PlayersBoycott

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Friday, December 31, 2010

Education on Drugs is Important & Other Notes

The DRF speaks today about how hard it is for trainers to not get nabbed with tiny infractions at times. Horse racing drug use is highly regulated - not unlike the Olympics is - in terms of drug use. A good deal of normal everyday substances that you and I might have are no-no's, and sometimes these drugs in small amounts can find their way into a horse, because of a cut-off time, mistakes, or other issues the article mentions.

Education is key for this industry, and for too long the customer was not educated on drugs and racing; they were simply ignored. As we all know well: We were a monopoly, so if customers spouted "he's a cheater" for a 0.00001mg overage of grape juice, it was left stand with no response. No one seemed to care because there was nowhere else to bet.

Now that we are not a monopoly, it is vitally important to have informed bettors and fans. In that vein HANA worked with the folks at the RMTC in constructing a database of violations. What they achieved is a great first step. The database, accessible here, shows all violations and allows you to scroll over each drugs name to find out what it is. It is a good first step and we urge players to check it out when they see a suspension.

HANA believes horsepeople are not out to shaft us as bettors, or be bad to their horses en masse. We believe most are hard-working and honest. If the infraction looks small it is probably is small and an error. However, where we have a hard-line as horseplayers is on performance enhancing drugs or drugs which can harm a racehorse (blood builders like Epogen, Aranesp or CERA, painkillers like venom, and any new undetectable drug which is used with intent to injure our horses and sport), as well as horse abuse of any sort. For those violations, don't let the door hit you in the ass on the way out. You should not have the honor to work with animals and once you are exposed, we suggest you find a new line of work.

Notes:

Tom Lamarra over at the Bloodhorse makes some predictions. He says there will be a triple crown winner this year (I wonder who that would be :)) and that in 2011 the CHRB will move the takeout rates back down in not-so-sunny California. He did title his piece "ridiculous predictions" though!

The Buffalo News gives their top story list here.

Rich Eng tells readers that the California racing situation might get worse and he calls the early drop in betting there 'one of the biggest year end stories'.

Bill Finley, fresh off winning an Eclipse award, does not hold back in his most recent column.

A lot of people do not know how, in the long run, takeout works. Trackmaster shows you here in a comprehensive piece.

In addition, Jeff Platt shows you the takeout increase that happens tomorrow with some math (via Paceadvantage.com). Bill, another board member here, tells you it in terms of tax (he's an engineer so they talk a little funny, but even I understood his "heady" point, so I imagine for you smart reader, it will be easy.) In a nutshell, like the trackmaster piece showed, you don't have to be a rocket scientist to see this hurts handle and shrinks the sports customer base (just like the Los Al empirical numbers showed here in easy to see pics)

Funniest new name I have seen on a chat board? "I-do-not-like-ham." I think that poster is a youtube watcher!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Davidowitz on California

"History says unequivocally, that rising takeout percentages never do compensate for declining handles. Higher takeouts, by themselves, without boycotts, precipitate declines in handles...... Indeed, early signs at the pari mutuel windows suggest that purses might have to be cut in a few weeks rather than raised; if this does occur as the trends suggest, the purse reductions will be a direct result of the CHRB and (horsemen approved) takeout increases"

The betting public is smarter than the CHRB appreciates. This has been true for many years and will remain true until the Board begins to really understand the dynamics of the racetrack gambling game---the best game man has ever invented---a game nonetheless under siege more from the decisions made on its behalf than from any outside influence."

Read more at Grade 1 racing.......

A Good Point on a Bad Bet

The Big Event blog looks at tri rules which were in place in a three horse race at Santa Anita yesterday (yes, allowing tris on a three horse race if you can believe it).

Getting the extra juice on the $14,039 bet into the trifecta pool that otherwise may have gone in either the win and/or exacta pools is negligent at best and unethical at worse.

read more.

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Horseplayers Association wins USHWA President's Award

Harrisburg, PA --- Jason Settlemoir, president of the United States Harness Writers Association, has announced that H.A.N.A., the Horseplayers Association of North America, and driver Yannick Gingras will receive President’s Awards at USHWA’s “Night Of Stars,” the annual awards banquet, on Sunday, February 27, at the Marriott North in Fort Lauderdale Fla.

