We Can Only Wager On What They Offer (& Sometimes It Kicks Your Style of Play in the Butt)

I was pinged today by Mike on the twitter website about a couple of bomb golfers he liked for this weekend's PGA. I replied offering two bombs I bet at huge odds - Scott Piercy and Pat Perez.

And that got me thinking.

Pat and Scott have, I think, sneaky good form, buttressed by a recent ability to go really low. But, when you think about it, are Scott and Pat likely major winners, qualitatively come Sunday? Absolutely not.

The mindset I have with this angle was borne from the tools I've always used to wager to scrape out some profit.

Playing Betfair from 2003 on, with their deep exchange where I could trade in real time, I didn't need a winner to make money. I needed overlooked bombs who can simply carry their play to the weekend. At that point, if I wished, I could start trading out and going green. It's not about winners, it's about betting a stable of players who are playing well that the public feels aren't potential winners.

That opens up a completely different gambling mindset. Without a tool like Betfair, I probably should not be playing Perez or Piercy outright. But it's a hard habit to break.

The lesson, however, for the growth of betting is not lost on me.

Match-ups, head to heads, group betting - a staple of the modern betting landscape - encourages more play as we see offshore each Derby season.

I might not love a horse in the Derby, but I sure like War of Will to beat Maximum Security (go cash!).

I love a certain pace scenario, and sure I'll bet supers because of it, but why not bet a closer over a front runner H2H to take advantage of it?

I certainly don't like Patch, but he's 100-1 in the markets, should make the Derby, so I'll play and I'll likely lay that off at 30-1 with an exchange right?

These are the exact same questions people have who bet other sports.

Garett Skiba, yesterday on Shapiro's Bet America podcast, noted a couple of head to heads he liked for the PGA this weekend. He didn't go through 10,000 data points or fancy math, he spoke of one factor he uses for head to heads, and it was very simple.

Answering these questions in horse racing does not take a massive learning curve, or a download of 1,000 different betting products, or microscoping a 20 horse field with 10,000 data points either. It just takes some gambling acumen, which, as we see with massive sports betting handles in Jersey and elsewhere of late, is not rocket science.

Churchill Downs - and others - have not embraced offering us this type of play and, in my view, they should be. You can't make a tent bigger if you don't pitch one.

In the end we all have our styles of play, but they key is, it's our style of play. It's troubling in this day and age that we may have to pivot from our styles because the powers that be won't offer us a chance to use them. That's on them.

Have a nice Wednesday everyone. I'm off to cancel my Piercy and Perez bets.

Racing Should Probably Ensure Nobody Wanders Off

Working Tuesdays in the high school and university summers as a kid was fun. Tuesday was mine tour day and instead of a 12 hour shift of bad things, I'd be getting paid hardhat wages to be a junior guide. My main job during the tours -  according to the salty underground mine vet leading them - was pretty simple:

"Make sure no one wanders off."

The 3,200 foot level was older, wider and fairly nice (as far as gold mines go) for tour goers, but there were a couple red flags. At one point there was a hole in the drift wall with only a few four by eights blocking it. On the other side was a 1,300 drop to the 4,500 level. Later, there was a down drift that I'm pretty sure led to China. My job was to follow the group and "make sure no one wanders off". That was probably sound advice.

Of late we've seen horse racing more and more under the microscope and it's been big news; especially big for a sport so dependent on the public and governments for its funding. And I don't think I'm telling tales out of school to note that the responses have not been optimal. Whether on social media, through press conferences, or with media contacts, it feels like the sport is flying around in a hundred directions. Everyone is wandering off.

This issue is a microcosm in a sport with disparate factions. There are a vast number of fiefdoms, and some of these factions see crisis as a Rahm Emanuelesque opportunity (lasix anyone?). Horsepeople and others have their own issue of the day when something happens.

It's left to track management to steer the ship through the waters, and not only are they different from place to place, how are they supposed to handle something like this well?

Michael Beychok noted, not long after the Santa Anita story broke, that his firm - a crisis management joint - was available to help. He was confused by much of the strategy.

I saw seasoned observers like Jessica Chapel speak of the unfocused (and sometimes unavailable) social media response during the same period, and she made some good points.

Michael and Jessica were both right, in my view.

If a crisis situation happens in Louisiana, or New York, or California or Kentucky, the sport needs a playbook; it needs to ensure nobody is wandering off. I believe the sport needs someone who knows crisis management to craft this strategy before its needed, not after. It must follow a social media response playbook, so an employee stops wondering if he or she should ever hit send.

I don't know who'd pay for it, or run it, or what umbrella it'd fall under; I certainly don't want this to be yet another "we need a central office" thing. But there's clearly a better way than what we've been witnessing. Someone out there should be able to make it happen. I'm sure Mike and Jessica are easy to find.

Have a nice Tuesday everyone.

5 Ways to Fix the Preakness

There's been a lot of hand wringing lately about the Preakness. People are worried about soft fields, trainers who need a small epoch to have their charges ready to run back, and other things.

Fortunately that's what I'm here for.

No, I'm not going to focus on moving the race out a week or two, that's first level stuff. You come here for deeper, heavy, high-brained thought and I'm going to deliver.

Here are my 5 ways we can bring the Preakness back to the glory it deserves.

1. Move the Race to Gulfstream - The Stronach Group owns both racetracks, so this is easy. Plus, it seems Gulfstream is so popular they needed to buy a western Gulfstream track so they can run even more $7,500 claimers.

The celebrities will be better in Florida with local residents like Tiger Woods, Donald Trump and the guy who overacted all his scenes on CSI Miami. All Baltimore has for famous residents, really, is Larry Collmus and he'll already be there.

Florida also has medication rules where you are pretty much encouraged to run on something, so there will be no bad press with positive tests. And they have a big ass statue of Pegasus, who is not really a horse, but most casual fans don't know that.

The time for change is now.

2. Major Suspensions for Kentucky Derby Winners Who Don't Come to Pimlico/Gulfstream - We all saw Country House this past weekend. His stirring stretch drive where he dug in to beat everyone except the winner was spine-tingling.

Bottom line - We want Country House - no we need Country House - in the gate at Gulfstream or Pimlico.

From now on, I propose that when a Derby winner (even a kinda winner) doesn't show up for leg two of the Crown, his or her trainer is suspended a month. And this is not one of those suspended a month where they were planning a family vacation, it's a real month. As well, paper trainers like Todd Fletcher or Dick Rutrow aren't accepted in their place.

3. Two words - Keg and Asus

4. Make the Races Easier to Handicap - I know what you're saying, "Keeneland has already done that", but let's unpack it a bit.

The races are on national TV, we're going for a new audience and we're selling our sport. For the love of Pete, take away the larger fields that are impossible to study, and all those complex bets no one can ever hope to figure out. We need fields with only a few possibles, racing roulette and some over/unders.

You know what they say, pole vaulting is hard, racing should not be.

