Saturday, April 30, 2016

PTP's Bathing Index ® Derby Handicapping Angles - This is Much Better than Dosage

Good day racing fans!

It's one week until the Derby, where drunk people, rich people, sororities at almost every University, and others get together to watch, wager, take molly, drink juleps, wear hats, have parking issues, and partake in the annual Kentucky horse racing tradition.

I have scanned the big websites, read almost all social media and was very surprised that there are not a lot of people giving their thoughts on this year's Run for the Roses. It's like no one has an opinion! So in my never ending search for traffic, I decided to pop up a handicapping post. I think this post will help both new fans and old salty handicappers land on a winner.

As most know, physicality is important for handicapping (Leadbetter, et al). A lesser known angle is watching how a horse reacts while getting soapy water thrown on him. As long time handicapper Jessica notes, it can be a key to unlocking Derby betting fortune.


Let's begin with our control group, Kentucky Derby winner Orb.

 This picture shows just how powerful a handicapping angle this is. Is that a horse or a fish? Notice the head down, like Orb is ready to run. Take a look at the lead, it's not taut, it's loose; "be free boy!". Orb is saying "more bath, more bath please, human handler." This is a standout look. And this is why he won the Kentucky Derby.

Now we'll move on to this year's field.

* Update* Creator.

This folks, is H2O-glorious. Check out the tongue; we've got plenty of activity. All we see is a horse who is loving every minute of it. Creator is so calm he could've played the War Horse in the movie The War Horse. He spends weekends at farmer's markets sniffing handmade soaps, his favorite band is Aqua. I've run out of metaphors. This colt is the real deal.

A big hat tip for this bath shot (for video please click here) from Paul Miles and Kansas City TV and web lady DeAnn.

Next, we have an update for Wednesday, that seems like a Twitter-meme of some sort with the millennial type twitter people, of which I am not. 

I think this classic, strapping looking young man is truly Japan's Lani. If so, this horse has created quite the stir. He apparently works different, bucks some, throws his head around, and people in America don't like that. As for his love of the bath, frankly, I give him some solid marks. There's really not much consternation here, and other than the obvious - there's no way she can wash the top of his head, so come Derby Day it may be dirty - it's not a big deal. Ikimasu Lani, Ikimasu!

This shot worries me. The body language of the Breeders' Cup Juvenile champion is saying, to me, he'd like to be somewhere else, like sleeping under a tree, or hanging out in the paddock. Maybe he read everyone in the racing press say that he can win fast at 9 furlongs, but an extra 220 yards will cause him to stop like he was hit by a fat man in a wheel barrow. Maybe the influence of his second dam (who was cranky when bathed) is coming into play. Who knows, really, (we may never know) but the love of the bath is not there for me.

Well ain't this a cracker. Mo Tom = Mo Bath. Ears up, tongue out and suds falling off his back like he's a duck. After Mo Tom's career is over he could be a greeter at an aquarium. Can you say live longshot?

There are a lot of scary things about the Kentucky Derby -- big crowds, high takeout, Todd Pletcher's record -- but the biggest, scariest red flag for me, is when your horse needs to be bribed with peppermints to take a bath. I'll reevaluate this colt later in the week to see if he's progressed to taking a bath because he wants to take a bath, but right now we're concerned.

This picture throws me off a bit because it's in black and white and kind of artsy. But all I see is a lack of confidence. It's like the water is a scary foreign object, the soap kryptonite. Maybe he's deep in thought wondering why they named him with a Mo, when he is not a son of Uncle Mo, which confuses everyone. Maybe he's sad about his last performance. Perhaps he read Marcus Hersh tweets saying he doesn't like him and he's wondering "what did I ever do to Hersh?". I don't know, but it's worrisome.

Ladies and gentlemen, here is your Derby favorite! We've got camera people taking pictures, a dude at Exaggerator's flank, and another guy with a bucket under his shoulder. Normally this would make a horse spook faster than a set of blinkers on Palace Malice. Not this horse. Not this Derby. Take a look at the way the suds roll off his shiny barrel. Take a look at the relaxed tail, the ears. Exaggerator looks like he was born to bathe. And for the Derby, born to bathe means born to run.

