Monday, May 31, 2010

My old buddy, Haul Away...

It was Sunday July 12, 2009 when Haul Away first caught my eye. I was home watching Flamboro from the couch and I saw this big, somewhat clumsy looking two year-old post parading with Joe Hudon sitting behind him. I had to check it out. My discovery through TrackIT was that nine days earlier, the horse won his first-ever qualifier at Mohawk and that tonight was his first lifetime start.

The race goes -- Joe rides the pocket for three-quarters of the mile, moves Haul Away over and absolutely runs away from the others! He won by four in 1:57.3! I thought to myself, "Joe Hudon just won with a first-timer? Joe never wins with first-timers! This might be a special horse!".

Five days later, Haul Away finished a deceptively good 4th from an impossible spot in a Grassroots Event at Flamboro. I thought it was an even better performance. I watched him a few more times, added him to my Stable Mail, checked on him on TrackIT everyday during my morning routine. He had become like a part of my family! I was scouting and selling a lot of horses at the time, so it was important for me to keep tabs on what the special ones were doing. I knew what I had seen and I knew that Joe didn't mind selling, so Haul Away was at the top of my list. I hadn't made any phone calls yet though, neither to Joe or a prospective buyer, so I didn't even know I'd be able to broker a deal or not.

Fast forward to Sunday August 30, 2009. Haul Away is four starts into his career and is a few minutes away from making his fifth, in a non-winners of two event at Mohawk. He draws outside, isn't given much respect at the windows but I still liked him. Joe eases him off of the gate and by the quarter he's 20th in a nine-horse field, 60 lengths off of the leaders (who were Aracache Hanover and Mcaracas -- both Stakes winners this year). At the race's completion, Haul Away ends up 6th to Mcaracas, but only beaten a couple of lengths despite taking a lot of track in the last turn and being bothered by a breaker. I had seen enough. It was time to move before one of the other vulture agents beat me to the punch after all of this watching and waiting.

Dave Menary is a friend of mine and I had a rapport with him. We were both gamblers, saw eye to eye about a lot of horses and he just knew I knew my stuff. He had had me on the lookout for a good two year-old for his Fast Pay group. At this point in the season, Fast Pay had already earned $158,904 of his own and the ownership group was looking to re-invest. Little did they know, I had the horse for them -- I just didn't know if it was one that was actually for sale!

I called Joe. "What the (expletive) do you want, Petey?," said the likeable eldest Hudon. "Yeah, yeah, he's for sale -- they're all for sale!," he laughs. He told me his asking price. It wasn't the number I wanted to hear. My initial feeling was that Haul Away wasn't going anywhere. I tried to dicker with Joe but dickering with Joe just doesn't happen! Price established, terms clear, it was time to call Dave.

Dave and his guys liked the horse but, just as I, thought the price was a little steep. "Any chance Joe would drop the price a little?," David asked. "Any chance Santa Claus is going to drive the winner of the 1st?," I cleverly answered. By this point, Haul Away was in-to-go in a Grassroots Event at Grand River and Dave, his ownership group, myself, my wife, our unborn child -- just about everybody was glued to the tube to watch the big, somewhat clumsy son of Modern Art. Sent off as the 3-5 favourite, the race was over before the first turn. Joe effortlessly sent Haul Away to the lead and won with absolute condescending ease in 1:56.2 with a :29.0 kicker without any horses pressing him. It was good timing, but was it enough to seal the deal? I still wasn't sure.

My phone rings. It's Dave. "Find out if I can train him. We like him, but I want to spend some time with the horse and I'd like to train him.". I line it up with Joe, who is in an even better situation now that Haul Away seems like the best Grassrooter on the Tour. Sell or not, he's making money with this big boy this year!

Myself, Dave and his salt-of-the-earth father, Larry, drive to Joe and Karen Hudon's new farm and as we pulled onto the property, I couldn't believe my eyes -- Phil Hudon was working. That's a story for another day. Anyway, the friendly and cordial members of Team Hudon direct us to the stall where this secret weapon was living and upon seeing him, he looked just as he had when I first saw him on television at Flamboro that night in July -- big and clumsy! Bigger, actually! Out he comes, he gets harnessed up, Dave trains him and the rest is history.

It should be noted that Fast Pay's win in the Gold Final at Grand River just ten days earlier helped to seal the deal because with an extra $65,000 kicking around, it was easier for Dave and his group to part with the six-figure sum that Joe had demanded for his prized possession. Haul Away would win three of his five 2009 starts for Team Menary and immediately earned back the purchase price thanks to two of those wins coming in Gold Finals.

Now, he's won the $472,500 Upper Canada Cup Final and I couldn't be happier for Dave, Larry, Denis, Phil and Joe. The interviews, hugs, handshakes and high fives shared among them on Saturday night are what this game is supposed to be all about. Watching it all brought a tear to my eye. Dave was quick to point out that I didn't pick him to win, which I didn't -- but I was never as happy to be wrong in my entire handicapping life. I guess the big, clumsy colt is going to be alright!

Grand River and Mohawk are the featured versions of THE PETE SHEETS for tonight. Subscribers -- check your inboxes late this afternoon. If you're not already a subscriber and would like to be, it's absolutely free. Send an email request to and I'll add you to the list of regulars.

Have a good day everybody...

Saturday, May 29, 2010

One down, one to go...

Last night's Molson Pace at Western Fair lived up to the hype and proved to be a hell of a horse race! Won The West gutted it out to narrowly defeat stablemate Foiled Again and longshot Stonebridge Terror in 1:52.0. The win came much to the delight of the betting public that made him the prohibitive
3-5 favourite. The race itself handled $74,073 of the card's $325,835 total intake, which was a 13% increase from last year's $287,548 handle.

With that marquis race in the books, the spotlight now shines on tonight's $472,500 Upper Canada Cup from Georgian Downs. On paper, it has the potential to be a great race itself, with no fewer than seven horses that seem capable of winning. The 12-race program gets underway at 7:25pm and
THE PETE SHEETS will be a part of the broadcast. Thanks to Chris Roberts and Great Canadian Gaming for the opportunity -- I'm really looking forward to it!

THE PETE SHEETS welcomes newest subscribers Travis Timmons, Susan Battin, Tim Gil and Bob Gary! To have your name added to the mailing list, send an email request to Tonight's versions of THE PETE SHEETS for Georgian Downs and Mohawk will available later this afternoon.

Friday, May 28, 2010

A rare opportunity for "B" circuit players...

The pools at Western Fair and Georgian Downs are expected to swell this weekend as each track hosts its signature event of the season. The Molson Pace headlines the Friday night card in London while the Upper Canada Cup is the marquis event of tomorrow's program from Innisfil.

For those of you that are already on the mailing list, you can expect Friday's editions of THE PETE SHEETS for Flamboro, Mohawk and Western Fair by late afternoon today. If you aren't a subscriber but would like to find out what all the rage is about, email a request for your free copy of THE PETE SHEETS to

Big pools. Great races. Plenty of winners with THE PETE SHEETS.

Enjoy the races everyone...

Monday, May 24, 2010

Enjoying the long weekend...

I hope all of you are enjoying the long weekend and the fantastic races that came with it.

Friday night's Molson Pace eliminations were three of the best races anywhere this year, but most are already conceding this Friday's Final to the rail-starting Won The West.

Western Silk was as good as a filly could be in winning her Gold elim and I want to go on record as saying I think she has a shot at eclipsing Chancey Lady's 1:52.2 track record. She might not meet enough opposition from the others to make her have to go that kind of speed, but she won in 1:53.4 the other night and Mark MacDonald was as white-knuckled at the finish as he was the start!

Saturday night's Upper Canada Cup Final may prove to be the race of the weekend with several win candidates. Twin B Warrior impressed me the most of the three elimination winners but he's no cinch in a race in which one could make a case for Haul Away, Grin For Money, Wellthereyougo, Bp Chimo and Adrenaline as well. Thanks to Chris Roberts and Great Canadian Gaming for asking me to a part of the broadcast. I'm really looking forward to it and hope that you are as well.

That's all for today. I'm working on THE PETE SHEETS for tonight at Mohawk. We're taking the show on the road tonight and will have printed copies for folks at the Campbellville track. Those already on the mailing list will still receive their copies by email later this afternoon. If you aren't already a subscriber, you can become one by emailing a request to

No Grand River version of THE PETE SHEETS for tonight. The author has given himself a little break this weekend so he could spend some time with his girls.

Have a great day...

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Alright, let's make some money...

The long weekend is here and in recognizing that everyone can use a little extra money to do all of the things the wife has planned, THE PETE SHEETS have poured over tonight's programs and found you nothing but money makers!

As I type this, there are exactly 3 minutes to post time for the opener at Flamboro where there are several horses and races of interest.

Race 1
#1 DREAMFAIR ALEXIS lays over these, not only because she's a superior horse but also because she's drawn inside and has the best driver. She won't pay anything, but the opener feels like a good race to bet a few aggressive exactors in an attempt to put some of the track's money in your pocket right from the bell. Use #3 TOO MANY SMILES and #6 SHABUEY underneath.

Race 2
#7 PACO BRANDY debuts for Greg Graham after spending her entire career under the guidance of trainer Wayne Langille. Best I can recall, BEROSUS and SUMMERHILL CHARLES were the the last two horses that Wayne sold to other trainers and both showed immediate, night-and-day improvement when elsewhere. Listen, PACO BRANDY is no killer by any means, but her price will be enticing and even if she finishes 2nd, you're still going to make money. Use #1 JULIANNE W, #2 I DREAM OF REBA (can't win, always over bet), #4 AMY ATOM and #6 SCENE DUHARAS with her.

Race 4
#1 ROYAL BECQUET failed to win as the 1-5 favourite in his last start but I just feel like the driver didn't put him in a position to win. This horse is in the midst of a slump and hasn't been real eager to pass another horse, so when Allard left The Belt Parkway alone on the lead last time, he was able to set manageable fractions and hold off the sulking favourite. These things happen, but I can't see Allard making a similar error in judgement today. There is no other speed in the race, he's drawn the rail and is supposed to lead from start to finish in this field of horses with similar aversions to winning as he's had lately. #2 MISTER AMERICA, #4 HIDE THE CASH, #5 RUST BELT, #6 GAME ZAC and #9 RUM TUFF CUSTOMER are those to use underneath.

