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Odds and ends
Tuesday, February 25, 2014 - by Frank Cotolo

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It is time for some odds and ends while the snow that made tracks cancel their programs melts into water that makes tracks cancel their programs.

It was wonderful to hear horse racing was saved in British Columbia with a five-year deal for Fraser and Hastings. Any longtime reader of my gambling articles is well aware of my fondness for the great Northwest’s racing. As well, my respect for track owners Chuck Keeling has only heightened over the years. The Keeling family has been dedicated to the survival of racing for as long as I can remember, which takes me back to dark, rainy nights at Cloverdale Raceway (the old Fraser).

It is no coincidence that the only Olympics competition capturing my attention was speed skating. I appreciate what Tim Bojarski wrote about snowboard cross, but I would rather have been wagering on those kids flying around steep turns, many of them spilling into uncontrollable slides. Many of the skaters’ moves are less speed than strategy, much of what makes Standardbred racing so attractive to betting.

That reminds me, why can’t the Olympics committee have harness racing on ice for a winter event? I know there’s harness racing in freezing climate regions of Europe, so why not make it an equine event? I await an answer from the International Olympics Committee; I wrote and asked them about it.

Miami Valley Raceway has been offering some fine overlays during its initial month of harness racing. It isn’t just bad trips for public choices that are igniting some strong, generous prices; horses paying $40 and more to win have been serious contenders. Full fields are certainly contributing to the success of outsiders, as the public continues to back the obvious elements involved with creating a favorite (recent performance, driver).

Though Dover Downs presents an abundance of public choices in its winner’s circle (45 percent at last count), players should not be discouraged. The winners that are, many times, underlays, leave some very good contenders going off at ridiculous odds, as well as second and third choices posting strong win offerings. Look at some of these recent win mutuels, each, in my estimation, a true contender and all in races with over-supported favorites: $129.80, $80.60, $58.80, $46.80, $34.40, $26.40 and $25,60.

I really enjoy seeing my old comrade Marv Bachrad on four or five screens at a time when following Dover at Penn National’s simulcast area. Marv and I worked closely together for a few years and had one heck of a run and a whole lot of fun, so to see five Marvs at once—even though we rarely agree on the horse to bet when he delivers a race analysis—is just fun. I always tell the manager, “Turn up the volume at Dover, will ya?”

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