Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Metro 6 Shooter: Working to Give Bettors Value

Last fall at the Keeneland meet, two HANA board members were invited to dinner with members of the Hambletonian Society. This society runs both the $1.5M Hambletonian harness race, and the harness Breeders Crown. The Hambletonian crew wanted to know bettors opinions on what they could do (they do not run a racetrack, or racetracks) to give something back to bettors, to make the game better value. A number of ideas were discussed, and over the next eight months they went to work. Doing something - anything - in racing is difficult. You need to get tracks on board, horsemen on board, and you need to navigate the Hudsonian tributaries of state governments. However, they succeeded in something that gives us as horseplayers value. They negotiated the maze to make it happen.

They created a new bet - the Metro 6 Shooter. It is a pick 6, not with a guaranteed pool, but with a seeded one. $30,000 will be added to the pool. In effect, it is a defacto takeout reduction for players. One thing that they added, which to us is imperative, is free past performances for the wager:

"Past performances for the Metro 6 Shooter will be available in live racing programs and online at In addition, TrackMaster will supply free Platinum Past Performances and selections for the Metro 6 Shooter races each week. These will be available on the TrackMaster and Meadowlands web sites. "

The Hambletonian Society also did something else - they added a bettor to their society. Seth Rosenfeld is a horse owner, bettor and HANA member, and a worthy choice. He emailed us today with his thoughts on this new bet:

This unusual bet was made possible by actual cash contributions/ commitments from Yonkers and the SOA of NY. I think this new bet represents an important development because it is the rare instance of tracks and horsemen who have the benefit of slots-fueled purses choosing to share some of their good fortune with bettors.

It seems that too often slots come to a track and everyone- owners, trainers, jockeys, breeders, track operators- seem to benefit tremendously.... but where is the benefit for the bettors? To their credit, Joe Faraldo of the SOA of NY and Bob Galterio of Yonkers- among others- wanted to give something back to horseplayers. I hope this can be the start of a trend of bettor-friendly initiatives from tracks and horsemen who have the funds to do something meaningful. I'm sure you know how difficult it is to get all the various people together to pull off something like this pick 6- especially involving multiple tracks and seed money.

Starting June 5th, we will be supporting this bet and we hope you do too. When a society goes out of its way to ask bettor opinion, adds a bettor to their group, and spearheads a new bet with seeded money (finally from slot machines for us), we think they deserve our support.

Monday, May 24, 2010

The Monmouth That Roared

A big meet, solid promotion, one of the best tracks in terms of raw takeout score, and management that seems to give a hoot; because they have to with no slots.

Welcome to Monmouth 2010.

So far in 2010, the meet looks to have grabbed the imagination (and dollars) of horseplayers.

In addition, one of the lowest takeout (and best) bets in the land - the 15% pick 5, had a blockbuster day yesterday. "Bob Kulina was astonished when he found out the pool for Sunday's Pick 5 at Monmouth Park reached a staggering $806,172."

Some tracks out there rely on slots, or seem to not put the necessary work in to gather momentum and build a customer base. Monmouth has started this meet by saying they will work on full fields, promote their low take bets, and offer a bettable product - as well, they will shout such things from the rooftops. Horseplayers seem to be responding and we hope it continues.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

HANA's Mike Maloney on TVG

Mike presented the #1 racetrack award this year to Keeneland on April 17th on behalf of HANA. We got ahold of the video from TVG (thanks) and it is below. We'd like to thank Mike for stepping up to the plate to go on camera for this. That's not an easy thing to do for a lot of us.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Preakness Seminars & a Couple of Links

Bruno De Julio has always been a HANA supporter. We caught wind that he and Molly Jo Rosen are giving a Preakness seminar on Saturday at Del Mar. For more info, please check out Bruno's site here.

Some chatter on Paulick about alphabet soup. In an industry who can't seem to even agree on how they should show probable payoffs in a simulcast market which accounts for 89% of all wagering, leadership is a tough thing to find.

Other countries have embraced 'flexi-betting' and it has been a hit with casual and new fans. The UK climbs aboard.

Information is power, and new information is even better. Harness racing adds new chartable factors on their past performances.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Monday Quick Notes

Rob Whitely of Liberation Farm has a plan. He wrote it up on Paulick. It's a decent read.

A funny: NYRA has been doing a decent job with bettors of late (although we at HANA wish they would make the updates to the Equibase scratches page a daily fixture) through some of Dan Silver's work. However, with trainers there seems to be a bit of a flummox. From Jay Hovdey's blog:

If there needs to be one, the alternative to the Vanity is the $250,000 Odgen Phipps Handicap at Belmont Park on June 12 at a mile and one-sixteenth. It would be great if Zenyatta were nominated to both events, if only to watch the racing secretaries agonize over the weight she would carry. To his credit, Shirreffs at least tested the waters.

