Tuesday, September 5, 2023

Thoughts on the Spa Meet that Was

I, like many of you, watched most of the Saratoga meet this season. I figure I'd jot down a few thoughts. 

  • Handle was down only 9%. Considering the weather, the scratches and all the rest, this is a strong number. Many years ago I turned to a NYRA card, saw off the turf and a three horse scratched down turf to dirt field and it generated more than almost every other track I was watching. That brand is bonkers. But still, only 9% is surprising to me. 
  • The pick 5 debacle and the response to the breakdowns, to me, is a symptom of on the fly confusion in a sport such as ours. The left hand often doesn't know what the right hand is doing when things are happening fast. I'd hope, and expect, they work on a plan for upcoming meets and this gets better; including updated protocols on scratching, which even after the breakdowns seemed somewhat capricious. 
  • The stewarding is a sore spot, and it'd be foolish to say these are just whiny bettors whining. I'd love to see an overhaul to breed more consistency in the judges room. A good place to start - if a horse is getting herded or bumped near a wire and he or she loses by a nose or a head, it's by all logic and reason a toss. You can't let some go and some not go when the margin is so thin. 
  • NYRA's team and those who follow it continues to be pretty awesome, in my view, and Phil's.  Aragona's lines were solid, his analysis strong. Say what you want about Serling, and most of us do, but he adds sizzle and sharpness and thoughts to his picks. The paddock crew is very good because they obviously do the work. We can tell when we're getting the right information and what's being mailed in and there's no mailing it in with Maggie and Acacia. 
  • I don't think Frank had a super strong meet, and I know some agree. But with race callers it's simply someone's opinion more often than not. Maybe I'm still smarting when he pretty much called my pick 5 key home when he was staggering and I got beat and it's jaded me. 
  • Short stakes fields can be the norm and I doubt we're doing anything about that. But one thing I'd like to see a powerful entity like NYRA spearhead, is building a system where the takeout is directly correlated to field size. Two four to fives, a six to one and two twelve to ones is silly. They're big enough to do this and set a new market for others in the sport to follow. 
  • I was not overly sold on the whole kicking CRW's out at two minutes to post thing, but after watching win prices and betting accordingly, I was pretty pleased with this change. It did affect the changing of prices near the bell and I was confident that when I bet I was going to get my number. 
  • I was down this meet, which started well with a nice pick 4. I handicapped well and was on a lot of the right horses, but I simply couldn't get rid of the seconditis, and failed to convert way too many last legs of the multis. The biggest kick in the ass - a $20k score on a skinny $10 pick 5 ticket with the chalk going, and a $10k score on the third choice in the same race with a $4 ticket. They ran third and fourth. Oh this game we play. 
For a full recap of thoughts on the meet, Chuck and Barry's pod is up and fresh this morning here.

Chris's Bet with the Best pod has Dan on here.

Have a great Tuesday everyone

Monday, August 28, 2023

Horse Racing - The Sport that Loves Data, and Then Never Uses it.

After a disasterous couple of weeks at NYRA, on the heels of a disasterous run at Churchill, there ain't been much good to talk about. And the response, so far at least, doesn't amount to much. 

It's a sport that says it has data to make these tough decisions. Here's some of that data:

That data is not the right kind of data, so the sport looks for other data that fits better, or something.   

There's plenty of data on lowering takeout to increase handle and make the sport more popular. In fact, Magna, or whatever we're calling it these days, certainly has some. They're the home of Elite Turf Club, which hits everyone right in the face with their massive volume with lower takeout. 

There's also the same set of data that shows increasing purses to be much less effective to increase handle. 

I'm sure Kentucky Downs has seen that data. Hell, the above even came from a university in Kentucky. 

Then why did they cry poor and increase takeout while increasing purses?

Matt wrote a piece about the issues at the Spa for the DRF last week, and this line caught my eye. 

It's 4th and four from your own 38 with three minutes left down 8. The data guys have run the numbers; they've placed them into a real time algo, and it shows a clear answer: Go for it. 

If you're the sport of horse racing, you do what you always do. Ignore the data and punt.  

Have a nice Monday everyone. 

Friday, August 25, 2023

Is it Time They Investigated the Mohawk Betting Pools?

Peruse twitter for only a moment the past couple of years and you'll find tweet after tweet about some of the odd payoffs at Mohawk. 

But last night it probably reached its zenith. 

Race 3, a horse with one flat line took boatloads of money in one flash, moving from 5-1 to 2-1 and crushed at 5-2. One handicapper on the Mohawk feed had the horse third, the rest not in their top four or five. 

A race later, another horse with a flat line was bet from the off in all pools and closed at 4-5 and crushed by many. Again, these seasoned handicappers on the feed were in the dark, with not one of them even having the horse in the top four. 

Race 7 a 10-1 morning line horse who again was not even in the top four of any handicapper closed as chalk and won easily. 

Then the coup de grace. A horse not on anyone's radar, crushed in the last setting a new life's mark by three seconds in a driving rainstorm. Not only did the horse take money from the get-go, he actually went down from a crazy 7-5 to a completely inexplicable 3-5 the last couple of flashes. 

 What in heaven's name is going on there?

We all know math, and that the pools are fairly efficient. Most of us who've played the game since we were 12 years old can spot a 4-5 shot or a bad line. Linesmakers like David Aragona for many years has never once been so far off a horse who is bet down from high morning lines to 3-5 or 4-5. Never once would be so far off that it stretches all credulity, at places like Belmont or Saratoga. 

At Mohawk this seems to happen on a regular basis. 

Customers, in my view, deserve to know what's been happening. I'd hope a professionally run racetrack would want to know, too. 

Have a nice Friday everyone. 

Monday, August 21, 2023

Companies Making Sports Betting More Complicated is a Problem for Customers, But It's Life

I noticed a tweet today from the CEO of a new betting exchange. He was illustrating that even making a bet on a "square" side - in this case the Ravens - can get you limited.

Sports betting through Fanduel or whomever, I think we all agree, should be pretty basic. They have millions on account, they take bets and if you want to bet the Ravens, you bet the Ravens. But it's not the case. 

Exchanges were created about 25 years ago, and the simplicity of them were apparent from the off. As long as there was someone on the other side, you'd get filled, and with a worldwide market, it wasn't hard to get filled. The exchange took their 4% or 5% and off we went. 

This was true for virtually any event of any size. 

Back in 2004 I remember playing the US election markets on Betfair. Because of the curious nature of Florida's results in 2000, the networks were loathe to call the state quickly and the markets were vibrant. Eventhough George W. Bush was in the driver's seat from the data if you dug even a little, I sat across from my playing partner as he bet $75,000 on Bush, in-running. 

