Sunday, May 31, 2009

Churchill Party

Thanks to everyone who played Churchill on Saturday. Handle numbers are hard to gauge, but you did send some in, that's for sure.

vg all races since 5/3 (day after derby) - $550,762
Avg, Saturdays since 5/3 - $629076
Avg. today $685986
10th today - $888927
8th (other Gr. III today) - $804803

Ross is trying his best to get an estimate on handle numbers, no small task, so if you want to help be a part of our measuring, please visit Handletalks and follow along with the boys and girls.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

Target: Churchill

We have been reading how Kentucky and Churchill have been having some handle problems. Well for race 10 on Saturday, they won't. This weeks pool party hits the Twin Spires, and plans on a good showing. Full ADW coverage, a good tilt, free PP's, free pace figs, free whatever else we can find.

Join us in playing the $100,000 Aristides S., race 10 at Churchill on Saturday.

Free Handicapping Stuff
Free Past Performances and Pace Figs for the HANA Pool Party Race thanks to Craig at TrackMaster and CJ at
Free Thoro-Graph info (click attachments), thanks to Thoro-Graph.

To chat with the Pool Party group and fire your salvo on who you think is going to win, click here and post away to the Yahoo group. Thanks for playing everyone.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Fixing the Tote

Past posting is being spoken about more and more. This is good to see.

“I don’t want to be overly abusive, but as an industry, you are as far behind in the use of technology to improve your business as any I have ever seen.”


In a related post, the topic of closing the pools when the horses start loading is being debated here. There are several good points being made. What do members think? Should we push closing the pools at 1MTP?

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Software Development Challenge

In the new world of computers, some gambling firms (especially poker and exchange betting folks) have embraced API's and so on. By giving individuals access to free data, or free programming language, these individuals sell the products, and the game themselves. It is a promotion tool unlike many that are out there. In racing, however, free data to sell the game has never entered the lexicon. Until now.

Trackmaster, in what has to be a first, is offering one years free test data to get some ideas going with its "Software Development Challenge".

The Challenge is open to applications for Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse or Harness Racing. We are supplying a year of sample data that can be used to test extensively. These data test beds can be used to design and refine your concepts for designing handicapping software or a web-based handicapping application. All of the tools you need and the details of the contest can be found in our TrackMaster Software Development Challenge Forum.

Be creative and explore any exciting new handicapping or wagering concepts that you have developed. Here are some examples to get you going:

* A software program that uses the latest techniques in artificial intelligence to “learn over time” as the user inputs the tracks that he is interested in playing.
* A web-based wagering program that allows the user to take advantage of the types of wagers that gives a horse player an edge at the track. The program would use ratings or an odds line to generate Pick 6, Pick 4, etc. tickets, as well as display grids with minimum payouts to allow for optimum investing in Exactas and Daily Doubles.
* A web-based application that allows the user to input data files and adjust weightings for “Class, Speed, Pace and Form” as well as highlighting various angles the user chooses.
* A revolutionary approach to attacking the past performance data that no one else has ever developed that can be the core of your software program.

I encourage all programmers to get involved in the Challenge if you have new concepts to offer and want to carve out your niche in the handicapping market. The forum is open for all inquiries and provides the next steps for you to get involved in the Challenge.

Are you a programmer, a wanna be programmer and want to give this a shot? Click the above link for details.

Sunday, May 24, 2009


As you all know we are 100% volunteer here at HANA. Our marketing budget consists of, well, nothing. What little we have raised through pin sales has been awesome, and will hopefully cover expenses for web hosting and things like that. However, we opened the mailbox recently and found a sizeable donation. It was from a long time horseplayer who wants to see the game change. Attached was a note, and we reprint it here, unedited.

If you would like to help us out, we certainly would appreciate it. If you donate at least twenty bucks, we send you a charter member pin. You can do that right here. To all of you who have helped us by donating, buying a pin, or grabbing some apparel at our store, we thank you very much for all of your support.

Rich's Letter. Thanks Rich. Please click to enlarge.

Canterbury Pool Party - State of the Business

Wowsa, is all we can say about this weeks Pool Party. Canterbury showed what hurdles this business must overcome to get the bet up. From the handle talks yahoo group and elsewhere, we learned all week that this would be tough:

Minnesota residents were pretty pumped to play the race. Unfortunately, internet rules there prohibit internet betting on their home track. Ouch.

Although TVG mentioned they were offering it, the contract is still not approved. No TVG. Double ouch.

Canadian members who measure in the hundreds and have been big supporters could not play CBY. Triple ouch.

I have three ADW's. I could not play the race.

This is what players go through each day. We want to give the business our money, we want to support racing, but we can not. If it isn't high prices, it is signal availabilty, based on arcane rules, most of which were written before the Internet was even invented.

For those who did play, and could play - thank you very much!

HANA a Positive Force For Change - Pricci

"Never before in the history of thoroughbred racing have horseplayers united in such a unique and positive way."

John Pricci via Horse Race Insider has a feature interview with Jeff Platt concerning HANA this morning.

