Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Wednesday Notes; TOC, Baconater, Demo's & Dreaming

Happy Wednesday everyone!

A rather scathing review of Pegram and the TOC's influence on California racing today:

"Baffert and Pegram have been the inspiration of bobblehead dolls for racetrack give-away promotions but it’s the bettors who are shaking their heads at the duo’s defiant denials that TOC policies support rather than deter dwindling handle, field sizes, and interest in racing.

Is the dominance of the TOC, which effectively prevents California racetracks from pricing their own product, combined with Pegram’s influence, good for racing in California? Or is it merely the bottom-line component of his success as a horse owner?"

Is the influence of a handful people good for a sport? Not really I guess. The IHA ensures these boards have to be appeased when any change occurs, so it is what it is. Sadly, many have veto power - not backed with a business case, or in arbitration - they can just say no because they want to say no.


Baconclassic has been on fire lately on the integrity angle. The Paulick Report did an in-depth story yesterday on Jane Cibelli's troubles at Tampa Bay Downs, delving into who is doing what about it in the Sunshine state.  Second on the chooch was the DRF. As Paulick's success, web traffic and revenues grow, his website gains more influence and he seems bent on being a dogged reporter, and letting everyone know where he stands on some of these prickly issues. I don't know anyone else in racing that would've done the Will Rogers Downs video report.


I had an excellent chat via email yesterday with a few, digging into the "20% of ADW patrons are female", number. Thorotrends, who is a social scientist, is always into this kind of stuff, and others who know a bit about it from a hard numbers perspective felt compelled to reply.

I was sent some numbers from a smaller ADW who said he doubted the 20% number because "only about 7%" of his customers were female. As well, I heard from an offshore marketer and former acquaintance who said with sports betting they'd "kill for that female demo".

Using some numbers from one of Dan's Thorotrends survey's below, we can see (this is unscientific, but he did get many responses from dedicated female race followers) that female players in racing seem to be more casual than their male counterparts, as witnessed by the first two choices.

When we think about it, this unscientific yet well done survey, does fit with the smaller ADW's numbers versus the large one. Casual players or weekend warriors - male or female - do not, in large part patronize a rebating ADW; they are more enticed to play with a Twinspires (for something like free past performances). If casual to serious players are graphed, it would be a downward sloping curve. Correlated to it, would be ADW type. With the female demo being more heavily weighted, and more likely to patronize larger ADW's rather than smaller ones, it tends to fit.

In the end, that makes me feel comfortable with the 20% number (a case can be made it may even be higher than 20%), at that large ADW. And it also allows me to be comfortable with the much lower number at rebaters, or at offshore websites. That data - and a little bit of common sense - probably indicates Dan and a couple of others in the business were likely correct being skeptical of the 20% number overall, when talking about dedicated online bettors. But if we segment what ADW's cater to whom, it makes perfect sense.

I often poke some fun of large ADW's like Twinspires for "giving away toasters", but it is mostly a prod. They segment their base (and dynamically price) like any good business should: They offer a gateway to play racing, and give as incentives free PP's and other handicapping tools, as well as a damn near perfect video interface. For their larger players, they try and funnel them into their own rebating platform. I don't have a quarrel with this. What I do have a quarrel with, is that giving players - male or female, new or old, casual or weekend warrior - a funnel to lower pricing, will help handles. I think that is where larger ADW's fail.


Back to racing, I see that Thorograph (h/t to Ed Derosa) has given Dreaming of Julia "the best figure any horse has ever run".

This number, and her performance has stumped me, and many others. It's made looking at the running time for the Florida Derby very impractical and dumbfounding. It's the quintessential "sore thumb". It's almost like she caught a flyer and was running like a scared cat, which can happen from time to time with monster figs. 

Or maybe it isn't. Maybe she did run the best number ever. We'll find out in a month and beyond, but honestly this is one where I will believe it when I see it. How do you feel about it? 


Sid and Joe, in different places.
We've been having some fun here on the Pocket Blog that Joe Drape and Sid Fernando are secretly two peas in a pod, simpatico, joined at the hip, Gopher and Issac. Our crack staff thinks that some of their twitter dust ups are for show, to keep people off their trail, a smokescreen. We've surmised they meet weekly to discuss horse racing, over drinks in Park Slope; with no evidence. However, maybe there is more to it than just the ruminations of a slightly insane blogger with no journalism background (or skill) whatsoever.

Yesterday on twitter, Joe Drape mentioned he was not cheering for Vyjack. Today on At the Races with Steve Byk, Sid trumpeted his warnings about Vyjack's stamina. Different reasons, yes, but the same horse, near the same day.

Coincidence, maybe. But to both Sid and Joe: Cub reporter is watching. Very closely. 

To listen to Sid's full half hour interview on pedigree the archive should be up soon. To contact Drape, look for him on twitter. He's the dude someone in racing is probably yelling at.

Have an excellent day everyone.


Anonymous said...

I'm saving this post for when DOJ makes us say 'Rachael who?"

kyle said...

I have a phrase I use for final time figures that are earned while running a series of moderate fractions. I call them "hollow." Dreaming of Julia's figure isn't quite hollow, but she did not run any particularly fast fractions. She went the third quarter in about 23.4, but that was off a tepid half of about 47.2. Her 4th quarter was about 24.3 and her final eighth 12.4. Those are ok, but nothing spectacular. Her performance wasn't a mirage, but her final time fig way overrates it.

Anonymous said...

The TOC has absolutely zero business acumen for running the industry in California. Almost every new decision they make drives more and more customers out of the state. These guys with their hands on the wagering/takeout menu is like a monkey with a machine gun.

Pull the Pocket said...

Sharp comment Kyle.


Anonymous said...

Maybe the TOC can raise the takeout again to 30% and they can get a CHRB/TOC standing ovation as they did the last time. As Baffet/Pegram have said, why pay attention to the customers, they have no skin in the game.

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