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Monday, June 20, 2005
Success With Price Per Head (Agent Success)
Case Study in Agent Success via Use of Price Per Head (PPH) Software Written and Owned by V.O. Group, S.A., the most successful offshore sportsbook in Costa Rica.
Price Per Head vs. Dollywood Sportsbook
Featuring Dalton Wagner, Founder V.O. Group, S.A.
As Founder and Proprietor of V.O. Group, S.A., Dalton Wagner has the reputation of being the most innovative operator in offshore gaming. His most recent innovation involves the direct attack upon the Onshore Bookmaking market via the unique value proposition of actually partnering with Bookmakers and Agents onshore (as opposed to attempting to steal their business). With formidable competition, Mr. Wagner founded V.O. Group, S.A. in 1998. While most companies formed that late failed, V.O. Group, S.A. has become one of the top 10 operators offshore (as measured by AnteUp; Gambling Online Magazine; Poker Player Magazine; and Many other Publications).
Online Gambling: The ‘buzz’ in offshore gambling appears to be focusing on only two subjects as of late, including: Poker and Your Price Per Head Offering. What exactly is Price Per Head and Price Per Head Agency?
Wagner: As you know, one market that a post-up sportsbook has historically been unable to attack is the huge market of bettors that have been betting with their local guy for years (local guy = agent or corner bookie). The reason this market exists is the personal relationship that an onshore bookie or agent has with his clients. Sportsbooks have attempted to educate the player and lure him away from the local bookie, however V.O. Group, S.A. has decided to take another tact. Via our Price Per Head software written by Matthew Wilson, we have been able to PARTNER with onshore bookies or agents with our Price Per Head Agency Relationship.
Online Gambling: OK. Be more specific. How does a Price Per Head Agency Relationship Work?
Wagner: Price Per Head Agency is based on the very fair and equitable agreement between an onshore bookie and an offshore bookmaker. The deal is based on the onshore bookie recruiting players and the offshore bookmaker setting lines, writing the business and handling all accounting for the onshore bookie. And, all the onshore bookie does is simply pay the offshore bookmaker an agreed upon price per head per week.
Online Gambling: So, opposed to paying the offshore bookmaker a percentage, they simply compensate them a fixed price.
Wagner: Absolutely. The fact is that offshore sportsbooks have been gouging the onshore bookie or agent for years. Our offering stops that action in it’s tracks.
Online Gambling: Gouging! That is a pretty strong comment. Can you back that up?
Wagner: Let me give you an example…and, you judge for yourself. The example of Jeff W. in San Jose, California comes to mind. Jeff contacted V.O. Group, S.A. in early October 2004 when he was writing 72 head of business making an average of 12 wagers a week of $152. Rather, his turnover per client was an average of $1,824.00 a week. Via his agreement with a sportsbook we will call Dollywood, he was splitting his earnings 50/50. Once he shifted the business through BettorsNet.com, he was paying $30 a head a week. So, would you call this gouging?
Online Gambling: Actually, the numbers sound good. But, I have to admit, I am not sure. Can you help me understand better?
Wagner: That is very good answer. Let me simply do the math for you to illustrate the facts, and then you will have a much clearer set of information to deal with. If your average player bets $1,824.00 a week on just straight bets, you should have a minimum hold of 4.5% (parlays, teasers and props have a MUCH HIGHER HOLD). So, that means you should make $82.08/person ($1,824.00 x 0.045). Then, multiply this by the number of head equals a theoretical earn of $5,909.76 ($82.08 x 72). So, this means he would make $2,954.88 per week and Dollywood would make $2,954.88 per week.
Online Gambling: Well, $2,954.88 per week sounds pretty strong if you ask me How does this compare to his using BettorsNet.com?
Wagner: When Jeff started using BettorsNet.com, we simply charge him $30 a head a week. Rather, $30 times $72 is $2,160.00, representing a savings of $794.88 a week, or $41,333.76 a year.
Online Gambling: So, by Jeff W. switching to V.O. Group, S.A. or BettorsNet.com he was able to make an extra $41,333.76 a year?
Wagner: No. Actually, he made $25,000 in the first three months because most of his players are far worse than the theoretical averages. Almost every one of his players bet a proposition or a teaser or a parlay at least once a week. And, holds on those bets are far greater than 4.5%. On top of that, his players also play in our racebook and casino losing much, much more than 4.5%.
Online Gambling: Oh, I see. If he would have used Dollywood, he would have simply split more profit with them. But, via BettorsNet.com, he was able to keep 100% of the extra earn because he had already compensated you for the $30/head.
Wagner: That is exactly correct. Jeff W. came down in January 2005 and I took him sail fishing. It is the first time I ever had a client pay my bill. Why? Because, and realize I am quoting here, Jeff states that I will make him an extra $100,000 this year alone.
Online Gambling: Wow! That is incredible. I bet large credit sportsbooks, like Dollywood, are quickly becoming unfavorable of your new product.
