Monthly Archives: May 2011

Michigan Gaming Control Board releases 2010 report

The Michigan Gaming Control Board has released its annual report to the Governor regarding horse racing in the state.

The report examines the wagering-related revenues and tax money generated by each of the state’s five racetracks, as well as a very basic overview of the Gaming Board’s horse racing activities, revenues and expenditures.

To read the Michigan Gaming Control Board’s 2010 report on horse racing, click here.

As time allows, I will be analyzing the trends in Michigan racing over the last decade, based on information provided by the state’s annual reports. Subjects will include statewide figures, Thoroughbred racing, Mount Pleasant Meadows, and perhaps the harness tracks.

Until then, feel free to discuss your thoughts on the latest report.

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Filed under Politics

The Haiku Handicapper: 2011 Preakness Stakes

I am on-site in Baltimore for the Preakness Stakes, so this site might get neglected for a bit, but until then, here is something to fill the gap. Enjoy the race!

#1 – Astrology
Runs in memory
Of late owner Jess Jackson
Could sneak on tickets

#2 – Norman Asbjornson
Penn-bred new shooter
Enters with field’s coolest name
And that’s about it

#3 – King Congie
Sentimental name
Faces same synth-to-dirt doubts
Derby winner quashed

#4 – Flashpoint
Quick starting’s the theme
Didn’t handle two turns great
Wait for summer sprints

#5 – Shackleford
Nearly wired ’em
In a crawling-paced Derby
Hard to follow up

#6 – Sway Away
Derby’s last horse out
His best work came at one turn
Hold for state derbies

#7 – Midnight Interlude
A big Derby dud
Bouncing back’s his biggest test
Should take some money

#8 – Dance City
A fresh challenger
Sambaed up the class ladder
Poised for big effort

#9 – Mucho Macho Man
Third in the Derby
Yet to turn in a clunker
Is a bounce looming?

#10 – Dialed In
Added incentive
5.5 million bones is
A spicy meatball

#11 – Animal Kingdom
The Derby winner
Becomes even scarier
With dirt questions dashed

#12 – Isn’t He Perfect
New Yorker ships down
Non-factor against real foes
He’s an afterthought

#13 – Concealed Identity
Took the local prep
This isn’t an overnight
He’s up against it

#14 – Mr. Commons
Rising West Coaster
Takes class, distance jumps in stride
Live for exotics

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Which runner Preaks out?
Dialed In cashes the check
Eight and eleven

5 Comments

Filed under The Haiku Handicapper, Triple Crown

Rave Reviews? – Animal Kingdom

Back in 2009, I put together a highlight reel of quotes and prognostications about Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird leading up to his upset victory at odds of 50-1. Needless to say, it wasn’t pretty.

This year’s Derby winner, Animal Kingdom, was not nearly the monumental shock Mine That Bird was, but at post time odds of 20-1, he clearly was not on the radar of many bettors.

With that in mind, I decided to again comb the prediction columns of some of the racing media’s most notable figures to see where they stood on Animal Kingdom prior to the big race.

Like the movie Avatar, Animal Kingdom received mixed reviews, but ended up making all the money. In the end, that’s all that matters.

As usual, I will start the proceedings with my own analysis of Animal Kingdom, so as not to give the impression that I am just taking potshots at everyone else.

#16 – Animal Kingdom
Won the Spiral Stakes
Even connections seem tense
About his dirt form

That is what we call a good, old-fashioned swing and a miss.

But it gets worse. Have a look at this post to my Twitter feed just hours before the race…

“Triumph The Insult Comic Dog’s “No Rules In The Animal Kingdom” came on my shuffle on the way to the track. Choosing to ignore that sign.”

That’s not only a swing and a miss, that’s a swing and a miss from a tee-ball stand, then whacking yourself in the face with the bat on the backswing.

Now, let’s take a look at how some of the other members of the turf writing community saw Animal Kingdom. Just for kicks, I have arranged the analyses in a rough order by how favorably they projected the horse’s performance, from non-factor to win threat.

