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Showing posts from January, 2017

Baffert and "That's Not Right".

A quote surfaced on the twitter yesterday, presumably told to Steve Byk by Arrogate's trainer Bob Baffert:

Ray Arsenault (congrats Ray) competed in the NHC this weeekend and took home the big prize.

Bob Baffert's horse (congrats Bob) won the Pegasus World Cup and took home the big prize.

Both prizes - Bob's $700k and Ray's $800k - were derived from exactly the same sources.

Ray took the lion's share of the purse provided by other horseplayers who contributed to the NHC purse pool.

Bob took the lion's share of the trainer money provided by horse owners who contributed to the Pegasus Cup purse pool.

It's certainly "right". It's rudimentary math.

If Bob wants to make more than Ray next year, he can. He just has to get 12 horse owners to put more money into the prize pool. Whoever wins next year's NHC can do the same thing.

Have a nice Tuesday everyone.

California Chrome Had a Career

Remember back in '08 (seems like yesterday doesn't it?) when Big Brown threw the clunker in the Belmont Stakes? The immediate chatter was all about what the barn would do to maximize his value. He'd have to race again to do something; to show he was okay, to show he had some constitution.

This happens often with the so called superhorses early at three, who suddenly and without fanfare drop off the face of the earth. Stallion ads are fudged up with comments about how good the horse could've been, or what speed figure they ran, once. Everyone remembers the last clunker.

With California Chrome it's a completely different story. Ten years from now - hell, ten minutes after the Pegasus World Cup - no one remembers the clunker. It's completely meaningless.

With sports figures, human or animal, we always move the goalposts. They always have to hurdle the next task, and if they don't, in some quarters they are less than advertised. Only the very best in a given sp…

Fractured Freemium & Optimal PP Pricing

Of late and for some time, data chatter and racing is a hot topic for a lot of folks in the sport. On twitter, and elsewhere, most of the chatter seems to drill down on the want, and wish for some sort of freemium model for basic PP's.
@EJXD2@o_crunk@railbird@Brisnet@TwinSpires pedigrees, PP's, race replays should all be free. Our business penny smart pound foolish. — Craig Bernick (@Craig_Bernick) January 25, 2017 For those who aren't up on the lingo, a freemium web-business model (and past performances are a web-based model now) is offering out a stripped down version of a product free, then converting free users to paid. This has been, and is, the dominant strategy for software because today's software can all be copied and shared; just like a PP file.

It makes some sense to do this in racing, on the surface. Offer a basic free PP, get people to bet, get people interested in racing, then they buy premium products. But, there's a difference in racing, because it&…

Underthinking the Pegasus

The Pegasus draw occurred yesterday and Arrogate drew the rail. California Chrome drew the 12. There were oooohs and awws for more than just the video evidence.
Pegasus draw - Wow... — Gene Kershner (@EquiSpace) January 23, 2017 Always looking on the bright side, perhaps kids who know and like angles will be attracted to learning to handicap.

Anyhoo, at GP over 9 furlongs, the outside posts are not very good at all. The last horse to win as a chalk at GP over 9 panels was Big Brown. He was pretty good. Post 12 at 9f is 2 for the last 41 at GP, via Crunk.

The Timeform US early pace projector looks like this:
1st look at the TimeformUS Pace Projector for the Pegasus. California Chrome alongside Noble Bird early, w/ Arrogate sitting just off them: — TimeformUS (@TimeformUS) January 24, 2017 And it suggests a fast pace, with Noble Bird, Chrome and possibly a blinkered Neolithic going very hard.

But, I don't know if this is just a…

Racing Concentrates on 0.61% Too Often, and It Holds The Sports' Growth Back

I see some folks chatting about Canterbury Park on the twitters lately, due to Bill's piece at the TDN. There's a good deal of talk that pricing changes "don't work", etc.

Most of the time, and this is no exception, much of this chatter, in my view, is worrisome. Worrisome because we miss the big picture, and don't recognize this is a symptom of a big racing problem.

Bill notes, "Canterbury officials reported that the takeout reduction cost them $318,909, a significant amount of money for a small track. ."

"$318,909" might sound like significant dollars, but it really isn't. Canterbury, through card rooms, beverage sales etc, did $52.3 million dollars in revenue last year.