5. Bring Back the Infield - One of the worst things the Preakness did was try and make the infield safer. I mean, seriously, these are kids who eat Tide Pods, they're not exactly doing calculus.

I'd go with cheaper booze and more urinals for them to jump. I'd go with $5 admission so they spend more on gambling and booze, just like we want them to. I'd even look at charging 50% juice on those infield machines. It's time to bring back the infield to its rightful glory.

Those are 5 very achievable, high brow ways to make the Preakness great again. I'm sure you have more ideas of your own, and if they're as good as mine, I'll post them here at a later time.

Have a nice Friday everyone.

The Reseller Betting Ecosystem

Reselling, affiliate selling, whatever you'd like to call it is alive and well in pretty much every free enterprise business. This was on display yesterday as Fox Sports inked a deal with an existing gambling company to provide a betting app under their huge name brand.
This, and other deals, are important to the underlying business - in this case, simply "sports betting" - because you have dozens and dozens of companies competing for the betting dollar. This means ads on Fox Sports' events and talk shows (targeted to specific states of course), TVG pushing the Fan Duel product, and your average every day online betting site pushing offers and enticements.

This is exactly what we've - and the wagering community - spoken about for a long time regarding the ADW space in racing as it has shrunk.

Crowding out ADW's have snuffed out advertising dollars, lower takeout and enticements.

Increasing signal fees or adding source market fees - something this sport loves to do - stops competition. And stops rebating for the small players (rest assured, the big players are okay!).

Other gambling companies know this, for the most part, and this system works as planned. It's one reason why they're winning customers, and racing continues to struggle.

Have a nice Thursday everyone.

If it was a #PetaDerby It was No Way to Do It

Andy Beyer in the Post today went through the machinations stews normally go through when deciding if they're going to place a horse back. It was a piece talking about what regulars know all too well, but for newer race-watchers, it was pure gold.

One section caught my eye, and it's been alluded to a few times the past week --

"What purpose was served by disqualifying the winner? If it was to make a statement about the importance of safety in race-riding......."

There's been no secret that the Santa Anita situation has had reverberations. In fact, PETA showed up at a CDI shareholders meeting recently and had an audience with the gambling giant. It seems, of late, jurisdictions - certainly publicly - are walking on eggshells about these horse and horse safety issues, and don't want to step in it.

What Beyer alludes - the stews making a call based on a statement about safety - is pure speculation. But there is some evidence it could be true. If it was, and there was a bias to change something that looked dangerous that wasn't there last year, or 144 other years, I think they sure went about it the wrong way.

A regular business, or sports league, in my view, would do something like this (and I know this seems obvious) -

On Tuesday, at a Q and A, the track and commission said "the Derby is a roughly run race, and we'll be keeping a closer eye on things this year"

On Friday, at the jocks meeting they told them, "careful out there, because we're watching for interference."

If something like that did occur, the DQ on Saturday would not even be a story. The Wests would've expected it, just like everyone else would've. There'd be a shrug.

I think it does resonate, because horse racing is often reactive, rather than proactive. I don't know if it's the lack of a central office, proper and good PR, or what. But it's always in the back of our minds when something like this happens. I don't think that changes anytime soon; confidence appears to me to be lower than ever right now.

Have a nice Tuesday everyone.

Change the Derby, the Crown. Sure, Be Nimble

On Saturday, Multiracewagers on twitter made a pretty neat point.

As we know, the Masters shocked us by moving up leader group tee times to 9:20 eastern, going off in threesomes, and throwing the entire tournament out of whack on a whim. This was to get the tournament in on Sunday for fans and players, in seamless fashion. The logistics of it must have been stout.

And this is supposed to be an event married to tradition, and everything else.

Meanwhile, the folks running the Derby saw the radar and shrugged.

Who knows, does Maximum Security get messed up if the track is fast which it would've been if they moved the race up?

Sloppy tracks, especially with twenty horses, can cause serious issues. We "love our horses" right?

Regardless, it wasn't even apparently discussed. Tradition, money, something.

Today we saw chatter (if you have these words blocked on twitter, I don't blame you) that the Triple Crown races should be changed.

In recent years, and again this year, with horses' connections talking about skipping the Preakness like it's a starter allowance at Canterbury, why not talk about it.

Moving back to old, traditional, never-change golf, the PGA Championship goes next week. The event, branded as "Glory's Last Shot" is held in August, and has been for a gazillion years...... until it wasn't. They moved the event up to have four golf majors on the calendar in four straight months. They think it will help the sport.

I love tradition. I'm all for tradition. But that doesn't mean we can't progress.

Running a Preakness when a full field of great horses can meet, moving a Derby from a 6:35 post time to 4:40 to ensure a better and safer race for fans, bettors and horsepeople, should not be simply be shrugged off.

Change, and being nimble is sometimes a good thing.

The Kentucky Stewards Have Some Splaining to Do

Hey, did you hear? There was a DQ in the Kentucky Derby...... of the winner. I feel like typing that again, because I am sure you were as shocked as I was.

In the vast history of the 145 year rough and tumble event - where you can find a foul probably four times a year if you look hard enough - there have been a grand total of five inquiries (not a typo). One was allowed (a fourth, placed fifth) and the rest were let stand, including a 1933 claim where the jockeys were trying to beat each other up down the lane.

Why has it always been like that?

I spoke with a newbie about it, where she asked "it was a foul right, so he had to come down?". I told her a simple story.

It's the last play of the Super Bowl, millions of dollars and glory are at stake; millions are watching on television. The Hail Mary occurs and the ball floats to the end zone.

I asked her, "is there pass interference?"

She said, "yes, really bad interference. It's laughable"

"And it's not called, because.... "

"They don't want to change the result."

In modern Thoroughbred racing, this occurs in a lot of big grade I races. My personal favorite was Goldikova in the '11 Mile, where she wiped out almost the entire field and was left up, but there are many, and I'm sure you have a favorite or two of your own. It's maddening because oftentimes it is dangerous, but they let the horses decide.

Much of this was covered in an excellent book called Scorecasting. It's just the way it is.

This year, the stewards, for some reason, decided to inject themselves into the outcome. And I, for one, am left wondering why.

Why did they do something they've never done for an in-race infraction, ever? That is, DQ a winner who was pretty clearly much the best?

Sports - with both participants and customers - is expectation.  We expect a mauling on Hail Marys, and we expect half the field to get mugged in the Kentucky Derby. When the officials call things differently, they enter the spotlight, and it's inevitable - they'll have a lot of explaining to do.

Have a nice Sunday everyone.

Pro Sports' Positioning is Never Unimportant & Racing is Learning that Lesson Now

Last night an NHL hockey game was being played, but a world-class diving competition broke out, when Stars' defencemen Esa Lindell dove not once, but three times in one span of play.

The memes on twitter were pretty hilarious, and hockey fans were none-too-impressed. One columnist wrote that Lindell should be suspended for his actions because this is worse for the sport than, say, a high stick, or boarding call.

