Welcome to this Monday's edition of the Super Spectacular Blog!
In honor of CJ Milkowski this week's SSB will have no run up.
First, you're all on twitter so no doubt you've read about the "Deep State" conspiracy. I have never been a proponent, but this week I began to believe it for horse racing.
My blog has been - as you all know - under a lot of scrutiny; from people like Scott Daruty, Fred Pope, Russians and especially TVG. We Rock the Boat like Hues Incorporated here.
TVG must have a bug in my house. Because, yes, this is the way I get prepared for the races each and every day. They saw me doing this, and stole it. It's the only explanation.
Folks, beware of the Deep Horse Racing State, and even though Jason Beem has an Alexa in his North Tampa Bay mansion and we all wanna be like him, destroy yours immediately.
Jerry Brown wrote an oped in the Thoroughbred Daily News about the computer teams that generated a ton of chatter this week. He made several points, most of them that we've spoken about here on the blog, and have made the rounds on twitter.
Primarily, Jerry suggests the sport lower the teams' rebates and not allow them to bet into the pools when three minutes to post is hit.
That's fine I suppose, but I don't know what that would do, frankly, because it's more than just the teams betting with models and with rebates at places like Elite, but his two points do seem to have some backing from inside the industry.
Regardless, industry arguments tend to be circular, because they are talking about symptoms and don't in my view address the real problems with pricing. Couching them into "this hurts the retail player too much" when the industry has killed the retail player for a half century with usurious takeout feels completely disingenuous to me.
Hot take here.
Australia horse racing is currently not the Titanic, because years ago they added new avenues to bet while offering better pricing for those who are price sensitive. Broadening the tent and modernizing an industry that was protected is not in the harvesting phase of the product life cycle.
The industry in North America, unfortunately as we all know, never really stopped steering towards the iceberg, and we see this take. And with the way the game is run here, it's not necessarily wrong, in my opinion.
Biggest takeaway for me - people are arguing about the size of the plates in the dining room of the Titanic.— Stetson Wilson (@stet_dot_net) July 19, 2023
Takeout is a bad argument. Always has been. And it’s irrelevant now.
When these tracks are gone in 3 years folks will say “wow maybe they should have taken more.” https://t.co/kk4B7eodlT
I was messing around with "X" start off layoff last month; particularly interested in comparing older data (in this case 2006) to newer (2022).
First, here's a snip of 2006 data (courtesy jcapper.com) sorted by start off layoff.
Notice the first start impact value is low, second start higher. Sweet spots were 4th and 5th off the layoff, with correponding ROI boosts.
And here's a snip from last year.
Perhaps remarkably the grids look very similar. However, one striking difference is first off layoff in 2022 versus 2006. This could be partially due to sample size, but in 2006 first off layoff horses won only about a half a percentage point less than non-layoff horses.
Second start off layoff returned to, may we say, normal. the IV was 0.9462 in 2002, about the same as it was in 2006.
Bettors (or should we say teams who model) seem to be in tune with this, as the parimutuel price of the first returning horses in 2022 was $12.28 - the highest of any subset.
I have to double check to be sure both these sets of data are using the same layoff dates, but I think they are. If not, it's close. So, if someone said to me that trainers are not cranking up to win first start now as much as yesteryear, I'd have to say there is at least some glimmer of truth to it.
Note - Crunk (protected account but many of you can see it) has some super cool stats on how layoffs have changed in horse racing since the 1990's.
Another item I found interesting was blinkers on versus off, versus no change. Here's 2006's data:
And here's last year:
Blinkers on has long been an overbet angle and in 2006 it was a good fade with a poor 0.71 ROI. In 2022 it's still a bad wager, but it appears the bettors have woken up to it at least a little. The ROI is about 5% higher.
Amazingly, blinkers off continues to roll with a 0.86 ROI, which is down from the whopping 0.9080 in 2006.
This is why model building could be so lucrative. Do some handicapping, weed out what needs be, add a 5% win rebate, and you could literally just flat bet blinkers off horses all year in 2006 and make bank.
The thing I love most about the Spa is not the great horses, big pools or colorful jockeys, it's the insider tweets where we learn something new about the participants of this fine sport.
Gary Stevens & I tend to use the same bathroom so because I typically drink 12-14 beers I have stood shoulder to shoulder with him many times. Maybe he is packing heat but he two hands It & stands like 4 feet back from the urinal. One of the most distinct techniques of any man— Buck Swope (@ShotTakingTime) July 20, 2023
Man of the people. CJ Johnsen had a huge maiden winner this week at Saratoga with Sugar Hi, yet there he is, looking just like us regular folk.
On the off chance it's not CJ, delete (and it's a shame).
You have to wonder why they don’t break away to Johnny and Tara to assess the fashion at Saratoga like they do on Derby Day. pic.twitter.com/0rLr98duBL— Starzatoga (@joel_starz) July 20, 2023