That bet didn't need an approval from a CEO. It didn't need a board of directors to manage the risk. It needed a market and a click of a mouse. And this was 2004

Betting markets today have been bastardized, likely in my view, because of corporatization. The pure exchange model, a shake hands event, doesn't deliver lifetime value needed to sustain revenues. The corporates need you betting parlays, the online casino or blackjack, or online poker. Getting 5% of winning bets? It's just not enough to feed the complex, bloated beast that is <insert ticker symbol here>.  Hey, they aren't a charity. 

We lament a great deal about betting in horse racing and we should. 20% win juice on a five horse field is like flushing money down the toilet; massive rebates for a few tilts the takeout rates not our way. Corporates who want to curtail signals, raise fees etc, are not on our side, they're just trying to squeeze lemons. But it's all we have. 

It appears, at the present time at least, it's all sports bettors have, too. They've shuffled out a pure, almost perfect handshake medium in the quest of ever more customer lifetime value. Maybe the market will shift once again, and this model can return en masse at places like Sporttrade, but it seems pretty doubtful. 

Have a great Monday everyone. 

Wednesday, August 16, 2023

We Can Still Bet a Little to Win a Lot in Pick 5's

The game is tough now, no doubt about that, but if we're smart we can still find overlaid payoffs that can keep the lights on. 

There's a narrative abound (although, I think it's just a critique of warm and cuddly ITP from some of his many fans) that chalk somehow has to be thrown out like an old pair of socks to make a score. That's certainly not true; bettors who throw out good chalk are at the ATM, hoping not to see zeros. 

No we have to not like the chalk, for whatever reason. And with smaller ticket cost, for smaller players it's easier to capitalize on that more than ever. 

Case in point, Tuesday at Mohawk. 

The 6-5 chalk won leg one, a 24-1 shot won leg two, a 3-2 favorite won leg three, a 2-1 second choice won leg four and a 5-1 shot third choice won the last leg. 

The pick 5 paid $21,000 for $1, or about 8 times parlay. I bet eight billion of you had 4 of 5, because the four legs were as easy as pie. 

The sole reason that occurred was because the leg two chalk was a 1-9 shot. But this 1-9 shot could be one of those favorites we don't toss out like a pair of old socks, but one we strategically try to beat. She was coming out of the Hambletonian Oaks elim and final where she was torched with hard, hard fractions. She shipped back and she was jammed back in. It's perfectly logical to think she might be vulnerable, as a lot of trotters are after taxing efforts. 

And she was. She was on one line and appeared sore, she was overdriven and lost to a nice horse who just happened to be 24-1, but certainly was a contender. 

If we felt that way about the chalk in leg two, the leverage was massive. 

We could play: 1-45710 (contenders outside the 1-9 shot)-5-3-2579 for $16 or $3.20 for a twenty cent ticket. 

We can't thread the needle completely perhaps, so let's spread the other races with likely winners. We're still probably at $14.40 or $21.60 for a twenty cent ticket. 

How many times as a small player have you thrown away ten or twenty bucks on a win bet or tri or super? I'm sure many. This is just another case of it. 

On the excellent Bet with the Best podcast, Chris and his guests often speak of situations like this. It's tossing a Cody's Wish or a Baffert strong chalk that you see might be doing something they've never done before, or who looked a little off in last week's work, or whose barn might've gone completely cold. We're not tossing to toss, we're tossing something we don't like for tremendous value. 

We won't see this often. and it won't cash a significant percentage of the time even if we do recognize it. But for a relatively small outlay, it can result in $20,000 scores. And that's a whole lotta $10 or $20 stabs when you see the phenomenon potentially come up again. 

Have a nice Wednesday everyone. 

Thursday, August 10, 2023

VP of Wagering

 No Monday blog the last couple of weeks with a lot going on, but...... 

Most everyone saw the debacle that was the Saratoga late pick five on Sunday. With the super-late change to off the turf, about $1M in wagers became a total mess. Someone then dropped the ball and didn't delay post time so people could cancel or change their tickets. To make things as right as they can, there's a $100k pick five seed slated for this Saturday. 

How do things like this seem to continually happen in this sport? 

Sure there are a lot of moving parts in getting a race card, or race off. Mother nature and acts of God certainly play at least some role at times. Sometimes things are nobody's fault. 

However, a good deal of the time they are someone's fault. And I think it's because no one is employed in virtually in any of these corporations-run-as-racetracks that's there to mind the betting store. 

When Churchill quickly cancelled a last race on a card with a customer having a chance at $700,000 as a sole ticket jackpot winner, no one was there to say "we owe it to the customer to wait it out and get this race off". I doubt anyone who made the decision even knew about the will pays. 

When the Kentucky Racing Commission allowed Churchill to take half a carryover pool - something Steve Crist called the "Sick Six" a day later - and use it for an upcoming card, there was no one there to say, well, Steve Crist is going to write about it tomorrow because it stinks. There was apparently no one employed who even recognized this would become an issue. 

The list, of course, goes on and on. 

There are people out there, perfectly capable to say, "let's give bettors five minutes to change their wagers", or "hey, can we wait for this cell to move through because one of our customers has a chance at $700,000", or "let's not card a 12 horse field maiden claimer on synth as the third leg of a pick six mandatory", or "hey, these will pays are weird we need to look into this race" or ..... you get the picture. 

But the problem is, there's no job opening for them to do it. 

Without someone minding the wagering store these things will happen again and again and again. It's fixable, but for decades they seem unable or unwilling to address it.  It completely boggles my mind. 

Have a nice Thursday everyone. 

Monday, July 24, 2023

Monday's Super Spectacular Blog - The Way I Wake Up, Old Time Comparison Stats, CRW Op-Eds, CJ Dressed for the Spa, and Goodbyes

Welcome to this Monday's edition of the Super Spectacular Blog! 

In honor of CJ Milkowski this week's SSB will have no run up. 

Let's go!

First, you're all on twitter so no doubt you've read about the "Deep State" conspiracy. I have never been a proponent, but this week I began to believe it for horse racing. 

My blog has been - as you all know - under a lot of scrutiny; from people like Scott Daruty, Fred Pope, Russians and especially TVG. We Rock the Boat like Hues Incorporated here. 

TVG must have a bug in my house. Because, yes, this is the way I get prepared for the races each and every day. They saw me doing this, and stole it. It's the only explanation. 

Folks, beware of the Deep Horse Racing State, and even though Jason Beem has an Alexa in his North Tampa Bay mansion and we all wanna be like him, destroy yours immediately. 

Jerry Brown wrote an oped in the Thoroughbred Daily News about the computer teams that generated a ton of chatter this week.  He made several points, most of them that we've spoken about here on the blog, and have made the rounds on twitter. 

Primarily, Jerry suggests the sport lower the teams' rebates and not allow them to bet into the pools when three minutes to post is hit. 

