Sunday, December 28, 2008

A Rough Start For Santa Anita and Pro-Ride

Another day another mishap or two! Two days of racing does not set a precedent, however, if the two days of Breeder's Cup races resulted in the same number of injuries to horses as the first two days of the Santa Anita meet, praise would not have been the response for the Pro-Ride surface.

I'm don't want to get into another long discussion about surfaces or offer any solutions, I don't think there are any. I've already made my feelings about the synthetic tracks known here. They will continue to occur, it's the nature of the beast (no pun intended). I have always felt that they are even more likely to occur in the premier events because that is where the sports best athlete's compete. Those races are where supreme effort pushes performance to it's physical limits. And that is why I think more injuries occur in top level races. But take this as hearsay at the moment because I don't know this assumption to be true. It may be more injuries occur at in cheap Maiden Claiming races where the physically inferior horses show up. But my assumption is they can't or won't run hard enough to hurt themselves as often.

We can try to limit breakdowns by making surfaces as safe as possible and running horses that are as healthy as possible. That's about all we can do, regardless of them being synthetic or natural. We can only hope that through track safety and by the cessation of steroid use for non-medical, non-injury uses that the numbers of injuries, over time, will be significantly lowered. Synthetic tracks are not a panacea for this problem. The use of synthetics seems like a viable option to natural surfaces in some areas of the country, but why California dove into them headfirst is a real bewilderment. I'm not suggesting there will be more injuries on synthetics, but over time I do not think there will be fewer. I do think the negative impacts to the sport and breed by racing only synthetics should have been considered more carefully (again my thoughts on that are in the above link.)

Harm to the industry as a result of harm to horses is the real issue here. And another area that falls into this is horse slaughter. No one likes to talk about it, everyone wants to come down on the politically correct side of saying that we have to save them. That too is a nice idea but I don't think it is possible either. And maybe it shouldn't be the answer. I was taken by the common sense of a letter [No Easy Answer] in the Horse (January 2009) this month that addressed this issue. The humane slaughter of horses should be at the center of this issue. The letter addressed horses in general but in the thoroughbred industry alone too many horses are being bred and too many are are not going to be useful racehorses. What is the answer? You can't save them all. And while I can't envision ever consuming a horse myself there are obviously many in the world that have and do. Is that not a noble end for any living thing? To add to life. To nourish life. It seems to me that those are two goals that one should strive for in life and are in no way demeaning or degrading as a final use for the remains of life. I think this is probably more of a cultural issue than anything else. Don't get my intention here wrong. I am not saying that we shouldn't try to save horses. I am saying that we can not and will not be able to save them all. If we all accept that reality the next best thing to do is to insure that as many as possible are humanely handled and that they are used for the greatest good.

*As a late addendum to this I'd like to link to this article in the Blood-Horse that was brought to my attention by another TBA member. Check out her site at [GBG]. When the world works with care and compassion good things happen. This is how it ought to be.

I was going over my Malibu entry to see where I had erred in my calculations. I'd have to say Amateurcapper, pointed out one of my biggest omissions in his response, namely, I found fault with several of the entries because of breaks in training but then neglected to see the same fault in Georgie Boy (23 days, as pointed out by Amateur, after the Damascus). The only fault I found with Bob Black Jack was that he hadn't beaten any of these yet. But he was always competitive. And as I pointed out he was working better than any of the others. Along with the fact that I had several points of issue with all the others it's hard to see why I didn't see what my own analysis was pointing at. Sometimes we can't see the forest for the tress we've planted. What surprised me most in the Malibu was the race Into Mischief's ran. Because of his post I thought he would have to be leading the entire way to win. I didn't think with the speed in the race that was possible so I thought he would fade a half dozen lengths by the end of the race. How wrong that was! Over all a very nice race to watch.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Malibu Stakes

The following piece was originally written as a handicapping column for another publication with the novice handicapper in mind. As such it has been edited a little from it's original form.

This week is the 57th edition of the Grade I Malibu Stakes on opening day at Santa Anita on Friday Dec 26th. The race is for three year olds (foals of 2005) and is contested at, perhaps, the most difficult of all distances, seven furlongs. The first running was in 1952 a time when racing was still center stage in this country. The Malibu has always been contested at 7furlongs, unlike so many stakes that have had their distance changed over time. Originally awarded a Grade II status the race was up graded to a Grade I in 1980.

