Alert!

Monday, May 17, 2021

Trainer Bob Baffert Handed Temporary Suspension by NYRA

Baffert Handed Temporary Suspension From NYRA Tracks
by NYRA Press Office as Reported by The Paulick Report | 05.17.2021 | 4:17pm
https://www.paulickreport.com/news/the-biz/baffert-handed-temporary-suspension-from-nyra-tracks/

"The New York Racing Association, Inc. (NYRA) today announced the temporary suspension of Bob Baffert from entering horses in races and occupying stall space at Belmont Park, Saratoga Race Course and Aqueduct Racetrack.

“In order to maintain a successful Thoroughbred racing industry in New York, NYRA must protect the integrity of the sport for our fans, the betting public and racing participants,” said NYRA President and CEO Dave O'Rourke. “That responsibility demands the action taken today in the best interests of Thoroughbred racing.”

On Sunday, May 9, 2021, Mr. Baffert publicly acknowledged that the Kentucky Derby winner Medina Spirit tested positive for betamethasone, a banned corticosteroid that would trigger a disqualification and loss of purse money should a split sample return the same finding. The Kentucky Horse Racing Commission is required to await the split-sample results before rendering a final determination in the matter.

In addition to the ongoing investigation into Medina Spirit's victory in the Kentucky Derby, NYRA has taken into account the fact that other horses trained by Mr. Baffert have failed drug tests in the recent past, resulting in the assessment of penalties against him by thoroughbred racing regulators in Kentucky, California, and Arkansas.

During the temporary suspension, NYRA will not accept entries or provide stall space to any individual employed by Bob Baffert Racing Stables."
 

-- Jeff Platt

For HANA

Trainer Linda Rice Suspended 3 Years/Fined $50K by New York State Gaming Commission

Linda Rice’s License Revoked, Trainer Fined $50,000
The Paulick Report | by Chelsea Hackbarth | 05.17.2021 | 1:49pm
https://www.paulickreport.com/news/the-biz/linda-rices-license-revoked-trainer-fined-50000/

"New York-based trainer Linda Rice has been fined $50,000 and had her license to participate in Thoroughbred racing revoked for “actions inconsistent with and detrimental to the best interest of racing generally and corrupt and improper acts and practices in relation to racing,” the New York State Gaming Commission revealed on Monday, May 17. The trainer will not be permitted to apply for a new license for a period of three years.

The NYSGC first launched an investigation into Rice's operation in early 2018, on the claim that she traded money for information from the racing office. That information, such as which horses were likely to enter races before the race had closed, could have given her a competitive advantage.

The investigation uncovered evidence that between 2011 and 2015, Rice received faxes and emails from former entry clerks Jose Morales and Matt Salvato, giving her the names and past performance records of horses prior to draw time. Senior racing office management has said the names of trainers and horses in a given race are not to be released until after a race is drawn (with stakes races being the exception)."


-- Jeff Platt 

For HANA


Friday, December 4, 2020

Sports Betting's Investment Trajectory (and How it Hasn't Looked Like Racing's)

 Sports Betting's Investment Trajectory (and How it Hasn't Looked Like Racing's):
https://pullthepocket.blogspot.com/2020/12/sports-bettings-investment-trajectory.html

 Legal Sports Report detailed the $3 billion betting month in October, highlighting state by state growth. As more distribution is added - just like a retail chain building new storefronts - handle follows.

Of particular note in the article was the state of Colorado, which began in earnest in October. In its first month of operation, $211M was taken in, with a hold of about 8%. The resulting revenue was eye opening for one big reported reason: the Promo spend.

Colorado is allowed to deduct promotional and marketing spending from revenue, and that promotional spend totaled $7.2M or 41% of total revenue.

So, they added new distribution, and they allowed the businesses who bring the end product to the user to spend (at their discretion) almost half of total revenue to capturing new customers.

As we wrote about recently, this has not and is not the experience with ADW companies, or  the sport of racing itself. In it, the distributors are often asked to pay more to purses, as their margins shrink, and they have been since day one. I won't even mention how with sports betting, increased "stores" as points of sale are welcomed, whereas in horse racing they pretty much aren't.

