Monday, May 29, 2023

World Famous Super Spectacular Blog Vol 9 - When Churn Works (and Doesn't Work), Transparency Can Be Scary, Pitching Horses Off Bad Lines, Gural Minds the Store, & Are New York OTB's Back?

Welcome to the World Famous Super Spectacular Blog! 

Last week was a record traffic one for the blog, but it was also a record for spam hits. To all of the real readers like Chip Reinhart, movie star Ryan Reynolds movie star Ray Cotolo, and I mighta saw one of the Beulah twins' IP's this week - I thank you profusely. 

To the bots, I thank you as well because I don't weed out spam hits when I send the total traffic reports to all of my advertisers. 

Let's get it going on this lovely Monday!

Last week we snipped a short conversation between ITP and Bucky about how racing prices the hard-to-hit bets lower than the win pool, and this is antithesis to other games; skill or otherwise. Tony Z chimed in on it as well. 

I'd like to explore this a little more, if I may. 

When a track offers out a 12% pick five it indicates a churn rate of about 7, meaning each dollar bet should be rebet around seven times. But, we know this is not the case for a couple of reasons. 

First, a hard to hit bet can payoff to few people instead of many, and the higher payouts can suck money out of bankrolls. For instance, most lose, and for the lucky few casual players who do hit a $3,000 or $4.000 pick 5 usually some money is withdrawn and this drains some churnable money.

Second, if the teams are playing these wagers (and covering things smaller players can't) your average Joe or Jane's takeout rate is not in actuality 12% but can probably be as high as 30%, 40%, or even 50% in some cases. The big guys are hitting at high rates, the little guys at deviations less.  

The result of this is kind of obvious. The teams churn at higher rates, the lower cohort does not. The devil is in the details and if we plotted these cohorts on a graph and sent it to a business analyst, he or she would likely conclude we have an unhealthy ecosystem. 

Flipping over to win betting at 12% juice, we have a different paradigm. The big players would still win more, but there would be less of a gap between them and the smaller player. Your average player would churn much closer to seven times and be more of an equal participant in the parimutuel landscape. 

Now, we have other issues as well, like the integrity of the win pools with late odds drops - it's hard to bet size in a mathematically sound way without knowing the final odds. And that's why, in my view, the promise of fixed odds (if done correctly) is so tempting. However, despite the problems with the win pools, they're much better than (as ITP noted) 'herding people into hard to hit bets at 12%', and acting like we're doing them a huge favor. 

I think the betting ecosystem in Australia is the closest to optimal that I've seen. 

Downunder, a large majority of handle year after year is bet into the win pools - in figure 1 this is represented by fixed, exchanges, as well as about half of the TAB wagering. Via the exchange medium regular players can find about an 8% takeout rate, resulting in a churn multiple of around 12. 

This, I believe, is one reason why Aussie handle is so high and growing. They've made the game palatable not through an unchurnable 12% pick six gimmick that breaks weekend warrior bankrolls, but an eight percent good old-fashioned win bet that everyone can play. 

It's nice to see people thinking outside the box, but as David put it on twitter, not every idea is automatically a good idea. 

6 horse field racing "leagues" to drum up interest? I just don't know. Even some people outside the sport don't seem exactly thrilled. 

On the flip side, and maybe this makes more sense - Bacon hints this is some sort of idea linked to a reality show series. 

I dunno, I'm having trouble connecting dots here, so I'll just take a pass. 

Meanwhile, Asaro made a provocative post pontificating that horse racing should move to states where there are low taxes, less intervention and a lower cost of living. In a high cost industry with day rates going up and horse owners (and even some successful trainers) losing money, it makes logical sense. 

But what state has the things Andy is looking for? Texas, and they're currently in a fight with HISA rules while racing in front of a few barn cats with no handle. Racing issues cross state lines faster than a Burt Reynolds in a Trans-Am. 

I saw the weirdest thing this week, a 12-1 morning line horse at Belmont was taking a beating in the offshores at 7-2. It's something we'll see from time to time, but not often especially with Aragona lines. I sensed something was up, but when I checked double projections in the race before, the horse was..... about 12-1. Usually this results in an odds line fix, but there the horse was, still at 7-2. 

The board opened and the horse was, you guessed it, 12-1. 

He closed at 12-1 and came 8th. 

Like I said, it was very strange. 

Gural's Meadowlands' team investigated a payoff into the last race last week at the Big M, and Sturman says that he's glad someone is minding the store. When this happens in racing, it often feels like the lights are on but no one is home, but not at the M. Hey, at least they're trying. 

My Neilson ratings are huge when I mention Irad, so here's this week's. Johnny V chats with him, but the jury is still out. Also, for my bot traffic, Russian Emporer won a nice grade one race in Hong Kong. 

DeRosa ran the May trainer numbers and looking at my bankroll it appears I bet Ness and McPeek a lot. Speaking of DeRosa, he went through his betting numbers with Beemer this week. 

This week, former twitter CEO Jack Dorsey tweeted "Whoever controls the media controls the mind". If the PTP Monday Blog is the horse racing media, and ergo I control the industry mind, please lower the takeout. 

Are we at the point where any tweet about Baffert is about as welcome as a porcupine at a nudist camp? 

Pat over at the TIF writes that pre-race inspection reports should be made public before the Triple Crown races. He illustrates how it's done in other countries, so this isn't new, but would be new to North America. 