Today’s release will look at H.A.N.A.; a release tomorrow will focus on Gingras.

Horseplayers, both Standardbred and Thoroughbred, have long been the lifeblood of the equine racing sports, but they and their concerns/suggestions have usually received short shrift from the sports’ organizations and racing officials. The self-formed H.A.N.A. is trying to change that: “H.A.N.A. is committed to giving horseplayers a voice” reads the very first sentence of its mission statement.

Among the areas where H.A.N.A. thinks that racing could present a more attractive product to potential customers/bettors are: universal signal availability to all outlets at all times, without exception; the long-awaited and long-debated lowering of takeout rates -- H.A.N.A.’s ideal figure would be in the 10 percent range, a number not far off from “optimilization of handle” studies by university economists; a severe hard-line stand against drug misusage in racehorses; “pool integrity,” which they define as a secure tote system which displays correct and final odds as soon as the gate springs; and large, competitive race fields.

Read more at link

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

The Effect of the 2010 Los Alamitos Takeout Increase, In Pictures

We'll let these pictures speak for themselves. We sincerely hope the CHRB rethinks their positions. Handle, customers and racing opportunities for our participants are at stake.






Note: A comment below by Ms. Betts as an addendum.

So the interesting thing to me was to see how the signal of a policy change in 2009 was correlated with a change in trend. I don't think summary stats for 2010 over 2009 capture that, which you can see in the full time-series, but in any case here they are.

From the week of the actual takeout increase - fourth week in January - and through the end of November: cumulative 2010 handle relative to 2009:

On-Track: down 24%
Inter-Track: down 22%
Inter-State: down 10%
All Sources: down 15%
Number of Races: down 23.5%


A note: the crazy looking observations for the second in December 2010 look that way because Los Al/Equibase fail to report handle data for 2/3 of the races that Los Al claims it ran that week. I've reported the number of races for which handle was reported, as a result, so that implied handle per race is not distorted. In the third week of December 2010, inclement weather prevented racing on Sunday Dec 19.

Players Boycott Notes & Gear

Playersboycott.org has created some gear. T shirts are now on sale here. Your votes wanted that message, so you got it.

In addition, we have been informed that they are close to completing web banner ads in numerous formats. If you are a horseplayer with a blog, or a person who cares about Cali-racings future and wants to run one, please email playersboycott@gmail.com.

Last up, money is currently being raised for some "boots on the ground" marketing that California racetracks will see in the New Year. Please email the address above and they will take your donation.

Thanks for your help and support!

Playersboycott.org.
Bettors today acting for a better tomorrow

Monday, December 27, 2010

Sit By the Fire, Curl Up.... and Bet!

Michael writes a horseplayer editorial on his site if you will ever read one. He goes through the tracks he will be playing over the next few weeks. He highlights the stakes sked, as well as the juice on some bets.

So what is a horseplayer to do?


To see what Michael and his crew are looking at for their winter racing fix, please read more here.

Friday, December 24, 2010

Memo to the Press

There is a poll up on the Paulick Report asking "Do you support the proposed boycott by horseplayer groups of Santa Anita over the increased takeout in California?"

A HANA member took issue with that question and emailed Ray this:

"I believe your poll asks the wrong question. It should read "Do you support raising takeout as being a smart business move for the sport of horseracing". It's not about a boycott, it's about pointing out to the industry that raising takeout is driving the business into the ground. If the industry doesn't wake up they will be back in another 3 or 4 years wanting to raise takeout again due to falling handle from an ever shrinking customer base. We saw an example of this with the Los Alamitos "experiment" earlier this year. Higher pricing is no substitute for competent management. If it were, all the failing businesses in this country could simply raise their prices and everything would be rosy."

We hope that message makes it through - because that is what this is about.

As blog readers and members know. HANA is filled with members from every walk of life in racing - bettors, trainers, owners, grooms, industry watchers - and it includes many California horse owners.

HANA is after one thing and one thing only with this: For our business - one we love and support - to start moving towards pricing that grows the sport of horse racing.

An "Optimal Price Point" is not fancy language: Optimal takeout is simply the price that racing makes the most money - the most handle, the most purses and the most revenue for horse owners, grooms and everyone in this business.

Caroline on the Paulick Report said it best: 'I have done searches on google scholar and not one economic journal says the optimal price racing should charge is higher than it currently is.' That means that when we move pricing away from optimal (i.e. "up" like the CHRB did) we all lose.

