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Showing posts from July, 2008

Jeff Gural

I caught a presentation today about what Tioga and Vernon are doing to try and bring back some live fans to racing. It was solid, and it was apparent to everyone in the room that they were working their butts off. To be quite honest with you I have never seen more spending - big dollars, not small dollars - put into the sport by a track with 200k handles.

On the harness edge tonight I see a bit of news regarding Vernon/Tioga CEO Jeff Gural's thoughts on marketing in a letter to the Magazine. It is such a shame that they are trying to market a game with a byline of "you can beat a race but can't beat the races" and as you all know from the blog we believe it is its death-knell - the people who don't care if they win are all playing slots. But it has not stopped them. They are trying very, very hard there.

There has been a lot written in your magazine as well as others about how to market the harness racing product. While many efforts have been started in the past a…

Interesting Day

Kind of an interesting day today at the Hambletonian round table. Some enjoyable presentations.

For me? Well, I guess it should be something about the conference that was a best moment, but sorry, it wasn't. I actually got to meet John Campbell. People might find that a little bit odd as a highlight in a day filled with so many presenters et al, but oh well.

I thought it was cool for two reasons 1) He has to drive tonight, but there he was dressed nicely as a part of the group listening to people. And 2) Well he is JC, a fine ambassador for the sport.

Also there, taking time out was Yannick Gingras in the young people in racing segment.

For my panel I discussed ad-hocly (not sure that is a word) the web bettor and what he/she is currently shopping for in the web gambling landscape and what we may look like in 2025. Funny, just before going up I glanced at Andrew Cohen's piece in Horseman & Fair World (it is not on the web yet, but I will post a link to it when it does). Hell, …

Wednesday Notes

I am at the Meadowlands this week. We popped over tonight and spent a little bit of time walking around. Upstairs was like I remember it from my last time here - pretty dead. But the main floor, and outside had some fans.

Coincidentally, the last time I was here I heard "Dan Dube you are a #($(R %(#)@*. Tonight, I heard it again. New Jersey horseplayers tend to let you know how they feel; and I find, rarely change much :)

The Hambletonian is having a round table tomorrow on "Who Will be Racings Customer in 2025" and I must compliment them on who they have as panelists. I read most of the bios and there are some interesting people assembled.

Huge news today that could possibly raise handles 10% or more. IRS witholding reform was introduced by a Louisiana Congressman. Everyone in racing should be letting theirs know how they feel about this.

Whales Should be Playing Xtreme

On August 9th the second annual Xtreme Horsepower is being raced at Georgian Downs, about 60 miles north of Toronto, just south of cottage country. The 5/8's mile track is quite nice, and with the races scheduled, it will be more than interesting.

Last year it was something new. The weather did not cooperate, but fans got to see things that they will not see at a harness track anywhere - different distance races, large field sizes and more.

This year it promises more. A couple of races will be good for whales to play. Yep, you read that right - big bettors should be playing some of these races.

This one is one:

Xtreme Marathon: For gladiators with stamina to spare, we offer the Xtreme Marathon - a three lap, 1-7/8 mile test for $25,000. Eighteen-horse fields on both the trot and pace will duke it out for big money and xtreme prestige. The marathon is for horses that have started for a base claiming price of $20,000 or lower, or are non-winners of $100,000 lifetime.

These two races have…


Well back with some Beach news that certainly has fans in Ontario interested.

First, it looks like the horse will be entered in an Ontario Sires Stake race on August 3rd and 10th at Mohawk. This is I assume to lock his place into the $300,000 OSS Superfinal in October/November. He'll be like 1-50 odds, or something like that.

Then it appears he is off to the unofficial 2nd jewel in the 'ol Canadian Triple Crown, the Confederation Cup at Flamboro Downs. To some of our friends out there who have not seen and want to watch the Beach, head there if he goes, and if you can. It is a little slice of harness racing on a half mile track near Hamilton, Ontario. You'll get to see him up close, have a nice ale outside in the sunshine, catch the ubiquitous women holding beer banners; and most of all two heats! Beach's trainer has said in the press that perhaps it might be only one heat with a lack of entries, but we'll stick our reputation (ya, I know, what reputation?) on the bl…

ORC to Address Whipping

Today the Ontario Racing Commission wants to look long and hard at whipping. This will be studied with interviews and opinions over the next while.