That's not going to happen - especially since the Hockey Gods probably got him in the end when he fell rather easily on the game winning goal - but the writer doesn't make a bad point.

Jack Trout is a father of advertising, and his book Positioning is a long-time classic. In it, he describes how important it is to position your company or product in a consumers' mind. NHL hockey, like it or not, is positioned as a tough game in the consumers' mind, and it is their niche. It's always been that sport, and probably always will be. It's their position.

When a player turns into Flopsy McStagger, it eats away at that positioning. And that's no bueno from a marketing perspective. Make no mistake, the league 100% hated this event.

Racing, I feel, has this issue in droves. It's no secret that for years and years the safety of the horses was put on the backburner. No, it wasn't a plan, or wanted, and it was not condoned by the rank and file in the sport who truly love working with these majestic, wonderful animals, but it was reality. This sport was positioned as one which cared about purses, slots, government help, TV time, or a hundred other things.

This is why, when a PETA started making headlines, and racing (on social media especially) screamed "We love our horses, look!" it hasn't worked to move the needle one solitary inch. The sport is dealing from a position of weakness, because they never made horse welfare their position of strength.

In the coming years that will change. More and more we'll hear about safety and horse retirement and dozens of other pro-horse narratives because the public demands that in the modern world. Racing needs to position itself with that in mind and they don't need a Mckinsey to tell them what to do.

Fun With Masters Betting Probs, From the Olden Bear to Tiger

Last week Rob Pizzola did his yearly NHL playoff periscope, and one of the series he first looked at was Tampa-Columbus. He liked the dog; not because they were more likely to win, but because the odds were, he thought, too juicy on the dog.

After getting a few messages about how dumb he was to "like the dog" against the mighty Lightning, he simply said, 'if you don't understand I'm betting Columbus not because I think they're more likely to win, but because if I bet them 1,000 times I think I'd make money, you're on the wrong periscope.'

The dog is doing quite well, and could possibly be up 3-0 tonight. Even if they were losing 3-0, however, it was probably a good bet. Tampa was just way too big a favorite.

Liking someone, versus liking to bet someone, or some team, is always a bit of a mind-bender for the non-betting public.

Today, Tiger Woods won the Masters. The major media and casual fans are focusing on his win from a narrative perspective and that's understandable, but to bettors, this win isn't super-surprising.

Before the tournament started, Tiger had about a 3%, or 4% chance to win - it's a short field, he has course knowledge, and he's been playing well. Golfers each and every week win tournaments who start the week with a 3% chance; this is simply another of those. If you took under 25-1 on Woods, you probably made a bad bet, but congrats. It's nice to cash.

What was surprising to me, however - and I could not really get my head around it - was the Saturday night price on Tiger. His approximate +300 price felt just plain off.

But, when we think of it, we've seen this for a long time haven't we? For the last 40 Majors Tiger Woods' price has been off, and betting against him has been a cottage industry. He's always overbet (and he'll be even more overbet for next month's PGA at Bethpage).

Looking back, you know who else was overbet?

Jack Nicklaus, in what's considered the greatest Masters of all time in 1986 (I still vividly remember it; yep, I watched the Masters when I was in high school), came into the tournament with some calling him the "Olden Bear". He wasn't overly serious about golf any longer, and his first couple of rounds of 74 and 71 didn't make too many think. After shooting 69 on moving day, though, he was sitting in a tie for 9th, four shots off the lead. But it was with a stacked leaderboard that included Tom Kite, Greg Norman and Seve.

Before he started his round on Sunday, Jack's odds were, what, +800? +1000?

No, I've read he was offered out at +300. That number was worse than Tiger's - he was only a couple off, tied with Tony Finau who has never won anything of merit. It truly was a bizarre number.

We all know what happened. Jack shot 65, with a six under back nine to take home his 6th Jacket. The +333 folks were pure golden (Bear).

Over the years I've noticed a lot of bets like this in golf; bets that don't really make a lot of sense.

I remember one of my betting friends playing the Els Open way back when on Betfair. Ernie had a little two and a half foot curler to win, and there was tens of thousands offered out at 1.01. He took a pile of it and lost - Ernie made it - but that was a good bet. There's no way Ernie makes that 98 or 99% of the time.

Golf is a hell of a fun sport to bet, but it's a bet just like any bet - there's a probability of something happening, and a resulting price. When it comes to the stars of the sport - in 1986 or 2019 - I think there's still some meat on the bone.

Golf TV for Bettors has Aways to Go

For the non-betting public, we saw the probability angle bastardized in its own special way today.

Brooks Koepka was the only guy who could catch Tiger, and CBS stuck with a camera on Tiger putting on his lip balm on the 17 tee while Brooks was taking his approach. BK drilled it to around ten feet and probably had about a 10%-12% chance to be only one back (if Brooks could putt average, which as you all saw, wasn't the case this weekend). With 18 playing tough, the tournament was far from over. You'd never have known it watching the teevee. They were convinced the winner was settled. If golf TV wants to talk to the golf betting public, they have a ways to go. Maybe they need to hire a geeky analytics person.

Racing & Tech Investment, "There's No Money In It"

I'm, as I am most years, taking a little time off work to watch the Masters.

This tournament creates a lot of buzz in the golf world, and one of the more unique things about their brand is that they don't really look at short term revenue. Some examples of that include their non-maximized TV deals, and the Masters food prices that people talk so much about.

One thing they do that doesn't get enough attention, in my view, is their investment into tech. That's on display more than ever this year. They have created a virtual on-demand viewer experience.

On Masters.org I wanted to watch favorite Rory McIlroy, so I clicked his name. Up popped up his "TV channel" -

That's pretty neat, but even neater, if you mouse click the shot itself, up pops up video of the shot itself.

Now, they clearly don't have to do this. The 'proper' way would be to sell digital rights to Fox or CBS and let them do it, but they've taken it upon themselves to invest in the best golf experience they can muster. And this investment is made for four days a year. 

This new on-demand by player feature is but a small part of the overall digital brand, of course. As we know, we can watch almost everything, including live play before the television coverage, absolutely free.

Horse racing, on the other hand, doesn't think at all like this when it comes to data or tech in terms of solely building a brand. We see it with data, or tech investment, or freemium modeling; there's always a reason not to do something, rather than do something. And this sport races races almost 24/7, 365 days a year.

The Masters has grown like a weed in the sport of golf, and has become more and more noticed all around the world. Their investments today are made to ensure it never stops growing. So far it's been working.

Horse Racing's Common Sense Gene

We've seen a great deal of hand-wringing of late from people on the social media machine. Some of the critiques are fair, some surely unfair, but after Senator Dianne Feinstein's letter to the CHRB, imploring Santa Anita to not reopen this week, it's reached a fever pitch.

Leaving the reactions and solutions aside, I think much of the consternation, and real worry, stems from the fact that this business has never really known what it is. Is it a sport? Are horses livestock? Is it a gambling game? If horse racing had a leader, we could ask him or her for an opinion, but fat chance.

