Thursday, July 17, 2014

20 Percent (Reduced) Takeout Doubles at Del Mar

This week kicks off some great summer racing. Opening day for Del Mar is today Thursday July 17, 2014. Opening day for Saratoga is tomorrow Friday July 18, 2014.

Link to a Press Release on the Del Mar website: Here.

The press release contains the following quote:
"In a new arrangement for this meeting, Del Mar will drop its takeout rate on its "rolling" Daily Doubles to 20% after previously offering them at 22.68%."
While it may be true that at 20% the takeout for doubles at Del Mar in 2014 will be lower than the 22.68% takeout Del Mar had for doubles last year:  It is also true that the 20% takeout for doubles at Del Mar this year is HIGHER than the 18% takeout rolling doubles offered at the recently concluded meets at Santa Anita (April 26, 2014 through June 29, 2014) and Los Alamitos Race Course (July 3, 2014 through July 13, 2014.)

There is an untold story here. I think it is important that you the player understand how 20% takeout doubles (instead of 18%) came to be at Del Mar.

Sources are telling me it was the TOC (Thoroughbred Owners of California) who, at a meeting on Friday July 11, 2014, voted to discontinue 18% rolling doubles at California tracks.

I ran handle numbers for comparable dates between Hollywood Park 2013 and Santa Anita 2014: Here.

As you can see, handle for Santa Anita 2014 vs. Hollywood Park 2013 was up 16.81%.

I also ran comparable date handle numbers for Double pools in isolation:

As you can see, handle for 18% doubles at Santa Anita 2014 vs. 22.68% doubles at Hollywood Park 2013 was up 24.05%.

To put this in context:  The growth rate for 18% takeout doubles at Santa Anita was more than 1.43 times the growth rate for handle in general.

We at HANA think the wagering public deserves answers to the following questions:
If 18% takeout doubles were up 24.05 percent vs. 22.68% doubles from the previous year, why vote to discontinue the program?

Wasn’t the program doing what it was designed to do: Make the California wagering menu more attractive to players so that California tracks can grow handle?

--Jeff Platt
--President, HANA

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Money Earmarked For Drug Research Sent to Lost Churchill Downs Purses

Gregory Hall in the Louisville Courier Journal wrote today that $125,000 of the $1 million from The Kentucky Thoroughbred Development Fund was allocated to Churchill Downs for purses in 2014.

"The $1 million was taken from a separate racing commission fund that pays for equine drug research," he wrote.

This, according to the article, was needed to be added to purses, because Churchill Downs had a purse shortfall for its spring meet after a massive handle reduction.

In April, Churchill Downs raised the takeout, and said that the increased revenue from the takeout hike would increase purses by $8 million.

This is what takeout hikes tend to do. Not only does the hike not raise purses by an amount like 8 million dollars, it ends up having a track, or horsemen group divert funds from equine drug research when purses fall.

Takeout hikes are never the answer to racing's revenue problem, and never will be the answer to racing's revenue problems. They only make things worse.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Horseplayers Understand How Dinny Phipps Feels

In the article "Jockey Club Supports Federal Oversight...." you can sense the frustration by Dinny Phipps. He, and others from the Jockey Club, clearly do not think federal oversight is the best solution to their issues, but getting horsemen groups and states, as well as other alphabets, to agree to some sort of reform is elusive. He looks like a man who is saying "I can't fix this problem, so let the feds take over."

Really, can anyone blame him?

As horseplayers I think we know how he feels.

Today there was a thread on about a proposed (and rumored) hike in takeout rates at Del Mar racetrack, which will be carried over to all of California racing. It's titled "Is the TOC preparing to stick it to horseplayers again?"

The TOC, for those who do not know, is the Thoroughbred Owners of California. They have veto power over what racetracks charge us to bet the product. Why should an ownership group be able to tell tracks what to charge their betting customers, you may ask? It's because it's a part of the Interstate Horse Racing Act.

For example, at Del Mar, the state, Frank Stronach, the CHRB and horseplayers can be all packed with studies, economist testimony and econometric data to show that lower takeout rates of, say, 12% can work for everyone. Despite that, the horsemen group of record can say no. Then the policy would end.