.... What began as a horseplayer rants among several handfuls of people in a chat room at pace has become a burgeoning populist movement that’s gaining a voice in the thoroughbred industry.

.... “The pendulum is starting to swing because the industry is becoming aware that the players are aware. At our meetings, we try to settle on a marketing strategy that helps give customers what they want. That’s what we’re trying to do. That’s what the industry should do.”

.... Aside from proving that HANA has the power to make positive change at the bottom line, a more important aspect is that horseplayers are finally getting a seat at the table.

For a history of HANA, and a glimpse at where we want to go, have a look at the piece here.

To join us please click here; we can not do this without a strong membership and your continued support.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Free Handicapping Info For Saturday's HANA Pool Party

Click here for free past performances thanks to Craig at TrackMaster, and pace figures thanks to CJ at
Also, we have Thorograph data available. Just click here to access it (see accessories).

The Pool Party race has eleven betting interests. It is on the turf, and horses are coming from different tracks, many making their first start off a layoff. It is an interesting race to handicap.

If you check out the past performances, you'll notice the new run up distance numbers that are now available from Equibase. There is also a number associated for the distance the rails were out in each past turf race. A couple of new pieces of data which gives us horseplayers a better understanding when it comes to visualizing exactly how races were run. For a better understanding of these numbers, click here.

Recent foul ups with the tote systems have again brought to light the fact that the racing industry needs to be reminded about their customer, and HANA has become a legitimate voice for the horseplayer. We are still growing, and the greater our numbers, the bigger the voice we will have. Please support HANA by betting the 8th race at Canterbury Park tomorrow (Saturday).

And if you haven't joined yet, take a minute (it is free), click here and join HANA.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Paulick Reports on Penn National

"United Tote personnel informed track officials about a communications router failure just as the second race was beginning, Chris McErlean, vice president of racing for Penn National, told the Paulick Report. “The stop betting command which is initiated here did not go out on track or anywhere in the network,” McErlean said. “The pools remained open and were opened well past the finish of the race.”


What Happened at Penn National?

John Pricci explores the industry issues regarding wagering security and mentions tonights second race at Penn National, where a tote delay occurred, which was followed by a refund. According to one poster at, the exacta that came in was paying $220 before the race went off, but the last probable flash (after the race had ended) showed it paying $90.

Sometimes, of course odds on winning horses go up, but a preponderance goes down. Although there’s nothing sinister at work, a bad message is being sent. Horseplayers are distrusting by nature; the industry must recognize this and work that much harder to gain their confidence.

No longer will they come just because you build it.

More at link.

Thanks to a commenter here at HANAblog who was playing Penn and let us know.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Pool Party Hits the North

What do Bud Grant, Gump Worsely, Jack Morris and HANA have in common? They all did something in Minnesota!

The Pool Party moves to Canterbury this weekend, race 8, a turf race with a nice deep field. Details to come.

Free Stuff: PP's Figs and more (courtesy Trackmaster and

Thorograph Numbers.

CHRB Reviewing Wagering Incident

A press release today.

The June 5 meeting of the California Horse Racing Board will include a review of an apparent communications failure Saturday, May 16, that led to the cancelation of all wagers placed on the ninth race at Hollywood Park from 33 out-of-state locations.

The CHRB was advised Saturday night by Scientific Games, the totalizator company that processed the wagers, that a command to stop betting at the start of the ninth race at Hollywood Park was not transmitted to 33 locations. Therefore, bettors at those 33 locations could have continued wagering after the start of the race. To protect the integrity of the pari-mutuel wagering pools at Hollywood Park, the decision was made to 'close and clear' those 33 locations, meaning that all wagers from those sites were ejected from the pools, so that nobody gained an unfair advantage. Close-and-clear is a safeguard in place at all racetracks to protect against incidents like this one.

CHRB Executive Director Kirk Breed said although Scientific Games and Hollywood Park have assured the Board there was no past-posting because all wagers from those 33 locations were cleared from the host pools, he said the CHRB has a responsibility to protect all bettors, including those who made legal wagers from those 33 locations only to have their bets thrown out along with those made after the start. He said representatives of Scientific Games have been asked whether steps are being taken to accommodate customers who would have won their bets if their wagers had been accepted into the host pools.

Breed also wants Scientific Games to explain why there was a problem transmitting the stop-betting command to those locations and what is being done to prevent this from happening again.

CHRB chairman John Harris added, “One important thing to remember is that the wagering pools at Hollywood Park were secure. It’s unfortunate that some people who wagered from certain out-of-state sites had those wagers voided and refunded, but our first priority is protecting the integrity of the pools, and from what we’re being told, that was done.”


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Update: Paulick Confirms Past Posting at Hollywood

Ray Paulick went into action regarding Mike Maloney's revelation here on HANAblog this morning and did some digging:

Betting windows at 33 simulcast sites remained open on Saturday’s Los Angeles Handicap at Hollywood Park until after the Grade 3 stakes race had been run because they did not receive a stop betting signal from the Scientific Games tote system that contracts with California racetracks to handle pari-mutuel wagering.

