Monday, January 17, 2011

401k's for Horses? Harness Twitter Peeps & Lightbulbs

You know sometime when you hear an interesting idea and say "why didn't I think of that?" Reading the interview of one of our blog friends here - Caroline Betts - that moment came for me. She runs the So Cal Thoroughbred Rescue and when asked if she had something she could do for retired horses what would it be, she replied:

I think my “nirvana” is for all industry stakeholders – state and local governments, owners, breeders, trainers, private owners of racetracks, and fans/gamblers – to agree that a 401K should exist for every thoroughbred racehorse prospect, with the funds contributed by all and centrally managed and dispersed. How large should it be per horse? Just large enough to ensure that if that horse cannot or can no longer race or breed, there is a reputable, approved non-profit specializing in the retirement and/or transitioning of racehorses that is willing to take it in at the time of the horse’s retirement.

That is amazingly interesting, and seemingly workable, as she explains. I wonder though: Will young colts be going after old mares for their 401k's?

Caroline is also packing a Phd in economics and answers some questions on juice. When asked if the optimal takeout for horse racing is lower, higher or accurate, she notes:

Almost all studies of own price/takeout elasticity show that demand is “elastic” at the takeout rates prevailing in the samples studied; i.e. that takeout rates were above the optimal rate and that revenue could be increased by reducing them usually by a substantial margin.

I know what you are saying "Pull, that is like saying hitting yourself in the head with a crock pot hurts!" But we're a bunch of dumb bettors, so it is good to hear someone fancy tell us that we all aren't bat crap crazy.

Check the interview out for that, and the really cool pic of her and Zenyatta.

How many Santa Anita execs does it take to change a light bulb? I am guessing a lot, because they all seem to be spending their time arguing about their handle. Jessica analyzes.

It's Horse of the Year day! Zenyatta, or Blame? Please discuss elsewhere :). I am going to be glad when that is over. We have at least three years before her first foal is criticized for his slow maiden fig.

Benny Beam is back. The twitter feed for Benny was silent of late, but he was back this evening to bet some racing, make fun of Tom Brady, and cuss. There are not too many harness players on twitter - if twitter depended on harness players for their revenue stream, they would be IPO'ong for like six bucks - but he is one. After twinkying a winner tonight, he said (edited, since this blog is read by tons of five and six year olds):

how the f*** dont i have a million followers
6 hours ago Favorite Retweet Reply

Benny tends to be a little off color, so follow at your own risk (but he is an astute industry observer and bettor). I personally think he might get to a million followers, however. For you harness peeps, there are a few folks to follow who don't swear and stuff: @GregReinhart, who says he is the most "hated poster on" (not true, he likes to think so) and @OBvern, who is one-third of my stable, and a sharp player. Our other part of the stable is a professional gambler, and he does not tweet, but he is handy to have around when Vern and I are broke and the horses bills are piling up.

Speaking of pro players, I don't think I linked the most-excellent interview with Mike Maloney here. Mike is a fantastic player and a great guy. Anyone see 60 Minutes tonight about Billy Walter? That's what Mike is talking about in that portion of the interview.

Yonkers is going to 1 1/16th mile races. It probably won't make a difference in a speed laden game, but it's worth a try.

Enjoy your Eclipse Award day everyone!


Teresa Genaro said...

Carol Nyren, owner of Dry Martini, set up a "retirement fund" for him about a year ago; she contributes regularly to Old Friends, and a percentage of Dry Martini's earnings go there as well, so that when he's retired there, his stay will be paid for.

The Jockey Club provides the opportunity for breeders to donate each time that the register a foal, amounts that begin at $25. That money is divided between Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation and Thoroughbred Charities of America. In 2009, $52,000 was raised that way; the Jockey Club itself contributed $200,000.

And at NYRA tracks, jockeys can opt into a program in which they donate $1 for each mount to the TRF. In 2009, more than two dozen jockeys participated.

It's not quite what Ms. Betts proposes, but at least it's a start.

Anonymous said...

Hi-I tweet about harness racing too, among other things. @skizzerbelle

Caroline said...

Teresa - thank you for your comment. I do think that of all equine industries, the thoroughbred racing industry does more for its retiring horses than any other (although racehorses are typically at peculiarly high risk, also). I'm aware of the programs that you mention, as well as CARMA in California and I think a couple of other track specific contributory programs nationwide, but had not heard the wonderful story of Dry Martini and Carol Nyren. Thanks for sharing that. It's that type of planning ahead that I'd like to see encouraged - and far ahead, since there are many horses bred and born each year that never even make it to the races. "Retirement" at some point is perfectly predictable for every foal, and since the few estimates we do have from former US slaughter plants suggest that approximately 15,000+ thoroughbreds are slaughtered every year - of all ages - it seems as though something large scale and more uniform is needed.

There is nothing worse than having to say no to taking in a retired horse because the organization simply cannot guarantee that there are funds to support the horse. But all/the vast majority of organizations do have to say no on a regular and sometimes daily basis. Pretty depressing stuff, but as you point out - there are some bright spots.

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