Race 5
Here's another horse that won't pay much but looks too superior to lose -- #2 QUEENS OVER ACES. This is an awful field of flat-footed, proven losers and at least this mare has some gate speed that should allow her and young Zeron to get out in front of the other seven that just don't want to pass. Another short-priced but reliable, gate-to-wire winner. Easy game, ain't it?!?!?!

Race 6
Three of them jump off of the page in here -- #4 DREAM WAVES, #5 PEGASUS MAXIMUS and #6 MAPLE MARTINI. The first two of the three are more likely to win than the last.

Race 7
There aren't any standouts in here but since I've mentioned horses of interest in the first three legs of the Pick Four sequence, I thought it proper to tell you that #1 B B WINDFALL, #2 RISQUE BUSINESS, #5 REGRETS PAYS OFF and #9 COURTNEYS BARBIE are the four that you want in this anchor leg.

Race 9
#3 TRUTH OR DARE has more will to win than any of these and figures to have a great setup in front of him today. He won't be the 6-1 that the Morning Line suggests, but is still a great bet at 5-2 or better. Use him in the Double with #1 SPECTACULAR LINK and #2 AWESOME ADVENTURE in the finale.

Race 10
#1 SPECTACULAR LINK and #2 AWESOME ADVENTURE jump off of the page here and their odds will reflect that statement. Flamboro's exactor pays have long been among the best in North America and I don't recommend that you get too cute chasing the tri or super here -- whatever you've got to spend, spend it on these two in the exactor.

Great Canadian Gaming's other track, Georgian Downs, features three eliminations of the Upper Canada Cup among the 12 races that comprise their Saturday card.

Race 2
#6 ABBEY ROAD C faces the most mediocre field he's seen in a dog's age and if he can't lead from start to finish among these, it might be time to shut the old boy down.

Race 3 - Upper Canada Cup, 1st Elimination
If you want my honest opinion, I think #7 BP CHIMO is an absolute gorilla! I recognize that he's drawn outside, but his good tactically speed and clever driver should allow him to set up an ideal trip. #1 RED BUGLER is fast but unproven against horses of this calibre and I'm a little dubious of him. #3 KEYSTONE RAPTOR is another obvious contender. #4 ADRENALINE will take plenty of support as he debuts for Montini. It should be a hell of a race, one in which I think the outside starter will prevail.

Race 4
She's no cinch, but #1 CHIEF KAREN is experiencing much needed class relief tonight and she just strikes me as being a superior horse to these. #3 SWEET HEDGE flopped in her debut for Team Robinson and will no doubt take the bulk of the support again. I'll try to beat her.

Race 5 - Upper Canada Cup, 2nd Elimination
The disparity in the abilities of these entrants is quite noticeable and #6 HAUL AWAY really stands out. He quallied well against Western Silk on May 6 and raced well in his sophomore debut against older horses last Saturday at Woodbine. #7 GRIN FOR MONEY is a better horse than the others but he'll need to be better than he was in his seasonal debut in the Bud Light Stakes at Flamboro last week. Of the others, #2 STOMPIN TOM CREEK is the only toss.

Race 6
#8 PEARSON HANOVER is by far the most talented horse in the field and if you're willing to take the risk that Riina Rekila can engineer a victory from post eight then you'll probably be getting your money in on a superior horse at a better price than he should be among these.

Race 7 - Upper Canada Cup, 3rd Elimination
#1 TWIN B WARRIOR tried to fall down for just about every step of his race in the Bud Light at Flamboro but still finished a lapped-on 2nd in 1:52.4! This horse has freak potential. I have little doubt that Gillis has effected the changes necessary to have him better-gaited tonight, which could leave the other six racing for second money. #3 WELLTHEREYOUGO and #6 STONEBRIDGE TONIC are best of the rest.

Race 11
Want a Live Longshot? #4 PEENIE was the best horse in his race last Saturday but Pat Hudon gave him a very conservative steer so as to ensure he came out of the race with a clean line. The horse had plenty of pace getting to the wire but found himself in 38 blind switches and had to settle for 6th. Like I said last week, I'm not sure why he made those two breaks at Woodbine in April, but this is a typically good-gaited horse that is once again superior in talent to any that he faces tonight. He'll be an overlay in here and I really think he's sitting on a big race. #1 DONEGAL GERALD isn't the horse he used to be but it's hard to completely overlook him in this second-rate conditioned class that is well below that at which he usually competes.

There are 12 races at Mohawk tonight, too, with a few horses that are of interest to me.

Race 7
#8 INITIAL STRIKE's last three have been very good and he's going to be a bigger price than he should be tonight. He's no cinch, but he's as sharp as any of these right now, should have some pace to chase and figures to appreciate Mohawk more than Woodbine.

Race 8
I'm sticking with #4 NEOCON tonight even though this is a much deeper field than those he just annihilated in his Menary debut. Did you see that race? He was three-wide before the last turn at Woodbine and still swept the field! Horses just don't do that at Woodbine. The dynamics at Mohawk are going to be much more favourable and there is enough speed in this race that he should be closing into a collapsing pace. You can have #3 FATHER KNOWS BEST and #9 BIGMIZNDRSTNDING -- the former would've won last week if he was any kind of horse and the latter is a need-to-lead-to-win type that won't be nearly as dominant among these as he's been at Grand River and Flamboro in his last few.

Race 10
Don't re-mortgage to bet on him but #8 GOTCHA COVERED is a better horse than most of these and as a result of the optics of his recent past performances, is going to be an overlay tonight. I'm hoping that Saftic is able to resurrect some of the horse's above average gate speed tonight so that he can have him forwardly placed in a field full of horses that just don't want to pass or win. That includes #4 FIRST RATE SHARK, the over bet of the night.

Race 12
If BLENDED WHISKEY was ever going to win a race and revert to his three year-old form, he'll do it tonight. He drops to a new low, finally draws inside and switches to a track where his come-from-behind style is most effective. This is the first beatable field he's faced all year.

Have a great day everyone! I hope this proves helpful!

Talk to you tomorrow...

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Everyone loves a winner -- at least they should!

Am I the only one that took something away from last night's 8th Race at Mohawk?

Nineanddivine debuted for Dave Menary just seven days after being privately purchased by Bert Smith's Almost Doesnt Count Stb and was a dominant winner, more or less leading from start to finish. Smith got $5625 of his initial investment back and customers got a reliable (though short-priced) horse to invest in.

After having been sent off at average odds of 12-1 in his previous six starts, Nineanddivine was 1-2 last night. Why such a change in price? Because customers recognize that Menary's numbers with new acquisitions are very good, that the horse was in the right class and that Randy Waples' ability to read the program allows him to put horses in the right spots.

Harness racing needs more of what took place in last night's 8th and I'm not talking about favourites winning more frequently. Our business has perception issues but the noticeable fluctuation in Nineanddivine's odds speaks to the public's perception of his team's intentions last night. These three guys want to win, period -- just as much or maybe even more than the customers that are betting their hard-earned. Waples' tactics were predictable, Nineanddivine's trip unfolded as it was supposed to and even though the price was small, at least customers were left feeling like they actually had a shot.

Nineanddivine was the only of THE PETE SHEETS' three Most Probable Winners on the card to connect. Smokin N Grinin had to settle for 2nd after a compromising trip while the pace dynamics of Mid Town's race led to her being a bridesmaid as well.

Better news was that all four of the horses that THE PETE SHEETS identified as Beatable Favourites proved to be so. Modern Beauty was 7th at 2-1, Hes A Demon was 3rd at 8-5, Brother Glide had no excuse and finished 2nd at 4-5 in the 4th and Lotteria took ridiculous win-based support again (2-1) and finished an uninterested 5th in the finale.

Value Play, Hat Trick Honey ($6.40, $3.90, $4.20) bounced back from last week's breaking incident to win the meet opener for Roger Mayotte.

A watered-down version of THE PETE SHEETS will be available for Mohawk's Friday night card, as will one for Flamboro.

Western Fair is the place to be on Friday with Gold Series and Molson Pace eliminations headlining the second best card of the London track's season. The races will not be broadcast on HPItv, but live video streaming is available at and

To be added to THE PETE SHEETS' mailing list, send an email request to and be sure to specify which track(s) you're interested in receiving.

Welcome to the long weekend everyone!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Keeping it real by playing against favourites, even these ones...

I've just finished my Hints From Horace column for Friday night's card at Western Fair and felt the need to immediately blog about a few of the particulars.

Stakes races aren't usually good betting races but as far as I can tell, many of Friday's ten are. Mother Hen, Western Silk and Foiled Again are standouts in their respective races and are very hard to play against but there are beatable favourites in many of the other events, including two of the three Molson Pace eliminations.

Whether it's a $4500 claiming race at Flamboro or the North America Cup Final at Woodbine, my betting principles don't change -- I don't want favourites. Keep It Real is the 7-5 Morning Line favourite in the first elimination and I can't help but be dubious of him. The old version of Keep It Real wouldn't be as heavily favoured in here as the new, Lou Pena version is going to be. Pena has been making headlines in the U.S. for the last few years, winning at a high rate by getting horses to do things that they just can't seem to do for other trainers. No Pena for this start. One cause for pause. Another is the projected trip that he seems destined to have. Legal Litigator's drawn the rail and Mark MacDonald has to want the lead with him. Factor in that the other inside starters, Stonebridge Terror and Primary Purpose, will both be leaving to protect their positions and I'm left with the strong belief that Keep It Real will have to win from first-over while the very capable Southwind Lynx follows his cover. With all of these projections in mind, who can bet Keep It Real, let alone at a short price? I can't and I'm cautiously optimistic that Southwind Lynx, who was an absolute gorilla in his last start at M1, will be the winner.

Bigtime Ball is a great horse. Bigtime Ball wins more often than he loses. Bigtime Ball can certainly win Friday night's second elimination, but it makes more sense to me to bet against such happening. What's he going to be, 2-5,
3-5? Even if he wins by 20 you don't make any money. Don't get me wrong -- the horses that he's been beating in the Open class on the WEG circuit are nice horses, one's I'd love to own -- but they look like also rans compared to his two main rivals tonight, Won The West and Mr Wiggles. The latter is hindered by Friday's outside draw, but Won The West is as talented an older pacer as there is in North America and I'm relatively confident that if he and Bigtime Ball were to match race ten times, Won The West would win more often than he'd lose. Even rail-starter, Blueridge Western, is of above average talent and his need-to-lead-to-win preference should be satisfied thanks to having the rail and Jamieson. All things considered, I think Friday's race is as good a night as any to play against Bigtime Ball.