"I called the racing office back there to ask about stalls," said the trainer of the unbeaten, two-time champion and Breeders' Cup Classic winner. And what was the reaction? They'd send a limo, arrange a jet, suite at the Garden City, box at Yankee Stadium?

"I was told the application was available on-line," Shirreffs replied.

At least that's nice to know.

Speaking of Zenyatta, she is promoting baseball now. h/t to the Paulick Report.

A look at the difference between Betfair and NA racing from a HANA member here. A couple of good comments.

Lastly, there has been plenty of talk about getting younger folks out to the track. We have a few younger members here at HANA, but they are more bettors than fans I guess - hooked on the puzzle of handicapping a fair amount. Some racing ads tailored to the younger set try to be cool, but they end up being anything but. This one, however, made some of us laugh. It was pretty well done. What do you think?

h/t to VFTRG.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

HANA Saturday Live Blog

We'd like to thank everyone who participated tonight.

Have a good Sunday and good luck at the windows!

Live Event Saturday

As you know, we have co-sponsored a contest to support Tioga Downs. If you are interested to give harness racing a shot, or want to chat and play being a harness fan, please join us at 6:30 this evening for our live blog. We'll have several harness handicapping experts (hopefully) to play the races. You can add your comments and picks too. Just come right back here to the blog!

Good luck at the races today, and we hope to see you tonight!

Note: Expert picks, including free (usually $10 per card) Chatsworth Selections are here (opens into a PDF). Derick Gwiners analysis for YR and M1 is here. He does not make picks like your average dude/dudette, he watches and charts races.

Note2 - Click the reader information hyperlink below for more info on the live blog. No need to fill in an email address, by the way. It is disabled.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010


Andrew Beyer today speaks about the Beulah Pick 6 that was recently completed. No matter what you think of the wager, it took some thinking and it energized people to look at this little track. "A track can sometimes succeed without a high-quality racing product. It can succeed without a large fan base. All it needs is a little imagination. " says Beyer.

We have talked about this many times. With casino's, scratch tickets, slots and everything else under the sun, tracks have to compete to win. They have to come up with bets, offers, what have you to grow and get a slice of the gambling pie. Beyer offers a suggestion:

Laurel Park and Colonial Downs regularly run wide-open, 14-horse fields on their turf courses. Why not offer a special High Five (a bet that requires picking the first five finishers in order) on such a race once a day? The tracks could jump-start betting by guaranteeing a minimum $25,000 pool; if nobody held a perfect ticket, the entire pool would go into a jackpot for the next day. It would be easy to generate six-figure jackpots that would stir the juices of the betting public.

Maryland racing has been off our list for play at HANA because of a takeout hike in their pick 4 a few years ago. Can they win us back? Sure they can. Offer us a bet like this at low take. We'll at least take a look at you again. It does not take much.

Another tiny track that has been doing some good that we are behind is harness track Tioga Downs. The Nichols New York track lowered their takeout to state minimums (why there are minimums is a whole other story. I am pretty sure there is no "sliced meat commission" who tells Subway they can't sell a $2 sub, but I digress). This move triggered some good response. Of course this will not help overnight - increasing betting pools via increased churn never do - but it gives this little track a chance. As most know, Tampa has been rolling, by in part, lowering take since 2003. They were up again this year. Let's see if we can not duplicate that in Nichols New York.

As you know, to help HANA has sponsored the "Pen and Paper Challenge" where two sets of players are competing: Two representing computer picks and two representing human cappers. So far the results are mixed - but one thing you might want to know - some of these picks are stellar thus far. Here are the standings:

Chatsworth (computer/Trackmaster): 51% ROI
Mel (human 'capper): 35% ROI
Bobby Z (human 'capper): - 30% ROI
Ray's Robot (computer): - 65% ROI

There is a side contest for prizes at here. It's not too late to join in for a run at some cash and/or handicapping books. As well, picks are posted there by the above big four protagonists before the racing starts.

Special Note

We will be running a live blog here on Saturday night. Tioga is open and Tioga cappers will be sharing some picks. As well there are a couple other harness tracks going on at that time. Several of us will be here handicapping and spending some time together. You can join in easily and post picks for whatever track you choose, as well as chatting some racing. I hope you can find some time to join us to support the little track who is trying to grow by respecting horseplayers.