Mountaineer Park victim of poorly thought out planning
August 08, 2017 3:07 AM
by Dave Valento
Mountaineer Park has exactly one racing day per year that attracts national horseplayers. That day is West Virginia Derby Day and it occurred on Saturday. Due to mismanaged post times, most players didn’t know about it or had their attention averted during the running of their marquee event.
Mountaineer has a niche product. They conduct their racing at night during the early part of the week when there is little competition for betting handle nationwide. Players that work during the day get a chance to play the night card at Mountaineer, which starts at 4 p.m. PT. It has been that way for many years.
On Saturday, they moved their post time to 11 a.m. PT and right into the headlights of the two major heavy-headed venues players follow religiously, Saratoga and Del Mar. They had an excellent nine-race card, seven of which were stakes. This is a massive change from their normal product which is 85% low end claiming company. Fans with stamina who wanted to roll their action into the evening on this loaded Mountaineer card were disappointed. When Saratoga’s Saturday racing ended, Mountaineer Park racing was already completed.
To make matters worse, they managed to start loading the West Virginia Derby at precisely the same time Saratoga was loading the Grade-1 Whitney and superstar Gun Runner. Those who tried to follow the Mountaineer product were perplexed by this seemingly moronic decision. They dragged their post times just enough to ensure most of the country was focusing on key racing elsewhere.
Maybe Mountaineer officials were caught off guard by this, you say? The answer is no. The Whitney has gone off at exactly 2:47 PT each year since 2012. In 2012 and 2013, the WV Derby and Whitney broke from the gate ONE-MINUTE apart. In 2014, they went off at EXACTLY the same time, to the second. In 2014, after it happened for the third consecutive year, social media was in an uproar. Mountaineer officials apparently haven’t heard of Twitter.
Horse racing has a myriad of problems. Some are very difficult to overcome. But poorly thought out planning like this is inexcusable. The horse racing community may have shrunk over the years but there are still tens of thousands of wagering players and many were ready to send it in at Mountaineer on Saturday.
Speaking of correctable problems within the game, isn’t it time racing starts displaying the odds in the hidden pools? It would be extraordinarily simple to show the odds of each horse in the superfecta, trifecta, daily double, pick 3, 4, 5 and 6 pools. They would only need to use the money bet on each horse to finish first in each of these pools. For example, if the 1 has $5,000 bet on it to finish first in the superfecta, corresponding odds, minus the takeout, could be displayed. One of these days horse racing leadership will prioritize improving the overall experience. The answers are not easy to come up with but become significantly more difficult when the questions aren’t even asked.
Play of the Week
The horse racing play of the week is No. 5 CAUSEUR in the 6th race at Delaware Park on Wednesday, Aug. 9. He is a first time starter in this maiden special weight at 6 furlongs on the dirt. Trainer Graham Motion has had 18 similar firsters at Delaware, winning six (33%) and hitting the board nine times (50%).
The works are similar to a debut six-length winner Motion had on Saturday. That two-year-old first timer was bet down to 3-5 and won for fun. This colt outworked that winner by about 3 lengths on July 27 at Fair Hills.
CAUSEUR has blue-blooded breeding. The 3rd dam is the great broodmare, Weekend Surprise. Her offspring include Summer Squall (winner of the 1990 Preakness and runner-up to Unbridled in the 1990 Kentucky Derby) and A.P. Indy (winner of the 1992 Breeders’ Cup Classic, Santa Anita Derby and Belmont Stakes). Another in the female family includes Court Vision (winner of the 2011 Breeders’ Cup Mile). With that breeding, they might be looking a bit down the road so check the tote board for action.
CAUSEUR is 7-2 on the morning line. Post time for race 6 is 12:45 PST.