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.

Monday, June 5, 2023

World Famous Super Spectacular Blog Vol 10 - Kentucky Downs: Slash the Juice, Legends on Podcasts, Being Limited at Books, Gabe's Betting at the Bell, Process vs. Results, & Rejected Advertisers

Welcome to the World Famous Super Spectacular Blog Vol 9. 

I guess a quick note - this blog is not world famous, I just like overselling and I'm sticking with it until the Department of Hyperbole tells me I can't anymore. 

First up, let's play a game. 

The Government gives you like $50 million dollars to run a racetrack, and you get this each year as far as the eye can see. 

The racetrack itself sells about $60 million in product (handle) and your margin on that product is about $3 million, or 5% of what you receive in gratuity each year. 

So, if you didn't even sell anything - you sent every customer home to shop somewhere else - you'd have $50 million instead of $53 million. 

Now, this $50 million does come with some strings. You have to:

i) Ensure the cash is distributed to the right people. 

ii) Show you are growing the $60 million in sales because the people giving you the money don't want to look like fools (this is your downside risk). 

To run our track properly, this is pretty simple, isn't it? 

We'd send a ton of money to state breds, and local trainers and owners. 

And we'd eliminate any downside risk to sales. This would be done in the easiest way possible - slashing the price to pretty much nothing. Why nothing? Because we only get $3 million from it, and $50 million is bigger (and more important) than $3 million. 

Now, we'd obviously want some return, because zero is silly. We'd probably want to increase revenues at some point outside the $50 million. But you get my point. 

Sadly, and I believe this dumbfounds us all, one racetrack of this type, Kentucky Downs, has decided this year to increase the takeout. 

This hike could "work". That is, they could, instead of say $53.0 million in revenue, generate maybe $53.1 million in revenue. But at what cost? Perhaps growth and public relations.

It's a hell of a lot harder to cancel a subsidy if our racetrack is delivering double in handle what Blue Grass day does on our big day; is perhaps the third largest handle day in a state - filled with happy on-track patrons - that includes the Kentucky Derby. 

It's funny to me. The industry examines and reports handle figures each day, each meet, each quarter like clockwork You'd think handle would be an important metric to them. To Kentucky Downs (and so many slot-fuelled, subsidized racetracks) I don't for one moment believe that it is. Actions speak louder than words. 

On to other things......

The legend Maury Wolff was Chris's guest on the Bet with the Best pod this week. As of this writing (traveling and work stuff the past week) I have not listened, but I've been really looking forward to this baby. 


Thread of the Week on twitter has to go to Nico. He's like some sort of well-connected super-sleuth. 

Pletcher runs a very professional barn and it ain't his first rodeo. Why so many overages?  Maybe gumshoe Nico can uncover what's been going on, but in my view, this is pretty strange.

I've been motoring around so I haven't fully digested the Chuchill move, however, Ed has it covered. 

Chatting with a gambling friend this week and one interesting conversation we had was about slots at various casinos in Ontario. 

It turns out several of the high payout machines that are usually packed are like a ghost town now. When the slot captain was asked what happened, he simply said "no one seems to play them anymore". Turns out what happened was an increase of the juice.

For example, perfect play video poker could result in positive ev with free play and these machines were always super-busy, but the volume players who knew the tiny edge apparently knows there isn't one anymore. Their volume didn't creep down slowly, it went to zero. 

On another (similar) note, baseball at Casino Windsor was sporting 35 cent lines, and this was not much worse than the lines at Woodbine. 

The lesson in this new landscape I suppose: If you want prices, make sure you line shop, and pay attention to posted rate changes.

Added bonus to the blog this week - Live shots of a Horseplayer get together this past weekend. 

Tommy Hammer watching NYRA replays while The Spice Girls (that wanna song) is playing. Nice to meet you and Tarik both, Tommy!

PTP watching his best bet of the night live..... finish third. Note to younger players, one day you'll wake up with reading glasses, be grey and you'll notice it in random pictures. It comes when you least expect it, like when you hit a Rainbow pick 6. 