Post time for Friday's card is 7:05pm. Live video streaming and all sorts of free, downloadable information is available

The next available edition of THE PETE SHEETS features Thursday's card from Woodbine. If you aren't already a subscriber and wish to be added to the mailing list, send an email request to

Enjoy the sun...

Monday, May 17, 2010

The importance of singing Barney songs with the Judges...

I'm just as guilty as the next guy, if not more. I'm so consumed with work and making money all of the time that, by my own admission, I miss a lot of things that are so much more important in the grand scheme of things. This weekend I tried to correct that.

While my wife and our youngest were at my in-laws for the weekend, my oldest daughter, Emily, and I spent a great weekend together. She only caught me working two or three times on Saturday, a day that was mostly made up of doing everything from watching Caillou to making nachos to eating freezies, or "fweezies" as the three-and-a-half year-old, absolute light of my life calls them!

Things got even better for Emily and I on Sunday. We had a little breakfast with more cartoons and then cleaned ourselves and the house (which always seems to look more like an Afghani war zone than a house when my wife is away) up and made the peaceful, picturesque trip to Clinton Downs! My announcing services were needed for a few weeks before, much to the delight of the Clinton faithful, The Velvet Fog returns from Pompano.

Anyway, in no time at all, Emily was stealing the show. She had the Dora The Explorer puzzle that we brought with us completed in ten minutes or so and while I told the Judges et al that we just picked it up in Shakespeare that morning, the truth is that we're both well familiar with the puzzle. Yesterday's piecing together was number 4,398. I love Dora.

Before much longer, princess and I were in what we both believed to be the privacy of the Announcer's Booth, belting out our favorite Barney song (and don't pretend you don't know it): "It's a wonderful world of shapes, it's a blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Take a look around from the sky to the ground at the shapes that you can see!" We were having a great time! Then, almost in unison, she and I both cocked our heads sideways to see that the entire population of the Judges Stand were watching, listening and laughing. She quickly did that shy thing that kids do when they feel, well, shy I guess. I felt like McLovin. Em and I looked at one another again and giggled and before long, I think we were singing our song again. This time, we had a little help from our friends.

All in all, it was a great weekend and my trip to Clinton yesterday reminded me of why I got involved in this game in the first place: good people, our beloved horses and free food and beverages in the Judges Stand.

More than anything, what I took away from my weekend away from life's regular routines is this: if one is going to get caught doing something by the Judges, one is far better off to have it be singing Barney songs than anything else.

Tonight's versions of THE PETE SHEETS for Grand River and Woodbine will be available by late afternoon. If you're already on the mailing list, expect to see it in your inbox by 5:30pm. If you're not on the mailing list and want to be, send an email request to

I love you, you love me...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Let's mix this up a little bit...

Alright, time to mix it up a little bit. Usually I just send THE PETE SHEETS out to subscribers but since I'm so presently swamped with the business aspects of this one man show, I thought today was as good a day as any to do a shortened version and make it available to everyone through the blog.

Flamboro, Georgian and Woodbine are the three featured tracks today and here are a few horses and races of interest to THE PETE SHEETS:

At Flamboro...

Race 8
WARRAWEE HARDY isn't as one-dimensional as his last two might suggest and I'm not concerned with his starting in the second tier. The inside two that he follows are the fastest two from the gate and whether MacDonald moves him to the lead early or comes first-over, he's too good for these. None of these other horses have any interest in actually winning a horse race. While WARRAWEE HARDY isn't expected to pay much more than even money, the value that is often prevalent in Flamboro's exactors is worth chasing. Play strongest exactors using ESCAPETHEBREEZE, SPECTACULAR LINK and CANT BE CAUGHT and cover (proportionately) with a few using WESTERN COOKING and D M JORDAN. If you're playing the Late Pick Four, WARRAWEE HARDY is a single.

Race 10
MacDonald again, but on a longshot. MONKEY OFF MY BACK is a bad horse -- he's bad-gaited, makes breaks and has been an absolute disappointment since Coleman bought him last year. That being said, it seems that they've finally given up on him and dropped him into today's restricted claiming class where he'll face much more mediocre horses than he's ever seen. He's going to be an overlay because of the optics of his lines and if the seldom-seen, useful version of MONKEY OFF MY BACK shows up today, he can win. I'm not advising you to re-mortgage to have a bet on him but I just wanted to make you aware that he was going to be a much bigger price than several horses that he is actually a much better horse than if MacDonald can bring out the best in him. Use him in the Pick.

Race 11
Same thing here. DODGY DEALER's past performances are terrible. Terrible! To me, they're excusable because he's had awful (wide, tiring) trips in each of his last two. He's a better horse than any of these and he, too, is going to be an enticing overlay and is a much better option than less talented (and yet shorter-priced) horses like J MS STEALTH, AMERICAN HERO and REDD HOTT RUSTY.

At Georgian...

Race 10
FARMERS TUITION was absolutely robotic in her debut for this outfit, beating the very capable Keepers Destiny. This is a very beatable field of vulnerable, over bet regulars like LOVE N KISSES, MCKENNA SISTER, SIMPLY MAVELOUS and OSTINATO, who I actually think is the second best horse in the race. If you are offered anything close to the 6-1 Morning Line estimation on FARMERS TUITION at post time, you're making a great bet. I'm inclined to think that she'll be 5-2, which is still acceptable if you ask me.

Race 11
This has the potential to be a tricky race. Serial stopper, LANCE HALL, is going to be the favorite and I have to try to beat him. ROMEO STAR is a come-from-behind type that is a better horse than his 1 for 13 win record might lead one to believe. He stands to benefit from the projected collapsing pace scenario and is a better-priced alternative to the favorite. NUREYEV never wins and has a noticeable aversion to it, but he's experiencing dramatic class relief tonight and should have a much better result than those he's been achieving at Woodbine. I'm inclined to think that he'll be 2nd or 3rd, but even if he and the favorite does lose, you'll be in the black. This is a good race to make a few clever moves that don't include LANCE HALL on top.

Race 12
I don't know what happened in his last two starts, but I'm willing to overlook them tonight because PEENIE is just a much better horse than most of these. The Morning Line and projected favorite is ARTCHDUKE, a $15,000 claimer. You couldn't buy PEENIE for three times that price! Longshots RIVERWALK and AHEAD OFTHE CURVE are better than most of these, too, and are more imaginative must-use horses than the likes of the rail-starting favorite, UPBEAT SMILES and the perpetually over bet BLISSED OUT. This feels like a beatable race.

At Woodbine...

Race 3
MR COLE and MANNERHEIM are much better horses than any of the others and neither will be favored. Both have had very compromising, impossible trips lately, especially in their last starts where both ended up being beaten favorites. Those that took the plunge on either of them last time are impelled to come back to them tonight on a night when their respective prices will better while the competition is actually a little softer. They are the two you want in the Pick Threes involving this race.

Race 6
WINDSONG SOPRANO is a good horse. She made one million dollars last year while racing against the who's who of the three year-old filly division. Condren gave her a conservative steer in her first start back, one from which she had no chance to win. Her time for her own last three-quarters was (at the slowest) 1:26.0 and I'm confident that tonight is the night she'll be all systems go.

Race 10
This is a race that is more about a horse I don't like than it is one that I do. ROYAL MORN absolutely jogged on May 1 when he and MacDonald enjoyed an isolated lead that featured a very slow middle half. Because of the optics of that line, he's going to be bet off of the board tonight and I'm emploring you to stay away! He has the speed of PROVEN LOVER and BALANCHINE to his outside and won't have nearly the same idyllic dynamics that led to his win of two weeks ago. He's a one-dimensional, need-to-lead-to-win type that seems very up against it tonight. Even if MacDonald tactfully moves him to the lead once the aforementioned two settle, I'm confident that any one of the others will get the better of him when it counts. Save your money.

THE PETE SHEETS will return to regular circulation on Monday featuring the races from Grand River and Woodbine.

The list of subscribers is growing exponentially! If you'd like to be added to the mailing list, send such a request to It's a free service that is designed to increase the handle and general popularity of harness racing at Flamboro Downs, Georgian Downs, Grand River Raceway, Western Fair Raceway and the Woodbine Entertainment Group circuit by providing better information to the customers.

Good luck at the races today, gang!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Friday Stakes races great to watch, awful to bet.

Bill O'Donnell and I were talking about handles and the overall state of the industry and all the usual stuff not long ago and he said to me, "You know in all my years, out of all of the tracks I've been to, the ones that were run the best and did the most good were the ones run by gamblers." He went on to list the names of the men that ran these particular tracks, names that never really even registered with me because talking to Bill is a lot like talking to your 93 year-old grandmother on Sunday morning: early into the conversation she starts to ramble and it becomes quite one-sided but you just let her go on and on and on and on and on without really listening because you're just happy that, at her advanced age, she has someone to talk to for those few Sunday morning minutes. Anyway, I couldn't help but find myself thinking about what Bill said that day while I prepared tonight's version of THE PETE SHEETS for Flamboro.

Like most of you, I'm really looking forward to the three divisions of the Bud Light Stakes. The contentious first division (Race 2), the freakish and recently-dominant Mcaracas in division two (Race 4) and the short but very deep group of colts that will all pick up a cheque in the $37,670 third division (Race 6). I can't wait to watch! Unfortunately, I'm afraid that many of our customers will restrict their involvement to doing the same -- watching.

The three are terrible betting races, all with short fields which were brought about by an unlucky number of entries. There's not much anyone can do about the number of entries, but in an industry that is supposed to be about gambling, how does it make any sense to have two of the three most uncaptivating betting races of Flamboro's year representing two of the four legs of the early Pick Four sequence? Handles are already dwindling -- now we're sabotaging one of the most popular wagers among gamblers to accomodate the drivers that want to have their cake and eat it too by getting in and out of Flamboro as quickly as possible so they can make it to Woodbine as well? Forget the drivers!

Anyone that's read this blog with regularity knows that I'm a big proponent of our star drivers, but in this case, shouldn't their interests should be superceded by those of the bettors? You know -- our fans, our customers, our pre-slots lifeblood? Wouldn't it have been more productive, both from a gambling and entertainment standpoint, to have spread those three Stake races out as a means of keeping the few customers that actually go to the actual racetrack around? Wouldn't using the restricted claiming trot (carded as Race 3) or one of the other non-Stakes races rather than the chalky Bud Light races make the Pick Four sequence much more difficult to decipher? Difficult to decipher means bettors have to include ("use", "cover") more horses. More horses means more combinations. More combinations means more expensive tickets, means a bigger pool, means more interest! More interest. You want to see Mcaracas and Twin B Warrior, great, but you'll have to stick around until the 9th to do it. That goes for Mr. and Mrs. John Q Public, Mario Baillargeon and Jody Jamieson.

