Sunday, December 21, 2014
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
"Betting on Churchill Downs' fall meet that ended Sunday fell 15.68 percent per day, according to statistics released Tuesday by the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.The declines mean all three of this year's meets saw double-digit drops in wagering"
Earlier this year, mainly in the turf press, field size was blamed for most of Churchill's handle woes. This most recent 15.68% average handle drop was accompanied by a relatively minor 2.8% drop in field size to 8.56 (about 0.2 horses per race).
You told us in a survey in April, when Churchill raised the takeout, that you were upset and planning not to play their track any longer. It appears a lot of you followed through. With national handles down about 2%, there is no other way to describe Churchill's 2014 handle other than pure decimation.
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
" The most important thing we’ve learned in our work with companies that have decided to focus on superconsumers is that the new strategy can become a rallying cry for an organization—particularly one that has been marketing an old, slow-growing product perceived as unexciting. Like many of the best strategies, it is simple to explain, it appeals to logic, and it is easy to back up with data. “To be honest, I was a nonbeliever at first,” says Cannon Koo, the director of analytics at Kraft Foods. “I thought, How are these consumers any different from heavy users? But as we did more and more research, we began uncovering more and more insights that were quite different from what we were used to seeing from heavy users.” Today the Velveeta team uses the superconsumer strategy to plan its media buying, trade promotions, and new-product lines. The brand’s general manager says that in his nine years at the company, he’s never seen a more tightly integrated brand plan."
You the superuser (click to enlarge). Almost six in ten of you in our survey play every day or several days a week
Monday, November 10, 2014
"After the penultimate race of 2014 Breeders’ Cup Saturday, will-pays flashed across screens and it became clear there was about to be a first in BC history: There would be a Pick 6 carryover into Sunday’s (non-Breeders’ Cup) card. Instead of completely distributing the Pick 6 pool on BC Saturday to those who had 5 of the 6 winners, $1.3 million of the pool was carried over to the Sunday card. The impact on those who managed to hit 5 of 6 despite Saturday’s results? Instead of winning around $375,000, five winning tickets got only about $114,000 each.
Why wasn’t the pool distributed on Saturday?
Last year, the BC quietly changed its longstanding policy regarding distribution of the Pick 6. I read about it in some fine print in a DRF story. Since there were many perfect tickets last year, it didn’t get any attention. This year, the same policy was in effect, and again I saw only one mention of it. Most of the regular horseplayers I have talked with were unaware of the change. It seems unlikely that many fans who play only on racing’s big days knew about it."
To read the rest of Maury's piece, please click here.
Friday, October 31, 2014
Turf, One Mile (Mile, Juvenile Turf, Juvenile Fillies Turf)
Thursday, October 30, 2014
In 1992, A. P. Indy (Neil Drysdale) capped off a superb three-year old season by winning the Breeders’ Cup Classic. He defeated a full field of 13 rivals as the 2-1 favorite and did it from off the pace in a hand ride. The path that A. P. Indy took during his three-year old season is very similar to that of Tonalist (Christophe Clement), one of the main contenders in this year’s Classic.
Both colts have a royal pedigree. A. P. Indy is out of the champion broodmare, Weekend Surprise. Weekend Surprise is also the dam of Derby runner-up and Preakness winner, Summer Squall. Tonalist is out of the dam, Settling Mist. Settling Mist’s sibling, Easter Bunnette, is the dam of 2011 Horse of the Year, Havre De Grace.
Both A. P. Indy and Tonalist missed first two legs of the Triple Crown due to health issues. A. P. Indy was the morning line favorite for the 1992 Kentucky Derby but was scratched on race day due to a foot bruise. Tonalist had a lung infection and was sidelined prior to the Wood Memorial.
A. P. Indy returned from a 50 day layoff to beat six rivals in the G2 Peter Pan Stakes by 5 lengths. Tonalist returned from a 49 day layoff and beat six rivals in the same Peter Pan Stakes by 4 lengths.
