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Showing posts from September, 2011

How to Land Poker Players? Try Blockbuster & Twitter

Not long after the Department Of Justice started shutting down poker sites in the US, it was surmised on some blogs and chat boards that plan of action from racing to land poker players should be front and center, and expected swiftly. Since that time we have heard very little from racing on how they might try to put in place such a plan, or even if they are thinking about it. Without a league office, money and some will, I guess no one is overly surprised.

I was struck with just how different it is in other businesses and we received a nice example of that this past week.

Netflix (the online streaming company, and former IPO darling) raised prices last month, much to the dismay of their customers, and they suffered mightily. Their stock dropped from about $220 since last month, closing today at about $113.

Like we see all too often however: One man's crisis is another man's opportunity.

Enter Netflix competitor Blockbuster and their new owner.

Sensing an opening last week - n…

Raw Talent, What about the Playa & Some Depressing Odds

Jim Takter updated everyone on the health of See You At Peelers via Trot radio. It appears she had a hard to detect lung infection, but is "still not right" according to Takter. He trained her in 51, with a heart monitor.

How can a horse train in 51 and be not right? Because she's a superstar and there are good 51's and bad 51's when you are dealing with horses like that. I would have loved to seen her in the Jug if she was right; she would've had a good chance against that group, in my opinion.

There is a large carryover tonight at Balmoral Park and it is sure to be a record pool. HANA has some links to selections and a pdf of tonight's program. 

A couple of years ago New York raised takeout on some exotics to pay for the New York City OTB's. The OTB's are now gone, the takeout hike is still there, and slots are online with over $30 million going to purses at Aqueduct next meet. Where's the player in all this? You guessed it, nowhere. When hand…

Google Begins to Allow Some Gambling Ads

Starting tomorrow, September 27th, Google will allow some gambling ads for those who have opted into Adsense. This is a sea-change for the search giant, despite loosening of some rules previously.

In general:

"Google is allowing advertising of online scratch games run by state, national or Indian reservations and national or state lotteries. It also will allow the advertising of “bricks and mortar” gambling locations and fantasy sports contests."

For racing, let's look at the good. It appears that companies like Churchill Downs, Woodbine and others can create campaigns and have their ads appear if they so wish. As well, since campaigns can be geo-targeted, they might be able to target potential on-track customers (e.g. Churchill After Dark will be able to run a campaign targeted to the greater Louisville area).

However (here comes the bad), there are very few racing websites when we compare it to the number of casino and card playing sites. As well, the casino indust…

"Moneyball" - Not Just for Baseball

Michael Lewis has written many good books and articles, but arguably his best work is Moneyball about the Oakland A's rise to prominence due to "Sabermetrics". The best seller was made into a movie starring Brad Pitt, and by many accounts, it is sure to be a hit.

Sabermetrics is pretty simple, despite the scary-math name. Via Wikipedia:

"Sabermetrics is the analysis of baseball through objective, empirical evidence, especially baseball statistics that measure in-game activity".

This was a new way of looking at a ball player - through unpublished and proprietary statistics - which many believe can give a ball club an edge in evaluating talent. As we all know, the historical way to judge a player was by scouting, or evaluating published stats, like ERA's, slugging percentage and batting average.

As the movie and book shows, this new way of analyzing player strength was a hit. Oakland won 102 games that first season, with a tiny bankroll.

On Friday the Wall …

Risky Business

A reality show about entrepreneurs risking some capital for a one month investment. What's better than buying a racehorse?

Nick Boyd (@ralphie9 on twitter and one of our stable's trainers) took a shot recently asking to be on the show, and was approved. He bought a horse with the show's founder Brett Wilson, the philanthropist and business tycoon, and the relationship has continued.

For a recap, and to watch the episode, you can get it all here.


More 'Risky Business' in dysfunctional California? Is it any wonder handle is off by about 50% in real dollars since 2000 in the state?

