Logan never fully recovered from Jan. 3 seizure

Eddie Logan had been working at Santa Anita since it opened in 1934.

Eddie Logan had been working at Santa Anita since it opened in 1934.

Opened on Christmas 1934, Santa Anita Park has a long and storied history. But on Saturday, a cherished part of the track’s past was lost when the beloved shoe shine man Eddie Logan died.

He was 98.

Logan was remarkable because he was working the day Santa Anita opened some 75 years ago, and had been operating there ever since. In fact, he was almost 100 years old and he was still shining shoes at his stand right up until a few weeks ago. But on Jan. 3, Logan took a seizure while working at the race track and was rushed to Arcadia Methodist Hospital.

Logan never fully recovered and he died at his Monrovia, Ca. home early Saturday morning.

The friendly Logan, known as “The Footman,” typically greeted customers and horseplayers who strode by his stand with “have a lucky day.” In 2006, the Hill Rise Stakes for two-year-olds was renamed the Eddie Logan Stakes and last Dec. 27 Logan was in the winner’s circle for the trophy presentation.

“Truly, Santa Anita will never be the same without him,”  said the track’s President Ron Charles on santaanita.com. “He was an inspiration to all of us and I personally feel that my life has been enriched by having known him all these years.

“Eddie loved racing and the people in it,” Charles continued. “He was indeed a window to our past and, although he lived a very long and healthy life, we just wish we could have had a lot more time with him. I think all of us will cherish our memories of Eddie and what he meant to Santa Anita.”

On Saturday, Logan’s stand was covered with a green tarp and a bouquet of flowers was left behind.

A former Negro league baseball player in the 1920’s and ’30’s, Logan often talked about his ball  playing days with the Homestead Grays and the Kansas City Monarchs, and of barnstorming tours with Satchel Paige, Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig.  Logan played outfield, shortstop and catcher.

Logan also liked to lecture horsemen about taking care of their boots, and his customers included top trainers and some of the best jockeys to ever ride: Eddie Arcaro, John Longden,  Bill Shoemaker, Laffit Pincay and Chris McCarron.

Trainer Richard Mandella struck up a friendship with Logan because he admired Logan’s longevity and enjoyed talking to him.

“He had that great sense of humor and he’d make you laugh. He’d talk about his days with the Kansas City Monarchs and he was just so full of life. He said his dad always told him ‘Keep you mouth shut and your eyes open, and you’ll learn something,’ Mandella said. “I hope Santa Anita maintains his shoe shine stand forever, he was one of a kind.”


Alex Solis’ boot got stuck, if only I knew

When handicapping a race, the Daily Racing Form is a nice blueprint, but by no means do Beyer Speed Figures, half mile times and beaten lengths tell the whole story. 

A horse who ran a low Beyer in his last, or who didn’t seem to fire, may still run huge today. As any horseplayer knows, crazy things happen that cause horses to run poorly.

For example, the saddle sometimes slips, jockeys lose their irons, horses take heat strokes, and sometimes the wackier ones try to jump the inner rail. More commonly, losing contenders get caught up in speed duels, go wide on turns, or get blocked in the stretch. 

So, a margin of safety is in order. Personally, I will not bet a maiden in Southern California at less than 2-to-1, and I prefer 7-to-2 to 9-to-1.

Using handicapping tools, we can get a good idea about a lot of things that will happen during the race. And that information can be used to judge who the contenders are and what odds we need for a bet.

But no matter how hard horseplayers work, some valuable information will be known only to a few insiders. And there’s nothing unfair or dishonest about it. These jockeys, trainers and owners are simply in position to know some things that almost all horseplayers will not be privy to.

An example of this happened in the ninth race at Santa Anita on Jan. 19.

Jazzin Razz, a 3-year-old gelding, was making his second lifetime start in a $32,000 maiden claiming race at 7 furlongs. In his debut on Dec. 14, Jazzin Razz was 52-to-1 and broke 10 lengths behind 12 other runners. The comment in the Daily Racing Form said “hesitated, off slowly.”

His Beyer Speed Figure was a lowly 38, which is a far cry from the median winning figure for the class of 69. So, Jazzin Razz looked like an automatic throwout.

However, trainer Richard Rosales added blinkers to Jazzin Razz, dropped him slightly in class, and on Jan. 19 the horse sat just off the pace, took the lead in the stretch and was all out to win by a nose.

He paid $32.80.

After the race, Jazzin Razz’ owner and breeder Shirley Girvin found this blog and read my summary of the race. She commented to me that Jazzin Razz’s full sister Razi’s Star also paid a big price of $58 when she broke her maiden back in 2007.

Girvin and her husband Russell operate a small California breeding business and are trying to prove their stallion Raz Lea, who sired Jazzin Razz, by themselves. To date, Raz Lea, who is a son of Arazi, has sired eight runners with four winners, she said in the email.