While the length of seven furlongs isn’t what we think of when we think of great horses many great horses have their names etched into history as winners of the Malibu Stakes. There was Round Table, Native Diver, Buckpasser, Damascus, Spectacular Bid, Precisionist and Ferdinand to name a some of the most notable. More recently Mizzen Mast won in 2001 and Rock Hard Ten in 2004. What is most notable about this roster of winners is that almost all are thought of as being stamina influences to the breed. And while Precisionist is probably best remembered for having won the 1988 Breeder’s Cup Sprint if you look back at his past performances you will see he won big races from sprint distances up to a mile and a quarter; the 1984 G.I Swaps for example.

Different types of races demand a different focus to the handicapping employed. But one of the first things that has to be done in any race is that you have to eliminate horses. Generally when handicapping I check the breeding of each horse to determine if there are any that do not, in my opinion, have the pedigree for the race. Many past performances available today have some notation, based on some formula, as to the publishers best guess for the suitability of the horse for the distance but I prefer to determine this myself and quite often find myself at odds with opinions proffered. However, by the time a horse has had several races it is pretty easy to see what type of runner it will be and if it is running to it’s pedigree. While pedigree handicapping is most obviously useful with maidens I think it can always be a tool, and I use it in conjunction with a horses PP’s to make decisions. For instance in this weeks Malibu there are two horses with pedigrees that scream out for a lot more distance in one case I see it as a positive and the other a negative.

First, Colonel John.
I love the back class of Colonel John. And class usually rises to the top. Yet his pedigree (Tiznow – Sweet Damsel, by Turkoman) would suggest he would be best suited with a lot more ground. But looking back to his second race we see that he broke his maiden at seven furlongs in a race that had another pretty nice horse in it, Medjool. Yet, it was a maiden race and a lot has happened since. One thing that happened is that he went from a horse that was forwardly placed to one that rated and came with a late run. That strategy only worked for him in the Santa Anita Derby, not a bad place for it to work but another runner in the Malibu, Bob Black Jack, is who he defeated. Bob is a horse that makes the pace or runs with it; not the type of horse one necessarily thinks about winning the 1-1/8 mile SA Derby. He again rated well off the pace in the Derby and it resulted in his worst performance. Since then Colonel John has returned to a more aggressive strategy and it has paid off. He missed by just a length and a half first back in the G. II Swaps and then won the G.I Travers. Those two races are arguably his best performances. His last race was the BC Classic. While you never have to apologize for losing the classic it is a race that he didn’t embarrass himself in and once again he sat a little farther back than I think he wants to be. Yet through his running lines his versatility and class is obvious and that is what makes him one of my favorites in this race. In the Malibu the pace should be very heated and from the opening of the gates I expect him to,once again, be more engaged. So if Gomez keeps him two or three lengths back from the first tier, as I think he will, he will be well engaged in the race while also able to reserve a little more than the rest for the end. Based on that information I actually like his pedigree here. He is a horse that has shown he has the stamina to run until next weekend, he has tactical speed and runs best when involved. As I pointed out above many of the past winners were horses that we associate with stamina. I see no problem with Colonel John shortening up here to seven furlongs. With his pedigree and preferred running style perhaps he may be best suited as a miler! Can anyone say sire!

The other horse is Golden Spikes. Another horse that should really enjoy going longer. He is by Seeking the Gold out of the A.P. Indy mare A.P interest. He should be running marathons yet here he is at that netherworld distance. He’s a horse that just hung on at 6 furlongs to win both the G.II Carry Back and the 94k Unbridled. Both tries at 7 panels have ended badly. Sandwiched in-between his sprints are four routes, three in graded company, in which he did not change his front running style of running much, if at all, and was never really a threat in any of them. I think he would be better suited to backing up to 5 ½ or learning to rate and go long. This is not his game. Here I think the horses’ pedigree and running style are at odds with each other. Far be it for me to question Marty Wolfson (31%). He must think an awful lot of this horse to bring him all the way across the country but I give him little to no chance. One eliminated
You have to eliminate horses. Those that you don’t think can’t win just toss out. Sure you’re going to be wrong a lot but the fewer horses you have to choose between the easier your decisions will be. So for me Golden Spikes is out. He just seems outclassed and over matched here to me.

