Empowering Girls
Loving Horses
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Monday, May 19, 2014

Horseracing Industry to Casinos: Save Me!

Warning: Optical Illusion Ahead

Which one of these is not like the other? Tell me by the time I finish this blog…

  •          Racebook, what’s that?
  •          Racebook, The Shell Game.
  •          Racebook, Find Me ALL OVER Atlantic City.

The short of it…Me, Atlantic City. Can’t find a racebook to place a bet to save my life! And no, I didn’t check one casino, or two or even three. I walked as far as my very willing and eager legs would carry me, passing multiple pedi-bicycle taxis along the way on the boardwalk. Meaning, had I grown tired of hoofing it, I easily could’ve grabbed a cabbie and been whisked away to any viable casino option.
Had I known how difficult it would be to place a bet off-track, I certainly would’ve bellied up to my very friendly mutuel cashier inside the Turfside Terrace tent at Pimlico on Black-Eyed Susan Day and put my money where my mouth is, then and there. I was headed to Atlantic City though, Las Vegas’ east coast sister. How could I not place a bet on an upcoming Triple Crown race that’s taking place in three weeks in a CITY that depends on gambling income for survival and sustenance?
It boggles my mind, it truly does; and not in a good way. How’s the horseracing industry expected to survive without fans having a physical location, off-track, to place bets? I live in Texas (If it could be a legal requirement that all Texans be horseracing fans, I’m pretty sure the Governor or some state representative would sign off on it.) and I still have to drive between three and four hours to arrive at a horse track to put money down at a live window.
Fans need RACEBOOKS! I’d even settle for a sportsbook at this point in time. Blame New Jersey for not allowing Atlantic City casinos to operate sportsbooks. Not that I think any other sport compares to horseracing enough to warrant glomming horseracing betting together with it. (Sorry football, basketball, hockey and car racing. Don’t even get me started on baseball or golf. Can a girl even bet on those sports?) Thoroughbreds are in a league of their own.
I want to place a bet on California Chrome, I really do! He’s going for Triple Crown glory, an accomplishment not met since Affirmed in 1978. When Cali C crosses that finish line in front of the herd, I’d like to celebrate knowing I did my part to make his effort worthwhile.
As proof of my determined efforts to find a book in Atlantic City [New Jersey], I offer up exactly where I pounded pavement in search of my horse heaven by the ocean.

  •       The Trump Taj where I stayed had a racebook until recently closing it. The sign above their poker room still lists “Racingbook” as an option for entertainment as of May 19, 2014.
  •       The helpful, courteous security man at Revel informed me that he thought one book was left on the boardwalk but didn’t know where. Definitely not the Revel.
  •       The Showboat, no racebook and no explanation as to when or why one was dissolved if it ever existed.
  •       No racebook at Ballys, no idea why. It’s Ballys, hello. And I’m in Atlantic City! Gambling anyone?
  •       Caesars Palace informed me that the closest location to place a bet in a race OR SPORTSbook would be Harrah’s casino IN PHILADELPHIA. Pennsylvania! That’s a whole other state.
  •       At Trump Plaza, up the boardwalk, I was informed by the floor manager that the Trump Taj had a racebook but the Plaza does not.
  •       The Trump Taj DOES NOT have an active racebook.
  •       And finally, the security manager on duty at the Tropicana was indeed informative, I just didn’t like what he had to say…the only racebook left on the strip was in Revel.
  •       Don’t run to REVEL, they DO NOT have one!

As tragically comical as I would find this reality did I not actually want to place a bet on the fabulous and very exciting Belmont Stakes, if the various casinos don’t even know where to send me to hand over my wad of cash so that they can, essentially, do nothing whatsoever besides TAKE MY WAD OF CASH and PERHAPS pay me a bit in return LATER, I can certainly understand why the horseracing industry is grappling with survival.
Fans need Racebooks, Sportsbooks and Racetracks. This idea that today’s horseracing fan doesn’t have the time or inclination to attend a day at the races and bet on horses is simply not true. I have many friends who enjoy spending their time at the track as well as watching the horses run. It’s fun. And exciting.
Maybe today’s horseracing [gambling] industry doesn’t turn as high a profit as general casino slot machines or card tables but when has it ever? Please somebody, give me a year. Comparing the two sources for profit is like saying a puny goldfish pulled from a pet store aquarium is going to offer up the same lavish capability for delicious sushi that an exquisite, healthy yellow tail would. Not going to happen no matter how much you wish for it.
For casinos to close race or sportsbooks and deny loyal, passionate horseracing fans opportunities to continue following a beautiful sport, they must not care whether or not the horseracing industry survives another century.
If the UK can maintain a healthy industry, why can’t the United States? 