A couple of early opines on this. Andrew Cohen at says "It's easy, ban it."

Greg, a regular contributer to the blog says the following at chat site "Personally, I am all for the whipping rules being tightened, but drivers need to be allowed to carry them and use them in a proper manner...if a horse sticks them in, a driver needs to be able to use the whip to get them out of the way or get them corrected to avoid accidents. What needs to be done away with/tightened are the "playing the violin" between the horses legs, the hock shots and those types of uses of the whip, and drivers who do that need to be fined/suspended accordingly, and not the drops in the bucket that they have now. Also, if they are going to look at whipping, they have to address the boots coming out of the st…

Online Gambling, Not Quite Like the Stereotype

Darryl Kaplan of Standardbred Canada has a very good article in this month's Trot Magazine in his monthly section called "The View".

He explains in it, how racing has missed the boat on very much the past generation. He asks if the "Ontario industry report won't work, what will?" Very good questions, of course. And a good article.

In a couple of paragraphs, and I am sure only for effect, the writer speaks of offshore poker and other sites being of "little cost". This resonates well in racing, and in some way certainly true. But it made me think of how often in racing we hear things like "all these places need is a webpage and they are in business." It marginalizes them, and adds fuel to the 'if we could shut them down all will be well' folks. They are not a nuisance they are a business; one that knows their customers and exists because they do everything they can to get more.

Online poker sites for example can pay up to $150 or so f…

Does Crazed Give Dewey a Run?

The Hambletonian Eliminations are in the books after last nights racing at the M. Dewey did not disappoint, doing what he usually does, Crazed put back to back huge efforts, and Atomic Hall won the other elim.

The 3YO (and especially 2YO) trot classics are very different than their pacing cousins. In the Meadowlands Pace Final, even with a horse that might be the greatest ever, there are several horses capable of pacing a fast mile. Virtually every horse with a trip in there will pace, or has paced 1:49. In the trot races there are very few each year capable of breaking the beam in 153 or lower. Later in the year, some seem to season themselves and we start to see the net get a little bit bigger. For example we can see Arch Madness beating the precocious Donato Hanover twice late last year in the Breeders Crown.

But Crazed is proving that this years Arch Madness might have arrived a little bit early. Last night in fact, of virtually identical fractions, he trotted a faster final time. …

Rake Me Out to the Poker Game

Thanks to the Horseplayers Association of North America for giving us this tidbit about takeouts. Bill Finley wrote about racing in Italy and how increases of takeouts have killed the fan base by bleeding out the bankroll faster than a trainer excuse.

The Italians like to gamble. With recent changes liberalizing Italian gaming regulation, it is estimated that about $91 billion will be wagered in the country annually by the year 2010. The problem is, too many Italian gamblers are choosing to bet on something other than horse racing.

The takeout in Italy is exorbitant, as much as 40 percent on the trio, which is the Italian version of our trifecta. According to Barsotti, it wasn't always this way, but Italian racing regulators have decided to allow major increases in the takeout rate over the years.Too many gamblers are going broke, which has created smaller betting pools. With smaller betting pools, it's hard to make a large bet. Anyone wanting to make a big wager on a horse will…

Fire All the Judges?

There is an interesting opinion article in Horseplayer Magazine this month. The associate editor puts forth something that I have never heard before. He believes that the stewards should not make any placing in any race, that they should just leave the result up as is, and fine the jock/driver and place the horse at a later time.

If your horse gets mugged, it is what it is.

This does have some merit to me, as strange as it is. We completely take subjectivity out of the equation. No more differences in judges rulings race to race, or track to track. No more whiny grumblings that at Windsor the judges left a horse up and at Mohawk when the same thing appears to happen he is chucked. Over time the public knows that what happens, happens in a race, that's the way it is and they have nothing to grumble about. Not to mention we would not have to sit through 15 minute inquiries and might even (heaven forbid) schedule post times to maximize handles. Gosh, it's growing on me :)

The stumbl…

Betfair Wants More Harness Racing

Yessiree, you read that right. Someone wants to offer more harness racing. I have not lost my marbles. I don't think the moon is made of green cheese. Thanks to Cangamble for pointing this piece out.