We often see the downside fear used in the sport for any change of policy; for example exchanges were criticized because someone out there might bet a horse to lose (like people don't do that already by betting another horse). In this case they likely fear the worst if something bad happens to a horse who is cleared to run. 

It's probably a worry that's not too far off base, but in the end, I figure you're either transparent or you're not. 

I find it interesting (in harness or the runners) to get into the mind of the connections when their horse ran terrible last out. Sometimes the horse misses time because something was physically wrong. Sometimes it's a shrug of the shoulders because the trainer has no clue why, and they reenter at a regular interval. And sometimes it was something explicable or easily fixed, and we see a quick wheelback. 

These are horses in my database off terrible lines, right back in within 14 days, no work (with a couple of other factors) and at 3-2 or lower (for the last half year or so). 

So, I'd go with "explicable or easily fixed" with this subset. 

These are horses we may pitch because of the last line (we clearly aren't wanting a horse like this keyed in a pick 5 at a short price where we can't see an odds board), and we might be right logically. But man, when they are bet - at least lately - they're in serious #theyknew territory. 

Chuck's pod talked about the malaise the modern player feels with handicapping and wagering the game in this day and age. I too feel the sport has to do something because it seems we're at some sort of tipping point. I have malaise on top of malaise lately and it saddens me because this is such a great game. 

Dutrow's back. And in a twist, the horses came from a barn in a trouble spot.  

This ain't no food blog, Lord knows I am the wrong person for that, but when Garnet takes a picture of a Famous Woodbine Roast Beef Sandwich, it makes the editor's cut. 

Greg Schuler's tweet last week talked about harness racing as a "club sport" and it made it to print!

Happy life to Jessica!  May you two hit many winners. 

** Last Up - New Advertiser Alert **

Having a high traffic blog like I have, you have some important readers that aren't even Russian and this can mean $$$. 

The head of NYRA emailed this week - 

"PTP, I'd like to get our OTB system going again, so can I please advertise to your hundreds of thousands of readers on the Super Spectacular Blog© ?"

I said, "anything for you buddy", and here we are (hat tip to Paceadvantage for this old time favorite). 

Thanks for reading the Memorial Day edition of the Super Spectacular Blog. 

As always, be nice on twitter, enjoy your week, and go cash some tickets. 

Monday, May 22, 2023

Super Spectacular Blog Vol 8 - Preakness Day Thoughts. Rudulph, TVG Actually Doesn't Mention ITP, Go and No Go - Why Sharps Use Board Odds, The Value of Powerful Cards, & You Know You're Ice Cold When You Lose a Mascot Race

Welcome to the 8th edition of the Monday Super Spectacular Blog! 

It was Preakness week and frankly instead of a horse racing pool, next year I think we should just guess who won't scratch. Sadly, it threw a good deal of multis into the dust bin, but it was a Triple Crown race and that's all that matters. We like those, even without the great Kegasus (another sad story). 

Here are a few thoughts for this week.  

Our pal Mage gave it his all but perhaps it was a little too much too soon for him with his limited starts and we saw the expected regression. Or maybe it was not the trip for him anyway off slower splits. Or maybe the other two horses were just faster. Whatever the case, he showed up and the connections seemed happy with him. 

As for the winner, I thought Johnny V gave him a nice ride, keeping him off what looked like a pretty dead rail and he rationed his speed like Angel Serpa to prevail in the shadow of the wire. I've always felt National Treasure was a nice horse (and I'm pleased I got to use a Grunderism on the Super Spectacular blog). 

Pimlico had lots of complaints about the jockey cam. I find it truly incredible how the creative folks in the tents want to show us neat stuff, while virtually every single one of us just wants to watch the race. Even the soon-to-be President of HISA weighted in so you know it was pretty bad. 

I remember last year at the Little Brown Jug it got super-weird like this. Someone thought it would look great to show the head-on before the start, and then join the horses with the pan shot about three seconds after the word go. This shows us absolutely nothing of course - we can't see breaking horses, who is on the gate or off, or how our bet got off the gate.

Rumor has it after a day and a half of this someone with some pull called and they went back to normal. But why it takes that kind of intervention is beyond me. 

always feel a little bad for the Preakness. 

"Did you ever watch Secretariat's Derby?"

"It was great, 159.2! Track record. What a machine"

"Did you see his Belmont?"

"Hell ya, is water wet?"

"What about his Preakness?"

"I guess I must've seen it on Youtube"

Crunk posted the handle numbers and they were fine - over $100M was bet on the card - but down from last year, in part due to the short field in the Preakness itself.  

First, I doubt you can screw up a Triple Crown race because of their long time branding. I'd think you could you could run a set of donkeys, slap some numbers on them and people would watch the race. That's why things have brand value. But for us, I think you can chip away at that positive branding and I wonder if we're starting to see that. 

I find Derby and Belmont cards are a must play event due to the undercard and sets of races. I'm ready to fire on each bright and early for the entire day. Saturday wasn't that for me, and I find myself getting less and less excited about the card itself as the years go on. 

That's me, but as I read social media I think it's some of you too. 

Can the bloom fall off the rose for a Triple Crown card? Over time, perhaps. I'd like to see - whether it means moving it a week or two or something else - this card beefed up. And the race itself as well, because seven horse fields are not something most of us as players get excited about. 

In this day and age with smaller foal crops, supertrainers and Grade I races permeating the landscape like fast food joints maybe that's just not possible, but I throw it out there. 