Harness racing is losing customers every single day. The industry is running out of chances to get it right. Horse racing, harness racing is about gambling. The sooner everyone starts thinking like our customers, regardless of how greasy or otherwise unperfect it might make some feel, the sooner our business will be headed in a better direction. But hey, what the hell do I know? I'm just some dumb gambler.

THE PETE SHEETS welcomes new subscribers Michael Sperber, Ken Perry and John MacLellan. Thanks for the interest, boys! 59 subscribers and counting!

To join THE PETE SHEETS' mailing list, email such a request to

Flamboro and Woodbine are tonight's feature tracks.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Great qualifiers, profitable races...

There are 11 qualifiers at Mohawk this morning and harness racing's paparazzi will be there snapping pics of a very good cast of characters. Sportswriter is the headliner and unless some volcano erupted somewhere during the four hours that I was sleeping, the day-tripping Brian Sears will have flown up to sit behind him for sophomore qualifier number two. My sources say that the near-perfect colt was just "okay" in last week's qually and it'll be interesting to see if he gets a better review this morning.

His three year-old counterpart, Malicious, is also going for another test drive after being scratched from his initial start of the year on Saturday.

Three year-old fillies, You See L A and Siri Hanover prep for their seasons in the 4th while Ontario-sired gals, Tiz To Dream and Western Silk are featured in the 10th. This morning's is to be Western Silk's third qualifier and I think it's safe to say that she'll be ready to go the first time she races for a purse and has bets placed on her. Harness racing can't afford to push anymore customers out the door and given the flood of recent criticism over horses that "just go around" in their first (sometimes second, too) start off of the bench, it's encouraging to see an outfit that resources its own time and money to get a horse into top shape, not the public's. Kudos to Casie!

Other names like Before He Cheats, Truth In Action, Our Lucky Killean, To Helen Back, Ipromisenottotell and (Chicago invader) Rock Hollywood are present on this morning's qualifying sheet from Mohawk and it's safe to say that we'll all have heightened interest in this afternoon's homework.

Alright, listen to me very carefully: there are so many excellent betting opportunities at Woodbine tonight that you would be an absolute fool to not throw a few bucks in the account and take a few shots. Excellent betting opportunities that only THE PETE SHEETS can make you aware of. Based on my math, the only thing brewing if you've been playing the Budweiser What's Brewing selections is bankruptcy! Do you want to make money or not? Do you want to chuck the chalk and be imaginative in your handicapping? Of course you do! Email your request for a free (free!) copy of THE PETE SHEETS for tonight's Woodbine card to I expect to have the finished product sent to your inbox by 5:30pm.

Here's what I'm working on for the weekend:

Friday - Flamboro, Woodbine
Saturday - Flamboro, Georgian Downs, Woodbine
Sunday - Flamboro

Thanks to the dozens of you that have already sent feedback, emailed small donations and offered words of encouragement and appreciation for this new project. It is so important that you keep it coming. Your interest will pique that of the prospective sponsors that I have meetings with this weekend and early next week. The numbers are very good as they are (up to an average of 130 views per day) and they're getting exponentially better everyday. This is just the beginning of this project, the part that I can do on my own with nothing more than the commitments of time and passion. If you like it now, wait 'til you see what I have planned if I get a little financial support. From the absolute bottom of my heart, thanks everyone.

Over and out...

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Making progress

When I launched this new project, I had two goals that I wanted to achieve:

1. Improve the information that's given to harness racing's customers so as to increase both the handle and general popularity of this wonderful sport which, as proven by the improving numbers at Western Fair, still has the potential to flourish.

2. Make enough money to keep the mortgage paid while doing it.

Well, so far it's been a lot like that song by Meatloaf, "One Out Of Two Ain't Bad", but I'm not worried. An old friend told me not long ago that if you resign yourself to doing something for monetary gain, that something will always fail. If you resign yourself to doing something to be the absolute best at it, the money will follow. So this is the new approach that I've taken in my life. I'm hoping that the money isn't following too far behind, though, because at some point the wife is going to realize that the hydro isn't turned off for the umpteenth day in a row because "the construction guys must have cut the power". God help me.

More seriously, I have to tell you that from what I've learned through just the first few weeks of doing THE PETE SHEETS, there is cause for cautious optimism for this project. Would you believe that last night, on a muddy, rotten, rainy night at both Georgian Downs and Grand River, my inbox received 49 requests for THE PETE SHEETS? It may not sound like a big number to most, but it's my idea and I'm the guy doing all of the work and I'm absolutely thrilled! Don't tell me harness racing is dead - people love harness racing! They want to read about it, gamble on it, share their opinions on discussion boards, make fun of Kyte, defame Middleton, completely toss anything that Mike Hamilton picks - you name it! Read a few of these emails that I've received from followers of THE PETE SHEETS and you'll see the passion that our people have for all things harness racing:

"Just wanted to say a big WAY TO GO on the new venture, "The Pete Sheets" is a regular stop for me on my daily blog roll and is a very welcome addition! I am not a big bettor, indeed my $2 every now and then is barely noticed in track pools, I am however a lifelong harness racing fan and I find your dialogue very informative and frankly hilarious at times. In a world where technology and internet is the way to reach a whole new audience, harness racing it has to be said has been very slow to jump on this bandwagon, a venture such as yours can't help but to draw people in. I hope the followers continue to climb, and hope that you will keep this going. Congratulations!"...Louisa Surette

"I read everything and anything about standardbreds, so I appreciate your sending me these Pete Sheets."...Ron

"I've been betting standardbreds for 35+ years so I generally dismiss most tip sheets. I will not call your Pete Sheets a tip sheet as it is much more than that. It is an indepth handicappiing analysis of an entire race card. You may even get me to play more Win 4's!"...Tom Welsh

"Send me tomorrows sheets! I am a mediocre horseplayer and I found that your column gives a little bit of direction and structure to an otherwise confusing card of racing at WEG. Thanks again!"...Carmen Auciello

"I found your pete sheets web site and would love to receive your pete sheets on a regular the trots!"...Lyndia

"Hi Pete! Would you please send your picks for Monday's Grand River & Woodbine? My friends and I are going to the OTB!"...Curt

Isn't that great stuff? Thanks everyone, from me and the entire industry. We're making progress, slowly but surely. Georgian's handle peaked on the last two Tuesdays, the only two on which THE PETE SHEETS were distributed while the May 3, 4 and 11 programs at Grand River (which were featured in THE PETE SHEETS) had the three highest handled cards of the entire meet. Some might chalk it up to coincidence. I say it's proof that if you build it, they really do come.

Rain, rain, go away...

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Monday recap

I think I saw a nice Grassrooter race at Grand River last night. Mislead Me Not made his lifetime debut a winning one for the low profile trainer/driver tandem of Tim Cherwaiko and Bert Fenech, leading from start to finish in 2:03.3. Fenech was motionless for the entire mile and yet the three year-old gelding's own last half was 1:00.2 with a :29.3 kicker. Fenech kept him to his task and he was trotting faster after the wire than he was at any point in the mile. It was encouraging to see a horse that was ready to go at first asking. Much of the talk being initiated by customers on the industry's message boards this weeked was (and continues to be) about horses that are given soft, "educational", "tightening" trips in their early starts, all while the track is taking bets on them (you can read the discussion for yourself at Regardless, I've added Mislead Me Not to my Watch List and will be watching him with great interest in the weeks ahead.

Frederic "Freddie" Maine got 'er done with Get Er Done in the 6th in Elora last night, leading from start to finish and having a chance to display his seldom seen stretch moves in the process. I had to do a double take when I glanced away from the computer to the television because for a moment I though it was Tim Tetrick, not Freddie Maine! Felicitations, monsieur.

Add Coventry Seelster to the Watch List as well. He finished a flying, photoed-out 2nd to Modern Will in the 7th after being helplessly locked-in at crunch time. His trip was so compromising, in fact, that not even (his driver) Anthony MacDonald could find a way out sooner. Now that's locked-in! (To be added to the mailing list with those that already receive THE PETE SHEETS' Watch List, email such a request to

It seems like WEG's $40k Guaranteed Early Pick Four has been well received by multi-race wager lovers as last night's pool reached a meet-high $65,584! You have to love it when a plan comes together!

Touch The Rock won the opening leg of the sequence and was the first of a series of impressive winners on the Monday night card from Woodbine. The three year-old Rocknroll Hanover colt won in a new lifetime best clocking of 1:51.1 despite having a less than ideal trip. It's just too bad that THE PETE SHEETS' followers had to take 2-5 on him last night when he was just as good while being predicted to win at nearly 7-1 the previous week:

9-TOUCH THE ROCK offered an eye-catching performance
in his three year-old debut and he's obviously a horse
that has matured and improved substantially since last
year. He was first to front, got shuffled in the middle
stages but found late room in the stretch and literally
exploded when Waples found room for him very late in the
stretch. Had he gotten out sooner, his margin would've
been greater and his final winning time much faster.
Tonight's race will be the true test of his ability
(and my ability to judge horses) as he meets a much
deeper group than the one he toyed with last week.

Mark Austin trains and co-owns with Dan Smith, two guys that have invested their entire lives and a lot of money into the sport. It's hard not to be happy for them when they win. Good luck in The Burlington, lads!

The Ontario Spring Series Final was dominated by the robotic Windsong Grand Avenue. How in the world did she ever pay $27.90 to win? Theta Blue Chip at 3-5? I like Gord Irwin and especially Paul MacDonell and all of the feelgood stories that they've been a part of over the years, but I mean Theta Blue Chip at 3-5? She obviously has talent but she's been so bad-gaited and steppy in all of her starts that Paul hasn't even had a chance to turn her loose yet. Why would anyone expect last night to have been any different? If you bet one dollar on Theta Blue Chip in win-based bets last night, you need THE PETE SHEETS before you ever bet again.

Other Monday night monsters were Card Hustler, Royal Artist, Harlequin and Rock Me Please.

