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Showing posts from August, 2010

I'm So Glad Zenyatta Did Not Go to the Personal Ensign

Rachel Alexandra was beaten today in the Personal Ensign stakes at Belmont by a closer aptly named Persistently. Rachel battled her main foe through 47, 12 and 37 fractions before coming home in a very slow 27.1 to be defeated by the closer. As many of you have noted on the blog here about the mare in her previous '10 efforts, she is just not last year's horse.

It appears that Steve Assmussen agrees and appeared almost melancholy:

“I’m very disappointed that she lost, but I am always very happy with Rachel. It hurts to lose and you’re disappointed for it, but if that’s the case, just think about how happy she’s made you and all the things she has done for us. She’s a tremendous mare. If she isn’t exactly where she was last year, hopefully she can get back there.”

I bet hundreds of races a week, both thoroughbred and harness, and I find I truly watch so very few races. If I have four tracks going I have perfected listening to the call for my horse's name, while I scan for …

6 Reasons Why It Ain't Easy For Racing to Run an Exchange

There is quite a bit of chatter about the Betfair bill in front of the California state legislature. There seems to be a good chance this will not pass, and one of the ideas floated about by many is the simple (logical, really) argument that racing can and should run its own exchange and 'keep all the money'.

This is nothing new in business. Bricks and mortar auctioneers saw Ebay in '98 and someone said "why don't we be Ebay". Newspapers saw Craigslist and said "why don't we be them". It is common in Internet business and has been for many years.

Currently, it is really not that difficult to get an exchange going. With a small investment (sometimes under $100k, if you give away a slice of the commissions), the resources and the back end can be had, and it can be up and running in no time, really.

So why not then? Why not finally get off our duffs and create one? Here are a few reasons why it is a tough row to hoe, in my opinion.

1. Too Many Fing…

More Wild and Wacky Quotes

Yesterday, we had two "quotes of the day" and today we see another.

There is a bill in California that raises takeout and adds exchange wagering. The takeout bill seemed to be sailing through just fine, as we see all too often in racing since about 1908 when takeout was 5%, with unanimous consent. However, the exchange thingy really seemed to get some shorts in a bunch. So now, it looks like it is 50/50 to pass.

Republicans are lining up to oppose this exchange wagering concept. And thus, we have our newest quote of the day:

" In fact, according to a Republican caucus analysis opposing the bill, between 1998, when exchange wagering was first allowed, and 2008, “purse revenues” went up 54 percent. Track attendance went up 10 percent, the number of horses in competition increased 19 percent, and the number of races jumped 26 percent."

OK. Let me see if I understand. In horse racing, which has been getting its ass kicked everywhere, an introduction of an exchange c…

Quotes of the Day

Two quotes caught my eye today:

"The factionalism and fear that is eating away at the heart of American racing is what has surprised me the most. It’s upsetting to see because there is absolutely no need for it. US racing is an amazing, exhilarating and life-affirming product at its best and there is no reason for those days to be behind us. The passion and enthusiasm the genuine horse fans have for the sport is great to see. We need to find a way for all that is good about racing to be conveyed to a younger generation than those of us who typically occupy the seats or place wagers.I don’t believe the sport, in the long-term, should be depending on slots or limited betting products to guarantee its future."
TVG CEO Stephen Burn, when asked what surprises him about the American racing industry, via Paulick.

And the granddaddy of them all. We have written, and you have spoken time and time again here on the blog the last four years, that if we lower takeout, we have mo…

Betfair is Like Chocolate Ice Cream

With the news that exchange wagering might be a reality in California sometime in the future, I thought I’d write a post about it. One of the first posts ever here on the little blog was about the company, and we have talked about the criticisms from old time racing in places like Australia and Tasmania when they were approved there. We also have relayed just how wrong those criticisms ended up being, with hard numbers, and even post implementation comments from some of the people who were criticizing the platform themselves.