What I think has troubled me most about "horse racing" (and really, I don't even know what that term means), is that even with simple proclamations like horse safety or high takeout, there's never any direction.

Everyone wants horse safety right? Fake tracks were safer, at the very least, and we all know that; it's why they were brought in. What do we hear often about them when they are brought up, however? That they cause other injuries.

I can't remember where I read it, but in World War I they developed helmets for the first time. After they were introduced, something funny happened -- Medics were reporting a massive spike in head injuries. This occurred, of course, because soldiers received life-saving treatments because they did not die.

In some quarters in this sport, I fear this would be considered a bad thing, and they'd want the helmets banned.

We've read study after study, economist after economist, gambling expert after gambling expert say that horse racing's takeout is not optimal at these high rates. This is seemingly an immutable truth.

If so, why in the hell did the entire horse racing brain trust in California stand up and applaud at a CHRB meeting when it was raised in 2010? Why do other tracks follow them?

I am fairly agnostic about whips, but I do know one thing -- if they are banned, the sport will survive just fine. We'd put horses in a gate, and at the end of the race there will be a winner and several losers. If the price of a bet is right, people will bet, and that betting volume will not remotely correlated to how many welts the horse has on his behind.

In the infamous words of a gambler to Woodbine chief Dave Wilmott's question, "What if horse racing went away, you'd be betting on frogs, what would you do then?"

"Find the fastest frog."

There are factions who seem to deem a removal of a whip the death of the sport. but think about it; in 2019 with all the massive horse welfare and safety issues, an argument being made is that the industry needs to hit an animal more.

Those of us who love the sport can't do much. We're just pawns in the game. But it doesn't make it any less frustrating that whenever we raise our heads from the sales catalog pages, or the third at Gulfstream, we see such little common sense.

If this industry loves their animals, it has to prove it. If it believes takeout is too high, it has to do something about it.

When you do the opposite people are noticing now more than ever. And folks, that's not a good thing.

"Breaking Down" the Horse Racing Public

There's been a lot of chatter - rightfully so - about the Santa Anita issues. There are myriad topics to discuss, and it doesn't look like these conversations are going to end any time soon.

Last night I wondered just what, if anything, we're seeing overall with the headlines.

Using google trends, there's been a stout recent spike on searches for "horse deaths".  This should not be surprising. (note - I'll let these pictures go into the margin, which allows you to read them without clicking the picture).

When we look at the states and breakout searches, again it's not eye-opening. The horse racing epicenter is clearly paying attention.

If we scan the historical searches for Santa Anita Park, we do see at least something interesting; something that's standardized. News searches for "Santa Anita" -

Through Breeders' Cups, Triple Crown winners, stakes racing, and all the rest, the biggest news to come out of Santa Anita Park the last five years are the breakdowns.

But, what's this story in the grand scheme of things in terms of the general public? Maybe not as big as we think. Here's California Chrome versus Santa Anita searches, on the same graph and scale.

Make no mistake, this is a huge story (just search google news last night after the breakdown was reported). And the story has massive political risk to horse racing in California, and elsewhere. But, perhaps, the public is desensitized to issues like this, and those who are interested are more of the rubbernecker variety.

Have a nice Monday everyone.

Florida Derby Fun

Yesterday's Florida Derby card was a whopper, with almost $50 million pouring through the windows. I don't know what it is about the prep races, but they constantly amaze -- the Pegasus World Cup card, with lots of good racing, can't seem to hold much of a candle to some of them.

The two main stories - Maximum Security and Hidden Scroll - caused quite a reaction in horse racing land.

Sometimes I wonder the conversations trainers have with owners.

"Your colt doesn't seem like much, so we'll start him in a maiden $16k claimer."


Sure, Maximum Security strolled through pedestrian splits, but he did storm home like a decent horse should, and deserved the chocolates. Twitter was slightly impressed, but once again, the race's chatter was more about the trainer, than the horse. This fellow is a lightning rod, as most bazillion percent trainers are.

Adding a little conspiracy and fuel to the fire, Servis's interviews, prerace, about two of his charges (including Maximum Security) mysteriously seemed to disappear.

Frankly, I didn't have much of a problem with his comments about his Florida Derby entrant. He didn't know how his horse would do, and saw early pace in the race that might result in his charge laying just off it. That seems common sense. And, we have to remember, this is the trainer who debuted the Florida Derby winner in in a 16 claimer.

In terms of storyline, I find Hidden Scroll much more interesting. And I think it exhibits the worst characteristic of Derby season - namely, sometimes odd things occur when there's a bouquet of roses at the end of the very abbreviated road.

Yesterday, Hidden Scroll's team used a $1M race to try and teach him to rate. I feel like typing that again, because it sounds so bizarre to me. We all saw his Fountain of Youth where he was mercilessly run at by a 140,000-1 shot, and he needed to for seasoning, yes, but in a prep race trying to get Derby points?

I like Hidden Scroll. I think he has a giant motor, but rushing him to make a Derby with a fragile mind doesn't seem optimal to me. Knowing full well I am judging this without "walking a mile in another's shoes" because I've never had a Derby type horse, it still feels creepy to me. When the Derby is involved, people, in my view, do some strange things with their horses; things they'd otherwise not do.

Hidden Scroll was terrible yesterday - he was all done after 7/8's - so he wasn't winning even if they used his speed like they should have, in my view. And in the grand scheme of things where Derby horses get chewed every year, it might just be another example of the Derby's Medusa. But with this talented guy, I hope he's given some time to get his head on straight and is allowed to become a racehorse on his own terms.

That's my 2 cents...... typed with full realization that's probably all it's worth.

Have a nice Sunday everyone.

Complaints About ADW Splits Miss One Big Thing

When a business or industry is losing revenue, I often find there's a pretty huge blame game that goes on; especially in the age of disruption of traditional business models. Many times these can miss the mark. When something changes there is some pain involved, and that pain is usually not solved. You can never really go back.

Today, Apple announced a new initiative called "Apple News +". One of the features of the offering (it includes magazines and the L.A. Times as well) is a subscription to the Wall Street Journal.

"It [partnering with a tech company] will enable us to get our journalism in front of millions of people who have never paid for journalism before." said WSJ's publisher.

There is risk - the WSJ monthly subscription, of which they have 1.7 million subscribers, goes for $39 a month. The Apple deal is nowhere near that - it's $9.99 a month for a host of publishers - so the potential revenue cut is real. Also, rumor has it that Apple will retain 50% of the revenue, as a reseller.

The WSJ believes the value lies in broadening the tent in readership, so they have a chance at a vibrant future, in an ever-changing landscape. This has been a tough week for journalism, but it's pretty good news that in response to the new partner, the WSJ has hired fifty new editors and writers.

When we compare their strategy to racing's in the age of ADW's it's pretty much a 180.