Oh boy Pimlico. If you happen to be a track executive reading this blog and don't understand what Shottakingtime is talking about here, please DM him for an explanation; it's important. 

A brief shout out to Mage's connections. This is not the Pletcher barn with Repole or a celebrity chef  who are used to the spotlight but I thought they handled it like complete pros. They looked like they were having the time of their lives and I felt their access to the horse and good cheer allowed us to join them on their journey. I wish it worked out better for you, but thanks for letting us come along for the ride. 

Prolific Paulick commenter Tinky referenced the gate incident narrative with regards to the the awful injury to Havnameltdown and he's having none of it. 

CJ had a Preakness Stakes schedule idea and (as the kids say) it's lit!

We all know how you feel Jeremy.

How can she be so happy when my horses aren't firing?

When you talk for a living things can come out, ummmm, bad sometimes. TVG host Ken Rudulph was caught in the crossfire this week for sharing his opinion regarding the industry (which he has since apologized for). 

The tweet - “Horse racing needs to stop pretending and just be what it is. It’s a great combo of WWE/reality TV/sports/ with a healthy dose of BS on the side. It’s a great game," went off the rails in the subsequent couple of sentences. 

Not putting words in Ken's mouth, but I assume he was talking about what a lot of marketers often reference - businesses being true to what they are, and not trying to be something they're not. 

Whatever the point, I figured life goes on, but apparently that's not the case, as Fanduel has him under review. 

I was interested what twitter thought about this, so I created a poll, and even though twitter is rarely polarized, y'all seem equally split between beach hair don't care and the gallows. 

Interesting tweet....

Bucky the Great is more than just a guy who chats with famous people like Boston Big Al while drinking Costco drink mix and firing at Delta Downs in his underwear. 

The industry tends to haphazardly set rates via bet type and I think it is indicative of where their left brains are. In Australia if you want lower than 10% win juice you'll find it. The Massachusetts lottery has lower rake based on ticket size, as does Hong Kong racing, and of course, penny slots are the higher rake funnel. Racing - the hardest to hit bets, lowest takeout.

Ray Paulick

Lucas and Paulick are saying things no one apparently wants to hear and I guess their tweet could spur this week's edition of going on tilt. But arguing against their point with the quantitive and devoid of passion becomes harder and harder doesn't it?

Assiniboia Downs opens with lower juice! 

I think Greg's tweet is one the harness industry should pay attention to. 

The game certainly has changed, and I think Greg's point is pretty strong. 

The most troubling issue, in my view, is that a fair odds line - a staple of our handicapping for a hundred years - is almost completely useless now.

Just this week I saw a race with a horse who trotted 1:52 and looked like a slam dunk key at 3-5 (my fair odds would be maybe even money) not take as much money because another horse did. This horse, a good horse off terrible form who is barely breaking 1:55, had a short break where they must've done some vet work. He was bet heavily and was a 7-5 co-chalk. It was pretty clear this was the horse to bet, and he ended up winning. 

But the bottom line was: We had to bet a horse that we had at perhaps a 7-2 or 9-2 fair odds line, at 7-5. 

This is happening in Thoroughbred racing, too, but I don't think to this extent. 

Modelers and the betting teams have made board odds more influential in their odds lines as the game changes and it's precisely for this reason. A horse being bet below the fair odds line of a very sharp player was dumb money 20 years ago. In the current game it can mean something. Often times we're not betting an "underlay" in our odds lines as a sharp player should; in effect we're the sucker sitting at the table. 

Andy Beyer once famously stated that supertrainers have destroyed the great art of handicapping. The dearth of public money in pools and horses on go or no go (especially) in harness racing in my view does exactly the same thing. 

When a TVG host says "there's certain people on twitter......" I fear they're coming for ITP, but this time they were talking about someone else!  Congrats ITP!

Many of you know Caroline - horse rescuer, takeout modeler and all around excellent person - and she received her full professorship at USC! I'm no academic, but I think this means she can't be fired. Way to go!

I like to mention Irad each week for Neilson ratings and this week we have this. 

I was completely confused why this horse was bet down about 75% below fair odds on Saturday. This exemplifies the trouble with board odds and the go and no go situation - it was apparently a millionaires-were-betting-me underlay. 
This week I am devoid of sponsors because last week's beer commercial (I've made it!) scared a lot of advertisers off. So, I'd like to start a new Monday Super Spectacular Blog feature - horses I bet that lost in crazy ways. Yes, I was on the grey horse from the three hole.


Thanks for reading the 8th edition of the Super Spectacular Blog. I see you coming from all over. The tundra, the land of the free, Russia (of course), and shockingly even from the America's Best Racing head office.  I truly appreciate it. 

As always have a great week, be nice on twitter and go cash some tickets. 

Monday, May 15, 2023

The Super Spectacular Blog Vol 7 - Every Day is Groundhog Day, Sharp Money v Dumb Money, Triple Crown Spacing, Torching the Bank on Multis, Simple Takeout Models & Woooo I Finally Have a Beer Sponsor!

Welcome to the Monday Super Spectacular Blog, or as I like to call it, Merby! 

This week I saw a groundhog. He was up on his little hind legs checking for predators left and right, and although I was standing about 50 feet in front of him, he somehow didn't see me.  The rascal wobbled right towards me in a full sprint where I began to think that maybe this was a rare killer groundhog and I was a goner. He made it about ten feet from where I was, finally noticed me, and took a hard right turn into the safety of the woods. 

