Leaping lizards, Larry, it's Leap Year!And, in keeping with a tradition to inject extra fun into every opportunity it gets, the Downs will give a $10 birthday gift to anyone born tomorrow, February 29.Show your I.D. anytime after Friday and you'll receive your $10 bet!Also, this is for everyone:the $100 prize for tomorrow night's poker game is being doubledto $200.And the $25 show parlay prize is being doubledto $50.Every good reason to leap for joy and leap on down to the Downs on Leap Year Friday--even if you're just turning five!Hear that, Larry?
In other news:I'm in shock. Maybe you will be, too.Given an easy way to qualify for a finale in a horseplaying contest in the Bettor's Blog,80 per cent missed.What will help remedy this poor showing?That follows.Other highlights this week:
• Deadline alert: Tomorrow is the deadline to enter Triple Crown Challenge in which you pick three 3-year-olds to make it to the Kentucky Derby and beyond.
• New free game called Double Play has caught fire. Reg continues to burn most brightly
• Santa Anita plans to change its track surface--again.What do you think it will be?
• Mums the word for harness drivers.Talking can cost them $100.
• Saturday is Big 'Cap day at Santa Anita--another important Tour d' Champs day at the Downs!
First, it was this quirky news that had horseplayers overseas buzzing on the weekend:
AUSSIE BELLYFLOPS AT FINISH LINE:Celebrating his stag with 26
...and bellyflopping into third it's ...
mates Saturday at Moruya racetrack in Australia, a tipsy fan decided it would be fun to strip to his underwear and race oncoming horses to the finish line. Jockeys watched in astonishment as the man did a stumbling bellyflop at the finish line.Only bettors holding losing tickets could have been amused. The stewards promptly declared the race no-contest because the leading horse was spooked by the intruder and crashed into the inner rail, allowing other horses to pass.A 31-year-old Canberra man was hauled away and charged with offensive conduct.There was no word on whether his fiancee still wanted to marry him.
BRIT MAKES HISTORY WITH PERFECT PICK-8:A British horseplayer did something no one had done since betting shops were legalized in England in 1961:He multiplied a 50-pence ($1) bet into $1 million by predicting the winners of a eight races being run in succession at various tracks throughout England on the weekend.It could not have come at a better time for Fred Craggs: he was celebrating his 60th birthday.News reports said he wasn't even aware of his good fortune when he walked into a branch of the William Hill betting agency with his ticket."He turned pale and muttered that he'd better go home and tell his wife."
16 of 20 fail to qualify; remedy set for Saturday
Imagine this: To retain ownership of your car, you must bet $6 ($2 win/place/show) on a horse of your choice and get a return at least equal to your $6 investment. Otherwise, you'd lose your car.By this standard, 16 of 20 semi-finalists in a Bettor's Blog contest Saturday would have lost their car. Eighty per cent. The car analogy, of course, just dramatizes what was at stake but having so few players make the cut does demonstrate a need for a fresh look at horseplaying basics and that's going to be my aim this Saturday.(By the way, Roger Jones won the contest the next day with a $3.40 Arabian horse at Sam Houston and gets $50.The second-place finisher had War Pass, a $2.10 horse at Gulfstream.Enough said on that.The contest started with 90 entrants.)Want a way to get past that spotty showing?
(1)I'm holding a horseplayer seminar this Saturday at in the Finish Line.We'll analyze actual live races running at the time and play them as a group.Bring your questions!
These titles, among others, available Saturday
(2)NEW!The best race-playing books on the market will be offered for sale at the seminar.The Downs just made a large purchase from the Daily Racing Form.Interesting, valuable reading.
(3)I will show you a race from last Saturday that blogger semi-finalists could have played because it virtually "popped" off the page.That horse paid $20 to win and $9 to place.After Saturday, never again will you miss this kind of horse!
(4)I will show you how to find the very best bet anyone can make at the races.
(5)I'll help you analyze three HOT PLAYS for the afternoon.If you had bet $2 win/place on my three previous HOT PLAYS, you would have collected $29.
