on that pantheon of Triple Crown winners, but in my opinion, he certainly should have been on the list.

Tune in again tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!
Photo courtesy of

Thursday, September 23, 2010

Super Derby $100,000 Guaranteed Pick Four

I will be in attendance for the Grade 2 $500,000 Super Derby on Saturday afternoon and Louisiana Downs is offering a $100,000 Guaranteed Pick Four on Race 9-12, including the Super Derby itself, which features a very competitive field of six. Here is the analysis for each of the races in the Pick Four sequence (based on a $1 wager):

Race 9- The Happy Ticket- I think this is the most wide-open race in the Pick Four, so this is the race I will go the deepest in with five possibilities. #2 Patty's Pride, #6 Jazzy Jessy, #7 Accept, #8 Lawyer Tiffany, and #9 Tiger Girl will all be used in this pick four play.

Race 10- The Sunday Silence- #5 Aces N Kings is the 4-5 favorite in this field and deservedly so, so he will be a single in the Pick Four. He is undefeated in five lifetime starts, the last two on the turf.

Race 11- The Grade 2 Super Derby- My top choice in the Super Derby is the undefeated #5 Golden Moka, who worked well at Woodbine in mid-September and is another undefeated contender in this Pick Four play. For another selection in here, I will also use the winner of the Prelude at Louisiana Downs, #3 Apart. His trip in the Prelude was atrocious and he still won going away. It was a very impressive performance.

Race 12- The River Cities- #7 Category Seven is another big favorite here. She is working a five-race win streak and is five for seven on the Louisiana Downs greenery. #3 Dancin Perfect finished behind #7 Category Seven in two of her last three efforts, but a turn of the tables is possible here. Finally, #8 Vickies In Town deserves a look with back-to-back wins, including the Honeymoon last time out.

Here is the $1 Pick Four play for the Super Derby Pick Four:

2-6-7-8-9 with 5 with 3-5 with 3-7-8
TOTAL- $30

Remember, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in again next week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Friday, September 17, 2010

The Grade 1 $1,000,000 Woodbine Mile

They Are Off's feature race of the weekend comes on a Sunday this time around as we analyze the Grade 1 $1,000,000 Woodbine Mile from Woodbine in Canada. This race is considered one of the leading preps for the Breeders' Cup Mile to be run on Saturday, November 6 at Churchill Downs. There will be a field of thirteen going postward at Woodbine for the Mile and the morning-line favorite is The Usual Q.T. at 3-1.

The top selection in the race is #12 Famous Name, a Juddmonte horse coming to run in North America for the first time. He has hit the board in 17 of 19 lifetime performances, although the Group 1 Irish Champion Stakes at Leopardstown last time out on September 4 was one of the misses. That sixth-place finish ended a three race win streak, all of which had come at the same track where he was outrun. Two of those wins were Group 3s. Don't forget the all-important first-time Lasix for the European import. #13 Grand Adventure comes next with Patrick Husbands aboard. Husbands had the ride in each of the last three efforts, which were a Grade 2 win, a Grade 3 win, and a Grade 2 second after leading most of the way at a furlong farther than this race. He has not been to the track since the end of July, however. You might want to check out the recent streak of blistering five-furlong workouts if you have any doubts as to Grand Adventure's fitness. Let's use a big 30-1 longshot in the third spot with #10 Woodbourne. Chantal Sutherland will have the riding assignment on this gelding that is uniquely comfortable of the Woodbine turf, having recorded six of his eight lifetime wins on the Woodbine grass. His lone graded race on the recent resume' was a disaster, an eighth in the 2009 Grade 2 Sky Classic at Woodbine. It would turn out to be his last race of 2009. Since returning, he has been first or second in all five starts, albeit those race have been claimers or optional claimers mostly, just one Stakes try the exception. Finally, for fourth I will use #6 Smokey Fire, who might be challenged by this distance. Quite simply, he has never been this far before. However, he has finished ahead of the other likely fourth-place candidate for me, #7 Signature Red, the last two times they met. Smokey Fire rallied late to win the Grade 2 Play The King at Woodbine going seven furlongs, so asking for that extra furlong will hopefully not be a stretch. Here is the play for the Grade 1 $1,000,000 Woodbine Mile:

$10 WP #12
$1 EX BOX 6-7-10-12-13
$1 TRI 12-13 with 12-13 with 6-7-10
TOTAL- $46

Remember, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. They Are Off will be taking time off for a road trip next week to the Super Derby at Louisiana Downs. It is my intention to post selections for the Super Derby on Thursday, September 23. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Thursday, September 16, 2010

The 2001 Breeders' Cup Sprint

Every so often with They Are Off, I like to reminisce about great races or great horses from the past. I always enjoy writing this historical pieces and I hope you enjoy reading them. For the next several weeks, I would like to highlight one edition of each of the original seven Breeders' Cup races in the lead-up to the World Thoroughbred Championships to be run at Churchill Downs on Friday, November 5 and Saturday, November 6. Today, I will start the series with a look at the 2001 Breeders' Cup Sprint.

The 2001 Breeders' Cup was run at Belmont Park just a scant six weeks after the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center in the heart of Manhattan. It is hard to believe that such a major international event took place so soon after such a devastating tragedy, but keep in mind that the 2001 World Series between the New York Yankees and the Arizona Diamondbacks was going on at about this time as well.

One of the undercurrents leading into the 2001 Breeders' Cup was the absence of a single Cup victory on the resume' of trainer Bobby Frankel. Frankel had been inducted into the Thoroughbred Racing Hall Of Fame in 1995 and had won (it seemed) every race under the sun. Well, the exceptions to that assumption were the Breeders' Cup and the Triple Crown races. As of 2001, Frankel had not managed a win in any of the races in either series. That would change in 2001 as Frankel's trainee, Squirtle Squirt, wore down the very game filly, Xtra Heat in the shadow of the wire to notch his first career Breeders' Cup winner. Both Squirtle Squirt and Xtra Heat were part of the pace of the Sprint from the moment the gates opened. Unlike most renditions of the Sprint, the opening quarter in 2001 was a pedestrian 22.2 seconds. Usually, the first fractional time in the Sprint is around 21 seconds flat or something nearer that range. So, the frontrunners in the race really hadn't exhausted themselves by the time the wire loomed. The first three finishers in the race (Squirtle Squirt, Xtra Heat, and Caller One) were all at the front of the field for the entire six furlongs. Additionally, none of that trio were well considered by the bettors that day either. Squirtle Squirt went off at 10-1, Xtra Heat was 18-1, and Caller One was 12-1. It resulted in a very nice Trifecta payoff of $2,162.

Of course, this would not be the only Breeders' Cup or Triple Crown win for Frankel in his remarkable career. He would go on to win the Filly And Mare Turf in 2002 (Starine) and 2005 (Intercontinental), the Classic in 2004 (Ghostzapper), and the Distaff in 2007 (Ginger Punch). And, let us not forget the 2003 Belmont Stakes win with Empire Maker that spoiled the Triple Crown bid of Funny Cide. Bobby Frankel passed away in November 2009 and it can certainly be said that when it came to racing, he had done it all.

You can watch the 2001 Breeders' Cup Sprint with the following link:

Tune in tomorrow for a look at this weekend's Grade 1 Woodbine Mile. By the way, Frankel won the Woodbine Mile three times, 2000 (Riviera), 2005 (Leroidesanimeaux), and 2009 (Ventura). For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Taking A Pass

The Christophe Clement-trained 2009 Turf and Older Male Champion, Gio Ponti, has elected to bypass this weekend's Grade 1 $1,000,000 Woodbine Mile at (where else?) Woodbine in favor of running in the Grade 1 $600,000 Shadwell Turf Mile at Keeneland to be run on October 9. Clement believes that the fact that Gio Ponti won't be spotting any weight to the field in the Shadwell, as he would have had to do in the Woodbine Mile, is a major benefit.