Like a time machine, these same criticisms from old time racing are now being seen here in North America with the new California news. You guys here have been through all of this before, following the blog and watching and commenting, and rather than speaking to the same old critiques, like ‘they don’t give back to racing’, and ‘they cannibalize wagering’, which we all know are myths, I figured we would chat a little bit about ice cream. After all,…

A Dandy Gold Cup and Saucer

Last night in PEI, Part Shark, the second choice, zoomed to the front and never looked back in the 51st Gold Cup and Saucer. The race, as usual, was an event unlike any we see in our sport. The time was 151 flat, a new track record. Video is below.

It was cool to watch the whole feed last night. With no Meadowlands and Mohawk out with a power outage, I flipped on the races via the interwebs and watched the card. The pageantry and pomp with the Gold Cup race was wonderful. The horses paraded via a spotlight, with announcer Vance Cameron giving the crowd their resumes and adding stories about each horse. One story, about trainer Wayne Prezcator with his charge (the ultimate winner), was that he told Mr. Cameron that he has been to the Little Brown Jug twice, and he has more fun, and feels more energized coming to this race. After being announced, each driver would smile and give a salute with the whip to the crowd who were clapping for his entry.

Before the race, a song (an east coast PEI…

Watching a Cat Fight

There is an amazing display going on right now in California racing.

As you know a Breeders Cup bill was introduced in the California legislature. It was to use marketing money to entice the BC to locate more and more to CA. Fine and dandy.

But then, several tracks and owners groups in CA decided to tack quietly on a takeout increase. They think it will make them more money. Why they think that raising prices in a business that is struggling, which flies right into the face of both empirical evidence and theory from experts is beyond us, but that's what they think.

Everyone in racing seems to like that.

But later on a new idea is thrown into the bill from CA racing and horse owners: Exchange wagering. They think getting some cash by licensing betfair is a good idea.

Then all hell breaks loose.

Twinspires and Xpressbet get wind of it. Press releases fly, ads are taken out and boom, we have ourselves a massive cat fight, with industry people fighting industry people.

A bill that raised tak…

Gold Cup & Saucer. M Carryover Pick 6

Well it is two days to one of the most unique and interesting races in the world - the Gold Cup and Saucer on tiny Prince Edward Island, where people have been racing horses since 1888.

For fans who do not know, this is the 51st edition of the race, and the folks come from all over to see it. At two minutes to midnight on Saturday, some funny things will happen. Horsemen will hang from the backstretch fences to watch. The Ferris wheel will have no one on it. The concession stands will not have a soul in line. The kitchen will grind to a halt. It's post time at Charlottetown.

People do not come to this race to be seen, because it is a cool thing to do, because their friends are going, or because a concert with a big name takes place afterwards. They come to watch a harness race with horses going in speeds that the little track, and these fans, never get a chance to see. The purse, $60,000, is about $59,500 higher than the average purse in the region.

On PEI, watching good horses ra…

Stepping Up to the Plate - in a "Big" Way

As we have spoken about recently, there is a movement in Canada to fund an initiative with purse/slot dollars to grow our sport. Horse owners are being asked if they support using a 5% purse cut to fund a slush fund to increase wagering and interest on horse racing. So far the plan is liked by some, and not by others. The old "the tracks should do it, not us" line has popped up again and again.

One owner said that it's time to put his 'money where my mouth is'.

Jim Carr owns the outstanding two year old Big Jim, who won the Dream Maker at Mohawk in a sizzling 51 and 1. He is donating a percentage of his winnings to this plan, which Standardbred Canada is holding in trust, if it comes to fruition.

"Carr, who also owns Riverwalk and Brush With Royalty, plans to contribute a percentage of earnings from each horse he owns to the Plan, starting immediately. He is sure that action must take place to allow the sport to thrive and realizes the majority of his hor…

Pick Ten Winners & You Could Win a Cool Million

On August 21st at Northlands Park, if you are the only person to pick all ten winners, you will walk away with a million bucks.