Keith Oliver came close to winning with the first starter he's sent to the gate as a trainer since 2003 when Boogie Woogie (clear throat, grunt, run hand through hair) finished a very good 2nd in the 7th. A lot of readers might not know this, but Keith was really the first guy to ever let me hang around his barn and actually do stuff! I'll never forget the early lessons in horsemanship that I learned while he yelled at me from the yard while I jogged his horses or while he yelled at me through the bars of the stalls while I cleaned them. I can remember paddocking his pride and joy, Anns Emerald, as a kid in 1997 and am especially clear in my recollection of the time that he actually shot me $20 for doing it! Good times. I figure Boogie Woogie'll win one of these weeks and I'd love to get my picture taken with my old friend but worry that a scraper and a sponge might follow the ceremony, so I'm resigned to just watching from home. Go get 'em, Red Man!

So it's Tuesday and that means Grand River and Georgian Downs! THE PETE SHEETS for Grand River are complete and I'm putting the finishing touches on the Georgian version. As always, you can request your own copy by sending an email to If you'd like to be added to the regular mailing list instead of having to send an individual email each day for each track just let me know. THE PETE SHEETS are available for every card of racing at Flamboro Downs, Georgian Downs, Grand River, Western Fair and Woodbine. They are absolutely free and those that are already regular subscribers have been very pleased with the information that THE PETE SHEETS contain.

Have a good day everyone...

Saturday, May 8, 2010

The sport's two brightest young stars, Waples, a stool jumper, an unbeatable Beatable Favorite and my BIG, FAT MOUTH!

The weekend kicked off with awful conditions at all three of THE PETE SHEETS' featured tracks.

It proved to be great night for followers of THE PETE SHEETS that played Flamboro last night as the product's suggested bets yielded profits of more than $700. Those of you that were doing the same with Western Fair's version are washing dishes in the Top Of The Fair Restaurant! Only three of our five Beatable Favorites lost while our three Most Probable Winners finished 2nd, 2nd and 3rd respectively. The night's only Live Longshot, Undone Hanover, finished 2nd to Windsun Rachel in the 10th, a mare whose idiosyncrasies led to my writing this:

I'm a firm believer that (the likely favorite) WINDSUN RACHEL can't win either. Listen, if she wins, I quit. She has such a noticeable aversion to winning (affinity for losing) that I don't think it even matters finds herself in a race in which she faces the most beatable field she's faced in a long, long time. Her numbers are absolutely staggering: she has lost 29 races in a row and is just one (March 20) for her last 52. Even with McNair and against a mediocre group of similarly struggling horses, how can anyone be expected to bet her on top?

Listen, she only won by 36 and I lied...I'm not quitting! When it comes to playing against favorites, especially those as frequently overbet as Windsun Rachel, the numbers are always on the side of the gambler. I explained it best in last night's version of THE PETE SHEETS for Flamboro when making a case for playing against Beatable Favorite, Baskin Babe:

BASKIN BABE's last five races are a perfect example of why anyone serious about making money gambling on horses shouldn't bet favorites. Let's pretend you bet $20 to win on her in each of those races:

Date Bet Result Odds ROI +/- Running Total
Mar25 $20 Win 1st 0.30 to 1 $26.00 +$6.00 +$6.00
Apr1 $20 Win 1st 0.80 to 1 $36.00 +$16.00 +$22.00
Apr14 $20 Win 3rd 0.30 to 1 $0.00 -$20.00 +$2.00
Apr22 $20 Win 1st 0.20 to 1 $24.00 +$4.00 +$6.00
Apr29 $20 Win 5th 0.60 to 1 $0.00 -$20.00 -$14.00

You cashed a win bet on her in 60% of her last five races and still lost $14.00! No thanks.

Windsun Rachel was one of five winners for young Doug McNair. I know, I know, we hear it all the time from neighsayers: "Anyone can win if they've got power!". Maybe, but there are only a few drivers in the country that could have engineered the gate-to-wire win that McNair did last night with Classic Commotion (5-1) from post seven. Even perpetual longshot Brontewine (five for 61 life, 8th by 19 and 6th by six in her previous two in the exact same class) won last night thanks to McNair's gift and the few that backed her (or more likely, McNair) were rewarded with a $34.50 win price.

Scott Zeron can make a horse do special things, too. Like McNair, he's only a few years into his driving career and I have to say, he's already better than I ever thought he'd be. The punk couldn't even put a harness on a horse when I worked for Rick at the start of the decade, but now he's better than many with decades more experience than him. While the (much, much, MUCH) younger Zeron's abilities aren't limited to such, he led from start to finish with Molly Baran (3rd), Nobananas (4th) and Duchessofnorthyork (7th) on last night's card and not one of them were favorites, so don't even start! The latter of the three winners left followers of THE PETE SHEETS' Pick Four Synopsis very disappointed as they had very profitable tickets alive onto four of the nine horses in the anchor leg, none of which were Duchessofnorthyork. Her pre-Zeron performances were so horrible that even though she was dropping in class, she didn't have the look of the contender. My mistake, one I won't soon make again.

Before I leave the subject of drivers, I have to once again praise Randy Waples for his heads up drive on Elleofnxample in Woodbine's Friday opener. THE PETE SHEETS identified her as a Beatable Favorite, expecting that her trip would be one in which she was either first-over or mired in traffic, losing momentum as she struggled her way through the last turn. Neither materialized. Waples' ability to read the program and visualize a race's dynamics is not lost on this scribe, nor should it be on anyone gambling on the WEG circuit's races. I'm happy to be wrong when I see a performance like the one I saw last night because heads up drives from our sports' drivers do a lot more good for an industry with perception issues than THE PETE SHEETS beating a favorite will.

Speaking of Waples, when are the masses going to stop betting the Waples-driven Freckly Sara? She tanked at 2-1 again last night and, with one or two more losses as the favorite, will have officially torched almost as much investor money as Bernie Madoff himself! She just does not want to win and it is absolutely beyond me how anyone could want to invest one dollar of their hard-earned on her in win-based bets. Her (perpetual) false favoritism helped the bottom lines of THE PETE SHEETS' followers as WINDSUN COUNTESS paid a healthy $10.40 while being identified as one of the product's Most Probable Winners (announced in yesterday's post) on last night's card. Her 4-1 price was a far cry from the 77-1 that she won at in the previous week, but after the marked improvement that she showed in that race (especially the fact that she was passing other horses, which is something she's been somewhat averse to throughout her career), I figured that with any kind of trip last night, she was a cinch to beat the futile foes she found herself among last night.

Last night's 6th Race was the Ontario Spring Series Final and it featured a "stool jump" (I find if hard to believe that someone that had enough capital to bet $6000 to show on a horse would jump off of a bridge, but a stool, maybe) bet on heavy favorite, Terror Time, who had $8454 of the show pool's $11806 riding on his four feet. As a guy that has torched a lot of money through the windows himself, I can't for the life of me figure out when it would ever be worth risking $6000 (which is what I figure this particular stool jumpers bet was since I don't have access to the actual amount) to make $600. For those of you that aren't from the dark side, gamblers refer to this kind of bet as a "points bet", one in which they are betting a large sum of money not to make a big score through the windows (Terror Time would've paid $2.10 to show), but rather through the cash back that they are afforded by hosts like I'm a little out of the loop these days, but if this person was in a 10% cash back bracket (which seems far-fetched), he'd get $600 credited to his account. Talk about the numbers being against you! Using these numbers as a reference, that person would have to be correct on eleven stool jump bets before s/he could be wrong once in order to stay in the black. Good luck.

Blog reader, Sandi Spencer's Casimir Freedom just missed in the 7th (more Waples) at 17-1. The horse has absolutely come to life since being claimed at WR5/8 on February 14 for just $4000. In the times since, he's amassed a 9-3-4-0 record and more than $14,000.

Speaking of claims, that race's winner, Neocon, was taken for $20,000 by the productive owner/trainer duo of Bert Smith/Dave Menary, who themselves enjoyed a(nother) win with Royal Academy. You all know what I think (and what the earlier graphics proves) about favorites, so in last night's Woodbine version of THE PETE SHEETS that I made disapper (read yesterday's post), I had actually built a late Pick Four ticket that left Royal Academy out. In the end, the horse's unique will to win got him home first over (Live Longshot) Strider despite having the absolute worst trip of any horse in the field. Big shot Waples wasn't so sharp in this case, was he Bert?

When you're as opinionated and outspoken as I am, every once in awhile (a reflection of how often I'm wrong) you have to eat proverbial crow...

Mr. Michael Hamilton - you were right! I was in the booth at Western Fair prepping for (which means drinking coffee and talking to myself) the night's card and like many of you, was watching the pre-game show from WDB7/8. It was the first time in awhile that I'd actually been able to sit down and watch the show from start to finish because we're too broke to subscribe to much more than HPItv's "rolling channel", so I'm usually subjected to watching a post parade from Penn National or an on-air host from Australia picking his nose while not realizing he's on camera rather than Woodbine Racing Live and shows of that ilk. Anyway Mike announces that his Play Of The Night (or whatever) is Whycantiforgetyou in the 11th. He shows video evidence, calls two witnesses, cross-examines Chris Hickey and blah, blah, blah. I'm beside myself. Whycantiforgetyou? Are you kidding me? My know-it-all nickname for her is Whycantiwinone! I immediately send Mike the following text:

"If Whycant wins I'll slow dance with you in the middle of Church Street! Come on! They can all finish like that. You've missed identifying that she has no will to win, an aversion to winning, affinity for losing!"

In a Windsun Rachel-like manner, Whycantiforgetyou won the nightcap by two as the chalk. While I absolutely have not wavered in the opinion I so boldly shared with my friend, it's safe to say I won't be watching the races on Monday night as I'll be tuned to ABC to see what pointers I can pick up from my man Bruno on Dancing With The Stars. Me and my big, fat mouth.

Just putting the finishing touches on tonight's Woodbine version of THE PETE SHEETS, which is quickly becoming the most requested of them all. To all my regulars: I'll email you once it's done. For the rest of you: request your copy by emailing

No blog post tomorrow. Our youngest daughter, Charlie Olivia Kyte, is being baptized in the morning and we'll be spending the day with family and friends.

Until Monday...

Friday, May 7, 2010

DO cry for me Argentina!

Friends, at some point today I want you to shed a tear for me.

I stayed up all night. All night. I did THE PETE SHEETS for Flamboro. I did THE PETE SHEETS for Woodbine.

I just (noon) put the finishing touches on THE PETE SHEETS for Western Fair. My three absolute best products ever. I was so proud.