Wagner: Yes. They hate our new software offering! But, that is what you get when you take advantage of your clients or partners as they have. And, as far as I am concerned, credit shops with Agent Split Agreements have simply NOT been treating their partners fairly and now they will pay the bill.
Online Gambling: I must say, I agree that if your numbers are even close to correct, it appears that the credit shops that split the earn ARE GOUGING AGENTS AND ONSHORE BOOKMAKERS.
Wagner: Well, the facts speak for themselves. And, I am glad you see the facts for what they are.
Online Gambling: Is there ever a case where an onshore bookie or agent should opt for a split as opposed to a Price Per Head Agency agreement?
Wagner: Absolutely Yes. If you are starting up a new book, or if you need financial backing because you are not strong enough to support a losing week - then, you should opt for a split. The best way to judge this is simply look over your figures for the last year. Could you afford to pay out the worst week you had without going broke? If you answer yes – then, you should opt for PPH. If you could NOT afford to pay it, then you should opt for a split or not be in business at all.
Online Gambling: So how does a bookmaker learn more about this?
Wagner: Simply go to any of the V.O. Group, S.A. sites to learn more. I suggest starting at www.BettorsNet.com or calling 1-877-512-1001 or emailing email@example.com to get more information.
Article Note: Any assumption that “Dollywood” is related to “Hollywood Sportsbook” or “BetHollywood.com” or “BetAtHollywood” or “Hollywood International” is the assumption of the reader and not the responsibility of Gambling Online Magazine.
Tuesday, June 14, 2005
Innovation In Bookmaking
Q & A with
Dalton Wagner, Founder V.O. Group, S.A.
As Founder and Proprietor of V.O. Group, S.A., Dalton Wagner has the reputation of ferreting out new markets and attacking while other companies sit on their hindquarters and watch. One market that has always eluded offshore bookmakers is the ‘guy who likes dealing with his credit bookmaker’. Typically this market has been untouchable for the offshore bookmaker, but NOT for Dalton and V.O. Group, S.A. We had an opportunity to catch up with Dalton Wagner on his last visit to Panama.
Vegas Offshore: Tell us about this new product that you are calling your Price Per Head Agency Relationship.
Wagner: As you know, one market that a post-up sportsbook has historically been unable to attack is the huge market of bettors that have been betting with their local guy for years. The reason this market exists is the personal relationship that an onshore bookie has with his clients. Sportsbooks have attempted to educate the player and lure him away from the local bookie, however we have taken another tact. We have partnered with local bookies around the world to make their offering better and more valuable.
Vegas Offshore: So instead of attacking the local guy, you actually approach him with your offer?
Wagner: Exactly. The fact is that the relationship is the last thread holding clients to a local guy. Yes, there is the fact that the local guy extends credit, but with bonuses and promotions we can overcome that offering. The key is the relationship.
Vegas Offshore: I’m confused, please explain.
Wagner: As you know, the onshore bookmaking market has lost steam to the offshore providers like V.O. Group, S.A. The reason is that the offerings that I can provide are far superior to those that any onshore bookmaker can offer. The PPH concept is based on allowing the onshore bookmaker to provide his clients my offerings on a purely anonymous basis via an online automated tool. Rather, by signing up with my PPH service, an onshore bookmaker can compete with all offshore sportsbooks on equal footing offering 24-hour wagering, 365 days a year. All the bookmaker does is use an online system to assign PINs and PASSWORDs and pay me a small fee per week for the service.
Vegas Offshore: Wait a minute. So, this means that a small time operator in Cleveland, Ohio can offer all the same things that V.O. Group, S.A. does without making the multi-million dollar investment?
Wagner: Now your catching on. For as little as $25 per head per week, a guy in Ohio can compete with the biggest sportsbooks in the world. And, better yet, never answer another wagering phone call again.
Vegas Offshore: OK, I get it. They use your automated tool to drive their clients to your software online, and they simply pick up the figures at the end of the week.
Wagner: Exactly correct with one exception. Their clients can bet on the phone via our call center staffed with 250 people OR bet online. Again, they have access to all of the offerings V.O. Group, S.A. provides including call center access, client services and technical support.
Vegas Offshore: Is the PPH product only based on sports wagering?
Wagner: Very good question. The answer is no. We actually have the ability to offer clients two (2) casino products including blackjack, baccarat, slots, 3 card poker, roulette, etc. And, clients may also bet on horses at over 350 tracks worldwide.
Vegas Offshore: Wow! That truly is incredible. So, a bookie that has one client can compete with the likes of MVPsportsbook.com on equal footing?
Wagner: Exactly correct. But, there are two keys to the success of the product launch. The first is being able to compete head to head with the biggest sportsbooks in the world. But, arguably the most important factor is that since the onshore bookie no longer has to answer phones or track plays, he can spend all of his time picking up new clients, NOT writing bets.
Vegas Offshore: I remember that in a prior interview you had stated that the key is not winning, but finding more losers.