Let’s start at the bottom…

“Bottom line: Can dismiss.”
– Tom Pedulla, USA Today

“Another complete mystery on dirt.”
– Steven Crist, Daily Racing Form

“Still has considerable upside, but didn’t beat much in the Spiral, and that race was six weeks ago.”
– Mike Watchmaker, Daily Racing Form

“Animal Kingdom is bred to run all day long so the 1 1/4-mile distance of the Kentucky Derby isn’t a concern. His pedigree is geared mostly to turf racing, however, so it’s questionable if he’ll take to the dirt at Churchill Downs.”
– Dan Illman, Daily Racing Form

“Brilliant Speed and Animal Kingdom are synthetic/turf horses who may or may not relish the track…Animal Kingdom could be any kind of horse but has trained well and has yet to miss the board.”
– Jason Shandler, Blood-Horse

“Given the dirt question and the fact his major victory came in a Grade 3 race, Animal Kingdom deserves to be 25-1 in a 20-horse field. Animal Kingdom, however, seems to be generating favorable buzz, and he might not offer great value in the win pool. But given his consistency, stamina, and impressive last race, he should at least be an attractive exotic-wager proposition.”
– Marcus Hersh, Daily Racing Form

“Worth using in exotics, for sure.”
– Jay Privman, Daily Racing Form

Exotics Contenders: ANIMAL KINGDOM: In Graham We Trust. The horse looks outstanding in the flesh and should have no trouble with the Derby distance. There’s not a ton to like on past performances to be honest, but there’s an infinite amount of respect for trainer Graham Motion and I love the grassy pedigree on the dam side, so key in past Derby success stories.”
– Jeremy Plonk, ESPN

“I’m certainly going to use him in the trifecta, because people I respect say no horse had a better work than Animal Kingdom at Churchill.”
– Jennie Rees, Louisville Courier-Journal

“Yes, the dirt is a big question mark, and he’s bred for the turf, but he looked good winning the Spiral, and the horse he beat by 6 lengths came back to be beaten a nose in the Blue Grass. He made an impressive early move in the Spiral, so you know he has a turn of foot. And he’s bred to run forever, so you just have to take the chance that he’ll be as effective on dirt. In this kind of year, it’s a chance worth taking if the price is right.”
– Steve Haskin, Blood-Horse

“Trained by the very capable Graham Motion, Animal Kingdom would not be a surprise to hit the board at a big price.”
– Gene Menez, Sports Illustrated

“Love the way he won the Spiral. Watch out if he likes the dirt.”
– Andy Andrews, Kentucky Confidential

“Watch out for Animal Kingdom, especially now that John Velazquez is aboard. After all his bad luck with horses going out of the race, this is one man who is hungry for a Derby win.”
– Deirdre Biles, Blood-Horse

“Animal Kingdom is a beast of a horse who caught our eye last fall. He is long and lanky with a humongous quickening stride.”
– Bruno DeJulio, The Rail Blog – New York Times

“Roared mightily through Spiral field. Worked well on Churchill dirt. Trust in Motion and love the price.”
– John Scheinman, Kentucky Confidential

“Animal Kingdom is capable of a sustained drive for second.”
– Frank Angst, Thoroughbred Times

“I’ve got many questions about Animal Kingdom’s ability to transfer his form onto dirt, but the bottom line is that he’s improved as a 3-year-old, has the pedigree for the distance and seems adaptable to any kind of pace based on his limited starts. If he’s anywhere as good on dirt as he’s been on synthetic, he’ll be a factor in the Derby and that’s a leap of faith I’m willing to make.”
– Chris Rossi, Hello Race Fans

“Animal Kingdom will win the Kentucky Derby. I know this because I didn’t write a feature about him.”
– Claire Novak, Everything (this particular quote in ESPN)

Congratulations to everyone that cashed tickets on Animal Kingdom. To everyone else, the Preakness Stakes is only a couple weeks away. There is always time for redemption.

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The Haiku Handicapper: 2011 Kentucky Derby

First and foremost, if you would like a more detailed analysis of the Kentucky Derby field, I wrote 5,000 words on the race over on ThoroFan.com for its “Handicapper’s Corner”. If you can find a more detailed breakdown of the Kentucky Derby field, you read it.

Please note, the ThoroFan analysis was written prior to Friday’s scratch of Uncle Mo, who factored into my exotic tickets, thus my picks are a little outdated. For the sake of discussion, let’s replace him with another horse who might have an advantage in the second wave of front-runners, Pants on Fire.