Ironically, both defeated exactly 10 rivals in the Belmont and did it in virtually the same manner. Both sat just off the lead, traveling in the top three or four in the early going, moved wide on the turn, dug in gamely and won in tight finishes beating major longshots on the wire.
After the Belmont, A. P. Indy and Tonalist each lost twice prior to the Classic. A. P. Indy was defeated in the G2 Molson Million as the 3-5 favorite and the Jockey Gold Cup as the 5-2 second choice. Tonalist lost the G2 Jim Dandy as the 4-5 favorite and the G1 Travers as 5-2 second choice.
Christophe Clement removed the blinkers on Tonalist for the Jockey Gold Cup and the colt sat farther back than he had ever been. Despite being hindered when Wicked Strong lost his rider, he closed very strongly to win with style. Runner-up Zivo was also hindered by the loose horse but had a better trip and was in perfect striking position before being swallowed up by Tonalist. The pace of the 2014 Breeders’ Cup Classic appears to flatter that type of late running style.
If Tonalist wins the Breeders’ Cup Classic, he wins Horse of the Year honors….just like A. P. Indy.
David Valento is a handicapper for the Del Mar and Santa Anita websites, as well as his own website. He handicaps under the name of “Track Phantom” --- www.trackphantom.com
Monday, October 27, 2014
Prize structure for Friday’s tournament ($4,000 in cash prizes):
$2,000 for 1st
$750 to 2nd
$350 for 3rd
$250 for 4th
$150 for 5th
$100 for 6th through 10th plus a free TrackMaster product subscription
Prize structure for Saturday’s tournament ($6,000 in cash prizes):
$3,500 for 1st
$1,000 for 2nd
$500 for 3rd
$250 for 4th & 5th
$100 for 6th through 10th plus a free TrackMaster product subscription
Saturday, October 25, 2014
Cc: @HplayersAssnNA RT @MattyJRacing: $10,472 carried into 10% Takeout Pick5 pool for tomorrow.Closing day @northlands_park mandatory payout
— Northlands Park (@northlands_park) October 25, 2014
A free race program is available here. Good luck with this or any other wagers you choose to play this weekend!
Thursday, October 9, 2014
Thursday, October 2, 2014
“Equibase continually communicates with racing fans, and when several avid members of the Horseplayers Association of North America (HANA) recently expressed interest in getting access to first-time gelding information, we were only too happy to provide it,” said Zeitlin.
The first-time gelding information within entries will include a superscript 1 next to the sex of the horse and a list of the first-time geldings will be included as a footnote (see attached sample). The scratches and changes page on equibase.com and the RSS feed that is available to consumers and all data customers will also include first-time gelding information.
“Handicappers look upon first-time gelding information as an important factor, and it will be great to know this before a race,” said HANA President Jeff Platt. “There are times when these situations create huge betting opportunities that were previously unknown. I think it’s great that horseplayers everywhere will be able to leverage this added information into our handicapping and our wagering decisions.”
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
"The handle decline set in early, with betting during May and early June off almost 25 percent compared with the previous season. Arlington was forced to cut purses then and cut them a second time when handle failed to sufficiently rebound. The track attributed the decline to short fields and new simulcast competition from the popular Gulfstream signal, but a horseplayers’ group also urged an Arlington boycott as part of a larger protest against the takeout policies of Churchill Downs Inc., Arlington’s parent company."
Via this question on the April HANA Survey, your support was swift:
Your impact is not known - there are many factors that go into handle - but for those of you who have participated in the action, there's an update.
Currently we are following the Churchill Downs-Kentucky Downs racedate issue, being heard by the Kentucky Commission. As you know, Kentucky Downs has lowered takeout, worked the race office hard to get big fields, and has been described by you as "a players racetrack". Their handle has tripled since 2011, and things are moving in the right direction. We may need your help in the near future regarding this situation. We do have boots on the ground, watching this very closely, and we will continue to update you as the situation warrants.
As always, thanks for your support.