Wagner: An embarrassing quote, but true. Amateur bookmakers think that the key is to beat the clients you have. That is a huge mistake. The key to getting rich as a bookmaker is finding a new client every single day of the year. The numbers take care of themselves, the key is to get more and more people playing. That is the TRUE BEAUTY of the PPH software and agency relationship.
Vegas Offshore: Do you have any success stories to tell?
Wagner: I have many, but will tell you one that emphasizes what the PPH program can do. I have a bookmaker that has been working out of San Antonio, Texas for 10 years. The guy has historically made $200,000 a year from his 25 or 30 players. He was introduced to our product in July 2004, and today he is writing over 185 clients. The ability to outsource answering calls and writing tickets to us has allowed him to grow his business 600% and his revenue over 1000%.
Vegas Offshore: Why did his revenue grow more than his business? Is it because your lines are sharper than his?
Wagner: There you go again. That is the obvious mistake that everyone makes. Again, don’t worry about beating the clients. Worry about getting more clients to play. But, to answer your question directly, the ability for his clients to play in the casino, play 24 hours a day, play games/halves/quarters, props, etc. is where the extra revenue comes from. Our lines might be sharper, but the advantage is more clients betting more often.
Vegas Offshore: How many bookmakers do you currently work with?
Wagner: We are writing business for over 250 bookmakers now. Some represent groups as small as 2 or 3; and others represent groups as large as 500. Again, remember the key is finding as many clients as possible. If you get to where you are writing 15 clients or more, it is almost impossible to lose for an extended period of time.
Vegas Offshore: So how does a bookmaker learn more about this?
Wagner: Simply go to any of the V.O. Group, S.A. sites to learn more. I suggest starting at www.BettorsNet.com or calling 1-877-512-1001 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org to get more information.
State of the Offshore Gaming Industry
Q & A with
Dalton Wagner, Founder V.O. Group, S.A.
As Founder and Proprietor of V.O. Group, S.A., Dalton Wagner has the reputation of making one-dollar work like three in online marketing. With formidable competition, Mr. Wagner founded V.O. Group, S.A. in 1998 and has quickly risen to be one of the largest offshore operators in the world with over 50,000 active clients. We had an opportunity to catch up with Dalton Wagner on his last visit to Antigua.
Vegas Offshore: This year has been interesting for V.O. Group, S.A. and the offshore industry as a whole (advertising changes, etc.). How do you feel about the industry at the current time?
Wagner: I feel the industry is as strong as it has ever been. We are still finding that our advertising is bringing us new clients at an ever-growing rate. Some competitors are complaining that the crimp on advertising is affecting the industry, but we are not seeing this trend. Consolidation within the industry has begun, and I am sure you will continue to see smaller competitors gobbled up, and medium to larger companies merging. The weaker will go by the wayside.
Vegas Offshore: What about the rumors of V.O. Group, S.A. being bought?
Wagner: I am glad you used the term 'rumors'. The fact is that in July 2004 three suitors approached V.O. Group, S.A. because of our record-breaking profit year. In two of the cases we did see 'value' in a merger/relationship. However, at the end of the day, we could not come to terms that were agreeable on both sides. At this time V.O. Group, S.A. stands independent. And, we are happy being independent, profitable and growing.
Vegas Offshore: It is rumored that Bet On Sports (PLC; BSS.L) was one of the suitors. Is that true?
Wagner: There were three suitors that approached V.O. Group, S.A. And, in all cases confidentiality agreements were signed. For this reason, I cannot confirm or deny who any of the potential suitors were. What I can tell you is that one was a major sportsbook player, one was a major casino player and two were PLCs. I doubt that helps.
Vegas Offshore: Well, if Bet On Sports was involved, I bet you are happy you weren't involved in their November 24, 2004 stock debacle.
Wagner: The Bet On Sports stock debacle was an over-reaction by the market in my opinion. In one day you saw their stock drop 50% in value. And, the reason was poor performance in a very short period. If you looked at the other publicly held offshore gaming companies, you saw the same thing, just not as drastic as with BSS.L. Simply put, I know the founder of Bet On Sports, I know the management of Bet On Sports, I know the staff at Bet On Sports and I would not hesitate to invest in Bet On Sports. They were, and still are, undervalued in my opinion. They are a great competitor and a great company. I wish I had some of their stock at the new adjusted price. I just don't see how you can lose.
Vegas Offshore: It is rare to hear the 'competition' speaking so highly of a major competitor. Why would you do so?
Wagner: Simple. Bet On Sports is a great company. And, I am sure they would tell you the same about V.O. Group, S.A. The fact is, that there are companies out there that make our industry stronger. And, ones that make it weaker. Bet On Sports and V.O.Group, S.A. strive to make our industry stronger and more legitimate on a daily basis (as do BetCris.com; BoDog.com; etc.). What kind of ambassador for the industry would I be if I downplayed a 'good' competitor like Bet On Sports for my own benefit?
Vegas Offshore: If Bet On Sports did approach you, would you consider a merger?
Wagner: I like being independent. But, simply put, NEVER say NEVER.
Vegas Offshore: What of the rumors that you are looking at Panama as a potential relocation site?