We spoke a couple of months ago about using this, as a strategy for promotion. Offering a jackpot bet out (with some slots money for insurance purposes) as a way to get slot players to take a ticket, some lotto players to take a few tickets, or to get some simulcast players studying your card and venue, is a worthwhile plan. It at least uses alternate gaming money to promote to a new market. It also helps with some viral marketing, because blog posts, chat board posts, and news mentions because of this promotion, promote the track. The odds of hitting all ten for a $2 minimum, of course, are very low; but we are not promoting this to existing players who know better, we are trying to get a new market out to the track for a day.

This is the type of promo that other games do. Heck, for some neighborhood golf tournies sponsored by a "Tom's Bar and Grill&…

Cup Goes to McNair, National Pick 4 Does Well

Today's two heat Confederation Cup went to Aracache Hanover, a $37,000 yearling purchase and Greg McNair student in 152.1. The colt raced very well in both heats and BG's Folly, saddled with post 7 in the final, had little shot to run him down.

This race did not have the draw of a few years ago when Somebeachsomewhere blazed to a 149.2 world record, but it was very entertaining. Fireworks in the final ensued as well in two instances. The first, when the colt broke at the gate and galloped, not losing ground, and at the wire where the driver celebrated with the whip (that's can be a no, no in Ontario as you have to keep two lines in one hand). The judges let the result stand, but it was anything but a sure thing.

This is one of the reasons I like harness racing - a big race is won by a good guy and a hard worker. His son is in the bike, and the owners are absolutely pumped to win it. You can watch the post race celebrations in the video below. I especially like when Greg shoo…

$50K National Pick 4 PPs; Finley Caps Horse of the Year. 360 Launched

The national pick 4, guaranteed at $50,000 with races from the M, Balmoral, Northfield and Yonkers, is on tap for for Saturday.

In addtion there are programs available for free from the Trackmaster page here.

I hope frequent PTP commenter "Whip" has been playing Northfield and Balmoral, because I am lost there. :)

Regardless, that is a nice guarantee and a good takeout level. I will be playing this and trying to make some cash. For a link to only the free pp's for the national pick 4, they are here (pdf alert!)

Bill Finley handicapped the Horse of the Year race in the US today. He is a Z fan, but he could not help but take a shot at her schedule. I laughed at prose like this on her:  "She beat a stable pony, two Budweiser Clydesdales, a mule and an outstanding 3-year-old pacer from Cal Expo in the Clement Hirsch last week at Del Mar. But, hey, a win is a win and perfection is perfection."

Breeders Cup 360, the best damn site for handicappers (we should have …

A Handle Free Fall In Ontario? Bet on it - Online

In a piece of very-not-surprising news, the cash-strapped Ontario government looks to gambling to grab some revenues. It was announced that they are moving into "the online realm" and plan on operating (like BC) an online gambling portal.

"Across Canada and around the world, online commerce is part of our everyday lives and OLG is excited to start the consultation process for online gaming and growing its marketplace in the future," OLG Chair Paul Godfrey said. "OLG's internet gaming program will stress responsible gaming while providing an enjoyable experience for Ontario players."

Welcome to a massive loss of horse racing handle, coming soon to a track near you.

Although, I do like the "we'll stress responsible gaming" line. That is always good for a chuckle.

Currently, Ontario players can play sports, however it is with Pro-line. It has not done overly well, even with a monopoly. Although they have lowered takeout in recent years beca…

8 Reasons Why I am a Zenyatta Fan

Zenyatta won her 18th straight race on Saturday, at Del Mar. She is currently zeroing in on being the all-time money winning mare and all-time grade 1 stakes winning mare. With only a couple starts left in her career, I thought I would make a list on why I like her.