At the present time I am looking at an Exaggerator-Mo Tom perfecta, and I will use some closers for third. After seeing Creator this morning, I will add him, and make the above a three horse box.

I hope everyone enjoyed today's handicapping post. May the horse be with you.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The Inside Scoop Behind CDI Snagging the 2018 Breeders' Cup

As most of you know by now, the 2018 Breeders' Cup will be held at Churchill Downs in Louisville, KY.

What you may not know is the inside story of how it came about. For that, we have our intrepid Cub Reporter ® who had unprecedented access to the proceedings. "Cub" has, via email, sent me most of the scuttlebutt, with the disclaimer that it's just between us. So, I'll change some words around and write about it below.

Artist rendering of an unknown CDI executive
As we may expect, for CDI to consider the Breeders' Cup, several changes had to be made to revenue models, and at times, the negotiation was relentless. Further, new revenue streams had to be established, so the CDI machine could show record profits.

Some details that you will read about here and here only (until some of them are released to the public):

Takeout: "The Breeders Cup share of takeout is already set in stone, but there's no one stopping us from upping our share", says my source (who for anonymity I will simply call "Churchill McChurchillface"). "Penn tracks can charge 30% and they're doing super, so we will be looking at those rates," he continued.

"There was a movement for 100% takeout on some exotics by some executives, but that was snuffed out because one of the team said (and I think he's right), with 100% takeout we'd have no prices to show on our big screen".

Licensing Fees: Today, CDI is filing a patent on the color purple, when said color is used at racetracks, or anywhere in America, that brown animals of any type run in a circle with a pari-mutuel outcome.

"This will allow us to charge a licensing fee of 3% on anything sold with the color purple at Churchill Downs, during BC week", said McChurchillface.

"Right now the legal team is looking into if we could take 3% of the purse, because the saddlecloths for the races are purple. This will add more revenue," said my source.

No Coats: Security (although Churchill says they will publicize this beforehand so no one is caught off guard) will be confiscating all coats upon entry.

"You see, the temperature in October can get cold. With the new no coats policy people will have to buy one - a purple one - to stay warm. The only place the heat will be on will be in the Mansion,", my source said. "And to get into the Mansion you have to show your tax returns with many zeroes. The average fan must buy a jacket."

Cost Cutting/Ads: "We have to do some cost-cutting if this is to be a success," said the source. "Travis Stone will be paid nothing this year. We feel the free publicity he gets could land him a job - Buffalo Raceway, Fair Meadows Tulsa, Marquis Downs - anywhere, so we're doing him a favor. This is like a pension, or employee benefit."

The "big screen" will show ads, from just about anywhere.

"Calder threw up some risque ads of the ladies, remember? So, since they broke ground, anything goes, as long as it comes with Benjamins", said McChurchillface. "We will even take a Keeneland or Kentucky Downs ad."

Television Production: People may, like usual, tune in to NBC and expect some big names on the docket. In 2018, CDI is going all digital, and doing a little cost cutting.

"We're going to broadcast the races in standard definition, and in between races we're just going to be showing pictures from instagram and twitter. We might have a guest or two on Skype" said the source.

"No one will miss one horse bath, so don't worry. It will be all tastefully done".

One potential problem for some, however, is they will need a Twinspires account to see any of it, free, relays my source. And, at the present time you may have to bet at least $1,500 in the calendar week before to be eligible.

"If not, it will likely be $109.99", said Churchill McChurchillface.

Appearance Fees for Celebrities Will be Toned Down: If there's something we like about the Breeders' Cup, it's the celebs - Richie Sambora playing guitar, Broadway musicians, Tom Brady (if suspended and having nothing to do that weekend). In 2018, expect none of it.

"We'll tone it down a little," said McChurchillface.

"The National Anthem might be played by a Nickelback cover band, The Best is Yet to Come might be sung by the winner of a local talent competition. Between race interviews will probably be of Montell Williams, Urkel, ex-Paulick Report founder Brad Cummings, Ernie from Ghostbusters, or maybe some old retired boxers," says my source.

