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Racing's Circling of the Wagons

Recently, figure maker (and someone you no doubt know if you're a horseplayer) Craig Milkowski shared some information on timing, as he has done many times before. And just like many times before, the tracks (and their minions) circled the wagons.
Here's someone who cares about accurate timing (like the tracks do, I imagine), shares when he sees mistakes, or missteps that he encounters as a figure maker (like the tracks would want him to, I imagine), and when he does, he gets told to keep quiet.

If he posts about it again, he'll get tweeted to or commented on like he is somehow the enemy. Which is wild, because the only thing he is the enemy of is bad times; something you'd think the whole industry is against.

If this were an isolated case, like for example there is a Federation of Timers who get offended when one of their own steps out and hammer him for it, then that's fine I guess. The tracks, customers, everyone else who wants customers (and trainers) to have accurate timing of races would have his back.

But it's not. This happens so often, so many times in horse racing, it's pathological.

Take the recent (and very good) work by the NTRA for tax withholding. The change in rules will do two things, at the very least, i) increase customers' bankrolls which will increase handles and make them happier customers, ii) signal to other gamblers, or those that left the game, that there's more edge in betting horse racing, and maybe it can grow the tent, and the game.

Justifiably, the entire industry rejoiced.  I'd see email after email, press release after press release and tweet after tweet - from executives, alphabets and insider after insider - happy that customers bankrolls will increase and it may entice more people to play racing.

Flipping over to Keeneland. They, as you know, recently raised takeout to pretty stout levels. For crying out loud their exacta rake is higher than Parx's. This has the opposite effect of the tax changes, of course - customers' bankrolls fall, and people who left the game because they found it unbeatable stay away from it, and they tell their friends who might be thinking about coming back it's still no bueno.

The entire industry who just rejoiced, immediately changes their tune. They circle the wagons. People who are for the thing they just rejoiced about, are suddenly the enemy.

Maybe it makes some sense (I don't think it does, but a case can be made) that they're all Keeneland employees, carrying water for the boss. But it's not - employees and insiders from other tracks are standing up for them; they're cheering for them to succeed.

That, in my view, definitely makes no sense. This track is squeezing more bankrolls from their track's customer (there's only one customer) so he or she has less money to bet their places of business. In addition, the customer base is annoyed, and the data and experts (many who racing has paid to study this) has shown, and will show, a portion of these bettors will leave forever. It harms, as Pete Denk said, the entire ecosystem. They should be as annoyed as the rest of us.

It's been said by hundreds of people before me, and it will be said by hundreds of people after - this business is unlike any business in the world. Everyone agrees the sky is blue, until they check who is saying so. Then, well, the wagons are circled and despite us all seeing the same thing, we're told it's raining.

Have a really nice weekend everyone.


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