Wagner: Our operation currently has offices in Costa Rica, Antigua and Belize. In Costa Rica we currently have over 400 employees. With employment costs in Costa Rica on the rise, the burden of Caja and the ever-changing political climate, we have looked at several alternative locations. One of the most desirable is/was Panama. However, due to the massive failure of BetPanAm.com and the political debacle involving their past gaming commission, we have decided to stay put for the current time. I think it is very safe to say that our primary location will be Costa Rica for the next 5 years. Pending any crazy licensing or governmental changes.
Vegas Offshore: I have visited your office in Antigua, however had no idea that you employed 400 individuals in Costa Rica. Why do you need such a large staff?
Wagner: Our industry has a reputation for being lazy and getting by on a shoestring budget. Most sportsbooks, casinos, racebooks and poker rooms answer phones when it is convenient and buy computers when the ones they are operating blow-up. Most are simply embarrassing to the legitimate operators. To run an operation like ours, servicing 50,000 bettors, you need lots of space, a 1st rate phone system, fiber and satellite phone and Internet backups, IT professionals, accounting professionals, etc. V.O. Group, S.A. is currently located in 35,000 square feet of space, operating 24-hours a day, 365 days a year, and we are busting at the seems. At the current time, we are negotiating to buy the building next to us for future expansion. I think we will employ 600 people come this same time next year.
Vegas Offshore: I have noticed that you are still branching into other products. How has this strategy worked for V.O. Group, S.A.?
Wagner: In 1998 we started with our sports product. We then branched into the casino product. In 2001 and 2002 we opened several major race books and poker rooms. The fact is that we are profitable in all products. However, our core product, and hub for our advertising, is focused on the sports product. The strategy has worked, but we will not desert our core product. You can look for our re-launch of interactive betting in early 2005 and bingo in mid 2005.
Vegas Offshore: What other changes do you see in 2005 for V.O. Group, S.A.
Wagner: I think you will see V.O. Group, S.A. work more on our Internet interface to make it more gamer-friendly; you will see our company move into land-based gaming; and you will see us acquire two or three smaller competitors. Rather, you will see what you have always seen, expansion.
Vegas Offshore: What other changes do you see in 2005 for the industry as a whole?
Wagner: The strong will get stronger. The weak will get weaker. And, the acquisition race will be on.
Thursday, June 09, 2005
2005 Belmont Stakes Contenders, Odds & Race Info Belmont Stakes Fair
Among the many side events, the 6th Annual Belmont Stakes Fair at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York is expected to generate the attentions of curious spectators, both young and old alike.
The fair, which showcases an astonishing 25 various shows daily, also includes few animal tricks for pet lovers such as the Hollywood Racing Pigs, Wild World of Animals, International Petting Zoo, Super Fun Horse Show and Coronas Dog Show. More than that, curiosity and astonishment will surely flutter once the Lance Gifford Magic and Illusion Show and Circus Hollywood start their hair racing stunts and antics.
So after Giacommo and Afleet Alex capped their second in a row, or while the likes of Wilko, and other longshots gave other heavilly favored a run for their money, the whole family can relax and unwind in the Blemont Stakes Fair.
Would anyone from Afleet Alex, winner of the recent Preakness Stakes, or Giacomo, victorious in the Kentucky Derby, came up strong and make a suiting follow up from their earlier victories? Let's analyze the factors for their sucesses, go to Belmont Stakes Betting Odds, 2005 Belmont Stakes Betting Picks, Belmont Stakes Fair, and Belmont Stakes Winners.
To place your bet, visit the Belmont Stakes Betting and for a complete Belmont Stakes coverage, visit the ultimate horse site, Horse Racing Directories.Com.
Belmont Stakes Fair. Follow the 2005 Belmont Stakes at Belmont Park on the Triple Crown Trail beginning from the prep races then the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs and Preakness Stakes at Pimlico all the way to the Triple Crown horse racing championship finale. Find all you need to know about the Belmont Stakes horse racing picks, horse racing tips, horse racing selections, race analysis, Belmont Stakes official race entries, past performance, possible race contenders, recent winners, race results and payouts, Belmont Stakes horse racing history, and Belmont Park race track information and history. Consider the 2005 Belmont Stakes on June 11, 2005, at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York, as your winning bet, after the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes, leading up the Triple Crown 2005!
Tuesday, May 24, 2005
The Belmont Stakes
The third jewel of the Triple Crown is the Belmont Stakes, held five weeks after the Kentucky Derby at Belmont Park in Elmont, New York.
No effort to discuss the Kentucky Derby is complete without mentioning the Triple Crown, the series of horse races that, in all due respect to the Breeders' Cup, defines the sport of horse racing. What follows is an abbreviated "Call To The Derby Post" treatment of the Belmont Stakes, an event that is almost (but not quite) as celebrated in New York as the Derby is in Louisville and the Preakness in Baltimore.
NOTE: The following information comes from the official site of the Belmont Stakes, hosted by the New York Racing Association.