"That kind of stuff".

That's all we have right now. We'll keep our ears to the ground here at the PTP blog. Cub Reporter ® will be working his or her sources. When we hear more, you will hear more. We're here to serve.

Enjoy your Monday everyone.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Myth and Reality About Takeout

Canterbury Park announced a huge takeout decrease this morning. The Minnesota oval has been using an alternative gaming deal to primarily support purses and marketing, but this year has sunk some (potential opportunity cost) cash into the customer.
"Canterbury Park has long strived to be the most horsemen-friendly track in the country," said vice president of racing operations Eric Halstrom. "Now, we want to be the most horseplayer-friendly racetrack in America. With the growth in the quality of our racing program we, with the support of our horsemen, are taking the next step and making our races the most profitable wagering opportunity. By changing our takeout to the lowest in the United States, we're giving horseplayers worldwide great value and drawing attention to what is sure to be the finest racing season in Minnesota history."
Clearly, gold stars all around to Canterbury. They have been pushing their on-track marketing and become highly successful in that vein, and are now branching towards building that on-track betting base, and giving a jolt to the signal in the simulcast market.

Let's face it, if all tracks used their alternative gaming in this way the last 20 years, I think we all agree the sport - from the fan, the $2 bettor, small owners (and foal crops), to the every day bettor - would be better off. Up to this point, for the most part, money was almost solely sunk into purses and bottom lines of the track. It's why there was such an inflationary spiral in track values, while handle was falling precipitously.

When a track, especially a small one, makes a move like this, sometimes the expectations illustrate a tepid (at best) understanding of takeout.

"If horseplayers don't run out and support the track in big numbers, it's a failure", is a common refrain from non-bettors.

That's wrong.

In California in 1990, blended takeout was about 16%. Now it's about 21%. That's a higher increase than Canterbury Park's decrease this year.  In 1991, did everyone stop betting, when that rake increased? In 2000? In 2006?

It did not. Horseplayers, en masse, did not make a conscious decision to leave on one day, or in one week, or even in one year. California (as well as other jursidictions) lost market share as the price went up over time. The fact that if California horse racing held its own with the rate of inflation since then handle would be well over $5B in the state, but is only about $3B, has to do with the slow burn, not a raging inferno.

This happens in other games, too. The Massachusetts state lottery used to take out 70 cents of every dollar purchased, but slowly began lowering it to the current approximate 30% takeout. They never advertised it, lottery players didn't say "oh, the takeout moved from 70% to 65%, let's run out and buy lotto tickets! It just happened that over time, returning more to the lotto player allowed them to have a few more bucks into their pockets than they once had, and they replayed.

Today the Massachusetts lottery is the highest grossing and most successful lottery jurisdiction in America.

This is easy to see in working form, in a Canterbury example, with this little graph we saw on twitter today.
If you hit the tri's above at say a Parx, you realize $3499 in return. If you hit those same tri's at Canterbury, they return $4100. That's $600 more in your pocket.

Because you don't physically "see" the takeout decrease, you don't put that $600 in your pocket to take home, it stays on your voucher, or in an ADW account and you rebet.

If it took you $4,000 to hit those tris at Parx, you are a big loser and you possibly say, at some point, "I am tired of losing, I want to try something else" and never come back to the track.

If it took you $4,000 to hit the Canterbury tri's you are a net winner of $100 and you may say "I need to come back here more, because I think I can make money."

That's the anatomy of a takeout decrease. It's not bells and whistles, it's money in your pocket which makes a difference on how you view your betting experience. 

This Canterbury Park move, as others who have tried, is a good one. It's bold and racing needs more of it. But no, just like a poker, or lotto player does, people will not be lined up out the door like it's a Thanksgiving Sale at Best Buy. They will instead be churning away and hopefully, over time, figuring out that racing is a better bet than it has been, and enjoying themselves more. Bettors who enjoy themselves more stick around. Bettors who don't head to the nearest poker table.