They don't have to show a business case. They don't have to bring in experts to testify so that a decision can be made. They don't need data from economists.

They can just say "no" and it's over. We think that's just silly.

It's similar to a hay supplier going into Bob Baffert's barn and having the power to set Bob's day rate. That sounds nuts, and it probably is, but that's the power of the IHA.

Takeout rates should be set in a professional way, with professional people who know gambling economics in charge of the precedings. Giving a horsemen group the power to set takeout rates in a  capricious fashion - without any checks and balances - should've never happened in the first place.

It's a wrong that needs to be righted. The future of wagering for horse racing is too important for knee-jerk, non-scientific, arbitrary decisions.The IHA needs updating, and it needs updating before it does even more damage.

Friday, July 4, 2014

Pricci: For July 4th Horseplayers, It’s Morning in America

First of all, Happy Fourth of July to all of our readers in the United States.  Thank you for your continued support and enjoy your holiday with your friends and family (and place a wager or two or several if you feel so inclined).

Second, John Pricci wrote a piece entitled, "For July 4th Horseplayers, It’s Morning in America" for Horse Racing Insider, explaining the clout that all of us as horseplayers have in this era of social media and electronic communication.

An excerpt of John's piece appears below -

"The most encouraging and dramatic sign of progress in the first half of 2014 is a relatively new development; the emergence of the horseplayer as a political force that can affect change, almost at almost warp speed compared to the glacial pace at which progress is usually made in this sport.

Can’t speak for other betting-boycott supporters but I take no comfort from the fact that Churchill Downs Inc. took it on the fiscal chin to the tune of nearly $48-million in handle. That comes to $1.3 million every racing day not named Oaks or Derby. Without those days, business was down approximately 25 percent.

For all the slings and arrows shot its way, none of this would have been possible if it were not for dissenting voices on the Internet and social media. From websites speaking truth to power, to grass roots participation from fans in racing chat rooms, industry organizations took note.

The perfect storm for change turned out to be a disqualification in the final race of the day this winter at Gulfstream Park, allowing a carryover jackpot to continue. The DQ, in and of itself a controversial call, was met with great consternation and suspicion.

The response on the Internet was immediate and forceful, resulting in subsequent dialogue between fans and racetrack executives. The result was policy changes meant to improve the race adjudication process.

The back-and-forth bore fruit in that the response was in the main positive for bettors although, to date, not all promises have been kept. Horseplayers have long memories.

While no pleasure was taken from CDI’s travails, what was gratifying to see is what can happen when a disparate group of gamblers get together in a common cause. Bettors got mad as hell and decided not to take it anymore.  Each passing day, the influence of a grass roots organization such as the Horseplayers Association of North America continues to gain influence and beginning to get invited to sit down at the table.

And, so, as the nation celebrates its freedoms this weekend, there is reason for a very small segment of the American people to feel optimistic optimism about future. We know it won’t happen overnight but it finally looks like we won’t get fooled again."

To read John's piece in full, click here.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Bringing Down the Twinspires

This blog post originally appeared on Lenny Moon's Equinometry blog.  Lenny is on Twitter @equinometry and is a monthly contributor to HANA's Horseplayer Monthly e-magazine.

Corporate Genius 1: “We need more cash in the till to please the shareholders and increase our bonuses.”
Corporate Genius 2: “I have the perfect idea, let’s look like the good guys and take on those racing dates in September to drop our daily handle below $1.2 million so we can increase takeout rates.”
Corporate Genius 1: “That’s brilliant.  We’ll get good press for helping the local racing circuit now and then we’ll fleece our mindless customers next spring.”
Corporate Genius 2: “They won’t even notice because all the talk will be about the Derby and before they know it the meet will be over and revenue will be up a couple million.”
News of the takeout increase spreads like wildfire because unbeknownst to the two corporate geniuses a lot their mindless customers use the internet and social media.
It only takes a few days to orchestrate an official boycott of the takeout increase but the two geniuses ignore the warning and take a wait and see approach.
The end of June rolls around and to their surprise wagering handle is down $49 million and the increase in takeout rates can’t overcome the decline and results in a slight drop in takeout revenue.
Excuses quickly roll out but none can account for the dramatic drop in wagering handle.
Since the corporate geniuses won’t tell the true story and the racing media only tells part of it I’ll give you the whole story.