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Congratulations, Untapable and Rosie, winners of the Kentucky Oaks!!!

Rosie Napravnik aboard Untapable
Great photo by Steve Queen

I swore to myself that I was never going to admit this in public. But desperate times call for desperate measures so here we go...

Should you see me at the track and be looking for some betting advice heed this warning: Not that I didn't enjoy yesterday's Kentucky Oaks race once it got underway and out the other side of the gate. I thoroughly did! But my top three picks, honestly, could they have done any worse? I mean yes, if you consider that they didn't actually all three place last.

Speaking of which, poor Empress of Midway. I don't know what spooked her in the gate. I couldn't tell how she loaded because the camera broadcasting her loading was fixed on the front-side of the gate. Looked like she went in fine and that the gate crew didn't force her in, from that angle. But once she got in there, started rearing up, I think she's lucky (and the jockey) that she (or he) didn't get seriously injured. I was grateful to see her prancing back to the barn without much adieu. I searched for a favored leg or some slight limping in the replay and thankfully, didn't catch that either. Hopefully, for the O'Neill barn, she'll fare much better than Bond Holder in the aftermath of his ordeal care.

And if you still don't believe me that I have backwards luck when choosing the horses I bet on (Sugar Shock and Fashion Plate, my other top two picks for yesterday finished 8th and 11th.). Don't ask me why?! I thought they'd be able to boost in a little something extra at the end. Unfortunately for Gary Stevens (Fashion Plate) it looked like Fashion Plate had a gate issue, as well. She seemed to get ancy or nervous in the stall and was hopping around a bit. I'm not saying her break looked clean, but she just looked unsettled for a good portion of the run. Like her heart or mind were simply not into it or distracted. In Fashion Plate's defense, I would've been all out of sorts if my friend in the ten slip had issues and then we all had to re-load into our slots too. That's very confusing, all that in, but no race and out.

Not that they shouldn't reload the gate!

My horrible picks yesterday reminded me of a time I was at Del Mar betting on a six horse race. Just a normal stakes', nothing major. Just me having fun, trying to figure out the basics of choosing a horse based on all their stats and the various bits of factual information you can gather on them, should you want to approach the window "well-informed."

I was feeling pretty fancy that day and decided to bet on three horses to come in, in any order of 1, 2, 3. It was a proud moment for me. A big bet! Can you believe those little rascally horses, the ones I laid down money on, came across that wire, 4, 5, 6 (in no particular order). The three horses (OUT OF A SIX HORSE RACE!!!) that I picked, literally came across the line none of them winning, and all three in the non-money spots.

After yesterday, I think I must finally admit it. I don't pick winning horses when I bet. Technically, I mainly blame jockey Mike Smith. He's always showing off on other mounts and stealing my horses' wins. It could also be because all of those horses are so darn pretty that it's hard for me to admit favorites. Especially when they all just seem so happy to be tearing around that track, running alongside their friends. I mean, I know when I get in the company of my good friends...if one of them is wearing some sort of crazy, that-just-is-not-working, shirt (pattern or color combination) I don't dump that friend. I may suggest we only visit dimly lit establishments while we're out together that night? But shun them? Heavens no.

Bottom Line: Should you see me at the track and want to place a bet...either...a) ask somebody else for picks' advice. Or b) bet COMPLETELY OPPOSITE how I do. Do one of those things and you should be good to go.

Congratulations to ROSIE NAPRAVNIK! for taking home the gold riding shotgun on Untapable. Beautiful horse, great run, lots of spirit! There goes that Rosie again...never a dull moment watching her make things happen.

Don't forget to tune in today for the big Kahuna: THE KENTUCKY DERBY!!!
Post time is 6:24 pm est on NBC.
My picks are...ahhh! never mind!
(Insert big smile here...what are you going to do? They're horses. And therein lies the magic of the races. You think you know everything and then you don't know nothing!)
Thanks, horses for reminding me I'm a mere mortal human. We can't all be born equine. What a beautiful world that would be.

Update: Empress of Midway, that gorgeous gal! Apparently, she's as smart as she is beautiful. When she had issues in the gate yesterday, it is now being reported that she had the presence of mind to remain relaxed while awaiting rescue from that dastardly starting gate. Thankfully, she has been given a clean bill of health from Churchill Downs' on-call AAEP vet, Dr. Larry Bramlage. Don't worry, I've already put in an official request to have her run Black Eyed Susan Day, if she's up for it.