Sports betting has done quite a bit right since being approved. They've priced the product well, (mostly) avoiding the pitfalls of -130 lines or other such nonsense; they've opened "stores" and governments have allowed the market to thrive through free enterprise; the sports betting entities themselves are sinking as much as half of their revenues back in the business, to attract customers.




Imo, the above article at the Pull The Pocket Blog, is noteworthy because it shows how sports betting is gaining market share by investing in the customer; whereas racing is not.

Have a great Friday everyone,

--Jeff Platt, for HANA.

 

Friday, November 13, 2020

77 Percent Of New York Thoroughbreds From Indicted Trainers Were Positive For Clenbuterol After Arrests

 

by Paulick Report Staff | 11.12.2020 | 5:26pm
Report: 77 Percent Of New York Thoroughbreds From Indicted Trainers Were Positive For Clenbuterol After Arrests:
https://www.paulickreport.com/news/the-biz/report-77-percent-of-new-york-thoroughbreds-from-indicted-trainers-were-positive-for-clenbuterol-after-arrests/

At a press conference this week, New York State Gaming Commission equine medical director Dr. Scott Palmer revealed that the majority of New York-based Thoroughbreds with trainers under federal indictment tested positive for clenbuterol in the weeks after the March arrests that rocked the racing world.

Standardbreds and Thoroughbreds that were trained by anyone named in the March indictment of more than two dozen trainers, veterinarians, and drug distributors in an alleged doping scheme were put on the veterinarian's list for 60 days and had biological samples taken for testing. Palmer said this week that the horses were tested at least twice during this period. Of nearly 100 Thoroughbreds based in the New York at the time, Palmer said 77 had levels of clenbuterol in their blood.

Though Palmer is still compiling veterinary records for some of those horses, so far he says none of those records show administration of clenbuterol. That leads him to suspect the drug was not being given as part of a legitimate treatment for a diagnosed condition, but rather for its side effects, which mimic anabolic steroids with repeated usage.

Palmer called the discovery “concrete evidence that clenbuterol was being widely abused in the Thoroughbred horses,” according to the Thoroughbred Daily News.

 

The above article appeared yesterday (Thursday 11-12-2020) on The Paulick Report.

Imo, the above quote from the article confirms what many players have suspected for some time.

Clenbuterol is given for it's anabolic effects, then withdrawn early enough so that horses don't test positive post-race. But the additional muscle mass created by the drug's anabolic effect remains with the horse and improves performance on race-day.

-- Jeff Platt, for HANA

 

 

Monday, December 16, 2019

Two horses die in same race at Los Alamitos

Los Angeles Times --
By John Cherwa Special Contributor | Dec. 14, 2019 3:01 PM
Two horses die in same race at Los Alamitos:
https://www.latimes.com/sports/story/2019-12-14/two-horses-die-in-same-race-at-los-alamitos

Los Alamitos had its first two deaths during daytime thoroughbred racing this year when two horses died in the first race on Saturday. The deaths were not related.

Mighty Elijah injured his left front leg in the stretch, according to the stewards. He was vanned off and euthanized when his injury could not be repaired. The horse was trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, who is banned from running his horses Santa Anita Park and Golden Gates Fields after a string of fatalities. Los Alamitos has allowed him to race horses and Del Mar let him race after Hollendorfer obtained a court order.

Mighty Elijah, a 4-year-old gelding, was winless in nine starts and running in a $15,000 maiden claiming race when he broke down.

The other horse to die was Into a Hot Spot, who collapsed while being unsaddled after the race. He died on the track. The stewards said he had internal injuries.

Mighty Elijah was the eighth horse to die in Hollendorfer’s care in the last 13 months. There have been four at Santa Anita, two at Golden Gate, one at Del Mar and now one at Los Alamitos. Hollendorfer announced earlier this month that he was taking his stable to Oaklawn Park in Arkansas to run after the beginning of the year.


Knowing that Oaklawn Park is planning on welcoming this trainer with open arms, I feel compelled to ask the following:

How is it that a trainer -- ANY trainer -- is allowed to race ANYWHERE -- after having seven... strike that and make it eight --

How is it that a trainer -- ANY trainer -- is allowed to race ANYWHERE -- after having eight horses die while under his care in the span of about a year?