The amount "lost" through the takeout reduction is a misnomer; a takeout rate change didn't cause fewer races, decimated field size, and the rain; nor does it ensure 2016 revenues would equal 2015 with no change. But even using that language the percen…

Up the Elevator Dictatorships Ain't All Bad. When it Comes to Horse Racing, at Least

I've been watching this whole Trump-Train (for 47%; for the other 53%, Trump Trainwreck may be more apt) a little the past few months. One of its characteristics, I must say, is pretty entertaining.

You've probably seen various CEO's head up that elevator of doom to meet with The Donald in his office in New York. When they come back down to meet the press - after getting threatened with a cancelled contract, or can of 35%-tariff-whoop-ass  - most of them look like a deer in the headlights. Soon after, we often hear they're lowering the contract price of some good they're selling the government, moving jobs back from some foreign country, or similar. Just last week when The Donald said something about prescription drug prices being too high for people, drug stocks immediately tanked, and we can mentally picture drug company CEO's scurrying for the nearest bottle of bourbon.

A lot of these dictator type actions don't sit well with a whole lot of people (for g…

2016 Blog Stats

I find posts about blog stats at year end a little self indulgent, but I'm bored at lunch right now, and was looking at something, so here we go.

For the dozen or so regular readers, perhaps you'll find them interesting.

In 2016, you visited from a lot of countries, but not surprisingly, the land of the free and home of the brave led the pack, with 71% of hits. Canada was second - as we often are to the US in everything except curling, and ice packed snow, where we kick your Yankee asses - at 18%. Australia - where harness racing is still pretty big - was 3rd at 4%.

I weeded out the well-publicized visits over Christmas from RUSSIA. There were a full 4,000 hits over the holidays from Moscow. Either a whole bunch of Russian people, drunk on vodka, huddled around wood stoves, wearing fur hats (that's all the stereotypes I can come up with), decided they loved horse racing and visited, or this was a coordinated attack by Vladimir Putin. I'm really not sure.

When it comes …

Racing's (Lack of) End User Understanding

Out of the hundreds of buzzwords the 2000's have brought us, one of them is surely "big data". Looking at trends, the actions of many, smoothed out with fancy software programs and analyzed in new ways has certainly helped in the understanding of people and markets.

But, when we constantly look big, we lose the opinions of the components that are small.

In the book Small Data, the author says, "Big Data is all about finding correlations, but Small Data is all about finding the causation, the reason why."

One of the ways he used small data was as simple as one could imagine. He put executives in the same position a company's (in this case a South American bank) customers are in on a daily basis.

That's using a Dr. Watson, in an IBM Watson world.

Horse racing's most valuable customers -- those who play daily, want to play daily, and want to keep racing a part of their life -- go through a lot to stay customers. But I am not sure anyone in power in the…

Racing's Betting Revenue Resurgence (If it Happens) Will Probably Be Forced

The headlines have been blaring -- Sears Bleeds Cash, Macy's Cuts Employees - and in retail this is nothing really new. Those not positioned properly are having a very tough time of it in today's world. They don't want to close, they are being forced to close. Incrementally losing market share never ends up very good in perfectly competitive markets.

Meanwhile over in the world of music, much of the talk about its death might be exaggerated. We as consumers used to purchased CD's for $3 a song, and when that cratered (and after pulling some teeth) the industry changed to a download model. That, once again, has changed.

You will find more statistics at Statista

That's an 80% growth in streaming in one year.

But the margins are bad, right? Yes, you and I can stream ten songs for peanuts, not pay $18.99 in 1991 dollars, but at this lower price point, and with modern technology available today, more people are consuming more music.

It is estimated that over 130 million…

Racing's Elephant in the Room - In One Chart

Supply and demand curves are about as dependable as a rusty hammer. Whether it be consumer behavior, factors of production, or the shift in capital, the curves work just fine for just about every free business.

Except, perhaps, when it comes to the horse racing business.

In the 2016 Australia Fact Book released today, we see one chart that tells an interesting, if not sordid, tale. (sorry for going all on you with the blog title, but it fit)

Ignoring the 2015/16 foal crop bar (this was pointed out to me to be wrong, it's about equal to 2014/15's number), we see no correlations, where there should be correlations.

Prize money has gone up almost precipitously. The demand for horseflesh, at the same time through foal crops, continues to fall. The number of races during this time period has remained relatively flat.

There's more gross money to race for - it's about doubled, or up 32% inflation adjustedsince 2001 - and there's more average purses to race for.  …