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Showing posts from August, 2016


Since Saturday's Sword Dancer, there has been a lot of talk about rabbits, both here on the blog and elsewhere. Frankly, you can't go to a story about the Sword Dancer and not read comments about the practice.

The World has a differing view on using a horse to set a pace (or kill off the speed), so another horse from the stable coming from off the pace has a better chance to win. Big stables in the UK, for example, want their well bred horses to win as many group one's as possible to increase the horse's worth in the breeding shed. This is one way to help.

This practice is technically against the rules in North America (and obviously not enforced), but it's not used often, and it's not particularly spelled out.

In places where it is accepted, it is spelled out, because, the betting public means something, of course. In the UK, pre-race, the horse being used as a rabbit is announced to bettors. This is why, as Sid Fernando put it today, Bullet Train, a very good…

A Tale of Two Worlds

I was going through a few statistics this morning, and something jumped out at me.

Yesterday's post regarding the Sword Dancer stakes had traffic I have not seen in some time. It was through the roof. I looked back to see if any other post I had rivaled that traffic number and one other popped up. It was the post on the Churchill Downs Jackpot Pick 6. That pick 6, if you recall, was cancelled after a storm hit, with a bettor holding a ticket with a chance at $700,000. The stewards decided not to turn over too many rocks to try and get the race in.

These two posts had a few things in common.

They were not linked by any industry sites, retweeted by heavy hitters, or showed up on some massively trafficked link farm. The traffic came from the grassroots.

Second, both posts challenged the industry to change - in the Sword Dancer case by not allowing the rules of racing to be simply "suggestions", and in the pick 6 case, by treating a customer with a $700,000 live ticket, like …

Sword Dancer Shenanigans Proves the Public's Point

Ask any random person who has not watched a horse race, or maybe have seen one or three : "Is horse racing fixed?"

They'll probably say, sure it is; common knowledge.

At that point, racing folks get excited to defend their sport. 99% of the races are clean, there is too much money involved to fix races, etc etc. 

Then we have yesterday's Sword Dancer, where not one of us can blame anyone for thinking like they do about the sport.

It's probably bad enough that a "rabbit" was entered for an old-time form of race fixing, but that the horse was ridden like a quarterhorse made the optics look terrible. That another horse - Roman Approval - had to be physically restrained due to the cowboy style race riding of the horse sent to destroy him, is probably just as bad optically.

But that was just the beginning. The real story had just begun.

At the head of the lane, this rank, spent, heart-ripped out rabbit, needed to do even more work for the 1-9 shot. He had t…


As most everyone knows, California Chrome had yet another smashing victory on Saturday in the Pacific Classic at Del Mar.

Here are a few random thoughts on this lazy Monday morning.

With a slightly slow pace and Chrome getting things his own way, we read a few thoughts about how 'if' a rider did this, or 'if' someone did that, the result may have been different. I don't really get that. This horse was way too good for them on Saturday.

What's with the Dubai trip? The two best horses this season, certainly in the handicap division, are Frosted and California Chrome. The gazillion hour flight must freshen them up.

With big handles when he races, a lot of buzz, and his rightful place at the head of the class, California Chrome has proven to me that longevity means something in this sport. Chrome is entering Zenyatta territory in popularity, in my view, and those were and are the two most popular horses this century. American Pharoah, some thought a savior of sort …

The Tale of Two Marketing Strategies Speaks Volumes

Racing, gambling game or sport? That question really doesn't matter much, although everyone seems to love wringing their hands over it.

Football is a sport, racing is a sport, but gambling happens on both.

The resellers of each product in the betting space are as a betting game only, but they sure have different strategies.

Pinnaclesports is an online sportsbook that's been around forever, and its been extremely successful.

Here's a snapshot of their marketing on the web.

Meanwhile, over at Xpressbet, a horse betting medium ....

Pinnacle knows exactly who it is and what it does. They market accordingly. 
Racing has an identity crisis, along with the simple fact that with high juice it has trouble attracting the same clientele Pinnacle attracts.  
I certainly am not picking on Xpressbet, or any other reseller. They're trying to attract eyeballs in a gambling game with fewer and fewer of them and are using any means necessary. It is what it is.
Is horse racing a gambli…

A Quizzically Odd Hambletonian Day

An interesting Hambo Day is in the books. The more I think about it, the more I scratch my head. It was a pretty wild day.

The 16 race smorgasbord wasn't quite as well-received by bettors with preliminary handle down about 8% or so, after factoring in last year's Super High Five carryover. This was a little bit strange, because it looked like a fairly good card, to my eyes.

The track was a bit quizzical, too, and maybe this played into the handle.

I don't think there was a strong bias, but I think it played odd - almost "fair", which we don't see in harness racing much as a speed game. If you went 54 and came home in 56, closers did well, like you'd think they're supposed to, while if you went 56 and came home in 55, the front end was fine, like it's supposed to be. The only wire to wire effort that bucked the trend was probably Darlinonthebeach, who was stung in 53.2 and came home in 56 to hold on. It was 1985 again.

Adding to the quizzical nat…

Happy Hambletonian Day - Notes, Links

It's here, welcome to Hambo Day.

It's 16 races; trots, paces, mixed distances, short fields, big fields. And some are very interesting.

As most know, heavy doses of chalk can and do happen on days like this often in harness. And make no mistake, there are some very good looking favorites. But this card feels a little different to me. I think some of these chalk - even of the heavy variety - have a chance to go down. I always like watching Hambo Day - from start to finish. But this one really intrigues me from a betting perspective.

Anyhoo, some links:

Thoughts on why Hambo Day is a great day, a column. 

Free program link.

Free video link in HD.

Selections from VFTG.

Selections and thoughts at Betfair; including trading horses like Southwind Frank.

Selections from those "expert" folks. I suck at being an expert, but there you go.

Hashtag is #Hambo16 for you people who twitter, like Donald Trump; or someone who works for him, if they recently took his password away.�…

Clowns to the Left of Me, Jokers to the Right

New York passed a daily fantasy sports bill this week, but it was a little more than that. It also, at the behest of one legislator (at likely the behest of you know who - old time racing), eliminated horse racing contest players
 "I could see a horseplayer going to a fantasy site and playing there because they're real horses, real jockeys, real tracks, and doing whatever handicapping they're going to do there. It would take away from the pari-mutuel handle." The studies cited by this pol, showing that this happens and was the correct move, are absent. Because they don't exist.

But, using a little common sense, or actually  talking to customers, you can learn something.

Contest play is a staple for some, just like exchange play is for others. More conduits you have - more ways to play the sport - the more people you have looking at your product. And when people are looking at your product, it's a gateway to lifetime revenue.

This past weekend there was …