(6)Read, or re-read, "secrets to playing the races" posted here on the Downs website.
(7)Make arrangements for a ride home in the event you fail to heed the advice at the seminar and lose your car anyway.Okay, not funny.
So ....see you Saturday at in the Finish Line!Everyone's welcome!Let's get a turnaround happening in time for spring!
SANTA ANITA TO CHANGE SURFACE YET AGAIN
My prediction: dirt.What's yours?
A billboard Santa never wants to post again
A day-long forum on synthetic track surfaces last week at Santa Anita produced more fog than clarity.Half the trainers said it produced more injuries, others said it reduced injuries, veterinarians said it produced different kinds of injuries.Jockeys agreed that riding over synthetics was more comfortable but leading Cal jockey Garrett Gomez said the surface was unpredictable from day to day.Others at the forum said synthetics deserved a "wait and watch" approach. The representative from the company that caused all of Santa's problems, Cushion Track, didn't even show up. In the face of all this, beleaguered Santa Anita president Ron Charles has announced he is going to totally replace the current Cushion/Pro-Ride mixture after the current meet ends in mid-April.What is he going to do, knowing that his track will be hosting the next two years of Breeders' Cups, one this fall and one in 2009?I think he has no choice but to install dirt--that's the only surface everyone is familiar with. Downs announcer Darren Dunn says I'm dead wrong--that it will be Polytrack (in use at Woodbine, Turfway, Keeneland and Del Mar) or Tapeta (in use at Golden Gate Fields and Presque Isle Downs). But can they afford to flirt with yet another surface that may have unknown consequences only weeks before the Breeders' Cup?What do you think Santa will do?What do you want Santa to do?Email your opinions to email@example.com
HOLD YOUR TONGUE!
The harness police are watching
It's hard to imagine anyone more closely scrutinized than harness drivers.Drivers are routinely fined $50 for talking anywhere on the track, $100 for talking to another driver during a post parade, $50 for not keeping the proper course, $50 for not holding the reins with both hands through the length of the stretch, $50 for not keeping both feet in the stirrups, $100 for overusing the whip,$100 for using naughty language, $100 for striking wheels, $100 for "causing trailing horses to become confused" by taking your horse to the lead and taking up, $200 for kicking your horse, $200 for whipping below the belt (uh, below the poles), $200 for impeding another horse, $300 for blocking the passing lane and $1,000 for being a hothead around the paddock judge. The penalty for not trying hard?Priceless abuse from the fans.
Jockey Irwin Driedger, agent Lorne Spearman in 1978
Liz's Pride, Irwin Driedger at the reins, holds off Toronto invader in 1978 Winnipeg Futurity
"MY MOST MEMORABLE MOMENT"
Almost fell out of the grandstand
When you're in your 20's and have racetrack blood coursing through your veins because your grandfather has been bringing you to the track since you were seven--and you have a great gift of gab--what do you do with your life?For Lorne Spearman in 1976 (and now a jockey's agent at Woodbine for Corey Fraser), the answer was easy:become a jockey's agent.But that involvement with racing almost cost him a spill from the third-floor grandstand during the running of the Winnipeg Futurity in August, 1978 as he watched his jockey, Irwin Driedger, aboard Manitoba-bred Liz's Pride hold off a closing rush from the favoured Medaille d'Or, a Secretariat-bred invader from Toronto."I nearly jumped over the rail.My brother (Wayne) caught me," Spearman recalls in his most memorable moment."Jean Louis Levesque, the powerhouse owner of the second-place horse, had expected to win the race."
Some 6,000 people packing the grandstand and tarmac witnessed this proud moment in Manitoba racing and the win launched Lorne and Irwin into the racing stratosphere.Irwin became four-time leading jockey at Assiniboia before he and Lorne headed to the big-time in Toronto where they both continued to excel.The jockey later became president of the Jockey's Guild of Canada and today oversees maintenance on Woodbine's Polytrack. At Woodbine last year, Lorne's current jockey, Corey Fraser, won 42 races worth $2.4 million in purse money.