@DRFHegarty "K. Flanery of CD tells dates comm request for Sept. dates contingent on CD being only track to run during month." What???!!!!!Kentucky Downs, which recently concluded its meet to record handles, and almost universal horseplayer and horsemen praise, runs in September. If Churchill plays hardball for September dates, the only logical conclusion is that Kentucky Downs will have none.
— Byron King (@DRFByronKing) September 30, 2014
As reported on the Paulick Report, September handle at Churchill was down, but the meet provides strategic corporate and shareholder value to the gaming company. September dates were also vital to CDI being able to raise prices by decreasing your payouts as a horseplayer.
"...... Churchill Downs, which is coming off a 12-day September meeting that saw reported declines in handle and purses and dwindling field size of fewer than eight horses per race.
......... The additional dates also helped the bottom line of Churchill Downs and its parent company, CDI, by reducing the Louisville track’s year-long average daily on-track handle below a $1.2 million threshold that lowered tax rates from 3.5 percent to 1.5 percent. It also gave Churchill Downs host status on some big simulcast days that were financially beneficial to the company.Under Kentucky law, that sub-$1.2-million average daily on-track handle also permitted Churchill Downs to increase takeout.... "
HANA continues to support a member betting boycott of all CDI tracks and corporate properties. We will keep you posted on any developments.
Further reporting. If this clarification is valid, it looks like Kentucky Downs would be forced to run an abbreviated meet before September 9th
Flanery clarifies Sept. 9-27 is footprint Churchill Downs wants to itself for thoroughbred racing.
— Gregory Hall (@gregoryahall) September 30, 2014
C. Johnsen, prez of KD, requests Sept. 5, 12, 16, 20, 26, 30. Cites investment in facility, decision to lower takeout, for support.— Matt Hegarty (@DRFHegarty) September 30, 2014
Friday, September 19, 2014
Racing will miss Mike Mayo. A good man who truly cared about the horseplayer.
— Mike Maloney (@Silk1900) September 19, 2014
A very sad day for the NTRA, the NHC and horseplayers across the U.S. RIP Mike Mayo, 1954-2014 http://t.co/9J0YkKDtDW via @sharethis
— Alex Waldrop (@AlexWaldrop) September 19, 2014
Our deepest condolences go out to all of Mike's family and friends. Per the NTRA release linked in Mr. Waldrop's tweet above funeral arrangements for Mike were still pending, however, Mike did make it clear that he was not a big fan of flowers. He asked that horseplayers and friends consider a contribution to Old Friends retirement farm, to go toward the care of the beautiful animals that brought him so much pleasure. Contributions can be made directly to Old Friends, 1841 Paynes Depot Road, Georgetown, KY 40324 or online via PayPal at www.oldfriendsequine.org.
For discerning horseplayers who may be watching and wagering on the event, payout rates for some Parx bets are among the poorest in racing.
The overall takeout score for Parx is 56th out of 64 tracks surveyed in this season's HANA Racetrack Rankings.
Trifecta and Super takeout are the highest in North America.
What about the good news? Well, daily double and exacta payouts are not particularly penal , and win juice is a middle of the road 17%. If you are playing and are looking to get paid more when you cash, those are the pools that are worth looking into.
Monday, September 15, 2014
What's the skinny on this place?
Kentucky Downs has the lowest blended takeout and biggest fields in North America. (for a full list of statistics on 67 racetracks in the US and Canada, it's here). When they use instant racing money for purses, they've done it with you in mind. You know some of the four or five horse field stakes races we see so often? Not at Kentucky Downs.
Kentucky Downs President, in Horseplayer Monthly magazine (available for free here) said, "Horseplayers and horsemen were very complimentary of our last two live meetings. They remarked that they could not wait until next year. I believe that more of that group will point their bankrolls and horses to our 2014 season, which begins Sept. 6."
Handle in 2011 - with the higher takeout rates of 17.5% win and 22% exotics (the rates Churchill Downs raised theirs to in April) - was $915,000 per racecard. In 2012, after the takeout decrease at Kentucky Downs, the handle was $1,520,000 per racecard. In 2013, that grew to $2,500,000 per race card. This year looks to better last year's record breaking meet.