Fittingly that I speak of groundhogs......

What goes around comes around. Or in racing's case, what goes around comes around. And around and around and around. 

I was perusing twitter this past week and made a mental note of the complaints by fans, bettors and the industry itself. 

I saw, in no particular order -- 

  • "Takeout rates are too high"
  • "The status quo is not an option with drugs and integrity and needs to be addressed"
  • "The odds change way too much after the bell and it's a joke"

Meanwhile I was looking at a survey conducted by the Horseplayers Association 14 whole years ago now (n=839)

"The tabulated results [of the survey] were eye opening even to us. You very clearly told us the following three things in order of importance are what you see as the most important issues racing faces today: 

1. High Takeout... It's already too high and you want us working to get it reduced. 

2. Pool Integrity... Odds that change after the gate opens is simply not acceptable in this day and age. 

3. Drug Integrity... Racing needs to be regulated in a way that there are no questions whatsoever about the integrity of the game.

The most amazing thing, perhaps, is takeout rates have increased since that survey (California, Keeneland, Churchill and now even almost dumbfoundingly Kentucky Downs), and odds drops have gotten worse with big money concentrated at the top. And with stories about positive tests taking sometimes years to adjudicate, I am not sure that's gotten any better either.

We as players and fans tend to complain a lot and I know it's annoying to some. But sheesh, not only does the sport not fix these things from since the Bush Administration, they've mostly made them worse. 

I am trying to add things to the afternoon edition to get a hundred thousand or more new hits. This breaking news story is not about one of these things she's serving, it's just a random picture of a malt shop that the morning people didn't get to see.

We've chatted a great deal here about how marketing the sport is not about marketing to players, but to those in charge in government. This was illustrated this week with NYRA's $455M deal with the state

I think ribbon cutting, fancy hats, attendance, "big days" where politicians are interviewed about "jobs" and "land use" proves we're kind of living in a made-up world; a simulation that has an end-game. 

Many of you and I don't like that. But the end-game in this case results in a functioning Belmont Racetrack, rather than an Arlington Park that's a football stadium. 

CJ and David had a thoughtful discussion on horse deaths on their pod. It starts around the 18 minute mark. 

The new CEO of Twitter seems like she's a horse racing fan (h/t to Jason Beem). I can't wait until she follows @shottakingtime and he posts a picture of himself firing at Remington in his underwear. If she doesn't block him, she is one of us

Lots of talk on the twitter this week about moving around the Triple Crown. This seems to happen every year, but it does make me wonder. With the game changed so much the last quarter century is the two week break to the Preakness an anachronism?

Chip believes if the races were four weeks apart the Crown would be harder to win, and I tend to agree. Barring two or three, the Derby has the 20 best three year olds in the country and what, 80% to 90% of them don't enter the Preakness? It's certainly understandable because they pointed to the Derby and the race itself is rigorous; a 14 day runback can be counterfactual.  

Do we want a better Preakness and therefore a better series of races? If we do, the four week break seems very logical to me. 

Saturday night at the Big M the six horse seemed logical; a co-favorite in all the multi-leg and exactor action signalling about 5-2 off odds, but a funny thing happened near post time. The horse dropped from 5-2 to 3-5. The win pool was about $20k bigger than usual, so the only thing I can come up with is someone must've bet a five figure amount to win last flash. The horse was terrible and was way back, and this sure felt like dumb money. 

Back to the regular, how sharp is the money nowadays? On Saturday I was playing the pick 5 carry at Belmont and in the sixth race Arcangelo was hammered on the board to 5-2, off a 10-1 morning line. The horse was a steam figures horse, but those tend to be hammered by sharps in offshore markets, too. The horse wasn't bet that much at all there so it was surprising to them as well. . 

Meanwhile in the last leg, the teams were all over the 7 horse off a 4-1 morning line, with the horse paying lowest in pick 3's and 5's. This horse too was pretty ignored in other markets off the maiden win. 

At Mohawk this weekend, we had some similar races, like the claimer in the 10th where a horse has soundly crushed everyone he faced the last three races, including the horse he was facing again. He was inexplicably 3-1 (he's been 1-5, 4-5 and 6-5 in the same class) and the horse he's beaten was 4-5. Guess who got the job done?

Today's money is too sharp for the morning line, too sharp for the fixed odds books, and too sharp for me. 

MSW to MCL's is an interesting move to handicap. Like most obvious angles, the ROI tends to suck so we have to be a bit more creative. I've been looking at a layoff of 60 days or more (and a couple other factors) with horses with limited starts. Seems to be some promise on the win end, and intuitively it makes sense. We'll see how it goes. 

I find it's tough to score at this game with angles, so subsetting them (without overfiltering) is more art than science, but it's something I try to do. Most often to no avail but I keep plugging. 

I'm still stoked watching the 6 minute ABR video of Ramiro Restrepo before and after the Derby win with Mage. This is horse racing, in my opinion. It's why people buy horses and get up at 5 in the morning to muck stalls; wait with impatience for the bloods to get back, freak out with a bout of colic, wrap legs and hotwalk, make sure the feed tub is clean and everything is a-aok, and then do it again tomorrow. If you haven't seen it, may I offer it's worth your time. 

This game is sometimes exactly what's portrayed on screen, or in novels. Guys named the "Nose", a dude named "Red" who might've been the greatest figure maker we've never heard of. A 12 year old kid making bets with a bookie named "Willie the Door Man". 