Almost $175,000CDN was bet on a rather non-descript harness race at Kempton.

Betfair is calling for harness racing to be staged on the four Sundays in 2009 with no televised racing fixtures following the success of the first harness race at Kempton on 16 July.
Tony Calvin from Betfair told H&H: "Our expectations were minimal — but as it turned out more than 1,000 people placed bets on the harness race. "We were completely taken unawares. There is definitely potential if it is supported by one of the horseracing channels. It could provide a new interest for the racing fraternity and certainly gets our backing."Another lesson in the growing list of lessons we should have learned long ago: Distribute your product, allow people to see it, give them an int…

Personal Note - David Liston

In reading Standardbred Canada this morning I see news that David Liston, executive at the Canadian Pari-Mutuel Agency, passed away. He was only 45.

As most know the CPMA regulates all wagering on racing in this country and is a vital partner to changing and (hopefully) rebuilding the sport. Back in April Mr. Liston served on the panel at the Standardbred Wagering Conference that was about "New Bets", along with myself and three others. I had never met him before, but immediately I liked him. He was smart, engaging and nice to speak with. I asked people about him and all I seemed to hear was "he's a good man", over and over.

Later that evening we were at dinner and I caught up with him and talked some more "horses". I went home feeling it was so good that racing had such a champion at the CPMA.

I don't like much to offer personal notes on the blog, but please allow me to offer condolences to the friends and family, should they stumble upon this post.

Wow. A Betting Exchange, in 1998?

John Swetye is a founding member of the Horseplayers Association of North America. They are a grassroots movement for both harness and thoroughbred (and even quarterhorse) bettors, fans, owners, whatever. I will blog more on them at a later time, but this piece written by Mr. Swetye is absolutely fascinating.

It is about how he in 1998 had the betting exchange idea for US racing and began shopping it around.

The internet was still new in 1998. One of the biggest success stories was Ebay, the auction company that brought buyers and sellers together on-line.

So standing near the paddock at Churchill Downs I had an epiphany. Using the internet and an Ebay model, it would be possible for the little guy to play the role of a bookmaker -- really not much different from shorting wheat on a commodity exchange.

The big difference is that, for as little as a dollar, a horseplayer could become a bookmaker online and anonymously. (One problem with betting with bookmakers is that they get to know you …

Wagering. Down, Down, Down

And it is not just harness racing. From the Bloodhorse, "Wagering Plummets":

Wagering has dropped 11% on North American Thoroughbred racing since the end of the Triple Crown series.

“If the handle is going down, that is not a good sign,” he said. “There is less interest. What underlies that, though, is that it may not be as bad as what it looks for a particular racetrack, or that it could be way worse for another racetrack.”

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association, in conjunction with Equibase, recently reported a 4.15% decline in North American handle during the second quarter of the year, which ended June 30. NTRA president and chief executive officer Alex Waldrop, who didn’t return a call seeking comment for this article, termed the current industry scene “challenging.”

"Our industry is in the midst of a challenging period with discretionary entertainment dollars tighter than they have been for several years,” he said in a statement.

One ADW executive, who asked…

Monday Morning Quarterbacks

Yessiree, they are out in full force on Paul MacDonnell's drive on Somebeachsomewhere. It is completely wrong headed, and here is why.

It is the 2009 Belmont and I have a crystal ball. Bejarano is on the 1-9 undefeated favourite. Rafael is a good rider, but he has something no one else has, me. I am unimportant of course, other than the fact that I have the crystal ball. I cannot see the result but I can see his final time. At the mile pole I radio him and say "if you make your move now and open up you will beat Secretariat's record by 4/5's of a second". On cue Rafael (who likes me, cuz after all I have a crystal ball) opens up and proceeds to win in World record time, shattering Secretariat's 37 year old mark. Everyone cheers his name in the Belmont grandstand. He is a riding god. He moved at a perfect time.