With one wrong click I saved "LONMay7" over top of "WDBMay7" which erased seven hours worth of work on tonight's version of THE PETE SHEETS for Woodbine. If I wasn't so dehydrated and exhausted I would have cried. Anyway, tonight's Beatable Favorites are ELLEOFNXAMPLE (1st) and FRECKLY SARA (5th). The Most Probable Winners are PLAY AT WYNN (3rd) and WINDSUN COUNTESS (5th). Two Live Longshots appear to be STRIDER (8th) and INSIDER TIP (10th). What a sin. Seven hours, two XL2C1S, one Red Bull and 426 Player's Smooth Regulars. Hey - that gives me an idea about those sponsors I've been looking for! See that? Out of everything bad comes something good!

Allow me to change the subject by thanking all of you that sent in your guesses to yesterday's question:

How many views will receive by the end of today (11:59pm)?

The answer is 56 (we're already up to 31 today!). Congratulations to Scott Wilcox of Brantford for having the closest guess (50). I'll be in touch, Scott.

Did you watch Woodbine's races last night? Good product last night, boy. The bet shrunk a little from Monday's gargantuan handle of $1,452,022 but last night's intake of $1,149,593 was just about at par with the average handle of the five Thursdays in April ($1,195,217).

NOW YOU SEE HIM won his seventh of his last eight for trainer/driver Rick Zeron and owner Percy Elkins.

COWBOYS DREAMER won the Princess Pacing Series Final though she didn't do it as easily as I thought she was going to as the field turned for home. A win is a win, I suppose.

Did you see Gregg McNair's three year-old trotting colt, RODEO, make his seasonal debut in the 6th? Wow! I know he didn't beat much but he did it with such condescending ease that it must be hard for his connections to not be cautiously optimistic about the upcoming Ontario Sires Stakes season. The son of Kadabra has been added to THE PETE SHEETS' Watch List.

Lis Mara's three year-old, three-quarter sister, LISMOREBELLA had a winning debut last night. Paul Macdonnell gave her a perfect drive. By racing her as he did, she got the education that horsemen are always looking for their youngsters to have in their initial starts and at the same time, she didn't let the betting public down either. Great work, Paul!

Here's recap of how last night's version of THE PETE SHEETS for Woodbine did:

Hooked $240 after the first two sets of mythical wagers...

Total investment: $140

Total investment: $100

...but then things started coming around...

$5 Pick Four 8 with 8 with 1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9 with 6
Total investment: $45

$1 Pick Four 8/8/6/6 paid $111.60
Total winnings: $558
Total profit: $513.00
Overall +/-: +$273.00

Total investment: $100
Total winnings: $240.00
Total profit: $$140
Overall +/-: $413

Last mythical wager of the night...

$0.20 Pick Four 1,2,4,6,7,9,10 with 1,2,4,5 with 2,4,5 with 1,2,3,4,5,7,8,9
Total investment: $134.40

URBAN RAINFOREST won the opening leg at 14-1 but R E O SPEEDRAGON didn't prove beatable after all in the 9th. In hindsight, her open lengths win impresses me as being more of a reflection of the mediocrity of the horses she was in against than her being a horse worthy of the attention she received in win-based bets. Tough to beat Team Coleman, though. I'll try again next week.

THE PETE SHEETS' bets yielded a profit of $278.60 tonight. Two of the three horses that THE PETE SHEETS identified as beatable favorites were. While R E O SPEEDDRAGON won, MISSNAMARAS and IM ALL IN each took plenty of support in their races and missed the board. Both of THE PETE SHEETS' Most Probable Winners (NOW YOU SEE HIM and COWBOYS DREAMER) won. THE PETE SHEETS' Live Longshot, SEALCREST PENNY, broke at the start in the 1st and proved to be not that live after all! Good old cement head, I mean hands.

That's about all I have to tell you today. Keep those emails coming! I'm printing them all off and including them in next week's presentation package under the heading "Testimonials", which loosely translates into "Friends That Lie On My Behalf".

So yeah, no Woodbine version of THE PETE SHEETS for tonight but Flamboro and Western Fair's are available for you "B" track fans. There are some can't miss opportunities tonight and they're all outlined for you in THE PETE SHEETS so email a request for your own copy to Be sure to specify which version(s) you're interested in. With the help of THE PETE SHEETS, by this time tomorrow, you'll be treating the wife to a Super Sized McNuggets Meal rather than the typical, regular sized one that losers buy for their wives.

Now you can find us on Facebook! I haven't even seen it myself, but Courtney Yake tells me that it's up and going and that we just need to add some bells and whistles to make it extra special. Will you be my friend?

Infinite thanks to all of you that have sent emails, private messages, texts, smoke signals, etc. (one customer even had a plane fly a sign over my house!) offering feedback and support for this project. Keep them coming. They keep me going.

Enjoy the races, gang...

Thursday, May 6, 2010

I've finally figured it out...

Best I can remember, I was seven years old when I made my first bet. While other kids were playing with WWF Action Figures and plastic replicas of the Millenium Falcon, I was at the track. My parents were two dollar bettors that just loved the races and as their oldest son, so did I. My younger brother spent just as much time at the track as I did and yet he somehow manage to not become the degenerate that I was for most of my life. Too bad for him. He never did have any passion!

My interest in betting the ponies grew as I got older and by the time I was in University, I was churning and burning every dollar I could get my hands on. George Bigliardi saw more of me at the Champions teletheatre in his restaurant on Church Street than my professors did, just as the mutuel clerk there had an easier time collecting money from me than the finance departments at Chrysler Canada and Rogers Wireless!

After having been around this gambling game for nearly my entire life and after hundreds of thousands of dollars of career loss, you'd think that I would've figured out sooner what I've only recently come to realize: chuck the chalk! Imagine the money I could've saved!

If you gamble on horse races long enough, siding with favorites will only lead to one thing: you going broke! Gambling, whether it be horse racing, poker, blackjack - you name it, is a numbers game. It's all about mathematics. When it comes to our beloved game, studies have documented that (depending on which you read) favorites in horse races win between 33 and 37 per cent of the time. That means they lose 67 to 63 per cent of the time (see the math skills I've learned through gambling?). You don't have to be one of the scientists from Avatar to realize the staggering disparity between those ratios.

Every version of THE PETE SHEETS identifies the beatable favorites for a particular card and from the feedback that I've received, readers find it to be invaluable information. Here are a few examples from various versions of THE PETE SHEETS from this week:

Monday at Grand River, Race 8
If I'm being honest, I don't like this race because while I don't want ORILLIA BRUNO, I don't have enough confidence in the others to recommend playing against him. For me, that means passing the race. As an aside, ORILLIA BRUNO and I have quite a history together because he's a horse who I've always recommended playing against in my Hints From Horace column at Western Fair. From his past performances, you can see that he's won three of four times but it also provides a perfect example of why I preach against playing favorites: while I don't have the exact numbers in front of me, I'm certain that those that got to tee-hee at me on the three occasions that he did win (at very short prices) have yet to show as much profit as those that sided with me on April 13 when he finished up the track at 1-5! Bottom line is you don't want favorites. Gambling on horses isn't about picking winners, it's about making money! Result: finished 4th at 9-5.

Monday at Woodbine, Race 1
The second race intrigues me because I don't think PEBBLE CREEK is as much of a cinch as her post time odds will lead one to believe. Don't get me wrong: she's the best horse in the race, but the best horse doesn't always win. Having already won last week, I'm near certain Saftic won't be as aggressive with her tonight as he's been in the past and will no doubt be in the upcoming Final. Other analysts can't or won't tell you that. THE PETE SHEETS do. Let's try to beat her! Result: finished 4th at 7-5.

Tuesday at Georgian, Race 3
You don't need THE PETE SHEETS to tell you that IDBEGOODATTHAT is the horse to beat but I can help by telling you that he's not the cinch that his post time odds and the optics of his Arsenault lines would lead one to believe he is. He should never have lost his most recent start at Flamboro and the horse that beat him, Encore Seelster, isn't much of a horse at all. Long story short, he's not the kind of horse that I want to bet on at tonight's short price but I can't find an alternative that I have much confidence in either, so I'm passing the race altogether. IDBEGOODATTHAT will probably win, but probably isn't good enough on a horse whose odds will definitely be miniscule. Result: finished 2nd at 1-2.

Tuesday at Grand River, Race 3
Another race that I'm avoiding because while WHISPERINYOUREAR has won her last two, she was very steppy at times on both occasions and I'm never willing to invest any of my hard-earned on 1-5 shots, let alone a three year-old filly that has been far from perfect gaited She will most likely win this by open lengths but even if she does, she won't pay anything. Result: finished 2nd at 2-5.

Ryan Campbell, a reader of THE PETE SHEETS, sent this nice email following Tuesday's races at Grand River:

"Last night we kind of used our own judgement while consulting
the sheet and made out ok. I think we made around $500 or so!
We had the first race super, the third race exactor 4 times
because of what you said about that mare being steppy at times.
I have never seen her race so it was a huge help after reading
that i thought i could beat her for sure. The picks were a huge
help! You'll be hearing from me again!"

Thanks, Ryan! Just make sure you lose my email address when THE PETE SHEETS lead to your losing $500!

Tuesday at Grand River, Race 10
JTLADY STRONG is going to be more heavily favored than she should be for a horse that is zero for 11 this year and that has been a lifetime "slice" horse (more 2nds than wins: 108-15-22-8 career record). Don't get me wrong, she's a nice "B" circuit trotter and is obviously among the best horses in this race, but from a gambling perspective, she's the kind of horse that you're supposed to try to beat in a situation like this where she'll be overbet. Result: finished 5th at 7-5.

Last night at Western Fair, Race 4
YOU RAISE ME UP is going to be more heavily favored than she should be among these and I have to try to beat her even though I recognize that she's won three of her last four against similar. With Sparling expected to be following the fast-leaving inside two away, I really can't see her having anything but a first-over trip and I have to be dubious of her winning from such a trip against a deep field such as this one. Result: finished 2nd at 8-5.

In this particular example, THE PETE SHEETS not only identified and beat the overbet horse, but had the 9-2 winner as well:

5-LYONS RUBY is a horse that I identified as a very beatable favorite last week and through no fault of her own, she finished 4th; in hindsight, she was probably the best horse in the race but had no chance to assert herself because of a troubled trip; McNair tried to move her to the lead in the first quarter but Richardson denied that bid and in the end, the 1-2 favorite got stuffed behind a stopping Innocent Shark; I've been a little dubious of her ever since she finished an absolutely inexcusable 3rd on April 6 (a race that she should never have lost), but can be a little more forgiving of her shortcomings today when her price will be much more accurate and the projected dynamics of the race seem to favor her.

