Monday, December 31, 2012

Saying Goodbye to a Year of Records

As we enter the final hours of 2012, I look back at a historic year in both harness racing and my career. What I know is 2012 proved to be an eventful year in both harness racing and my profession. 
Captaintreacherous winning the Woodrow Wilson Final

On record sides, we had a monster pacer by the name of Captaintreacherous, who became the first two-year-old pacer since Artsplace to win the coveted Dan Patch Pacer of the Year honors. The most memorable mile coming from the Alagna trainee was when he turned for home in the Woodrow Wilson and destroyed the field in 1:49.3, increasing his lead by 7 lengths within an eighth of a mile. 

The Ron Burke stable’s famed Foiled Again also set history this year in the Canadian Pacing Derby final. Gallo Blue Chip had held the record for racing earnings in a career for 12 years as Foiled Again surpassed him in a fairy tale way, upsetting Betterthancheddar in the Canadian Pacing Derby. 

On the training side, Linda Toscano broke the gender boundaries with her prized trotter Market Share. A Hambletonian victory for Market Share made Linda Toscano the first woman to win the Hambletonian in the 87 years of the event. She also trained top open trotter Chapter Seven, who equaled Lucky Jim and Muscle Hill’s all-time World Record of 1:50.1 in the Nat Ray invitational at the Meadowlands. 
Driver Tim Tetrick in the Meadowlands

Tim Tetrick re-wrote the record books again. A stellar stakes season aboard Captaintreacherous, Heston Blue Chip, American Jewel, Market Share, Check Me Out, Chapter Seven and Anndrovette made him the first driver to have driven seven Dan Patch winners in a season. Tetrick also led in seasonal earnings, topping the list with $18,529,676. He also won the USHWA driver of the year title and was the first driver to win four Breeders Crown events in the same year. 

The fabulous filly Check Me Out started out the 2012 summer with two world record performances, one in the Del Miller at the Big M, and the other in the Pennsylvania Sires Stakes Championship. 

With many more records to list, I also close out a fabulous year. I became the host of the Blog Talk Radio program North American Harness Update, I also continued another year at the Hambletonian Society and TwinSpires. Most importantly, I got my first taste of true journalism this summer at The Red Mile, where I did the press releases for the two weeks of Grand Circuit action. 

I especially want to thank the following; Nick Salvi, Jason Settlemoir, Darin Zoccali, Jeremey Day, Garnet Barnsdale, Frank Cotolo, Moira Fanning, Derek Simon, Robert ‘Hollywood’ Heyden and Chris Tully, all mentioned had some involvement in making this a fabulous 2012. I thank you all and I thank all the readers of The Racing Inquirer.

See you in 2013!

Saturday, December 29, 2012

TRI’s Picks December 29 Meadowlands

Meadowlands Racetrack Pick 4, Races 7-10, Saturday, December 29, 2012

Last night, we had one winner, Chief Karen ($13.40). If you bet any horse on our ticket that were 4-1 or up and the ticket itself, you would be down $9.60. After an odd night of $100 winners and one favorite on the 12 race card emerging victorious, we move on to a likely harder night of racing this Saturday.

$2 Play: 2,6/2,4/5/3,8 = $16


Race 7- (2) Four Starz Trace ships to the Big M and moves into a class against some of the best pacers at the mile oval. He is coming off of a second place finish against $50,000 Claimers at Yonkers, but has won against that same class before. He should be around mid-pack for most of the mile and find some cover to take advantage of a somewhat closing bias at the Big M. (6) Village Beat is competitive when he needs to be competitive. His most recent start was unlike him, sitting far off the pace and not getting into the race. He can leave the gate fast and travel a first over trip if needed, but he won’t get parked tonight. He should be close to the pace and find some route to take in order to reach the winners circle.

Race 8-
(2) Top Of The Mark has raced two valiant miles after qualifying at Yonkers. Both miles he made some attempt to take the lead, except in his first start off of a layoff he was parked and quit badly. There is some speed in this race, so if Top Of The Mark clears the lead he’ll have some challengers. He will get shuffled back but some kind of seam should open up for him, either to the outside or inside of him, and he can storm home. (4) Go West Lucky Cam has been sharp lately. In his last start from post 6 at Yonkers, he rode the pylons and closed to finish fourth. In previous starts, he has won going wire-to-wire, finished second sitting off of the pace and third as he dueled for the top. Since there is a lot of pace in this race, he is our backup horse as he has shown success from on and off of the pace. However the race plays out, he will be somewhere on the board.

Race 9-
(5) Voice Of Truth has shown consistency in his racing style. He tends to stick with the pace or is rarely sitting somewhere mid-pack. He stormed home in :27.4 in his last start to finish third to three-year-old underdog Escape The News. Before that, he tried to take the field wire-to-wire in the slop and broke on the lead at Yonkers before that. He is also an aggressive pacer, he can bare a first over trip. He has won first over against non-winners of $13,000 at Harrah’s Philadelphia. He should get away around mid-pack or attempt to take the lead. If he takes the lead, he should rate and try to steal it. If he gets away mid-pack, he’ll find some way into the cover flow and use his late kick to win.

