Friday, December 23, 2016

** Exclusive ** : A Christmas Chat With Cub Reporter

Cub Reporter, File Photo
Y'know, a day doesn't go by when someone doesn't ask me, "Pocket, can we see more posts about betting economics Cub Reporter on your blog? We want to know who he is, where he came from, what he likes to eat, or watch on television; what tracks he enjoys. We want to know where Maria Borell is hiding, and who the drunk guy who runs the photo finish camera at Santa Anita is."

For those who read the blog - especially those who enjoy breaking news - you've certainly come to know "Cub Reporter". Cub (not his real name) has graciously offered me stories to publish here that he cannot publish anywhere else; those that will get him kicked out of the turf club, or banished to covering one of those tracks in Chile where the horses all race like six miles. He knows very few people read my blog. I offer a cloak of safety.

I often let Cub know (through secret backchannels) that he has a following. People are interested in him. Finally, this Holiday season, he agreed to a sit down. I share this exclusive interview with you now.

PTP: I guess the big question on everyone's mind this week was the positive and brouhaha surrounding the Ellis test for the Breeders' Cup. Why haven't you touched this story?

Leading charity fundraiser, loves dogs
CR: I did. I meticulously researched the story and wrote a 2,000 word article. I thought it was comprehensive. It detailed the situation, with quotes from the connections, and the decision to run a horse who might test positive. I then contacted people in Hong Kong about their zero tolerance policy for steroids, and its efficacy. I quoted an actuarial scientist who has written several peer reviewed articles on the cost/benefit analysis of banning athletes with trace elements of sometimes therapeutic drugs in their systems. It was a good article.

PTP: Why didn't we see it?

CR: I submitted it for review but no one wanted it. One editor told me the press were saying picograms were no big deal and the trainer in question loves baby kittens. Keeping the industry narrative and editing out everything else made my article only 200 words, so I buried it. Plus, I have no idea if he likes or dislikes baby kittens.

PTP: In general, what do you think the state of racing journalism is?

CR: It's tough out there, and I don't really hold the industry or the writers responsible. I blame sites like Vox and Buzzfeed. It's clicks. It's listicles. It's advertising. For example, I lined up an interview with Frank Stronach a couple of months ago. I arrived at Gulfstream and the PR department handed me a pre-written story called "A Dozen Ways Frank Starts His Morning" they wanted me to use. On the sheet was a picture of a 12-pack of Frank's Energy Drink. Seriously, I like the drink as much as the next person - it makes me yodel - but I can't file that.

PTP: Do people in this industry like you, or because you are writing hard-hitting stories, you are shunned?

CR: Good question. Sometimes I am liked, sometimes not. I wrote a story awhile back on a CHRB meeting and it was - I thought - fair and incisive, but maybe not everyone thought so. I got home one evening, showered, and was getting ready for some shut eye. I drew the covers and found a Bob Baffert bobblehead in my bed. I have no evidence who sent it, but even if there's a small chance the CHRB went Godfather Part I on me, it shakes you.

PTP: Frightening. And signs you are liked?

CR: Well, last week I received a nice Christmas card from horse sex expert Sid Fernando. It was a form-card that he sends out to everyone, but to me it showed he likes my stuff, and I appreciated him sending it. I sent a note back telling him I felt for him when he lost all of his Kentucky twitter followers during the recent federal election.

PTP: Any others?

CR: Sure, Brad Cummings still sends his best wishes, and the fellow who took over his site after he left doesn't seem like a bad guy. Caroline Betts is a nice fact checker when the CHRB uses all those fancy equations I don't understand when they're making a betting economics decision. Sometimes Todd Pletcher invites me to tag along when he goes shopping for ties, or gets a haircut. We shot the breeze recently about him lobbying Daruty to extend Gulfstream's stakes meet to 365 days a year. Calder used to try to take me to strip clubs, so I guess they liked me. Even some old sources keep in contact. After the recent Winstrol positive in California, Richard Dutrow sent me an email that read "HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA".

Richard Dutrow -

PTP: So, you have no trouble getting sources?

Churchill Downs CEO- Artist Likeness
CR: No, not really. When I was writing a piece about the switch to dirt at Keeneland, the PR department was happy to send me links to industry stories about how dirt will keep the Blue Grass a Grade I. When I write handle stories about a meet, the tracks send me numbers on whatever metric is up. If betting is down they send me quotes about a nearby Star Trek festival, junior women's snowboarding competition, or the release of a new movie that hurt their handle. If I need something from Churchill Downs - say if I am researching a story where they are planning to shutter a track or fire a lot of people - they send me a link to their share price.

PTP:You don't twitter. How about a New Year's resolution that you'll join the twitter? There are lots of journalists there.

CR: I am on twitter, but I keep my account quiet and have never tweeted. I guess you could call me a lurker, like that PETA person who exposed Scott Blasi for swearing a lot. I follow a lot of people and keep track of what they're eating, who is on the ABR Party Bus, and who won a Beemie Award. I follow my DRF friends like Hersh, Hogan, other H people. Some of the horse accounts crack me up. Remember Palace Malice? Whoa, tighten that tongue tie pardner.

PTP: Do you follow any horseplayers?

CR: For meat and potatoes I follow Ed DeRosa. He posts this weird excel sheet with tons of horses he likes. Some of them come in sometimes. I follow that Inside the Pylons person. He's best friends with Ed. Racetrackandy keeps trying to lobby me to investigate various people in California so I keep tabs on him. I follow Adam Hickman to see which jocks are riding cold. I used to follow Andy Serling, but he blocked me.
Julien Leparoux (l) Meets Adam Hickman (r) for the first time

PTP: Have you received any horse-themed Christmas gifts in the past? Anything horse-related you send to your friends in the industry?

CR: Last week I received a "bet a hundred get a hundred" deal from TVG for Christmas, which was personalized in an email to me. It's gotten a lot better for customers, because when I covered a TOC meeting in California many years ago as Junior Cub Reporter, they were debating offering a 'bet a hundred thousand get a toaster' promotion. I actually think that one is still running for California residents who use Xpressbet.
TVG's Todd Schrupp

On the giving side, I'll probably re-gift that Baffert bobblehead I found in my bed. Maybe I'll give it to Sid Fernando since he sent me that nice card.

PTP: Any parting thoughts this Holiday season?

CR: Horse racing is a wonderful game, and even more so during the holiday season. I am lucky to write about it, follow it, bet it, and read about it. We're all very lucky, despite all the problems.

PTP: Merry Christmas Cub.

CR: Merry Christmas Pull.


For those of you celebrating, from my family to yours, have a very Merry Christmas.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Truth be told, the Bobblehead Bob in the bed was probably from the Tooth Fairy. The CHRB is too busy reenacting the last episode of The Sopranos and funding more studies on how best to get blood from a turnip.

And what rough beast, its hour come at last,
Slouches towards Tanforan to be born?

The best to Pocket and followers for 2017.

Most Trafficked, Last 12 Months


Carryovers Provide Big Reach and an Immediate Return

Sinking marketing money directly into the horseplayer by seeding pools is effective, in both theory and practice In Ontario and elsewher...