Tag Archives: espn hate

The BIG CAP is SATURDAY, But I Can’t Watch It

Once again, the national sports media has let me down when it comes to a MAJOR STAKES RACE!

Saturday’s Santa Anita Handicap is only available to watch LIVE on HRTV, a station I do not get and most people have never heard of outside of the racing world.

COME ON PEOPLE! This is the freaking BIG CAP! The historic “Hundred Grander” that was so important in the movie Seabiscuit! This is the race that put California racing On The Map! Legends have won it, from Seabiscuit and Kayak II to Triple Crown winner Affirmed, from Spectacular Bid to Alysheba to Tiznow and TWICE won by JOHN HENRY and LAVA MAN!

And I can’t watch it. It is not on ESPN. At post time on Saturday, ESPN will be bringing us a totally irrelevant exhibition baseball game between Panama and Puerto Rico; ESPN2 will be showing NCAA Men’s basketball (not the Tigers, not important); and ESPNEWS will be showing Sportscenter, which is on like 30 times a day. But NO BIG CAP.

What is wrong with the world? Maybe I should stop hating on ESPN. After all, the NTRA is supposed to be our promoter-why can’t they seem to book us any time for our MAJOR RACES?

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Filed under promoting racing, rants

11 Grade 1 Races This Weekend…Only ONE on ESPN

Last week, at the NTRA’s marketing summit, a lot of talk centered on how to attract and keep the next generation of fans.  The first part would be having horses stay around long enough for us to enjoy them.  The second part would be broadcasting the races where these stars are competing!!!

This weekend are the PLAYOFFS of Breeders’ Cup!  *11 GRADE ONE RACES* on both coasts, on all surfaces will feature many championship hopefuls.  Most of them will be on TVG-the Belmont ones.  HRTV takes up the Santa Anita races.  Most people do not have TVG or HRTV (*I* don’t even have HRTV…sigh).  Our fearless leaders in racing have quickly thrown together some TV time for the Jockey Club Gold Cup on ESPN because Curlin is entered.  The brief pre-race coverage will be completely irrelevant.  There are few serious handicappers on ESPN (at least few who are allowed to be serious on the air.  Mayne always appeared to know his stuff but his irreverence got in the way; Moss is solid but has to dumb it down too much).  There will probably be no post parade, no discussion of the other horses in the field (“they’re all running for second”) or interviews with connections not named Asumussen or Jackson. 

Most people I know only know about the race as a singular event – the preps for the Derby go unnoticed, the idea of peaking or rounding into form or the fact that there is even any tactical theory involved in a race is news to the casual observer.  We have to promote the “thinking” side of the game more.  It’s not just a mad dash to the wire (not talking Quarters here).  Get people interested in Beyer numbers or ThoroGraph sheets; pit the 2 sides against each other.  The trip handicappers against the pedigree people.   SPotlight and involve this specialized side of the sport on national TV, and there will be more people interested in the game as a Game.  Not everyone loves horses like I do, but when I talk about the splits and figs and stuff, people (guys) take more interest. 

The Internet is a godsend for this infoporn: I can get boatloads of info for free or really, really cheap.  Discussion forums are everywhere.  And the race replays are online, too!  It is a perfect sport for the snack culture-the entire thing is only 2 minutes.  And if you know enough, make smart bets and play responsibly, you will win a lot more often than simply dropping a coin into a slot machine.

 The only show that does everything I have mentioned above is At The Races with Steve Byk on Sirius.  The man is a godsend – smart commentary, great guests who Byk is not afraid to question, a lot of good history buffs and pedigree experts, interviews with a wide range of handicappers, jockeys, trainers, even VETS!  Live calls of feature races that he, his guests and average-Joe call-ins handicap.  It is the Racing Equivalent of Sportscenter.  I only wish more people could listen to it.

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Filed under Breeders' Cup, Handicapping, rants

Crash and Burn!! What a way to start a blogging career

I hate my real job sometimes.  I work every weekend and miss all the live racing action, then when I finally get a chance to sit down and youtube the races I am too beat to do a decent blog.  So here I am 4 days late with the weekend wrap show.  It ain’t too pretty, and not a reflection of my usual handicapping, as you’ll find in the weeks to come.