Monday, April 11, 2016

Courts Say Injecting is "Fraud", Weekend Racing Thoughts

In a case that lasted five years, and went to the highest courts in the land, an Ontario trainer was convicted of fraud for injecting a horse with a performance enhancing substance.

Although the penalty (a fine) seems inconsequential, the tenets of the case strike a chord.
Manarin said there’s a difference between cyclist Lance Armstrong using performance-enhancing drugs and Riesberry injecting them into a horse, Everyone’s Fantasy, before it ran in Race 6 on Sept. 28, 2010, at Windsor Raceway. “The horse has no choice,” said Manarin.
The message sent is pretty clear.

It does show how difficult it is for racing, and the courts, to deter such practices, however.  The trainer in question was caught in the act, yet it still took a long period of time, and the courts themselves needed to be educated about the effects of such actions.

This weekend was a big one in Thoroughbred racing with the Derby field getting very close to being set.

In the Wood, the speed figures came up ok, but the field crawled home like they were running in molasses, each carrying a fat man. Outwork, the son of Uncle Mo, had pace pressure the whole way, and lasted on the front end, holding off a massive longshot. He probably raced well, I suppose, but I can't discern much from that race.

In the Santa Anita Derby, Danzig Candy - perhaps the fastest three year old so far at a distance - went way too fast and stumbled home on a weird surface. Exaggerator's final time was ok, and he was visually impressive, which usually means he will be overbet come Derby day.

Another horse with visually impressive credentials won the Blue Grass - Brody's Cause. I always liked this horse, and he has a nice closing kick, but again I am not sure what to make of the race in the grand scheme of things.

Right now, Nyquist is the big chalk, and deservedly so. But he has reached that threshold with a 7 furlong prep where he went 44 to the half, and a Florida Derby where the main competition didn't show up, allowing him to race and beat a bunch of 60-1 shots. Adding to that, the pedigree guys hate the dam side, too. As we said a couple of days ago, he "might be the best horse we're looking at", and the chinks in his armor might end up being pretty minor when compared to the others.

It's a weird year so far, and unless something pops in the Arkansas Derby, we have Nyquist, a few prep winners who look slow on paper, two early steam horses in Mohaymen and Danzig Candy who cantered home in their last preps, Gun Runner, and some others. Right now the Nyquist-Gun Runner perfecta looks to take a beating.

Last year at this time there were three horses with big numbers, who won their preps impressively, who looked the part coming into the Derby (AP, Dortmund, Firing Line). It's sure not 2015.

The handle for the prep races were good at the various tracks, but could've been better, considering how good, and how big the handle has been for these big days of late. The suspect weather may have played a part.

The cross track stakes pick 4 did great, and it did, in my view, more than just inflate the Blue Grass handle (which was a record, but would not have without it). It added a little zip, and showed two tracks working together can bring in some scratch.

The handle for the Santa Anita Derby day looked fine, but I never trust the handle reported from the state. For example, "all source" handle for the last meet was reported as down 1%, while on Santa Anita races it was down about 10%, or down 3.5% date adjusted (not official figures, but they're close).

I hope everyone had a nice weekend.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Graded Stakes Bring in the Dollars for Several Reasons, but it's Still Basic Betting Economics

There was an enlightening late night chat (eastern time zone late night) on the twitter that I caught this morning by Crunk and professor of economics Caroline Betts.

They were talking about racing quality and handle, or maybe more apt, stakes racing and handle, versus non stakes races. About 10% of the handle in Thoroughbred racing comes from 1% of the races. Now, these include the Triple Crown races and Breeders Cup, but it's still significant.

Interestingly enough, in harness racing this does not occur in any huge way. Case in point, last week at the Meadowlands two ten type claiming trotting races were held with amateur harness drivers. The handles for these races were around $300,000 each. Over at Yonkers, where the best of the best were competing in the Levy series, handle was around $70,000 per race. One of the Levy divisions did do $88,000, and that was the leg with Wiggleitjiggle It (proving that yes, returning superstars do draw eyeballs).

