I Finally Went Back To The Horse Races . . . The Bad and the Good

markinsacmarkinsac Member
edited September 2012 in Thoroughbred Racing & Sales
Yesterday, I was visiting northern California. It's been 2 years since I've been to a live horse race. On that October 2010 day, Zenyatta won the Lady's Secret Stakes at Hollywood Park in her second-to-last-race of her career. A month later I went to the local simulcast facility to watch her last race. Since then, I stopped going to horse races. I have voiced my frustrations with the industry. It seems nobody listens to customers. So I stopped going.

But on Saturday, I had the urge. I drove 50 miles to the San Joaquin County Fair in Stockton. I checked on the internet and found out that the first live race is at 1:15 pm (pacific) and the first simulcast race from the east coast was at 10:40 am. I arrived in time for the first simulcast race, ready to bet. The fairgrounds (which I have visited many times over the years) has a simulcast air-conditioned building in the parking lot. So I stopped there first, intending to play the east coast races until it was close to live-racing post time. I get there and I am informed that the facility is out of east coast racing forms. I talk to the vendor, he tells me they sold so many the previous day, that they ran out when he first opened up this morning.

I drove over to the grandstand, hoping they would have forms. There wasn't anybody selling forms despite bettors playing the simulcast races. I asked around, but every employee said, "That's not my department." I finally came accross a young employee who decided to take the time to try to help me. I explained to him that not having the Racing Form is like a hot dog without a bun.

I told him that every time I come down to this fair, something like this happens. The ambulance is here, the ticket sellers are here, but no racing forms. This is that disconnect that I was talking about. Here I am, showing up over 2 hours before the first live race to play simulcast. I'm the kind of customer who brings more to bet; bet's more races; bets more per race; is highly profitable to the racing association. Yet they don't have the tools for me to bet. The previous day, when they were running short of forms, why didn't the vendor inform his/her boss of the situation? Why didn't the boss ask the vendor, "How many forms for tomorrow do we have left?"

This one concerned employee finally found the phone number of the simulcast facility and got a hold of the boss. The boss informed him that more forms just arrived and I drove back to the simulcast facility. But these things just should not happen. At these small county fairs in northern California, they happen all the time, driving away more and more customers.

As for the crowd? I'd estimate it at around 5,000. In years past, there would be 10,000 packing that grandstand. The win, place and show pool rarely got over $50,000, where in years' past it crept over $100,000 on occasion. And on a SATURDAY, they only offered 8 live races. In years past, I've seen 13 races offered on Saturdays.


On a positive note, the Moss' had a horse running named VOLTARRA. She was a first-time starter. According to the Racing Form, the Mosses paid $85,000 for her, which is $25,000 more than they paid for Zenyatta. Unfortunately Voltarra didn't show much promise and she was entered in the cheapest level maiden race for $5,000 claimers. This goes to show how risky it is to own and race racehorses.

Russell Baze, the winningest jockey of all time rode her. So with the Baze/Moss connections, she was sent off as the 3-5 favorite. Despite breaking slowly (after the break, I didn't think she had a chance because she's a first-timer just learning the game), Voltarra rallied from last to win by almost 2 lengths. Perhaps Zenyatta called with some pre-race instructions. I don't think anybody claimed her, so looking forward to her next race, maybe at the Fresno Fair or at Golden Gate. And Voltarra's last eighth of a mile was in an impressive 12.3 seconds.



    Here's a Daily Racing Form article by Jay Hodvey. Notice how nearly EVERY comment in the comment section agrees with Jay. Santa Anita CEO, Frank Strongarm, makes a mockery of the Stakes names. I love the Zenyatta Stakes at the track of her bigges win ever:

  • Customer service is sadly lacking in many venues these days, not just at race tracks, but I do have to agree that to run out of racing forms is significant. Sad. But, I'm glad to see you had a day at the races in spite of all that! Thanks for the link to the Hovdey article. Yeah, some of those names...yikes. My opinion would also be to create a new race for Zenyatta and keep the Lady's Secret, but my opinion matters only to me - lol!
  • its a sobering thing to know that even the Mosses have low level racers
  • RachelRachel Member
    edited September 2012
    Customer service is sadly lacking in many venues these days, not just at race tracks, but I do have to agree that to run out of racing forms is significant. Sad. But, I'm glad to see you had a day at the races in spite of all that! Thanks for the link to the Hovdey article. Yeah, some of those names...yikes. My opinion would also be to create a new race for Zenyatta and keep the Lady's Secret, but my opinion matters only to me - lol!
    i have to agree, with all of what you said. i too think that zenyatta should have her own stakes race, it isnt too great to have a race renamed, especially being that it was the Lady's Secret. but maybe its easier for them to rename a race rather than create a new one? i dont know =/