ADW's don't take near 50% of the revenue to put your races in front of their customers, but we often hear how they're pirates, and the model is broken. Every fiber of the industry wants more of a cut. It's a constant complaint.

We often hear about racetracks not selling their signals to ADW's because they want these existing customers for themselves.

We hear about racetrack ADW's being better for the sport, because there is an off-chance more revenue will come from existing customers.

We hear about cannibalization of existing customers when or if someone wants to offer a new service.

Notice the difference?

The Wall Street Journal is talking about getting their product in front of "millions of new people" in a quest for growth, and is willing to partner and take less of a share as risk. All racing seems to be  worried about is existing customers (I used that adjective three times above), and that they get too little of the pie.

There's a difference between the current state of racing and publishing, that's certain. However, the broad point I believe is strong. When you are trying to expand a tent in the new gambling and technological age, you won't do it efficiently by yourself. If you try to do it alone, everyone is left fighting for the same customer, and your product, your R&D and offering struggles.

Asking for 50% of a falling revenue number every year still results in falling revenue. It's especially a problem when you have no real hope of growing.

Have a nice evening folks.

Internal Horse Racing Data & Industry Metrics .... Pffft

There was a neat article today on Marketing Dive, talking about big companies and their new approach to consumer data in a rapidly changing consumer landscape.

"Speakers admitted that solving these problems will not be a quick-hit fix, but instead done over time and through deeper collaboration, both internally and across the industry. For a category that's notoriously competitive and protective of its first-party data, that could take some serious adjustments." Rather than be protective, give everyone in the organization all the data," she <Mars Wrigley's VP> said. "It's all content without context — which is what we provide. Connecting the dots is the power."

In effect, across many mediums and products, the industry (and specific companies) themselves must be nimble with consumer insights data. One way Pepsi is going about this, is by empowering its employees, as well as academics and others, to be able to access data.

"In a few weeks, PepsiCo will roll out a new insights and content communication suite. "Historically, we try to solve problems ourselves and we think our problems are unique," Warner said, echoing Gansle. Pepsi has spent time talking to thought leaders, including CPG marketers, academics, experts, people from start-ups and technology solutions, pooling resources in an open source way. "We're all trying to solve same thing," Warner said. "Being totally secretive is not going to work."

This interests me in a racing context, because the industry is "totally secretive". When I want global racing data in North America, I often email o_crunk. And sadly, when the industry wants global data, they do that too. Sometimes he even has enough data to answer their questions, somehow.

I don't expect Churchill or Magna to share betting behavior data, even if it meant a stronger more prosperous industry; they are who they are. But in an industry that so often copies each other - jackpot bets anyone - it might be a good idea.

Have a nice Tuesday everyone.

Horse Racing's Action Bias Is Not Healthy

Action bias is a powerful thing, especially in an outrage biased world. When something happens, it's still very much preferred to be doing something, rather than calmly examining the facts at hand, and, formulating a plan; a plan that could easily involve doing nothing at all.

In behavioral economics I thought this was best explained through soccer goalkeepers. It's been proven that the action that gives goalies the best chance to stop a penalty shot is by standing directly in the middle and doing, well, nothing. This doesn't happen, and if it did, the goalie would likely be looking for a new job after his or her first loss. "I can't believe he just stood there, he has to go!" So much for following math.

In horse racing this is so very prevalent.

When people call for lasix to be banned, it, in my view, has plenty of action bias. When's the last time in the response to a crisis have you heard, "let's have a look at this and come up with a smart phase-out plan for lasix over five or ten years, and reexamine the results for efficacy and business interests." That doesn't make cable news.

In 1920, 1940, 1965, 1970, 1990 and 2010 when horse racing had takeout hikes to make more immediate money (and in some cases appease money-hungry governments), it represented the ultimate action bias. Have you ever heard anyone put a multi-year, multi-jurisdictional pricing plan together to examine efficacy? The flip side is even worse when it comes to using numbers and data and patience - just ask Canterbury Park.

Even synthetic tracks, which science has been very kind to in terms of their reduction of fatal breakdowns, was a mess. Dead horses in California made for "immediate action" of ripping out every track and replacing it with poly or pro-ride. Then, after complaints, many of which had more action bias than a political speech from a total wacko, they ripped 'em up again. Nice use of science, folks. Gold stars.

The very odd time racing looks at things long-term, there tends to be some good done more often than not. Take for example NTRA accreditation and the EID database. Your average, every day action bias guy or gal doesn't think much of them, but the data they've allowed for, and the PR (at times) is pretty darn effective. If your track is not a part of it, why the hell not?

One of horse racing's biggest issues is that they're married to the status quo, and this doesn't bring about change. This is valid. However, an often overlooked criticism is that when they actually do do something it's filled with action bias. I think this might be as important as the former.

Have a nice Monday folks.

Questions Abound (Well, for me Anyway) for Santa Anita and TSG

During this whole troubling spectacle - summarized and updated, story by story here by Jessica Chapel - I've had a devil of a time figuring out a lot of things. Leaving aside jokes about my lack of brain power please, here are some basic kind of questions that you may or may not be able to answer.

I've heard over and over again from people in power that "The Track is Safe!". This has been trumpeted a lot the past while, and it may well be true.

The experts like Mick Peterson are in charge, and they tell us its "safe". What I'd like to ask them is, what do you mean by safe? Is it that there are no glaring problems; no holes, base issues, slabs or otherwise bad material causing noticeable issues; is that the meaning of safe?

What I'd like to know, for instance, is if the just noticeable difference is wide as a chasm or pinpoint. Meaning, if Santa Anita dirt is a historical 2.51 deaths per thousand, would the experts, and their instruments know if it's now a 4.22 per 1000 or a 5.02 per thousand (doubly less safe) racetrack? No one has asked, that I have seen.

Speaking of fewer people asking questions, I'd like to know what happened to Jeremy Balan. It's none of my business what private businesses do with private employees, and this is not a reality show, but the now-apparently-unemployed recent Eclipse winner is gone. I can't help but wonder why, and if the reason is something that all of us who like the sport should find troubling, or not.

I'd like to know how in Heaven's name PETA quotes made it into a press release from a huge racetrack. I sure hope it wasn't, "I'll put your name in it and you'll never bug us again right?" I find this confusing, and am pretty perplexed.

I'd like to know why the horse racing media haven't asked why these big spikes in dirt breakdowns never seem to happen on artificial surfaces.

I'd like know if there's a causal relationship between breakdowns and lasix use. If not, this new policy kind of feels like asking your plumber to perform your appendectomy.

If the track is safe as reported, and all's well with the new protocols (like the ones NYRA initiated years ago that seemed to work well), why wouldn't Santa Anita and TSG just wait this out? The randomness should die down, and hopefully all would be well.

Anyhow, those are my dumb questions. If you want to keep following the story, Jessica's micro-site is a pretty good resource.

Have a nice weekend everyone.