Thoroughbred stakes are interesting for a bunch of reasons. Horses are shipping from everywhere, usually, and there are plenty of angles to play; horses are shortening up or stretching out; horses are switching surfaces; there's often a horse or two off a long layoff; a horse who broke a maiden willingly who looks like a star, etc.

Graded stakes, for the most part, are an extremely interesting puzzle, and that puzzle can yield chaos and prices.

It's not the purse dollars - a short field, chalk allowance race for an $80,000 purse will not bring in a lot of handle, while a cheap claimer with a deep field and an $8,000 purse can and does. In fact, Ms. Betts' work (and previous work) showed purse money to be betting inelastic. It's more about what that purse money attracts to make the affair bettable.

In harness stakes racing the puzzle is the exact opposite of Thoroughbred racing. Most of the Levy divisions were an easy to decipher race (we see this at times in the Breeders' Crown), while the amateur races were a head scratcher.

There's a lot of factors that go into driving handle. For example, the NYRA brand is so strong that 9 cheap races can outhandle a card with five graded stakes at a place like Parx, or a lesser known track. But as a rule, the more interesting and deep the race, the more handle it will bring in. Stakes races have that, more often than not.

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Why Does North American Racing Rest on the Hit and Hope of Exotics?

"Bet a little to win a lot", is a phrase you'll often hear here in North America when it comes to wagering on the horse races. It's a good sell, because anyone who has taken a four horse tri box and landed three longshots knows that it's true. But this concept is not one which crosses borders, in old-school racing jurisdictions.

In the US, only about 20% of total wagering is in the win pool. In Australia about 50% of all wagering is in the win pool. In the UK it is not dissimilar.

Yep, these folks bet more than half of every dollar in those pools.

In those countries, wagering a little to win a little is the goal for a lot of big players, with the obvious hope that at the end of the year you have more money than you started with.

Why is win money so well bet in those jurisdictions? I have a few theories.
  • It's a more mature gambling market. Win takeouts are low, and choosing a winner (and betting a sizeable chunk of bankroll, like 4%), pays dividends over time. If you're good, you win, and the win market is the best place to exploit your handicapping skill. This is learned over time in a mature market.
  • Field size is much higher than in the US. Why would you concentrate on a pick 3 when you have a 15 horse field in front of you and the horse you like is a 5-1 favorite? Bet your 3% on him or her, grab the $12 mutuel, and look for your next nice priced horse; it's probably in the next race. 
  • Choice. You have the tote, the bookies and the exchanges. You have three points of entry into a market, not only one. Cars make more than one brand because more than one brand sells more cars. 
  • The odds don't change after the bell. You handicapped all evening and made your odds lines. You love the three at Monmouth at anything over 5-2. He's 7-2 loading so you hammer the horse and he goes to 2-1, making him a terrible bet. If you're a serious bettor it's not about picking winners and never has been about picking winners. It's about making the right choice at a right price. 
I don't want the above to come across like exotics have no place in the market, or they're somehow a bad thing. They're not and choice is not. But if you are looking to churn, to make a go of it, the markets in the other parts of the world supply you with some hope in the win markets; a hope that, at times, is not available here across the pond.

I surmise it's one of the reasons handle is better over there, and customers last longer, with more satisfaction. Cashing tickets and feeling like you have a shot to beat the game, is, in itself, what the game is about.

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Investing in the Customer Experience - the Streams of Both Rae's Creek and Online Video

Good morning racing fans!

As is customary this time of year I was catching up on some reading, getting ready for this weekend's Masters golf tournament. In Golf Magazine, a story by David Owen looked at its history, and what makes it golf's most storied and revered events.

Back in 1934 you could not give tickets away to the tourney and it certainly was not considered a "major". In fact, in 1939, only 46 players even accepted invites (down from 72 years earlier). The course was out of the way, and it was just a regular tournament. At that point, the club President decided, according to Owen, that to thrive, "the club had to obsessively focus on the spectators."

They were visionary.

They went from a 36 hole finale on Saturday, like all other tournaments, to 18 on Saturday and 18 on Sunday. It was the first tournament to use grandstands, the first to rope off fairways so everyone could see approach shots. They were the first to link scoreboards by investing in telephone cables, and the first to hand out free pairing sheets, score sheets and full course maps.

