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Showing posts from March, 2013

The Horse Racing Supply Chain

Horse racing, like any other business, has a hierarchy.
Customers bet, which supplies pursesA purse is offered, which supplies horse ownersHorse owners need someone to care of their horse, which supplies trainersTrainers need help, so they supply grooms and vets Customers allow for horse owners, trainers, grooms, and vets to exist.

In horse racing, it's curious that this supply chain is challenged with spurious statements like "without someone to train a horse there would be no horse racing"

However, for its truth one has to look no further than Ontario and its problems. Today, John Wilkinson said, (almost befuddled he had to say it):

“No consumers, no bettors, no industry".

The industry better take heed, and press releases like this need some serious rewording. 

An Interesting Saturday, By the Bullet

Happy Easter, Easter people.

I got a chocolate bunny this morning I see,  but I will be eating chicken wings, not turkey tonight. Me and the dog are bacheloring and we ain't cooking.

However, all is not bad. Yesterday, instead of having to run errands and read a white paper on conversion rates and click attribution for Monday, I got to watch racing from 9AM until the last at the Meadowlands.

Yesterday had just about everything . I know racing is not overly popular, and if you follow it like we do, we wonder why it isn't more so. It was a sparkling day.

Here are some thoughts, bullet by bullet.

> I was going to write something  about the performances in the Florida Derby, but I was on and someone wrote mine for me. I don't disagree with virtually anything he wrote:

"I was disappointed in both Bobby and Itsmyluckday (didn't play the race). It was obvious that Bobby might decline as the distances stretched out, but he was struggling long befor…

Things You Won't Hear Said in Dubai

The Dubai World Cup card is ready to kick off. Here are some things you won't hear said at the races today......

"These short fields are killing this sport"

"I'm going to have to raise the price of oil to get these purses up"

"The casino side has to clean the floors, this place is a dump"

"What did the superfecta pay in the third?"

"We apologize to all our fans in Qatar who cannot watch the races. The horsemen group has not signed off on the simulcast agreement"

"I hate arriving early for a lasix shot"

"Jamie Ness has way too much chalk in today"

"We're concerned the races are on betfair, allowing our European friends an enjoyable betting day.  Someone might bet a horse to lose."

"An asterisk should be placed beside all the winners names. We're running on plastic"

"Pletcher might sweep the card"

"I can't handicap these races, knowing there aren't raceday med…

Reporting from Ontario, Happy Friday!

Hello racing fans. I hope you are having a good morning this morning.

Did anyone watch the horse racing motion live on the floor of the Ontario legislature yesterday? If you missed it, I will summarize:

The Conservatives think the Liberals suck, and so do the NDP. That partnership didn't last long because the NDP also think the Conservatives suck, and with the Conservatives, the feeling is mutual towards the NDP. The Liberals sat around looking fairly smug, and it appears they don't like the other two parties either. All three parties have well dressed, presentable members, even the NDP, but they all act like they're 11 (some act 12 or 13) towards each other.

It was fun to watch democracy at work, and realize that these people are in charge of a $600B economy.

In the end, a motion was passed in favor of horse racing, which turns out means nothing, because it was a symbolic non-binding motion.

So, to sum up, the Legislature was in session, tens of thousands of taxpayer doll…

Ontario News, Go For Soda & Wednesday Notes

Good morning racing fans!

In Ontario more transitional funding deals were completed, this time with Flamboro, Georgian and Fort Erie. All three might be surprising to some (I expected Fort Erie to race, but with the horsemen, tracks and White Knight of some sort pulling together $5M or so, not the government), but I think we've seen a pretty stout shift in the government's view.

Earlier this year they seemed to be focused on making racing "sustainable" with a plan, which was welcomed (I use that term loosely of course). It appeared the province would have six or seven workable tracks in 2013, spending time and (transitional) money trying to set the table for growth when the transitional money ran out. If there are going to be six tracks racing in three years, the first three with transitional funding should be a trial run of that. Instead we might have twice that amount racing in '13.

I am not sure this is great for racing in the Province in the long term. In Ne…

The Dope On D Barns & Tuesday Notes

There is some chatter scurrying around the Interwebs and email that there is a suspected push for a detention barn by some for the upcoming Santa Anita Derby. I don't know how accurate or not that is, but from harness racing's experience with them, we have learned quite a lot about surveillance barns.

Detention barns - security barns where the horses for the upcoming race are housed for 24 to 72 hours - have been used by harness racing for many years for their big races. They were also extensively used at Woodbine for claiming races, and when a trainer (thoroughbred or harness) comes off a positive test.