Excuse #1: Decrease in Field Size

Field size is often attributed to changes in wagering handle.
In some cases it does contribute but in others it seems to have no impact.
For example in the weeks leading up to the Churchill Downs meet I researched howchanges in takeout rates affected wagering handle in California.
In addition to takeout rate changes I looked at the average field size to see if there was any correlation between changes in it and wagering handle.
During the period of stable takeout rates (1997 to 2005) field size decreased by 7.41% while wagering handle increased by 20.39%.
During the period of increasing takeout rates (2006 to 2013) field size decreased 1.30% while wagering handle decreased by 28.30%.
The decrease in field size during the first period was 0.60 horses per race while the decrease in the second period was only 0.10 horses per race.
This would clearly suggest the change in field size didn’t negatively impact wagering handle.
With 17 years of data this study provides sufficient proof that field size doesn’t always impact wagering handle.
Giving Churchill Downs the benefit of the doubt, however I also looked at another study that did show field size can impact wagering handle.
The Thalheimer study, which you can find here, showed the correlation between field size and wagering handle to be 0.58.
Using this correlation and applying it to the change in field size at Churchill Downs from 2013 to 2014 would suggest wagering handle should have fallen by just under $3 million.
That’s a far cry from the $49 million drop that occurred.

Excuse #2: Decrease in Number of Races

My study of California didn’t look at number of races but Thalheimer’s did.
The correlation between number of races and wagering handle was 0.64.
Using this correlation and applying it to the change in number of races at Churchill Downs from 2013 to 2014 would suggest wagering handle should have fallen by just over $7 million.
Again this isn’t anywhere close to the actual drop of $49 million.
The chart below shows the actual drop and what the Thalheimer study estimates the drop should have been based on decreases in average field size and number of races.

Even if you combine both the expected drop in wagering handle caused by a decrease in average field size and number of races the total is around $10 million.
That accounts for only 20% of the $49 million drop, which begs the question: what caused the additional $39 million drop?
The answer is one the corporate geniuses will never admit: the increase in takeout rates.

This is Just the Beginning

The Thalheimer study also determined the correlation between changes in takeout rates and wagering handle to be – 2.30.
The negative correlation means that an increase in takeout rates will result in a decrease in wagering handle and vice versa.
While the affects of changes in average field size and number of races will be felt immediately the full impact of takeout changes typically takes 12 to 18 months.
Applying the – 2.30 correlation to the changes in takeout rates and blending them based on the mix of WPS and all other wagering types suggests the decrease in wagering handle should be about 31%.
The $49 million drop this meet is only a 12% decrease meaning the wagering handle should drop more rapidly over the final two meets this year and the spring meet next year.
The decrease for the remainder of this year will likely be much more than 12% because that number includes Oaks and Derby days, which skew the data.
When factoring out those two days wagering handle was down over 25%.


The decrease in wagering handle was a combination of a decrease in average field size, a decrease in number of races and an increase in takeout rates.
It’s pretty clear the overwhelming factor in the equation was the increase in takeout rates.
It’s also pretty clear that the players boycott accelerated the decrease in wagering handle.
The forecast for the remainder of the year is pretty bleak as well as there will be no big days to skew the numbers.
The last and most important point is this should be a wake up call to all tracks.
If you increase takeout rates expect your wagering handle to plummet.
Likewise if you decrease your takeout rates expect your wagering handle to skyrocket.
If you don’t believe me take a look at Kentucky Downs.
The data regarding the 2013 and 2014 Churchill Downs meets can be found here.  Please note that I did not include Future Wagers in my numbers so they may differ slightly from other reported numbers.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Violette's Comments Don't Sit Well With Horseplayers

Yesterday in an interview at Thoroughbred Racing Commentary, New York horseman Rick Violette said that customers should help pay for new drug testing. Out of 100% of revenue, the tracks receive about 11%, purses receive about 11%, and the customer gets paid out 78%. The proposal - if we can call it that - means that if the tracks and horsemen give 1% each for drug testing, horseplayers should too. That means takeout would be increased by another point.