If seven deaths in the span of about a year isn't too many?

If eight deaths in the span of about a year isn't too many?

How many is too many?

Fifteen?

Twenty?

Fifty?

Seriously --

What's it going to take to get a North American racing jurisdiction -- ANY North American racing jurisdiction -- to regulate this sport in a serious way?

Strike that.

What's it going to take to get EVERY North American racing jurisdiction to regulate this sport in a serious way?



--Jeff Platt, HANA President
.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

An open letter from Patrick Cummings of the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation

The following open letter was penned by Pactick Cummings of the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation and was published at the following link on October 17, 2019:
https://racingthinktank.com/blog/letter-west-virginia-and-racings-failure-properly-administer-itself

The following is an open letter from Patrick Cummings, Executive Director of the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation:

West Virginia’s problems are the entire industry’s problems.

A horrific photograph emerged from West Virginia on October 16 in which it appears a horse, presumably euthanized previously, was dumped in a landfill, still with leg bandages in place. A police investigation is underway at the behest of various anti-racing lobbies, with some reporting the horse may have come from nearby Mountaineer Park. Details are still unconfirmed.
Regardless of the authenticity of the photograph, this is not an isolated example of the mind-bending operation of racing in the state.

That same night at Mountaineer, nine year-old mare Sophie Got Even made her first start since June 2014 in a $4,000 claiming event.

She was purchased as a broodmare, in-foal to Hold Me Back, for $1,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky Winter Mixed Sale in February 2015. She was then bred to Colonial Colony, dropping Printer Jam, a gelding who has earned more than $70,000 and won a race on October 9 at Indiana Grand for owner, trainer and breeder Denis Cluley – the same person who bought Sophie Got Even in 2015, and raced her on Wednesday evening off a five-year layoff.

Sophie Got Even ran fifth, beaten more than seven lengths, and earned $134.

On Monday, October 14 at Mountaineer, nine-year-old mare Little Red Diamond made her fourth start of 2019. Prior to her first race of this year, on August 21, she had not been seen at the races since October 22, 2014. It does not appear as though this Kentucky-bred by Red Giant produced any foals, but that should not matter. She has been beaten more than 84 lengths in her four 2019 appearances, earning $340.

Runnin’toluvya, the 1-2 favorite in the West Virginia Breeders’ Classic at Charles Town on Saturday was allegedly bleeding from a gash to a hind leg following a pre-race gate incident, but allowed to race, and was eased to last.

West Virginia is not alone, nor is the thoroughbred industry. An Ohio standardbred track ran the last two races on a March card after a horse drowned in its infield lake after getting loose during a race and could not be retrieved. Yes, they kept racing. The Ohio Racing Commission did not comment when asked about the matter by local media.

Horse racing, no matter the breed, is judged by its worst behavior, not its best.

For all of the great horsepeople – owners, breeders, trainers, assistants, grooms, foremen, veterinarians, jockeys, exercise riders, farriers, officials and all other personnel responsible for the well-being of horses – there are, undoubtedly, rogue actors amongst them who do, or have done, unspeakable things.

The beauty of the great farms for breeding and raising new generations of horses in Kentucky, New York, Florida, California and other states pales in comparison to the troubles which are now regularly presented and exploited by those seeking to destroy the industry and its history.

Casino companies which own and operate racetracks lack incentives to grow the sport. Logic suggests they would generally prefer a future without having to share revenue with horse racing.

There are some horsepeople, racing officials, administrators and regulators in some states who have allowed outrageous behavior to fester, leaving a trail of terrifying examples for the world to point to as reasons why our industry, which accounts domestically for more than 240,000 direct jobs and $15 billion in direct economic impact, should be shuttered.

Individual racing commissions and their staffs are in place to execute the rules and regulations governing the sport in their jurisdictions, but at the most fundamental level, they must ensure the safety and integrity of all participants. They license, and therefore allow, the personnel who own, train, ride and assist in the preparation and racing of horses. Many are failing to accurately police the sport, and it is jeopardizing its future.

This letter could suggest that the West Virginia Racing Commissioners – Jack Rossi, Ken Lowe and Tony Figaretti – are all responsible, in some capacity, for enabling such lax administration. But this would be underselling the entire situation.