Certainly, there can be no arguing with Clement's logic. After all, he is only one of the best turf trainers in the world. What become the interesting part of this situation is what happens next. Will Gio Ponti use the Shadwell as a prep race for the Breeders' Cup Mile or the Breeders' Cup Classic? Gio Ponti is one of the top turf horses going right now, but keep in mind that he has actually only won one time in 2010. The rest of his campaign is dotted with near-misses and could-have-beens. That includes his last effort in the Grade 1 Arlington Million, where he was passed in the final strides by Debussy's rail-skimming rally. Even the win was mostly unimpressive, as he appeared to struggle to get past front-running longshot, Mission Envisioned, in the Grade 1 Man O'War at Belmont Park.

The final consideration is the competition he will face in either Breeders' Cup race. If he opts for the Mile, you must consider that Gio Ponti is 2 for 2 at the mile distance on the turf and he will likely be facing two-time defending Mile Champion, the brilliant Goldikova. If he elects to run in the Classic, (where he did run second last year to Zenyatta's eye-catching stretch run) he will likely face a rematch with Zenyatta, not to mention running against the likes of Quality Road, Blame, Rail Trip, and other top-flight Classic division horses in what should prove to be a great race. Also, Gio Ponti has never run a race on dirt before. The 2009 Breeders' Cup Classic was run over the synthetic surface at Santa Anita, while the 2010 Classic will take place over the dir track at Churchill Downs.

It almost looks like Clement will be damned if he does or damned if he doesn't no matter what road he elects to follow. It is my thought that he will take on Goldikova in the Mile. I think the competition will be softer in the Mile, given that other than her, there really isn't a standout horse in that division on either side of the Atlantic plus you get to keep him on the grass surface instead of running him on an unfamiliar track that other great horses have had issues with in the past (see Skip Away).

Tune in again tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Monday, September 13, 2010

Not Super News

The 2010 Kentucky Derby winner, Super Saver, thus far is much like the 2009 Kentucky Derby winner, Mine That Bird. That is, neither one has won a race since their triumphs on the First Saturday In May. Granted, Mine That Bird has had many more chances that Super Saver to do that, but the fact remains they have not returned to the Winner's Circle.

Super Saver and his connections will have at least another two months to contemplate this fact while he is on the shelf for sixty days after some bone bruising was discovered that will require the Derby winner to be on "stall rest". It could very well be that the bruising has been there all along and that might very well be the reason for his lack of success since the Derby win in the Churchill Downs slop. His last three performances since the Run For The Roses were a fading eighth at Pimlico in the Preakness, a somewhat guttier fourth in the Haskell at Monmouth, and a disheartening tenth in the Travers at Saratoga. Certainly, he has been facing tough stuff, but he should have at least hit the board in one of those three subsequent starts.

The story on Super Saver mentions that Dr. Larry Bramlage discovered a major bruise on his left front cannon bone. Does this news mean that Super Saver won't turn into a one-trick pony like Mine That Bird apparently has? One can only hope so. If there is one thing that horse racing needs, it is for continued success from its marquee race winners. Since there is no race more marquee that the Kentucky Derby, let's hope that Super Saver can get back to the Winner's Circle once he gets back to the track.

Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Friday, September 10, 2010

The Grade 2 $150,000 Bowling Green Handicap

The New York Racing Association ended it summer sojourn to Saratoga this week and Saturday marks the return to Belmont Park for what is traditionally some of the best racing in the country. For those of you looking for some Breeders' Cup thoughts, you might want to check out that New York simulcast signal over the next several weeks, as the good ones will be running often. The Opening Day feature is the Grade 2 $150,000 Bowling Green Handicap with what was supposed to be a field of eleven. However, Grand Couturier's connections are opting to find a softer spot (literally, they want to run on soggy turf and the weather forecast indicates that the Northern Dancer at Woodbine on September 19 is the place for them). That means we have a field of ten to take a look at, so here is the analysis for the Grade 2 Bowling Green:

My top choice in here will be #3 Al Khali, who ran 3rd behind Telling and Bearpath in the very competitive Grade 1 Sword Dancer at Saratoga on August 14. Just as telling for Al Khali is the apparent versatility this horse has. Looking at his past performances, he can rate or he can go to the lead and be dangerous doing either one. Plus, he gets Julien Leparoux in the saddle and not many have been as hot of late. I am going to use the chalk second with #5 Winchester. First of all, I have said it before and I will say it again: CLEMENT ON THE GRASS!!! The last time that Winchester ran over the Belmont greenery, he was a winner in the Grade 1 Manhattan on Belmont Stakes Day at odds of 21-1. He followed that up with a third in the Grade 1 United Nations at Monmouth. The longshot to like in this race appears to be #10 Followmyfootsteps. While he has never run at this level before, he acquitted himself nicely at The Spa with a win and a third in two tries and his turf Tomlinson number is among the best in the field. I like him here at 15-1 on the morning line. Finally, I will use #1 Simmard to wrap up the top four. If Leparoux isn't the hottest rider around, it might just be John Velazquez. The big knock on this runner is that he has been away from the race since January. However, he did throw a bullet workout on the board at Woodbine on September 8, covering five furlongs in 59.3 seconds. Here is the play for the Grade 2 $150,000 Bowling Green Handicap:

$5 WP #4
$1 EX BOX 1-3-4-5-10
$1 TRI 3-5 with 3-5 with 1-4-10
TOTAL- $36

Remember, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in next week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

Return Engagement

Lookin At Lucky has been sidelined for quite some time now since coming down with an illness in the wake of his convincing victory in the Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park. The 2010 Preakness winner, trained by Bob Baffert, has been out of action since spiking a fever. Baffert says the goal for the likely three-year-old champion is the Breeders' Cup Classic to be run in November at Churchill Downs.

Lookin At Lucky started the long climb toward that goal with his first workout since being out of action with the health issue. He worked an easy half-mile in 49.40 seconds this morning at Del Mar over the Polytrack surface there. Baffert says that he doesn't have any specific races in mind to use as a prep for the Classic.

There are some scenarios for that warmup race for the Classic and that road has been made a little bit easier with the decision of the Quality Road camp to go directly to the Classic following his win in the Woodward at Saratoga last weekend. Baffert is certainly in no rush to get Lookin At Lucky back to the races, but since he is heading to Hollywood Park anyway, a cursory look at the Oak Tree schedule shows the Grade 1 Goodwood Stakes on Saturday, October 2 to be a possibility and still leave more than a month to be prepared for the Breeders' Cup in Kentucky. There really isn't any other race to match Lookin At Lucky with during the Oak Tree season at Hollywood Park. Of course, if Baffert is in the mood to travel with the Preakness champ, he could go to Belmont park on the same day and run in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup as well. Either way, I see Baffert's options as very limited at this point.

Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Sunday, September 05, 2010

BONUS RACE: The $100,000 Budweiser Select Cradle

One of my good friends in racing is Pete Aiello, who calls the races at River Downs in Ohio. The Daily Racing Form featured the Cradle Stakes in the Sunday edition History Challenge. Plus, it is the Labor Day Holiday on Monday, so how about a bonus race for the day with the $100,000 Budweiser Select Cradle Stakes:

I will put #6 Rustler Hustler on top following the win in the Continental Mile. That was his first race ever over the turf and he closed smartly to get the win. That and the fact that my all-time favorite turf horse, Cozzene, is on the Dam side gives him the edge in this spot. For second, I will use a 10-1 possible price with #4 Mesonic. Corey Lanerie has the riding assignment for trainer Eddie Kennally. This horse ran 5th behind the top pick in the aforementioned Monmouth race. He also beat the possible favorite in here two back at Arlington over the greenery. I will put that likely favorite third with #1 Awesome Attack. A Pat Byrne trainee with a win and second in two previous efforts. By the way, the win came over this very turf course on August 14. Finally, I will put #7 Naphtali in the fourth spot following an impressive first-start victory at Ellis on August 14. Perry Ouzts has the riding assignment. Here is the play for the $100,000 Budweiser Select Cradle Stakes:

$10 WIN #6
$1 EX BOX 1-4-6
$1 TRI BOX 1-4-6

Remember, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Also, please enjoy the holiday safely. Tune in again later this week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Friday, September 03, 2010