This, as one might anticipate, went over like a ton of bricks.

Among others.

Mr. Violette might find this anger unwarranted. However, since he speaks about football and concussions in the interview, what would he think would happen if someone in power in the NFL said "fans get a better product if our players have fewer concussions, so we're going to raise ticket prices $10 at every stadium to help pay for concussion testing."

Fans would be justifiably upset. The NFL is an $8 billion dollar league. They should find some money to pay for their athletes and the good of the game of football themselves from that $8 billion.

Horse racing, through slots, revenues from betting, grants, admission, ADW taxes, fees for horses and licensing, and a number of other avenues, raises about $2 billion in revenue. Like the NFL, they already have revenue to pay for this themselves. They should use it for drug testing. There's clearly plenty of money for it.

Monday, June 23, 2014

The Field Size Narrrative Doesn't Capture Your Behavior

When handle is down this racing year - especially at CDI owned racetracks like Arlington and Churchill Downs - industry insiders like to chalk it up to 'field size losses'. Perhaps this is a way to buttress your boycott of such properties, we don't really know. But we do know it does not have the merit some would want it to.

A point of fact. Here is the Arlington Park numbers from this year when field size was a standard deviation above where it was last year:

Yes, despite what you may read in the press, you are reading the number correctly.

2013 field size sample: 7.54 horses per race, 2014 field size sample: 8.27 horses per race, for an increase of 0.73 horses per race.

Handle is still down over 9%.

Churchill Downs, outside special event days, has lost 0.62 horses per race this meet - that's less than the number Arlington has gained in the above sample. Handle is down 26.90% overall, or over 20% per race.

For field size to be "the" issue, the above numbers would not be possible.

Or, in common sense terms, if field size was "the" issue, you'd have to believe this:

"I am betting Churchill Downs more because they raised takeout and I make less money when I win"

rather than.....

"I am betting Churchill Downs less because they raised takeout and I make less money when I win"

One of those statements makes logical sense and one of them doesn't. It's pretty clear what's been happening, and we expect, over time, others will catch on to it, too.

Friday, June 13, 2014

Northlands Park Pick 5 Carryover Tonight

If you're looking for a track to play tonight, Northlands Park has a $6,607 carryover in their Pick 5, which carries an industry-low takeout of just 10%.
We had some information about Northlands Park's commitment to improving their wagering product on page eight of the April edition of the Horseplayer Monthly, and we are planning on having a more extensive interview with Executive Director and General Manager Chris Roberts in the next issue.

Free past performances are available here (PDF).

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Some People Prepare for the Stephen Foster Different Than Others

We were tweeted this cartoon from a horse racing fan:

You can follow Deb Martin here. And you can see more of her work, as well as purchase some if you wish, right here. 

Thanks Deb, we laughed.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Bettors Low on the Pole: Courts Even Think We Don't Matter

Today via the DRF:

"A U.S. District Court judge has ordered that an indictment against a Pennsylvania trainer be dismissed...... The indictment stated that the trainers had allegedly given illegal substances to horses or intended to give illegal substances to horses as part of what the indictment claimed was a scheme to fix horse races. In his ruling, Caldwell said the indictment against Webb did not contain any evidence that the trainer had actually bet on any of horses that had been given illegal substances or urged anyone else to bet on any of the horses."

We don't know the logistics of the case and we certainly will not comment on whether this gentleman is guilty or innocent of anything, but why do judges rulings think we don't matter?

We may have bet some of these races. Money may have been taken from us.

If a Fortune 500 CEO cooks the books would the judge say because he does not own stock in the company and did not profit from it we'll let him or her cook the books?

What about other horse owners? What about other trainers - a trainer who wins races illegally (allegedly), gets press, win percentage headlines, is noticed and gets new clients (possibly some of yours).

When a race is "fixed" there are victims. The trainer who is supposedly doing the fixing does not need to bet on his horse to make financial gain, or hurt others.

That's our opinion. What's yours?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Churchill Handle Losses Continue, Down 55% Sunday.