Race 10- (3) Sonic Raider has marched his way up the claiming ladder. In his most recent start, he battled for the lead against $25,000 Claimers, where he emerged victorious. He should be a menace to many foes in this mile and will likely close from mid-pack. (8) Dinner Guest is coming off of three good miles against $40,000 Claimers at Yonkers. He’ll likely attempt to set the pace and will have a strong say in this mile. 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

TRI’s Picks December 28 Meadowlands

Meadowlands Racetrack Late Pick 4, Races 7-10, Friday, December 28, 2012

We are back for another meet! The winter meet at the Meadowlands Racetrack promised to introduce the A-B-C system of racing to make the events more competitive and just from looking at the program what they promised will come true. Not only will the under card be competitive, but the Pick 4 will be even more. Let’s get rolling; Meadowlands 2013 meet, here we come!

$2 Play: 5,8,9/3,10/1/9 = $12


Race 7-
(5) Chief Karen has competed well against her fellow foes at Yonkers in some of the top companies at the New York oval. She ships into the Meadowlands this week and should improve on the mile track. (8) Arctic Fire N has also done well across the river at Yonkers. Exempting her last race where she was far back and closed to finish seventh, she worked her way to the top conditioned ranks with Chief Karen. She’ll be a threat and a value play here. (9) Mj’s Bid is the likely favorite in this event. She is coming off of two straight victories, with her most recent coming from a lower condition. Her post will be a burden, but she should overcome it easily.

Race 8-
(3) Ice Machine is shipping to the Meadowlands off of an easy win against non-winners of $13,000 at Harrah’s Philadelphia. Before that mile, he was hung against non-winners of $18,000 at Philly. He has a wide area of improvement possible in this event. (10) Likeabatoutahell will have to settle with post 10. Though he likes to be on the pace, post 10 will make him have to work harder to get positioning. He will likely get a spot and close late into the stretch with something left.

Race 9- (1) Carolsideal has done well in the conditioned ranks at Harrah’s Philadelphia. In her most recent mile, she finished a good second to Ramalama in a non-winners of $13,000 last five. She should be up in the top positions and swing by rivals in the stretch to pull of a minor upset.

Race 10- (9) Palm’s Beach is coming off of two straight third place finishes in non-winners of $5,000 company. He is one of the fastest in the field and has room for improvement in this mile. 

Friday, December 21, 2012

HarnessRaycer Picks for December 22

I’d like to start by saying how excited I am to start this series. This series is dedicated to a fictional bankroll, where I will give out plays for various tracks weekly. If this is posted on a Thursday, there are plays for Friday and Saturday, but there are only picks for Saturday if it’s posted on Friday.


Flamboro Downs Race #5

(2) White Gear- He is getting some well-needed post relief this week and returning to a company that he did well in two start back. He should improve with post 2.

Plays: $4 to win 2 and $4 exacta 2-6                    Cost: $8

Freehold Raceway Race #2

(5) Trey- He has experience against the bunch in the $6,000 Claiming ranks. His last mile was the most impressive as he attempted to challenge the leader through a first over move. He plays as a major danger in this mile.

Plays: $4 to win 5 $2 Trifecta 5-2,4-2,4 Cost: $10

Woodbine Harness Race #4

(8) Rollem Up- Emerged victorious after stepping up from non-winners of $1,000 last three to non-winners of $4,000. He jumps onto the seven-eighths oval this week, making a slight hike in class. He will likely be a good value play.

Plays: $8 to win 8          Cost: $8

Woodbine Harness Race #10

(6) High Def Z Tam- Has shown two good efforts against the Preferred company. He was caught first over last time and sustained his bid to receive a check; finishing fourth. He should get a better trip and use his closing kick to his advantage this week.

Plays: $6 to win 6 and $4 exacta 6-4,7            Cost: $14

Total Cost: $40

Good luck!

Saturday, December 8, 2012

My Fatherly Influence

Growing up, I was the average child. I watched Disney cartoons, played the game cube and watched more television. As I went to school those years seemed empty. I would go to school, come home, eat and play games.

In the midst of my childhood, I dealt with the divorce of my parents. At age eight, I coped with going house to house every week to see my dad then return to my mom’s house. Just as I was ending my fourth grade year, my life was about to change for the better.

My mom has a friend, who owns thoroughbred horses that came to our house constantly. I was shooting golf balls with him in my yard when he went inside. I wondered when he would come back out to hit balls with me. I walked inside and I looked in curiosity as my mom and him sat on the couch, watching the horses run around the Golden Gate oval. Although I had seen horse racing in my earlier years, it hadn’t caught my eye the way it did that day.

I walked over to him and asked him what he was doing, in which he replied handicapping. After I asked what, he gave me a tutorial on how to read a program. I sat with them on the couch, waiting anxiously for the next Golden Gate race. When they went off, I saw the horse I selected turn for home in front. I screamed and shouted, “I had the winner!” (Not technically had, just selected). From there, the love of horse racing had eaten its way into my brain.