Jugs, Economy, and Best Practices

The Little Brown Jug is in the books. Big Bad John made a few left turns and won fairly easily over the top rated colt in the country, Roll With Joe. The race, unlike many LBJ Finals was fairly interesting because Jody Jamieson took a shot with North America Cup champ Up the Credit. This allowed for fairly honest fractions, and gave Pierce a chance at daylight with Roll With Joe.

The Jug handle (I read from Pacing Guy) was $1.2 million, with an attendance of almost 50,000. The Jug is like Industry Day up at Grand River. Lotsa folks, lotsa insiders, and lotsa fun, but not much betting. Thank goodness for slots; and thank goodness for the Jug.

Racing and Trades

Bill Shanklin has a nice piece about playing the markets and playing the races.  One item explains nicely the stumbling block to gaining market share in horse racing:
Stock broker commissions can eat away at profits if you trade frequently, although the advent of online trading has greatly diminished trading costs. On the other …

Little Brown Jug Day

Today is Little Brown Jug day. The unique annual event pits some of the best 3YO pacers in the land against each other in a two heat affair.

This year's edition seems a little sparse on major-league talent, but like the Kentucky Derby, a superstar is never a factor on a watch, don't watch decision. For a free program, you can get it here (The Jug is in "program 2"

In elim one, we have two fairly fresh horses that I'll be watching: Big Bad John and Foreclosure. In the second elim you have the top colt in the land - Roll With Joe. He got an absolutely brutal trip last time (the inside horses finished one, two, three in the Cane) and still raced well. Up the Credit was absolutely awesome in the Simcoe, and I expect him to show up today.

Good luck if you are playing the card today.

(Late) Tuesday Notes

I've been busy as a bee, but I found time to type out some drivel this evening.....

...... The Canadian Trotting Classic (covered beautifully on the Score Network) was as feel good as it gets. The homebred, Daylon Magician made a move to the front, and it was over. He is a very nice colt, and even if the Hambo Champ was on his game, I think the result would have been similar. I think Brennan would've been nuts to hang him.

...... Man of Many Missions got caught unsound (or wonky) once again in a big one.

.......  How sharp are horseplayers? I have not spoken to any who thought See You At Peelers would've won her start Monday; they are sure she is a mess right now. Takter's right hand man trained her Thursday coming home in a cheap 57 flat and he scratched her.

..... Does the Peelers situation remind anyone of her peer Rachel Alexandra? Everyone and their brother was sure something was nagging her early in the year - she was just not the same horse - and they pulled the…

That Was an Interesting Day!

Alert - other than in the notes section, this post has little to do with horse racing.......

I had a bit of an interesting day yesterday. It was not exciting - it was nothing really, like a Seinfeld episode without anything funny - just a little eventful, for a dude who spent most of it working.

I figured that any story that has Chuck Yeager in it has to be worth writing. For reading? Well may God bless you if you even try to get through this.

After a full day of work I decided to bar-b-que a steak so I opened it up and brought the dripping wrapper into the garbage out on the deck. A dog I am currently fostering (I volunteer for a dog rescue) is a little nuts at times, and he is pretty much an escape artist. Being a beagle - someone once told me if you dropped one at Belmont, he'd follow his nose and make it to Monmouth by sundown - when he goes, he goes. Well, he caught sight of something, and bolted right behind me. I proceeded to dive for him, landing on my now-getting-older bo…

Guest Post on the Ontario Sires Stakes System

Harness twinkie @GregReinhart, a good friend of mine posed this question to the world of twitter tonight. As we bantered our thoughts back in forth on the matter my mind raced from one place to another. First to a hot topic on harness racing chat boards regarding yearling sales, then to @Pullthepocket’s blog from a day ago “Being Disruptive”.
The first theory that seems blatanly obvious would be the “superhorse”.  The likes of Somebeachsomewhere, Western Silk, Shacked Up, Peaceful Way, et al. were all very dominant in their respective years and the list could be added to easily.  As a result, the trickle down effect begins where fringe horses move down to the “easier” Grassroots dollars for a bigger slice of the pie.  This, in turn forces many owners of the Grassroots calibre horses to a decision, which further pushes them out.
This is where “Being Disruptive” is necessary.  All major sports have numerous review committees that meet on an annual basis. A prominent one would be the N…