That's fine I suppose, but I don't know what that would do, frankly, because it's more than just the teams betting with models and with rebates at places like Elite, but his two points do seem to have some backing from inside the industry. 

Regardless, industry arguments tend to be circular, because they are talking about symptoms and don't in my view address the real problems with pricing. Couching them into "this hurts the retail player too much" when the industry has killed the retail player for a half century with usurious takeout feels completely disingenuous to me.  

Hot take here. 

Australia horse racing is currently not the Titanic, because years ago they added new avenues to bet while offering better pricing for those who are price sensitive. Broadening the tent and modernizing an industry that was protected is not in the harvesting phase of the product life cycle. 

The industry in North America, unfortunately as we all know, never really stopped steering towards the iceberg, and we see this take. And with the way the game is run here, it's not necessarily wrong, in my opinion. 

I was messing around with "X" start off layoff last month; particularly interested in comparing older data (in this case 2006) to newer (2022). 

First, here's a snip of 2006 data (courtesy jcapper.com) sorted by start off layoff. 

Notice the first start impact value is low, second start higher. Sweet spots were 4th and 5th off the layoff, with correponding ROI boosts. 

And here's a snip from last year. 

Perhaps remarkably the grids look very similar. However, one striking difference is first off layoff in 2022 versus 2006. This could be partially due to sample size, but in 2006 first off layoff horses won only about a half a percentage point less than non-layoff horses. 

In 2022 this jumped to 1.8%. The impact value in 2022 was only 0.84 versus 0.91 in 2006. 

Second start off layoff returned to, may we say, normal. the IV was 0.9462 in 2002, about the same as it was in 2006. 

Bettors (or should we say teams who model) seem to be in tune with this, as the parimutuel price of the first returning horses in 2022 was $12.28 - the highest of any subset. 

I have to double check to be sure both these sets of data are using the same layoff dates, but I think they are. If not, it's close. So, if someone said to me that trainers are not cranking up to win first start now as much as yesteryear, I'd have to say there is at least some glimmer of truth to it. 

Note - Crunk (protected account but many of you can see it) has some super cool stats on how layoffs have changed in horse racing since the 1990's. 

Another item I found interesting was blinkers on versus off, versus no change. Here's 2006's data:

And here's last year:

Blinkers on has long been an overbet angle and in 2006 it was a good fade with a poor 0.71 ROI. In 2022 it's still a bad wager, but it appears the bettors have woken up to it at least a little. The ROI is about 5% higher. 

Amazingly, blinkers off continues to roll with a 0.86 ROI, which is down from the whopping 0.9080 in 2006. 

This is why model building could be so lucrative. Do some handicapping, weed out what needs be, add a 5% win rebate, and you could literally just flat bet blinkers off horses all year in 2006 and make bank. 

The thing I love most about the Spa is not the great horses, big pools or colorful jockeys, it's the insider tweets where we learn something new about the participants of this fine sport. 

Man of the people. CJ Johnsen had a huge maiden winner this week at Saratoga with Sugar Hi, yet there he is, looking just like us regular folk. 

On the off chance it's not CJ, delete (and it's a shame). 

Changing of the game tweet by Tink which is in keeping with this week's comparison theme. 
Wrote a little piece on potential changes to the Amateur series at the Big M here. 

Quick note about the blog itself - it will not be the Pullthepocket Blog any longer, it willl just be a big letter P. 

very nice piece from Leo about the loss of his friend and NHC Champ Jose Arias. It sounds like Jose was a great guy.

As always, thanks for reading, and may all your tickets be cashes this week. 

Monday, July 17, 2023

Monday's World Famous Super Spectacular Blog - Leading Rider Numbers, Betting Mind Games, Boy Scout Betting, Spa Card Drags and Assorted Links

Hello everyone, long time no see! 

I've been a little busy lately, so apologies (to all of my advertisers who pay me big money, but to readers, too) for the gap in the Super Spectacular Blogs.

Let's get going!

saw David Aragona's picks page for Sunday's Saratoga races and one selection caught my eye. 

His pick, Dr. Cringle, was being booked off by Irad Ortiz, and he noted this jockey change may help the price a bit, so he liked him even more. 

Now, this is something we don't hear often in public handicapper analysis. Usually in fact, it's the opposite, i.e. "this horse picks up the leading rider, so I like him". But in my view, this is prime rib steak. Everything we do - everything - is about price. 

For example, here's a snapshot of horses even money or less from last year sorted by rider rank. 

Overall, the entire subset's average mutuel is $3.19, the $1 ROI is 0.8618 and the win percentage is 54%. 

For the leading rider (by ranking) the win percentage is 53.75%, ROI is 0.8428 and the average mutuel is $3.14. 

For the riders ranked 4th or lower, the average mutuel is $3.30, win percentage is 53.56% and the ROI is 0.8847. 

For this sample, you received about the same hit rate, but were paid more if you had a "worse" rider. 

For odds less than 5-1 last year it was more pronounced. 

The top rider generated a 0.7868 ROI versus an average of about 0.85 for those ranked 2nd or lower. In this subset, horses 5-1 or lower had a win price average of $6.19. When ridden by the leading rider the average mutuel was $5.41. 

As samples get bigger, these numbers - like most rider or driver numbers - will likely return more to the mean because the pari-mutuel pools are very efficient. In fact, ten years ago these numbers can look different ten years from now. 

Although there's nuance in rider (or driver) analysis that can help us at times, globally there really isn't much. So, if we really like a horse at 2-1 with Irad, and we can get - as David suggests - any shade over 2-1 with a journeyman, we should probably fire away and not give it a moment's thought. 

Over in harnessland this phenomenon can show up, as well.

For example, over a five year sample at the Meadowlands, unheralded capable drivers like Corey Callahan have a -6% ROI on favorites, which beats the takeout. Other more popular choices are right around or near the juice. 

The two leading drivers are the ultimate split hairs since 2021 with favorites. Dexter Dunn won a few more races, but remarkably the UTRS for each driver over this period with chalk was within one one-thousandth of a percentage point. 

Conversely, the two leaders with horses over 5-1 are remarkably similar as well. Yannick has won more, but is more overbet. 

From my research, harness racing is a little more variant than thoroughbreds in this realm and I think it has to do with aggression. Lately, as harness racing has become more and more of a speed game, aggressive drivers are slightly better bets, regardless of how much they win. 

There was a neat article on hindsight bias on the Pinnacle betting blog last week. This effects us all, whether we like to admit it or not, because like fear, it's in our DNA. 

Generally, the thinking goes - when we lose we lost because of whatever befell us, but when we win, we won because we were right all along. 

I noticed a little of this recently with a set of driver changes from what most would consider a bad driver to a good one. I watched this move (it went 1 for 7 with a terrible ROI), yet when the one win occurred it was still considered an amazingly smart angle. The six losses were because of circumstance, not the angle. Conversely, those who faded the angle were correct and making plus EV bets, but it was a seven horse sample, so we might want to put the greatness moniker on hold.  