Well at the Meadowlands on Saturday night, let's say Paul MacDonnell had a crystal ball, exactly the same as I had. He looked into the ball and sees …

Wake Up Call #148

The Meadowlands Pace served up a message. No, not only the one that said there is another 3YO World Champion in the mix – a more important one. It said loudly and clearly to the people who run harness racing – this game needs a complete overhaul.
Thanks to Kevin on on Saturday, this piece of news:
The handle [for the Meadowlands Pace card] was the second lowest in 11 years (2007 being the lowest). And, the attendance was the lowest ever.
If we listen to some in harness racing we often hear romantic assertions about the game. We hear things like, “if only we had a superstar, fans would come back to racing.” Well with stories on major networks, print coverage in the New York Times, New York Daily News and others on the super-horse, the people did not come out. They did not bet.
I sincerely hope we remember messages like this, that we have seen innumerable times over the last several years. Maybe this one will resonate that the game is completely broken. Until we attack wha…

Word Gets Around

I popped open my inbox Saturday and it was veteran handicapper and racing journalist Nick Kling, whose newspaper pieces we have often quoted here on the blog. He had read the takeout piece we posted some time ago and asked if he could have permission to reference it. Lo and behold I read Equidaily Sunday morning and I see a headline:“A Tale of Two Takeouts, Imaginary Bettors Play at Two Different Levels….. Which is better for the game?”
Since that sounded familiar I clicked and it sent me to Nick’s piece in the Troy Record titled Racing Fans Neglected by the Elected.
The New York City OTB mess has resulted in an increase in takeout. Nick has been front and center on trying to let his pals at the NYRA know that increasing prices will not help business.
It is long past time for our elected leadership to stop fleecing fans every time someone in racing needs money.I hope the piece helped. Rome was not built in a day, and we won't grow racing back to where it should be by getting pricing…

Good Stuff In Blogland on the Meadowlands Pace

At the risk of making myself look bad - ok, I know that's not that difficult - check out this piece by Leftatthegate on the big race. He's a thoroughbred fan primarily, but he can have a home in harness racing any day.

Nice work.

A note: Thanks for everyone's comments on the Pace post below. Some great stuff by some good fans. It's pretty damn humbling that you guys follow this crazy blog.

Meadowlands Pace - By the Numbers

107 – Seconds that both Somebeachsomewhere and Art Official paced, establishing a world record.
105 – Seconds that I think Somebeachsomewhere will pace a mile this year, at sometracksomewhere.52.4 – Somebeachsomewhere’s middle half, which usually results in a horse coming home in 29; and often times worse than that.75 – The percent Art Official has improved since early in the year. He looked to be lost on the lead early, and a horse who was simply learning to be a racehorse. At the Burlington after he came home in 52, he looked to be one that needed to be raced “off the pace”. He has now come full circle and proved that horses can and do improve over time. He’s finally all racehorse.16 – What I needed in my odds line to make Art Official a play. Not quite there.64 – The percent chance I had SBSW winning in my odds line. After watching the race, that was obviously too low. 160 – Dollars I spent on a pick 4, using five horses in the Pace final, looking for a good score.2 – The number I h…

What a Horse Race

When Man O War lost to Upset in 1919, it was, well an upset.

At the Meadowlands tonight it was not an upset. No horse could have been hung three high in 51.4 and been anywhere near a win photo in a World record time. No horse but Beach that is.

I wondered how fast he could go, and there is no doubt now that he can break 146.

As for the winner, well finally Art Official gets some respect. When he flashed a 52.3 back half and 120 and change back three quarters at Mohawk in the Burlington we all knew he was an amazingly fast animal. He proved it tonight, and he deserves it.

It is not often we get to watch a race like that in harness racing. I have never seen one. To have two colts at the wire in 147 is absolutely astounding. What a year for harness racing. And it is really only beginning. Thoroughbred fans stick around, you are sure to see more fireworks.

Now we will see the second guessing. We will see the blame the driver talk like we saw in the Belmont. We will see the Monday morning quart…

More Interesting Somebeach Press

For those of you south of the 49th, there are three Canadian television networks. Like CBS, NBC, and ABC, but with slightly less on the budget end :)

Two out of the three had stories on Somebeach this week, and Standardbred Canada sniffed them out and posted them on their website here.

