Preakness Primer – 4 Questions, 4 Answers Each

Now that the Kentucky Derby has come and gone, let’s turn our attention to the 2017 Preakness Stakes, the second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown.  Post time for the Preakness is scheduled for 6:45 p.m. and the race will begin shortly after. Kentucky Derby champion Always Dreaming will start the Preakness side by side with his chief rival, Classic Empire, setting up a potential duel for the ages. Lookin At Lee, a veteran of 10 races who always runs hard, will start from the No. 9 post as a 10-1 third choice.

This year’s post positions are:

1. Multiplier

2. Cloud Computing

3. Hence

4. Always Dreaming

5. Classic Empire

6. Gunnevera

7. Term of Art

8. Senior Investment

9. Lookin at Lee

4 Questions – Each With 4 Answers

What is a brief history on the Preakness? Horse Racing

  1. The Preakness Stakes is an American flat thoroughbred horse race held on the third Saturday in May each year at Pimlico Race Course in Baltimore, Maryland.
  2. First run in 1873
  3. The 142nd Preakness Stakes will be on Saturday, May 20, 2017. (TODAY)
  4. The Preakness Stakes were run for the first time two years before the Kentucky Derby.

What makes the Preakness different from the Kentucky Derby?  images

  1. The Preakness Stakes, the second leg of horse racing’s Triple Crown, may not create quite the stir that the Kentucky Derby does, but it does bring with it some subtle differences that make the race just as compelling.
  2. It is not a great deal shorter than the Derby, but that extra 1/16 of a mile makes it easier for horses to go full speed right from the start. The Preakness Stakes plays much faster because everyone is allowed to jump right out of the gate as hard as they can.

    The start at Pimlico

    The start at Pimlico

  3. Unlike the Kentucky Derby, which is based more on power than speed, depending on the weather conditions, Pimlico plays as a faster race track.
  4. Pimlico’s surface is much more firm than what you will find at Churchill Downs. As a result, the horses are able to gain better traction with their footing.

How does this translate to BETTING DIFFERENCES?  Here are four considerations:

Inside Pimlico - Betting Windows

Inside Pimlico – Betting Windows

  1. The shorter distance means that horses that struggled to get the Derby distance might handle this one better.
  2. Horses who run in the Derby and the Preakness have to race just two weeks. While this used to be typical for racing, the “big Horses” now are used to more time between important races. The ability to handle a shorter rest is a big factor in how well they will do in the Preakness.
  3. Related to the previous difference, about half the field in the Preakness is made up of horses that did not run in the Derby. Some of these new horses are going to be much fresher than the Derby horses, and in many cases they are more familiar with running at Pimlico than the Derby horses will be.
  4. The Preakness is capped at 14 runners. The Derby has 20 horses in the field, bringing fewer potential concerns for a winning path. As a result, while in the Derby, horses are almost guaranteed to encounter trouble of some sort at one point, in the Preakness it can be easier for a horse to find a smooth trip.

Finally, Jeremy Plonk, from ESPN, lists the following differences for those attending.  It’s just not the same tourist-fest that the Kentucky Derby is, but Pimlico and the Preakness have their own quirky traditions:Preakness 1

  1. Fashion: Like the Derby, it depends on the area of the facility. Those with reserved seats will be finely fashionable to business casual. Those in the infield, well, it’s unofficially “clothing optional.”
  2. Drink: The Black-Eyed Susan is a mixture of vodka,
    The Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico.

    The Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico.

    light rum and Cointreau, along with pineapple juice and orange juice. Shake the ingredients, pour over crushed ice, garnish with lime.

  3. Traditions: The Preakness’ version of “My Old Kentucky Home” is “Maryland, My Maryland,” the state song.
  4. The black-eyed Susan, the Maryland state flower, is nearly synonymous with The Preakness. The flower has yellow leaves and is black in the middle. After the race, the Preakness winner receives an arrangement consisting of about 2000 blooms sewn on to a mesh of black rubber and decorated with a variety of greens.

There you have it.  You’re primed for the Preakness.

That’s all for now.



Kentucky Derby 2017 – Renovations & Betting Tips

Improvements at Churchill Downs

In the world of sports, there is not a more moving moment than when the horses step onto the track for the Kentucky Derby post parade and the band strikes up “My Old Kentucky Home.”  And let’s not forget the hats, the festival of two days, the mint julep. Click on this link about your best derby hats from Kirby Adams of the Courier-Journal:  Nothing quite as fabulous as a good Derby hat.