More here..........

As well, Ray posted this to our site as a comment a moment ago. It makes one think, does it not?


Thanks for being the watchdog on these wagering integrity issues. As a result of seeing your piece, I've posted a more comprehensive story at, with comments from Hollywood Park and the California HOrse Racing Board and "no comment" from the tote company (except for an internal email that "explains" the mistake).

My question: if you had not discovered this incident and reported on it here, would Hollywood, SciGames or the California Horse Racing Board voluntarily publicized this major embarrassment? My guess: no.

If you agree with Ray please give us a hand at HANA and lend your name to the growing list of horseplayers who want to see this game change for the better, not next year, not in ten years, but now.

Past Posting, Again

By Mike Maloney

What a Preakness. Rachel takes her place in history as Calvin "big race" Borel continues to sizzle. Mine That Bird validates his Derby win with a closing kick reminiscent of Silky Sullivan. Musket Man fires another solid race and trainer Derek Ryan impresses by immediately ruling out the Belmont for the son of Yonaguska. Surprisingly, top contenders Pioneerof the Nile and Friesan Fire are beaten by Wayne Lukas longshots Flying Private and Luv Gov. Bob Baffert and my man Larry Jones candidly admit to being baffled by their horses performances. Not surprisingly, Lukas points toward the Belmont.

All in all, a good day of racing at Pimlico.

Unfortunately the good vibes don't seem to last long in racing today. Barely an hour after the Preakness ended the horses left the gate at Hollywood Park in the Grade 3 Los Angeles Handicap. Jockey Joe Talamo deftly guided Red Arrow to the win and the 2-8-6-3 results were posted on the infield tote board.

The only problem was that the betting windows were still open. That's right, the race is over, the results are posted and you can still make a wager. Hey, who needs Beyer figures anyway?

Let's use this race to conduct an experiment. Let's see if the racing industry is forthcoming and accountable to its customers. By Tuesday at the latest, Hollywood Park should inform the betting public of the failure of the tote system and the possible effect on the pay-offs. I'm sure the California Horse Racing Board was immediately notified of such a serious problem, and since they regulate all racing and wagering in the state, a press release regarding a potential investigation should be issued quickly. The public unknowingly wagered hundreds of thousands of dollars into non-secure mutuel pools, and the CHRB should protect the public's interest.

Let's see if the racing media informs horseplayers about the incident. Will HRTV mention the tote failure, will it be on a TVG newsbreak, how long will it take the DRF to report?

Most of the previous past posting incidents have been swept under the rug by the industry. So keep your eyes on the Hollywood Park race and judge for yourself if the bettor's interests are being protected. And if you aren't satisfied with the industry's response, I have a suggestion for you. Join HANA and help us send the message that today's horseplayers demand transparency and accountability from the industry funded by our wagers.

Monday, May 18, 2009

HANA & NTRA Action on the Withholding Tax

As some horseplayers know, 'The Pari-Mutuel and Equality Act of 2009 (H.R. 2140) was recently introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives. The bill would eliminate the automatic 25% withholding on pari-mutuel winnings of $5,000 or more.' The effects of this being passed is not only good for a horsplayer, big and small, but good for the business overall. More money in a horseplayer's pocket after a score is not placed in a sock, the bulk of it is rebet, which promotes churn, which promotes handle growth, which grows racing.

The NTRA has been the driving force with this, and we would like to join them and help.

How can you help? It is easy. All you have to do is click this link. It takes you to an online emailer. This emailer will directly send a message to your representative urging them to support the bill.

For more background on the tax and the bill the items are here:

Bill Introduced

Congressman Yarmuth's Press release.

The Bill itself.

Thank you for your support on this issue.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

New Forum/Email Pool Party Yahoo Group

Hey Folks,

As you know we have been working away at the Pool Party each week here at HANA, and elsewhere. The blog and website tends to get cluttered with all of the irons we have here in the fire, and Ross Gallo came up with a great idea to expand the Parties - with a email list and yahoo group. The text of his email he sent to all of us as HANA members (and non-members too!) is as follows.

Please consider sending an email and joining the group to here. . We have to change the game one bettor at a time. One track at a time. Your voice matters.

Hello All,

Hope this finds you well. (I'll explain the link above soon, I promise) Many of you know about and have been participating in an idea created by Mike Mayo and being overseen by HANA (Horseplayer's Association of North America). For those that don't, in it's simplest form, we are attempting to band together horseplayers everywhere to wager their dollars on a specific pool or race every week. We have made five attempts in the last seven weeks (skipped the Derby and Preakness weeks and will skip Belmont week as well), and have increased handle between $12,000 and $50,000 (estimated) on each wager over that time. We have played at Will Rogers Downs, Tampa Bay Downs, Mountaineer Park, Hawthorne and Prairie Meadows. We have been staying away from the major tracks for several reasons, but mostly to make it easier to track our progress in these tracks "smaller" pools. Our next play will be at Canterbury Park on Saturday May 23rd, race TBD.

