Sunday, May 22, 2016

Stepien, Adams Surge in Hambletonian Society Handicapping Contest

(May 22, 2016) – Anne Stepien and Russ Adams surged from mid-pack to move into second and third place respectively in week nine of the 2016 Hambletonian Society Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge sponsored by DRF Harness, Green Acquisition Corporation, The Hambletonian Society, Hoosier Park Racing and Casino, Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment, Northfield Park, The Raceway at Western Fair District, Red Shores Charlottetown Driving Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs.  Stepien was the top handicapper for the week, earning 101.55 (339.15 total) points while Adams was just off the pace, finishing second with 94.25 (320.85) points.  Jay Hochstetler remains the overall leader with 339.15 points, his lead shrinking slightly to 92.6 points.  This makes it nine weeks straight with Hochstetler in the lead.

Stepien managed to win three of the four races for the evening, winning the first division of the Graduate Trot with Crazshana ($17.20), the Graduate Pace with Artistic Major ($20.40), and Wiggle It Jiggleit ($3.00) in the Battle of Lake Erie; her only miss was in the second division of the Graduate Trot when Pinkman finished third.  Adams also had Crazshana and Artistic Major but his selection of Crescent Fashion finished second in the second division of the Graduate Trot while Foiled Again ran out of the money in the Battle of Lake Erie.  It was far back to Dennis O’Hara who finished third for the week with 50.08 points.

Following Saturday night’s action, the standings are as follows:

May 21, 2016 - Leg #15
Pos
Handicapper
Total Points
Prior Week
Points Earned
This Week
Overall
Total Points
Position
Last
Week
Points
Back
1st
Jay Hochstetler
420.05
11.70
431.75
1st
            -  
2nd
Anne Stepien
237.60
101.55
339.15
10th
       92.60
3rd
Russ Adams
226.60
94.25
320.85
11th
      110.90
4th
Matt Rose
302.13
17.90
320.03
3rd
      111.73
5th
Dennis O'Hara
269.28
50.08
319.35
6th
      112.40
6th
Mark Deutsch
311.75
4.20
315.95
2nd
      115.80
7th
Adam Friedland
242.03
42.10
284.13
9th
      147.63
8th
Ray Cotolo
284.08
0.00
284.08
4th
      147.68
9th
Gordon Waterstone
249.13
14.10
263.23
7th
      168.53
10th
Rusty Nash
251.43
11.70
263.13
5th
      168.63
11th
Ray Garnett
242.83
6.30
249.13
8th
      182.63
12th
Michael Carter
195.10
25.20
220.30
14th
      211.45
13th
Joe Bengston
188.10
29.40
217.50
15th
      214.25
14th
Sally Hinckley
197.08
14.10
211.18
13th
      220.58
15th
Bryan Owen
199.75
8.70
208.45
12th
      223.30


This week is a busy week for the handicapping team.  The week begins Monday, with two divisions of the Miss Versatility Trot at Mohawk Raceway.  The the Memorial Day weekend is busy with the Molson Pace on Friday, May 27 at The Raceway at Western Fair District followed by Saturday, May 28’s Art Rooney and Lismore stakes at Yonkers Raceway.   The contest weekend concludes on Sunday, May 28 with a trio of races, the Betsy Ross Mares Invitational, Dorothy Mullen Invitational, and Maxie Lee Memorial at Harrah’s Philadelphia.
 
As a reminder, visit http://hanaharnesscontest.blogspot.com, where you can find the handicappers’ selections and results, updated standings, as well as see what upcoming stakes are coming up.


Sunday, May 1, 2016

Survey Says Gamblers are their own Worst Enemy

The survey concerning the sixth race at Pocono Downs on April 19 is now closed and the results are in.  Once again, let me remind you this was an unscientific poll with limited results.  Thanks to all who participated in the survey.

One thing from the survey is certain.  The race results should never had stood official as posted.  No one agreed the race had a clean start.  Sadly, the vast majority of the respondents felt gamblers won't do anything about this as they are accepting of poor decisions, chalking this up to a bad beat.

The first question was: Concerning the 6th Race at Pocono Downs, the judges should have:

  • Not let the starting gate move before it was fully extended - 15.38% 
  • Should have called for a reformation - 61.54%
  • Being a recall couldn't be called as per the starting judge the race should have been called 'no-contest' -  23.08% 
  • What was the problem, I didn't see anything wrong - 0.00%
One comment given in response to this question.  It was: Pennsylvania has recalls for interference.  This was interference.


With all agreeing the race should never have been left as it did, the respondents were asked one final question, what would happen as a result of this incident.  

Specifically, the question was: If you think the gambler was not treated well in this incident.... 
  • This is going to cost them racing fans - 15.38%
  • Nothing is going to happen because the gambler is used to abuse by poor officiating and [this] will be chalked up as this is 'part of the game' - 76.92%
  • Horseplayers are going to be done with Pocono Downs - 7.69%
  • I don't think the gambler was mistreated - 0.00%
Once again, a comment was given in response to this question.  It was: I wish stuff like this would cost harness racing "fans", but unfortunately this was a Pocono where there are no "fans", no bettors either.