There are still two days left to play the Downs. Good luck if you're wagering and watching.
Saturday, September 13, 2014
Four years ago, Kentucky Downs' handle for their entire meet was not over $4 million dollars. In 2012, Kentucky Downs engineered the largest takeout decrease in North American racing history. They've climbed to #2 in the HANA Racetrack rankings.
#KentuckyDowns smashed their handle record today with 10-race card: $4,253,567. Old record (abt $3.5M) was on a 13-race card last year.— Marty McGee (@DRFMcGee) September 13, 2014
Wednesday, September 10, 2014
Mankind/womankind cannot live so cynically as to believe that physical interaction is no longer important in the post-modern era. In our sphere of influence, Twitter, Facebook, online contest sites, and ADWs are the reality of the times and what will sustain the sport moving forward.
Cyberspace is replacing physical space, but one cannot and will not subsist without the other. Namely, the sport won’t grow in cyberspace without positive experiences cultivated on track, at a horse farm, at a yearling sale, or some other physical venue, and at least for the time being (until Instant Racing takes over the world) the races are still run over a track, outside, on good ol’ fashion dirt and grass that God created (homage to Nick Zito).
As the summer winds down and the boutique meets come to an end, I’m reminded of how nothing in racing can replicate the on-track experience of a quality summer meet; the sights, sounds, and atmosphere of Del Mar with a laid back deco style and a fashionably late post time to match; Saratoga, with a nostalgic carnival motif, tree lined paddock, and a facility that rivals Fenway Park or Wrigley Field in terms of historic charm in the world of sport; and Arlington Park, a quality facility with top notch customer service providing a memorable experience. These summer locales provide a great family atmosphere and vibe that will help catalyze such memories and should cultivate new support to the game over time.
With all of the competition available at this juncture vying for the precious entertainment dollar in an uncertain economy, the significance of the summer racetrack destination cannot be overstated. We need to make sure the sport remains a part of the entertainment conscious of a typical non-racing fan so when it comes time to decide where to go this weekend or next, “the track” is considered along with the theme park or a day at the zoo.
There is no doubt that the sustainability of the sport moving forward is largely based on appropriate pricing of the product as a gambling pursuit; a business that will involve a majority of its dollars wagered online. This is the reality of a 21st Century world where horse racing holds no special advantage in the pantheon of gambling activities as it did in much of 20th Century. Quite on the contrary; we’re too expensive and overly fragmented into small groups where the norm involves a precarious power struggle.
John Q. Onceameetsaratogaguy (“J.Q.O.”) decides he loves going to the Spa so much that he will become a regular bettor through an ADW to continue his interest in the game. Here are said barriers to entry that J.Q.O. must now go through:
1. Reside in a state where it is legal (sorry Alaska, Georgia, Hawaii, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Utah): 24,000,000 people aged 18 and older reside in these seven states.
2. Successfully research available ADWs: After looking at all of the possibilities (which involved calling friends and extensive “googling”), he decides the best service with the most features is “XYZBets.com.net.org”, but it isn’t available in his state. After more careful analysis, he realizes there is only one option, “ABCWagers.com” which is inferior to most other ADWs. As a consumer in the year 2014, he wonders why there isn’t more choice. It strikes him as a bit monopolistic or at the least “anti-capitalistic”.
3. Takeout: Now that he is funded and ready to bet, he becomes inquisitive about how horse racing stacks up to blackjack and sports betting, his current preferred forms of gambling. J.Q.O. looks up the track takeout (http://www.horseplayersassociation.org/sortableratings.html). He thinks to himself, good Lord, that can’t be right, it must be a mistake – those numbskulls at HANA have at all wrong. How can a business subsist charging customers those rates? Subsequently, J.Q.O. finds out that some major circuits are actually increasing takeout and one even overcharged bettors above and beyond the current legal rate.