HANA has been doing a wonderful job with this venture and will continue to be the lead. They have other interests and responsibilities (all about improving the game for the horseplayer), so we have decided to create a forum dedicated to the Pool Party only that will work in concert with HANA, and hopefully give you the players a bigger voice in this venture and more information than ever before. After all, it is your money that's on the line. We will be: addressing our ultimate goals, attempting to get an estimated roll call of our numbers, posting our handle figures every week, looking for your feedback and questions on all subjects, handicapping the races from week to week, as well as asking you to vote from time to time on various subjects and possibly/probably including the selection process itself, and much more. We've made some good decisions and some bad ones so far, but I know we've learned each time from the bad ones. We need you to succeed and hopefully this new forum will be another positive step to that end. For those of you who haven't already, I urge you to join HANA, it's free and when you read their mission statement you'll know you're among kindred spirits. And please send an email (blank or otherwise) to the link (also listed above) and you'll soon be a part of our new dedicated forum. Look forward to the coming weeks and months and working with all of you to the betterment of our game. Thank you.

Ross Gallo

Thursday, May 14, 2009

If I was Kentucky's Racing Czar

Kentucky racing, and its problems competing with neighboring slots states is well documented. Short fields have plagued Kentucky for some time. Ellis Park may run only a short meet, Churchill cut a day a week recently, and Keeneland, despite wonderful racing and great takeouts, suffered a 20% drop in handle.

The chatter on the web, and in racing columns from people like Andrew Beyer and Power Cap have focused on the simple fact that we have not written slots deals correctly, and now we are paying for it. There is no one alive who believes that for racing to grow, places like Indiana and Penn National should be taking entries from the Bluegrass state. By flooding the supply of racing at places people do not watch, or bet with little demand, we are hurting racing. "If you supply it they will come" is not a policy for growth, it is a policy for self-destruction.

How do we ensure that Kentucky and its mass appeal to grow racing is protected for years to come? For that, I am a Kentucky Racing czar for a day, and I have a magic wand.

1. I get slots passed. I am fully confident this will happen. The people of Kentucky will not let racing flounder in this fine state, with its tradition for racing. Headlines across the world, as well as lobbying, is going on as we speak. It will happen.

2. I write a slot deal that makes sense; one that focuses on demand, as well as supply. Deals in Pennsylvania and elsewhere were based on a flawed business model. They increased the supply of races, and the supply of dates, watering down the product. When you increase supply and flood a market with inferior product without decreasing prices (i.e. takeouts) your business will not grow. This is ECON 101 and just because we run brown horses in a circle does not mean we are exempt from the rules of business. Why slot deals were written like this putting ALL the money into supply and expected to work is beyond me. The fact that this is the way we still write these deals is even more disconcerting.

The 'New Slots Deal For Kentucky' is a blueprint for the future. We change this up to ensure growth in 2010 and beyond.

* Instead of 10% of slots to purses and 10% of revenues for tracks like almost all jurisdictions, this split is changed. 1% of revenues are sent to a central slush fund (my Czar office) to market and grow racing in Kentucky and outside its borders. Several issues like horse safety, uniform drug policies and other racing centric, pro growth items can be led by the state, for the game overall.

* 1%-2% are sent back to the horseplayer. This is done with player rewards, rebates, giveaways and so on. We have to decrease takeout in 2010 if we expect to grow. Our game is too expensive for gamblers in the 21st century and with new revenue, it must be used to make the game more attractive to bettors. In addition, the "slots drag" has had a horrible effect on handles. Right now at Churchill there are people leaving the track after a hit, they grab a form and can't wait to bet tomorrow. With slots that same person might take those winnings and shove them in a slot machine, losing his bankroll for tomorrow. This drag must be addressed with pricing.

* 1%-2% are mandated to go to the facilities and to promoting the game on the Internet, as well. We need to ensure our customers have a wonderful place to play the races, whether at home, or at the track. What can people like Wolf Kratzenberg do with a set, expanded marketing budget at Turfway? Let's find out.

* The rest go to profits and purses, just like they should. We need to up purses, and with core business falling (remember, at EVERY jurisdiction that slots have been installed, handles suffer), profits have to be funneled back into the companies and horseman involved.

3. I resist the urge to increase racedates and work to make this a reality. Every jurisdiction who has slots has increased dates massively. This waters down the product, decreases field size, and decreases handles. We are back to square one, we have hurt racing, and we have done exactly what we said we would not do.

If we leave dates the same as they are in year one, with this new revenue the following can happen:

* Ellis Park runs a regular meet, but with a ~40%-50% bump in purses. This meet competes more favorably with nearby meets, attracting full fields.

* Kentucky Downs purses skyrocket for their short meet. With some marketing work, and with these big purses attracting solid stock, there is a chance this boutique turf meet can be a jewel in racings landscape for generations.