The next horse I would throw out is Guns on the Table. I know a lot of people wouldn’t throw him out just because Baffert trains him and the new perennial winning southern California jockey Rafael Bejarano has got the mount. But I’ll take a good horse over a good trainer or jockey any day. Good horses are what make good trainers and jockeys. He is a horse that only broke his maiden three races ago. He may end up being a nice horse, I expect he will. But today he is part of the chaff. Yes, he’s worked steadily and well but to me he is just in way over his head. Is it possible he wins? I guess anything is possible but I would have him as the longest shot on the board.

Another horse I will take a stand against is the early favorite, Into Mischief. He has really done nothing wrong. Three wins (one a G.I) and two places in five starts! He has already defeated Colonel John and Georgie Boy. He’s won at the distance and he’s won on the Pro-Ride surface. So what’s not to like? A few things. First his PP’s suggest an ouchy horse. Second, after his Oct. 25 win he did not record another work for 27 days. That scares me a little. Since then he has been working steady and well, however, he shows two 7 furlong workouts one on Dec.11 the other Dec. 17. While I like longer workouts to determine if you think a horse will get a distance I don’t like them here. I can’t figure them out and that throws up a red flag for me. Maybe he’s real fresh and kicking down the barn or maybe he’s playing catch up. But it’s worrisome to me especially with a horse that seems to have had some health issues. By race day he will have had two works (1-3/8ths miles total) and a Grade I race in the last eight days. For a war horse no problem, but that’s not how I see him by looking at his PP’s. Of course if you know a horse and know that he had bucked somewhere along the line or at least knew the reasons for his ouchy form that’s different. I don’t know in this case. I could perhaps research it but most often we have to go with what’s in front of us and so that’s how I read his lines. Another reason I don’t like him here is the pace. That word has to come up in EVERY race. Into Mischief is going to be at the front and his #1 post position forces the issue a little from the start. He will be going early and he will have a lot of company. This race will be fast. Into Mischief, Bob Black Jack, Golden Spikes, all like to get right at it and Georgie Boy and Guns On the Table will likely be nipping at their heels. I don’t think the race sets up well for Into Mischief. I don’t think he can win this race from off the pace and his post doesn’t allow him many options. Most of us like to be able to throw out the favorite for value (though I don’t think he will be at post time, I think Colonel John will be) and in this instance I have enough reasons that I will. Into Mischief is out.

There’s a lot to like about Bob Black Jack. He keeps good company. He’s won at the distance and he’s training extremely well. As a matter of fact his last race on Nov. 22 was right on schedule with his works. And since then he hasn’t missed a beat. He also runs very well second time back from a layoff, as this race is for him.. He makes it hard to go against but again I think the pace of this race will be his undoing. Although he’s kept company with a few of these horses he’s yet to beat any of them and I don’t think he will change that in this race.

Nownownow is an interesting case. On paper, he really doesn’t look like he fits here. But he has won on an artificial surface and has, occasionally, shown a very good turn of foot on the turf. I think he can move up here on the Pro-Ride. On paper the race sets up best for him or Colonel John best of all. That is if Colonel John doesn’t sit too far off the pace and if Nownownow is fit. Perhaps then this horse has an outside chance of picking up the pieces at the wire. I don’t expect that to happen but I won’t be stunned if it occurs. The horse is also back with Biancone who has a lot to prove. The negatives are that I don’t like the work tab much . It was 42 days from his last race to his next published work and he has had only two more works since then. Seems like they are trying to play catch up. Though maybe he’s just been getting a lot of those long morning stamina building gallops. He’s run some good races and has been entered in races that would lead one to conclude that there is a lot of untapped potential. Will Biancone and the switch from turf back to synthetics be the catalyst he needs? He’s the dark horse here and will have a lot of upside as far as the tote is concerned. To me he’s worth a small bet as a longshot possibility.