Instead of an essay-type history that was presented for the Preakness and for the Kentucky Derby, Call To The Derby Post's Belmont Stakes introduction will comprise of important facts and pieces of trivia that should present a full perspective of the race.
The First Belmont
The first Belmont in the United States was not the famous stakes race or even the man for whom it is named. Rather, the first Belmont was a race horse that arrived in California in 1853 from his breeding grounds of Franklin, Ohio. The Belmont Stakes, however, are named after August Belmont, a financier who made quite a name and fortune for himself in New York politics and society. Obviously, Mr. Belmont was also quite involved in horse racing, and his imprint is even intertwined within the history of the Kentucky Derby.
The Belmont's Age
One thing the Belmont does have over the Derby is that it is the oldest of the three Triple Crown events. The Belmont predates the Preakness by six years, the Kentucky Derby by eight. The first running of the Belmont Stakes was in 1867 at Jerome Park, on, believe it or not, a Thursday. At a mile and five furlongs, the conditions included an entry fee of $200, half forfeit with $1,500 added. Furthermore, not only is the Belmont the oldest Triple Crown race, but it is the fourth oldest race overall in North America. The Phoenix Stakes, now run in the fall at Keeneland as the Phoenix Breeders' Cup, was first run in 1831. The Queen's Plate in Canada made its debut in 1860, while the Travers in Saratoga opened in 1864. However, since there were gaps in sequence for the Travers, the Belmont is third only to the Phoenix and Queen's Plate in total runnings.
Some Monumental Belmont Moments
As we saw in the breeding section of the Call To The Derby Post Betting How-To Page, champions horses breed champion horses. This certainly holds form in the Belmont Stakes. A total of eleven Belmont Stakes winners have sired at least one other Belmont winner.
According to the offical Web site of the Belmont Stakes, "The white carnation is the traditional flower of the Belmont Stakes. The blanket requires approximately 350 carnations, glued to green velveteen spread and weighs between 30 and 40 pounds. The flowers are shipped from California or Bogota, Columbia."
The Belmont Breeze is the official drink of the Belmont Stakes. Created by New York’s premiere beverage authority Dale DeGroff, the profile of the Belmont Breeze comes from the colonial recipe: one of sour, two of sweet, three of strong and four of weak.
The ingredients are:
Shake first six ingredients with ice, then top with 7-Up and club soda. Garnish with mint sprig and lemon wedge.
Money at the Belmont
Oh, have times changed. The purse for the first running of the Belmont was $1,500 added with a total purse of $2,500, with the winner's share taken by the filly Ruthless. The lowest winner's share in Belmont history was the $1,825 earned by The Finn in 1915. The Belmont set an opposite record in 1992, in which the richest Belmont purse ever totaled 1,764,800.
Five times in Belmont history only two horses entered the race: 1887, 1888, 1892, 1910 and sadly, 1920, the year Man O'War triumphed. The largest field, on the other hand, was 15 in 1983, when Caveat defeated Slew O' Gold. In 1875 14 horses ran, when Calvin outdueled stablemate Aristides, that year's winner of the inaugural Kentucky Derby.
The Belmont's lowest paid winner: Count Fleet in 1943, who paid a paltry $2.10. The Belmont's highest winner: Sherluck in 1961, who dished out $132.10.
A favorite's race: Of the 129 Belmont runnings through 1997, the favorite had won 58 times, including 9 out of the last 25.
There have been some strange twists of betting in Belmont history. Since the advent of mutuels in New York in 1940 there have been six times when no place or show betting was taken on the Belmont Stakes. The last time there was no show wagering was in 1978 when Affirmed and Alydar held their famous confrontation. There was also no show betting when Secretariat won his Triple Crown in 1973; no wonder--Secretariat won by a record 31 lengths. Show betting was also eliminated in 1957 when Gallant Man defeated Bold Ruler, and also in 1953 when Native Dancer won. In 1943, believe it or not, there was no place or show wagering when Triple Crown winner Count Fleet went off $.05 to the dollar and won by 25 lengths. To wrap it up, Whirlaway completed his Triple Crown victory in 1941 without show betting. In other words, by the time horses dominate the Derby and Preakness, there just might not be that many challengers when the horse goes to complete the sweep.
Since 1940 there have also been 30 horses listed as odds-on favorites in the Belmont Stakes. In 1957, there were two: Gallant Man, who won at 19-20, and Bold Ruler, who finished third at 17-20. Of these 30, only 12 went on to win.
The highest-priced Belmont Stakes winner was Sarava ($142.50) in 2002. The lowest $2 win mutuel was Triple Crown winner Count Fleet ($2.10) in 1943.
The largest field for the Belmont Stakes was 15 in 1983 and the smallest was two in 1887, 1888, 1892, 1910 and 1920. The second largest field was 14 in 1996 (Editor's Note) and 1875 (Calvin). The widest margin of victory was Secretariat's 31-length victory in the 1973 Belmont Stakes. The smallest margin was a nose by Granville (1936), Jaipur (1962) and Victory Gallop (1998).