A horrific situation in West Virginia is an industry-wide nightmare. There should be no delineation about the nature of these and other incidents and the larger sport – these things cannot happen.
Long-time industry participants point to the decades of threats which have faced racing, and still, we are here, breeding and racing.

American horse racing is proving incapable of policing itself – dramatic reforms are necessary to prove that we can exist in a modern society with far different standards than in the past. Racing needs to be administered in a much more responsible fashion. State racing commissions must step up and take legitimate control; the rest of us must demand it ourselves.

Many commissions are stocked with political appointees with little industry experience. In those jurisdictions with commissioners who do have the experience, many are viewed skeptically as protecting long-term interests as opposed to embracing the radical change the sport needs.

The love and passion of horses and racing is shared by so many of the sport’s participants – to an almost irrational degree. Participants young and old absorb a steady stream of attacks with each and every new incident and ponder why they have committed themselves to a business that seems incapable of policing itself.

When change is floated in the horse business, responses are often negative and tinged with reasons why our business could not accept such change.

Get over it. Change or fade into oblivion.

If you care about racing, it’s time to petition your state’s racing commissioners and demand they take their roles and the administration of racing far more seriously. It is in everyone’s best interest, and that includes our horses, to do so.

Just so you know - I decided to post Patrick's open letter here on the HANA Blog because I agree with every single word.

--Jeff Platt, HANA President

Friday, April 19, 2019

20 of the leading tracks announce plans to phase out race-day meds

Bloodhorse.com | by Frank Angst | 04-18-2019 6:33 PM
Tracks Plan to Phase Out Lasix, Horsemen Share Concerns:
https://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/233156/tracks-plan-to-phase-out-lasix-horsemen-share-concerns

-- quote:
"In what would be a significant change in how 2-year-old races and stakes races are conducted in the United States, 20 of the leading tracks announced plans April 18 to phase out the use of race-day medication beginning with juvenile races next year and then adding listed and graded stakes beginning in 2021.

The proposal to end the use of furosemide (Salix, commonly called Lasix) has support from some leading industry groups but also saw opposition and concerns raised by horsemen's groups and regulators.

Lasix is administered to prevent exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage, but its use is out of line with other major international racing jurisdictions. On Thursday, a coalition of leading Thoroughbred racing organizations announced plans to move closer to that standard.

Coalition racetracks that signed on to the initiative include all tracks owned or operated by Churchill Downs Inc., the New York Racing Association, and The Stronach Group, as well as Del Mar, Keeneland, Lone Star Park, Remington Park, Los Alamitos Racecourse (Thoroughbred meets), Oaklawn Park, and Tampa Bay Downs. Taken together, the tracks represent 86% of graded or listed stakes races in the U.S. in 2018."
-- end quote.


If I pull back and look at thoroughbred racing from (say) 30,000 feet --

It seems a bit unreal to me that fear of what PETA can do, and not vision from within, might turn out to be the catalyst for change.

That said --

Imo, if you're going to do away with race-day meds, a phase out, as opposed to a one time outright ban, is the way to go.

--Jeff Platt, HANA President

.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Santa Anita Implements Lasix Ban, Increased Restrictions On Therapeutic Drugs Following 22nd Fatal Breakdown

by Belinda Stronach | 03.14.2019 | 4:26pm
Santa Anita Implements Lasix Ban, Increased Restrictions On Therapeutic Drugs Following 22nd Fatal Breakdown:
https://www.paulickreport.com/news/the-biz/santa-anita-implements-lasix-ban-increased-restrictions-on-therapeutic-drugs-following-22nd-fatal-breakdown/


The following statement was distributed to media Thursday afternoon as an “open letter” from Stronach Group chairman and president Belinda Stronach following the track's 22nd fatal breakdown during morning training at Santa Anita.

What has happened at Santa Anita over the last few weeks is beyond heartbreaking.  It is unacceptable to the public and, as people who deeply love horses, to everyone at The Stronach Group and Santa Anita.

The sport of horse racing is the last great sporting legacy platform to be modernized.  If we expect our sport to grow for future generations, we must raise our standards.

