Cokin’s Corner, Friday 6/9/17

  • June 8, 2017

I just finished reading a piece about how no possibility of a Triple Crown at this year’s Belmont Stakes has dramatically reduced interest in the race. Duh. I think we all knew that already.

Unfortunately for fans of the Sport of Kings, horse racing has largely become a few big events and not much else. The proof of that statement is illustrated here. The Belmont is one of the premier events of the entire year, and yet the lack of suspense due to no entry having a chance to win the Triple Crown, or even two legs this time around, and only the hardcores seem to have more than a passing interest.

This column is not designed to be a slam on the sport itself. I’m sure not going to deny that I really look forward to my annual Del Mar excursion, but let’s just say the horse racing is just a bonus. I primarily head there each year for some needed R&R at the beach while enjoying the ambiance and service at a legit five-star hotel.

Horse racing is never going to dominate the sports pages as it did generations ago. That was a time frame where boxing and the ponies were absolutely enormous, and those days are long gone. But I’d like to at least see a push on a couple of fronts that could generate some energy and excitement that might bring in some new fans.

First, and most importantly, there has to be a concerted movement to lower the insane take-out that’s currently in place. Let’s call it straight, the sport is incredibly tough to beat long term thanks to how much money is yanked out of the betting pool. Let’s put it this way. I can play almost every sport at reduced juice and if I do a decent job analyzing these events, I’ve got a real chance to earn a net profit.

That’s simply not the case in horse racing. Take a look at this chart and see what I mean.

Now compare that to any other sport you can wager on and draw your own conclusion.

Beyond making the game at least a little more attractive to bettors, horse racing probably needs to get into the reality TV game. The sport can’t be sold on the horses, as they really don’t do anything of much interest other than race. There needs to be a vastly increased effort to play the personality game. That means zeroing in on the sport’s most interesting owners, trainers, and riders and trying to make them household names. If it’s me, I’m going all-in to sell a horse racing version of the NFL “Hard Knocks” series. That formula works, and horse racing needs to come up with something similar. And by that I mean getting it on the air on a network people watch. By the way, the summer Del Mar meet would be perfect for a weekly summer all-access series that’s shot in a similar vein to the aforementioned NFL series.

As for Saturday’s Belmont, we had Scott Shapiro on the Thursday “The Las Vegas Sportsline” (weekdays 2-3 PDT, ESPN Las Vegas) snd the one and only Hammerin’ Hank Goldberg will join Matt Youmans and me on Friday. If you’re going to overlook the lack of a Triple Crown lure and will be in action at the Belmont, make sure to listen!

Sad to say, I flat out whiffed the Thursday baseball card. Easily my worst job of handicapping this season. I intend to get it right back tonight with at least three plays that I’ve already played.

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Horrid read on the Marlins-Pirates, which was the Thursday free play. This play was dead from the outset. No bad luck involved on this miss, just a terrible opinion that got crushed. Let’s see about doing better on Friday.



31/56 from the field, 11/12 from the stripe and the team loses anyway. In spite of specular efforts from both LeBron James and Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers still couldn’t beat this Golden State team on Wednesday night. So what happens if the two Cleveland superstars perform at less than a superhuman level tonight? The likely answer is the series ends and the Warriors pop the champagne corks.

I’m sure the Cavaliers will be highly motivated to avoid getting swept in this series. Guys like LeBron James just don’t quit. It would shock me if the Cavs simply roll over and submit tonight.

But this Warriors team is a monster, and there is zero chance they aren’t going to be incredibly revved up to close this out and complete the incredible 16-0 playoff perfecto. Let’s also mention the fact that Golden State was up 3-1 last year and lost the series to the Cavaliers. Different circumstances to be sure this time around, but the last thing the Warriors want is to give this opponent even a slim hope of coming all the way back.

From a value standpoint, Cleveland is the play. But let’s just say that value players haven’t exactly enjoyed a banner NBA post-season. The so-called squares have cleaned up betting chalk and Over. Sound familiar? Yeah, bookmakers are getting a little used to their public players beating them up, as this was a similar occurrence in the NFL this past season. Maybe not to the extent we’re witnessing in the NBA, but let’s just say it’s been a nice run for the general betting public.

I’m not about to stand in front of an oncoming freight train. I’m actually hoping the Cavaliers can find a way to win this game, as I have a Golden State in exactly five games ticket. But I can’t honestly say I like my chances. The number is higher than it ought to be on the value meter but I can’t go against the Warriors here.