I find we as bettors use this bias most in pick 4's or pick 5's. When we hit them we don't notice the ramdomness or luck when it's on our side, but when we lose we are patently aware of it - the quintessential bad beat. 

Personally, I like to analyze a pick five after it's complete and determine if I ended up making a good bet or bad bet - not based on result but on process. Did I have the right horses as "A's", did I miss something, did I spread too much or not enough? Was my ticket paying well over parlay? What mistakes did I make, regardless of the outcome?

As the article notes, analyzing bets from a bird's eye view helps us find our weaknesses, and like Lichtenber put it, "once we know our weaknesses, they cease to do us any harm."

We can find value anywhere - each race can have some - and Dennis's models do. 

Speaking of tickets and a bit about what I wrote above, constructing them is so important, as we all know, and sometimes things are beyond our control. 

Saturday's Meadowlands Pace card was a dandy, and I wanted to fade Jiggy Jog as a potential 1-9 chalk with M and M's Dream. At about a minute to (the dragged) post I figured I'd take a pick 3 or 4, but they changed the menu for the night and there was only a 20 cent pick six offered (this usually goes in race 8). 

Scrambling, I keyed my longshot, then spread, then keyed chalk Sylvia Hanover and finished my one ticket quickly. Then I went back and pitched Sylvia (because she's a mental mess and can do dumb things). Then I took another ticket then it was post time. 

Noteworthy, I had already taken a pick three in the previous race, with the 9 keyed in leg two of this pick six (which was a cash leg for me), who was my top choice. Clearly I should've started my pick six ticket with 9-9-5 and spread, for a ticket cost of a modest $9.60 or $14.40. I would've if I had time to think about my ticket, but I didn't. 

M and M's won, a 42-1 shot I used upset in leg four, and I missed a horse who was obvious at 5-2, because I keyed that leg. I think the pick 6 paid $23k. 

I know people like ITP and Chris on the Bet with the Best pod are swaying more and more bettors to the "ticket construction is as important as handicapping" angle, and this is a good thing. But even when we do focus on it, this game can bite you in the ass. 

We truly need to Boy Scout this game - always be prepared. I wasn't and I lost. 

The Big M had a nice handle that approached $6 million for Pace night, and that was surely helped with the Mohawk cancel after the monsoon hit. I think they did a good job with the card, however I was surprised the last five races (with two big stakes) did not see a pick five offered. Maybe next year. 

One gripe - tracks, in my view, should do better with making sure they have proper equipment changes, and broadcasting them on all available media. It's vital to us as bettors, and when the masses don't know that Oh Well switched from an open to a blind (when it's referenced in the post-race interview) they have to do better. 

I see some criticism on the interwebs about the length of the cards at the Spa, and frankly I tend to agree. Golf is doing everything to increase the pace of play, as has baseball. These cards are never ending. 

I know there's a schedule with TV and simo, I know this ain't a charity and handle needs to be raised, and I know circumstances like weather have an effect, but 35 minutes to post to the third today for a three horse field really seems silly to me. 

If thoroughbred players at the Spa see the name Phil Antonacci and don't know him, I think you should. They are an extremely smart harness outfit and their horses are always happy, sound and fit as a fiddle. As they say in the game, they don't miss much. 

CarlyK with the trifecta. 

Chris's Bet with the Best Pod had two new guests since my unscheduled blogging break - one, the amazing Andy Beyer and two, Frank Mustari, just out today.

Last up. If you think I'm not gonna post this pic on this blog, you're crazy. Garnet with #ChuckforHISAPrez

As always thank you for reading, have a super good week, and please, go cash some tickets!

Tuesday, July 4, 2023

Backstretch Innuendo and the Friends of God

Happy 4th of July to my friends in the lower 48. I hope you and your families have a wonderful holiday. 

I was listening to some backstretch rumor this week about what barn is doing what, and it got me thinking about Bob. No, not that Bob; another one - Cousin Bob. 

Bob was in his 20's when I was a kid and I thought he was just about the coolest guy around. He had tattoos and the most-excellent chopper you'll ever see. Cousin Bob was a biker dude. 

As far as I can tell (and heard) this was nothing nefarious, it was a bunch of guys and gals in their twenties carousing and living life. Then, just like with most of us, life got in the way. Bob was hired at a steel mill in the Southern Ontario town of Hamilton - Canada's Pittsburgh. 

Bob worked there for the next twenty or so years and decided as he neared retirement he'd live a little bit of life again. He broke out the chopper, got it fixed up and began riding on weekends. A couple of his old friends joined, then a few new ones. This group grew to eighteen or nineteen and they had a blast riding around, just enjoying the summer. 

One day they stopped for lunch and one of the cohort decided this new bike gang needed a name. 

After batting around several, one piped in with the new moniker that would stick - they'd be now known as the FOG - the "Fat Old Guys". 

A logo was created with the acronym along with a chopper with flames shooting out the exhaust, which I think was a bike gang logo staple. They proudly wore the patch on their backs, just like old times. 

One day about a month or two later the phone rang. One of Bob's FOG pals was in a tizzy. He received a call from someone in a *real* bike gang from Toronto. 

"They want to meet. They think we're a real gang and we're planning to encroach on their turf", said his pal, who I think was an accountant. 

Bob was perplexed, "Why would they want to meet with us, we're the freaking Fat Old Guys."

"That's the thing," explained Bob's friend. "They think we're the FOG all right, but not the Fat Old Guys. They think our gang is called "Friends of God". They believe we're a Christian bike gang and they had trouble with one once." 

"All I know is that you and I are supposed to be in North Toronto tonight at 9."

Bob knew enough about the culture that he had to show up, so the two of them drove to the meeting. Funnily enough, the accountant's wife made him pack socks and underwear, just in case he ended up in the hospital. 

Bob and his pal drove up and went in, where they were greeted by several real bikers, and one asked immediately, "Tell me about this Friends of God thing"

Bob explained that they were the Fat Old Guys, which (after some time) drew great amounts of laughter. 

"I told you this sounded stupid," said one, who went on to explain how Jimmy heard they were the new Christian gang through Rickie's wife Sue, who heard it from another biker from another gang's mechanic, who heard it from..... well you get the picture. 

They had a beer or two and went on their way. Crisis averted and the Fat Old Guys rode for years. 

Bob passed away last year and I think of this story often. It's one of my favorites for many reasons, not the least of which is the game of telephone it exemplfies. 

When I heard this week that this barn has this juice from this source because Jimmy knows someone's wife who knows someone, it brought it back once again. 

No doubt sometimes a gang really is the Friends of God, but more often than not they're just the Fat Old Guys. 

