Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Horseplayer Richard Bauer Passes

Richard Bauer, long time horseplayer and one of the original members of HANA, has passed away at the age of 70.

Richard, a US Navy veteran, is survived by his wife of 47 years, Karen Metzger Bauer; one daughter and son-in-law, Jill and Doug Dunne; two grandchildren, Kylie Dunne and Trevor Dunne, all of PA; and one sister and brother-in-law; Judie and Frank Armijo, AZ.

Richard lived and breathed horses and the sport of racing. He was as passionate a player as you would ever want to meet.

HANA President Jeff Platt:

"Richard was a true horseplayer and I am truly saddened to hear of his passing."

One of the founders of HANA, John Swetye, remembered his early help for HANA:

"He gave valuable advice to me during the startup of HANA. He was a mover and shaker and will be greatly missed."

After HANA's formation, Richard's support did not stop there. He is the organizations largest financial contributor to date.

Richard, throughout the horse racing community has always been respected, even on sometimes contentious chat boards.

"Rich has been a fixture here on PaceAdvantage from the beginning. Always a very generous person, and always fighting the good fight for horseplayers." said Mike who runs the popular chat site. "I'm going to miss seeing Rich at Saratoga, drinking a beer with him, and doping out the next winner. He knew his stuff inside and out."

Most people in racing would remember Richard as the spearhead of the 2004 boycott of Magna racetracks. Richard's passion for the project was infectious and the boycott was a huge success.

In recent years Richard was a proponent for lower takeout and the elimination of the archaic and anachronistic practice of breakage. He loved Tampa Bay Downs and visited it each January. In the spring he was a fixture at Keeneland.

The Horseplayers Association of North America would like to offer its deepest condolences to the family and friends of Richard Bauer, a friend to horseplayers everywhere.

If you are a friend of Richard and would like to leave the family a note, you can via an online guestbook here. In addition, if would like to share a story or two you can below, or at the existing thread at here.

Monday, October 18, 2010

CHRB-HANA Member Meeting Tapes

We have received audio and video of a recent meeting between a CHRB member and a concerned member of HANA. We have uploaded it here.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Customers are Usually Placed Last

The concept of not cashing a ticket - losing it, bringing a voucher back home with a few dollars on it and various other reasons - is not uncommon to horseplayers and customers of racetracks.

Because of the monopoly racing was, whereby every group, faction, government etc could take bettors money with impunity (it was not like they had to compete) even that uncashed ticket money finds a home. And as reported by WKYT in Kentucky the home is not with the rightful owners.

Over $2.3M in uncashed tickets go unclaimed in Kentucky. Nationwide it is of course much more. The cash, if unclaimed for a prescribed period of time, goes to the backstretch workers. Surely a noble cause; however, taking the bettors money and not returning it to them in some way is surely emblematic in regards to how customers are treated in horse racing, not to mention an obvious display into the industry's foresight in customer cultivation.

Please allow me to show you how difficult it is to do something common sense in racing for us, the lifeblood of the sport. The people who fund purses:

In Canada in 2007 there was a movement to take this uncashed ticket money and place it into a jackpot bet for bettors, a lower takeout bet, giveaways to customers etc - in effect return it to its rightful owners (and ironically, help a business which seems unable to help itself when dealing with customers). I was a part of this process during a wagering conference.

At the conference itself there was almost unanimous support (when the public was watching) from the 300 people or so present, to get this done. In the crowd I saw only one hand go up when asked who was against this - it came from a representative from a horseman group. That should have clued me in; they had their fingers in the horseplayer uncashed ticket pie and were not going to give it up without a fight. Regardless, after the meeting it seemed that at the upcoming government review, uncashed ticket money would now be going back to customers in some way. I spoke to several people and expected a press release to be issued telling us how the customers money was going to be given back.

As I understand it, the meeting was held (with only the racetracks, government agency and horsemen group present), and it was not passed. The tracks and the horsemen group both voted it down, and if they vote it down the government can not make them do the right thing, they just rubber stamp it.

The good feeling at the wagering conference with industry watchers, tracks, bettors, customers and lovers of the sport agreeing that this simple, common sense thing to help racing and do the right thing, was all one big show - one big thumb in the nose of the customers.

It was not the customers money it was theirs, and they were not giving it back. And they wonder where handle has gone since 2007, when this meeting took place.

Racing is not friendly to customers, and they never have been. The question to me is: Will they ever be?

A good start would be to give uncashed ticket money back to the people who own it - the customer. But without the horseplayers having a seat at the table, with real clout, I am not holding my breath.

Dean is a HANA member from Canada. If you'd like to join HANA please click here.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Wow! Hialeah Quarterhorses go 12% Across the Board Takeout

According to the Bloodhorse, Hialeah for their quarterhorse meet will go 12% takeout, across the board.

For the players of that sport, you have a pretty clear choice: Los Alamitos who raised their takeout this year to about 22% blended, or Hialeah at an almost 50% discount.

This is in sharp contrast to 17 years ago where we looked at old time racing, being, well, old time racing in a story on HANAblog. Bill Finely was analyzing the Hialeah thoroughbred takeout situation at that time.

From 1993.

"Only this year will be different. Hialeah owner John Brunetti will do the unimaginable; he will make Hialeah the worst place on earth to play horses. Hialeah opens April 1, April Fools' Day for South Florida bettors. Brunetti plans to institute what is believed to be the highest takeout structure in the history of U.S. thoroughbred racing. The take on win, place and show bets will be 23.1 percent and there will be a 28 percent take on all other wagers. Winning money -- never easy at the track -- will be impossible at Hialeah."

17 years......

Moving from "the worst place on earth to play the horses" to "the best place on earth to play the horses"

We are witnessing a full circle development in the state of this game. Losing over 50% of your yearly handle and half your customers tends to do that.

Value Update - Some Tracks and Organizations Want Your Business

We have been hearing more and more about tracks wanting to do things for the player, and in terms of getting a nice pay when you hit something, the following tracks might be on your radar.

Harness race fans have been treated pretty well of late. For this weekends Breeders Crown, the folks there have created two new bets: A pick 4 and a pick 6. Both bets will be at the ultra-low 15% takeout and both pools are seeded with money (better than a guarantee of course). Pocono Downs, where this is being held had 35% take on some exotics this past summer, but lowered them, and now we have two 15% bets. If you bet them, you get paid.

In addition in harness racing, we have Tioga Downs of course who slashed their take this meet. Balmoral Park has their new 15% take pick 4 which is rolling, and recently Pompano Park has slashed their rake. On a chat board today I see that little Northville Downs is trying - they created a place pick 9 at 15%.

In thoroughbred racing, despite the huge horseplayer setback in California, some tracks want your money and want to earn your business.

We are informed at at Portland Meadows, the new 14% take pick 4 is doing fairly well at this very early stage. This bet replaced the super-high take pick 5 from last year. The pick 5 averaged $2000 per card, and the new pick 4 did just short of $15k yesterday, or a 700%+ increase. Seth is handicapping it, we see.

Pinnacle Race Course, is in really tough shape with Michigan racing on the ropes. They lowered their take to try and grow some business.

Retama continues with their 12% pick 3's. The pools are up there as well we are told.

If you are looking at some tracks or events on the simulcast menu, there is a short list. At least if you hit there, with some of these bets, you are sure to get your money's worth in what is perhaps the most difficult gambling game in the world.

If you are a racetrack and you are offering anything in the way of new horseplayer value, please inform us here at horseplayersassociation @, so we can inform our members!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Countless Comments. But One Stuck Out

We have been reading countless comments across the web of late, regarding California racing. We will be talking about them more, but this evening one really caught my eye. It was on the HRI site, where Bill Christine has asked Brackpool and Israel to step down.

It's not from a whale saying "I am going to stop betting a million dollars a year", or a name caller, or anyone else inside this sport. It's from a newbie.

I’ve only watched the major horse races on TV, with no betting, until this year. (I’m in my mid-30s.) I’m a newbie. I’ve been following it daily now--the big tracks as well as the small tracks. I’ve done okay as a bettor online, and I’m still learning, but the rake taken by the track makes an already tough game to play far harder to beat, of course. As long as it is reasonable, it is fine, and essential, to the operations of the sport. I get that.

The changes in CA make me shake my head. I love watching Zenyatta as much as anyone, but on most days I’m simply studying the non-superstar ponies in the Racing Form to attain a modest ROI. When that modest ROI becomes more difficult to achieve, due to the current changes, even newbies like me stop feeding that fire. I’m not sure if anyone cares about that, but “small people” count too, and many are the next generation of supporters of the sport.

Post courtesy HRI. For Bill's post and 80 or so comments, please click here.