The one from Global shows the Beach romping around a field, which is pretty cool.

If you take a moment to watch these pieces, think for a moment the differences between the two sports - thoroughbred and harness. I personally find that a story about a good horse - say Big Brown - would come off completely different. That is a difference between harness and thoroughbred racing that has always been there, and always will be there.

Anyhow, just a few snippets and the hype is certainly at a fever pitch. In 6 or 7 hours we'll get to see just what the big colt can deliver.

Somebeachsomewhere, Getting Some Press

I remember my first job out of school. It was for a small start-up. When the company started to achieve some earnings per share we put out press releases and expected the stock to start rolling, but it did not. I went into my boss's office one day and said "what the heck is wrong; we have earnings, a good story and we should have doubled by now, shouldn't we?" His response (he was an old wily veteran of the business world) "no worries son, getting noticed takes time."

He was right of course, and perhaps it is the same for Somebeachsomewhere.

Yesterday, two stories. One, in the New York Times, one of the world's largest newspapers. And the second piece is in the New York Daily News. This one with some quotes from some familiar to all harness fans, including Tim Tetrick "the greatest horse I have ever seen" and Bill O'Donnell, driver of Nihilator "he goes 27 quarters like he is walking."

Bob Heyden added his thoughts as well on the Me…

Meadowlands Pace: Fair Odds Line

Well the time has come for some fair odds for the Pace Final. I must admit, with a big chalk, these are not very fun to do, but we will.

First, like we did for the North America Cup, we will look at what fans in Canada think by looking at the standardbred Canada poll.

CHANCE ODDSShare the Delight
0.8%/ 99-1SomebeachSW
1-9Sand Shooter
2.2% / 45-1Atochia
0.2% / 99-1Mucho Sleazy
0.5% / 99-1Art Official
1.8% / 60-1Bullville Powerful
1.1% / 90-1Dontloseyrdjob
0.4% / 99-1Badlands Nitro
2.8% / 35-1Tiz a Masterpiece
1.1% / 90-1
I think they like Somebeach!! :)

Now our line:

CHANCE/ODDSShare the Delight
64.5%/3-5Sand Shooter
1.0%/99-1Mucho Sleazy
1.0%/99-1Art Official
5.9%/16-1Bullville Powerful
1.1%/90-1Badlands Nitro
3.2%/30-1Tiz a Masterpiece
The main difference in the crowd voting in the poll and my line is of course Somebeachsomewhere. I would have him at a 75% chance, or maybe slightly below that, but he did drift …

EPO, No Not Racing This Time

The Tour De France has been fighting some major negative publicity. Each year more and more riders seem to be under the microscope. This year was hailed as a year that the message was getting through - no more blood doping, please!

But unfortunately not. Not one, but two riders have been suspended for EPO.

French police detained Spanish cyclist Moises Duenas Nevado on Wednesday after he tested positive for the banned blood booster EPO during the Tour de France.Police detained Duenas Nevado, who rides for Barloworld and was 19th overall in the Tour, from a hotel in the town of Tarbes, where his team stayed. He remained in custody Wednesday for questioning, notably about where he may have obtained EPO, a police official said.
It was the second positive EPO test this year involving a Tour rider, in a sport whose image has been long tarnished by drug use and other cheating. Spanish veteran Manuel Beltran — a former teammate of seven-time Tour champion Lance Armstrong — was sent home for test…

Somebeachsomewhere: In Demand

I remember watching which was perhaps my first Hambletonian. It was, hmmmm. Maybe 1985? I was interested in the Hambo. I was a Prakas fan. I did like a few other trotters in the race. I think Carl Allen had a nice one that year too. It might have been Royal Troubador. I wanted to see the US Pacing Championship too. On the Road Again was one of my favourite horses. I loved him. He was kind of a poor man's Cam Fella.

But there was one reason and one reason only I wanted to watch the Meadowlands card. It was a horse called Nihilator.

All week there was talk of a shot at a World Record. All week Billy O and the connections said they would go for it. As we all know, on a hot day in early August, with the sun beating down the track is lightning fast. He had a chance.