Today, I'm announcing The Stronach Group will take the unprecedented step of declaring a zero tolerance for race day medication at Santa Anita Park and Golden Gate Fields.  These Thoroughbred racetracks will be the first in North America to follow the strict International Federation of Horseracing Authorities (IFHA) standards.

We have arrived at a watershed moment.  The Stronach Group has long been a strong advocate for the abolishment of race-day medication, but we will wait no longer for the industry to come together as one to institute these changes. Nor will we wait for the legislation required to undertake this paradigm shift.  We are taking a stand and fully recognize just how disruptive this might be.

This mandate encompasses a complete revision of the current medication policy to improve the safety of our equine and human athletes and to raise the integrity of our sport.

These revisions comprise best practices currently employed at racetracks around the world:
  • Banning the use of Lasix.
  • Increasing the ban on legal therapeutic NSAIDS, joint injections, shockwave therapy, and anabolic steroids.
  • Complete transparency of all veterinary records.
  • Significantly increasing out-of-competition testing.
  • Increasing the time required for horses to be on-site prior to a race.
  • A substantial investment by The Stronach Group in diagnostic equipment to aid in the early detection of pre-existing conditions.
  • Horses in training are only allowed therapeutic medication with a qualified veterinary diagnosis.

Additionally, it is time to address the growing concern about use of the riding crop.  A cushion crop should only be used as a corrective safety measure.  While we firmly believe our jockeys have not purposely been mistreating their mounts, it is time to make this change.

These modernizations are in addition to the previously announced commitment to the continued engagement of outside experts to regularly review our dirt, turf and synthetic courses for consistency, composition and compaction to create the safest racing surfaces in the world.

We will be continuing our daily conversations with industry stakeholders to further define these transformative guidelines.  But make no mistake: these changes will be implemented. The time to discuss “why” these advancements must take place is over.  The only thing left to discuss is “how.”



Wow. (It's been a busy day.)

--Jeff Platt, HANA President

.

Where have all of the so called racing journalists gone?

There was another fatal breakdown at Santa Anita this morning. (The 22nd fatality at Santa Anita since opening day Dec 26, 2018.)

Last week, when The Associated Press picked up the story about the situation at Santa Anita, their reporters wrote about microfractures.

APNews.com | By PAUL NEWBERRY | Friday March 8, 2019
Column: Horse racing needs to clean up its act _ or go away:
https://apnews.com/ecd8fa29fdfd4da68d8fa52359fe1f23?utm_medium=AP_Sports&utm_source=Twitter&utm_campaign=SocialFlow

"These are orthopedic failures, not single-step failures. The horse didn’t step in a hole. The horse didn’t take a bad step," she said. "If you bend a paper clip back and forth 200 times, then put it back in shape so it looks brand new and hand to me, the next time I bend it, it might come apart in two pieces even though I insist I did not bend it hard. That’s how these fractures occur."

It starts with a microfracture. Then a small, partial fracture. Finally, in the heat of a big race or perhaps just a light training session, the bone shatters.

It seems sudden, a fluke.

Most likely, it’s not.

"This is really just the normal physiological consequence of an increasing workload," Lyons said. "Take a human runner. Most runners know that when they increase their distances and then say, ‘Boy, my shins were killing me last night after a run,’ that they need to back off for the next week. They need to let it heal. What they do with horses is give them anti-inflammatories without a diagnosis, then keep training and racing."

Lyons said new technology is being developed that would allow a CT scan to be performed in a matter of minutes on a horse’s front and rear legs, which could be a revolutionary step forward in equine medical care. But the industry must be willing to pay for the machines, which are expected to cost about $300,000 apiece. Also, there must be enforcement in place to ensure that when a potential problem is discovered, the horse is kept off the track until fully healed."



I find it interesting -- alarming -- that none of the so called racing journalists writing about the situation at Santa Anita have even mentioned the word microfracture.

Why do you think that is?

Six of the 21 horses suffering fatal breakdowns at Santa Anita between Dec 26, 2018 and Mar 11, 2019 raced on a sealed surface within a few weeks of their fatal breakdown. (See the chart posted by Psychotic Parakeet at Paceadvantage.com here:

http://www.paceadvantage.com/forum/showpost.php?p=2439923&postcount=164



In my opinion:

  • It's not the track surface. (At least not track surface the way they want us to think about track surface.)
  • The time has come for actual transparency. (As opposed to the smokescreen they've been giving us these past several weeks about it being the track surface.)