Like Colonel John Georgie Boy has versatility. He is also a specialist at the distance having won two of three (one against Into Mischief) and a horse for the course having also won 2 of 3 at Santa Anita. We should, perhaps, hold off judgement on that for another race or two as he has only raced over the Pro-Ride surface once and he finished fourth to Into Mischief in that one. But that was his first race back after 7 months. One can’t find fault in his running lines and they have all been on synthetics. He has also proven his class. The downside is that this will only be his third race since March. That would normally be a concern but I know from the Blood-Horse article about his trainer Kathy Walsh ( Dec.13 no.50) that he pulled a muscle in his back and they were just giving him plenty of time. After such a long time away he needed that last race. He certainly is working well and he shows up to run every time. One of the hardest factors to determine with two and three year olds (especially when they have been away for a while) is how they have matured against each other. Rarely is the precocious two year old hanging around as a good late three year old. And they change so much as three year olds from the beginning of the year to the end, without races to gauge the change, it is very much guess work. That is when knowing a trainer will help you. I don’t think Kathy Walsh would have him in this spot if she didn’t feel he was up to the competition. A race can break, as well as make, a horse. So if she’s got him in I assume he has developed well. For me this race comes down to how Edgar Prado rides Georgie Boy. Starting on the outside he’ll be able to see the race unfold better than anyone and should be able to find a comfortable position from which to stalk the leaders. If he’s fit enough I think he wins. He’s obviously shown he has the stamina and I think he’s also faster than Colonel John at seven furlongs.

Colonel John has got the class but I think this is just a touch short for him. I would play #7 Georgie Boy to win and an exacta box with #2 Colonel John (just because class usually finds a way).

Friday, December 12, 2008

More on ADW's and the IHA

On the heels of the recently wrapped up Symposium on Racing and Gaming at U.A. comes an article on the Bloodhorse site : IHA Blamed for Flawed Revenue Model. This is an issue I have been directly and indirectly barking about for a long time and most recently in my first entry for this month. In my opinion it is the single most important issue for the health of horseracing in the U.S. That is of course now that a relatively industry wide drug policy seems to be emerging. And I would argue it has always been even more important. Without funds to maintain the show the lights would go out, regardless of the integrity of the business.

Fred Pope said it perfectly, “The IHA resulted in an upside-down business model that’s killing Thoroughbred racing. The bet-takers are ‘gaming’ the IHA to the point where there is no incentive for the host track to put on the show. The potential closing of Hollywood Park (in California) is the new reality. Correct the IHA, and American racing will be the strongest program in the world.”

Perhaps at the time of the legislation it made sense, but as with almost all laws and regulations they don't evolve or change with time to meet the evolving landscape of the area it was meant to regulate. And in racing the changes have been fast and furious since 1978. The entire ADW sector has evolved since then and in a way that benefits the bet-taker over the producers of the show. It is likely that any change in the law(s) will eventually create yet another niche for yet another industry that will again present a threat, but that is no reason not to do something now. We can't see into the future but we can enact regulations that have the best interest of the industry at heart. Perhaps a law that guarantees that at least 50% of the takeout -that Pope argues for- stays in the game. I would argue for higher, along the lines of 65%. Most certainly the ADW's will argue that they cannot run their businesses on 30 -35% of the take. I say fine, let them close shop. Someone will come along and find a way to take our money and make a nice profit off of the billions of dollars that the 30-35% represents. And it might be noted that the ADW's have expected the horsemen and tracks to conduct their end of the industry business on that same 30-35% percentage of the takeout.

Please excuse me for stating the obvious, but the takeout was established and (presumably)calculated to ensure the health of the industry; not for the health of several industries. And considering the lions share has been siphoned out of the sport in the current model it is a no brainier that something has got to be done. While the figures Pope cites "In racing, those that put on the show get 3%, and bet-takers get 15%, he said," are not exact for every jurisdiction they are (or have been) generally accurate throughout the industry. This follows the mistaken model NYRA made with the NY OTB's in the 1970's. So perhaps it should not have been an unforeseen inevitability, even in 1978. But farsightedness is not an attribute of greed or government; they are much more about "what can you do for me now."

