Welcome again to the Super Spectacular Blog!
Thank you, as always, for reading and supporting our many advertisers. And to the Russian bots, I admire your relentlessness in breaking through the most recent iteration of my firewall. You're as tenacious as Rich Strike on a stable pony.
Here are some thoughts that caught our eye this week. I hope you enjoy them.
I listened to Beyer and Cummings this week on the Steve Byk show deliving into the Computer Assisted Wagering topic, which has been hotter than usual lately.
It's nothing that they said, or even alluded to, but I fear this topic might go off the rails a little. Namely, the chatter we hear that cutting CRW's out of pools will somehow fix things.
Back in 1909 a bookie on a street corner in Brooklyn was taking bets with ten cent football lines. No matter what iteration we've seen since then - technological advancements, inflation, computers, all the way to corporations owning sports betting in 2023 - people are still betting into ten cent football lines.
These bookies didn't need to rebate, or court betting teams. They just offered a fair line.
Horse racing, when parimutuel wagering was invented around the same time, had 5% takeout too, but then it kept going up. Not because the customer was doing anything differently, but because racing (and the government) prescribed monopoly pricing.
This left us with an artificially priced product, and when we have that, we create a black market. The black market is really good for twenty or so teams right now.
CRW is not the disease, it's a symptom of the disease of monopoly pricing. Booting out those mean old betting teams doesn't fix anything, it just decreases handle and discourages others.
A fella with a fedora and a grade six education in 1909 Brooklyn figured out the right price for his product. This massive sport with its billions of investment and capable people with lots of letters after their names never has, and in my view, most issues like CRW trace back to that fact.
Derby prep weekend deep analysis -- After watching the races closely I honestly have no idea.
But once again, what a great job by this sport in promoting the three preps back to back to back.
I do see that Twitter is ablaze with Japan references. At this rate their horses could be this year's Patch.
Nick Tammaro believes Forte's Derby odds won't be less than 7-2. That sounds right to me.
Sliding over to a topic that fascinates a lot of us who watch both breeds - thoroughbred training versus harness training is so different.
I was reading the Mark Etsell interview column in Trot and this was his response when the two year old he was training down got a little spooked and went a :57 second half mile.
"This [fast half] is way too much at the time. I’m standing there and the groom is bathing her. I’m looking at her and I’m thinking ‘Oh man, I just screwed this filly’."
Meanwhile, a thoroughbred baby pushed to run a fast quarter is being bid on for millions.
There are many reasons standardbreds are more durable than thoroughbreds, but the strong foundation put under the standardbred with lots of slow miles before asking for anything of them is certainly one.
Sports betting was open!
I can't log-in to NYRA Bets to watch replays because it's Easter, but hey, what time does the casino open up?— David Grening (@DRFGrening) April 9, 2023
I miss the Derby Trial. For those that don't follow my lament, they actually moved a Kentucky Derby prep to Derby Day. Rick Dutrow is back, but even he wouldn't run a Kentucky Derby starter in the Derby Trial on Derby Day. Well, maybe he would, but a week earlier is better and I'd like to see someone try the Trial-Derby double just because it'd be some cool throw back stuff.
Play the win pool they say. Use Kelly to figure out your edge, they tell us. Bet a unit bet, they say. It's kinda hard when the horse you like is 27-1 at 3 minutes to post and ends up 2-1.
Riddle me this. 2012 handle on Blue Grass day was $21.6M. 2023 looks to come in at $26.8M.
Now, the top line "growth" is devoid of inflation adjustments, economic and population growth, freer money, less intra-racing competition and the growth of big days in the sport. So taking that into account we should see a big jump from $21M a decade ago.
But in 2012, the handle was at about 17% blended takeout, and it's likely upwards of 80% of that handle was near those rates with lots of retail players. In '23 the (posted) blended takeout is up a couple of points (after Keeneland raised juice), but upwards of 40% of it is being heavily rebated, well below posted rates.
With mathematically a probable slight reduction in juice rates, this is shuffling deck chairs, with the only big difference being who pays the freight, which is the retail player. There are not surprisingly fewer of them firing now and this is not dissimilar to what California racing has seen after its rake hike back in 2010.
Why do tracks raise the top line takeout? When you crunch the numbers it truly is a mystery.
We’ve all been there little dude.
This week's announcer update is about um, burgers. A trifecta announcer chat about White Castle (Beem and Edison put the cue in the rack, Cololo a big yes in the shadow of the wire).
Chris's new Bet with the Best pod is out with Matt Miller. I haven't listened to this one yet but it's on my list.
First quarter wagering saw handle decrease 3% with purses up 9%, according to Equibase.
Sports betting handle in Louisiana dropped after a record setting January. Not coincidentally, promotional spend (free bets) fell 50% from January. Crunk proferred that the sports betting promo spend (and immersing these bettors into the medium) has stickiness though. If that's true, the high customer cost per acquisition from promo spend might not be as insane as it looked. And if so, that tells us that racing's meager or almost non-existent promos were and are missing something.
