Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Sandy Aftermath

While it is our attention to post the selections of our handicappers for the fall meet at Cal-Expo, due to the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, there may be a delay of in posting selections on this site.

Thank you for your understanding.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

HANA Harness Supports Cal-Expo

With racing returning to Cal-Expo starting this Friday, November 2, HANA Harness will be supporting Cal-Expo by having handicappers provide tickets for the Sacramento harness track's Pick-4, Pick-5, and Super High Five.

For the fall meet, Cal-Expo will be racing Friday and Saturday evening with a first race post time of 5:55 local time (8:55 Eastern).  The Cal-Expo card is due to be carried live on TVG. 

Each night will feature a $1 Pick-4 on the last four races on each card with a nightly guarantee of $25,000. The Pick-5, staring with race three has a $0.50 base wager while the last race Pentafecta features a $0.10 base wager.  All three wagers feature a 16% takeout rate.  All of these wagers are high value propositions, if the correct combination is not selected, the entire pool is carried over to the next card.

In summary, here are the particulars of the three wagers:


Wager 

Races
Base
Amount

Guarantee
Pick-4 Races 10-14 or Races 11-15 $1 $25,000
Pick-5 Races 3-7 $0.50 None
Pentafecta Last Race  $0.10 None

The handicappers who will be providing their selections are Robert Zanakis (Bobby Z), Earl Paulson (Earl the Pearl), Matt Keller (Mr. Trifecta) and Ray Schell (Ray's Robot); handicappers who participated in the just completed Pen vs. Chip Handicapping Challenge.  Their tickets will be posted on this blog no later than the morning of the race card..

Please join us as we welcome Cal-Expo back on November 2nd.







Sunday, October 28, 2012Mark 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 2, 2012

Opinion - Memo to Horsemen and Tracks: Get Behind RUS

Memo to Horsemen and Standardbred Tracks: Get behind Racing Under Saddle (RUS) or as known outside of North America, Monté racing.  You may not realize it, but RUS may be what saves the standardbred industry.

The inaugural season for RUS is coming to a conclusion this Saturday, October 6 at Indiana Downs.  By all accounts, this initial season has exceeded all expectations thank to the generosity of donors who have funded exhibition races this season.  Yes, some races have been blow outs but others have been pretty competitive with races coming down to the wire.  However, when you consider the limited training and racing opportunities for both riders and horses, it was to be expected; this was a learning year.  After this season, the problems will be noted and steps taken to fix these deficiencies.

Why should the standardbred industry get behind RUS?  It is an opportunity to attract horseplayers who have an aversion to our harness racing product; they can understand jockeys (riders), the sulky is something many can't abide.  As we saw at The Red Mile, the limitations to the number of starters in a race is not the same as with a sulky, more horses can line up behind the gate.  More wagering interests means larger pools and better payoffs.  Gamblers who typically see perhaps eight betting interests in a race conceivably could be seeing up to fourteen if not more starters in a race.  With the potential of horses racing traditionally and under saddle, it a little less predictability should be expected which should contribute to larger payoffs.  In addition, racing under saddle has the potential of lengthening careers of standardbreds, keeping them in racing instead of being retired to an uncertain future. 

With the vast majority of riders being female, RUS provides racing another entry point to get more women interested in racing, the same way the prescence of female jockeys does for thoroughbred racing.  Monté racing also provides the sport another angle to get the attention of the regular media, though that will likely be a short term benefit.  The different style of racing will help break up the tedium of the same old same old style of racing. 

So what can horsemen and racetracks do to promote racing under saddle?  Several things.  For one, RUS cannot depend solely on donations to fund races.  Horsemen need to dedicate a certain amount of their purse account towards RUS events.  If not ready for pari-mutuel racing next year, it doesn't need to be a lot of funds, but enough so horsemen recognize there is money to be made racing under saddle, to make training for it worthwhile.  When it comes to negotiating contracts, allow RUS events to substitue for traditional races on a racing program and count towards the racetrack's obligation to card a certain number of races scheduled daily.

Horsemen interested in RUS need to treat it more seriously, meaning horses are trained under saddle sufficiently, not just at the last minute to get a into a race; RUS needs to be considered a viable part of the horse's racing potential.  Give riders sufficient time to work with the horses so they may be competitive the first time they are in a race.    If you have RUS riders working for you in your stable, encourage them and provide time for them to hone their craft.

Racetracks need to step up to the plate to by scheduling RUS events, even if wagering is not yet available.  The more races there are available, the more horses will get involved as owners see RUS as another opportunity to make money.  The more there are RUS races, the more familiar and comfortable horseplayers will be when it comes to wagering. 

Make no mistake, RUS alone will not solve racing's ills.  Racing needs to deal with the takeout issue and fine a way to make the cost of wagering less thus encouraging larger pools.  However, couple making racing more appealable to the gambler and the introduction of a different style of racing and racing may find itself with a better product all around.


The opinions expressed here are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of HANA Harness or the Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA).