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Friday, November 14, 2008

Plonk Gets Even More Interesting

We race 52,000 races a year in North America. Handle per race is around $250,000 and average purse per race is $18,000. Japan races 18,000 races, per race handle is $1.5 million and the average purse is $40,000.

In other words, Jeremy Plonk is on to something.

Players would love to play in 1.4M pools. Horseman are currently after more for purses, because average purse levels are too low. Race less and win? What do you think?

From the article:

Those tied to horse racing almost universally agree that there's too much racing. Not enough healthy and sound horses, not enough fans, not enough oomph in the gas tank to fuel the show. I don't pretend to have the magic wand, but I do know enough about the racing landscape to put pen to paper and start the thought process.

Racing desperately needs to trim the excess.

Too many racetrack executives are narrow-minded and worried about the wrong things. They fear moving traditional schedules that might upset their on-track fan base. But the reality is that 85 percent of their betting handle comes from fans off-track. While they scratch and claw to lay claim to those popcorn and parking receipts, they fail to embrace the low-overhead, solid return they get in the simulcasting game.

Further, horsemen simply don't want to budge. Whether we're talking finances, drug policies or race days, horsemen remain a group firmly against change. They love long race meetings with short fields, reducing travel expenses and increasing their chance to pick up a piece of the purse with few rivals in the starting gate. They assume the game will always be here and that what provides their benefit trumps the fact that it's a death knell for the track operators and fans.

Read more at the link. This is on the heels of the last Plonk item on ESPN about the ADW crisis. Check that one out too if you have not and are interested.

9 comments:

alan said...

I think that this column by Plonk is an even bigger f-----g waste of time than all the nonsense about Sarah Palin ever running on a national ticket again. It's just ridiculous to even fathom that racetracks would cut back their schedules like this. Aqueduct racing two months out of a year? C'mon man, get real. Devote your time on concepts that have at least an iota of realism to them. Gimme a break. I can't believe that this wonk is getting paid to write stupid idiotic drivel like this.

Indulto said...

Plonk is certainly on a roll. With his proposed schedule he provides specifics and details too infrequently accompanying good ideas. I hope this one gets some meaningful consideration, both as a model for communicating new ideas and as an incentive for greater cooperation between racetracks.

While the HOL in Jan/Feb, and SA in Mar/April may appear unthinkable to some, remember that HOL is expected to close and MEC (owner of SA) is facing financial difficulties.

Anonymous said...

It's easy to get bogged down in specifics, but his overall point is solid. We throw racedates and scheduling against a wall in this sport and expect it to somehow, by magic maybe, to increase handles and interest. It has failed miserably.

The UK model of racing and scheduling those races in intervals and in proper race meets has been very successful. We should look at that seriously.

El Angelo said...

It's the right idea with absurd execution. Here's a much better way to simply cut down on product: each track reduce the number of races it runs by 20%, and re-distribute the purse money amongst the other races. Would anyone miss Wednesday racing at Aqueduct? And the higher purse money and fewer races would bring better fields.

Anonymous said...

"t's the right idea with absurd execution. Here's a much better way to simply cut down on product: each track reduce the number of races it runs by 20%, and re-distribute the purse money amongst the other races. Would anyone miss Wednesday racing at Aqueduct? And the higher purse money and fewer races would bring better fields."

Hmm: Horse owners get to race for better purses, like they are trying for by taking more ADW money. Tracks get one day less of expenses and probably make more money. Handle will not go down. Bettors get better fields. Bettors get better pools to bet into.

Win, win win and complete common sense. So, it'll never fly.

Todd said...

This is another post of nonsense. Japan is country roughly the size of California with 127 million people. A mountainous country with 75% of the land to steep for agriculture. With their archaic animal quarantine laws and the lack of space where in the hell are they going to get the stock to fill anymore races? This is insane making this comparison. I generally like waking up and reading these foolish posts from you whining bettors but this one is extremely lame. Oh yeah, you did a fine job bringing in some guy the other day that is an advocate of betting exchanges. This will get you real cozy to the tracks. DUMB what Bill Ayers too busy?

Anonymous said...

Wow, the inability to think outside the box is amazing. No wonder we are in the tank!

Who cares how big Japan is? The empirical data shows that running 20,000 races results in a better per capita handle and a better and healthier industry. It is the internet world, no one cares about how much space they have or where racing is run.

And someone that is familiar with exchanges is bad? Holy crap.... they have brought in a new type bettor in England and are a major revenue driver there for purses for horse owners that have added value to the industry. We need more people familiar with these mechanisms so we can grow, not less.

My lord that post is so 1960. I can't believe someone could actually think like this today.

Anonymous said...

This is a good post, but Plonk is not the first guy to mention this. There was a study done by a University professor in Rhode Island (I think it was RI) that looked at maximizing handle based on scheduling races. It was done quite some time ago. As far as I know racing ignored it.

We have a tough time letting go of the past in racing and it is showing. I can not believe handles have fallen so far in an internet world.

Pull the Pocket said...

Alan,

"I think that this column by Plonk is an even bigger f-----g waste of time"

I think that specifics gloss over the true point of the post - maximizing revenue to grow the sport. I don't think Jeremy, or anyone for that matter, should have to be held to specifics on something like this. We are so far behind in thinking like this that we rarely even read ideas that are based on a normative goal. JFK in 1960 said we want to be on the moon by the end of the decade. He did not know how to build a space capsule, or do the physics needed to go there, but he set the goal.

We desperately need goals set in the business to stimulate discussion and investment or we (imo) will be well under 10B wagered on racing within five years. And then these issues will be implemented too late.