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Showing posts from November, 2016

Why Do Trainers Cheat?


"According to an agreed statement of facts read in court, Chris Haskell, 39, was filmed using a syringe to give horse He’soneinamillion a tracheal and “intramuscular” injection during an OPP horse doping investigation in October 2010.

"A search of his person revealed six “loaded syringes” full of performance-enhancing drugs which police alleged he intended to use to give his horses Enzo Seelster and Ideal Gift a boost."

He was (after a plea deal) convicted of fraud.

His punishment, 6 years after the fact -- "a $2,500 fine for the fraud (injecting a horse) and $1,250 for attempted fraud (being caught with drug-filled syringes)."

That's a purse check for winning a $7,500 horse race.

Why do trainers cheat? Probably because even if you're caught and convicted for fraud via a provincial police investigation, it's worth it.

h/t to @righthind

Derivative Betting Instruments Work ..... If You're Growing

I remember back in the 1990's I got a "hot tip" in the markets. Apple was going to be bought by Microsoft. This was not the craziest thing I had ever heard, because Apple was not doing so well, and Gates and crew would certainly be interested in it.

Apple was trading at $17 a share, and I had a choice - buy the underlying equity, or look at derivatives. The $25 calls, a few months out, were trading at a buck or two with plenty of liquidity, so I leveraged using those.

Options and futures markets work for many reasons, but the biggest one, is that the markets don't trade 100 million shares a day like the old days, they trade billions. The markets are all growing, and when they have, derivatives grow, as well.

In Vegas, US Fantasy is a new offering
It’s just like betting the horses. Instead of races, there are props. For instance, Prop No. 1 for Sunday’s NFL action was a group of 12 quarterbacks. You could have bet, say, Tom Brady to win, place or show.
There are…

Retail Markets & Betting Markets Have Big Differences

Yesterday on the twitter I posted this (at left) screenshot from a book. It's about LEGO, who was falling on hard times in the early 2000's, and they commissioned "big data" to tell them what was wrong with their product.

The global data said that the digital generation (born post 1980) had "short attention spans", needed "instant gratification", and big, difficult, time-consuming puzzles were not going to fly in the new world.

Luckily for them, due to smaller, anecdotal data, the company took the opposite approach and made their product even tougher, and more time-consuming to use. This strategy worked, because by 2015 LEGO passed Mattel as the world's biggest toy maker.

Ain't that a kick in the pants.

For us in horse racing who believe this is similar to what racing experiences, it's refreshing to read. The LEGO experience is a polytrack race with 14 horses, versus a five horse field where the speed horse sprints and staggers home a…

Numbers Are Our Friend

Everything's numbers. Well, not everything.

Churchill Downs today announced a $37 million capital expenditure for luxury suites. People-be -going, wow, $37 million spending for a racetrack, and they'd be right. It is a big amount of money in this business. But, the numbers probably show it's the right thing to do, because Churchill isn't dumb, and they own the Kentucky Derby.

At $1,000 a person (this is likely higher) for the Derby only, we're talking $2M in revenue for one day. If Oaks day is added, at say half that revenue, we have another $1M. With simple payback time as a measure, it's a shade over ten years. This ignores the other days of the year where they will generate some revenue, and discount rates, NPV etc.

It's nothing new. The Dallas Cowboys built an entire stadium for suites -- 300 in all - which bring in a couple of hundred million for 8 games (plus, I am assuming some other events). The new stadium in San Francisco sold $140 million in suit…

Horseplayers Don't Delete

It's been pretty wild to watch the last week. Tweets like this are being screen-shotted, rehashed, propagandized, and, yes, deleted.

I know I don't speak for horseplayers, but I am one. And as a horseplayer, I profess:

Don't hit delete. And for everyone promoting this so-called grand "wrongness", don't be a goof.

Why? Because it happens to us all the time.

Someone once said, "Zenyatta is a surface specialist".

Someone once said, "American Pharoah is a lock in the Travers."

Someone says, almost daily, "this horse has no chance to lose."

