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.

(A special thanks to those of you that took the time to message me with feedback. The more feedback the better. If you can't be bothered to "follow" this blog, please take the time to send an email to so that in the week ahead I can take some healthy numbers to my sponsors and show that this project is of interest to people.)

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