I didn’t see much of my mom’s friend for the rest of the summer, but that didn’t stop me. I remembered one day that my dad was really involved in horse racing, so I went to ask him to take me to the track one day. He replied to me of course.

During that summer, my dad had a part-time job at the Hershey Gardens, watching the trains. I would go to his house every Wednesday night, where we would go out to get some wings at a restaurant, then head to Penn National to watch the races.

I wasn’t truly a harness man at this stage; I was more into the thoroughbreds. But as my selecting skills got off, I tried something else.

I asked my dad if he could teach me how to look at harness races and he replied sure. Ending the summer of 2009, I was hooked on harness. It was an undying love that is unexplainable as most passions. What triggered the true love on the other hand, was one Wednesday night at Penn National.

The sun set as we were in our seats that evening. My dad and I both had our coffee and were off to look at the races at Pocono Downs. I saw a wager I never heard of, the Pick 3, and I asked him what it was in which he replied you pick three consecutive winners.

I thought I would try this. I picked one horse in the three races, a 6-1, 4-1 and 5-1. I had the first two legs and was turning for home with a good shot to win the third. As I remember, Vinnie Ginsburg had a 13-1 shot who sat the pocket for most of the mile and was in pursuit of the 5-1 I needed for the ticket. Heading down to the wire, he nipped my horse and won by a nose.

Before the race, my dad looked at the payouts and said, “You would’ve had the entire pool!” I sat in anguish, sad that my horse lost right at the line. Then, the payouts came up.

It was a consolation! A single ticket, worth $2, returned over $80 for a Pick 3. The profit was nearly an 8,000% return! From there, I couldn’t stop watching harness racing.

The handicapping wasn’t enough though. I didn’t feel as involved as I wanted to be. In the summer of 2010, my wish came true.

My dad had gotten a job with the Hambletonian Society to cover all the major races leading up to the Hambletonian, then the Breeders Crown. He wanted me to help him.

I didn’t know much about journalism at that time. Thankfully, my dad taught me how the reviews should be laid out and how to write them. With all that I learned, I went to the Meadowlands to get my first taste of live standardbred action.

I had always wanted to be on site at a harness racing track and I was able to be. The Clyde Hirt group then asked to interview me as I was the youngest person, at age 10, to be inside the Meadowlands press box.

The 2010 season was in the books and memories had been cherished. Though, my rise to stardom wasn’t close to ending. With my father at side, I began writing race previews with him for TwinSpires and the Hambletonian Society. I got a mix of handicapping and journalism when I began previews.

The 2011-year was the most meteoric rise to fame for me. I had begun my own blog, The Racing Inquirer and decided to begin writing reviews and previews for that as well as TwinSpires and the Hambletonian Society. I became the busiest 11-year-old in my school with this venture.

I knew everyone at the Meadowlands as I returned for year two, though the mood was softer than in 2010. The reason was that news had been coming out that the Meadowlands could possibly close forever unless a deal was reached. Though, that didn’t take away from the excitement of the races.

Everyone from 2010 was anxious to see me as I was to see them. I was most excited to be with the main crew Dave Brower, Bob Heyden, Sam McKee and Ken Warkentin. Though reports were coming in that Dave would leave the Meadowlands, also causing a soft mood.

After the Hambletonian was our journey for the Breeders Crown. My dad and I did not head to Canada to cover the races, but were in our office working. Though the Hambletonian Society got the WEG personnel to cover the races, I began writing for Harnesslink after they interviewed me in August of 2011.

Yet, my rise was still not close to ending. The hardest year for me was 2012 as I was ending my seventh grade year, I began yet again to cover the races. It was harder though, seeing as earlier in the year I could never have thought I could be in a better position than I am now. Of course, I was wrong.

I returned for the third year to the Meadowlands, where I began a strong connection with a friend of mine Darin Zoccali. He is a good man and is still being kind enough to teach me ways to get more involved in the sport.

At the time of year three at the Big M, I had become a co-host on the radio show North American Harness Update on BlogTalkRadio. I had received a promotion from week-to-week guest after the previous co-host left due to new assignments that he accepted.

I had become the producer of the show at the time of the Meadowlands. I did the show for the Hambletonian live from the press box the Friday night before the big day, staying after the races to talk about the upcoming super day.

Then, the super day came. I was not doing much in the press box as our boss didn’t give us much direction on what to do, so I was covering the races for my blog. The year’s press manager, Chris Tully, asked for my assistance as he saw I was not too busy.

I helped him manage the frenzy of the press box on Hambletonian day, while still having time to go into the front paddock and watch the Nat Ray, Hambletonian Oaks and Hambletonian from the rail up close.

After Hambletonian 2012, it was time to cover the Breeders Crown, which was starting to appear to be the toughest in ages. I covered it with him and then ended the 2012 season

Which brings me to today. The significance of this blog is that today is my father’s birthday. I recognize him today, as one of the biggest ambassadors to harness racing. He brought a new age of harness fans into the sport and now I attempt to do the same. He is the reason for my success and I thought it be necessary to recognize him today. I wish my father, mentor and partner in crime, Frank Cotolo, a happy birthday.