Choosing to support or not support a boycott is a personal decision and we all respect that. However, know that you are not boycotting California racing to hurt it, you are boycotting it to save it.

Reference journals on takeout and takeout elasticity, including real world case studies are here, if interested. For further questions on takeout and optimal takeout please email us at horseplayersassociation@gmail.com, and we will forward them to our Special Advisor on Takeout and Wagering Economics, Cal MacWilliam, Phd, World Bank Economist and horse bettor and owner.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Australia Racing Leads the Way for Bettors

Australian racing is at it again. The country, which has GDP about one-fifteenth the size of the US, brings in close to a similar amount in wagering, and there are numerous reasons why, but one big one is their respect for the bettor, by introducing common-sense items to make the betting game better.

Recently they have employed a bettor to overhaul a few things in the system. One of which, is the reporting of vet work etc done on horses before races. This "database of treatments" will have to be reported to bettors.

Trainers will soon have to report all relevant procedures administered to a horse. At present, wind operations, bone-chip removals, etc, do not have to be reported, although there is a rule where a trainer has to report to stipes anything that may affect a horse's performance in the week before a race. ''The rule currently is in relation to what's happened in the lead-up to a race,'' Murrihy said. ''Stewards believe it should be mandatory to report things like wind operations and this will be made public.''

Reversals of form, whereby a horse who gets beat by an interstate last time comes back to win, is one of the worst pieces of public relations our sport has. For 100 years it has been something that the industry did not have to address because if a bettor did not like a reversal, what else was he going to bet. In today's society where one person can scream "fix!" on a chat board and be heard (while quickly running to get $50 on the Pats minus 4), things like this are very important. Ask any player of Hong Kong racing and they will tell you their vet database is a used tool. Australia now offers something similar.

There are a few other issues that leading betting expert Scott looks at on his blog.

Australia has instituted many things the past ten years or so for their racing. They have fixed odds wagering through bookmakers and Betfair. They have several promos every year with zero or very low takeout bets. Their effective takeout rate has gone down with this, from around 17% in the early part of the decade (here it is around 22%). They have televised objections, and employed bettors to make things better.

It has not been easy (it took court fights to allow low takeout betfair in 2007/08 for example) as the old-time power base in racing would not let some of it happen without fighting it to protect their slice, but it has happened.

In a world-wide betting recession and with all these changes, Australian racing has been holding its own, and doing some growing. "Betting on thoroughbreds topped $15 billion for the first time in 2009-10. With the $5.074 billion wagered on harness and greyhounds betting on the three codes burst through the $20 billion barrier (up from $19.369 billion) [and ] was up 4.4% last year". That is in the pools, and does not include the growth of betfair betting (and other low takeout fixed odds wagering) which was up 35% last season.

It's amazing what good can happen when your customers are put first. And the question must be asked, especially in light of the takeout hike by the CHRB: If they can make customer-positive changes, why can't we?

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

More Amazing Quotes

Santa Anita President George Haines in the Daily Racing Form, on takeout increases:

“Maybe the top point-one percent of the handicapping world has that in their equation – what the takeout is – but for the most part, people are looking at handicapping winners,” he said.

We think Mr. Haines should buy a handicapping book - and fast. Try this one for starters.

I don't know one player who likes catching even money shots 42% of the time. Do you?

Scott Daruty, always good for a quote:

“If somebody is so price-sensitive that they’re not going to bet Santa Anita because the price went up, what are they going to bet instead? New York? Florida? Illinois tracks?” Daruty said.

There are several tracks to bet, of course (in fact, one Florida track that Mr. Daruty should know just made a new low rake bet for players - Gulfstream). However in the bigger picture: Mr. Daruty should pay more attention to this chart. A lot of price sensitive players have left racing forever, because horse racing takeout is too high, not too low. The problem is that not enough people are betting horse racing, and this takeout hike chases more of them away. That's what happens when you raise prices, whether it is on baseballs, lawn chairs, widgets, or exotic wagers at a race track.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

The Press & You

We are very encouraged about the racing press here at HANA of late. Often times, horseplayer issues - especially those which might bring up some skeletons in racings closet - are put on the backburner. However, not this time.