The 2002 Belmont Stakes set the precedent for horse racing in New York with a record attendance of 103,222. Additional high attendance marks are: 85,818 in 1999 (Lemon Drop Kid denies Charismatic the Triple Crown); 82,694 in 1971 (Pass Catcher denies Canonero II the Triple Crown); and 80,162 in 1998 (Victory Gallop denies Real Quiet the Triple Crown).
The Fastest Belmont
Who else? Secretariat set a world-record that still stands for the mile and a half distance on a dirt track at 2:24. (He had finished a mile and a quarter at 1:59, faster than his own Derby record of 1:59 2/5.)
"The Belmont Stakes trophy is a Tiffany-made silver bowl, with cover, 18 inches high, 15 inches across and 14 inches at the base. Atop the cover is a silver figure of Fenian, winner of the third running of the Belmont Stakes in 1869. The bowl is supported by three horses representing the three foundation thoroughbreds--Eclipse, Herod and Matchem. The trophy, a solid silver bowl originally crafted by Tiffany's, was presented by the Belmont family as a perpetual award for the Belmont Stakes in 1926. It was the trophy August Belmont's Fenian won in 1869 and had remained with the Belmont family since that time. The winning owner is given the option of keeping the trophy for the year their horse reigns as Belmont champion."
2004 Belmont Stakes Results
It took 12 tries for trainer Nick Zito to win the Belmont Stakes. It took 2:27 2/5 for Birdstone to end that slump on Saturday afternoon at the expense of Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner Smarty Jones, who was looking to become the 12th Visa Triple Crown winner in the 136th running of the million-dollar, 1 1/2-mile "Test of the Champion." And Birdstone's one-length victory took the heart out of the majority in a record crowd 120,139 and NBC's national audience. Birdstone is owned by socialite Marylou Whitney, who is a very big part of the Saratoga scene.
This was the day it was supposed to happen, a day racing would again embrace a Triple Crown winner. It had been too long, 1978 with Affirmed to be exact, and you couldn't have asked for a better hero than Smarty Jones.
The "Philly Flash" looked like a lock to become racing's all-time leading money earner, needing only victory in the Belmont Stakes to force Visa to deliver on its $5 million bonus . But the grind of running three times in five weeks at three different racetracks at three different distances had taken its toll on Smarty Jones. And Zito, who had five seconds and a third in his previous 11 Belmont Stakes tries; who had a full deck for the Kentucky Derby reduced to a few wild cards, was now waiting in the wings with Birdstone and another shooter, Royal Assault, who won the Sir Barton at Pimlico on Preakness Day.
Smarty Jones, breaking from the far outside in post 9, was put into contention immediately by Elliott, who had been flawless aboard him through eight straight wins. He quickly wilted Purge, whom he had beaten twice at Oaklawn Park, who faded after a half-mile of :48 3/5. The next challenge came from Rock Hard Ten, the Preakness runner-up, whose antics forced the starters to blindfold him in order to load him into the gate. He stayed in the mix and was a length off Smarty Jones after a mile in 1:35 2/5. At this point, Smarty Jones looked to have found the Holy Grail, but he wasn't alone for long, as Birdstone swept to victory. "Smarty broke very sharp," Elliott said, "and I got a hold of him, but a couple of horses came up on his inside and just kind of had him on the run. "I thought that maybe, if he could get on the lead by himself, he'll relax, which he might have. But I had a horse on the inside, then one on the outside and a horse on the inside again. So, he never got a chance to relax. I just had to keep letting him out a little bit at a time, and it just took its toll on him."
Smarty Jones will now get a well-deserved rest and point toward race later in the year, most likely the Pennsylvania Derby on Labor Day back at his home base of Philadelphia Park. "He's not done," Servis said. "You'll be seeing plenty of him and hopefully, we'll get to race next year. And he'll go on and do some great things and he'll be noted as the great horse -like Spectacular Bid that didn't win the Triple Crown."
Winning jockey Edgar Prado said "I feel a little bad. Smarty Jones is still pretty good but [Birdstone] is bred for the distance. I was very comfortable all the way around." The win was Prado's second in the Belmont, both times denying a Triple Crown. He was aboard Sarava in 2002. Winning trainer Nick Zito said, "What can I say? It was one emotional thing. It's sad because Smarty is great for racing."
1974 BELMONT STAKES
Leader of the Pack-So now we apparently have a legitimate leader among the three-year-olds. Darby Dan's rangy chestnut Little Current, the seven-length winner of the Preakness three weeks earlier, duplicated his effort almost exactly in the 1 1/2-mile Belmont Stakes on June 8 to join such select company as Damascus, Nashua, Native Dancer, Capot, and Bimelech, each of whom failed to win the Kentucky Derby, but went on to win the other two Triple Crown races.
He also became the first colt to win more than one of the 11 stakes with a value of $100,000-added or more in the division thus far this year; he became the second member of the division to account for three major stakes; he has soundly defeated the Derby winner, Cannonade, in their last two meetings, while the latter had no excuses in either race; and, when in the clear, he has blown past his opposition in both the Preakness and the Belmont with all the ease of a Learjet overtaking a Piper Cub.