Have a nice Tuesday everyone, and rest in peace Bob. You were one of a kind.  

Monday, June 26, 2023

Monday's World Famous Super Spectacular Blog - Lasix, CRW's, Taylor Swift's a Racetrack, Pick 5 Ticket Example, Ascot versus Oak Grove, We Bet Real Money Here, Rebates for Only a Few & We're in the Gambling Business

Good morning and welcome to this week's edition of the World Famous Super Spectacular Blog.  

It's the first week on the SSB without a thank you to the Russian bots because I ain't getting involved in that imbroglio. Instead, here's a cat video. 

Off we go!

Despite his (mostly unfair, they have free breadsticks) disdain for the Olive Garden, I have to side with my pal Chuckeroo, and as sad as it makes me, against our other chum, Brad Cummings protege Ray Bacon here. 

I'm honestly not much for the lasix debate in this sport because it sure gets tribal. But I'm a pretty simple guy: 

60% of horses bleed from their lungs. Can someone explain to me how it's considered cruelty to help them not bleed?

Helluva piece by Pat over at the TIF last week that I figure many of you read. The CRW wagering patterns are certainly formidable in this day and age. 

Some highlights:

  • The big dogs are in the harder to hit bet pools; for example, almost 4 in 10 bucks of the pick 5 pool is teams' money. Wondering why the sequence paid what it did? They probably had it. 
  • If you're trying to avoid the big money and look for value holes, try the doubles. 
  • Crunk proffers they're about topped out at approximately 24% of pools and can't bet much more than they are currently betting. The math seems to say so. Does this bode well or not for handle growth from here on out? Likely the latter in the short term. 
  • Pat shares a rumor they're after better prices in whichever way possible it seems (which could be a signal they're topping out). This makes sense regardless, because when they get a better price they can wager more. For those of you who've said *takeout matters* while shouting into a vacuum, there's evidence point 9 million for you. 
  • I don't tend to agree with the thoughts about CRW wagering hurting purses. Just because the chicken has wings doesn't mean it can fly. Lower handle hurts purses, and we've had lower handle for a long time. California's 2010 takeout hike to "save racing" that people at the CHRB meeting applauded likely contributed massively to this mess.  
  • Pat's ways to improve the situation are tough for me to argue with. 
Podcasts are many, but the hosts doing them as well as Beem (in my humble opinion) are few! Jason is such a personable fellow and seems comfortable with guests from all facets of the sport, and he sure was at-ease with Bettor Chris this week. Fun discussion fellas, I really enjoyed it. 

People outside racing often hear insiders say "they were born to race" and some's eyes glaze over. Those folks should watch this video of a beaver. 

I thought this was  a nice story on World On Edge, who was found malnourished, in some trouble, and nursed back to health to win races.

I'm not sure you've heard of her or not, but there's a woman named Taylor Swift who's having this big concert tour and I read about it in the WSJ today.  The whole she-bang is supposed to generate $1B in revenue, and after paying for all hosting distribution, promoting fees etc, she is left with about 35% or $350 million. 

If she were a racetrack, on a 20% takeout bet her host fee would be 7%. 

We often hear that the tracks should get more and more of the takeout and I get it. But if you're looking for distribution and growth, the business models say you can't do it alone, and that costs money. 

Unlike horse racing (outside the Derby), Taylor does have an edge through alternative revenue streams. The piece notes she can gross a couple million or so a night from merchandise and CD/Album sales, and she has big corporations like Capital One sponsoring the tour. The sport has tried to do a bit of this - especially through sponsorships - but it's not really a big part of anything. 

The new Omni Swinger wager at Woodbine is not doing very well, and I'm not sure it can last. On Thursday a 33-1 shot (6) beat a 25-1 shot (8) at the wire and the 6-8 swinger paid $15.55.  The pool was barely over $500. 

The amateur races at the Meadowlands as a part of their pick 4's and 5's have many shaking their heads, including some of the participants. This racing is moving towards an uncanny valley for me. I expect a harness race and I get to watch, well, whatever some of those races are. We know if you line up a set of horses at any major track it's going to drive handle, but sometimes I wonder how we bet real money on these races. 

So I bought this heat pump a few years ago off the internet and I didn't have the slightest idea how to install it. A buddy says, "I know a guy", so the guy comes over and he's like the nicest dude around. 

While we're installing this thing I have the races on the tee vee and he's stoked - "I bet, too". Since then, every few weeks or so, I get a text from him about racing. This week's:

Since I typed exactly the same thing moments before to a friend, I can only conclude that Larry the Heat Pump Guy is a brother from another mother. 

Marshall chatted about CRW wagering on Pete's pod this week. 

Two Phils won the Ohio Derby and there's a lot of "who did he beat" talk, but to me, coming off the Derby where he was the best of the lot, it's just a win confirming the obvious - he's pretty good. And as I type this, Marcus the Greek reports that he came out of the race with an ankle injury. Gosh, the ups and downs of this freaking sport. 

Tony Z popped into a horse tourney and won. Nice effort for Ed as well. It might be kind of remarkable to some that the exacta was a guy who couldn't tell you what Irad looks like onto a guy who probably knows what Irad had for breakfast last week. It's why the game is big tent, and why I wonder what kind of money we're leaving on the table with bad betting policy. 

The horse racing twitter is having a field day talking about the poor ADW coverage of the Ascot meeting. Watching along, it does feel nowhere near the quality of the work that Ray Cotolo is putting together on the Oak Grove harness feed. 
Mathematically sound tickets can be an exercise in frustration (Chris referenced this on the Beemer pod with betting value in straight pools), because we're not betting to hit, but to hit good tickets. There was a nice example on Tuesday night at Mohawk. 

In the pick five the fields were super short, and even more importantly not deep. We had:
  • A big chalk in leg one who looked vulnerable. 
  • What looked like two contenders in leg two. 
  • Co-six to five shots in leg three and in leg four
  • A spread race in leg five
Every sequence has a story. Going chalk then 2 by 2 by 2 and spread is your square ticket that you will likely hit, but there's probably no way it can deliver long term ROI. We clearly have to figure out something outside that main story. 

One person I chat with liked a horse to beat the chalk in leg one at 6-1, and then keyed, keyed, keyed, in the legs people would go two deep to cover, and then spread to six horses. It was an extremely sound ticket that only cost him $24 for $4. 

The horse he keyed in leg four was much the best, but lost to the other chalk, because of a horrible drive. The pick five paid $500, and my betting pal was sad faced. 

Our mind works in mysterious ways when we lose, and we may say to ourselves, "if I backed it up I would've hit for $500", but you have to back up three races, not one, at least tripling ticket size. And maybe you have to back up leg one as well. 

When we account for this selection bias, the ticket turns into a play defensive hellscape. 

