Tag Archives: Pictures

Photo of the Year: 2009

Last year's winning photo: Oscar Delgado talks things over with the stewards following a race at Mount Pleasant Meadows.

As my readers may or may not have noticed, I did not fare so well in the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance photo contest.

My goal was to get one of my three photos out of the first round, but it wasn’t to be. That said, thank you very much to the seven or eight of you who cast your votes for my shots.

That brings us to the annual stroking of my ego that is my own “Photo of the Year” contest. It’s pretty hard for me to lose this one.

Just about every photo you see on this site was taken with yours truly at the helm (except for the photo of myself on the “about” page, where I set the ten-second timer and ran really fast). Over the last year, I have taken thousands of photos at tracks across the Midwest and filled a towering stack of photo albums with scenes from my travels.

This year brought an upgrade to my equipment, when I finally retired my tiny point-and-shoot and graduated to a Kodak EasyShare Z980. All of a sudden, I had 24x zoom and could fire off a ludicrous number of shots in only a few seconds. The quality and quantity of my photos skyrocketed, and I’d like to think it improved the quality of this blog dramatically. If anything else, it made me feel more professional.

Behind the jump are some of my favorite shots I’ve taken from the last year. Hopefully you will enjoy viewing them as much as I enjoyed shooting them.

To vote for your favorite, simply consult the poll on the sidebar to the right. I haven’t set any kind of deadline at the moment, but there will be fair warning when I get ready to close the poll.

And now without further ado…

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Filed under Mount Pleasant Meadows, Pictures, Pinnacle Race Course, Polls

Photo of the year

The votes have been tallied and after a brief time as a neck and neck race, two thirds of the voting public helped daytime racing pull ahead as the preferred time to hit the racetrack. Let’s take a look at the results…

When is your preferred time for live racing?

Day Racing – Eleven Votes (61%)
Night Racing – Seven Votes (39%) 

I have already written at length about the pros and cons of both, so I will not waste your time with a rehashing of my thoughts. However, if you do have time to waste, there are worse ways to do it than reading this.

Now on to the next poll topic…

As some of you may already know, there has been a bit of a controversy over the choice for this year’s Eclipse award-winning photo. As you can see here, the winning photo is basically a stock, if a little off-center and misspelled, photo of jockey Frankie Dettori making his famous flying dismount following his win aboard Donativum (GB) in the Breeders’ Cup “Junenile” Fillies.

I am not discounting it as a nice photo that captures a moment of jubilance after a major race, but my rule of thumb when deciding the quality of a professional photo is if I can conceivably take the same quality picture on my cheap little point and shoot camera, it’s not that good – at least not Eclipse-quality.

In response to this error in judgement, the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance has staged its own Eclipse Award do-over

I find this contest very interesting. However, I also realize that despite having been a lot of places and taken a lot of pictures, nothing I took in 2008 could crack the top ten against what is already entered.

 That’s why I am holding my own personal Photo of the Year poll showcasing some of my favorite pictures from my travels last year (holy ego stroking, Batman!). The winner will be chosen by you, the viewing public.

Each photo comes with a quasi-pretentious title for identification purposes and a short description to give the back story. Feel free to give your feedback on the pictures outside of simply voting.

Last year gave me the opportunity to take pictures at so many different locations. I hope you enjoy my photos as much as I enjoyed being there to shoot them.

And now your nominees…

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Filed under Mount Pleasant Meadows, Pictures, Pinnacle Race Course, Polls

Favorites dominate 2008 Sire Stakes

Mike Allen and Romeo Again prepare for the two-year-old males division of the Michigan Sire Stakes at Pinnacle Race Course

Saturday was not an awesome day to be a longshot at Pinnacle Race Course.

Of the six divisions contested in the 2008 installment of the Michigan Sire Stakes, four winners left the gates as the people’s choice. The longest priced horse to cross the wire first went off at odds of 4.80 to one.

Needless to say, it hard to make a buck at the windows. After whiffing on two exacta boxes, I scored on a dime super to put me two dollars in the black, tying my personal best at Pinnacle. I can’t seem to crack the place.

However, this number could have changed drastically had I not been shut out on multiple occasions. Though many of the bugs that riddled the track’s opening day have since been resolved, Pinnacle still suffers from a horrid bettor-to-window ratio, especially on the grandstand side.

For those of you unfamiliar with the setup of Pinnacle Race Course, the frontside is essentially divided into two areas separated by the paddock: the pavilion and the grandstand. On the pavilion side, there are at least two live tellers under a tent and at least five betting machines, supplemented by the occasional free-range teller and more windows inside the pavilion itself. While there was an occasional wait, the lines were normally no longer than six deep at the live windows and three deep at the machines; fairly manageable.

Where the problem lies is on the grandstand side. Because the area is the expected future site of a massive clubhouse, everything in the grandstand area is temporary, including the three-window betting shanty. Even on slower days, these three windows have a hard time keeping up with the demand of the betting public. On busy days, such as the Sire Stakes, placing a wager on a race with less than 10 minutes to post is wishful thinking.

This is a serious problem for two reasons. First, it means there are a lot of people standing in line waiting to hand the track money that are being turned away. I have heard from many sources that Pinnacle has not come close to meeting its projected handle figures, and one can not help but look at all the people who got turned away on big days and wonder how much free money they are turning a blind eye to just because no one is there to take it. The more money people wager, the more the track makes.

Second, to put it in political terms, the grandstand area is the racetrack equivalent of a swing state. From what I have seen, this is where the parents take their kids, where the first-time spectators stand to watch the stretch drive, and where the regular horseplayers’ wives shop at whatever completely non-racing-related booth is set up for the weekend. The people in the pavilion area – the horsemen, the pack-a-day simulcast players, the rich people, me – would pass through the gates every day if someone spit in their face upon entry. For a new racetrack without the tradition or tourism value of a Keeneland Race Course or Churchill Downs, Pinnacle can not afford to turn new, impressionable patrons off to the only product it currently has to offer: gambling. On opening day, I heard many people say they were not going to come back until the track was finished, if ever. That is an awful lot of lost wagering dollars, not even counting what could stem from these dejected racegoers’ word of mouth.

Simply put, if Mount Pleasant Meadows can’t handle that many people with three windows, it sure as hell can’t be done in the biggest city in the state.

Because constructive criticism is just bitching without the “constructive” part, I have a solution. All it would take to ease the burden on both the horseplayers and the tellers in the betting shanty is a single free-range teller wandering about the grandstand area taking bets. The lines would shorten at the windows and the employee designated to the position would easily pay for his or herself with the extra handle generated. Plus, with Michigan’s dismal employment rate, giving one more person a job looks that much better in the public eye.

But enough talk. Let’s look at some races…

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Filed under Commentary, Pictures, Pinnacle Race Course, Stakes Races