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Showing posts from June, 2018

Be Like Mike - PED Use in Racing is About the Least Surprising Part of it

Mike let fly on the twitter today --
I will never understand people who aren’t at least mildly wary of PED use in racing. After Ben Johnson, Bonds, McGwire, Clemens, Lance & the Sochi Olympics you still think what we are seeing is normal? And that’s dismissing the 7 sudden deaths. — Mike Adams (@GateToWire) June 20, 2018 Mike often talks about the past (and sometimes current) use of illegal drugs on horses in the sport. He gets worked up why some people believe everyone is as pure as the driven snow and would not risk performance enhancing for financial gain, while in other sports it's common.

Leaving aside any specific trainers, past or present, in the broadest sense, I think he makes a very good talking point.

In Scorecasting, the authors studied drug use in baseball from various angles. Although they concluded there are many reasons for using drugs in the sport, one stuck out - opportunity cost. If the player had little recourse in his life, he was more likely to use banne…

Horse Racing Attendance Facts,..... or Myths?

Monmouth was humming on Father's Day with attendance up over 5,000 from last year.  The prevailing reason given - and it makes sense since the lineups were long - was the introduction of sports betting.

With all those people with stuffed wallets looking to wager, it's supposed to be a good thing for horse racing (an on-track handle did have a little bump). But, overall handle was down over 28% per entry. 

Meanwhile, over at Churchill, Triple Crown winner Justify was paraded on Saturday. And it was reported the attendance - 21,053 - was through the roof to see him. However, on the same evening last year, the attendance was 20,669.

20,000 people at a hockey game is good. 20,000 people in the Arkansas Derby infield are a different kettle of fish. Their net worth is not from $100 seats; it comes from what they wager, and they don't wager much.

The 500 extra people (let's be generous and say it was 2,000) to see a Triple Crown winner at Churchill Saturday are, sadly, not wo…

Protectionism Doesn't Work in Horse Racing Either

Flipping on to twitter in this day and age and you'll see classical liberal economists up in arms about protectionism. It's not like they don't have a point; wealth is created when we do what we're best at. It's not 1930 anymore.

It's more than that, however, because protectionism breeds more protectionism, and this exacerbates the issue time and time again.

We saw some evidence of this just today, in horse racing.

Woodbine's Clay Horner wrote the following on Facebook:


This new protectionist race is in response to Donald Trump being a protectionist. 
But hold it, Donald Trump was complaining about Quebec farmers who are protected through a supply management subsidy and are allowed to charge Canadian consumers 270% more for milk and dairy products. (This despite a "free trade" agreement).
So, and such is the case with protectionist policies, we have a bit of a puzzle. 
Canadian farmers have protection, so someone outside the country complains and …

Restoring Hope & Discounting

The controversy (if you want to call it that) about the race riding in the Belmont has entered the mainstream press. This, unlike the 2016 Sword Dancer, happened with more mainstream coverage, so the industry finds itself having to talk about it. But make no mistake, they don't want to talk about it.

I have no strong opinion on the Belmont. Sure, maybe the horse was a blocker, but maybe he wasn't. It's not something we have not seen 1,000 times before, if he was. And the public knows that, because they believe - and its been ingrained to them in popular culture since forever - that in horse racing, funny stuff happens.

Although our left brain suggests to us that this presents a barrier to growth  - and it likely does - it's just the way it is. The public discounts this stuff for the most part. 
Flipping over to another situation:
I was just realizing what kind of repercussions this could have in a world in which the NBA is directly involved in sports betting in the US.…

This One Small Ruling Explains Why Betting "Integrity Fees" Are a Mugs Game

OMG! A trainer bet her own horse (hat tip to Peter) --
BONGIORNO, JENNIFER L MANALAPAN, NJ YOB 1990 Fhld on 11/18/2017 FINED: $350 IMPROPER BET Ms. Bongiorno placed 3 wagers to win on horses thet were trained by her.Nov. 18, ’18, $2.01 was wagered to MOONLIGHT RANSOM in the 4th race at Freehold Raceway. Jan. 12, ’18, $10.04 was wagered on ALGEBRA in the 2nd race at Freehold Raceway. Feb. 3, ’18, $10.01 was wagered on at Freehold Raceway. Although these wagers were made in compliance with N.J.A.C 13:71-2.4, the wagers were placed through Betfairs Exchange wagering platform. N.J.A.C 13:74c-4.10(C) prohibits trainers from wagering through the exchange on races in which they have horses competing. For the first violation, Ms. Bongiorno received a formal Warning. As a result of the second violation Ms. Bongiorno received a fine of $100. As a result of the third violation, Ms. Bongiorno received a fine of $250. Now, Jenn isn't exactly a master criminal, unless you think her betting $10 o…

Betfair, Gural - Smoke Em if You Got Em

Gural and Betfair pulled the trigger on a deal today where Betfair will provide infrastructure and know how for offering sports betting at both Tioga and the Big M. This comes on the heels of the NJ government voting unanimously to legalize this form of wagering at casinos and racetracks.

I suspect Tioga will take some time (sports betting is not passed in NY yet) but the Meadowlands should be up and running fairly soon, I would guess. And that's clearly the big prize. Its proximity to NYC has always been an edge - in fact, that was the edge that made slots so wanted for so many years.

How well this does or doesn't do is beyond me offering a logically strong guess, but I think it does have potential. Along with the previous geographical first mover advantage:

i) I had some dealings with Betfair (before the merger) and it struck me that their strength was in their technologies. They were always a tech company ahead of a betting company. That expertise is an asset, because betti…

Post Drags & Problematic Opportunities

Dave Briggs wrote an extensive piece about post dragging today. Dave, always a good interviewer, got various execs to open up about the practice, and it's well worth the read.

After reading it, Tom LaMarra on the twitter said, "it tells me there is no desire to fix the problem."

When I read it, I had a similar thought, but when I thought about it even more, they weren't talking about post dragging as a problem, but an opportunity.  This, I believe, happens more often than we like to think in horse racing.

Post drags, not a problem. It's not a problem that with them, scheduling races systematically and for maximum reach is virtually impossible; that an industry shares revenue from all bettors, so shuffling them around doesn't grow the pie, it splits it up differently; that it angers customers. It's 'we can make a little more handle than that track if we keep our clock on zero for forever.' Opportunity abounds!

This is nothing new. Takeout hikes in …