1. She's Undefeated

- I am a handicapper and I know she is not racing Ruffian or Seattle Slew or Spectacular Bid in her races. But she wins. Horses have bad days, and eventually they lose because of an allergy, an underlying sickness, overwork, lameness or 100 other factors we see day to day. As a horse owner myself (like many of you I am sure) where I have expected my horse to be great, and he throws in a clunker it is a non-negotiable part of this sport. But she does something that is rare and refreshing in racing - she delivers. Federal Express should hire her as a spokeshorse.

2. She Confounds Figure and Software Makers

- Invariably, after a win from any horse, go to the chat boards. Someone will say "…

Hambletonian Card Recap - Third Highest Handle in History

This year's Hambletonian was a good one with Muscle Massive edging out Lucky Chucky in a very quick 51. Over $1M was bet on the race, and the overall handle was the third highest in Hambo history: over $8M.

Something we have been big proponents of on our little blog here is exporting races like this as far and wide as we can. Again this year the good folks at the Meadowlands and the Hambo society spread their signal out to several countries, and it paid off:

"International wagering was nearly $2.4 million, up sharply from the $1.97 million wagered on the 2009 simulcast. The Hambletonian was part of a seven-race bundle beamed to France, Monaco, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. The first 10 races from the Meadowlands were sent to Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Finland, Estonia and Malta."

This is great news. However, I still think we are not maximizing handle as much as we should on these races. Trot races are fine for export, but for local players we like overnights with deep…

Hambletonian Card Analysis and Free PP Link

This year's Hambletonian card, set for Saturday, is better than usual. Although there are one or two too many stakes races for serious cappers, the stakes do have some betting interest for me. For the first time in awhile there is no standout chalks in the biggest two races: The Hambo and Hambo Oaks. There is a free program here.

As well, I find I really like the all superfecta card in these instances, because if you can land a longshot or two on the ticket, it tends to pay.

Going through the card, I have a few I might play:

In race one I believe Misterizi is worth the poke. He has some problems, but Montini would not ship him down there for a lark. He's the fastest horse in the race. I might use Schnittker from the ten post in the supers.

In Race two Buck I St Pat should win, but why take a low price. I will likely sit this out.

In the Merrie Annabelle I have been through the replays a few times. I am pretty stumped. It looks like the chalk is solid, the second choice might i…

Good Harness Racing News

No, I am not on crack. There actually is some good news in harness racing.

Tioga Downs, since their takeout decrease, is knocking it out of the park (as far as harness racing is concerned anyway).

"Tioga Downs lowered its takeout rates to state minimums for the 2010 race season, and the numbers have shown promise as they continue to rise. In July Tioga Downs was up in its live racing handle by eight per cent, and watched its export number grow for the second straight month by 21 per cent." says the release.

A telling part of the release is the ending. The Tioga boys broached the Vernon horsemen with the same idea - lower the juice and see if we can build something. They got a big fat no from them. Handle at Vernon is off 13%, just like about everywhere else.

If you ain't playing some cash into Tioga, it's time to.

Secondly, more good news from Balmoral Park. They too lowered takeout on their pick 4, and it is growing. If you were too scared to play into the BLMP pick 4 be…

Plans, Plans and More Plans

The Ontario plan to use some slots cash set aside for purses to grow the sport via marketing and wagering, has been gaining some steam. A good number of owner signatures are being recorded and it seems the train at the very least has left the station. However, as "SuperNewf" commented yesterday, the usual suspects are trying to throw a wrench into the plans. I was reading many comments on some of the chat boards and some folks simply do not want purse money to be used to grow our sport.

Usually I am the one stealing Seth Godin quotes here on PTP, but I got one from poster "Kort Nozzle" on, about where we are, and what needs to be done in racing:

"Right this minute, you still have some cash, some customers, some momentum... instead of squandering it in a long, slow, death spiral, do something else. Buy a new platform. Move. Find new products for the customers that still trust you. Change is a bear, but it's better than death."