  • Well rachel, you bring up a good point. The formerly "Lady's Secret" was going to be renamed anyways because Santa Anita got rid of all the old Oak Tree Racing Association names. That race is the championship race for the Fall meet for older fillies and mares and is a Grade 1 race plus Zenyatta won the race 3 times, that's why it fits. But the Awesome Again name is pure egotistical. Some of the moves Stronach makes are just puzzlers. But at least he has tastefully renovated Santa Anita, careful not to mess with the old art-deco facade, while incorporating modern touches. But I hate all that fancy railing on the apron. It messes up the view if you're standing down there.
  • seems to me like we are going backwards lol
  • and by we i mean people at SA or whatever other race track that have been said to mess things up over time
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  • Well, a short meet, like Santa Anita's fall meet will have only ONE big race for older filly and mares. They will have only ONE race for juvenile males and one race for juveniles fillies etc. Del Mar, pretty much the same. Saratoga, the same.

    The "Secretariat Stakes" is run at, of all places, Arlington Park. Secretatiat ran at Arlington Park once on the dirt in the Arlington Invitational. But Arlington was the first track to use Secretatiat's name in a stakes--the Secretatiat Stakes, which curiously is run on the turf. A head scratcher to say the least.

    My point being Santa Anita had to rush to use Zenyatta's name before Hollywood Park, Del Mar, Oaklawn or Churchill Downs (all tracks Zenyatta raced at) got there first.

    It's too bad Belmont Park didn't use the Secretariat name to rename their Belmont Stakes to the Secretariat Stakes, in honor of his majestic feat. To have the Triple Crown as the Kentucky Derby presented by Yum Brands, the Preakness and the Secretariat Stakes would have a nice ring.
  • carolinarkansascarolinarkansas hot springs, arkansasMember
    however...Sec did run and win on turf...but who knows..
  • Was that race at woodbine on turf his only run on turf? (I believe it was woodbine?)
  • Secretariat did end his career on the turf in the Canadian International Stakes at Woodbine. It was a grueling mile and 5/8ths. Secretariat did run on the turf in his previous race, the Man O' War Stakes, a mile and a half on the turf.

    Here's a video of Secretatiat's final race:

  • FYI, I use the website "horseracingnation . com" to look up the past performances. Once you get to that page, look for the "Top 250" tab, click on that, then find the horse you're interested in, click on that. You will end up on the page of the horse which will show EVERY race the horse ran in. Great information!
  • they wouldnt DARE rename any of the Triple Crown races lol
  • Thank you for posting that video... I'd never seen it before. Anyone else get a huge lump in their throat as he changed gears, and with steam coming out of his nose making him look like a fire breathing dragon, just left the others in the dirt?
  • Wow! Thanks for posting the video. I don't think I had seen it before - goosebumps!
  • Randy: I did! Have also never seen that race - what an awe-inspiring fellow! Thanks for posting it Mark, and for the information on the website. Cheers.
  • Watch this harness race. Midway down the backstretch, watch the leader the #5, Odds on Ecoulous. He's the 1-5 favorite. Let me know if you see him do anything wrong. This race took place at the Red Mile Harness track in Lexington, KY on 9-29:

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  • Here's what the stewards (referees) ruled: That leading horse, #5 Odds on Equuleus went too slow going into the final turn causing interference to the horses behind him. This was sooo excurciating because he was the 1-5 favorite, meaning those who bet on him bet large amounts and during the inquiry, the stewards NEVER had his light flashing informing the bettors he was being investigated.

    First of all he went his 3rd quarter in 28.8 which was faster than the first quarter, and while not being all that fast, it wasn't all that slow either. The driver slowed down the pace so the horse would have something left in the stretch.

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  • And consider this: He barely held on, that other horse almost caught him. My guess this decision gets overturned on the appeal.

    Maybe they were using replacement stewards?
  • Wow, good thing i dont bet, dont really know much about betting though lol
  • I'm not trying to get you to bet, but it can be used as a guide as to how the horse will perform in any given race. A horse's odds are derived by the amount bet on him/her. The horse with the most bet will have the shortest odds (the favorite), while the horse with the least amount bet will be the longest shot. Everybody else's odds will be somewhere in between.

    Zenyatta's odds, because she kept winning, were very short. In her first ever start, she went off at 6-1 (win $6 for every $1 bet). That's because nobody knew she was good. But as she kept winning, her odds dropped drastically. In most of her races, you had to risk $5 just to win a dollar. That's because large amounts of money were wagered on her. So somebody who risked $1,000 on her would make $200 profit. On most horses, that would be a risky bet, but on Zenyatta, those were actually GOOD odds.
  • Dang, crazy how the numbers work
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