Create Products That Open Your Markets

There was a time we were unable to invest or partake in different markets, but that day is long gone. High commissions and protective rules are no longer something that markets need to deal with - they have been shot down - because the money from people who might be looking for you, is everything.

In the case of gold and other precious metals - the current hedge against paper risk - the floodgates that opened were welcomed by investors.

ETF's, or exchange traded funds, have been around for some time. No longer do you have to own a warehouse, and hire a security team to store and own the bricks. And it's worldwide.
Physical metal-backed exchange-traded funds sparked a "sea change" in platinum and palladium markets by bringing in investors who otherwise wouldn't have bought the metal. Physical platinum, palladium ETFs remove investment barriers for Europe- based buyers. The market has taken off.

Conversely, what we see in horse racing has been the exact opposite. W…

Being Disruptive

When I (and probably a lot of you) went to school, I had to budget cash for tuition, residence, food - and textbooks. The latter seemed to be something that confused me most because I could never quite figure out why a book could cost so much. This especially considering I would only use it for a year, and then hopefully sell it for 15% of the list price.

I often wondered if I should have been majoring in textbook writing instead of business. It seemed pretty darn lucrative.

Today, one of the oldest businesses in the land - textbooks - has been disrupted. No longer do you have to shell out $175 for a science text, it costs a fraction of it - and it is much better than the original. It's an interactive textbook.
Nature Publishing Group, which publishes several highly regarded scientific journals and textbooks, was founded in England in 1869, eight years before electric lights illuminated the streets of London. Now, 140 years later, with the help of Harvard Classics scholar Vikram Sa…

Barry Meadow Leaves One Tough Game

Awhile back in USA Today, horseplayer MIke Maloney said there are "about 10,000 factors" that go into handicapping a horse race. I think we all agree that's about right. Analyzing these factors, beating a crazy rake, losing photos, losing streaks and the general hard work that goes into it can take a toll. One of the people - Barry Meadow - who lived and breathed that type of existence for 23 years has called it quits.

Via an email, posted at Pace:

I am retiring effective immediately.

Partly I am retiring for health reasons, to withdraw from the daily stresses of long hours, deadline pressures, and millimeter $8,000 photos. These pressures, I reluctantly admit, have taken some toll on my body. My doctors tell me that I’ll be better off not to be spending late nights reviewing the final turn of a Hollywood Park turf race several times to see exactly who was wide (and how wide), or agonizing over whether a horse should be a 14 or a 15, or pounding my desk when I’ve just l…

Handicapping the Bounce - When it Fits Your World View

O_Crunk on twitter recently linked to a piece about our pre-conceived notions that guide us in many ways. If we see something that fits our world view, it cements our world view. If we see something that challenges our view, sometimes we forget about it, or chalk it up to statistical noise.

In handicapping this works in myriad ways. Many handicappers for example, will look at a driver or jockey change to one of their favorites that works and say "see, I told you so". Conversely, when a driver or jockey change happens and the result is not as we expect, we seem to never say "hmmm, I wonder if I should run some numbers to see if I was wrong?"

Recently on's harness section there was plenty of chatter from 'cappers about the "bounce". This, as we all know, has been written about continually in thoroughbred racing, but in harness there is not very much literature on it. This is probably because our horses race nearly every week, and …

The Straight Dope

Have you seen the RCI's recent push to change the narrative on drugs and racing? The story they tell is accurate, and has been for some time. However, it is super-difficult to change a narrative, when the public believes a different one that has been passed down, generation to generation. Find me a movie about a racetrack, and I am pretty sure the storyline will include a drugged horse.