Horse Racing's Tasty Steak....... With No Sizzle

Yesterday a few of us were chatting about the Racing Ideas report on Equibase, and data. It's ground a lot of people have covered before, but I thought the paper was well written, and interesting.

In the end, the "ask" on 'racing' is generally like it is with a lot of other things. Raise some money for innovation, invest, and hope it expands the game.

Racing, in its current state, makes this a hard sell. There's might be some steak, but there's no sizzle.

I remember back when I was 27 or so. I was working in the small cap space in Toronto, and the street was pretty dead; heavy industry wasn't doing anything, the economy was a bit soft, and I wasn't making too much scratch.

One day the phone rang and it was an entrepreneurial dude I'd done some work for (who, coincidentally, hit it big a decade or so later, and he put some of it into a string at Woodbine). He was getting into bed with a company that created some new technology for fleet management. He asked if I'd help them raise money. I'd get paid a half warrant (that may or - more likely - may not be exercised in a year or two), and I wasn't exactly flush so I jumped at it.

The company was pretty neat, and this was a new, new thing, so I thought it (Zenin Industrial, I think was the original name) would be a fairly easy sell. The .com stuff was kind of happening, as well.

It wasn't. Crickets. "There's PTP, let's run!"

Maybe six months later we tried again, but this time it was different. They changed their name to "Zenin.com" and the stock was up to around $1. They priced the flow-through at around $1.15.

"Oh, it's a .com? Let me have a look at this!" was the usual response. No one ran when they saw me. We raised something like $4M in three weeks.

The stock did fairly well for awhile, and it was up to about $2, so they were going for another round. They were producing more and more product and it was a good product, but it wasn't a .com, it was more about wireless. And at this time, the buzz in the markets was all about "wireless". They changed the name again to (if memory serves me) Zenin Dispatch Wireless.com.

This turned out to be sizzle on steroids. The stock got great buzz and boom just like that, the financing went. After a few years the stock hit $28. Like most bubble stocks in those days it came back to earth, and someone - it might've been Motorola - bought them.

I'll always remember that episode.

Meanwhile, sports betting, and sports betting data has its Zenin Wireless.com sizzle going on right now. Just yesterday I saw the VP of the PGA Tour talking about having shotlink data integrated into overseas betting markets by 2020. There's a good chance that for next year's British Open, you will be sitting in a pub in England and betting via your phone what quadrant of the green the next player will hit; how long this player will hit his drive; you'll get +2700 that he hits his next ball in the water.

There's buzz for the sport, mostly via data. There's some blue sky. Private and sports league partnership is nascent, but electric.

There has been no similar story with horse racing, and frankly, there should've been. Its .com was its monopoly on internet wagering. Its big data age was equibase. Do you remember any excitement? I don't.

As we've spoken about before, Derby Wars did something pretty neat in this DFS world - in fact, they modeled themselves after FanDuel before most even heard about FanDuel. All it took was a little success and the U.S.S, Magna flooded the torpedo bays and fired.

When the Thoroughbred Idea folks ask for racing's data company to change, or for it to take a chance, we're not dealing in the same lexicon as other businesses. There's pretty good steak - it's a great betting game, it's data driven and smart, with myriad possibilities - but the sports infrastructure makes it a non-starter for a lot of people, and companies. Racing is Zenin Industrial.

For them, and others who seek change, my two cents is simple - pilot projects, testing and incremental change is probably the way forward. It's just the way the business is.

Have a nice Wednesday everyone.

Groundhog Day

Crunk's tweet last night started the firestorm, and when he made his way into work today, his mentions were tantamount to Trump's.
His tweet references the track problems at Santa Anita this year in terms of equine deaths. They've been having a rough run - death up, field size on the dirt down, and handle is too.

Funny enough, back around 2006, Santa Anita was complaining about five horse dirt fields and high breakdown rates. So they tried the poly.

 In 2019, several years after ripping it out, they're complaining about the same thing again.

Every day is Groundhog Day in horse racing.

Horse racing is a particularly different beast. In business, or in sports which move with some alacrity on issues, a problem is presented, the problem is addressed in some way. Then its given time to work or not work.

In horse racing, the problem is presented, then it's argued about. Even if the problem is corrected, there's a mysterious pull from the Groundhog to entrench back into what was. And it's rarely given time to show what it can or can't do.

Horse racing - ten years ago and today - have the same set of problems.

I'm coming to the rescue with my magic ball. This magic ball can fix these issues:

There are too few foals, so to increase handle, and the return on investment for owners, we need more starts per horse. I can help.

It costs $40k to $50k for a track to cancel a card because of weather (not to mention the cost to owners and horsepeople), so with my magic ball no cards are cancelled.

If it rains, the turf horses can still race. Cancelling a turf race is mucho dinero lost. Even at Woodbine, where both surfaces can be used, it costs 10% standardized to field size.

I'll cut the breakdown rate in half. This seems pretty amazing; if I was someone who cut the infant mortality rate in half I'd get the Nobel Prize.

We need handle right, and our customers complain these five horse fields aren't bettable (they are right). My magic ball increases field size, so we'll have more money for purses.

My magic ball can deliver all that, and it will result in more betting, more horse owners, less bad press from people wanting to shut the sport down, and more horses will live. It could mean hundreds of millions of dollars extra per year.

The kicker - This can be fixed, but we have to race on cottage cheese. In 40 years, the lineage of a Derby winner will not be Mr. Prospector but Flintshire (he's proficient on cottage cheese). And Beyers will be lower, because the cottage cheese isn't as fast. There will, of course, be bumps along the way - it'll take some money, and at least ten years to perfect.

Still game?

I didn't think so.

Even if someone showed this would happen, without question, as a poll question on the Bacon Report wouldn't the result be about a 50/50 tie?

I'm not saying horse racing should jump at every new thing, or change for the sake of change. And don't conflate my argument above was about polytrack as a panacea (it wasn't).

But, bluntly, sometimes the sport really needs to get its head out of its ass. It certainly can't stay the same and thrive, and arguably, it can't stay the same and survive.

Have a great Tuesday everyone.

Cheat...... if you Know How

In Everybody Lies - an interesting look at big data in the Internet age - the author shares a data study from one of his mentors who looked at reams of IRS data.

The study examined at how much single, self-employed people with one child claimed on their taxes and found that the most popular earnings number was $9,000. It just so happens that $9,000 is the point where the claimant gets the biggest refund. When examining audits, almost all these returns earned less or more than $9,000; some wildly so.

Although that's interesting in itself perhaps, the study looked at the data a little more deeply.

The researchers subset these $9k claims and found there was some serious variance between locales. In Philly, for example, 2% triggered a positive, Miami, 30%. When they ran this data for demographics, income and other factors, two things stuck out. First, the higher the incidence of self employed people in an area, the much higher the likelihood $9k (exactly) would be claimed. Second, the more tax professionals in the area, the higher the incidence of the $9k number.