The Grade 1 $250,000 Forego

The Forego honors one of the great handicap horses of the 1970s. Forego was one of the first racing stars I remember seeing on my television when I was a very young racing fan. The race on Saturday will be run at seven furlongs at Saratoga and, of course, we will try to beat the favored Godolphin entry of Vineyard Haven and Girolamo. Here are the selections:

I really had a hard time separating my top two selections in this race, but I ended up going with #3 Big Drama based on the class of competition factor. Big Drama ran an excellent race when second to Majesticperfection in the Grade 1 Vanderbilt at Saratoga on August 8. He does have two previous wins at the seven furlong distance and both of the August workouts at Calder are strong. Eibar Coa has the riding assignment. For second, I will go with #4 Here Comes Ben, who is 12-1 on the morning line for this try. He has not run since June 25, but rolled off a three-race win streak before the break. All of those wins were at seven furlongs. However, this will be his first go with graded company and it is a very tough spot for him here. #6 Omniscient gets the third selection for me in the Forego. He picked up a win in an ungraded stakes race at Monmouth on August 1 and won the last two as a matter of fact. He is shortening up in distance off those wins, both of which were at 1 1/16 miles. Finally, I will use #8 Warrior's Reward, who is teaming back up with Julien Leparoux here. All three of the previous pairings were at seven furlongs and they ended up with two wins and a second. The colt is 0 for 2 at Saratoga, though, plus he has not raced since May 31. Here is the play for the Grade 1 $250,000 Forego:

$5 WP #3
$1 EX BOX 3-4-6-8
$1 TRI BOX 3-4-6-8
TOTAL- $46

Remember, They Are Off accepts no responsibility for any wagers placed in conjunction with these selections. They are merely suggestions. Tune in again next week for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Dancing In The Dark

The Daily Racing Form website is reporting today that Gulfstream Park is looking to add lights to accommodate nighttime racing starting with the 2011 season. That is all well and good, but according to the same story, Florida law prohibits nighttime Thoroughbred racing. While Gulfstream officials are apparently confident that they can get the law changed in time for the 2011 season (and with the way most governments function, good luck with that), this situation actually begs a different question, "Is nighttime racing the future of the sport?"

My answer to that question would be an almost unqualified yes. If you look at the success that Churchill Downs had with their nighttime racing programs since they have installed lights, it makes you wonder why more tracks don't jump on the bandwagon and try it. I understand that there is a prohibitive cost in putting lights in at a racetrack and the electrical bills will skyrocket, but if you make it a sometimes thing (a la Churchill), I think you will start to see some success with it as well. I called races at a nighttime winter track for twelve years and I can tell you that while the numbers weren't always great, those nights when we were the only game available (as a result of winter cancellations of other nighttime products) were very successful.

Of course, this discussion also came up when the lights went in at Churchill, "What about running the Derby at night?" Well, that might still be some time off, but I can certainly see Churchill and whatever network will have the Derby rights by that time fully endorsing a Kentucky Derby run in prime time. I will also bet the farm that the ratings for such an event would be through the roof. What about a prime time Breeders' Cup? Can you imagine the thought of Zenyatta blazing through not only the field but also the nighttime sky to win that race last year? And, again, I will say that with Her Eminence running in prime time, the TV numbers would have been somewhat higher.

So, I for one am pulling for Gulfstream Park to get the lights going and get the Florida legislature on board. I think it might be the way of all things racing in the not too far distant future.

Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Martha And McGovern

Ann McGovern was part of the excellent management team at Sam Houston Race Park when I was hired as the track announcer there in 1997. Martha Claussen (a frequent contributor to this blog) was my direct supervisor at Sam Houston Race Park for twelve years. It seems only natural that the two of them should get together for a retrospective of McGovern's career with her decision to leave her current post at Ruidoso Downs at the conclusion of the current meet. Here is a link to the story from the Paulick Report:

I would also like to add my personal well wishes to Ann in whatever she elects to do in the future and offer a sincere thank you to her for her part in starting my announcing career. Tune in tomorrow for more from They Are Off. For right now, I am Gone... GOODBYE!