* Keeneland's meet grows leaps and bounds. With solid revenues, purses will attract the very best, and more quality races can be added. Because this track is a focus of TVG, we are exporting the very best of racing to the entire betting world. This grows our sport, inside Kentucky and beyond. Keeneland's brand is protected and insured.

* HRTV at Churchill is met with the same as Keeneland. Amazing racing, beamed to the world.

Increasing dates and watering down the product will not help racing in the long run. It must be resisted at all costs at the flagship tracks if we want to use slots money to grow the sport. The "B" circuit is there for these horseman with subpar stock. We have to promote and focus on the best, to be the best. Slots were never intended to be an income redistribution scheme, they were put in to grow racing.

So as Czar there is my blueprint:

* Give the demand side some of the slot money through player rebates and lower take
* Promote with a central organization as well as mandating the tracks use some of the money to promote
* Resist the urge to grow dates, allowing for Kentucky the potential to offer the highest purses and best racing in the country
* Kentucky becomes a leader once again, in a sport that clearly needs strong leadership.

The status quo is clearly not an option. I know some of this is considered 'pie in the sky' to racing insiders. But therein lies the problem - this ideal is common-sense to most other businesses and would have been enacted years ago. Other businesses are not wrong, we are, and we have to do something about it.

This is an opinion piece at HANAblog. We offer anyone who wants to discuss the issues to send us their thoughts. If we like them and they offer out some good discussion, we will print them. We want to hear from everyone in racing, because if we do not work together, we can not move forward. If you'd like to sign up with HANA, please do. We are but a click away.

Today's Shocking Headline

Governor wants to sell Del Mar Fairgrounds

(tip of the hat to

First, take a deep breath. Then say to yourself it will never happen. It's just Arnold's opening salvo in his annual budgetary war with the Democratic legislature. Still if the state gets desperate enough who knows?

You see California is broke. Tap City. Not a pot to piss in. The coffers are dryer than a Bob Newhart monologue. Gov. Kindergarten Cop thinks he can raise $1 billion by selling Del Mar and some landmark properties. Good time to sell too. Right at the top of the market.

Presumably some developer will have the deep pockets to tear down Paradise and put up, maybe not a parking lot, but perhaps luxury reclusive hideaways for billionaires and movie stars. This is primo real estate, right on the Gold Coast.

Or perhaps a developer would keep the track and build his condos around the facility. Wouldn't YOU love to live at Del Mar?

Still, never happen. Ever. Ever. Ever.

State lawmakers would hardly go along with selling off one a genuine Institution. One of the only two remaining tracks in America -- the other of course being Saratoga -- that attract hundreds of thousands of vacation-goers every year. Many of them only casual fans who, having earned their beach tans, are in search of a fun diversion. Many of them there because they went as kids and associate the tracks with their idyllic youth.

But the state's bills must be paid. Bankruptcy is not an option. How will lawmakers raise the money? Tax increases? More casinos? Take what's left in the safe and bet it all on "black?"

AG will be contributing to the blog for our morning headlines and more. Welcome aboard.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Another Nail in the Handle Coffin, Without a Plan?

We received an email this morning from a player about slots. He relayed to us that we should be very proactive on alternative gaming here at HANA because that gaming is not brought into racing with a proper plan. He is right. Slots deals previously written have thrown our game for a loop. Slots decrease handle and we knew that before they were introduced. Slot tracks steal stock from non-slots tracks and hurts the game in jurisdictions like KY who are without them. Once again we knew that would happen before they were introduced.

Why is new legislation passed without a thought for the stewardship of the game? Who is looking after the greater good?

This morning we have another salvo, piercing the heart of horse racing handles: Sports betting has been passed in Delaware.

We all know that this will peel off players, killing their racing bankrolls, and hurt racing handles. I read nothing in this plan to help the racing customer. We are repeating the same mistakes we have with slots, and it seems once again, there is no one there looking out for the overall health of horse racing handles, and its growth when revenues from all these new forms of gaming are gone.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Thin Veil of Ignorance

Recently at a panel I was on, I spoke of a winner who was keeping track of his bets overseas, and how he was doing quite well. His blog is a hit. At the same conference, marketing was spoken about. A professional player who was there came up to me and said "we don't need marketing, we need winners like the guy you showed. That will grow the game."

Our pal Doug who wrote our Why I Left Racing series here posed an interesting question that we'd like to run. It is about the age-old handicapping topic of redboarding. It does fit with the professional players thoughts quite nicely, I thought. Thanks for allowing us to use it Doug.

A thin veil of ignorance....

....may be what is hurting the game.

Now, I'm not talking about the hypothetical situation developed by the great American philosopher, John Rawls, but in a similar vein of reciprocity I offer this direction of marketing the sport of Thoroughbred Horse Racing.

There are those that find the concept of redboarding an obnoxious display of poor form. My position is that the sport needs more of it.

On Wednesday, May 5th, ESPN2 aired an interview with a horseplayer named Bowen Wallace.