As stated by Pope in the above quote "...there is no incentive for the host track to put on the show." That is of course unless you are an ADW that owns a track e.g., Twinspires and Expressbet. Then you are able to keep even more of the takeout. I don't know of any other business where you can control (through track ownership and purse distribution) , distribute (through sale of signal) and sell (take wagers) a product when it is the only product of it's kind. I'm sure Ma Bell would have loved to continue under those same business circumstances. Well I supose there is one other business, cable T.V. And I'm not sure how that is continuing (follow the money) since the 70% saturation rate is a long ways back in the rear view mirror! It's time to start following the money. Where's it going? Who's ending up with it? Really, who's getting it? - and I don't care to see the creative accounting behind it all. Wall Street has shown us what creative accounting can do. I want my money to go back into the sport. I want my money to help maintain and improve the sport. I am not suggesting that ADW's do not have a raison d'etre or that they do not provide an important service to the industry. But they are NOT the industry. It is a case of the remora having outgrown the shark and now the provider has become the feed. They (ADW's) deserve to exist and profit but not at the expense of the sport and not on my dime. I don't like government involvement any more than anyone else but when it is seen as preferable to the model, the model is obviously a broken one. And at this point I think it is preferable. Legislation is needed to set realistic intra-state and inter-state minimum rates for the industry to ensure that the sport can sustain and improve itself into the future. Let the market dictate how secondary and tertiary providers can best service the fan on the remaining share. I'm sure then the sport and all its' fans will benefit. If you are truly a fan of racing and not just of wagering you should not only care about how high the rate of takeout is but where that money it is going. If you care try to place your money where the largest share will go back into the game. For most that don't live near a track it is a Sisyphean task that further illustrates the problem.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

One Percent

It appears that all that use NYC OTB's will be paying an extra percentage point to play the races for the next two years at least (except on play at Finger Lakes). That is of course in addition to the 5% surcharge on winnings. Reading through the numbers it's hard to imagine how they are insolvent. [see the bill here] Well this isn't the worst news we've heard in the last year and seems like a pittance when compared to the larger global economic problems. Nonetheless...


I have a lot of catching up to do with news and racing but the one issue that I was most interested in before my sabbatical was the continuing ADW saga, particularly the situation that was being played out in California. Obviously they have come up with an agreement of which the terms have not been released - at least not to my knowledge. I would venture that not everyone got everything they wanted, otherwise the percentages would most likely have been revealed along with news of the year pact.

I still believe that the ADW situation is now racing's biggest problem. In an industry where the takeout was established to assure the health of the industry it is now relied upon by several (greedy) industries to exist. I can't say with complete certainty that I understand where all these problems began but I think the seed was planted with the first OTB's in New York City, circa 1970. Apparently NYRA didn't see OTB's as a real threat to their business (handle) that in those days was (for all intents and purposes) completely generated on track. Perhaps it could not be fathomed that people would prefer to watch and wager on the races from a remote location when they could go to the track and see the races / horses in person. From what I understand NYRA agreed to take just 3% of what OTB took in -presumably because NYRA didn't believe that it would amount to a hill of beans - and the mold was cast. But preceding that historical event I presume the takeout was split between the track and the horsemen - though to what breakdown of percentages I have yet to discover. I also have yet to hit on the proper google terms or to send an inquiry to the right person to find out historical rates of track takeout for days gone by. But if I go with the 14% I saw mentioned somewhere what could have been the worst case scenario? An 8% - 6% split? more likely 7% and 7% between track and horsemen? Perhaps it wasn't even thought of in those terms back then, maybe there was just an allocation of funds. (To all my fellow bloggers I would appreciate any accurate information that you can add here).

But what occurred in California, before the new pact, is this [from my Ellis Farce entry July 5].

The distribution of takeout on ADW wagers differs in state and out.
For this purpose, let’s assume we’re focused on out-of-state ADW wagers on a race;otherwise, they can be quite different.

Assuming a 20% takeout:
2 to 3.5% to purses – Host Fee split·
2 to 3.5% to track commissions – Host Fee split·
13 to 16% to ADW company

In states where an ADW has to pay a source market fee (payment to local track/horsemen) – few – it looks like this (on average):
· 2 to 3.5% to purses
· 2 to 3.5% to track commissions
· 3 to 7% to local track/horsemen
· 9 to 13% to ADW company

When source market fees are paid, the 1/3 revenue model horsemen are talking about is met; by adding the source market and host fees together.

My point is that we (as fans of the sport) should all be behind the THG & TOC and all horsemen/owner groups (that aren't ADW's like CDI and Magna) because they are fighting for money that would go back into the game and therefore benefit the product. I also believe that the track operators should be fairly compensated. Horseman's groups should see them as partners, and likewise those owners should see the horsemen as partners. But this will never be true or practical when the tracks are also ADW's. Like so many things today the industry is dealing with antiquated laws that no longer have legitimacy. I see anti-trust implications here though I never see anyone raise those questions. This is not so far removed from what has happened on Wall Street. Those with the power (money, [ADW's] ) have managed to keep their advantage. I leave it to all of you to surmise how.

