THE WEEK THAT WAS
2014 HANDICAPPER OF THE YEAR GROWLS AGAIN: Retired railway man Maurice Gregoire (right), the 2014 co-Handicapper of the Year, clawed his way back into the Tournament Tigers den by winning Saturday’s Player’s Choice tourney with a bankroll of $75,20 He receives $500 and an engraved mug. Second was Mr. Colourful Marker Man, John Urbanski, with $67.50, (won $250). In third (and having already left on Saturday) was Barry Mymko with $66.40 (won $100). There were 39 entrants. A trip to Las Vegas will be at stake in the next tournament during live racing on Saturday, June 11.
April tournament results Handicapper of the Year standings
LAST CHANCE FOR “BIG” SCORE: The “I won big” group hopes to go out in a blaze of glory Saturday with thoughtful picks and plays in the Kentucky Derby and pick-4. If you have a hunch that that will happen, throw $20 into the group ticket and the Downs will top it up by $5. What’s more, you will get a range of opinions on the Kentucky Derby. Should be interesting. That’s 9:30 a.m. on the Clubhouse plaza. Coffee and pastries served. (Last week’s pick-5 play at Tampa—which was “overthought”—resulted in players getting back a bit less than half of their investment.)
RETURN TO DIRT LEADS TO RECORD-BREAKING WAGERING: Two years ago, Keeneland’s Blue Grass Stakes was a novelty race few horsemen cared about on the Road to the Kentucky Derby because the track surface was Polytrack. But a return to dirt – resulting in the track landing the Breeders’ Cup World Championships last fall –vaulted Keeneland into the stratosphere wagering-wise.
The storied track saw its all-sources wagering increase by 23.8 per cent over last spring’s meet, to $145.6 million. And the track recorded an all-time record of $21.7 million in wagering on Toyota Blue Grass Day April 9. “The momentum from last fall’s Breeders’ Cup carried forward to this spring and contributed to so many positives,” Keeneland President and CEO Bill Thomason said. Obviously.
AQUEDUCT “KICKS AROUND” SYNTHETIC TRACK IDEA: The New York Racing Association is “kicking around” the possible installation of a synthetic track on the inner track Aqueduct uses for winter racing. One of the reasons would be to attract horses from Woodbine’s Tapeta surface because Woodbine’s meet ends at about the same time that Aqueduct’s meet on their inner surface begins.
MARCH THANKS “HOOTERS” FOR HIS SUCCESS: Retired chemist Bob March loves those “hooters.” Hooters? Yup, the owls in the VLT game called Gaucho because the owls and other western images lined up just right to win him a whopping $433.75 that included $250 as the April month-end champion. Amused by it all, hostess Roseanne was all smiles when she presented him with his winning cash last Saturday.
DID JETS BENEFIT FROM GOOD KARMA? To their credit, the Winnipeg Jets wanted nothing to do with “tanking” to get a better chance at a top draft pick, they played their hearts out to win their last four games of the season which left them with only a 7.5 per cent of landing the top pick. But that appears to have earned them a good helping of karma because they still landed the second draft pick. Good to see honourable play being rewarded. (Interestingly, after I had written this I saw that exact “karma” headline in The Globe and Mail. Nice to see national respect for Jets’ integrity.)
WHO NEEDS CANADA? TSN reported in the first week of the NHL playoffs that viewership was down 61 per cent because no Canadian teams were part of it. But anyone who has been watching the games has been saying these playoffs are the best they’ve seen in some time. Close, exciting, nail-biting matches. And, hey, 125 of the players in the playoffs are native Canadians anyway.