While I won't be so dismissive of those who wager on Pocono Downs, one thing is clear.  Until punters vote with their dollars to tell track management and officials, "These types of bad calls are unacceptable", these bad calls will continue as is.  It appears we are our own worst enemies.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Are Gamblers Numb to Bad Calls?

Last Thursday, on the VFTRG blog site, the author talked about a race from The Downs at Mohegan Pocono Downs where the starting gate wasn't properly deployed before taking the field to the gate.  Best guess would be the outside portion of the gate would have been roughly 50% deployed at the start, never moving to get any better as the field got to the starting point.  To make things even worse, two beneficiaries of the incomplete deployment of the gate were leavers.  Sure enough, the field reached the starting point and the two leavers were well on their way, one leading the field until it tired, only to be overtaken by the other leaver who sat right behind the other horse around the track and then went on to victory.

Now to be fair, perhaps these horses would have left anyway and the final results as to the race winner wouldn't have been any different but should they have benefited from the advantage given to them?

As you have read in the original article, the starting gate judge supposedly was disturbed when the judges called down by a horse hitting the gate and when all was said and done, all the judges in the stand voted to let the result stand (there was no inquiry).  That's all and good, but the judges had plenty of time to call for a reformation to allow the problem with the starting gate be corrected.  Better yet, why did the starting gate begin moving until the gates were fully deployed?

I realize any big time gambler avoids Pocono Downs like the plague with their low handle and murderous rake, but is this an excuse for what happened?  Aren't the judges supposed to protect the gamblers' interest besides ensure the race is conducted correctly?  Last I checked, the $2 gambler is entitled to the same protection a $500 a race gambler is.

From my view, the gamblers (except those who had winning tickets) were cheated.  Do you agree?  Were the judges and track management concerned with getting the races done on time or did they just not care (the option of declaring the race 'no-contest' was available to the judges)?  Perhaps more importantly, the question may be have the punters been so abused by bad calls of judges in the past that they just shrug it off as 'being part of the game'?

What do you think?  Take the following two question survey.  Answers are anonymous.


Create your own user feedback survey

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Hochstetler on Top in 2016 Hambletonian Society Grand Circuit Contest


by HANA Harness  

(March 27, 2016) – Week two is in the books of the 2016 Hambletonian Society Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge sponsored by DRF Harness, Green Acquisition Corporation, The Hambletonian Society, Hoosier Park Racing and Casino, Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment, Northfield Park, The Raceway at Western Fair District, Red Shores Charlottetown Driving Park, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs and Jay Hochstetler continues to be in front, expanding his lead slightly.  While Hochstetler remains ahead of the field, the top handicapper for week two was Russ Adams, whose 76.7 points for the weekend narrowly beat out the overall leader by 1.4 points, allowing him to move from 13th to 8th position.  Another big mover, Dennis O’Hara moved from 10th to 5th thanks to his 59.1 point performance.

With a trio of races on Friday night, three handicappers managed to get two thirds of the puzzle solved.  Of the three handicappers, Anne Stepien came out on top with 33.5 points followed by Matt Rose (31.3) and Joe Bengston (28.5).

While no one ran the table on Saturday’s quintet of races, Hochstetler managed to pull down four winners earning 61.6 points, missing only the seventh race longshot Melmerby Beach.  Despite Hochstetler’s handicapping acumen, the winner for the evening was Russ Adams, who despite having only one winner (the aforementioned Melmerby Beach; $27) earned 65.8 points as he had three second place finishes.  Other handicappers of note were Bryan Owen (44.9) and Dennis O’Hara (39.6) as both managed hat tricks for the evening.

The current standings are as follows:

Standings as of March 26, 2016 - Leg #4
Pos
Handicapper
Total Points
Prior Week
Points Earned
This Week
Overall
Total Points
Position
Last
Week
Points
Back
1st
Jay Hochstetler
164.90
75.30
240.20
1st
            -  
2nd
Matt Rose
78.70
67.00
145.70
2nd
       94.50
3rd
Bryan Owen
71.60
52.30
123.90
4th
      116.30
4th
Adam Friedland
75.40
44.88
120.28
3rd
      119.93
5th
Dennis O'Hara
54.20
59.10
113.30
10th
      126.90
6th
Anne Stepien
54.23
50.60
104.83
9th
      135.38
7th
Rusty Nash
56.65
41.83
98.48
7th
      141.73
8th
Russ Adams
21.60
76.70
98.30
13th
      141.90
9th
Mark Deutsch
54.53
43.63
98.15
8th
      142.05
10th
Gordon Waterstone
58.55
35.70
94.25
5th
      145.95
11th
Ray Garnett
57.20
22.60
79.80
6th
      160.40
12th
Sally Hinckley
44.80
30.40
75.20
11th
      165.00
13th
Joe Bengston
17.70
43.70
61.40
14th
      178.80
14th
Michael Carter
15.30
34.28
49.58
15th
      190.63
15th
Ray Cotolo
26.80
16.50
43.30
12th
      196.90



The 2016 Hambletonian Society Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge continues with the third round of the Matchmaker and Levy Memorial series at Yonkers Raceway on Friday (4/1) and Saturday (4/2).  For further information regarding the contest, you may visit http://hanaharnesscontest.blogspot.com