At that point we're probably better off placing our ticket money into a $50 or $100 win bet in leg one on the 6-1 shot (to cash more than the pick five itself paid). 

In a five race sequence things can happen. We'll lose more than we win. And, as above in section two, the teams are firing on all cylinders. But I thought that was a great ticket that just didn't happen to win. 

I loved this interview with Johnny V after winning with Crimson Advocate at Ascot. You can't wipe the smile off his face. I know people in sports media talk about about "acting like you've been there before" blah, blah, blah. But seeing people happy when they're happy after winning a race is why we all get into this game isn't it? 

I saw this tweet from Quantum - a super sharp fellow - this week, and the last line "rebates should only be given to verified long term losing players as was intended" interested me. 

This is an opinion that the casinos embrace, but is it true for parimutuel racing?

I suspect the sweet spot for a rebate is for players who are close, but not quite good enough. I think the teams' volume is testament to that. It's where winning (even some of the time) makes one's wagering explode. 

But I can't argue too much with Quantum in a broad sense. If 99.5% of players lose, then rebates to losers means almost everyone gets one. Something I have long advocated. 

I really don't know, Andrew. When I first saw Flightline trending I honestly thought it had something to do with that sub.

Players like ITP (and it's a fave move of @lesstark88 too) believe in betting against a heavy chalk that shows even a hint of a problem, and players sure got that chance in the first at Mohawk on Thursday. 

The 3-5 shot came out hot, and the driver completely buried the horse, earning a call-up from the judges in the process. This odds-on loser helped the pick 5 pay a whopping $78,000 for a buck. The super in a short field with the chalk third returned $500 for a dollar (and for Swinger fans it paid about $5). 

I did my duty and pitched the horse and was actually alive in the pick 5 nicely; but the horse in the second leg that won I had ranked 9th, and it was only an eight horse field. Never in a million years. 

Like Ray Paulick said on the twitter, I too dreamed of being a professional golfer. Maybe Paulick coulda pulled this off but I couldn't have.

This is not a bad thought for those of us who want things to move along, but the key difference is baseball is in the entertainment business and horse racing isn't.  A race on a big stakes card is like an ice-cream stand on the pier on a hot summer day - if it stays open for 30 minutes instead of 20 it makes more bank. 

As blog pal @epo13 says sometimes, the sport is "gambletainment", and like it or not (and I know some of us don't like it) the gamble part is the one that brings in the revenue. 

Thanks for reading this edition of the Super Spectacular Blog. Just like every week, be nice on the twitter and go cash some big tickets.  

Monday, June 19, 2023

Monday's World Famous Super Spectacular Blog - Woodbine Live Visit & NA Cup Thoughts, Chuck Simon is Probably Right.... But, & Old Greenwood Raceway Bets

Good morning everyone, it's that time again. But maybe this is not super, nor spectacular this week. I was in the Canadian Shield at a lake and and I'm sure there were some great arguments on twitter and hot news that I missed. 

Interestingly enough though, I spent some time with someone originally from Russia, and learned some Russian words. I might sprinkle those in from time to time for the loyal Ruskie bot readers. 

Anyhow, here are some random thoughts and whatnot - 

I had a long layover last week, and like most normal people with a layover, I went to the track. 

I have not been to Woodbine for live racing in quite some time. Here's a few observations of what I thought was the state of the live product at that venue. 

  • Say what you want when it comes to wagering, but Woodbine sinks cash into their property. There was construction everywhere, and expansion was evident. 
  • Table games and more slot machines took over the third floor at the east end. I didn't recognize the area and didn't go in, because I am allergic to anything but horse racing. But it's there. 
  • I was amazed how many flat screens were around, and equally amazed at what they were advertising - low takoeut WPS at Hawthorne, low juice bets at Hoosier Park - while Woodbine doesn't really have any low takeout bets at their live venue to advertise. One ad I could not understand - commercials for NYRA Bets, where you can't even sign up for it in Ontario. 
  • The Burgers are good, better than I remember. 
  • I enjoyed sitting with my boys once again in the betting lounge - that is, the Jamaican crew. I'm pretty sure it's like this at New York tracks too, where the city has a big population. It was just like I remember - friendly, and they cheer like hell. My seat mate, Wayne, said after a particularly raucous finish, "you gotta love the racetrack". I love the melting pot of a city track; don't ever change. 
  • The fifth race was a pretty horrible maiden claimer and I liked the 20-1 morning line shot. It must've been a bad line because the horse was fairly live at 5-1, then floated to 12-1. There was a slight delay and the horse went from 12-1 to 6-1 to 7-2 chalk the last couple flashes and won like a 4-5 shot. While I usually hear the "they knews" on twitter, I got to see it live this time and it was glorious. 
  • For fellow layover enthusiasts, it's now a $30 flat rate from the track to Pearson. Gas is expensive in the Tundra. 
  • Over the urinals (not sure about the ladies room) Woodbine HPI (Woodbine's ADW) rewards were posted. I don't know why, but I found this funny. I was impressed with the 10% off food offer for members. I think I suggested that on this blog around 15 or so years ago, so I was clearly ahead of the curve!
I didn't stay for the North America Cup at Mohawk, but I did watch from the ADW machine and found the races exciting, the show good, and despite the accident in the Mohawk Gold Cup, the night an overall good one. 

Some thoughts:
  • Handle was high once again, but I noticed the super high five mandatory is not doing what it once did. The market seems to be speaking. Zeron had his horse ready to go, and the field (and the bettors who couldn't handicap this occurrence) were cannon fodder. 
  • Scott Zeron, who bettors complain often isn't aggressive enough, was aggressive all night. And it won him the Goodtimes and the North America Cup. 
  • I see some folks giving Jordan Stratton the gears for his drive on Voukefeles in the Cup, but I personally can't fault him a ton. He wanted to stick to Tetrick who was driving the chalk, but Tetrick got too far back early. I can definitely agree he should've stayed on the outside and moved David Miller and Ammo three wide, but in the end it probably would not have mattered. For the record I bet him. 
  • Sylvia Hanover gets a lot of love, but (willing to be wrong on this, because it's the way we roll) I think Charleston is the better mare and will prove it this year. That was an Always B Miki Meadowlands Pace trip that filly got in the Fan Hanover. I can't believe she was still charging home. 
  • John Rallis's interview with Tom Hill after Grace Hill won the Roses Are Red was hilarious. Not only did Tom snatch the mic from Rallis like he was stealing a kid's string cheese at snack time, he berated just about everyone for not giving his mare any credit. And he even shared he thinks it's maybe in part because they don't like English people. 
  • OK, I find this weird. The connections of all horses in the Cup watch from the same spot, and you can't cheer or get excited because it's not proper. Nancy Takter in a beach chair, Joe Holloway, and the winner Linda Toscano were featured (and props to Brett Pelling for doing the horseplayer "dip" when he just fell short).  I'll tell ya, this is a much different scene than my old horse owning partner Vern who I saw cheer one of our 5 claimers to victory at 30-1 where people called 911 to report that a crazy person escaped the asylum. 
I saw Mike's tweet about watching the North America Cups at Greenwood long ago (they were packed!) and it got me thinking about the place ...... 