Naturally, there are just as many (if not more) instances in which the favorite(s) that THE PETE SHEETS identify as being beatable prove not to be, but even then the numbers are still on the side of the gambler! As a general rule (and it's hard to have "general rules" when dealing with numbers, but...) I like to think that as long as I beat four out of every ten favorites that I play against, I'm still going to be in the black. That means I only have to be right 40% of the time! What does your strike rate have to be in order to show a profit when you bet on favorites, 65%, 70%? More easily recognizable disparity.

The purpose of providing these examples isn't to toot my own horn - that's not my style. Besides, if it were, between my wife and my mother I'd be brought back to earth pretty quickly! My modus operandi is much bigger than simple self- aggrandizing. My goal, the goal of THE PETE SHEETS and this blog is to improve the information that is given to the customer so as to increase both the handle and general popularity of this wonderful sport which, as proven by the improving numbers at Western Fair, still has the potential to flourish. Most would say that the odds of such happening aren't favorable. I'd say that gives harness racing a real chance!

Time to give something away...

Yesterday I attached sitemeter software to the blog (you'll see the logo at the very bottom of the screen) in order to give myself an idea of the exposure that the blog and THE PETE SHEETS were getting. Without giving too much away, I'll say that I was pleased with the number of visits. What do you think the number was? Here's the question:

How many views will receive by the end of today (11:59pm)?

Email your guess (and you're only allowed one guess) to The person whose guess is closest to the actual number wins dinner for two at The Keg on THE PETE SHEETS (unless I don't get the sponsorship I'm expecting, in which case you get sweet f...well, you catch my drift!). The winning respondent will be contacted by email on Friday. Good luck!

Below is a listing of the versions THE PETE SHEETS that I'm working on for the rest of the week. THE PETE SHEETS are generally available three hours in advance of post time for each particular card.

Today - Woodbine (available later this afternoon)
Friday - Flamboro/Western Fair/Woodbine
Saturday - Flamboro/Georgian Downs/Woodbine

Email a request for your own copy of THE PETE SHEETS to Be sure to specify which version(s) your interested in. I realize that it's a little extra work to type an email, but in the weeks ahead, the web site will be complete and THE PETE SHEETS and the blog will both be available at the click of a mouse! Bear with me.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Tuesday recap from Georgian Downs and Grand River

It was a great night for racing at the track just off of the 400 on Tuesday and on a night in which favorites dominated the program (the chalk won seven of the 12 races and ten of 12 winners paid $8.40 or less), the first race was certainly an exception. Canaco Run debuted off of the claim for Bert Smith's Almost Doesnt Count Stable and trainer Dave Menary and won in a lifetime best of 1:54.2 at 6-1. Not to take anything away from the effort, but it was one that was greatly aided by the race's collapsing pace scenario that featured a :55.0 first half and a much slower :59.0 second lap. As a result of favored entrymates, Blue Suede Shoes and D I Hanover finishing out of the money, the $2 triactor paid $2504.60. The lucky bettor that had the lone $0.20 super ticket got $1717.97 for his/her investment.

The night's most impressive winner was the newcomer Rose Run Ivan. He won the 6th with condescending ease in a lifetime best (1:56.4, :28.4 kicker while wrapped-up) for new owner/trainer Tony O'Sullivan and his partners Lukas Frankowski, Darby J Oram and John D Rice. Nice find, boys!

Simon Allard had a five-win performance, three for his brother Rene and two for Shawn Robinson, while Scott Coulter won the card's 3rd and 4th races. It was nice to see Dan Clements have his picture taken after winning the finale with the class-dropping Stonebridge Leader. Clements is back from Florida for the Summer and will no doubt win his share of races at Georgian and on the Sires Stakes Tour.

I have to conclude the Georgian recap by telling you that the Pick Four Analysis in the last night's Georgian version of THE PETE SHEETS successfully outlined the winning ticket for both the early and late Pick Four. The only problem is that my sample tickets would've had you spend $261.20 to win $153.87! Damn chalks! The good news was that (as a partial result of coverage they received in THE PETE SHEETS' Pick Four Analysis) both the early and late Pick Four pools of last night were above April's average, especially the former. Last night's intake of $6,257 represented a 45% increase from the $4,289 average pool of last month. The total handle was a five-week high of $238,532. Great numbers, Great Canadian!

Last night's numbers at Grand River were vastly improved at Grand River as well and I can't help but think that THE PETE SHEETS were a contributing factor. (I had 17 email requests for last night's Grand River edition of THE PETE SHEETS and who knows how many other customers had forwarded copies or read the posted version on the message board) Though nothing to write home about, last night's Pick Four pool reached a seasonal high of $2,265, as did the overall handle, which was $164,823. I'm confident that as THE PETE SHEETS' coverage of Grand River's very good product gets more exposure, those numbers will improve each and every week.

THE PETE SHEETS had winners in four of the six races that were identified as being beatable including Tres Noel ($3.00), who was identified as the night's Most Probable Winner. The 10th race was the one in which followers of THE PETE SHEETS would've shown the most profit. Not only did THE PETE SHEETS identify Jtlady Strong as being a very beatable favorite (finished 5th at 7-5) but THE PETE SHEETS also had the winner of the race, Suzys Solitaire. Though he was "live" he certainly wasn't a "Live Longshot". When I labelled him as such, I thought he'd pay much more than $7.60, but after the Georgian Pick Four disasters, I'm not complaining! It's too bad the night's other Live Longshot, Zacs Princess, had such a compromising trip or else she'd have won, too. Still, if you had bet $2 to Win, Place and Show on her you would've won $17.10 when she finished a very good 2nd in the 4th (which, as always, was the start of the Pick Four, which THE PETE SHEETS' Pick Four Analysis missed last night).

Mark MacDonald had a drive in every race and once again stole the show, winning six and finishing 2nd on three occasions. As of today, his numbers at Grand River are very good (45-17-9-5, $68,325, .526, 37.8%), almost as good as THE PETE SHEETS' numbers at the Elora track (now that's humour, Ladies and Germs!).

Keep that feedback coming! Send your feedback via email to and be sure to spread the word to others! I have meetings with several prospective sponsors next week and the more interest the project is shown to be generating, the greater the likelihood that they'll be supportive of it.

My apologies for there not being a Flamboro version of THE PETE SHEETS for today. Those interested in tonight's Western Fair version can request a copy by sending an email to In the week's ahead, our web site will be complete and downloadable versions of THE PETE SHEETS will be available at the click of a mouse!

Here's a listing of the versions THE PETE SHEETS that I'm working on for the rest of the week:

Thursday - Woodbine (available Thursday afternoon)
Friday - Flamboro/Western Fair/Woodbine (available Friday afternoon)
Saturday (afternoon) - Flamboro (available Saturday morning)
Saturday (evening) - Georgian Downs/Woodbine (available Saturday afternoon)

When you send your requests to, be sure to specify the track(s) and date(s) that you're interested in.

Time for a nap...

Monday, May 3, 2010

The customer is always right

(THE PETE SHEETS is a new project that I've been working on for a little while now and in the weeks ahead I'll have a web site and much more to coincide with this blog. THE PETE SHEETS provide in-depth, comprehensive analysis of racing from Flamboro Downs, Georgian Downs, Grand River Raceway, Western Fair Raceway and the WEG circuit. Beatable favorites, spot plays, live longshots, trainer change angles, Pick Four Analysis: THE PETE SHEETS have it all! The goal of the project is to increase both the handle and overall popularity of harness racing in Ontario.)

I love Tim Hortons coffee. I drink more than I should really, but I can't get all of this work done without it. The other day, I went through the drive thru and ordered my usual: extra large with two cream and one sugar. I gave the lovely woman at the window my $1.72 and she gave me my fix. I don't know about you, but I can't drink it scorching hot, so I often don't get to it until several minutes after I've ordered it. On this particular day, I didn't even take my first sip until I had made the short drive back to the house. Upon doing so, I quickly realized that my XL2C1S tasted more like a Coca Cola than a coffee! Man there was a lot of sugar in it! I dumped some down the drain and fixed it up the way I wanted it. These things happen.

Later in the day, my wife and I were running (driving actually, who actually runs?) some errands and it was time for Tim's stop number two. She likes me to get as much exercise as possible, so I thought I'd appease her by walking into the store rather than driving thru (I was hoping I could trick her into thinking this was the way I always did it, not just on the occasions that she was with me). Anyway, I was so angry about having to do it her way that by the time I got all the way across the two-tiered parking lot and into the store, I was looking for a fight. Apparently no other husbands were out with their wives because there was no lineup. The wonderful lady behind the counter said, "Can I help you?". "Hi," I said. "I went through the drive thru a few hours ago and when I got home I discovered that my coffee was prepared incorrectly. I drank as much of it as I had to to make the trembling stop and then I poured the rest down the drain." She quickly interrupted me by saying, "Well it sounds like we owe you a coffee, what can I get you?" I couldn't believe it! I wasn't looking for a free coffee. I was just imploring her to make sure this one was an XL 2C1S. Actually, I'm lieing: I just wanted something to bitch about because I had to walk in the store. When all was said and done, not only was coffee number two prepared perfectly, but it was free to boot! My earlier frown was turned upside down and I had an extra little spring in my step as I made my way back to the car that was still all the way across the parking lot. In her special way, my wife grinned at me and rhetorically said, "See, that wasn't that hard, was it?". No, honey, it wasn't.

Whether it be Tim Hortons or McDonald's or even business dealings with the communists at Bell Canada, the number one rule is that the customer is always right. When you let them know that your coffee is wrong, they apologize, fix it and give you one on the house. When you kindly (drive back thru and) inform them that they forgot to give you sweet and sour sauce for the McNuggets (that you only order when your wife's away for the weekend), they give you a coupon for free McNuggets. If you throw yourself when they charge you for "reactivation fee" because a bad month at the track caused you to be late paying the cell phone bill, more times than not they'll waive that fee. Why? Because they have to do all that they can to keep the customers happy because without the customers, there wouldn't be any business.