Bill Finley was a no brainer. He has been a champion for this business for a long time. He wants to see takeout move closer to optimal so purses are maximized and handle is maximized. It was nice to have him aboard.

John Pricci was another who we expected support. He is an advisory board member and has offered us sound advice and help when we need it.

For today:

Bill Christine writes an article. "In honor of flagging business, Santa Anita will raise its prices, something that they couldn't have learned in Business 101."

Equidaily has the items front and center - both the pro and the con, linking people with ideas. We want to hear all ideas, from everyone who wants handle to grow in the long term.

Ray Paulick, although it appears he wanted to write a "pro high takeout" article showing this takeout hike is good from more than CA horse owners, added to the discussion here, and it did not turn out this way. The comments section reveals some of racings dirty little secrets.

It seems that some ADW's will not be paying full price for the Cali takeout increase - why would they need special deals if this takeout hike is so "wonderful for everyone"? And there are some rumors that some areas aren't paying anything at all. Why would they pay less than what players are paying? Who's in charge, customers or Bob Evans and the CHRB? If it's the latter, it might explain why our business ain't doing so hot.

After all, Sam Walton said: "There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else."

I am pretty sure he did not mention the CHRB being in charge, although I guess it is up to horseplayers to prove Mr. Walton right or wrong.

Last up: Your comments. We have been receiving them via email, and on chat boards. We have seen your signups on our database. We have also seen you add your name to our email list via that medium. We will be tabulating all emails, names and addresses and we will be contacting everyone before January 1st. If you want to help, or lend your name, please do so on Playersboycott.org by signing up (its confidential!). Or send an email to playersboycott@gmail.com

John Pricci, in a comment on Bill's piece said things quite well:

And the industry types will sit around and blame it on all the negative publicity the sport has gotten, never looking in the mirror.

We, the players, have the game’s best interests at heart, not those that draw a paycheck from it.

I’m waiting to read a piece from Alex Waldrop on the pros and cons of a boycott so that this takeout-rise madness will stop and, indeed, lower takeout becomes the rule and not just a promotional tool. In the meantime, players must support those tracks that show they have our best interests in mind.


We appreciate and respect each and every one of you who have offered support!

Monday, December 20, 2010

Finley at ESPN.com - 22.68 Reasons....

"With these boobs in charge, it needs all the help it can get."

Bill Finley does not mince words.

Some snippets in today's column:

Perhaps the single dumbest thing uttered by anyone in the horse racing industry in 2010 was the statement made by David Israel, the vice chairman of the CHRB, defending the takeout increase.

"People often say we're competing with the casinos," Israel said. "I think that's shortsighted and wrong. We're not competing with casinos. We're in the entertainment business. We're competing with the Dodgers and the Giants and the Angels and the Lakers, and we're putting on a show."

Apparently, the man was not joking.


and

No one is more deserving of a break than the people who bet on horses. They are what make everything in this sport go and they have had to put up with nothing but abuse, starting with takeout levels that make the game all but impossible to beat. Now they want to take even more money out of the Average Joe's pocket. This is criminal.

A broke horseplayer is not much of a customer. Racing needs help and it needs visionaries and people willing to do the right thing. In California, they're getting people who are falling back on the oldest trick in the book, a trick that never works.

More at 22.68 Reasons to Boycott California

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Pricci, Eng & Paulick

John Pricci:

"Platt, a serious player, will support the boycott. He also received commitments from several batch-wagering computer syndicates to not only support the boycott but take proactive measures as well, taking out ads in trade journals, the Los Angeles Times, etc.

Some computer bettors would sacrifice short term gains for long term profits. “We believe in lower takeouts for everyone,” said one syndicate manager. “If takeout was lowered to acceptable levels, we wouldn’t need rebates.”

Only after polling its membership did HANA openly lend its support to the upcoming boycott. Computer syndicates cannot take this tack, however."

Rich Eng:


"The CHRB cannot sugarcoat the fact that it is fleecing the betting public in the name of saving California horse racing. It intends to add the increased revenue into purses. I, for one, am not in favor of a boycott. "

Last up, Ray Paulick. After some chatter in some ports in the storm (e.g. here) wondering if the Paulick Report would link anything regarding the horseplayers and Cali racing (due to ads run on Ray's site supporting purses in CA), the question was answered. And we have html evidence.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Pace Tournies, Horrid CA Handle Charts & More

Last call for HANA members (well, really a first call since we've been busy): There is a neat handicapping tournament on Paceadvantage.com the PAIHL:

1. TEAMS

· Each team consists of three individual players.
· Each player must be a registered member of PaceAdvantage.com
· Teams may represent other handicapping forums; handicapping products; race tracks; or simply be a group of three individual handicappers.


