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 of a community we care about, we hurt everyone we say we're connected to, and thus hurt ourselves.
This is why I believe, customers balk when a track says:
"Bet at the windows while at the track please because our horsemen get more money"
They say "your horsemen group just raised takeout on me, why should I care?"
Or maybe when a commission says you should not use that vet or move to a "grey area of ethics", a horsemen might say:
"You gave that trainer a month off who was beating my brains in by milkshaking his horses every start. Why shouldn't I join him? I can't beat him."
It's nice to think of we in horse racing as a "tribe". But I don't think that's reality. It's sad, because this is a great sport filled with great people for the most part.
Speaking of "tribes", yesterday we saw a press release from the head of a New York horsemen group, talking about (and not in a nice way) a New Jersey racetrack's business. Today, the Meadowlands and the New Jersey Horsemen Group head said, kind of politely I guess, get out of our business.
- .... the S.B.O.A.N.J. and it's leader, Tom Luchento had this to say: "The Meadowlands Racetrack and the SBOANJ have an outstanding relationship. We support each other in everything we do. The Meadowlands Racetrack is an industry leader in moving this sport in the right direction and utilizing new ideas to make The Meadowlands successful. The idea that the management at the Meadowlands and Jeff Gural would ever do something that would harm the horsemen of New Jersey is utterly ridiculous and offensive to both The Meadowlands and the horsemen of New Jersey.”
Other parts of the world do things a little different than we do. In Britain, the gambling part of the sport has had a long and storied history. For example, bookmakers run the win markets, and bettors can usually get some nice odds on likely winners, with takeouts as low as 5% or 6%. Of course, betfair and other exchanges offer punters myriad advantages. It's a true supply and demand betting market, and has been for centuries. This is probably a good reason why Britain bets $18 billion or so a year on racing and why if a horsemen group ever went to a bookie convention and asked to raise the juice "to make more money", they'd probably pelt them with fish and chips.
With other items like scheduling post times, sponsorships, targeted race meets and the like they're pretty good too.
Today, (hat tip to @keenegal) we see they do things differently in the commissioners office as well. They grant private farms, individuals and others who are trying to do something positive for racing money. This allows the private sector to hopefully move the sport forward.
We're seeing politics at its finest (worst?) in Ontario of late. It looks like there will be a private members bill with the Conservative's and Socialist's joining forces put on the docket before April 1st. The hope is that somehow the government will put the modernization plan on hold. I think it's a crock of you know what. We have two minority parties trolling for votes. If anyone out there thinks either of the other parties would be doing much different with a ballooning deficit, I've got a horse to sell them, cheap, who's gonna win the Travers. Honest.
I advance bet a couple of races today, and I think I've made better bets. One horse looked so lame she could barely catch the field. The other, who I bet at 20-1 handicapping an early lead and a good chance in a cheap field, did exactly that. Unfortunately he blew the turn and ended up in the east end parking lot.
Happy March Madness! My pick to win it all is Houston, because I like Hakeem and Clyde. Quite the team!!! I don't really follow college basketball - I have enough trouble following racing and working. However, since I saw a preview on the Wall Street Journal, I am going to cheer for Saint Louis. Go Saint Louis! (I'd say their full name, but I have no idea what it is.)
Enjoy your Thursday everyone!