That was all in Chris's Bet with the Best pod this week and it was pretty glorious.  

As I've noted before on the blog, when we made a memorable score it usually involves leaning on a horse and less about spreading. Michael's story about his pick six score with Tuff Spot was one for the ages. 

The owners of Count Mara should be happy with two second place finishes in $60k worth of races and I'm sure they are. But I'd like to be a fly on the wall when friends asked how close they were to winning the two races. Damn, just missed.

We've heard for a hundred years from so many how horse racing wagering is too complicated and we have to talk down to newbies. 

For those watching the NHL playoffs in the Tundra, the commercial breaks for Draftkings include a look at live odds for the game in progress, with an in-studio host talking about them.  They're posted as -320/+200 etc, without any explanation at all for newbies, who this advertising is trying to reach. 

It's perfectly fine to do that, in my view (and marketers do this all the time as a weeder) because you want to attract people who will figure it out. The ones who won't be curious to learn how a price works are probably not worth your time.  

Ray's tweet provides us with a good introspection, in my opinion. 

Mike Maloney often says how hard it is to balance the want and need to swim in deep waters on a Derby card, versus understanding just how hard it is to hit these bets. Even if you have a decent bankroll, say $2,000 or $3,000 it can go in a flash taking multi leg pick 5's and 6's on Derby Day. 

Leaving Ray out of this because I have no idea how he plays, but it amazes me how we spend so much time finding a winner on Derby Day, but so little time planning our betting attack. 
On these huge betting days, Mike often suggests wading into double or pick 3 pools instead of into the trenches of pick 5's and I agree with that perspective. The money just goes so fast the more legs we add, and we have to add more and more horses with the fields so deep. 

I'm one of you Ray. So yes, let's both clean it up. 

Speaking of multi leg wagers, last night's 20 cent pick 5 at Flamboro paid $2.63, and one of the winners paid $4.40 in a pretty contentious race. Thinking of how much can go wrong in a harness race, with traffic, breakers, drivers not trying, someone parking you out, etc, this is truly bizarre. 

Ontario in 2022 generated $35.6B in online gambling handle for $1.4B in revenue, through a takeout rate of 3.9%. Some in horse racing may want to up that takeout rate to 21% and make over $7B, but that's not how it works, of course. 

I often wonder - can horse racing generate $36B in handle at those lower rates? Perhaps not, but with $36B bet, that's a lot of people wagering and buying horses and visiting racetracks. 

Just for fun, here's a simple takeout model. The $11B handle is (near) actual, associated with a 21% takeout rate, and money bet and churned at different rates. We know the actual takeout is lower because of CRW teams etc, but, what would handle be at 12% or 5% in this simple model? 

Last week we mentioned the Alabama baseball team was under investigation for gambling related issues. It's expanded to two others - Iowa and Iowa State. 

Jeff Gural carries a can of whoop ass. He might be closing Vernon and he is wielding the stick about HISA in Jersey. He doesn't mince words. 

While places like Buzzfeed and cable news flourished the last ten years, I find the Economist is just about the opposite of them. They don't click bait and if they're on a story I know it means something. They dove into horse racing last week and as Caroline said "it's not a good sign" when a pub like that does

Fixed odds is expanding in Jersey. In addition to Monmouth we have Canterbury Park, Beemer Downs, Hawthorne, Emerald and Century. 

Here's some thoughts on the Trot Driver survey.  Harness is so much different than Thoroughbreds where you handicap the horse and race shape. In harness your first question (especially with younger horses) is if the driver is going to put the horse into the race or not. It can be incredibly frustrating. 

The Derby is Americana and a seminal cultural event, and I don't think current headlines in papers about the sports' issues will ever change that. Javier threw out the first pitch at a Yankees game. And everyone at the game knows why.  

Drape broke the story about the Forte positive last fall. New York regulators seem a bit broken don't they?

I've often said to myself, "PTP, this blog will have made it if you get a beer sponsor", and I'm happy to announce that time is here. Please watch this week's newest advertiser with a throwback tome to a simpler era, when instead of dodging camera phones and America's Best Racing social influencers, the only thing on a trainer's mind was heading back to the barn for a cold one. 

Now that I can't get that Pabst Blue Ribbon song out of my head, let me thank you profusely for reading volume 7 of the Super Spectacular Blog. 

As always, have a great week, be nice on twitter and go cash some tickets!

Monday, May 8, 2023

Super Spectacular Blog Vol 6 - Derby Card Thoughts, Top Tweets, Doubling Down, Girl Who Jumps Like a Horse, Multi-Legs, World Premiere Movies & Irad's a Big Baby

Welcome to the Monday Super Spectacular Blog! 

As always thanks for reading and sharing these random thoughts each week. I feel I've really upped my game, because I've even started to proofread what I type a little. It only took me around fourteen years to start and I owe it to all of you.  

Let's get going!

I have some thoughts on Derby Day. Perhaps these are amazingly insightful, or more likely skippable, like we used to do with when we paid $18.99 for a CD and found it only had two good songs. But remember the blog is free.