Then she explained why Jazzin Razz’s debut went so poorly.

“In Jazzin’s first race, the reason he got such a late start was because Alex Solis, through no fault of his own, got his boot caught in the starting gate,” Girvin wrote.

Well, that was very important to know. Because 10 lengths at 6 furlongs equates to 25 Beyer points and if that is added to Jazzin Razz’s 38 it gives him a 63. And that makes him a contender at the juicy price of 15-to-1.

Solis’ boot got stuck. Such flukes happen in racing, and some things are not possible to know. And just because Jazzin Razz had problems in his  debut, didn’t mean he was going to win second time out. It just made him a good bet.

Obviously, we’re playing a game with imperfect information, so we need solid prices to make up for all of the things we don’t know, and for all of the races our ignorance will certainly cause us to lose.

TrackNet blacks Nevada out of Santa Anita, Gulfstream

No Santa Anita or Gulfstream signals could mean sparse crowds for books

No Santa Anita could mean sparse crowds for books

Plug pulled on five tracks; MK race analysis suspended

TrackNet prohibited 80 Nevada casinos Wednesday from taking pari-mutuel wagers on five race tracks, forcing bookmakers to either have the house back the wagers or to take no action on them.

Santa Anita, Gulfstream, Golden Gate and Oaklawn were all blacked out today in Nevada while the fifth track, Laurel, had a scheduled dark day. No television signals were allowed, which means horseplayers could not watch races at TrackNet venues.

TrackNet, a partnership of Magna Entertainment and Churchill Downs, is negotiating with the Nevada Pari-Mutuel Association over the fees casinos pay to take pari-mutuel bets on TrackNet’s races.

Both sides met Wednesday, TrackNet’s Scott Daruty told the Daily Racing Form. 

Reportedly several Las Vegas race parlors were booking bets Wednesday, however telephone betting was shut down at South Point, Wynn and Orleans.

Race analysis suspended

Personally, I bet over the telephone. So, until they open the phone rooms again I won’t be posting any race analysis on this site. Instead, I’ll use the down time to catch up research.

Nothing to shoot at Wed., as no maiden sprints carded

finish-line-at-santa-anita-park-by-rhetoricru2No maiden sprint races were carded on the main track for Wednesday. So I will save my energy for Thursday when we have four maiden claiming sprints, three of which have full fields.

Will last minute pari-mutual casino deal be struck?

It will be interesting on Wednesday to see if the 80 Nevada casinos make a last minute deal with Track Net on a simulcast agreement. As of Tuesday, no agreement has been made and casinos are reportedly preparing to book bets at Gulfstream Park, Golden Gate Fields, Santa Anita Park, Laurel and Oaklawn, instituting  house limits and no pick sixes. Fair Grounds, which is owned by Churchill Downs, has an existing contract with the casinos.

However, I doubt this stare down will last more than a month, because it seems that everybody loses by it: the tracks, the casinos and the horseplayers.

Kentucky Derby website now buzzing, just ask Fred Willard

homeAs I write this, there are 95 days, five hours and five minutes until the bell rings and the gates spring open for Kentucky Derby 135.

The way I know this is that I was just on the newly-updated website kentuckyderby.com. Not much goes on at this site after the previous year’s Derby ends. But a few weeks ago, it was update and upgraded with news and replays of Derby preps, ticket information, lots of opinions, and video of celebrities on the Kentucky Derby red carpet.

I didn’t even know the Kentucky Derby had a red carpet. But this site has a feature called “Buzz from the Red Carpet” where they interview the likes of  Dr. J, Taylor Dayne and Hugh Hefner with The Girls Next Door.

However, the interview with Fred Willard puts new meaning on the word “Buzz” in “Buzz from the Red Carpet.” Check it out by clicking under “Red Carpet Videos and Interviews” on kentuckyderby.com.

The Derby site has four handicappers who put up lists of top 3-year-olds pointing for the big race. Some of the common names seen in the top tens of these selectors include Midshipman, Old Fashioned, Vineyard Haven, Pioneerof the Nile and Beethoven

Of course, Churchill Downs officials around Derby time love to talk about all of the upscale folks who come to Louisville for the festivities, like the Queen of England and successful actors and athletes.

But the moon has a dark side and so does Derby Day. Let’s just say that the acceptable modes of behavior are quite different on the infield than they are on Millionaires Row.

During his red carpet interview, World Wrestling Entertainment promoter Vince McMahon was asked how Derby Day compares to one of his wrestling events, he joked, “It is much like WWE because you have beautiful people and you have animals.”

What McMahon may have been referring to is illustrated in the videos below.

The greatest two minutes in sports draws celebrities from around the world to Millionaires Row…

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