Because Bowen hit the Derby Superfecta for $275,000 on a $1 five horse box that cost him $120.

When was the last time you heard an interview on ESPN with a horsePLAYER?

Horseplayers throughout history have been notoriously tight-lipped, but even Andy Beyer says that if your score exceeds 10% of your gross annual income, that this entitles you to jump up on the table and declare yourself KING OF THE WORLD.

Now is the time for all horseplayers to come to the aid of their sport. Find the avenue to illustrate your big win. Explain the strategy. Those six figure hits can find their way on a local medium. Radio, TV, & Print are always looking for a good feel-good story.

These stories bring people out to the track more than a Graded Stake with a stellar field of 7 entrants.

It is obvious that racing administrators aren't doing everything they can to market the sport forward. Horseplayers need to step up and show the financial potential of the sport. Indian Casino's across the country advertise $10k jackpots with their loose slots. I think an interesting story on how you hit a $125,000 Pik6 will put a few new butts in the seats. Sure, you spent 6 hours studying the sequence. 20 years of experience and analysis resulted in the score. You don't want to give away your theory and methodology, so why not explain how you played your nieces and nephews ages in the in the last six races on the card. You've now just doubled the tally of those that will find their way back to their local oval.

Bowen Wallace of Tilden, Texas probably did more to benefit the sport than Mine That Bird did by winning the Derby. The success of this sport is measured by it's players. You can talk about the horseman, owners, and jocks all you want, but those that drive the sport are the horseplayers.

Let's open up the game.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Links and More

Mike From Paceadvantage, a friend of HANA, had a very good editorial on the Rachel Alexandra situation yesterday, called 'Racing industry's dysfunction about to reach new heights'. He never writes these, but he should write more of them if this is the quality of his pieces.

Another friend of HANA has been Trackmaster. When we have needed a free PP for our betting day, or had a question in general Craig and the guys have helped. They are using social media in a good way by creating a Facebook page. The page offers freebies to fans from time to time, and you can check it out here. They already have 450 fans, which is good to see. More and more people in racing are using Facebook to get to fans. Not long ago Wolf from Turfway used Facebook to offer out coupons, which were well received for its Friday nights at Turfway promos for younger fans.

Just a quick note to all of you who contact us - we appreciate it and we do read everything. Unfortunately we are 100% volunteer and the board all has 'real' jobs to tend to. If we do not get back to you, or are late in doing so, that is the reason why. We are growing leaps and bounds right now and several of you have expressed interest in helping us out. We hope to have some fresh legs for 2009 to keep growing, and helping to change the game for the better.

Thanks for Playing Iowa!

Thanks everyone for their betting into race 6 last night at Prairie Meadows. Although not quite as big of a bump as usual we still increased pool size by over 50%. We have heard via email that a lot of you are beat after a long day of playing Saturday, so next time we will probably not choose a Saturday night track. We're still learning here with this experience.

Thanks again to all the folks who helped, and a special thanks to Patrick from Prairie Meadows for arranging such a warm welcome to HANA on the simulcast show and at the track. We truly appreciate it. We hope to come back to the Meadows some time in the future for perhaps a mid week race.

Stay tuned for information on our next pool shot, right here on the blog.

Saturday, May 9, 2009

9 hours 'til Touchdown. More Free Tools and Feed Watching

We are about 9 hours away from HANA's trip to Iowa for Prairie Meadows race 6. Jerry and the folks from thorograph have added the sheets for free tonight here. Thanks Jerry.

In addition we have our regular free PP's et al here. Thanks CJ. have added the note to their mailings, as have Horseplayer Magazine. Thanks Matt and Tom for this.

Peter, editor of the 40 year old Perikan Money Sheet has added a note as well.

Patrick from PM informs us that we will all get a shout out on the feed, as well they are offering free equibase PP's for the race.

Gary G on Paceadvantage likes the two horse. Who do you like? I am planning to advance bet, because I like to watch the pools and plan on watching the feed. I like these days. We too often are holed up as horseplayers. Doing things together for a change gets the blood pumping. I hope to see you with us tonight in the pool. We appreciate the support!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

The Pool Party Hits the Midwest

Details, PP's and more to come for Prairie Meadows this Saturday!
Prairie Meadows is ranked 23rd by HANA. The 6th Race goes off at around 9:45 PM EST. Support HANA by betting the race any way you desire. The 6th Race incidentally, kicks off a 50 cent pick 4.

Update: Pace Figures and Trackmaster past performances for the pool party race can be accessed for free by clicking here.

Thanks again to Craig from Trackmaster and CJ from Pace Figures for all the help.

If you have not signed up for HANA yet and want to, please do. We need all the support we can get. It is free, it only takes a few moments and you can with a click of a mouse here.

UPDATE: Thorograph has been kind enough to supply free data for tonight's (Saturday May 9th) Prairie Meadows Pool Party (race 6). Click here to access it.