DOUBLE PLAY EMERGES AS POPULAR GAME
Reg gets hat-trick amid chants:"Who can edge out Reg?"
Saturday night has emerged as "big event" night in the Clubhouse with the advent three weeks ago of an exciting new free game called Double Play. "People have been telling me how much they enjoy it," said promo gal Chelsea Obsniuk. "It's constant action."In it, a player predicts a show horse and the total of the top three finishers in six races, three thoroughbred races alternating with three harness races starting at The big news last Saturday was Reg Pluchinske getting his hat trick--three consecutive Saturdays of winning at the game."Reg has been on fire!"saidChelsea. This past Saturday he won $45 which, added to winnings in two previous weeks, gives him $195 in winnings.It's as if he can count on Double Play each Saturday night to supplement his betting bankroll."Who can edge out Reg?"became the battle cry of those trying to unseat him. Other winners of the 21 entrants that night: Ken Porter and Terry Pagee picked up $50 in betting vouchers each; Art Solvason and Glen Sirkis $25 each.Carryover to Saturday:$25, bringing total prize up to $200.Remember, it's free to enter.And you can enter one to six races, your choice.More.
WHO ELSEWON?"Augment" augments Drabing's bankroll
Death by Bay Meadows:Mark Drabing was the only person left standing among 23 competitors when Augment won the fifth race at Bay Meadows Saturday, giving him the $100 in betting vouchers.The game, which requires entrants to predict winners at the Bay starting in race 2, continues every Saturday afternoon.Friday poker:Retiree Dennis Lee got good cards dealt to him all night, giving him $100 as the ultimate winner among 10 in the free Friday night game.He and Rod Zaretsky win a seat in the $1,000 poker finale March 28.Remember, to celebrate Leap Year Friday, $200 is the prize in tomorrow's poker game.Show parlay challenge:Bill Bartlett increased his $10 to $38 in three races Friday night and won $25 in betting vouchers for doing so. For Leap Year tomorrow, you can win $50.
DID YOU KNOW that Santa Anita has cancelled more races this year than it has cancelled in all of its previous 70 years combined?Cushion Track flooding forced 11 days of cancellations, three more than the eight days throughout its history racing on dirt.
TIP O' THE WEEK:Treat racing like the stock market
People who play the stock market successfully don't buy 10 shares of this, five shares of that, eight shares of that, etc.They do a bit of investigating, then invest in a large chunk of shares in certain segments of the market.They might read an annual report, size up news reports, perhaps consult with a broker.Successful wagering is similar:watching replays, examining trainer stats in the DRF, noting track biases and workouts or equipment changes, then pouncing on select horses or races when you can back up your bet with strong arguments.
HEARTY ITALIAN DISHES grace tonight's all-you-can-eat buffet in the
Terrace Dining Room from to Feast on Italian wedding soup, Italian meatballs in tomato sauce, chicken parmesan, jardiniere alfredo, ratatouille, grilled marinated vegetable salad, chocolate biscotti and so much more for only $14.95.Next Thursday's theme:Ukrainian.Upcoming:Book now for Easter Sunday Brunch, March 23.Menu.Phone 885-3330.
HOT WEEKEND ACTION:It's Big 'Cap Saturday at Santa
One of the biggest days in Santa Anita's winter/spring meet, the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap, runs this Saturday. Be sure to bring your Tour d' Champs card (or get one if you don't have one).Present it at the Race Book kiosk in theClubhouse for another chance to win a trip to the Breeders' Cup.That will also enter you into three draws for popular, classy Santa Anita merchandise (fleece pullover and vintage cap).
At a glance:Friday features free poker and is your last chance to enter Triple Crown Challenge. Saturday starts with horseplayer seminar.From to , get your Tour d' Champs card stamped.Play Death by Bay Meadows for $100.Saturday evening:Play Double Play for $250 starting