Some people complained of the quality of the field here, said the Gr1 status was laughable, but hey, those glorified allowancers gave a helluva run.  Frost Giant, 40-1, trained by the traina non grata Rick Dutrow, won a hard-fought stretch duel with Larry Jones’s Solar Flare.  Frost Giant took the lead after a good break, set the opening quarter in 24 and change with Solar Flare second.  NAughty New Yorker charged up on the rail to grab the lead at the half and held it into the turn, where Frost Giant and SOlar Flare again made moves for the lead.  At the top of the stretch, Solar FLare was a half-length in front with Frost Giant running hard in second.  It looked like Solar Flare would get it, but in deep stretch, Frost Giant found another gear.  He drew even again with Solar FLare and drew off to win by a half length.  Damascus and Dr. Fager they aren’t, but it was a fun race anyway.  Frost Giant is a 5yo son of “Iron Horse” Giant’s Causeway, and he is owned by IEAH Stables.  Frost Giant will be one of the racers going off all meds but Salix this fall, so I am interested to see how his career progresses from here.  I had Frost Giant to show in this race, with Solar FLare on top and AP Arrow to place.  Close, but no cash.  The main reason I had Frost Giant on my radar at all, aside from his trainer, is that he shares a name with a virtual racehorse from an old fantasy racing game I used to play.  That Frost Giant was the “sire” of some “great” virtual thoroughbreds!

The stretch drive of the Mother Goose was a mess – aside from winner Music Note.  The blue-blood filly by AP Indy out of a Sadler’s Well mare easily made off with the field of 4 because she was the only one who was runnng a straight line.  In Music Note’s wake, Proud Spell had a rough time of it after a stumbling start.  Shuffled all the way back to 3rd at one point, she burst through on the rail beside Never Retreat, only to bump that filly before the wire.  Proud Spell got a DQ to 3rd.  Another losing ticket for me!  W00T!

At Hollywood, things weren’t much better for me.  My “can’t lose” pick, Daytona, lost badly to another huge longshot, Whatsthescript.  Whatsthescript blew by pacesetter Storm Military to win by 1 and 14 lengths.  Daytona looked great laying second most of the way, but in the stretch he just lost his run.  It was a little surprising, so I hope no physical problems caused it.  The winner was one of 4 stakes winners last weekend for trainer John Sadler.  He also trained A Gleam winner Dearest Trickski, my 3rd choice who beat Magnificence and Intangaroo (my win pick).  Sadler’s other winners were Emmy Darling (off my radar) in the Landaluce stakes for 2yo fillies, and Black Mamba in the Beverly Hills stakes on turf for classic-distance running fillies.  Sadler is new to me, but he’s on my list now of people to pay attention to when their horses run.  

Thank goodness TVG has the Hollywood signal.  I was able to catch the ESPN coverage of the Hollywood Gold Cup, but I wonder if casual observers knew what race they were watching —  all the talking heads could find to discuss was BIG BROWN!!!  Big Brown wasn’t even running Saturday!  Most of the pre-race coverage consisted of the Belmont excuse train, from the missed Winstrol injection to the loose shoe to the non-sweating to the lone gunman on the grassy knoll!  I flipped from ESPN to TVG several times during the Gold Cup show because ESPN spent too much time dumbing down the proceedings.  TVG knows there are new fans, too, but they actually spent their airtime talking about the horses who were actually in the race they were actually broadcasting that day!!

What a race, too! Mast Track, owned, bred and trained by Bobby Frankel, pulled off a wire-to-wire upset in the Gold Cup over Go Between and Student Council.  The only similarity to the Belmont was the Da’Tara-like performance of the winner.  Soft early fractions kept Mast Track fresh for a super stretch drive.  Go Between threatened, but could not catch the son of Mizzen Mast.  The old man, Perfect Drift, was never in it and finished 7th.  Maybe they can card a race just for the old guys, like Lava Man, Perfect Drift and Evening Attire.

I’ll have my Independence Day Stakes picks tomorrow!!

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Filed under Belmont Park, Graded Stakes, Handicapping, Hollywood Park, polytrack, rants