While Belmont had a good handle weekend, and other tracks took advantage of horse racing being in the mainstream with the California Chrome Triple Crown try, Churchill Downs had no such luck. Friday through Sunday, handle at the Louisville, Ky oval fell over $5 million. On Sunday, handle was down a whopping 55%.

So far, for the meet, handle is down $37,922,365.

In the mainstream press, field size has been given as a reason for the decline, and surely some of the decline is field size related, however, since mid month field size has improved from down over 10% to down only 8.8% - only 0.67 horse per race. During this time, meet losses of approximately 25% - one of every four dollars - has continued. Average handle per day has dropped 27.71%. has updated the numbers here. They've recommended that horseplayers who wish can continue to withhold wagering at Churchill as well as all CDI owned properties, ADW's and data providers. In a poll early in the meet, HANA members, in a published survey, overwhelmingly supported the initiative, in whole or in part. Jeff Platt, HANA President, recently told the Bloodhorse that Churchill Downs has not reached out to speak with boycotting horseplayers, but the door is always open should the corporation choose.

HANA will update members here on the blog as the meet inches closer to its conclusion.

Friday, June 6, 2014

Nilsen: California Chrome Will Win the Triple Crown

This article by Rich Nilsen appears in the June edition of Horseplayer Monthly. To read the remainder of that issue for free, please click here.

Twelve horses have been in position in Elmont, New York over the past 35 years, and every one of them has failed.  It has not been without drama and heartbreak, as Smarty Jones and Real Quiet appeared to be 'home free' in deep stretch over 'Big Sandy,' only to get nailed at the wire.  

Over the past several years there has been a lot of talk within the industry that the Triple Crown should be changed.  Some want the races spread out with longer gaps between each event.  Others want the distances of the races shortened, claiming that the modern Thoroughbred cannot handle the arduous task of negotiating an aggregate of 31 1/2 furlongs in five weeks at three different tracks.  Fortunately, those arguments will be shelved after the outcome of the Belmont Stakes on June 7.
The third leg is known as 'The Test of Champions' for a reason.  It's hard.  They are not giving away history, nor should they.  California Chrome has to earn it.

The Decade of the 1970s was a special time in racing history because three of the all-time greats, Secretariat, Seattle Slew and Affirmed, were able to pull off this monumental feat.  It was extra sweet when Secretariat accomplished the task, not just because of the devastating fashion with which he won the Triple Crown, but also because it had been 25 years since Citation's sweep.
This year I believe we are going to see our first Triple Crown winner in over three decades.  One of the reasons for this is that many of the right circumstances have fallen into place for a talented colt that has forgotten how to lose.

In 1916 there were 2,128 Thoroughbred foals born and registered in the United States with The Jockey Club.  One of those foals would turn out to be a horse named Sir Barton, who in 1919 would sweep the Kentucky Derby, Preakness and Belmont Stakes and become horse racing's inaugural Triple Crown winner.  Fast forward to 1975 when no less 28,271 foals were born and among them was a striking chestnut for Harbor View Farm.  Named Affirmed by Louis Wolfson, he would gain fame by defeating his arch rival Alydar in the three consecutive races and becoming horse racing's last Triple Crown champion.

An epidemic, known as the Mare Reproductive Lose Syndrome, hit the breeding industry in the early 2000s.  Coupled with a poor and uncertain economy a few years later, the result was a sharp drop in the number of matings.  The big slide began in 2009 when the crop dropped 8.5 percent, below 30,000 foals for the first time since 1976.  It got worse the next year, as only 25,891 were produced in 2010, a 12.5-percent drop. In 2011, the year California Chrome was foaled, only 23,150 foals were born.  This was the smallest Thoroughbred crop since 1969.

This plays into Chrome's favor as fewer foals means less quality competition.  It can be argued that some of the best from this crop, such as Honor Code, Top Billing, New Year's Day, and Shared Belief, didn't make it to the starting gate on the first Saturday in May.  Every year top horses fail to make it to the Derby, but a smaller crop has resulted in fewer fast horses remaining as viable threats for the winner's circle.