If you prefer a short, punchy breakdown of the field in a 5-7-5-syllabled parameter, you have come to the right place. Best of luck on all of your wagers today.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

#1 – Archarcharch
Arkansas leader
Snuck up on folks at Oaklawn
Must overcome post

#2 – Brilliant Speed
Turf, synth specialist
Dirt efforts not so brilliant
Nice horse, not his spot

#3 – Twice The Appeal
Has the Borel bump
Super ticket needs longshots
He fits the profile

#4 – Stay Thirsty
Mo’s tag-team partner
Has shown tendencies to wilt
When placed in big spots

#5 – Decisive Moment
Got in the gate with
Minor checks in rich races
Decide against him

#6 – Comma To The Top
Derby Fever strikes
Wobbles coming down the stretch
Not the spot for him

#7 – Pants On Fire
Rosie’s rose runner
Earns his keep out on the lead
That’s a tall task here

#8 – Dialed In
Mud-in-face closer
Lone big horse to deliver
In his last big prep

#9 – Derby Kitten
Late to the party
Distance, surface, class concerns
They’re asking a lot

#10 – Twinspired
Another synth horse
Improving, but still outmatched
Not inspiring

#11 – Master Of Hounds
Foreign invader
Prior form offers few hints
On how he’ll perform

#12 – Santiva
Light soph schedule
History does not bode well
For last-prep clunkers

#13 – Mucho Macho Man
Well-traveled and tough
Qualities you like to see
In a Derby horse

#14 – Shackleford
None saw him coming
In Florida Derby scrape
Won’t go unchallenged

#15 – Midnight Interlude
Raw, rising talent
First start out of comfort zone
Hard place to have it

#16 – Animal Kingdom
Won the Spiral Stakes
Even connections seem tense
About his dirt form

#17 – Soldat
Went from chalk to dust
After dull Gulfstream effort
Needs to prove his grit

#19 – Nehro
Standing room only
On deep closer’s bandwagon
Can he find the line?

#20 – Watch Me Go
Tampa Bay shocker
Barely sparked in Illinois
Hard to expect much

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Glory’s on the line
Can you hear Dialed In now?
One, seven and three

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Filed under The Haiku Handicapper, Triple Crown

Michigan HBPA responds to Pinnacle’s closure

The Michigan Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association has released a statement to the media regarding the voluntary surrender of Pinnacle Race Course’s 2011 racing and simulcast license earlier this week.

Information from the press release, written by executive director Gary Tinkle, has been used by several Detroit-area publications in their coverage of the story.

Thorougbred Racing: Michigan Gaming Control Board Executive Director Richard Kalm issues an Order accepting the voluntary surrender of Pinnacle Race Course’s 2011 Live racing license and 2011 Simulcast permit. Not unexpected, but none the less, an extreme blow to the many family jobs depending on live thoroughbred racing. A sad outcome for an industry that has been a good business citizen for the state for 77 years.

Gary Tinkle,
Executive Director

Check back for further updates.

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Filed under Pinnacle Race Course, Politics

Pinnacle Race Course surrenders racing license

Pinnacle Race Course will not operate live racing or simulcasting this year after voluntarily surrendering its 2011 race meeting license earlier this week.

The Michigan HBPA website reports that it received an executive order from the Michigan Gaming Control Board making the action official. The Gaming Board had set a deadline of Wed. May 4 at 1 p.m. for Pinnacle to submit the paperwork needed to fulfill the “conditional” status of its 2011 racing license.

From the Michigan HBPA website

MGCB..Post It Stables, Inc. d/b/a Pinnacle Race Course: MGCB issued an “ORDER ACCEPTING THE VOLUNTARILY SURRENDER OF THE 2011 THOROUGHBRED RACE MEETING LICENSE AND 2011 SIMULCAST PERMIT”

“In  a letter dated May 2, 2011 and sent via electronic mail, Post It Stables,Inc., d/b/a Pinnacle Race Course, voluntarily surrendered its 2011 Thoroughbred Race Meeting license and its 2011 Simulcast permit.

The simulcast purse pool monies will be placed into escrow under the Horse Racing Law of 1995, Public Act 279 of 1995; MCL431.301 et seq., and the promulgated administrative rules. Further instructions will be provided under a separate order…..

This Order does not preclude Post It Stables, Inc., d/b/a Pinnacle Race Course from continuing to resolve its financial viability issues and to submit an application for the 2012 horse racing season under the Horse Racing Law of 1995, Public Act 279 of 1995; MCL 431.301 et seq., and the promulgated administrative rules.”

IT IS SO ORDERED.

Richard S. Kalm, Executive Director
Date: May 4,2011
Michigan Gaming Control Board

Any updates on this story will be reported as they are made available.

UPDATE: Here is a copy of the Executive Order issued by Gaming Board executive director Richard Kalm.

Crain’s Detroit Business wrote a piece on Pinnacle giving up its license, with quotes from co-owner Lisa Campbell and Michigan HBPA executive director Gary Tinkle. That story can be read here.

Here is a story from the Southgate News Herald, based in Detroit’s downriver area.

The Daily Racing form’s take on the story.

The Detroit News’ writeup.

The Detroit Free Press story.

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Filed under Pinnacle Race Course, Politics