D barns are not symbolic, or just used for public relations like some think. Those of us who've had horses in them for years had quite the chuckle when a trainer was caught with "Air Power" before the Wood Memorial a few years ago in D. At Woodbine's D barn no one I know even brings a can of Diet Coke in it. Security is good and these barns are serious.


Takeout Rates & Bets for $20B Handles? I Think So

We discuss takeout rates here quite a bit, and we have for some time. There certainly is a sweet spot for takeout rates - just like there are for any other gambling game - which maximizes revenues for racing, and as a result increases bettor participation in the sport.

As we know, there is more to it: Any change has to pass horsemen groups and others who only know high takeout, and think any reduction will mean "less money". It's, like a lot of things, political rather than math or science based.

As well, we probably have not maximized different types of bets, like exchange wagering or lottery bets, which could help sell horse racing to other gamblers.  That seems pie in the sky too.

Regardless, here are some levels for each bet, and type of bet, which I think can make horse racing a more popular gambling game again. Of note, these rates are meant to be workable. This might be a politically appealing enough mix where it has, say, a 0.1% chance of getting passed, rather …

A Fun and Interesting Weekend of Racing

The weather is warming up, and so is horse racing. OK, horse racing is warming up.

Yesterday, Turfway put on a great day of racing, culminating with Black Onyx's win in the Vinery, Horseshoe Casino of Cincinnati Spiral Stakes. Also on the card was Crop Report, who wins a race each time I call him "too slow" on twitter.

I don't think I learned too much yesterday, did you? Uncaptured probably had a nice prep off time, the Spiral winner looked fine and seems to be an improving turf type. Crop Report looks like he'll have a nice career racing in those 14 furlong turf races we see a few times a year.  Did anything catch your eye otherwise?

Today's prep race is the Sunland Derby. Before you laugh hysterically and ask where Sunland is, remember Mine That Bird won there a few years ago for his Derby prep. Sunland is a fun racetrack to watch and bet. I'll probably have a look at the PP's later.

The Levy Series took off last night at Yonkers. Brian Sears won wit…

Turfway's Big Day

One of the tracks I enjoy playing is Turfway Park. I like the surface and at times the deeper fields provide with some good payoffs. Their pick 4 is good value for casual players, because their payoffs are high, with a very low takeout.

Today is their signature day - headlined by the Spiral Stakes, which looks like a handicapping juggernaut.

For those playing today, here are some notes:

The inside is a little less effective than mid to outer:

The track has been speed friendly:

However, if the pace is fast, the closers can close. We might see this in a couple of the deep field races today.

In the Spiral I think  My Name Is Michael may be worth it if the odds comply. Others I will use, who are long, are Giant Finish and Black Onyx. The first two have run good figs already on the poly and the latter is improving. All should be some odds.

In the last leg of the pick 5 Cup of Joy is a top fig horse who is 8-1 morning line. El Gran Sol has a step up trainer who can shock at anytime.


Finley Let's Loose About Rebates & the Juice

In HRU, Bill Finley let fly on Joe Faraldo's criticism of the Meadowlands rebate program, calling the New York Horsemen group head's math "all wrong".
 So what was Faraldo thinking when he penned an incendiary column the other day criticizing what
he called "cartel wagering" at the Meadowlands? Was his calculator on the fritz? The handle from the player didn't triple. It increased by 700 percent He then goes on to talk about lower rake:
 The primary reason why betting on race horses is not more popular is because the takeout is so enormous that, really, no one can win. There just aren't enough people out there willing to consistently lose their shirts, especially when every other gambling game but the lottery offers fairer odds. By
giving the player a rebate you are essentially reducing the takeout and making the game beatable. We've discussed the topic here for many years so there's no need to rehash all the sordid details. However, just as a…

No Change! And Other Notes

Hello horse racing fans!

Let's say at Pull the Pocket Downs I had a bet customers really liked. They bet into it in droves. It upped the handle in the races it was offered and it was one of the better bets around. It also gave a spark of goodwill because takeout was raised a couple of years beforehand. I would not want to touch it, would I?

Rumor had it the horsemen group in California wanted to up the rake on their pick 5, and/or not give the track a fair share of it, whereby the bet might be pulled off the menu. Apparently that either was not true, or they came to their senses because the pick 5 rake will remain at 14%.  

There was an interesting article by Godin today about communities, or his coined phrase "tribes". He says we do not but in front of a line, or grab seconds at a church dinner, because we're part of it. Meanwhile, a lot of people won't report an undercharge from a bank because well, they're a bank.
 When we steal or disrupt or game the system…

Meadowlands Continues to Experiment With Customer-Centric Initiatives