They built the tournament on the backs of the customer, not the players or TV (there was no TV back then, of course).

I was listening to a Golf Channel interview yesterday and one of the commentators said we "talk different, act different and conduct ourselves different here." It's tradition "unlike any other" was not created by accident.

I got to thinking how Hong Kong, as compared to racing here, seems to most of us. It too is focused on the customer, has penal medication rules, accepts trainers based on integrity and how they conduct themselves. It's seemed to work for them, and it probably is the Augusta National of the racing world.

Although on track amenities are important, in North American racing they are probably not as important than at one time, because most of racing is watched via streaming video.

Fast Company had a piece in its last magazine, about streaming video and why it seems to have so many glitches. It's not what you might think.

".... live streaming at scale is more of a business challenge than a technical one. When a live stream runs into trouble, he says, a lack of bandwidth is almost never the culprit. More often, streaming services don’t plan enough for all the other things that can go wrong. Rayburn points out, for instance, that CBS’s recent Grammy stream had an issue with verifying users’ locations."

The solution for the above is investment in systems and at least some of the online players are doing something about it.

"Fortunately, the industry is finally starting to behave like it wants do better. In 2014, a bunch of big players formed the Streaming Video Alliance, with the goal of devising best practices for live streaming and standardized ways to measure the experience. The group counts Comcast, Fox, MLB Advanced Media, and Yahoo among its founding members."

Racing seems to be dependent on others (Roberts), or on deals (Equibase) for delivering some form of their product. The unfortunate part of that equation is that often times investment is not carried out as it should. Nor is it visionary, like roping off fairways was, when no one roped off fairways.

The Masters, and Hong Kong racing know who their customers are, and lean on them for growth. They have a good handle on their product, own it, and invest in it, even if return on investment is not quickly and readily apparent. Racing can probably learn a little from both entities, whether it be today, or from 85 years ago.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Pari-Mutuel Studies, Nyquist & Expectations

Good day everyone.

Nyquist's Florida Derby win (we chatted about the race in yesterday's post) continues to cause a case of the 'yabuts', which has plagued this horse since last fall, and, in fact, has plagued many horses in this sport. Nyquist keeps doing exactly what he's supposed to do, but it's never enough.

Last fall, he staggered home in his first effort at any distance, which forwarded the narrative that his breeding told the tale that he was suspect for 8.5 furlongs or more. At the Breeders' Cup Juvenile he was the quintessential dead on the board horse, and if you liked him, you were like some sort of freak that doesn't know breeding. After he won the Juvy, he cleared the 8.5 furlong bar fine, but the Beyer wasn't high enough and of course "Songbird would have dusted him."

This season, he has seemed to be a horse, again, who everyone is waiting for to lose. They're looking for someone else. For a time, that someone else was Mohaymen; until Saturday, when he beat him, too.

Now, once again, the Beyer is not huge, and Mohaymen didn't fire. Both are true, but sheesh, can we give the colt a little respect?

There's a chance that this group - which has seen no huge figs run yet (here's your handy primer on that, with all major fig makers)  - is not going to see a huge fig run. Nyquist might be the best you're looking at; at 9 furlongs or 10 furlongs (especially, if the 'class' of Uncle Mo carries him).

Sure he might be more The Factor or Goldencents and not suited for a smashing last quarter mile in the Derby, but maybe he's still good enough. If he does win, I hope he gets credit for being a very good horse, instead of looking for excuses why he won. But if history is any indication, I doubt he will.

An interesting study is being completed which looked at over 30,000 NYRA races this century. There are some hard and fast numbers on which field size is best to maximize handle by pool, a look at takeout rates, and other metrics.

It fascinates (shocks) me to no end why more of these real studies are not embraced and funded by the sport of horse racing. Horse racing is a bog of inefficiency, with disparate tracks, ADW's, off track betting, rebates, takeout systems that can not be held as control variables etc. Unlike a Wynn casino who can drop slot takeout from 7% to 6% to see what happens to revenue, racing needs to look at numbers in a very detailed way.