This year, visitors to the 143rd running of the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs racetrack in Louisville, Kentucky, on Saturday will be met with a revamped feel and a smattering of new amenities and capital improvements designed to enhance their dining and wagering experiences.

Rendering of 2nd floor Clubhouse renovation.

Renovation of Turf Club, Churchill Downs

According to Aaron Stanley of CDC Gaming Reports, Bill Carstanjen, chief executive officer of Churchill Downs said “The big change you will see this year is the $16 million renovation project of the clubhouse.”  The new and improved clubhouse will feature 95,000 square feet of renovated space, 220 flat-screen televisions, 180 new pari-mutuel wagering windows and 133 restroom stalls… food and beverage offerings includes several bars named after prior Derby winners, such as Behave Yourself, Spend a Buck, Regret and I’ll Have Another.”


The $12 million video board, which will have a 15,224-square-foot screen towers over the backstretch, 80 feet over the ground and is  170 feet off the ground at its peak – higher than the iconic Twin Spires, which are 120 feet above the ground.  The board is clearly visible from the new, $14.5 million Grandstand Terrace seating area, which Churchill officials say represents the first major upgrade to the part of the track closest to Central Avenue — and overlooking the Kentucky Derby starting gate — since the 1950s.

Betting the 2017 Kentucky the Derby

CasinoCity Times

Gary Trask of CasinoCityTimes said recently interest in the Kentucky Derby has been at an all time high. Trask states, “When Nyquist won last year’s Derby, the attendance at the track was 167,227, the second-largest in history, and the total amount wagered ($192.6 million) was also the second-highest ever. Both records were set two years ago when 170,513 people witnessed eventual Triple Crown winner American Pharoah, a race that prompted $194.3 million in wagers. predicts that $200 million will be wagered on this year’s race….. even though, overall, the horse racing industry is experiencing a steep decline.”

Trask also has some betting advice for this year’s Derby:

Avoid the far inside and outside posts – Since the 20-horse full field became the norm, it has made it extremely difficult for those horses to use early speed to get ahead of the pack, or to overcome hanging back and falling behind. Since  1964, only one horse has won at either the 1 or 20th positions. “Somewhere between 8 and 13 are probably the best spots to be.”

10 and 5 have been prosperous – The best starting post in Kentucky Derby history has been the 10, with 11.3% of the wins and coming in the money 30% of the time. The No. 5 post isn’t far behind, with a 10.3 winning percentage and coming in the money 23% of the time.

The “curse” of the 14 post – While horses breaking from the 13 post and out have won six of the last nine races, the 14 starting spot has been somewhat of a jinx, holding the longest current drought since producing a winner. For some reason, the last time a horse in the 14 block has won the Derby came way back in 1961.

Finally,  Longshots worth looking at – So, with Dempsey calling for the end of the favorites’ reign at the Derby, we asked if he had any longshots we could dive in on and “bet a little to win a lot.” He gave us three, keeping in mind that his opinion could change depending on the post position:

  1. J Boys Echo (33-to-1): Although he struggled in his final prep race with a fourth place at the Blue Grass in Kneeneland, he owns the highest Beyer Speed Figure earned this year by a Derby contender.
  2. Hence (22-to-1): Won the Sunland Derby, which produced recent Derby winners Mine That Bird, the horse that owns one of the biggest upsets in history by cashing a 50-to-1 ticket in 2009, and Firing Line, who ran second last year.
  3. Practical Joke (14-to-1): Trainer Chad Brown is one of the best in the business and won the Eclipse Award for top trainer in 2016. Practical Joke won two Grade 1 races as a juvenile and is lightly races so far this year with just two starts, including a place in the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream Park.

BTW – A local plug for Cousin Vito’s Casino Podcast (where, together you & Vito can make luck happen!).  A CT native with a Casino Podcast on the rise!  Today, he released his latest episode “How To Enjoy the Kentucky Derby.”  He’s a hoot, with guest Marco D’Angelo from 

The most exciting 2 minutes in horse racing takes place Saturday.  Where will you be to celebrate.  Later today, watch for NETimeGambling’s coverage of New England’s casino celebration of the Derby – Fancy Hats, Mint Juleps, and Roses, oh my!



Rockingham Park to Close – Thoroughbred Horse Racing Ends in New England Sept. 1stRockingham Park Ends

A large crowd at Suffolk Downs in 1936. Photo provided by the Boston Public Library.

A large crowd at Suffolk Downs in 1936. Photo provided by the Boston Public Library.

