Tuesday, January 22, 2019

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.

Saturday, January 19, 2019

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."

Thursday, January 17, 2019

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.

Tuesday, January 15, 2019

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. 

Tuesday, January 1, 2019

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.

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...