In short, he is currently the leader of the pack. Favored, of course, was Little Current, principally off his Preakness victory in the impressive time of 1:54 3/5. ... Next in favor of the crowd was Cannonade, the Kentucky Derby winner, albeit in 2:04.
From an even start, Jolly Johu went to the front ... while Little Current dropped 11 lengths off the pace, where he was to remain throughout the first mile. Jolly Johu and Shady Character lumbered the first half in :49 3/5, the latter in front now; they dawdled the six furlongs in 1:14; they crept the mile in 1:39 1/5. Obviously, the riders were asleep, and the crowd was beginning to get that way. Fortunately, though, things began to happen.
On the turn, Little Current began to accelerate, slipping through inside the fading Shady Character, Sea Songster, and Hudson County before Miguel Rivera smoothly took him to the outside to shoot at the leaders.
At the quarter pole, Cannonade was on the lead after 1 1/4 miles in 2:04 1/5, with Jolly Johu second and Rube the Great third, while Little Current had clear sailing on the outside, and from here it was no horse race. He zipped past the leaders with no trouble and drew off to win by seven, with ease.
Meanwhile, Jolly Johu, one of the longest priced horses in the field, rallied again to take second by a nose from Cannonade, while Rube the Great finished fourth.
Little Current's final time of 2:29 1/5 elicited howls of anguish from trainers, the press, and other pundits. It was 5 1/5 seconds slower than the track record set by Secretariat in last year's Belmont, they said. And the track was fast, they said. Three races on the card had been run within three-fifths of a second of their respective track records, they said. It just goes to show what a group of louts this is, they said.
But wait. Secretariat's times have made a lot of horses look bad, and, if there were a group of louts in the race, it was the jockeys who dawdled along at the incredibly slow pace-or the others who allowed them to-through the first part of the race. Furthermore, Little Current actually ran both the final quarter and the final half-mile faster than Secretariat had last year. The time for Little Current's final quarter was :24, while Secretariat had coasted home in :25, and the final half was two seconds faster, Little Current going in :47 4/5 as compared to :49 4/5 for last year's champion.-Arnold Kirkpatrick
The Thoroughbred Record, June 15, 1974
June 9, 1973 - Belmont Stakes, Belmont Park
Secretariat raced into the ever glow of immortality in the 1973 Belmont Stakes. His victory, by one of the widest margins in the history of the American turf - 31 lengths ahead of his nearest challenger and in a world record time for the 1 1/2 miles distance - 2 minutes 24, remains one of the most memorable in sports history. At any moment, a racing fan who might have seen a thousand races, or ten thousand races, or just ten races, can think of those winning numbers 31 and 2:24 and be transported instantly back in time. Back to one of the landmark achievements of a sport as old as horse and man.
The numbers 31 and 2:24 merely trigger the REAL memory of a horse running as no horse had ever seemed to run before or since. Secretariat ran more powerfully, and with more fluid skill than one could ever hope from a horse. And humans hope for much from horses. To feel the glory of Secretariat's Belmont is to be flooded with emotion of having seen something of true wonder.
The most lasting image, in fact, is probably not in the numbers at all. Those numbers came later, after Secretariat crossed the finish line. Only those who have seen countless races would instantly know what the time on the teletimer meant. Few of us know the record times for horse races of various distances at different tracks, even though a possible track record was part of the talk leading up to the 1973 Belmont Stakes. For most of us, it took an expert announcer to explain that Secretariat had just run the fastest Belmont in history. Probably after a moment of research it was noted that the winning time was not merely the fastest 1½ miles at Belmont Park, but also the fastest 1½ miles-time ever recorded in America. Maybe even in the world!
To figure out that Secretariat's final margin was 31 lengths is also something that came later. Calling the race on television, Chick Anderson estimated that Secretariat was perhaps 25 lengths ahead. For the official margin, the Daily Racing Form Chart Caller had to study the films, and maybe view a wide-angle (very wide-angle) still photo to count the number of lengths by which the mighty horse won.
And what kind of measurement is a length, anyhow? How come they don't just come right out and say how many feet he was ahead of the second-place horse?
The answer is that a "length" is a unit of measurement that represents the approximate length of one horse. That distance is easier to judge than yards or feet when horses are flying by at high speed. The Chart Caller is also aided in determining finishing margins by the inside rail of the track, which serves as a kind of ruler. The rail is held up by support standards placed one length apart. (Did you know that?)
Anyhow, the remarkable numbers came later.
The true memory of Secretariat in the Belmont is far more compelling than numbers. It is a vivid mental moving picture of a horse doing something no other horse of his time had ever done.
Here's the way the 1973 Belmont Stakes was run, according to the official notes made by the Chart Caller for the Daily Racing Form:
"SECRETARIAT, sent up along the inside to vie for the early lead with SHAM to the backstretch, disposed of that one after three-quarters, drew off at will rounding the far turn and was under a hand ride from Turcotte to establish a record in a tremendous performance."