I'm for the ADW's being fairly compensated. However, my view of what is fair is obviously a lot different than theirs. Personally I would like to see 7 % to horsemen, 7% for ADW's and 6% for the tracks. Assuming a 20% takeout.

Yes there's a lot more money in the game now then back in the sixties but there are a lot more people trying to make a living off that money these days and things are much more expensive. But as fans we should be concerned with the health of the game first and foremost.

Here at the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance we have standings and other advertising that comes from CDI, TVG etc... While almost all of it goes directly to charity [Old Friends] those of us that don't carry the standings have to personally donate our share to that cause each year. I don't carry them because I will not lend support to those [ADW's] entities [I did for two days but thought better of it and opted out again] . When all is finally settled and everyone is getting a fair share I will put the standings back up. Until then I will keep them off my site in solidarity to the sport I love. I don't for one moment question those on TBA that do post them; it is an individual decision. And for most one thing may have nothing to do with the other. We all have our own thoughts and I support everyone's individual decision. And, after all, whatever TBA receives goes to a good cause. Taking from Peter to pay Paul? But for those fans that have been and are irate over loss of signals etc... please try to see the bigger picture.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Virtual Racing

It's hard to know if my being out of the country and away from the blog so long in November has curtailed production or if it's just the time of the year that is to blame for an apparent lack of fire when it comes to entries. However, with the opening day of the inner meet at Aqueduct upon us it is hard to get revved up about much in racing. It's always nice to see some of the old winter stalwarts emerge once again from the barns but after a month of six furlong and a mile and 70 races things do get a little (lot) stale. Of course the flip side is that I have always felt that as a handicapper you can do very well in the winter at the big A. The bias and familiarity with the horses always seemed to make collecting much easier, albeit not as lucrative on a race by race basis. We have some new faces stabling at Aqueduct (Bruce Brown, Michael Maker and Chad Brown) this year and the return of some old familiar ones (Iwinski and Lake) as well. This should add some interest to the racing at least for the short term.

I came upon an unnerving reality while at the off track shops in Ireland; virtual racing. I remember positing this possibility in an early blog entry in which I was discussing the slots. In today's market almost all of us would acknowledge that all racing jurisdictions need racino money to compete (with those that already have racinos). But, my concern with racinos has always been that the fast, easy, cheaply produced money they generate with very little real estate needed will in the long run pose a threat to racing. Government is a greedy entity. If it feels it can generate as many tax dollars with less then we may be in trouble. They are not committed to racing for racing's sake, but for tax dollars. In NY this is especially troubling as the state can now claim full ownership of the real estate that our three main tracks sit upon. How much is that land worth to the state developed as compared to it's value when used for racing? I certainly can envision a casino surrounded by new development and malls and condos where Aqueduct now sits. That is where the (fatal) vision of virtual racing came into the equation for me. If they could generate racing without having to commit so much real estate to the venture I think they would do it. If government thought people would actually wager upon virtual racing in my mind they would not hesitate to try and incorporate it into the scheme. Let's face it people actually go in and play slots with the thought thought that they can win or at least get some kind of roi! I wonder how the racinos make a dime? Do the players really know how gambling, especially slots work? It's amazing people go in them and throw their money away. Well if they will spend money on slots they would likely spend it on virtual racing! Scary! A chilling vision. Perhaps that's the difference between horse fans and pure gamblers. I hold good handicappers in very high regard, and while I am absolutely certain that handicappers would never wager on virtual races they don't need us if there is enough suckers to just go and throw there money away. And with the success of most racinos it seems there are enough of those out there that they may not need we horse lovers and players; let alone designating all that ( in their opinion I'm sure) under-utilized real estate.

When I offered virtual racing as a possibility I did so mostly tongue-in-cheek, just to offer a scenario that I was concerned with. But it was chilling to come across it in reality. The shop I was in no longer took wagers on virtual racing. I'm not sure why. I'm not sure why they were still showing it if they didn't accept bets but there it was nonetheless! By the way it looked close to real! Real enough that I had to watch for thirty or forty-five seconds before I was certain I was seeing what I thought I was. Chilling!