  • Mage did what many thought Forte would do in the Florida Derby - be ready to fire a big one - and he did. Way to go to those connections. Mage is a talented horse who was seasoned just enough. I'm sad for Marcus the Greek and other Two Phil's backers because he was tremendous in defeat for Rivelli, who seems like a dude. I thought it was a very entertaining race. 
  • We had an Eskendereya-type scratch (coincidentally or not from the same barn) and it was a doozy. It made me wonder, since the Derby started in 1467 (I made this up, I think it was around 1880) how many horses started who were lame over all those years? I suspect dozens, because "it's the Derby". I'm glad the vets are watching things much closer in this day and age. Racing lame horses sucks; for the horses obviously, and for the bettors, as we watch our horse lose by 40 without knowing anything, before or after. 
  • Selfishly, for those who weren't fans of Forte to begin with, did that scratch ever screw up our odds board. There was a Ross Perot giant sucking sound, and it was the value being sent into the abyss.  
  • $10,000 pick 4's, $100,000 pick fives and $135,000 superfectas? Gotta love Derby cards (note, I wasn't close to any of those). For me it's the best card of the year. 
  • I'm not really a fan of this Irad fellow's histrionics. As y'all know, Tyler Gafflione kept him pinned in with 3-5 chalk Goodnight Olive in the 4th race on Derby Day. This is exactly what he's supposed to do, by not only the rules, but to make the owners of the horse an extra like $100k for a better placing. Irad acted like Tyler stole his lunchbox, took his seat in the cafeteria, and for his birthday got him a Chumbawumba CD. Are riders supposed to let him out just because he's him? 

  • My ADW froze a bunch of times during the Derby. It makes me wonder how much handle was lost because of glitches like this around North America. I gave up and shelved a few of my superfectas. 
  • Kudos to Scott Shap and the team at Twinspires. I found listening to the guys and gals on the track feed firing was a good experience. They do a great job, in my opinion. 
  • For the ultimate contrast I didn't watch NBC until the pre-Derby chatter (when there was like 12 gazillion minutes to post). It seemed fine to me during that time but I rarely watch it anymore. 
  • Kangeroo Court in the 8th was a figures horse and those are hammered by quants. I wonder if the So Cal figures have to be rexamined sometimes. I'm often wrong, so maybe I'm seeing things. But migosh that horse was live both offshore and in the pick n's.
  • The Mine That Bird effect was in full effect (this blog is free) as the longest shot on the board at ten minutes to post was 31-1. 
  • WSJ - good race but lots of horse deaths.   And of course, we're used to Deadspin being exactly what we expect from Deadspin. However, as my Aussie horse racing friend brilliantly once said on the twitter, "Do you ever find it funny that racing craves mainstream attention, but not mainstream opinions?"
  • I always try to remember that was someone's horse.  
Horse racing, man. This surprises zero of us. 
It doesn't get much better than this. How Gamblers outside horse racing see horse racing?

It's 8 minutes to the Derby and ...... don't ever change Bucky. I'm not sure what to make of Molly.  Meanwhile, Erin seems like a reluctant fan who hints she is looking forward to the Derby, but her followers appear to be against racing, so she saves it by expressing she wants the sport ended and for us to celebrate pie instead. 

How long did you spend studying the Derby? This study says you might've spent too long. More information can be, and often is, noise. Noise, noise, Japan, ABR celebrity picks, noise, Japan, Derby hats, noise ..... arrgh. 

Back at the ranch.

The extra distance traveled from post 20 to the wood into the first turn at Churchill Downs is 6 inches. Who knew? Chris apparently does. In other news, I learned M equals C squared at some point in my life, but at my age I don't remember what M or C is. 

Chris has also been doing a nice job showing how inefficient the Preakness future wager is. This is why I often plead with racing to allow all sorts of betting. When you have more points of contact you can grow. Bettors find things.  

I tend to play race by race and leave the fancy multi-legs to the teams and you sharps because I find looking ahead is always tricky. Case in point was Santin in the Turf. I keyed him over the 57 on most pick 5 tickets because I liked him using his speed on that course, and he was going to be third choice. As he paraded and sweat was pouring all over him I thought I was kind of dead. My tickets, with Mage, Phils and Derma as my A horses in the big one, made it frustrating, but such is life with the multi legs. 

Speaking of the Turf, steam horses offshore yesterday were Up to the Mark (winner) and the aforementioned Kangaroo Court earlier (I think he's still hopping).  In other races, Dallas Stewart's maiden in two and Hoist the Gold seemed to be sneaky team steam. They ran second and third. 

Back when I was playing at Betfair regularly I'd see a horse I liked at 3-1 who opened dead on the board and was, say, 6-1. I'd immediately throw up a bet on the exchange at that price, thinking the horse would move lower at post time. It would get snapped up fast, so I'd do it again but at 7-1. And it would get snapped up again. At that point experience told me I was probably on the wrong side, but I'd often times be subconciously tilting and convince myself to keep going. 

The horse would run up the track, naturally, and I'd feel as sharp as a marble and be madder than a hatter. 

This week's edition of Tilt has to be whomever (there seemed to be many) were betting the Maple Leafs against the Panthers last week in amazing amounts. Sharps I know had the Leafs chalk at around -160 for the series. That opening line got immediately bet to -210 in action I honestly have never seen before without injury news or maybe a tsunami. 

After the Buds lost game one, books hung Florida -110 series, and these bettors were back again, doubling down. The Leafs ended up about -130 chalk. 

After they lost game two, the books posted the Leafs at +245. It didn't move for a day or two (finally they are out of money, I thought) but they came back. I saw +215 series at 365 before game three. 