Fact:
  • The CHRB has been compiling data on fatal breakdowns and microfractures for years.

Is there not one racing journalist out there who's willing to write a hard hitting story connecting the dots?


--Jeff Platt, HANA President

Monday, June 18, 2018

HANA Horseplayer Advisory

Thursday June 21, 2018 marks the first day of Summer.

Normally that might mean I'd be writing about some of the great summer racing that's just around the corner. For instance opening day at Del Mar or maybe how much I'm looking forward to this year's meet at Saratoga.

But summertime also means that thoroughbred racing in northern California shifts from Golden Gate to the Cal Fair circuit. They'll be running at the Alameda County Fair in Pleasanton from June 15th through July 8th. The California State Fair in Sacramento from July 13th through July 29th. And the Humboldt County Fair in Ferndale from August 16th through August 26th.

Lest you think this is a commercial for those meets --

It's not.

HANA is issuing a Horseplayer Advisory.

C.A.R.F. is an acronym that stands for the California Association of Racing Fairs.

Be advised that C.A.R.F has higher takeout for their thoroughbred races than other California tracks such as Del Mar, Santa Anita, and Golden Gate.

Takeout for the Cal Fair meets mentioned above as well as night time racing at Los Al is as follows:

WAGER           TAKEOUT
--------------   ------
WIN-PLACE-SHOW    16.77
EXACTA            24.02
DBL               24.02
TRI, SUPER        25.02
P3, P4, P6        25.02
PICK5             25.02


Whereas takeout at Del Mar, Santa Anita, Golden Gate is as follows:

WAGER           TAKEOUT
--------------  -------
WIN-PLACE-SHOW    15.43
EXACTA            22.68
DBL               22.68
TRI, SUPER        23.68
P3, P4, P6        23.68
EARLY PICK5       14.00


We thought you should know.

--Jeff Platt, HANA President





Thursday, April 12, 2018

From Horseplayer Monthly: Is the Money Getting Smarter at Gulfstream?

This article appeared in the April 2018 edition of Horseplayer Monthly. To read the rest of the issue FOR FREE, please click here. 

Is the Money Getting Smarter at Gulfstream? 

Let’s look at some bet down numbers to see what we can uncover

It’s nothing new for us as bettors to see a horse with a 2-1 or 5-2 morning line go off at 7-5 or even below that. This is commonly called a “Bet Down.”  Often times we’re left wondering if it was a bad line, sharp money, computer players, or barn money that “knew” something. 

Although we can’t answer those particular questions, we thought we’d have a closer look at these horses at Gulfstream Park’s “Championship Meet” over the past few seasons.  Let’s see if we can learn something.

First, let’s examine at the winners bet below their morning lines by year for the last three years. This number has been fairly uniform, and there’s not much to see here.

2016 -  68.74%
2017 -  65.02%
2018 -  69.00%

Where it gets interesting is when we examine horses bet at different levels below their morning lines.

Bet Down below Morning Line:

Bet Down 25% or more from Morning Line:

 Bet Down 50% or more from Morning Line: 


While all horses bet down below their morning lines have improved marginally for those betting them – 20.4% and $0.81 ROI three seasons ago to 22.3% and $0.83 ROI this season – the numbers that really stick out are for horses bet 25% or more below their morning lines.

Here we see both win percentage and ROI increasing at high rates; from 24.82% to 27.50% and $0.84 to $0.90 respectively. 

Although the sample size is too small to be totally conclusive, and we’d have to dig deeper into the data by adding other variables, we can probably say with some certainty that the smart money has grown smarter over the last few years at Gulfstream. If you anecdotally thought that was happening, you were probably not imagining it.
 

As a follow up to this article, we received a question from reader Robert Alquist asking, "I have noticed that a ML of 4:1 that ends to 5:2 consistently scores at almost all tracks, not just Gulfstream. This falls in your statistics at the over 25% level but I believe the win rate and ROI fall above the rest of the category. Would you have the data, at least at Gulfstream, to confirm my beliefs?" 