Winner                 Foaled  Where                  Color                     Crop Size
Sir Barton            1916       Kentucky           Chestnut                 2,128
Gallant Fox         1927       Kentucky            Bay                         4,182
Omaha                 1932       Kentucky           Chestnut                  5,256
War Admiral       1934       Kentucky            Brown                     4,924
Whirlaway           1938       Kentucky           Chestnut                  5,696
Count Fleet          1940       Kentucky           Bay                         6,003
Assault                 1943       Kentucky           Chestnut                  5,923
Citation                1945       Kentucky           Bay                         5,819
Secretariat            1970       Virginia             Chestnut                 24,361
Seattle Slew         1974       Kentucky           Black                      27,586
Affirmed              1975       Florida               Chestnut                 28,271

12 Horses who won the Derby/Preakness
Spectacular Bid 1976       Kentucky             Gray                      28,809
Pleasant Colony 1978       Kentucky             Dark Bay              31,510
Alysheba             1984       Kentucky             Bay                      50,430
Sunday Silence  1986       Kentucky             Black/Brown        51,296
Silver Charm       1994       Florida                  Gray                   35,341
Real Quiet           1995       Florida                  Bay                     34,984
Charismatic         1996       Kentucky             Chestnut              35,366
War Emblem      1999       Kentucky             Dark Brown          36,929
Funny Cide         2000       New York            Chestnut               37,755
Smarty Jones      2001       Penn.                    Chestnut               37,901
Big Brown            2005       Kentucky             Bay                     38,362
I'll Have Another* 2009 Kentucky             Chestnut                  32,339
*scratched before race day

Which list will he be added to?
California Chrome 2011 California             Chestnut             23,150
There are some racing fans who feel the same way about California Chrome that they and others felt about Real Quiet (who began his career in New Mexico) and the New York-bred Funny Cide, when those runners were in position to join a list that includes Citation and Secretariat.  Is California Chrome worthy of being on such a prestigious list?  In this handicapper's opinion, the answer is absolutely yes.

No matter what Chrome accomplishes the rest of his career, it is unlikely that he will go down as one of the top 10 or 20 greatest Thoroughbreds of all time.  But that doesn't really matter.  He is a talented horse in a small and weak crop.  This doesn't diminish his feat, as it is much tougher now to win the Triple Crown than when Gallant Fox did it back in 1930 due to the vastly larger foals crops and the number of starters in each race.  But the fact that California Chrome hails from the smallest crop since the late 1960s plays to his advantage, statistically, and gives him a better overall chance than horses like Alysheba and Sunday Silence who came from crops more than twice the size of 2011. 
It's fairly simple.  No one will confuse any of the potential starters in this year's Belmont with the likes of Easy Goer, Bet Twice, Java Gold or Lost Code.  Sunday Silence had to face the great Easy Goer on his home track, and the result wasn't even close.

We all know by now that the California star brings along a great story.  He is trained by 77-year-old Art Sherman, one of the better trainers in California over the past several decades.  At the age of 18 he was the exercise rider for Swaps, who captured the 1955 Kentucky Derby and won a remarkable 19 of 25 lifetime races.  The chestnut colt would go on to be listed as the 20th greatest racehorse of all time by The Blood-Horse magazine.

In the game for no less than seven decades, and having enjoyed plenty of success with lesser quality runners out west, Sherman would not have his first starter in the Run for the Roses until this year.
But if the Art Sherman story weren't enough, California Chrome has the added appeal of coming from the most humble of beginnings.  The owners, Perry Martin and Steve Coburn, bought his mare for only $8,000 and bred her to a little known stallion in California named Lucky Pulpit.  They were called 'dumb asses' by some of their friends, so they named their stable Dumb Ass Partners.  

The result of the breeding was a beautiful reddish colt with four white 'socks,' and for some unknown and unexplainable reason, owner Perry Martin knew this foal had a big future.  In fact, he vowed to stay in the game until Chrome had the opportunity to prove himself.  It's hard to make this stuff up.
Chrome would show talent at an early age, but while the best horses were competing in the 2013 Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita, he was found losing on the undercard in a state-bred stakes race.  At that point of his career, becoming a starter, never less the favorite, in the 2014 Kentucky Derby would have been a 1,000-1 shot.