@ryanwillis1 annoyingly saying to any horseplayer within earshot, "I haven't made a bet all day...... you guys are all obviously degenerates," over and over again after like six drinks. 

Woodbine introduced the "Omni Swinger" this week; which should not be confused with an ad from an alternative dating site, because it's a wager. 

This bet was built for the UK or Hong Kong with massively big, competitive fields, and it can work in those because the number of likely combinations is pretty huge. In harness racing which is dominated by favorites, I think probably not so much. 

Woodbine has plenty of wagers with watered down payoffs, including 20 cent tris and pick 3's. I'm not sure why more of them would help handle, but I write a free blog on the internet. 

Here's a doozy for you. 

At a major legal sportsbook, a friend was betting solely based on prices and price shopping (knowledge of how to play, with little handicapping), and he was doing some volume - about $75,000 in bets. Approaching the $75,000 number he finally went green. He had $120 profit.

The next day his play was limited to just about nothing. It is just remarkable how most books seem to operate. 

Big Al put the pressure on, but I can't deliver. It sounds like I have to catch up on the shenanigans Saturday.  The NFL changed the kickoff rules for the 2023 season, where returns are to be almost eliminated. 

These plays - where you have 225 pound men running 4.5 forties directly into other 225 pound men running 4.5 forties - unsurprisingly have high concussion rates. The league decided they "had to do something". This change is massive, of course, as kickoff returns are a part of the fabric of the game, and a lot of people are upset about it. 

It's not dissimilar to the synthetic track debate in horse racing land is it? The safety stats are pretty clear, but unlike the NFL, the sport has decided that the fabric of the game would change too much for their liking.

I lost on a 7-1 trotter who was leading by five and was going to win as he pleased who suddenly for no reason broke, then I got locked in behind a wall in a bizarrely run race at 11-1, then I had the only four horses who could possibly win in the last leg of a pick 5 and they all lost to a horse that hasn't shown a pulse. And that was only one day last week. This game can be so frustrating. 

But, I played well to sniff out those potential scores, which reminds me of process versus results.....

There are continual arguments on the twitter about our pal warm and cuddly ITP; mainly that until he "shows his tickets" he can't be trusted as a winning player. I honestly don't blame people too much for thinking this because in this world the reality can be different from the perception (and there are so few beating this tough game). 

But, as I think we all know, this game (long term) is process versus any given result. And as we understand more and more about beating the game we learn more from someone's process, than them posting winning tickets before a race is run. 

If we take this as a given - ITP wins long term - we can start to understand that elusive process (he's open with it after all), and in my view it will make us better players. 

Additionally, I spoke with another successful player this week, and he noted he thinks it's important to remember, it's our process and our results that matter. There are a number of ways to win at the races, and each perfects their way in some form. If your process drives good results long-term it's a good process. 

I think this is why Chris's Bet with the Best podcast is so influential and important. We can learn something from each player interviewed regarding their process, and decide where it fits or doesn't fit into ours. 

Gabe talked about betting at the bell in harness racing, where sometimes players box numbers with longshots who show they're going to leave the gate, resulting in lower payoffs. It truly is an edge, and like most edges there are those taking advantage of it. 

It's weird because from what I've seen, the same thing doesn't really happen in the Thoroughbreds. Years ago when Betfair was alive in the Tundra, a friend of mine, as well as myself, played a lot of races. We both noticed that horses who act up at the gate would not get faded in market. This seemed illogical, but when we started charting it over a decent sample size they were probably right not to. 

I wonder if our sample was not big enough and it's actually true that fractious horses at the gate are lower ROI. Maybe o_crunk can figure it out, but for us we stopped cancelling bets because it didn't seem to make a difference.  

You know how I love making money from my advertisers. I mean, seriously, I have no scruples. 
Peta could advertise here; Saudi Arabia could; Baffert stable, here's my email! Their money is green and my ADW needs a deposit. 

However, for the first time I rejected an ad. This one. It just kind of creeped me out. 

Thanks once again for reading the Super Spectacular Blog

As always, be nice on twitter and go cash some amazing tickets. 

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