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Showing posts from October, 2016

Romney was Right

It's been a decent election cycle for Mitt Romney.

He called out the Donald personally very early for what he saw was not a good person, when a lot would not touch it, earning him praise. And of course, he was laughed at and mocked incessantly from the mainstream about his Russia comments in 2012, and now everyone concedes he was correct.

That's a pretty good run for a guy who is not even running for dog catcher in 2016. 

Meanwhile, I had a dabble into some old horse racing policy last week and came across this little gem from Massachusetts in 2003.

This was a plan that 13 years on looks pretty damn good, too.

Blocking money ended up being paid to racing from Atlantic City in Jersey, but that was intrastate, not interstate.

Currently, racinos tend to only benefit the horse racing inside the states themselves, while neighboring ones either move for more market share by passing more casinos, like New York, or pretty much cut out horse racing altogether, like Massachusetts, or a…

Horse Racing's Grumblin', Bumblin', Stumblin'

Average handle fell at the last Meadowlands meet. Handle was $1.07 million per card, down from last year's $1.24 million.

As MH's article notes, they jockeyed around racedates, and field size was off by a horse, and both were detrimental. But, more broadly, this continues the mid-Atlantic carnage we've seen of late (outside Laurel Park).

Now, the meet was not ugly, per se, and in 2014 the Big M thoroughbred meet did $1.03M per card, and in 2013, only $988,000 per card. So, last year's meet did stick out, and this meet was up from those two most recent years.  But because this coincided with a takeout change, there's some rumblin' and grumblin'.
While racetrack executives rarely speak out in support of raising or maintaining takeout levels due to fears of public backlash, many privately grumble that supporters of takeout cuts consistently overstate the positive impacts while ignoring the negative effects on a racetrack’s revenue streams. Oh please.

The M…

Racing and "I Don't Know"

Why is it that when you ask a question to someone formulating and implementing racing policy, the answer is more often than not, "I Don't Know".

We need geotargeting.

Why?

People are betting on their ADW accounts at the track.

How much?

I don't know.

Are we losing revenue?

Yes.

How do you know?

I don't know.

If we inconvenience customers for a slightly higher margin, will those playing on ADW's bet the same amount when on track at the windows, or will some stay home and play, hurting attendance?

I don't know.

That's one example. But you can ask the same questions about how much Derby Wars is "hurting" Magna, or how much revenue will be lost or gained from a takeout change. The answer, invariably, is "I don't know". 

You'd think with hundreds of billions of dollars of handle over the last 100 years, racing would be able to use data to change policy like a real business: Forecast, model, project, look at the cost-benefits, …

Building and Distributing Modern Data. Who Cares?

Crunk had a nice post about data today. It's not sexy like drugs, or stewards, or who is going to start in the Pegasus World Cup, and it's not exactly click bait. But it's a really good piece everyone should, in my view, read.

Disruption is a word often used wrongly, and almost always used in some derogatory fashion.  It's like a Bond villain, who is up to no good. He's loosening double-oh-seven's ski boots, so he'll ski to a horrible death, or other such things (which to me seems odd, because most villains have guns and could just shoot him, but I digress).

Regardless, disruption is not a bad thing. It usually ends up being a good thing. For consumers, and the future of a business.

Innovation and disruption was first spoken about by a smart Harvard fella, who wrote a book called the "Innovator's Dilemma". There are innovations that are soft (he called them "sustainable" innovations). These tweak the current landscape, and look for i…

Newspapers Might be Finished, But Racing's Strategic Options Make the Big Tracks a "Strong Buy"

There's a really interesting article I dove through at lunch today by Jack Shafer at Politico.  He looks at a new study from University of Texas researchers who propose that newspapers blew it by moving forward online the way in which they have, and they should retreat to do what they do best - sell print newspapers.