We need some HANA teams. If you are a member at Pace, and a member here, we have a couple HANA folks ready for more teammates. Just pop on the thread and sign up as a HANA member. The prize money keeps going up, and it looks like a lot of fun!

Jeff Gural owns Tioga Downs and now he might be looking to buy the Meadowlands. HANA worked with Tioga about their takeout decrease this past season (which upped handle, so thanks to everyone who supported it) and we don't have enough good to say about them. If Jeff has a shot at this track, expect some horseplayer, customer friendly things to happen at that wonderful track.

Remington handle is up by about 50%. We will have a feature article on this in the coming days.

Flipside. HANA's Roger, our Cali Rep, has a summary of this weeks CHRB meeting. Newsflash - they came to their senses, saw handle was down like this chart shows, and are now lowering takeout and implementing new customer friendly policy. They have also hired gambling experts to make gambling decisions.

We kid! Actually it is more of the same, but it looks like there might be more fighting over table scraps with Twinspires “discussing” whether to dedicate all additional revenue earned from the soon to be enacted takeout increase on exotic wagers on California races toward purses in the state", according to a VP. Just more short sighted racing stuff, is all.

For a snapshot of handle life in California since 1990, by the way, check the chart below for inflation adjusted handle.



With a chart like that we wonder what in the hell you have to do in the halls of California racing management to get canned. If I did not know better, it's almost like someone there thinks horse racing betting is like watching the Lakers and the Giants.

Jeff needs help: There are still positions open on playersboycott.org. Jeff is looking for help with Facebook, Twitter, on track marketing and much more. He is also looking for volunteers to the steering committee. Do you care about California racing? Do you have some time to give? Please email at playersboycott@gmail.com. Or alternatively, you can sign up and have your name added on the site. Donations for some marketing are also appreciated.

"Horseplayer X" is cutting edge. Boycott talk, before boycotts. "Horseplayers rarely get organized. They just tend to yell at each other on chatboards" :)

Horseplayer Commentary on Cali via the 'PB'.

"By discouraging existing and potential customers with higher takeout and disingenuous rhetoric, the CHRB is dooming its scheme to create a “promised land” overflowing with purse money for thoroughbred horse owners at the direct expense of horseplayers. Thanks to Mr. Israel, horseplayers of all ages and geographic areas are beginning to realize just how little respect they are accorded from most horsemen, track operators, and state government representatives."

More at link

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Tampa Talk

Peter Berube, via the Paulick Report:

"The business of horse racing is very expensive to produce. Studies have concluded that the optimal price is between 8-12%. However, at that level, handle would have to nearly double to break even with current takeouts. I just don't believe that is realistic to assume, but I do feel tracks will continue to experiment with gradual reductions."

More on the meet here. No mention of the Twinspires dispute, though.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Today's Paradox

Yesterday a press release was issued by Playersboycott.org, announcing an organized boycott of California racing. A horseplayer wrote: "Good luck getting someone in the media to run the release, because the mainstream racing press is paid for by past performance downloads and ads from California racing"

So far he is right on the mark. No links.

But isn't it a paradox? Racing sites get their revenue from California racing, so they cater to California racing. Racing gets all its revenue from us - the horseplayer - so why is the horseplayer ignored so often in this sport?


Playersboycott.org is looking for a few good men and women - for flyers, facebook management, twitter account management, article writing and more. If interested please email playersboycott@gmail.com.

Note: Jennie Rees has linked it. And so has Equidaily so far today.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Concerned Bettors Launch Playersboycott.org


It's been called - a press release from Playersboycott.org asks for help in their quest to grow California racing, by addressing, what they think, must be done. Full release is below.


Organized Horseplayer Boycott of California Thoroughbred Racing is Launched

PRESS RELEASE
(San Diego CA – December 13, 2010) – Today a National Horseplayers Boycott website (playersboycott.org) was launched asking players to boycott California Thoroughbred racing. The website is calling for all concerned horseplayers to support the endeavor.