Q1 Comes in Very Soft

Handle in Q1 fell a whopping 9.5% across the US. Handle declines (in real terms) in recent years were not felt by horse owners, as purses held fairly firm with alternative gaming propping them up. This is not the case in Q1, as purses fell a pretty stout 5.1%.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Mike Maloney Named Vice President Regulatory Affairs



(Charlottesville, Virginia. May 5, 2009): The Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA) is pleased to announce that horseplayer Mike Maloney of Lexington, Kentucky has been appointed Vice President, Regulatory Affairs, of the growing organization.

Mike is well-known to most industry participants, having participated in several horse racing conferences as a panelist and speaker. He is perhaps most known for bringing to light the key issue of past posting at the Arizona Symposium on Racing & Gaming in 2007, where he showed that betting after the bell can and does happen. Most recently, Mike was featured as a speaker at the RCI conference in Lexington.

“We met Mike at Keeneland for HANA-Day for the very first time” says HANA President Jeff Platt, “and he meshed perfectly with the HANA board. His goals were our goals and personally we all got along wonderfully. Not soon after, we asked if he would be willing to join us in our work and we were thrilled he accepted. It is tremendous for HANA to have someone with Mike’s knowledge about wagering, wagering systems, and the problems associated with them aboard. We clearly have much work to do to address these important issues.”

"I'm pleased to join the HANA board," says Mike Maloney. "I look forward to helping improve security and integrity within the wagering pools and working with HANA on these vital issues."

HANA members would like to welcome Mike to the Board and we are excited to work with racing to help move it forward in 2009 and beyond.

For a web copy of this release please click here:

To contact HANA, please email or alternatively you can use any of our first names, followed by

The Horseplayers Association of North America is a grassroots group of horseplayers, not affiliated with any organization, who are not pleased with the direction the game has taken. HANA believes that both tracks and horseman groups have become bogged down with industry infighting and have completely forgotten something: The importance of the customer. HANA hopes, through proactive change on several key issues (including but not limited to), open signal access, lower effective takeouts, wagering integrity, affordable data and customer appreciation, the industry’s handle losses can be reversed. HANA is currently made up of over 1000 horseplayers (both harness and thoroughbred) from almost all states and Canadian provinces. It currently represents almost $50,000,000 of yearly racing handle.

Our web address is and interested horseplayers can sign up there for free. We are horseplayers, just like you and we are trying to make a difference. We need and appreciate your support.


Racing in 2050? Will it be here?

In an entertaining and well-written article, the problems of racing are looked at. The premise of the article is an older gentleman sitting with his grandson, playing the harness races in the year 2050 in Canada. In case one it shows what happens to racing by 2050 if we cling to the status quo. In case two it shows what can happen if the industry gets together to lower takes, invest in new technology and more.

It is very eye-opening, and cuts-to-the-chase about the future of horse racing and what we need to do now to ensure its longevity. This goes hand in hand with the panel HANA sat on for the "Future of Wagering" at the recently concluded Wagering Conference at Caesars Windsor (it is from the same trade magazine that invited us, and many of these issue we spoke about on the panel).

I do not think this is too strong a piece, nor do I think we should be convinced this can not happen to a large part of the sport. In 1968, dog racing in New Hampshire had record crowds and record handles. 40 years later it has been banned.

Some snippets (if you find them thought-provoking please give the article a whirl)

From the "if we do nothing" case:

“There were some, but not enough. The tracks never really did get it,” Greg says, his voice beginning to soften.

“Around the mid-20s when the simulators got really big, racing had no way of coping. By the early 30s, IRSL, the International Racing Simulation League, was offering a guaranteed $5 million pool every race. Not much compared to online video game betting these days, but still pretty good.

“Picture it: there I am in 2030, in my 50s, supposedly saving for retirement, and the track is charging me 12 per cent on every bet I make. Amazingly, around the turn of the century they were still charging more than 20 per cent. The simulators were taking pennies on every dollar bet with races every minute on the minute. The technology was there to recreate real form cycles and produce comprehensive data, available for free, without having to wonder about drugs or whether a horse was really in-to-go or just tuning up for a bigger race.

“At the track, they still had something called pari-mutuel betting. You’d bet on a horse and then when the race was run, you’d get whatever odds he was when betting stopped. The whole world figured out other forms of betting, except for us in North America. We got shoddy, unpredictable odds and the Canadian tracks had tiny betting pools.

“The industry thought that they could build the sport back to greatness by encouraging breeding and ownership through investment into purse money. But all that happened is that an increasingly smaller group of people kept all the money and continued to take from the game. The breeders made money, owners made money, drivers, trainers, vets, industry associations – they all took money out. Who was supposed to put the money in?

“For a while there, the government paid the bill through a percentage of slot machine revenues but that gravy train quickly ended.

“Decade after decade, the sport failed to resonate with the public. Star horses retired and were shuffled off to stud before anyone knew their names.

“When the Canadian government legalized sports betting at tracks, sure purses went up again, like we saw when slot machines were introduced. But racing only suffered. Why bet a horse when you can bet tonight’s hockey game? All over the world, gambling was growing. The flood gates were opened and it was only a matter of time.”

