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Showing posts from April, 2018

Churchill Downs Inc Denies Local Nun Derby Access

Just when you thought it could not get any worse.

"I don't know what happened," says Sister Martha, of St. Patrick's Church in west Louisville. "They just called and said I would not be able to attend the Derby this year."

Sister Martha, as most know, shows up at the Derby each year, selling roses on behalf of the under-privileged children of Greater Louisville. Although she usually raised only $20 or $30, this tradition dates back over 70 years.


"I've been doing this since I was 25. I never had a problem before," she said. "I saw that nice Secretariat man got in trouble that one year, and I saw the news on the Brad Cummings Report that the lovely young and talented Caton Bredar had her credentials revoked, but I didn't think it could happen to me."

Sister Martha says she feels most upset for the children.

"They've done nothing wrong. It's sad," she said.

A Churchill spokesman, on condition of anonymity said alt…

Racing's Power Brokers & the Uncanny Valley

The "Uncanny Valley" was a concept first coined in the early 1970's by a Japanese robot maker.

He noticed that when robots are clearly robots, they're embraced by the public, as cute or neat, or interesting. As the robot becomes closer and closer to lifelike, however, it reaches a point where it becomes repulsive.

This reaction was noticed (and talked about in Newton's Football) when the producers of Shrek focused group different types of animation to children. While the kids laughed happily while shown type after type of animation, one iteration caused them to instantly change the smiles to literal screams. That iteration was so lifelike it was considered so creepy it scared them. The producers immediately scrapped that version, went to the older one, never wavered by pushing the envelope too far, and made a pile of money.

This uncanny valley - the point where we become too uncomfortable with something - is seen in other mediums as well.

Back in 1905, Teddy Roo…

Are Judges & Stews Biased For the Big Barns & the Chalk?

Good morning everyone.

Tobias Moskowitz is a Yale professor, and he's looked at some interesting data about bias in pro sports officiating.

In general, he's concluded that there is a bias towards primarily the home team, but also for other teams when they're the team that's expected to win, or a subtle bias for a team that a league might want to win a game.

One famous way this was illustrated was in major league baseball. Historically, for the home team, strikes and balls were called differently at crunch time. The home team had an edge, both hitting and pitching, and this subtle difference resulted in an extra 7.3 runs per season. This might not sound like much, but home teams outscore visitors by about 10.5 runs per season. In effect, he concludes about 70% of the home field advantage can be explained by the home plate umpire's bias.

Technology changed a lot of this of course, although it proved a supposition at the same time. Questec - the ball and strike technol…

Give Bettors the Goods, Monday Notes

Good day everyone!

"Walk a mile in someone's shoes." It's sound advice. When you do, you have a respect for what they do, how they think, and your understanding about an assorted issue tends to grow.

In race 7 tonight at Woodbine/Mohawk, there's a horse with a 5-2 morning line that looks pretty good. But he's been off since March 8th.

Unlike the thoroughbreds, where a six week break is modelable and a horse may have listed workouts to make an informed opinion, in harness you're completely in the dark.

Because these horses need to race frequently to stay in form, this horse is a total coin flip. He could be 50-1 fair odds, or he could be 5-2. There's no trainer data. No one publicly knows. Even the track handicapper said "It's a guess."

This is the last leg of a pick 4, which will garner about $50 of $60,000 of handle. Casual players might say they'll spread to be safe, but at 25% juice they're getting their heads handed to them. …

No Matter What You Hear, or What the Sports Leagues Profess - Gambling Has Always Been Perfectly Acceptable

I think, with lotteries, slots, and Vegas, we can concede gambling is pretty mainstream. But for some reason when we talk about sports betting it is anything but. There's still - even though it will likely be legalized soon - a stigma that surrounds it. Hell, if you listen to some of the sports leagues, it's like the world will end.

That, in my view, simply is not reality, and never has been reality.

Let me share a little story.

Back in the 70's, my cousin Doug couldn't find work in Southern Ontario where he lived, so he came up north and landed a job at the mines. Needing a place to stay, he lived with us.

Doug worked in the ball mill and it was not exactly mentally stimulating, so he had a lot of time to think. He had bet some sports with a bookie in his town, and decided he should try something along those same lines to try and make a little scratch.

Doug thought that rather than offering single games with large bet sizes where he'd be chasing people all day to …

Derby Prep Mental Gymnastics, Driving to Win, Handle Questions

Good Monday everyone.

Two Derby preps were run this weekend, the biggest one of the bunch in terms of interest, at Santa Anita, with buzz horse Justify proving his mettle in California, beating the very talented Bolt d'Oro quite handily.

I was most interested to note that when Bolt was asked, he couldn't even get to the Justify tail. I really think he didn't want much to do with that horse.

It was an interesting race to analyze, and twitterites seemed to be going through the usual machinations that surround each and every Derby prep.

Was the final number good? It appears to be. 

Was Bolt d'Oro bouncing some off his last taxing effort, where the trainer noted he was dead tired, and he didn't show his best fastball? Maybe.

Was the margin back to third and fourth enough to say those two, who are considered Derby major Derby contenders, ran a formful race? Probably, although maybe you could reasonably think they should have opened a bit more daylight.

I think it's …

Notes, Usability & Access (of Derby Pools) & Pari-Mutuel Reality

Good day everyone.

There's been a lot of chatter about sports betting of late. The if's, how's and why's of it in terms of horse racing were waxed upon here.

Knowing that horse racing (any gambling game) has two or more sets of customers, the article looks at how the seasoned professional types (like Charlie) will respond to sports betting at racetracks, or ADW's. For the more casual but extremely dedicated player, a snapshot of a poll on Paceadvantage.com provided a look into that side of the game.

While larger players like Charlie could massively pivot into legal sports wagering, smaller players who love racing tend to be more mixed (50% won't play sports, 50% will play at least some). I think this confirms what most of us would believe.

As always, it depends on the juice, availability etc, and from what we've seen from governments in North America in the past with gambling, a positive business environment for customers is in no way assured. It remains a …