Playersboycott.org wants to emphasize that the purpose of the Players’ Boycott isn’t to punish or destroy racing in California. In fact, the opposite is true.

The organization is boycotting to create a better tomorrow and believes the actions of racing’s decision makers have been destroying racing in California, and elsewhere, for years.

If you take all sources handle today in 2010, and adjust it for inflation, and then compare it to all sources handle in 2003, you will notice that handle today is approximately half of what it was just seven years ago.

By supporting The National Players' Boycott Of California Racing effort, you can help us put a stop to this trend. We ask you to consider carefully the idea that every handle dollar spent on California racing is a vote in support of higher takeout and a vote to support the mistaken belief expressed by the CHRB and the TOC that the customer is irrelevant.

You have a choice when it comes to where you spend your money.

Every handle dollar not bet on the California racing product is a vote for change and a vote to send a very clear message to the CHRB and the TOC: The customer DOES in fact matter.

The organization is looking for numerous volunteers and some positions needed are listed on the website. All and any help is appreciated.

If you are interested, you can contact us at playersboycott@gmail.com. We thank you in advance for your help and support.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

Bill Christine on David Israel and Racing

"The average racegoer, and especially the newcomer, doesn't look upon a 10-horse field as a beauty contest. All they want to do is cash enough tickets to go home with at least as much if not more than what they started with. "

More at link.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Roger Way on the CHRB

Hana's California Rep Roger Way discusses the CHRB on the Paulick Report.

Roger has been a long time player and industry watcher in the Golden State and he shares his honest opinion on what needs to be done in that great horse racing state. If interested, give it a read and let them know what you think via Ray's site.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Tampa Bay Downs Lowers Takeout Again

Since 2001, Tampa Bay Downs has been quietly lowering takeout each season or thereabouts (see: HANA 2009 Tampa Report here with Peter Berube interview). This meet they have struck again - takeout has been lowered on several vertical and horizontal wagers.

In 2001 handle per day at Tampa was below $2.0M per day. For the 2009/2010 Meet, Tampa set a per day handle record of almost $4.2M per day, proving that pricing, foresight and customer respect trumps a bad economy any day of the week.

HANA encourages all players to support this track due to their respect for you- their customer.

TAMPA BAY DOWNS WELCOMES ITS 85TH SEASON

12/3/2010

OLDSMAR, Fla. (December 3, 2010) Tampa Bay Downs is pleased to welcome fans and horsemen back for another great year of racing excitement at the Oldsmar oval on December 11’s Opening Day with reduced takeouts and two upgraded stakes races.

The 2010-2011 race meeting will see a decrease in takeout for Pick 3, Pick 4, Super Hi-5 and Pick Six wagering to 18% from last year’s 19% rate. The decrease in takeout has been an ongoing trend at Tampa Bay Downs for the past several years as the Oldsmar oval continues to reward the players that that support the Tampa Bay Downs product. Also new this year is a 50 cent Pick Three wager, which along with 50 cent Pick Fours, 50 cent Trifectas, and 10 cent Superfectas make Tampa Bay Downs a favorite handicapping destination for horseplayers. Tampa Bay Downs will build upon large field sizes, with goals to increase upon last season’s average field size of 8.95 horses per race, once again enhancing the horseplayers’ experience.

Quality has not been forgotten at the Oldsmar oval as a strong lineup of stakes races enhances the 91-day Tampa meet. The stakes program is headlined by the biggest race day of the year on March 12, 2011 with the 31st renewal of Festival Day. The Bay Area’s premiere race day features the Tampa Bay Derby, which was awarded a Grade II status as well as a purse boost to $350,000 for its 2011 edition. The Tampa Bay Derby has become a major stop on the Triple Crown trail, with two of its participants winning the Grade I Kentucky Derby in the last four years. Also on the Festival Day card are the Grade III $150,000 Hillsborough Stakes and the $75,000 Suncoast Stakes for three-year-old fillies. Well over $575,000 is up for grabs, and some of horseracing’s best will battle it out to the wire.

The $150,000 Tampa Bay Stakes, formerly the Tampa Bay Breeders’ Cup, was given a Grade III status for the first time for 2011, following last season’s epic stretch battle between Grade I winner Karelian and dual Eclipse Award champion Gio Ponti.