They lost again last night so they're down 3-0 to this pesky Florida squad. Will they be back firing? I wouldn't put it past them. At this point I hope they pull off the shocker 4-3 series win, because damn they must be tilting something fierce. 

Doubling or tripling down is fine if it's a mathematically good bet. But when we're digging a hole sometimes it's best to stop digging. If we don't, the result could be a titanic-sized tilt. 

Crunk has historical Derby handle and it has not unexpectedly grown. I wonder how much post drag has added to the handle. 2005's Derby went off at 6:11, now it's almost 7PM. And the card is longer as well. 


Director of the Unnamed ITP MIKE JOYCE BUDDY ROAD TRIP MOVIE Ray Coloto has a new feature movie of "HARNESSLAND" out this week. You can watch it here

The studio (Ray) sent me this promo poster.


I didn't watch the Coronation of King Charles, but the regalia and pomp and circumstance has put great pressure on me because I'm in charge of arranging the Chuck Simon King of HISA party.

Someone dumped 500 pounds of cooked pasta in some woods in New Jersey. I don't know what this is doing in the Monday Blog, but I've thought way too much about this. 

There was suspicious betting on a college baseball game, and the state of Ohio halted betting on the team indefinitely. Interestingly enough the -245 chalk won so it doesn't seem like some sort of wild coup, but there you go. Later in the week, Alabama pink-slipped the manager. The plot thickens. 

As most blog readers know the online censorship bill passed in the Tundra and I am really hurting for Canadian sponsors. So, here's a girl from Alberta who can jump like a horse. 

Thanks again for reading Volume 6 of the Super Spectacular Blog.  Almost 300,000 of you (there are maybe a few extra zeros there as my zero button has been sticking) read this blog each week. Most people would charge big money for this, but not me I have too much integrity. Although I do secretly upload malware when you visit and they're paying me forty cents a hit. Enjoy shopping with Rakuten. 

Have a very great super spectacular week everyone. Go cash some tickets!

Monday, May 1, 2023

Monday's Super Spectacular Blog Vol 5 - Jackpots Dropping Like Flies, Crazy Cousin Ronnie, Sledge Hammers, ADW's Pay Plenty to Purses, Pod and Link Round-Up, Marcus the Greek Returns

Welcome to the Super Spectacular Blog Vol 5.  Thanks for reading and sharing this disorganized barrage of thoughts and links each week. 

Timeform CJ will be happy to know I've been busier than usual and didn't have enough time to jot down War and Peace quite as much this week. Taxes need to be done and (big news!) I'm in negotiations with CNN to take over Don Lemon's spot for a harness racing wagering show. I have not even gotten to a couple of your pods yet. Lucky I don't Derby handicap until two minutes to post. 

Anyhow, off we go!  

Let's start this off with the coolest thing I saw this week. Way to go and congrats Fernando.  

This week's Bet with the Best pod guest was Jon Stettin. I'll get to the whole thing after I get done my taxes but the feedback so far looks good. Jonathan plays pick sixes, which I rarely play, so I am hoping to get a tip or two, or hopefully three! 

Fortunately I follow smart people on twitter that I can steal things from, and I thought Keith Bush synopsized this pod (and the others nicely). 

  • "In my view the two salient themes emerging from Chris's long-form pods - bet with purpose and bet to kill."

I think that's right. I've said it before on this blog, but I think it'll hold: 

Remember your last score. Was it because you nibbled, backed it up with B horse chalk, lucked into it, added two horses you heard someone talk about on TVG? Or was it because you had an opinion, built tickets around that opinion that made sense, and fired?

This week's Going in Circles pod with Chuck and Barry (holy cow, I just realized this is almost Chuck Berry) is here. They were on go. 

Jason Beem had WaPo's Neil Greenberg on. Beem has had myriad guests over the years, and a lot are from non-traditional "racing".  Good get with Neil JB. 

Last up in pod-land, Aragona had Steve Kornacki on his pod. How cool is that? This - a numbers guy (or gal) - is horse racing handicapping, in my opinion. 

FanDuel is marketing the Derby alongside sports betting this year. It'll be interesting to see what kind of volume they do. In other news CDI introduced a rolling super high five. Just what my bankroll needs. 

Surcharges of (in this case 3.5%) for betting late might sound good on paper to "control" big bettors. But when a horse who has about a 22% chance to win a race and is 13-1, I believe he's probably going to end up 9-2 no matter what. 

I often wonder what Patch's final odds would be if he raced this year. CRW volume is making up a higher percentage of the win pool, but there are twenty Derby horses, and there's probably not enough money in half of Kentucky to recalibrate the odds board. 

You know what they say, never underestimate the power of a one-eyed horse.  

For this week's edition of Tilt, I go back many years. 

Back as a kid in the northern tundra I worked at a gold mine in the summers. One day I showed up for my shift and my boss told me to, "Go see Laurel and Hardy in the Dry (locker room). They have a job. They're our best guys and they can fix anything. You'll learn something." 

I show up and immediately see why everyone calls them Laurel and Hardy. Hardy is a short round guy who can barely speak a word of English, and Laurel is a tall thin guy who can not speak a word of French. They're a maintenance man comedy team. 

Anyhow, a few lockers at the end of a row are seized and we have to fix them. Hardy is up front, Laurel to the back and they spend several minutes banging the lockers, puzzled at what to do, all the while speaking to each other in broken English and French. At this point they're really agitated and growing more so. 