They conclude if you had i) knowledge and ii) friends, or professionals nearby to spread that knowledge to you, you were likely to know the magic number; the best number to cheat at. The authors contend it wasn't really about wanting to cheat, or being bad people. It was an effect of what marketers call "contagion".

This helps, I think, explain cheating in horse racing. If there are a lot of guys and gals pushing the envelope at your favorite track (we won't name names), it might not be by chance. It might be because knowledge of how to cheat is more readily available. It might be because (some) vets - like tax professionals - are there to spread knowledge of what they can do for you.

For regulators, this probably helps explain why it's smart for them to concentrate on certain tracks, barns and vets. If they stop one, the contagion spreads in reverse, and they end up stopping many.

Have a nice Wednesday everyone.

Cub Reporter - Big Changes are Coming to the Post Drag

There are a few things fans and bettors seem to agree on - handle needs to go up, Steve Asmussen should not have cut his hair, Churchill is the Death Star, and post drags suck. Mention the words "post" and drag" and it's sure to elicit a reaction.

I got an email this morning from Cub Reporter. He asked me to keep it quiet, and said if I told anyone he'd never give me another scoop. But I know he's lying, I and can't help myself.

Anyhow, it appears things are going the other way.

"I got wind of a secret meeting with some of the biggest of big wigs," he told me. "I redacted some of it, but I have the transcript here."


White haired guy: "OK, all in favor, yes, let's crush Kentucky Downs. Now to item 7, the new post drag policy. Jim, go."

Jim: "Here's the new policy directive. We've worked out the logistics, and we're going to go with a 7 race card for 2019's meet. What's unique about this is that we're going to race 7 races over 7 days. We're calling it MOAPD - the Mother of all Post Drags."

Progressive guy with only some white hair: "This makes no sense Jim. What about the on-track crowd? What about the horse people?"

Jim : "No one comes to the track anymore. And we have good purses. Look, post dragging is good, why not try the ultimate post drag?"

[Bunch of guys talking "Good point, that's why we pay him, makes sense, etc"]

Jim: Here's how it will work. We'll hang zero minutes to post around 4PM, and keep it there for 24 hours. People will tune in at 4:02, bet money, thinking it's almost post time, then someone tunes in at 4:15 and does the same thing. It'll be like that for 24 full hours. Handle will explode.

"I've also been in contact with TVG. That Candice gal works the overnight. She'll be talking about the race at 0 minutes to post all night long. Cha Ching!"

"Plus, we get the overseas markets to bet. Some people watching won't even be speaking english. We can really fool them with this post drag.

White haired guy four: "I'm MAGA, but even I get the overseas stuff. Great work Jim"

White haired guy nine: "Doesn't TVG show erectile dysfunction commercials at night? They can't be for this."

Jim: "I told them we'd pull all our signals and their handle would be sleeping with the fishes."

White haired guy six : "Brilliant"

White haired guy eleven : "Won't the bettors get bored?"

Jim: "We're serving up five horse fields, they're already bored."

White haired guy: "Will other tracks follow suit when our handle explodes?"

Jim: "Yes, but we'll be first to do it, and we can make an extra few short term bucks before it all comes crashing down in a hellish inferno. "

Board members in unison: "We're all in favor, make it happen Jim"


My bad satire aside, Gabe Prewitt has an excellent thread on twitter and I encourage everyone to read his feed and mentions.

It truly is a Dr. Who, Gene Roddenberry space time continuum thing. The more you hang the more money you make. If you don't hang, you can get crushed. And to fix it will require a lot of cooperation; something the sport clearly does not have.

Have a great day everyone.

Cub Reporter - The Horse Racing Deep State Tries to Sink the Beemie Awards

"It all started with a tweet last night", said Cub Reporter via email this morning.
This signal, notes Cub, caught his eye, and when the floodgates opened, he knew he had a story.

You've all seen the new BuzzfeedRacing's headline blared across your computer screens.

"Report: Beem Caught With Golden Showers, Young Woman, Food at Secret Beemie After Party"

"That was fake news," notes the gumshoe reporter. "I contacted Beem, and he told me that after the Beemie Awards he went to Golden Corral with Carly Kay Kaiser and ate at the buffet. He even sent pictures. The roast beef looks delicious."

Since that time evidence is piling up.

Mark - Sham I am Not on twitter - helps with the ceremony:

"I woke up this morning and logged on twitter and saw my name was changed to 'Sham I Am'.  I emailed twitter support and they sent an email back. It turns out my name was changed by a hacker. All I have is a partial email address of the would-be infiltrator - a**xwaldr*p@NT*A.com."

"I'm on it", said Sham I Am Not.

Those who enjoyed the Beemie Awards are starting to report some very odd things.

Candice Curtis found a Breyer horse's head in her bed.

"It scared me," she said.

Sid Fernando got mailed five copies of The Art of the Deal, by Donald Trump's ghostwriter.

"Someone is sending a message," he told Cub.

Greg Reinhart received five rejection letters from potential horse racing employers.

"I usually get five a week, not five a day," the Cowboys fan said via email of the ominous anomaly.

"Maybe that's why I didn't win Best Twitter Fight again this year," said former minor league baseball star Andy Asaro.

Yesterday, the Beemie Awards trended on twitter, which is not news, it usually does. But that it trended at exactly the same time as Baby Hitler did spark the ire of some.

"This is a deep state technique..... linking your name with a guy who is really bad. Those anti-Trump libs are transparent and easy to figure out, unlike say me", said Fox host Sean Hannity, who googled "Deep State" last night, saw this piece, missed the point entirely, but wanted to have his voice heard.

Even the Pull the Pocket Blog is noticing unusual activity. Usually half the traffic comes from Russian bots, but today it's up to three quarters. Of course, this is good for business because of all the advertising revenue, but it's nonetheless worrisome.

"It appears - and the evidence continues to come in - that horse racing wants the Beemie Awards shut down", cautions Cub. "First it was that scrappy little site who posted race results, next it was Derby Wars, next it was Kentucky Derby Futures. Now, it's clear - The Deep Horse Racing State is coming for the Beemies."

The LPGA Invests in..... Gambling

Life tends to come at you pretty fast in this day and age.

Commissioner Mike Whan of the Ladies Professional Golf tour announced they're looking at investing in a shot tracking system, because gambling could be something that will help his tour.

A shot-tracking system and database would help the LPGA control the information used in a variety of prop bets unique to golf. “If we can get our heads around this we have a chance to bring a whole new audience to our tour, both in the states and around the world,” Whan said.

Also of interest - betting in Asia. As most who follow the tour know, many of its best players come from golf-mad South Korea, Hong Kong, Singapore and China, and sports betting from that part of the world is enormous.

Mr, Whan, as the article notes, is also preparing his players for the eventuality of sports betting, so they know about the ins and outs, and integrity matters.

This is a theme you'll notice quite often of late - a league or sport preparing for, or investing in, sports gambling. As well, we've seen takeovers, mergers, and positioning by existing online gambling sites, and bricks and mortar casinos, to lay the groundwork to hopefully succeed.