However, anyone who has followed California racing over the past few years knows the type of remarkable horseman Art Sherman is.  This is a man who in 2007 started 861 horses and won with 207 of them, an incredible 24-percent win rate.  And that particular year was far from an anomaly, as Sherman consistently won with a high percentage of horses year-in and year-out during a long time span that started in the early 1980s.

Sherman has demonstrated his expertise again with his masterful training of Chrome, and this is a critical factor in the colt's chances in New York.  Not only has he turned this Cal-bred into a Grade 1-winning machine, but he has given the colt the best possible chance of sweeping the Triple Crown.  By easing back on the horse's workload prior to both the Derby and especially the Preakness (no published works in the two week gap), Sherman comes to Belmont with the freshest horse possible under the circumstances.

Also in Chrome's corner is Victor Espinoza, a great rider who is six for six aboard the colt.  Jockey Stewart Elliott was blamed for the premature move of Smarty Jones in the 2004 Belmont Stakes, and that is unlikely to occur with a rider like Espinoza, a jock who has ridden at Belmont Park numerous times and is very familiar with the big, sweeping turns.  Espinoza is well aware of the fact that he can't move too soon in the 12 furlong race.  If he has enough horse, he will move him at the right time.

There are a few talented horses in California Chrome's crop, such as Ride On Curlin, Commanding Curve and Wicked Strong.  However, these are all horses that are subject to bad trips and not extremely fast from a speed figure perspective.  Chrome, with good early speed and tactical ability, creates his own luck.  He got a perfect path in the Kentucky Derby because he made his own trip.  That is a tremendous asset when the money is on the line.

The horse racing community has been crying for a Triple Crown winner for quite some time.  We have all wanted another Secretariat, a horse that can captivate the American public and put racing back in the headlines.  California Chrome is no Secretariat, but he is a talented horse with a big heart, a great trainer and jockey, and the perfect running style that includes push-button acceleration.
He carries with him a great story, which has already caught the attention of the general public, and it is only going to be better next Saturday.

Rich Nilsen is a 12-time NHC qualifier and founder of  He serves as Director of Player Services for, the only ADW offering same-day cash back rewards for members.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

June Horseplayer Monthly Is Out!

HANA is pleased to announced that our June edition of Horseplayer Monthly with stats, stories, and analysis not found anywhere else, is now available to download here -

In this month's edition, Rich Nilsen argues that California Chrome will win the Belmont, and there is plenty of other Belmont analysis courtesy of Tony Bada Bing, Melissa Nolan, and Dave Volento.  We also have many of regular contributors - Barry Meadow, Craig Milkowski from TimeformUS, Mike Dorr, Jerod Dinkin, and Lenny Moon- back with their handicapping takes.

There is also some harness racing information courtesy of Garnet Barnsdale and industry and Churchill boycott news.

Again, to download the Horseplayer Monthly, which is 100% free, please visit  All the ads and links are clickable within the PDF if you see anything that interests you.

All the best with your wagers this weekend,

Your HANA Team

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Churchill Downs Lost Handle Story Hits the Mainstream Press

The #boycottCDI group - that would be horseplayers like you - were recognized by the mainstream press.

Frank Angst, writing at, interviewed Jeff Platt and the KHBPA's Marty Maline about CDI's handle numbers this meet. As you blog followers know, Churchill Downs handle is off over 25% on non-Derby days this meet, and $19 million, including the Derby. Arlington Park has had a poor start as well.

This despite tracks like Belmont - who have been getting hurt badly (worse than Churchill) in field size holding their own. Several other tracks, like Woodbine, Pimlico, Santa Anita are up handle in the month of May.

Give the story a read and comment there if you wish. There are currently 37 comments from horseplayers just like you.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Now Churchill Downs Wants to Increase Takeout at the Fair Grounds

From the New Orleans Advocate:

"Down the road, Bryant said CDI would be interested in discussing cutting racing days and increasing the track’s takeout on bets, something that takes the legislature’s approval, and having 24 hours of slots operations instead of closing at midnight."

This is why 90.2% of you said you needed to boycott Chuchill Downs properties, ADW's and providers. You knew they would be coming after you at more than just one track.