4. Perception: J.Q.O. recognizes some of the big name trainers from his experiences at the marquee tracks and from watching the Kentucky Derby on TV, but never knew much about them beyond the two minute human interest pieces used to kill two hours of coverage (you know, instead of showing really good Grade I races that occur prior to the marquee events). He is despondent in finding out many of them have a list of medication infractions that make Ben Johnson look clean.
5. Rewards: J.Q.O. isn’t a huge bettor, but does get some nice perks out of his casino betting. He looks into the rebate rules of his ADW and finds he can get about $5 back a month and perhaps some free PPs once and awhile.
6. Consistency: J.Q.O. places a wager and watches a race where he is holding a correctly structured ticket that will yield a $250 profit from a $5 bet. This is one of the many reasons why he is excited about horse racing – few other pursuits afford you the ability to invest a relatively small amount of money to win a relatively large amount (and unlike the lottery, have a realistic expectation to win)! However, the inquiry sign is flashed and his temporary excitement has evaporated as his horse has been taken down. This is perplexing to J.Q.O. as the same level of interference did not yield a disqualification in the exact same situation yesterday at the very same track. He looks into the rules used by the Stewards to formulate their decisions because with all this money at stake for the bettors and the connections, surely there are uniform rules for what happens within the field of play (you know, like in every other sport on the planet). He finds nothing but a tax write-off. Speaking of taxes….
7. Central Governing Body: J.Q.O. wonders why the Commissioner hasn’t addressed a number of these items. Surely the head of this sport would be taking prudent measures to ensure the integrity of the game isn’t compromised. Goddell wouldn’t put up with this.
Some of the barriers to entry are legal and/or political in nature and out of the control of the industry. However, to the customer it’s irrelevant; the bottom line is they cannot access the product. Imagine if Apple could only sell I-Pads in 43 states? This is precisely what the industry must deal with; not an easy task.
With respect to takeout, I often hear the counter argument that most patrons of a summer meet like Saratoga (and many OTB customers as well) have no idea what takeout is or how it impacts their wallet. This is entirely true. The yearly or even bi-weekly or weekly customer at Del Mar or Saratoga is unlikely to care. Regardless of the takeout, within reason, these folks will make Del Mar or the Spa a semi regular destination. However, this mindset is so inherently flawed and self-fulfilling that it boggles the mind. We need the customers who have good experiences at the track (like J.Q.O) to become regular customers in the ADW world, the future of betting. Given the laundry list of difficulties (only some of which are listed above), this is increasing unlikely and why the sport is in decline. Further, even if the typical OTB patron isn’t consciously aware of takeout, he or she will be keenly reminded of it when they are broke.
However well intended, any marketing strategy that isn’t centered on competitive pricing for the bettor is a losing long term proposition. This is pressing issue number 1 and 1A and is relatively simple to correct. This is of paramount importance and unlike many of the impenetrable factors that hamper growth - this is controllable (with any sort of leadership and pragmatic thinking). The concerts, food truck festivals, ostrich races, Weiner Dog Derbies, and the like are irrelevant if any new customer gained through these endeavors fails to become a regular betting customer; a goal which is unbearably difficult with an uncompetitive, usurious rake, in addition to some huge barriers to entry.
Tuesday, September 9, 2014
In this issue:
We get you ready for Kentucky Downs with an interview with track president Corey Johnsen, and horseplayer extraordinaire Mike Maloney offers some tips and thoughts. Building on the turf theme, we also have a column on Pace Figures and Turf Racing from TimeformUS's Craig Milkowski, a glance at what to do with off-the-turf races, and a number of turf stats throughout the issue.
Also in this issue: Melissa Nolan offers a guide on horsemanship for handicappers and looks back at the career of Tom Durkin, Mike Dorr analyzes payoffs, Jerod Dinkin takes a look at the state of summer meets, Rich Nilsen tells you how to identify a sucker horse, we give you the 411 on In-Race Betting, and Garnet Barnsdale invites a guest to the harness page!
Thanks for reading!