We've asked for a couple of years, and many have asked several times since -- what has racing done to prepare itself for sports gambling? What, as Mike Whan said, have they done to try and "bring in a whole new audience"?

Other than positioning themselves to get a slice of a sports betting pie by inviting a competitor on their premises, it appears not much.

If sports betting does explode over the next decade, and in tandem we see racing handles fall, I think it'll be once again because of racing's very apparent Achilles heel - its lack of vision.

Why Horse Racing Can Never Go Blue Sky

I saw a tweet from Craig Bernick the other day.
We've seen comments like this for a long while now - those of you who remember the late Cary Fotias may recall his thoughts that "racing should be doing $80B in handle" with their internet quasi-monopoly back around 10 years ago. And I totally agree. Horse racing has the infrastructure, the regulatory edge, and the technology to make that happen; or at least approach making that happen.

What it doesn't have - and what it appears it may never have - is the ability to do look past its own intransigence to do it. That's been apparent for many years, and we are reminded of it often, like yesterday.

A report stated, "CDI objection stops DraftKings' Derby futures in Mississippi" and made its way around the interweb.

An objection from Churchill Downs Inc. led DraftKings to take down its Kentucky Derby futures Saturday morning, only three days after they were posted at the Scarlet Pearl Casino in D’Iberville, Miss., a source told VSiN. The source, who is a handicapper and horse owner, said Monday morning that CDI cited legal precedent as its basis to demand a stop to the betting.

This, if true, would not surprise anyone. Like the LAPD (I watched Adam 12 when I was a kid), it's there to serve and protect, and protect it does. 

But what in this case are they protecting?

The Derby Futures wager - a pari-mutuel creation - did $1.89 million in handle last year.  It's a pittance (about 0.8%) to the $225.7 million wagered on Derby Day alone. 

If it's scrapped completely, maybe CDI loses the probable $100k or less revenue (not profit), and that's what they're concerned with. But what about the upside? What if you're Craig Bernick and want the Derby card to do a billion in handle in ten years?

For that you'd need partners, and bettors with money on account being able to access the Derby wager everywhere, and resellers reselling the product. You'd need these entities to promote for you, to encourage bettors to not only bet a future pool, but to bet a whole day because they bet a future pool. You need the wager to be on platforms everywhere, both online and brick and mortar. You'd want these wagers to be part of the fabric of a society, not just in the backwoods, via an ADW. 

You'd, well, want a DraftKings. 

It's fun to flame CDI - they're low hanging fruit for fodder - but it's not just them. This industry has had this mindset for years. 

Betfair wanted to partner with racing back in '03; racing called them "pirates" in return. This was ironic because back in 2009, when I presented on a panel at a gaming summit with one of the founders of Betfair, racetracks were surrounding him with questions after the session, wondering what great sorcery they were committing to have gained all these customers and market power. 

That was one instance, but - Derby Wars, check, fixed odds, check, worried about a roulette wager at 8% juice hurting some other pool, check, a dozen other examples, check. This has gone on forever. 

So, when people ask why racing's (very few) successes involve only the margins, like a 2% here or there, or a Derby Day doing $200 million instead of $180 million five years ago, I always answer the same way:  The sport sabotages itself so the blue sky can never happen. It's the way it was, is, and (unless something changes) appears will be the way it always will be. 

My Eclipse Award Ballot

I thought I’d share with you all my Eclipse Award Ballot.

Who am I kidding, Vladimr Putin has a better chance of getting an Eclipse Ballot. Hell, I don’t even know all the categories.

But since I see everyone voting and I feel left out, here are my votes for the various categories I think are categories.

Jason Beem
King of All Horse Racing Media Award

The nominees: Shades, Hoosier Buddy, Jason Beem

My Vote: Jason Beem. The man writes books, has a podcast and does that goofy awards show thing. On the side he is the voice (for two weeks or so) of Gulfstream Park West at Calder Racetrack. Hands down, easy winner.

Best Marketing Crew

The nominees: NYRA, the people who put their pick 4 tickets up on TVG, Garett Skiba and Inside the Pylons (the duo who market the Jockey 7 bet)

My Vote: ITP and Skiba. They’re so good, when I forget to take a jockey 7 bet, I sit and stare aimlessly and without hope, wondering what kind of terrible man I’ve become.

Top Two Year Old

The nominees: A Baffert horse, A horse soon to be moved to Baffert, Instagrand

My Vote: Instagrand. When the owner said he wasn’t going to race in the Juvy, everyone on social media lost their mind. That horse had serious power.

The Mattress Mack ‘What Track Gave the Most Back to Bettors Award’

The nominees:

Top Older Male

The nominees: Accelerate, a bunch of other horses who raced Accelerate that no one has ever heard of

My Vote: Accelerate. His stretch battles with horses no one has ever heard of were epic.

Top Older Female

I marked Zenyatta, just like I do every year, to piss off Carly Kaiser.

Bettor of the Year

It's gotta be Sea Bass, because holy crap he looks the part.

Top Horse Racing Blog (maximum 8 posts since June)

I voted for myself.

The “Will the Roulette Wager Catch On” Award

I voted no.

And the big one, Horse of the Year.

The nominees: Justify, Accelerate

I struggled with this one. Then I thought of it, like I often do, with pure logic and reason.

For years – many years -  I heard how tough it was to win a Triple Crown. I remember how that sage and wise Wilford Brimley looking fellow talked about how it was impossible, like trying to kill James Bond. I think back to the many people wanting to add time between the races because horses bred to run could not run in such a short period of time (even though we watch Winx do it regularly).

Plus, Apollo. I mean, that’s a curse way worse than when the voodoo people on the other side of the island made a doll that turned Gilligan into a crazed lunatic.

Short answer: I totally buy into this narrative.

So, I said to myself, “Pocket, there was that guy who climbed Mount Everest, and when he hit the summit, he drank a pint of vodka. Then he headed back down, and when he reached the bottom he said ‘no one has done this twice in one day’ so he went back up. He summited, with ease, then when he was on the way down he saved a half dozen mountain climbers from sure death. When the amazing climber reached the bottom, people – people who gathered when they heard of this heroic feat - threw flowers, and hundreds of Sherpas gave him a standing ovation because they never saw or heard of anything like this in their cultural history.”

And then, at the year end mountain climber ball, he comes second in the voting for Mountain Climber of the Year.

I can’t let that happen. Not on my watch. Not with this fake Eclipse Award ballot. I voted for Justify.

Enjoy the Eclipse Awards everyone. If you’re going, the price is $425 for a ticket, or for you horseplayers, that’s $200 win place and a $25 jockey 7 bet.

No One Knows What Sports Betting is Going to Look Like, But it Ain't Going Anywhere

I was digging through some old electronics recently and came across my  Slingbox . For those who don't know, a Slingbox attached to your...