Then Hardy says to me, "hammer", pointing to his tool box, so I hand him one. He shakes his head and says "big hammer", so I put back the small one, and grab him the 10 lb sledge that was sitting beside it. 

Over the next 30 seconds he proceeded to swing that hammer like a crazed banshee. I've never seen anything like it. He beat the living hell out of those lockers. 

There was about five seconds of stunned silence, then Laurel looked at me and said, "they needed to be replaced anyway"

When I lose four photos in a row and feel a little tilt coming on, strangely enough I think of this from time to time. 

If we beat out our frustrations with a hammer in our ADW, the only thing we're beating up is our bankroll. And it will "need to be replaced."

Sage advice, in my and Laurel's opinion: Walk away, bake a cake, turn on the TV (even if the Bachelor is on loop), but never ever ever grab the big sledge. 

In the end I guess I did learn something, but probably not what my boss intended me to.

A Derby super box costs over $100 grand. I'm not even sure "Elite 14" has enough in the Xpressbet account. 

It's an Irad thing

Sports betting the new opiod crisis? I have no idea, but even if true, it's tough to shake the cash, especially for governments. 

“I’ve had colleagues come up to me with concerns about gambling,” Addabbo said, “and then I tell them about the $900 million in revenue for education, and they’re like, ‘Oh my God, this is great!’ ”

If you ever want to know the projected off odds on some stakes races, you can follow bitplayer on the twitter as he/she does the work for you. 

We hear that ADW's are not paying enough for purses in North America. In reality, in Canada and the U.S., ADW's (and betting in general) pay one of the highest rates in the world to purses. We love high juice, and we're conditioned to think lower juice means less money. It's why places like Kentucky Downs wanted to raise it. 

Over in Australia, about 3.9% is returned to purses (much less than in North America), but they opened up their markets in 2008, resulting in much lower takeout. Blog readers from way back then would know that when this change was made, the industry warned of very bad things. 

They even took the changes to the High Court, where the head of Racing Australia pretty much said the industry would fail to exist if bookies, low takeout exchanges and other mediums were allowed.

"All 50,000 participants will lose!" he told anyone within shouting distance. 

Ummmm ........ 

Can purses grow while increasing reach with expanded markets while taking less per bet? You betcha. 

Another set of jackpot bets bite the dust. Hastings has replaced their pick 6 and Super High Five jackpots with regular wagers. For those wanting to fire, Tommy says he'll be doing twitter spaces for the western Canadian oval. 

I'm sure I've met Cousin Ronnie at the OTB. Spoiler alert, Ronnie is down 5 large. 

I am proclaiming the Derby Wise Guy Horse is Skinner. Although then again I am not a wise guy and I think he has a shot. Maybe he's not a wise guy horse. 

This is the week we hear the word "Thurby". First, there is no such word. Second, there's no Derby this week other than on Saturday, and when there's no Derby on a Thursday we call it Thursday. We also don't call Derby Saturday "Saturby". I'm just here standing up to the Corporate Man (CDI is the man) and their fancy branding word marketing people and now I feel better. 

Marcus the Greek is on a heater and Chris and Scott landed him for the first Sport of Kings Derby pod. If you're doing some Derby research there's a good place to start. I listened last night and I thought it was quite good. 

As most SSB readers know, the venerable Ray Coloto - Rosecroft announcer and world famous movie director - promised me a signed program if I mentioned his pod on the blog. I'm happy to report an update. This blog comes with amazing perks. 

Here's your Derby Wagering menu. 

Lots of talk about money laundering in Canada lately with $372M off the books in Ontario alone at casinos that they know of, and they just nabbed one dude pumping $4M through a few casinos. This has to be happening in racing you'd think?

No respect, no respect at all - Betting partner asked who I liked in a race on Monday, and it turns out I liked a horse he hated. The horse closed from last and got third by about a length, raced okay, but nothing special at a pretty fair 3-1. He thought it was the worst pick in history. 

A couple hours later I decide to share what I think is a great longshot for my second selection of the night. 

$26 winner, which seemed to make him even more cranky. 

So, this week's Ryan Willis Cranky Update is 9.75 out of 10. 

PTP Update - Surged in the shadow of the wire to be a better handicapper than a rock. 

Man goes into gambling debt, kidnaps his 4 year old granddaughter and demands $75,000 ransom from his daughter. And he doesn't try and conceal his identity. This Hitchcockian-type plan surprisingly didn't work. Note - the man was not from Florida. 

That is some kinda confidence for a horse a week and a half out from the Derby. 

I spoke about the V75, Sweden' version of a national pick 7 before. It's hard to believe it's been 12 years since they released this ad for it. I've always felt it was one of the sharpest looking ads for horse racing I've ever seen.  Let's make it this week's Super Spectacular Blog sponsor. I take Krona.

---- ITP Joyce Buddy Movie Finale ----

I received this last scene in full last week and popped it up under a private server to keep the bots from accessing it. The writers allowed me to use this link for only a few days before it has to come down. 

Please enjoy the finale - Will ITP save his sister Ashley? Who is the ring-leader behind Elite? Will Mike and ITP become best friends forever? It's all here. 

Thanks for reading Volume 5 of the Super Spectacular Blog. It's Derby Week, so bet responsibly. Or get drunk on cheap hooch and blow the bankroll. But if you choose the latter, make sure you cash some tickets because there's nothing worse than a $0.01 ADW bankroll and a hangover on Sunday morning.  

Have a great week everyone!


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...