NYRA should be commended for offering up their data so a study like this could be completed. Let's hope it's the first step in a new movement in the sport to model more, to allow it to make sounder decisions.

Enjoy your Monday everyone.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Florida Derby

Good Sunday morning racing fans and bettors.

Yesterday's Florida Derby saw the much anticipated match-up between Nyquist and Mohaymen materialize into a match-up between Nyquist and, well, nobody. The horse that 'can't get nine furlongs' keeps getting it just fine it seems, stopping the timer in 1:49.11 on a sticky track for a 116 TimeformUS figure.

The winner looked to be running out in the lane, and the pace was slowing at a pretty stout rate throughout the mile, with the third quarter covered in :25 and a last eighth in a respectable (especially for a horse who 'can't get nine furlongs'), 12.3. For energy distribution types, the splits were good for a front-runner to run a decent number.

While Nyquist did what he was expected to do, the big horse of KM's did not. The horse that has always looked like a seasoned, smart, sports car threw a clunker. Whether he i) didn't like that surface, ii) didn't come to race, or iii) was sore is anyone's guess, but he was so flat that other flat objects bowed to him. The wide excuse is bogus, in my view, because he could not engage willingly, never picked up the bit and showed absolutely nothing at all.

I'll pitch that race. He could be a horse I'd bet in the Derby.

For sharpies who found Derby futures on an exchange somewhere's, or bet with your friend Bob, you made a good move betting Nyquist yesterday at around 4PM. It was probably the only sound play at that point. Derby futures in the US are in the system that was invented in Kentucky in 1905, so you'll get the closing price today.

As for Nyquist, who physically looks more like a sprinter or miler to me, it's hard to discount him in five weeks. It doesn't matter if he can 'get 10 furlongs' (notice the goalposts always move with these horses?), to me. Hard Spun and Bodemiester both went crazy fractions and almost won the Derby; in fact, if Street Sense gets blocked and IHA runs into some traffic they both win the Derby off that trip. Speed wins races and is a tremendous asset. Nyquist sure has that.

Florida Derby day did $32 million. As we've talked about before, world-wide the sport of horse racing is sputtering some, but the big events are, like other big events in sports, driving eyeballs. It's not just regular fans looking at the day, either, as witnessed by the $440,000 the Rainbow Six took yesterday. Regardless, you have to give Gulfstream some props. They try hard to bring in the bet, and promote the heck out of their big cards.

I hope y'all enjoyed the day. Have a nice Sunday.

Friday, April 1, 2016

Philadelphia Park to Uncle Frank? Handle is Sure to Zoom

A jolt of energy for Parx?
John Pricci broke some news yesterday - Philly Park is supposedly under consideration to be purchased by Frank Stronach.

This purchase, if it goes through, would likely inject some energy into the mid-Atlantic region of tracks, and create a circuit, which should increase field size and improve racing quality. In addition, Parx under the Stronach umbrella would likely complete revamp the betting menu, moving takeout to reasonable levels.

That should, in my view, massively increase handle. We have some history to go by.

When Gulfstream took over the Calder meet, handle soared (for the apples to apples 40 day meet) from $58 million to $142 million. This was achieved through consolidation of the circuit, changes to the betting menu and using the GP brand to re-brand Calder. It is also pertinent to note, this was done with Calder not even having a grandstand.

Philadelphia Park (OK, Parx, I can't help myself), has some serious revenues. About $500 million dollars are earned through their slot machines per year, resulting in massive purses for the Keystone State flagship track. This has not translated to higher handle.

I would predict that if Frank ends up owning and managing the track, we'd see a consolidation of racedates, and if the betting menu is revamped, a doubling of average daily handle within a year.

What we've seen lately in racing is a consolidation of dates, and fewer races put on just for the sake of putting on races. This, if passed, is simply another spoke in the industry maturation wheel.


ICYMI, more racing handle, the changing business, and customer appreciation ideas were discussed at the TDN, in an Op/Ed.

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