Greenwood, 1924

The way we bet today certainly has changed, and we all know most of the differences – e.g. we bet online in ITP’s mom’s basement. 

For the less obvious, I thought about “The Super Seven” recently. This was a $1 wager at old Greenwood Raceway in Toronto and as the name implies, you had to pick the winners of seven consecutive races.

Greenwood, like most city tracks in the late 80’s or early 90’s, was filled with bettors, and invariably someone was alive in the Super Seven after leg four or five. They’d scour the grandstand like mice looking for cheese, trying to sell a piece of their ticket. 

This secondary market was especially interesting because people had a devil of a time pricing what a ticket was worth. We didn’t have screens showing us how much was alive. We didn’t have rolling double payoffs to look at. And I don’t think we even had a pool size number. 

After watching this phenomenon during this epoch, I think the sellers made out better than the buyers because the buyers tended to be more bullish on prices. Perhaps there’s a human behavioral wagering lesson in there for us. 

Regardless, downtown racetracks were a blast for so many reasons. Piecing out sweeps tickets is a long-gone lost art, but it was one of them, and it was absolutely fabulous.

Regarding those who believe racing will "end" if we don't embrace polytrack, or HISA rules, or whatever to prevent more breakdowns, I believe Chuck is mostly right. He conveys that we will never eliminate breakdowns, for example, and lowering them to 0.25 per thousand starts from say, 2.0 in a thousand starts is meaningless when it comes to the longevity of the sports' funding.

However, I do look at this (shocking I know) as an expected value math problem. 

This sport is increasingly rent seeking, so if it receives (for example) $1B of its revenue a year through government decree, protecting that on a per year basis is more political than real. 

Let's take polytrack. 

The sport decides to go full blown poly, and let's assume this means less economic activity (not a given of course) of $100M. 

But if that decision allows governments and the public (they're trying to do better!) to continue funding at a higher probability (slot deal cancel chances are 10% versus 20%) mathematically you're ahead of the game. Yes, you're better off, even with the Kentucky Derby running on Goodyear tires. 

This, in my view, is not about what the bettors or breeders think of polytrack, or lasix, or anything else along those lines. It's, like handicapping, a game of probabilities. And the longer the sport of horse racing keeps the probability of subsidies high, the game won't end anytime soon. We'll just have to live with the stuff many other industries in the same position have and do. 

I use TimeformUS, and they keep doing some neat things. Aside for Canadian readers, the spouse of the figure maker at TFUS loves curling, so there's that, too. 

Pat Cummings wrote an excellent piece about the make-up of the wagering pools, CRW wagering and where it's going. Well researched and well done Pat. Worth a read. 

I saw a local reporter say the Leafs a month or so ago were the odds-on favorites to win the Cup (at +450). This is (mis)used quite a bit isn't it? We in sports or horse racing gambling use it (correctly) for something that is below even money (the odds are "on"), rather than over even money (the odds are "against"). But if you search the web - like assuming that dude did - you'll get a definition of "most likely to win" in a lot of places.

I read the WSJ last week and learned Jeff Bezos' Amazon side hustle Blue Origin has been chosen to develop a moon lander. A hundred years ago super-rich folks like Rockefeller were off vaccinating people against hookworm, or developing schools to broaden education, so things certainly have moved on. We're the Jetsons now, and the progress has been sensational. 

Meanwhile, here I am wishing horse racing went backwards to 1907 when parimutuel wagering was invented and the takeout was 5%. 5% to 21% in a century doesn't feel like progress to me; certainly not let's-go-to-space-with-a-machine-made-by-a-guy-who-sold-books-online-25-years-ago progress.

Watched Jerry and Marge Go Large on Paramount+ a couple of weeks ago and found it super cute. The film, about working class retirees who took the Massachusetts lottery for $27 million unsuspectingly pays homage to any of us who tried to beat a game. They simply found a flaw where the prize payout was +EV during the carryover portion, and interestingly enough, the math (and game theory) shown in the movie I thought was pretty accurate. Lucky for them there were no CRW's to take it down back then (but there were some pesky Harvard math kids).

Let's be sure to have a very nice week everyone, and as always be nice to each other on the social media; but maybe not too nice since I need content for this blog. 

A challenge: Next week I'd like to highlight one of you (non-team players) hitting a $100k pick 5 or 6 as my main feature story, so please get on that and make it so.

Monday, June 12, 2023

World Famous Super Spectacular Blog - Belmont Week Thoughts, NYRA's Airplane Mode, Track Execs Need to Listen to this Pod, Repole's Rules, Half-Assing Price Reductions, NA Cup Elims & Two of Racing's Good New Broadcasters

Welcome to the newest Monday edition of the World Famous Super Spectacular Blog! 

This blog almost didn't get written as my overseas bots readers informed me you could see the fire smoke in Moscow, but we got it done. Seriously, I'm happy the weekend went off without a hitch, because it didn't look that way earlier in the week. 

Belmont thoughts.... 

In the New York Stakes on Friday we saw a .... harness race we get so mad at so often. 

The leader got down to the 3/4's in 115 and change, then set down 23.3 and 23 flat panels, meaning Secretariat himself probably would've struggled to make a dent on the leaders. Of course, the 3-5 chalk was toiling back in last. 

This is a speed game, and we all get that some turf horses have styles that have to be used. But for the others who are versatile, why don't more jocks use speed in paceless races and take a shot? Like coaches not going for it on 4th and 3, maybe because the downside risk hurts more than trying something aggressive to win. I really don't know, but most of those riders put the cue in the rack in the warm up.  

As an aside, this phenomenon reminds me of several Zenyatta races as she was often at the mercy of pace. Remember her Clement Hersch? 115 and change for an 8.5 furlong race where they ganged up to beat her, coming the last half furlong in 5 and 4. You didn't need to wait for what the Beyer came back because it didn't matter. 

Arabian Lion was not a big feel good win on the Twitter, but it was a nice outing and proved Baffert can still win in New York. It was a bit weird because offshore the horse was hammered, but I don't know too many who leaned that way, other than maybe Chris Larmey. After the steamiest of steam on Derby Day, General Jim's wagering pattern felt flat to me, didn't get a ton of pace to run down, and wasn't a factor. 

Cody's Wish. I have nothing else to say. 

I didn't watch the Fox Sports feed, but the natives were restless. 

The big one was quite an event, with honest fractions, and the horse who saved the most ground won in a very good effort. 

