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Wednesday Quick Hits - Dubai, Derby Futures, and NHC XI

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Let's take a quick look at some of the more interesting topics in horse racing this week.
  • Thursday marks the beginning of the Dubai Interantional Racing Carnival at the brand new Meydan Racecourse.  The new course sports a design much more similar to courses found here in North American, as opposed to the triangular shape of the old course at Nad Al Sheba.  At Meydan, however, the turf course will be outside the synthetic Tapeta surface, similar to what is done at Woodbine.  It remains to be seen how the track plays but, obviously, we should expect to see differences.   

    This year's Dubai World Cup will be run on March 27th.  British bookmakers have installed 2009 Eclipse Award winner, Gio Ponti, as the early betting favorite to win.  
  • Speaking of bookmakers and odds, Lucky's released their latest Kentucky Derby Futures odds following the conclusion of last weekend's two stakes races - the Holy Bull and the Lecomte.  Lookin at Lucky is still the betting favorite at 10/1, while Holy Bull winner Winslow Homer saw his odds get slashed from 100/1 to 30/1.  Lecomte winner, Ron the Greek, makes his debut in the futures at 85/1, the same odds currently being offered on runner-up in that race, Maximus Ruler
  • If you're a fan of handicapping tournaments then you already know that the DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Tournament will be held in Las Vegas this Friday and Saturday at the Red Rock Resort.  Approximately 300 players will compete for around $1 million in prize money along with the title of "Handicapper of the Year".   

    TwinSpires.com has announced that they will have live streaming of the event which is pretty cool, if you want to watch a bunch of guys in a casino racebook yelling at the big screens.  I'm sure to many that doesn't sound like enthralling TV but I can say that if you've ever been to a handicapping contest they can be pretty interesting.  I've never had the honor of competing in the big tournament in Vegas but I've played in a few of these contests at Emerald Downs and I find them to be an absolute blast.

    The event has not yet announced which tracks/races will be involved in this year's event but if the past events are any indication, it will be a collection of tracks from the east, midwest, and west, with the usual assortment of maiden claimers thrown in.
  • Finally, I'm going to mention an article I read this morning over at the Blood-Horse regarding the situation going on within Kentucky's equine industry (Clock - or time bomb - ticking in Kentucky?).  It's an informative article if you're not familiar with the events within that state over the last few years.

    I'm not interested in the political battles or the "who's to blame?" questions.  No, what gets me is that yesterday we have news out of Georgia that they are attempting to legalize pari-mutuel wagering (along with the possibility of building new tracks), while in Kentucky,  the Mecca of horse racing in this country, we are reading about tracks, horsemen, and owners that can't make it.  

    The issues are obviously complicated, and passions are high on all sides, but you've got to think that Kentucky will get this sorted out? Right?  But that is certainly not a given.   

    When you hear of tracks like Ellis Park struggling to make it (one of most player-friendly tracks around), you desperately hope an equitable solution can be found.