What if we invested in new things, lowered takes and brought racing into the new century with vigor? Here is that case:

Racing just isn’t the same today,” says Greg. “I remember when the sport was grassroots. People were involved in racing because they loved it. Now it’s all big businesses with sponsors and celebrities.”

“It’s called progress, Grandpa.”

“What’s happened to the younger generation?” snorts Greg. “All this technology was for you. With the quality of holograms today, I can watch races in my living room from every track in the country. My Personal Betting Assistant places 2,000 to 3,000 bets a minute by buying and selling positions on horses. I ask the computer to evaluate Return on Investment stats for every horse over the last 20 years for trainers with 25% win averages, and it tells me exactly what bets to make and makes them for me.

“I request to buy any position at 20-to-1 or higher and sell any position at 18.8 or lower, staying within my bankroll. It’ll bet every track in the world instantaneously if I want. If you ask me, it’s a flawless retirement strategy without having to fight the crowds. If only we can convince the track to drop takeout. They take one-quarter of one percent off the top of every bet! It’s robbery.”

“You have to give racing credit,” says Greg, ignoring his grandson. “Horse racing was almost dead 40 years ago. The vultures were circling, governments were poised to start taking back slot money and everyone was fighting for their share of the pie.

“But somehow, miracle of all miracles, they sat down and began to do things right. A Commissioner’s office was formed and was well funded. All race office activities were centralized and managed in one place.

“Today purse money is pooled and distributed based on customer demand. Eighteen to 25 horse races are the norm. And the motto, ‘life changing payouts every day’ only came about in the 30s. Years before that, you’d be lucky at a shot at a decent payout once or twice a year.

“The first North American betting exchange was approved around 2017. Within three years, players were matching billions in bets. There was betting during races and handheld devices made it that much easier for on-track participants.

I found this piece fascinating, and I hope you did too.

Monday, May 4, 2009

Back to Business

Some headlines in HANALand.

Horse racing is being subsidized as we all know in New York state, and some do not like it.

"From the perspective of Lottery, being co-located with horse racing doesn’t do anything for our profitability," Lottery Director Gordon Medenica said.

We have been hearing more and more of this of late, with budget crunches and so on. It would be nice if racing, when expanding gaming, has a plan for some of this money. Virtually all of it has been spent on the supply side (breeding, purses) but none on the demand side. The former has not worked well to grow the sport itself, so it would be nice if we see some planning to try the latter.

Derby handle was down 5.3%.

Irish racing is doing something that is pandemic in our sport, and tends to show its clear misunderstanding of the bettor. Just as gambling expert Wil Cummings stated that 'when tracks raise takeout they think they are getting more of that $100 wagered, but they fail to see that in the future you will not have that $100 anymore', it does not sink in. Irish racing is after a bigger slice from Betfair, turning down around $10M for its share.

"How in the hell can they turn down a single cent at a time when budgets all over the place are being squeezed. Someone needs to take a very quick reality check," said one senior Government Minister yesterday.

Just like ADW revenue here where we see constant fights to grab a bigger share, doing that lowers handle and stops us from entering the 21st century by pricing our product correctly over the internet. HANA knows it, most ADW's know it, gamblers know it. Why does racing have such a tough time understanding this common-sense point?

Also, a new levy of 2% (takeout increase) was placed on racing there.

Last week a number of bookmakers expressed concern that the new betting levy of 2 per cent which came into effect on May 1 could cost the industry thousands of jobs, and one bookmaker has said he will have to close half his shops as a result.

Sports Minister Martin Cullen is to meet a number of Irish bookmakers to discuss the impact of the levy. John Hackett of Hackett's bookmakers said the additional levies will force many shops to close. "We have already seen 50 shops close, and that figure could be 300 by the end of the year. We are struggling to stay in business," he said.

Friday, May 1, 2009

TVG and CDI In Landmark Deal

It was announced today that TVG and Churchill Downs (Tracknet) have reached an agreement for TVG to distribute and resell the Tracknet signals. Although we have yet to see all the details, on the surface this looks like good news. One of HANA's main planks is an end to exclusivity, and distributing the product to anyone who wants it.

TVG for years operated on a business model built on exclusive wagering and broadcast contracts with racetracks, but appears to be shifting toward exclusivity only in television broadcast rights, such as for the recently-completed Keeneland spring meet.

“What were circumstances that prevailed 10 years ago may not necessarily prevail now,” Nichols said. “And you have got to recognize the commercial reality, and adapt to that commercial reality. I think that (Keeneland) deal is indicative of our ability to surmise how things have changed, and to put into place a deal that enables us to offer exclusive television, and be rewarded for that, but also to compete with other ADWs and broaden the appeal of not only Keeneland, but premium U.S. horse racing.”

We are encouraged at this first step. Betfair has clearly delivered on one of their first public moves for horseplayers. Now, we will see what they will do on one of HANA's other major planks: Affordable pricing for horseplayers to increase handles.