Thoroughbred horse racing and harness racing tracks across New England continue to have a tough time of it.  Between Massachusetts, New Hamphire and Maine, not counting the annual fairs, New England is down to five live racing venues: Bangor Raceway & Scarborough Downs in Maine, Plainridge Park Raceway & Suffolk Downs in Massachusetts, and Rockingham Park in New Hampshire.  But after September 1st, it will be down to four.

Suffolk Downs

Suffolk Downs now.

While Suffolk Downs in Revere, MA is holding on trying to continue thoroughbred horse-racing in New England, Rockingham ParkRockingham Park, New England’s first track that debuted with a Thoroughbred meet in 1906, has reached the finish line and will shutter its doors for good Aug. 31.

Paul Roberts and Isabelle Taylor of Thoroughbred Racing Commentary provided some great history on Rockingham with their article Looking back: The lost tracks of New England. Click on the title for the entire article.

Rockingham Park's clubhouse in 1933

Rockingham Park’s clubhouse in 1933 provided by the Boston Public Library.

They listed some of the following interesting facts about Rockingham’s beginning:
  • In 1906, in the small New Hampshire village of Salem Depot, a group of investors opened a new racecourse – Rockingham Park.
  • More than 10,000 people from Boston, Rhode Island, and New York flocked to its maiden 21-day meet.
  • It had taken less than a year to build and cost $1 million.
  • Upon its inauguration, it was popularly referred to as “the finest racecourse in the world.”
  • Rockingham faced one fatal hurdle: gambling was illegal in New Hampshire. Without on-track wagering, Rockingham was not economically viable and no meeting was scheduled for the next year, nor the next, nor the next.
  • The Great Depression proved to be Rockingham’s unlikely saviour.
Rockingham Park Now

Rockingham Park Now

Lynne Snierson in wrote that “over a hundred years later, President and general manager Ed Callahan confirmed that the ownership group has reached agreement with local businessman Joe Faro for the purchase of the remaining 120 acres of the property that had comprised the majority of the stable area about 18 months ago for $9.6 million; and almost all of the barns, dormitories, and other structures have already been demolished.”

Simulcasting, card rooms and the charitable gaming have been its only use – and it will all come to an end Aug. 31, Callahan said.
“All of our employees and the numerous charities that benefited were notified today. It’s a sad day.”
The news most likely is the final chapter in the glorious history of Rockingham, which hasn’t conducted a live Thoroughbred meet since 2002 but still holds an important place in the history of the sport:
  • It held harness meets for several years after Thoroughbred racing was abandoned.
  • More than one-third of the jockeys and dozens of the trainers enshrined in the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame competed at the track over the decades, and many also have ties to the Triple Crown.
  • Eddie Arcaro rode Triple Crown winners Whirlaway (1941) and Citation (1948), and photos of when he was a member of Rockingham’s jockey colony still hang in the clubhouse.
  • Other Triple Crown winners who rode at Rockingham include Johnny Longden (Count Fleet, 1943), Ron Turcotte (Secretariat, 1973), and Jean Cruget (Seattle Slew, 1977).

201591574328_1“We anticipate there will be an auction of equipment, furniture, and memorabilia Sept. 24-25,” said Callahan, who noted the racing memorabilia, trophies, and artwork with the greatest historical significance will be donated to the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, the New England Sports Museum, and the New Hampshire Museum of History, among others.

How did it come to be the end for the historic horse track?  According to Lynne Snierson, its fate was sealed when the ownership group failed during every session for more than 20 years to get casino gambling passed by the New Hampshire legislature. Without expanded gambling and with increased competition from casinos in neighboring Massachusetts and Maine and nearby Connecticut, the business was no longer sustainable.

Texas Hold 'em at Rockingham Poker Room

Texas Hold ’em at Rockingham Poker Room

Yankee Greyhound Racing, which has not held live dog racing since it was outlawed in the state in 2009, is also on the market for real estate development but remains open for full-card simulcasts in nearby Seabrook, N.H. Suffolk Downs, which will offer six days of live racing in 2016, is located about 20 miles from Rockingham in East Boston, Mass., and still simulcasts year-round.

I’d like to hear what the people at #horsebetting @bmdsportsandhorses have to add to the conversation of horse racing in New England.  Check out our friends at

While more people follow the Triple Crown of racing more than ever before because of television and numerous casino race books not even open 10 years ago across the country,  it is sad to report the the closing of yet another venue, which inevitably means loss of jobs for many.  I can only hope that that the influx of casinos in Massachusetts can help those who worked in Rockingham, and also Suffolk Downs.