Why should our business be any different? I hear a lot of talk among the leaders of our industry about marketing harness racing to new customers. Probably not a bad idea, but how is harness racing supposed to build relationships with newbies when it already has a hard time keeping present customers happy? Last night alone, gamblers used the popular message board, to raise several issues that need addressing. The 2nd Leg of the Ontario Spring Series was the most talked about of them:

"You want to clean up the perception of cheating that continues to plague the Standardbred industry...Then please eliminate the way we run these types of series, Ontario Spring Series and the like, anything that doesn't go 1 elimination week and then a finals...If we wanna give away 20, 20, simply run 1 elim at 40 and then the finals for 80. These things stink to high heaven and do nothing to forward this industry!!"...Bert

"So true!!!"...p3score

"Got that right win the first leg coast the second.....lets see how PEBBLE CREEK gets driven in the finals"...TIMEBOMB

"you are right, it's pathetic and there has got to be some common sense kick in sometime doesn't there? It's just a joke. The two favs that are already int he final are ducking to the inside at the half at 1-9 and 1-100. it's just (expletive)pathetic"...Elway7

Wow, huh? This stuff isn't made up, either. These are real comments from real customers. For far too long, perception issues such as this one have been mismanaged (or unmanaged in many instances) by the governing bodies of our industry and yet at the very same time, most can't seem to figure out why both the handle and general popularity of our beloved sport is dwindling? Here's hoping that the powers-that-be soon start addressing the legitimate concerns of our customers (which, by the way, doesn't happen to be that drivers don't show up to their horses two minutes prior to post parading) before the few that are still loyal decide that they are tired of being treated like they are always wrong.

Time to make a coffee drive...

I'm sure that there are a series of other factors, but I was proud to see that since the launch of THE PETE SHEETS earlier this week, the handles at Flamboro, Grand River and Woodbine (the three tracks for which we've produced THE PETE SHEETS to this point) have increased noticeably, just as they did at Western Fair when we put a little extra work into our product there. Such improvement is the main goal of this new project and it was a reassuring to once again see that the old saying is true: if you build it, they will come! Thanks so much for all of the support. We're working day and night but it doesn't even seem like work most of the time.

Send us your feedback via email to and be sure to spread the word! I have several meetings with prospective sponsors in the weeks ahead and the more interest THE PETE SHEETS is shown to be generating, the greater the likelihood that they'll be supportive of the project.

Georgian Downs and Grand River are today's featured tracks and you can request your own copy by sending an email to In the week's ahead, our web site will be complete and downloadable versions of THE PETE SHEETS will be available.

Things coming around at The Downs

Plenty of people associate Sundays with church or football and for most it's the last day of rest before heading back to work. For as long as I can remember, Sundays for me meant the evening card at Flamboro Downs! You too? Yeah, well, we're all sick.

Flamboro is where it all started for me. I can remember getting my foot in the door (thanks to Lonnie and Cathy McFadden and Ken Hornick) as a 13 year-old and just a few weeks into my family's move to Hamilton I was announcing the qualifiers at Canada's fastest halfmiler. Before long, I had a job as a charter and was Hornick's regular sidekick on "The Freak Show", as it was affectionately nicknamed by Walter Whelan as a means of describing the personalities of many of the show's guests. When Hornick took a job at the (then) OJC, Ken Middleton Jr. was just as accomodating to me and he, too, was good enough to share the spotlight with a prepubescent, know-it-all punk. As the years passed, The Downs also became the place where I jogged my first horse (Bill Budd actually let me jog Road To The Top and sure enough he got loose, but that's a story for another time!), began my friendship with Jody Jamieson and lost thousands upon thousands of dollars gambling. Good times! Needless to say, the track on Highway 5 has been a big part of my life.

Last night's races at Flamboro served as a perfect example of the point that I was trying to make (about Doug McNair) in Saturday's post: good drivers are good for the product. Let's be honest: there are plenty of days (Fridays) that while watching the races from Flam you have to do a double take to make sure you aren't watching American Gladiators or the demolition derby from the Ancaster Fair! It's absolute savagery! Every driver leaves as hard as they can, regardless of the horse's idiosyncrasies and such tactics usually lead to ridiculous fractions, which lead to collapsing paces in just about every race. Drivers are underneath one another all the time, in the way and clogging the flow at a very trip-dependent track. In the new buddy system, drivers don't put objections in against one another anymore and the Judges' explanation is often that "we didn't receive an objection." (And we wonder why our gambling customers are leaving in droves?) More times than not, the winner of a race at Flamboro is the horse that most benefitted from the dynamics, which is something that is very hard to predict (handicap). Not exactly the kind of gambling product that customers have a lot of respect for or confidence in.

The product, however, gets a lot better on night's like last night when Jody Jamieson and Mark MacDonald, the two best drivers in the country, are there to hold court. You can say what you want about my relationship with them, but friends or not, it's true - the races at Flamboro Downs are just better when Jody and Mark participate in them. Is it simply coincidence that the only race on last night's card that was somewhat amateurish was the 9th, a race in which MacDonald didn't have a drive and Jamieson was eliminated from early when his horse broke? I don't think so. Last night's handle seems to support the notion that better drivers make for a better product which makes for more interest from our customers, too, as the $228,662 intake was a four-week high.

I love harness racing and because of my lifelong ties to the track, especially harness racing from Flamboro Downs. I want the races at Flamboro to be as good as they were last night all the time and so do our industry's customers. It doesn't necessarily take great horses in order for that to happen as much as it does great drivers. The best race of the night was the 5th and it featured the cheapest (monetarily) horses on the entire card. With the Stakes season just around the corner, here's hoping the pair can continue to commit to driving at Flamboro and other "B" tracks as often as possible.

THE PETE SHEETS for this evening's programs at Grand River and Woodbine will be available by late afternoon. Request your own copy by sending an email to

Until tomorrow...

Sunday, May 2, 2010

"Super" Saturday

(THE PETE SHEETS is a new project that I've been working on for a little while now and in the weeks ahead I'll have a web site and much more to coincide with this blog. With the ultimate goal being to increase both the handle and overall popularity of harness racing in Ontario, THE PETE SHEETS provide in-depth, comprehensive analysis of racing from Flamboro Downs, Georgian Downs, Grand River Raceway, Western Fair Raceway and the WEG circuit. Beatable favorites, spot plays, live longshots, trainer change angles, Win Four analysis: THE PETE SHEETS will have it all! You can help to make it all happen! As this blog is the first part of the project that I've implemented, the more views and attention that it gets, the easier it will be to convince sponsors to get involved on the rest of the project. Below is a commentary on Saturday racing from Flamboro Downs, Georgian Downs and Woodbine Racetrack. Thanks!)

Super Saver wins The Kentucky Derby for Calvin Borel! Who'd have thought Calvin Borel would win via a nice quiet, ground-saving trip next to the rail! His raw, emotional post-race comments near had me in tears again this year and while all of us might be a little dubious of his prediction that Super Saver is now going to win the Triple Crown, there's no doubt we'll all at least be pulling for him. Way to go Calvin!

How about the guy from Houston that got to make the $100,000 bet and then won?!?! What a fairy tale ending to a great promotion, something that racing needs more of.

There is little doubt that The Derby helped business at Flamboro yesterday afternoon. The card's $158,260 handle was the highest Saturday total in nearly four weeks, a number that was also aided by the fact that eight of the 11 winners paid 7-2 or less, meaning a lot of people were cashing tickets and churning that money back through. The longest priced winner of the day was Dynamite Seelster (4th, start of the Win Four), who won at 50-1 for Scott Zeron in a race where the pace collapsed in the second half, allowing horse and driver to circle the field. The last three legs of the Win Four were won by the favorites, but the gimmick still paid more than $370 thanks to the presence of that longshot in the opening leg. The win was one of two on the day for Zeron. Mark MacDonald and Scott Coulter each won three.

The most impressive winner on the program (and one that I'm adding to THE PETE SHEETS' Watch List) was Cross Of Lorraine. That's "of", not "off". You definitely don't want to be crossing her off anytime soon! The three year-old daughter of Angus Hall was making her sophomore debut after a very good qualifier at Mohawk and she was an absolutely wrapped-up winner for Team Jamieson in 1:59.1. Her own last three-quarters was 1:28.0 and she couldn't have looked better. She didn't pay much and she certainly didn't beat much, but the manner in which she did it leads me to believe that she'll more than be able to hold her own when the competition gets a little tougher.

Flamboro's Sunday evening program commences at 6pm.

From what I could see while watching on the computer, it looked like a good crowd was on hand for Saturday's races at Georgian Downs. Theirs was a very chalky program too, with Puff Mommy (3rd, $13.00)) being the longest priced winner of the entire card. The Prospector Claiming Series Final was won by Team Allard's, Spender Hanover, a horse that has won three out of four and amassed $32,050 in earnings since being claimed for $10,625 on March 25.

The pools at Woodbine were as big as they've been in awhile last night as the 12-race program brought in $1,542,842 worth of bets, bringing the weekend (Friday/Saturday) total to $2,760,588! Congratulations to WEG, those are great numbers.

Doug McNair bookended the program, winning the opener with the heavily favored OK Boromir and the nightcap with Strand Hanover. The former gave the 20 year-old star his first sub-1:50.0 win (1:49.3) and he nearly had another when the latter stopped the clock in 1:50.0. With Western Fair's season winding down, I'm hoping to see more of McNair at Woodbine because he's good for the product. He's aggressive, puts horses in the right spot and gives them a chance every time, which, without naming names, isn't something that can be said for the entire driving colony. Not that any of them are guilty of any wrongdoing, but driving horses is just like any other sport of skill: some are just better than others, some just "get it" more than others and not even three full years into his career, McNair is already one of those drivers.

So is Randy Waples. If you've got a $100 to spend gambling on horses at Woodbine on Saturday night, he's another guy that you want driving your horse(s). Such was never more evident than in his drive on Jackets Required in last night's 7th. Sure, Mcaracas is a very nice horse and the one to beat, but while so many other drivers would have surrendered pre-race, Waples rolled his colt out of there and gave him a chance, which is all that gamblers want! Instead of the all-too-typical "tap the breaks at the point of the first turn and start looking for the favorite", Waples let his (own talented) colt pace through the first turn, ensuring that he at least had a tactical advantage on Mcaracas and that if he were to lose, it was only because he had an inferior horse. As it turned out, the favorite made a break when Mario had to correct him while flying into the last turn and the rest is history. When push comes to shove, Mcaracas is probably the better horse, but a heads up drive from Waples got Jackets Required home first for the colt's owners and the gamblers that bet on him. The win was one of three on the night for Waples (Windsong Filou and CR Muscle Power were the other two), and it's too bad that Get Out Of Dodge was so compromised by the (usual) Woodbine dynamics in the 11th or else he would've won and given Waples the grand slam.

Monday's Woodbine program features the Open Trot and a couple of divisions of the second leg of the Ontario Spring Series. There are some very good betting races on the card and here's hoping that the betting momentum of Kentucky Derby weekend can carry over into another week at Canada's mecca of harness racing.

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