He brushed by Shannon Majority and hit the half in a blazing time, something like 53.2. 121 and change to the three quarters and home in 49.3. Stunning! (note - some people forget how good Falcon Seelster was that day too!)


Monday Morning Notes

Here are some quick notes on this Monday morning:……. Curlin came second in his turf debut on Saturday. At about the half I said to myself “he is not winning this race”. He looked a little uncomfortable, not overly keen. Not the Curlin that I have watched. I am pretty sharp, eh?
……. Now, fast forward to Saturday evening. Somebeachsomewhere was struggling a little bit to clear at the quarter. I said to my friends’: “he is ripe to get beat, I hate when they are not keen and on the bit, that is not Somebeach!!!” Yep, horseplaying is humbling.
……… Speaking of humbling, how about Yannick Gingras? He was talking about Somebeachsomewhere last week before his stunningly easy elimination win.
"[At the Meadowlands] if you put ten good pacers against him [Somebeachsomewhere] he's going to have to earn it. That's one thing about the Meadowlands, there's a flow -- there's not going to be an easy three-eighths or something for him."
If they ran at him, he probably would have on…

Is Horseplaying a Science? Fagedaboudit!

I was heading off to Mohawk for dinner and to watch a few races on Saturday. I was having a poor day at the thoroughbreds; and had a poor day Friday as well. I had a nasty case of seconditis, and I am primarily a win bettor. Before I planned on getting ready to go, I flipped my handy jcapper output to race 8 at Monmouth. Up popped up a horse at a 20-1 morning line. He had the #1 ranked pace figure (which on the turf at Monmouth has been good lately), he had a little program that I wrote for Monmouth turf races as a play, and he was ranked third overall. His name was Fagedaboutit Sal.




I decided it was time to take a shot, he was 25-1 on the board and climbing, and worth a play. Well, my pal Sal took the lead early and never looked back:

#HorseJockeyWeightWinPlaceShow7Fagedaboudit SalFragoso P11780.4023.8010.601Kiss the KidElliott S117
3.803.009Classic CampaignDesormeaux K J117


Somebeachsomewhere - "Hello USA"

I remember back in the early 1980's. I was a kid and the family stable had a nice little horse. He was a son of Most Happy Fella and he was racing locally here in Toronto. He won a few races, including a 3YO Open against some really good competition. We brought the horse to a stakes race at Roosevelt Raceway. I scanned the papers, and the tip sheets and no one picked him. A few of the comments were "he was good up there, but he will have to prove himself down here".

I read a few things like that on Somebeach's trip to the US. It made me laugh a little bit. I mean, the horse is an absolute monster. He could race on the moon and be a monster.

Anyway, he certainly proved what many folks knew after the Metro Pace elimination way back last August. He was sensational.

Video is here, and a story as well at Standardbred Canada. If you have not seen the race, take a look.

In the second elim I was really happy for Share the Delight. We touted him in the NA Cup elims and have alway…

Meadowlands Pace Elims

The elims are tomorrow, so we will pop through them and see what we can come up with.

$50,000 Meadowlands Pace Elimination - Race 5

Post, Horse, Driver, Trainer
1, Art Official, Ron Pierce, Joe Seekman
2, Moon Beam, Yannick Gingras, Eric Abbatiello
3, Mucho Sleazy, Ron Pierce, Ken Rucker
4, Grab Your Keys, Cat Manzi, Taylor Gower
5, Somebeachsomewhere, Paul MacDonell, Brent MacGrath
6, Badlands Nitro, Brian Sears, George Teague Jr.
7, Weekend Gambler, Ron Pierce, Mark Silva
8, Meant To Be Me, John Campbell, Linda Toscano

The first elim is pretty academic, off the form. It is also a shame that several good ones - arguably the three top colts in racing - are meeting each other. Conspiracy theorists that think the elims are somehow pre-determined won't like this leg :)

1st - SBSW: Not much to say about that. He is what he is.
2nd - Art Official: I still think this colt is better than Badlands Nitro; and with a post advantage, perhaps he can fill out the ex.
3rd - Badlands Nitro: Should fill out a …

Tote or Exchange?

Perusing the site, and I see an ad for Betfair (it is licensed and contributes to pools in Australia).