Lots of people on the twitter are posting the time it takes to complete a baseball game now that they're using the pitch clock (hint, these games are moving fast). We never post times for post drag, because we never actually know. Is it 8 minutes, 9, 12? The thing that really messes me up with post drag is when I'm playing a track that has a short drag. I see "zero" and figure I have time to finish my taxes and I always end up getting shut out.
Whatever you think of the changes to baseball rules I think the point that resonates with me most is that they can change them. And in baseball - an old historic game - it can't be easy. I wish we could do similar with uniform rules on say herding.
@john_rallis picks pretty good at the Meadowlands over at the NAHU website, so when my brother called me last week and asked who I liked and I was busy I said “take a look at John Rallis’s picks, he watches replays and maybe you’ll get some ideas” and sent him a link. One of the horses he picked won, and my bother bet it.
My brother is notorious for messing up names and when I spoke to him the next day, he said, “I bet that horse in the 10th your buddy John Rahm liked”.
Congratulations to John Rahm for the nice Meadowlands winner, and winning his first Masters.
Speaking of the Masters, it reminded me of a piece on Skiba, who won the $1M DFS Golf Championship a couple years ago. The Q and A talks about racing, and has some gems about playing pick fives and sixes.
Rallis's good friend @ryanwillis1 was super cranky this week (I'll make this an official update and give it a 9 out of 10), but I gave him a winner and he cashed and he got nicer. Oh and Chuck Simon President of HISA Update - Dark forces are at work and we're not there yet.
ITP-Mike Joyce Buddy Movie Update - The script writers and show runners are working overtime, and I'm starting to think this film could be a hit. They've allowed me to share one scene that I believe is a cinematic tour-de-force.
Mike and ITP hop in the Minivan and map out a trip to Aqueduct for the big triple pick six carryover. They decide to stop in Jersey for a hero sandwich (for people outside Jersey I think this is a sub) and sit down. Right at that moment who walks in - Andy Serling.
Mike knows Andy and they greet. As we'll find out when watching the film, this is a pivotal point in the plot. You see, Mike is beginning to like ITP and a bond is being formed. Earlier, during the Keeneland leg of the trip, ITP convinced Mike to single a C horse and he made $48,000. But it's more than that, it's the beginnings of a deep seeded friendship. Mike doesn't want to blow ITP's cover, and possibly cause a scene.
"Who's your friend," asks Serling.
"Ummmm it's ...... my driver, Scooter, Scooter McBaffert." replies Joyce.
Andy looks at him funny, grabs his sandwich, signs a couple autographs and leaves.
"Scooter McBaffert?" ITP incredulously asks.
"Remember when we were snowed in at Tahoe and watched Happy Gilmore? It's kinda the first thing that came to mind," Mike replies.
They share a glance, just like in this screen shot (but this is not Mike and ITP).
Next week - Our dynamic duo head to Tampa Bay Downs.
What's with economists and racing? Caroline Betts, Skip Sauer, Marshall Gramm are all into this sport. Keith Bush, although not an economist, but is a sharpie with extra letters after his name, is another one (and his Jason Beem pod was dandy). I think we all know there's a lesson in this, and it's probably why we all cringe a bit when we see the fancy hat marketing.
This game is so big tent - older school people like Mike Maloney and Inside the Pylons to folks in academia and beyond populate this space. Left-brained people are attracted to the puzzle.
Tiger on scaling back the golf ball.
Here's something apropos of nothing, but I’ll do it anyway because this blog is free.
Back in the early nineties I got called for a game of pick-up basketball on the east end of Toronto. For those who know the city, the Queen streetcar was the method of transport from downtown to Greenwood Raceway, and it so happens my basketball game was on the way near River Street. I’d play, shower up at a friend’s and head to the track.
I’m early as a rule, so I arrive at the meeting place – a big working-class tavern in this fairly rough part of town – to wait for my friends. The place is packed. I look around and see one stool open out of about 50 of them at the long bar. I scurry over to get it.
I give the guy to my left who is sitting there with a pint of beer and a smoke a quick glance and nod (I’m not sure I see girls do this much, but boys do this all the time at the bar; you know, the nod). A half second later it dawns on me. It's Kiefer Sutherland.
I have no idea what some star is doing all alone at this working-class bar, but there he is. Interestingly, I have an out with ol’ Kiefer, should I want to talk to him – I went to university with his neighbor in north TO. But, I’m not one for that sort of thing much, and no one else was bugging him, so I didn’t.
I went and played basketball and went to the track.
Like I said, apropos of nothing, but I watched Rabbit Hole on Paramount+ this week. It stars my could’ve been blood-brother Kief and I thought it was pretty good. It contains dozens and dozens of conspiracy theories that I've convinced myself are all in play when I consistently seem to lose pick 5's or 6's in the last leg.
Have a wonderful week everyone. Cash some tickets, be nice on twitter and please share the Super Spectacular Blog with important people like Ray Paulick so he can advertise his website here and make me big bucks. My ADW balance is at like 9 cents.
Oh, and not to forget: To my Russian friends, Я тебя люблю.