We had HANA President Jeff Platt run this through JCapper for the last year, and the data is as follows:

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Keeneland to Reduce Takeout Ahead of Spring Meet

From The Bloodhorse.com | By Frank Angst | 02-07-2018--
Keeneland to Reduce Takeout Ahead of Spring Meet:
https://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/225999/keeneland-to-reduce-takeout-ahead-of-spring-meet
Noting that 57% of wagering on its races is either win, place, show or exacta wagering, Keeneland will reduce takeout in those pools. Takeout in the win, place, and show pools will be reduced from 17.5% to 16% and exacta takeout will be reduced from 22% to 19.5%. The 16% rate on win, place, and show matches the previous rate before the fall 2017 increase and the 19.5% exacta rate nearly matches the previous 19% rate.
Takeout is the amount of money removed from each pari-mutuel pool largely used to pay tracks and purses. Essentially it's the price of wagering on horse racing.
Keeneland vice president of racing and sales Bob Elliston said the track expected some pushback on its fall 2017 takeout increase—"nobody likes a price increase"—but the quality of the points made by many customers made an impact. That pushback included a Horseplayers Association of North America boycott of the Keeneland fall meet.

This would not have happened without support from a lot of horseplayers. 

I want to say THANK YOU to every single horseplayer who stood on principle and bet less at Keeneland last fall than they otherwise would have.

--Jeff Platt, HANA President


Monday, January 29, 2018

From Horseplayer Monthly: Q & A with Mike Maloney

This Q&A appeared in the January 2018 edition of Horseplayer Monthly. To read the rest of the issue FOR FREE, please click here

HANA board member Mike Maloney has a book available for purchase on the DRF store.  Titled as Betting with an Edge:  A Professional Horseplayer’s Life in Thoroughbred Racing, it details Mike’s life as a professional horseplayer.

Q:  What was the impetus for you to write a book about your life in racing and betting philosophies?

A:  I believed I had some ideas that would be helpful to other horseplayers out there.  I also wanted to honor my dad and tell the story of our life at the racetrack.

Q:  Beyond the entertaining stories, you focus on handicapping. You dedicated an entire section on proper ticket construction and strategy. Why do you find this such an important part of being a successful player?

A:  Proper betting theory and ticket construction are important because they are the bridge between a good handicapping opinion and making a score at the windows.
  https://shop.drf.com/thoroughbred-wagering
Q:  I found your chapter on track bias invaluable. It seems some casual players have such a difficult time recognizing it. How much time do you spend analyzing if there was, or what bias occurred on a day? Can your record keeping tips and notes work for the casual player?

A:  Bias recognition, especially in real time, can lead to some of the best gambling opportunities in racing. It’s worth the hour or so per day that I spend on it. More casual players can benefit from even a few minutes per day devoted to improving their bias skills, trip note work, and record keeping.

Q:  Players can struggle with the mental game - losing streaks, etc - and you spent a good deal of time on discussing it in the book. Despite your success, and longevity as a player, is it something you have to work on each betting day?

A:  Yes, maintaining a healthy and alert mental state isn’t easy when you’re betting 300 days each year.  Learning not to ride the emotional roller coaster and to understand my strengths and weaknesses as a player have helped greatly.

 Q:  You've been a staunch supporter of the weekend warrior and growing the game.. Takeout rates are something you've voiced concern about. As a practical matter, does, for example, the 22% takeout rates on two horse exotics at places like Keeneland and Churchill change your play at all? Just how hard is it to beat those high rates in two horse bets?

A:  Certainly any change in takeout rates impacts my betting immediately. The lower the net cost of a wager, the more I will bet. As racing has raised my cost of making a wager over the last ten years, my wagering has decreased by over 50%. The result of their pricing strategy is that I make less, the horsemen make less, and the tracks themselves make less.

Q:  With so many short fields at so many racetracks over the last ten or so years, have you had a hard time finding bettable races? Have you found a way to attack shorter fields and do so profitably?

A:  It may sound counter-intuitive but smaller fields often force me into the trifecta and supers. I might pass on a 3-1 payoff in the exacta in favor of a shot at 10-1 on a cold number in the tri.