"Buttressed by copious mounds of data and a rigorous, sustained argument, the paper cracks open the watchworks of the newspaper industry to make a convincing case that the tech-heavy Web strategy pursued by most papers has been a bust. The key to the newspaper future might reside in its past and not in smartphones, iPads and VR. “Digital first,” the authors claim, has been a losing proposition for most newspapers."

That smacks a little of what we hear from some out there in horse racing, where retreating to "getting people out to the track" (where margins are higher) is a workable strategy. No doubt the knee-jerk reaction from those in this s…

Stronach's Willingness to Take Shots Is Racing's Vanguard

Good morning everyone!

The big news yesterday that filtered twitter had to do with the announced ticket prices of the Pegasus World Cup, to be held at Gulfstream in January.

$100 to $765 sounds a bit steep to most, and I think that's true, but with a smaller venue, and  corporate sponsorship buying the seats, who knows. Plus, I hail from Toronto, where people pay $400 on a Saturday evening to watch the Toronto Maple Leafs. A couple hundred to watch the "world's best racehorses" might not be that bad at all.

Regardless, Frank Stronach makes us think and he makes us wonder. It looks like he is going to pull this off.  And in another 'who knows', one wonders if this could change horse racing.

This past week saw a couple of items in the news. Exaggerator was retired early, as we see so often in the sport, ho hum. And, the Thoroughbred Commentary piece on American Pharoah raised some eyebrows too.

From the piece, who is better, American Pharoah or California Chro…

Trust But Verify, Horse of the Year Chatter

Good day everyone!

Crunk and I had a twitter chat awhile back about the connections of top horses, and their thoughts when comparing horse A to horse B, where one (or even both of them) are their horses. In effect, we proclaimed we put little faith in these thoughts, and look towards speed figures, head to head match-ups, tops, bottoms and comparing performances to other historical horses to judge.

Generally, in cases like that, it comes down to trust but verify, because trusting alone sometimes involves some serious astroturfing.

Today, Bob Ehalt wrote the ultimate sausage making article about American Pharoah's big Triple Crown year. It is (in my view) one of the best articles you'll ever read about the inside-out's of the business.

In one part, we learn quite a bit about when a jock (driver) talks about a horse being better than another, or the best ever:
“Victor tells people I didn’t give him breeding rights. Why should I? It’s not standard at all,” Zayat said. “Now I …

Speed Badges & Figs, and What's the Regulatory Crystal Ball Say?

Good morning peeps!

Earlier this year in New South Wales, greyhound racing was chopped, primarily due to animal welfare issues. Too many dogs were being euthanized after their racing career, or not able to race in the first place (an industry practice called "wastage", due to overbreeding), and live-baiting - a training technique that didn't sit well in today's culture - was exposed.

This week, after intense lobbying, the government allowed the industry to continue. But there are some major-league strings attached.
Capping breeding to 2,000Reducing the number of tracksReducing the number of race eventsWhole-of-life dog cycle management$1,500 bond for every dog bred All of the above will not be funded by the government, the industry itself has to pay for it.

I would offer that - perhaps in a couple of decades - something not dissimilar will be the regulatory framework imposed on harness racing, to be followed by the Thoroughbreds. As revenues dry up, so does forced co…

Detention Barn Follies Continue

As y'all know, Little Brown Jug week was a rather interesting one. From the inside baseball side of things, the story that won't go away involved the capturing of the Jug winning trainer's phone, and related text messages, two of which were:

“Where is the (stuff) for betting line?”

“Anytime between 830-1030 range when its clear to saftly (sic) get his treatments into him.”

The result was protested by a few trainers, because the detention barn is a place where, I personally as a horse owner, tried to bring in a can of diet coke once, and it was like I was carrying an uzi into a baby shower. You don't bring anything into the D barn. If you do, you're up the creek.

Although most thought the fireworks ended Jug day, it hasn't. Legal teams are now involved.

I am not a legal dude, but it seems trainer Coleman, who (according to the story) did admit to wanting to bring in a syringe (for yogurt, mind you), might end up having her words, not the texts, be the issue in …