Kind of short and sweet. To flesh that out a little, Secretariat broke from the inside post and went to the front from the start. He was challenged by old rival Sham into the first turn, around the long first turn, and into the backstretch. The two were flying on the front end, ripping off quarter-mile fractions of 23 3/5, 46 1/5, and 1:09 4/5 for the first three quarters of a mile. That's six furlongs, or half the Belmont's 12-furlong distance, run at blazing fractions. The speed was too much for Sham, but only seemed to energize Secretariat, emboldening him to go on and show what he could do. Sham would fade to last, and Twice a Prince would eventually nip My Gallant for second, in a good performance by those two.
As Secretariat rounded the sweeping Belmont far turn (the turns at Belmont are the longest of any track in North America) he seemed to be on cruise control, with jockey Ron Turcotte just steering. Not asking. Secretariat's lead widened from seven lengths to 20 lengths on that turn.
On to the wire, Turcotte did not ease the horse, but let him run on. On any other day, the rider would have been pulling the horse up through the lane, letting him take a bow under wraps. Saving something for another day. But THIS was the day, and the savvy rider knew the horse was running well within himself. Turcotte knew the time had come to let the horse show the world what he could do.
All that power. All that balance. All that heart. All that speed. Secretariat was ready to roll. And the margin kept widening, and widening, and widening.
By mid-stretch the Big Red Horse was ahead by 28 lengths, with the margin finally to reach 31 lengths by the finish. As he flew down the stretch he stretched out in stride past thousands of wildly cheering fans.
Now you saw the jockey.
Ron Turcotte wasn't the kind of rider who moved around a lot in the saddle. He didn't pump. He was still. Nearly motionless. Like most of the great ones.
But maybe you saw him tilt his head just a nod to the left for a moment, in the direction of the infield teletimer. Checking the fractions of the race so far. In the Kentucky Derby, Secretariat had broken the track record. He'd broken the Preakness record at Pimlico, too, though the timing was unofficial. Coming to the wire in New York, Turcotte knew with one glance that he had a shot at the Belmont record. If he could get it, that would mean the horse had broken the track record in all three Triple Crown races. An unheard-of feat.
Then the horse.
In the final strides, we saw the horse for the first time. Before, we had watched the margins between Secretariat and the other horses. Saw how close it was early. Saw how fast they were running. It was the way we watch horse races: watching the way they raced each other, how far one was ahead, whether one seemed to be gaining, or fading. How far. The gap. We saw the closeness melt, and the margin spread like warm maple syrup rolling off the side of a hill of pancakes.
But now, instead of the margin we saw The Horse. He was no longer racing the others. He was racing only himself and history.
He was gray to us, because we saw him on a black and white TV set. He was solid gray, and the blue and white blocks of the rider's silks were dark gray and white. The rail was white. The blinkers were checkered.
His chest grew. His head held steady. Or lowered a bit, perhaps, as the wire approached.
If you were there, at Belmont Park, you saw Secretariat in living color. He was dark red, darker than his normal, bright, reddish-blond coat. With every muscle churning in full combustion, the horse darkened in color.
His legs, you couldn't see them. Not even a blur. You could see his white-stockinged feet. Like a low trail of vapor. A white wisp of flying fog.
And then it was over.
The moment froze. What we are left with are those fleeting glimpses - a blazing pace, a huge running machine, a visual roar of acceleration, an ever-widening margin, the coat darkening, a white vapor of feet, a jockey sitting chilly, a horse alone - and one long-lasting moment frozen in memory. What we witnessed. The champion's charisma. A feeling. An emotion. A ripple of goose bumps.
A moment of greatness.
WAS HE THE GREATEST?
Now. There are questions:
Was Secretariat the greatest horse who ever lived?
Was his Belmont the greatest performance ever made?
Could any horse have beaten Secretariat?
The answers to those questions are difficult. Secretariat won by so far, against such a small field of just five horses, that comparisons to other races is not germane. Just five years later, Affirmed and Alydar would battle stride for stride, nostril for nostril for the length of the Belmont Park stretch in the 1978 Belmont. That, right there, could have been as remarkable a race as anyone has ever seen.
Could Seattle Slew, a Triple Crown winner of 1977 have defeated Secretariat? Could Count Fleet, who was never headed in any Triple Crown race, and won the Belmont by 25 lengths, have beaten Secretariat? Could Citation? Could Man o' War?
No none knows. All those horses ruled the turf at a different time than Secretariat.
Long ago, a writer named Joe H. Palmer wrote that Man o' War was "as close to a living flame as horses ever get." Could Secretariat have been even closer to the flame?
We don't know.
What we do know is Secretariat became all that he was ever supposed to be on the June day at Belmont Park. His Belmont Stakes victory is a landmark. It is a moment in time when he rose, absolutely, to true greatness.
So, while we will never know how he would fare, in another time, against other horses, we do know he created a moment when called upon. One great moment.
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