The ad shows what they have been doing by facilitating a partnership with racing and acting like an off track betting site. It is titled "Exchange or Tote" and says the following:

Get the Best of Both Worlds at the Tote at Betfair

It’s a one-stop shop with Exchange and tote betting all under the one roof.

Choose between backing and laying on the exchange and betting in tote win and place markets.

Or have a quinella, exacta, trifecta, daily double or quaddie – on all races, from all codes. All from the one account.

The decision is all yours.

It’s the complete betting experience.

Absolutely brilliant and shows what we can be over here if we can lobby to get some of these laws (that were built for racing monopolies) changed. The principle is simple. You like a horse at Grand River. He is 3-1 on the exchange…

Funny Hats, Royalty and ....... a Blog?

Woodbine has always had a corporate image. They are the oldest racing franchise in the country. When I went to the Queen's Plate last year I saw more women wearing floppy hats than I've seen in pictures at a 1939 premiere of Gone with the Wind.

But now they join the blogosphere!

Greg Blanchard, Mike 'golden-domed' Hamilton, Renee Kierans, Elissa Blowe (down boys), Jeff Bratt, Kenny Middleton, Chris Hickey and Chris Connor are writing a few posts about racing. They share some opines and seem to be having a bit of fun. I hope that some new ideas are floated out from them as a trial balloon to see what fans think and want.

Regardless, I hope they get some traffic. The WEG TV crew (and television production as a whole) are very good. If that can translate at all to the web perhaps they can get some traffic, some good responses and it will help them grow the game.

Best luck to them all.

Some Forward Thinking

We have been on a customer and marketing angle lately.

Harnesslink is very proactive in trying to change the game. Fresh thinking and fresh ideas for the 21st century fan. This is no more apparent than their last post on We have touched and spoke about some of these ideas here, and I could not agree more. We have to completely change our thinking in racing. The younger generation demands it. We will not have a business left if we do not.

I am just going to link the article. It's titled "The New Generation of Harness Racing". Comment there if you wish to. It is a very good piece. (and the picture of the tree on the roadside is priceless).


Did you vote on the Standardbred Canada Poll Question?: "What effect do you think legalized, single-match sport wagering offered at racetracks would have on Canadian standardbred racing handles?"

I did. I am shocked at what is winning.

Tomorrow we will go through the Meadowlands Pace Elims. It's a go…

A Serendipitous Expletive

Anyone ever seen the cable guy? You know, the cable guy sleeping on a couch?On vacation I polished off a new business book, Meatball Sundae. In it the author speaks of the power of the customer in the Internet world, and the power of marketing in the new economy.
Well it appears two customers have decided to do something.
Jessica Chapel (of Railbird) and Dana Byerly (Green But Game) have seemingly joined forces to create the Self Appointed Fan Committee. This website offers customers a voice, and a place to have that voice heard. They are collecting rants, praise and anything else about the issues of the day in racing. I have read these two women and some of their writings. I would not put it past them to make a difference. Racing and horseman execs might want to get themselves ready to read some solutions and I think they’d be wise to pay attention. Paying attention to customers in the new economy is paramount to a company’s success. It is a 2008 Internet truism.
Another world wide web …

Henderson, We Have a Problem

It was announced that Ellis Park in Henderson, Kentucky is back on for Wednesday. A last hour compromise was agreed upon by Ellis and the KHBPA. With it, close to 6% of ADW handle will be going to purses. It appears that Ellis is charging ADW’s up to 8% signal fees for the right to broadcast Ellis races.

This is a huge problem and a dangerous precedent to set. I will tell you why handles can be expected to fall at Ellis and elsewhere.

An ADW normally pays about 5% (which is about what the current free market dictates) for the right to broadcast a signal and sell it to their customers. It is like a web-affiliate bookseller selling a book and keeping a commission. Then the ADW pays expenses, keeps a small amount of generated handle for themselves, and returns the rest to the player in a few ways:

1)Player Rewards – Xbox’s, maybe a hat, maybe a free coffee at a track. We all have received these perks.2)Soft Innovations and Customer-centric Benefits – An improved betting interface, R and D …