There's an old handicapping angle - when there's some unknowns, bet talent - and if you did that I am sure you bet Arcangelo. This horse was massively faded offshore, and I could not quite understand it. If you played there, you got 20-1, so a hearty well done. 

Forte ran fine, and I guess if you add the layoff and the fact he looked a little fractious beforehand, maybe he ran great. But he does seem to have a tough time quickening, and I am still not a fan. Maybe he needs blinkers; maybe he'll crush this summer and make me look dumb. I don't really know what to make of him.  

Tapit Trice was my wager because of a price I didn't expect, and I thought he was a winner on the far turn with the very aggressive move (because as his Blue Grass proved, he can sustain a move), but Louis' eyes might've been bigger than his stomach. 

John summed up the Belmont nicely. Yes, Big Red was a machine and we seem to get reminded of it year after year. 

Here's your day's Beyers. And here's your CJ Figures.  Figure making in today's game is pretty hard. 

Here's the Belmont handle numbers and assorted metrics over the years from Crunk. 

I remember people talking about this a decade or more ago ("Umm, you don't want me to use my handicapping materials and tools to give you money here?"), and I can't believe it's still a thing. It's treated like bringing outside food into a game (and a pro-tip, mobile phones are powerful in 2023 and you can bet on them). 

Mike Repole shared a story in the Bloodhorse about having a national body cure the bog of racing rules and regulations and followed it up with a tweet. I don't think anyone of us disagrees it's all a big mess. 

However, I think this task is like hitting a pick 38 with a $5 minimum. 

States control purse money in many juridictions, and they want to keep that control; and in case we're new here, like a brand new baby, we know governments don't work very efficiently when it comes to things like this in the first place. We have not even touched on the fact that all the alphabets want a say, as well. 

I speak from a tiny bit of experience. I sat on the rules committee for harness racing a couple of years ago that took up the task of writing a universal rule book. The project was chaired by one of the most respected people in the sport in John Campbell, where it hit the ground running with massive respect attached. Despite participants from all areas of the sport agreeing about virtually everything (including me representing the customer), a lot of it just went to die. 

I suppose this is why I have a soft spot for HISA, regardless of any issues I may disagree with. They're wading into a place that could be a framework for what Repole wants. And I think this sport desperately needs it. 

I thought this week's Bet with the Best pod with Denny was a humdinger. Denny is a database player, and since a lot of players don't wager this way, it will probably be a nice listen for just about anyone. There were a lot of gems. 

I've said this before, and maybe I'm talking out of my hat, but yes, Chris's pods are great for us players, but I believe they are absolute must listens for track executives. And this one was another example. 

There's even a template!
Denny talked about race selection driving his plays, and this is very common with anyone who wants to play volume. 

For example, the database program I use will filter out races with fewer than eight horses, and lower than a (proprietary) race volatility (RV) number with one button because it's so important. As an illustration, 'over' these numbers yields a win price of $13, and under around $8.  Players can find value in the former, less in the latter. 

On this blog, and from players everywhere who want to grow the game, we've asked for larger fields, better, more contentious races, and lower takeout (another item he touched on) simply because we'll bet more. And with that, the sport has a better chance to attract more people to try it like Denny has. 

Anyhow, another great pod Chris. I hope the big guys and gals who run the sport dial it up each and every week. 

A major ADW had a promotion up in Canuckland. If you bet more than X (depending on your history) you got 5% cash back. It was for a limited time. Great right?

But the kicker - the max you could earn in a takeout reduction was $1,000. 

So, player A says, great, I am gonna bet to get this rebate. They go on a run the first week and hammer through $20,000. They earn their $1,000.

"I see there's a limit of $1,000. I have $12,000 in my account and I'm ready to fire more, what can you do?"

"The limit is $1,000, so nothing."

"Then you want me to just stop betting?"

"We'd like you to keep betting, but you won't get any more rebates."

This, in my view, is the half-assing we see regarding price reductions in horse racing. You have dabbling into lower takeout pools, mostly with hard to hit bets; the odd carryover which brings in huge money. But it's always toe dipping. 

In this case, you have someone that might bet millions in a year and you tell them they can't. That you don't want more handle. 

I'll honestly never ever understand this. 

Weird is one word for it!

The North America Cup eliminations took place on Saturday and there were several standouts. What's the price on Voukafales in the final? That's the magic question for me. In my view, that horse was tremendous off the break. 

It's no secret Mohawk has been pretty sleepy the last several years with less competitive racing and drivers who seem to fall in love with the three hole. Like, it sure ain't Northfield. So, when better horses and the top drivers come up on days like this it shakes things up, and reminds a lot of us what the sport can be. I thought the racing was very good on Saturday. 

As for a common theme in the sport, it seems on a daily basis we see how in the dark the public is, and how little public money is in the pools despite high handles. In the 5th race, the second Cup elimination, Fulton was coming off a loss to Redwood Hanover last time (who was in the race) after getting everything his own way. This week the field was much deeper with likely favorite Combustion and Ammo added. It's one reason Fulton was down the list in picks, including not even in the top four for sharps like Pribozie. 

Fulton won easily and was chalk in every single multi-leg pool. Other than a bridle change (which over large samples is ROI negative and doesn't move this kind of money anyway), maybe people knew Combustion was going to be no good? Maybe they knew Fulton wasn't trained hard for last week's effort and would be that much better? I have no idea, but it's a tough game. 

Marcus the Greek was on fire with the professional wordsmithing stuff. I probably do this a lot on this blog, but I don't understand what mixed metaphors are in the first place so I'm not really sure. 

Future President of HISA campaigning.
Rallis is the new WEG broadcasting hire, and he's been making some waves, even catching the eye of sharps like Thomas. 

For people getting into broadcasting the sport, I'd respectfully suggest taking a look at how John talks about his tickets; it's different, dare I say almost ITP approved. And I can surely echo Thomas's point of view regarding his questions, as well as Ken's regarding his work ethic. 
John's never done TV before, and he's been working on that too, appearing to get more comfortable each day. Way to go and keep plugging John.
Another young broadcaster and capper I am really impressed with is NYRA's Sara Eldwabi. I got to listen to her on Chris and Scott's Sport of Kings pod last week, and her passion for the game and knowledge is apparent to anyone with ears. Good call keying Up to the Mark. The Euros were used on a lot of tickets tripling the cost and you were bang-on with that smart single. Keep on firing. 

Beem doesn't get his back up much, but he's a good dude. 

Interesting tweet by Tinkster that generated some cool discussion (those can still happen on twitter!).
The marketer in me wonders how many people showed up for the Satanic exorcism and how many for the fifty cent fried chicken (h/t to Andymays), but while I ponder this, thanks for reading this week's Super Spectacular Blog.  And like each and every week - good luck at the windows and please be nice on the social medias.

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