Q:  If there's one thing you love so much that you'd never change about Thoroughbred horse racing, what would it be? If there's one thing you'd want to change, what is it?

A:  I want to end on a good note so I’ll answer the latter first. While I realize that this is highly unlikely, with nationwide cooperation on improving racing’s integrity level, and a new pricing model closer to the lower takeout of other gambling games, I think we could double our handle. Racing would also have a better product to market to a new generation of potential customers.

What I love most about racing is a triple dead heat. First is the game itself; the most-interesting gambling pursuit on the planet. Next are the people you meet in racing. From the bluebloods to the semi-degenerates, the animal-lovers to the quants, the sharpies to the schills. One thing is for sure, there’s no lack of personality at the track.

My other favorite is the horses themselves. Two horses of any class level going head to head from the quarter pole to the wire. A young foal leaving mom to find his running legs on a Kentucky farm. No truer words were ever spoken than, “There’s something about the outside of a horse that’s good for the inside of a man.”

Friday, December 15, 2017

Purse Cuts for Stakes Races at Santa Anita

BloodHorse.com is reporting Santa Anita will cut purses for its stakes schedule.

Santa Anita Cuts Stakes Purses for Upcoming Meet:
https://www.bloodhorse.com/horse-racing/articles/225189/santa-anita-cuts-stakes-purses-for-upcoming-meet


Me: stepping up onto soapbox now...

I know that industry decision makers in California (owners,  trainers, track management, CHRB Commissioners, etc.) don't want to hear it.

BUT --

There's no such thing as a purse fairy. (Not my phrase. But it fits here so I'll use it.)

It ought to be obvious to everybody by now that SB 1072 has been a complete disaster - and that a change in direction is needed.

In my opinion, the ONLY way thoroughbred racing in California is going to generate increases in purse money is to generate increases in money BET by horseplayers on the product.

The question isn't whether or not horseplayers were right about SB 1072 being the wrong thing to do.

The key questions at this point are:

What should we be doing next?

How do we get horseplayers to bet more money on the product than they are betting now?

Happy Holidays everyone,

Jeff Platt, HANA Presdent

Me: stepping down off of soapbox.

.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Recap - Keeneland Fall 2017 Meet

Keeneland announced a takeout increase back in August.

Win Place Show was hiked to 17.50% (the maximum allowed by Kentucky state law.) --This is an increase of 9.375% vs. the previous takeout rate of 16.00%.

Exacta, Double, Trifecta, Superfecta, Pick3, and Pick4 were hiked to 22.00% (again the maximum allowed by Kentucky state law.) --This is an increase of 15.79% vs. the previous takeout rate of 19.00%.

We polled HANA membership. 63% said they wanted a boycott. 28% said no. And 9% said other.

Based on that we organized a boycott.

Handle update on the Playersboycott.org site:
http://www.playersboycott.org/handleupdate10282017.html

Keeneland's fall 2017 meet is now in the books.

Keeneland was down more than $11.3M or about -8.52% vs. their fall 2016 meet.

How much of that -8.52% is because we announced a boycott -- and how much is simply the market speaking is anyone's guess.

At first glance, -8.52% might not look like it's all that bad for them.

As a few of you with jobs in the industry have pointed out to me -- looking ONLY at last year's fall numbers: Keeneland is likely revenue neutral right now, or maybe even revenue positive. (But if so, not by much.)

But I think putting blinkers on and looking ONLY at last year's fall numbers would be a huge mistake.

Last year at this time:

Keeneland was the big dog on the block among the A tracks. They out-handled both Belmont and Santa Anita. They ranked #1 in market share vs. the other tracks they compete with for handle dollars.

Fast forward to now:

Keeneland has been replaced as the big dog on the block. Belmont now ranks #1 in market share among the tracks competing for handle dollars this fall.

This is significant.

Keeneland lost ground to its competitors.

At the same time that Keeneland was down -$11.32M and -8.52%, their primary competitors Belmont and Santa Anita, were UP a combined total of +$25.32M or an average of +11.77%

These are terrible results for Keeneland.

The question isn't whether or not Keeneland had a takeout increase and underperformed the market by a good -20%.

The question is whether or not anyone is listening.

--Jeff Platt, HANA President