Conversely, if you ask the general public if baseball players "were all juicers" ten or twelve years ago, or even today for that matter, the answer would probably be no, despite the headlines. Ted Williams, Willie Mays and Hank Aaron were on cereal boxes, and baseball was lily-white. That was the narrative. Today, after steroid scandals in that sport, people believe the testing is good, they are on top of it, and players are playing clean. It's something the general public wants to believe about their beloved sport. So believe they do.

Yes, 0.015% of tests come back bad in racing, wh…

Taking it to the Next Level

On Wednesday a horse's owners decide to take it up a notch, and today a racetrack decided the same thing.

Daylon Magician, a David Lemon owned and trained homebred, has entered the $1M Canadian Trotting Classic. Relegated to sires stakes action so far, the talented colt is taking on the big boys Saturday, including Hambo champ Broad Bahn.

This happens at times in our sport, because many of our good horses are owned by trainer/owner's, or reclamation projects, like San Pail. I don't blame them a bit for not staking a colt, or sticking close to home and having some fun. But this horse deserves a shot. I think he might be the best colt in North America. Good luck to the fine people who own him.

Second up is Charles Town Racecourse. This past year the slots-fuelled track has been making some changes - they changed their schedule around, carded some nice races, and are a fixture one night a week on TVG. Handle has been doing quite well.  Not to rest on that, they have lowered …

With See You at Peelers, Disclosure is Not that Difficult

Early in the year, the talk of disclosure when it comes to the health of a horse was a hot topic, mainly because of the Uncle Mo situation. On twitter, via various blogs, and on chat boards, most fans thought that they deserved the right to know what was happening with their favorite horses. Adding to the chorus were some industry watchers who believed that transparency, especially in the social media age, is something we as an industry should embrace. On the flipside, many owners and trainers towed the company line that has permeated thoroughbred racing for a century or more; namely, it's my horse and it's none of your business.

For my part I have always believed transparency is a good thing for our sport, so I am biased in that regard. However, in copious discussions with my twitter friends and elsewhere, I brought up that harness racing does not shy away from disclosing information on our star horses virtually at any time. In harness, whether it is a potential (and probabl…

Weekend Notes

See You at Peelers lost again this evening. She was DQ'd in an NYSS, but was life and death to hold on regardless. Virtually every handicapper I spoke with last week thought there was something wrong with her and were surprised she was entered this week. She was 1-9 tonight and I do not know one person who would have, or did, bet her. I wonder where the cash came from. It looks like trainer Jim Takter agrees, as he announced she is now off the Jug trail, and one would expect we will not be seeing her for awhile. Great horses tell you when something is wrong, and last week it appears she was doing just that. This week just confirmed it.

The Metro is in the books and the regally bred Simply Business has now written his stud ticket. This year's 2YO crop has been enigmatic but this colt has always seemed to be the one who looked fairly solid. He put it together last night, when it counted. Rock n Roll Hanover did similar several years ago in this very race, and it catapulted him t…

Going After the Dumb Money

About 2PM today, the S&P turned downwards, with traders worried about an overbought market on light volume, especially with the jobs news due out in the morning.

CNBC spoke during the day about what to expect, and analysts relayed to the viewing public options, ETF's and other conduits to play the news. Traders, fund managers, investors big and small - from a guy with $1M in his account, to a mother from Iowa with $10k in her self-directed retirement account - were watching, planning a move.

What's a VIX? What's a stochastic? What's a LIBOR rate? How do I write a naked put?

There are many people who know this form of "gambling" like the back of their hand. And a lot of them have never set foot into Wharton.

Just how big are the markets? Here are the top few stocks on my ticker:

Google traded over a billion dollars today alone.

We always hear about scratch tickets or slots taking away our racing patrons, and there is truth in that. But why do we try and ou…