Racing Secretary Allison DeLuca says of the upgrades to the Tampa Bay Downs stakes program, “We’ve worked hard to make the stakes program here as competitive and exciting as possible, and it is gratifying to see Tampa Bay Downs continue to become a major destination for the country’s finest horses and horsemen. We’re looking forward to another thrilling season.”

To celebrate Opening Day on December 11, Tampa Bay Downs will offer free Grandstand admission to all patrons. Additionally, the traditional Opening Day Breakfast will begin at 8 AM in the Backyard. For $6.95, guests can enjoys a hot breakfast buffet, along with a free program for the afternoon’s races, a free handicapping guide for Tampa Bay Downs’s 85th racing season, a handicapping seminar as well as the chance to interact with trainers and jockeys as horses enjoy their morning workouts trackside. For more information or to make reservations, please call 813.855.4401.

Once again this year, Tampa Bay Downs offers free Grandstand admission and parking. Additionally, this year the Oldsmar oval will offer $2 pint domestic draft beer specials from 11 AM—3 PM every weekday during live racing. New additions to the concessions lineup include a rotisserie chicken stand located on the first floor of the Grandstand, new Grandstand seating and new carpeting around the facility Other old favorites include the Sweet Shop, which features fresh, home-made pies, cakes, cream pies and Danishes as well as specialty coffees and ice cream treats; and Brady’s Backyard BBQ continues to tempt taste buds in the Backyard Picnic Area. Mouse the Mascot, a three-year-old Miniature Horse, will once again make appearances on weekends in the Backyard and Grandstand apron to visit with fans young and young at heart.

Irwin & the Seven Year Window

Barry Irwin, today at the Paulick Report, wrote an article asking for post times to be coordinated. It is certainly a noble idea - after all, why would we want so much overlap in post times? For those who play with Twinspires TV, or at any simo-center, seeing 0 MTP on four tracks on your screen is as common as pork ribs in Chattanooga.

In the UK where they have a slightly more coordinated market (pushed for by Betfair about ten years ago, so their players could play more races), races tend to go off at intervals with very little overlap. This is easier there of course because there are fewer tracks running, but it was a concern; one that was corrected.

We at HANA agree with Mr. Irwin. There is one person who funds this sport, and that is not the owner, or the trainer, or the feed man, or the vet, it's the customer. As Henry Ford once said "It is not the employer who pays the wages. Employers only handle the money. It is the customer who pays the wages." Unfortunately they are neglected for the most part, as Mr. Irwin alludes.

We had our own idea here at HANA, through feedback from you the player, about something similar. You asked us a simple question: Why do tracks report prices and probables differently? Why on one screen do we see $1 exacta probables and another $2 probables? Why do we see one screen tell us a 10 cent super and another reports a $2 super? It makes no sense.

Of course it makes no sense. If the NASDAQ was starting a stock market would they let Intel report their share price in quarters and Cisco in pennies? It would be corrected even before it was a problem.

We decided, like Mr. Irwin to go to work on that. How hard could it be to get tracks to do something so common sense? How difficult could it be to get them to report all probables and payoffs the exact same way, so you the customer (and especially the newbie!) could have a more positive customer experience?

We asked a high level racing official (I have not asked him for permission to use his name so we won't) for a meeting and he obliged. It occurred in the spring of 2009.

"There is no chance that will happen" he told us.

"Why" we asked.

"Track X wants to do it their way, and track Y wants to do it their way. They will never agree" he replied.

It is the way racing is. Even something so common sense takes a long time, and in some cases would never get corrected.

We notice that just last week the Ontario Racing Commission is recommending what Mr. Irwin suggests in their interim report for that province's tracks - a coordination of post times. This is a subject which has been brought up since about 2003. It is now 2010 and it is being talked about. It seems there is a seven year window in racing. It takes that long to get even the simplest idea off the ground.

So horseplayers take note: Your concerns about post times and pricing reporting should be good to go - around 2017. I sure hope you are all still customers.

Note: We have heard you on the Hialeah situation. As most know they are offering 12% takeout, but some large ADWs appear to be not taking the signal. We are trying to get a full list of ADWs who are taking it, and those who are not. If you have any feedback on this please leave us a mail at info@hanaweb.org.