Those proclamations were wrong. Those horses all lost.

And Horseplayers don't delete.

Horseplaying (and training and owning and being a fan of these animals, too) is humbling. Not only do most of us only hit one of every four of our bets (if you're good and you're looking for a sweet spot in the odds), we oftentimes make some of the worst, boneheaded, stupid, awful, incredibly wrong pr…

Election Betting Recap

Election betting - especially a close election - is an interesting exercise. In this day and age, gamblers and forecasters lean on models and ratings for horse racing, sports betting and otherwise that are tested and retested empirically. An election is sometimes like that, but oftentimes not. Last night was clearly the latter.

Here are some thoughts on the wagering, and data.

In preparing for wagering, the traditional polls, plus exits are informative. In this case, the exits confirmed the polls, which is usually good news. Pre-betting, I had a Clinton plus 3, 308 electoral vote projection. That, at the time, looked sound.

There were two clues I uncovered in the exits though, which I filed away. Trump was doing much better (than comprehensive polls from Wapo-ABC and others which I dug up suggested) with college educated whites, and the working class voter numbers were also quite good for him. The union vote was coming out for him, which most did not have pegged. There's a chance …

The Post Breeders' Cup Pop Quiz

We saw, we came, Arrogate conquered.

Test your memory of the happenings on the weekend with the 9th Annual Post-Breeders' Cup Pop Quiz!

The attendance numbers at the Breeders Cup were tabulated by:

a) Paid attendance numbers
b) Paid attendance numbers + an error variable for fence jumpers
c) Hot dogs sold extrapolation formulas
d) Finding the estimate of how many showed up to the Cubs World Series parade, and doubling it

English jockey Ryan Moore walked the Santa Anita turf course on Thursday and had trouble finding:

a) The best path
b) A good angle to take for the apex for the first turn
c) A single blade of grass

The Beholder-Songbird photo was taken by:

a) The Santa Anita photo computer, accurate to one one trillionth of a millimetre
b) A high speed canon, with frame speed used to photograph Usain Bolt.
c) A barn cat

Arrogate's top-shelf Classic run is being compared to:

a) Sunday Silence's takedown of Easy Goer
b) Alysheba-Ferdinand
c) Zenyatta's thrilling 2009 Class…

When Does Existing Pain Become Too Much? That's the Purchase Decision

There's been a lot of crazy stuff happen this election cycle in the US, and frankly, I have never seen similar in my lifetime. Because there's been so much craziness, nonsense, and sometimes horror, the race has become on the surface, very muddy.

But, as I scan things this morning, the polls are where they were three months ago; pretty close.

For all the retweets and tweets, stories about how bad someone is, or was, or will be, I have believed from the start, the race is a perfect example of behavioral economics and a simple buying or not buying decision.

"How bad off am I where I will choose to cast a vote for someone who I know is a flawed candidate?"

This is the same decision most people make when they purchase.
Pointing out what a buyer stands to potentially gain from buying your product requires a leap of imagination on their part – they have to picture themselves in a new and better place by having bought from you. This type of imaginative and creative leap is…

Post Drags Eventually Wear You Out, But the Racing Can't Fix Itself

The NFL is going through some pretty amazing machinations this year. Viewership is down, as is betting.

Sally Jenkins reported today on the phenomenon, and one area she looked at was the time it takes to enjoy a game on television.
According to this excellent analysis, there is abt 11 mins of action in a 4-hour #NFL telecast. Wearing out viewers. — Sally Jenkins (@sallyjenx) November 1, 2016 I have surmised here before about this -- it gets incredibly frustrating to watch a score, a commercial, a kickoff, another commercial, a quick turnover and another commercial. Games which used to start at 1PM and end at 3:49 so you could get ready for the 4PM game haven't been around for awhile.

I've likened this to takeout increases in horse racing. It's not one increase and you leave, it's a drip, drip drip then leave. It took years to turn off viewers, it took years for bettors to say "I have no chance to beat this game".

Racing has the same i…