Monday, March 30, 2015

Equibase Adds Voided Claim Information

Equibase Company has announced that effective immediately it will include in its data feeds, result charts, and Equibase past performance products information on claims that were subsequently voided. The voided claim information is also being made available to tracks for inclusion in race programs nationwide.

"As specific voided claim rules have become more prevalent at racetracks in North America, it made sense to broaden the dissemination of the information as a service to the betting public," said Hank Zeitlin, president and chief operating officer of Equibase.

Claimed horses, which are denoted with a 'c' at the end of the race information within Equibase past performances, now include a 'v' to indicate when the claim was subsequently voided. The result charts on are denoted with "claim voided" text and also include the recorded reason for the voided claim.

Equibase also announced that effective immediately result charts available on now include the full race conditions for all races.

Now in its 25th year of operation, Equibase Company is a partnership between subsidiaries of The Jockey Club and the Thoroughbred Racing Associations of North America and serves as the Thoroughbred industry's official database. Through its website, mobile platform and mobile applications, Equibase offers a comprehensive array of free statistical information as well as premium handicapping products and reports in support of the North American Thoroughbred racing industry.

Friday, March 27, 2015

A Comment from an Industry Analyst

We received a comment on yesterday's blog piece from Michael - a long time Thoroughbred and harness horseplayer and an industry employee - who has been changing the way the sport (in this case, harness racing) is being wagered. Michael has been the impetus behind some lower takeout wagers, which have seen some tremendous growth.

The industry has come a long way regarding takeout and the best operators have responded by listening to horseplayers. Five years ago if you wanted to play into a big pool with a low takeout there was the Meadowlands Pick Four offered at 15 per cent. That was it. Take a look at the low takeout wagering landscape today.

     Last Saturday night, The USTA Strategic Wagering platform offered these three Pick Four pools, all on one mile ovals with a reduced takeout. The Meadowlands pool was $80,451 , Balmoral Park followed with a pool of $34,659 and Cal Expo closed out the night with a pool of $41,792.  Earlier in the week two half mile tracks sported very solid Pick Four pools as well. On Wednesday March 18, the Northfield Park pool swelled to $19,535 five days after the Maywood Park Pick Four pool totaled a season high $19,161. Combine that with the success Greg is having with his low takeout wagers at Western Fair and you see that horseplayers are supporting these wagers passionately.

     Low takeout jackpot wagers have made headlines too. Last Saturday one player won over $65,000 for a dime at Cal Expo and two weeks ago one lucky player won $200,000 at The Meadowlands on a twenty cent bet. Pompano had a twenty cent jackpot bet pay $146,288 in February. This all pales in comparison to what could happen at Woodbine onSaturday, April 4.

     In the event that a single winner does not hit the Jackpot High Five in the next three racing days, Woodbine will offer a mandatory payout the night before Easter Sunday. With a 15 per cent takeout and a twenty cent minimum, I estimate a pool of $3,000,000. More importantly, it is a certainty that the bet will pay out significantly more than the money that is wagered on that night because of the combination of  low takeout and a carryover, creating the rarest of wagering opportunities.

     Using the $3,000,000 estimated pool as an example, an $800,000 carryover combined with $2,200,000 in new money would create a net pool of $2,670,000. This example would show a surplus of $470,000, making the player advantage over 21%. The low takeout is the sole reason this opportunity exists for the players and WEG should be applauded for their efforts and their vision in this endeavor.

     In conclusion, always remember that the horseplayer support of these low takeout bets the last five years made it possible for what you see today. And for your unwavering support of this industry, we thank you.

Michael Antoniades

Thursday, March 26, 2015

How a Small Ontario Harness Track Outhandles Gulfstream

On Tuesday, at Western Fair Raceway in London, Ontario, the Super High Five pool - the regular pool, no carryover - handled close to $18,000.

In South Florida, at Gulfstream Park - the same day - the Super High Five pool handled just over $10,000.

No, we won't compare other pools, and we realize that Gulfstream is one of the most popular racetracks to wager in North America. But, this is fairly stunning. Not long ago Western Fair could barely handle $150,000 per day. One day this year they handled over $700,000, and their Super High Five pool has reached a pool size where things are snowballing.

Greg Blanchard, Western's GM, with a comment yesterday:

"Speaking as a smaller track operator at Western Fair, the Super Hi-5 has become a 'go to' wager for us, especially when there's a carryover. We've seen pools with upwards of $40,000 of new money wagered after carryovers, there's no way we'd generate that type of single pool size typically. This is a substantial single pool for a track of our stature. These type of wagers have helped us a lot and offer something that horseplayers are looking for."

This did not happen overnight.

First they created the bet with a 15% rake, to highlight it to the masses. Then, each day, they continued it and promoted it the best they could. When they do get a carryover (note carryovers are lower takeout), the masses started to pay attention more and more.

Second, it's a harder to hit bet, on a half mile track which is formful. It allowed for better payoffs.

Third, its 20 cent minimum was liked by average or mid-sized players.

We often hear small tracks have no hope to grow handle. In some cases that may be true, but Western Fair proves that when you offer a bet with some value, over time, players will come knocking. Congratulations to Greg and his team.

Note: Yesterday evening we learned that the takeout rates on the Dubai World Cup card are 27% for exotics and (we just learned) 20% WPS.  It has been that way the entire meet. As far as North America goes, Mike Dorr and Charlie Davis have been feverishly compiling data from racetracks, and the 2015 Track Ratings will be released in the Horseplayer Monthly magazine (monthly issues are free here), within a couple of weeks.

- Thanks to Michael A from Balmoral for pointing out the Gulfstream/Western Fair handle numbers to us.

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Maryland Betting Menu Changes Are Coming

Tim Ritvo, from an article today in Thoroughbred Commentary:
  •  “[Lowing the takeout] requires racing commission approval,” Ritvo commented. “The horsemen are involved, too, so everyone has to go as an unified force. Basically, we all will take a small revenue hit, but we’re hoping we increase handle and churn so we can grow our business. We’re pretty sure the horseplayer will be satisfied with this move in the right direction.”
  •  Creating a cohesive racing circuit will not take place overnight but in the meantime horseplayers will have something to look forward to when the Pimlico meet opens April 2. It was recently announced that Pimlico will offer a pick five with an industry low 12-percent takeout*.
  •  “We’re hopeful that horsemen’s groups around the country understand that the days of five or six-horse fields aren’t attractive to the public and that bigger fields creates a larger handle and a bigger pool of money,

If this succeeds (and we have not seen the proposed betting menu for Laurel yet, which we all agree needs serious work), this is clearly a step in the right direction for the betting public. Since the betting public pays, for the most part, purses, it's hopeful for the industry and horsemen, as well.

 * - Northlands Park has a 10% pick 5 takeout. It opens again in May.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Policies Like This Are a Reason People Leave

Today a horseplayer from California blasted this out to his email list.

"I use Xpressbet (Magna's online wagering platform) and easily achieved Diamond status. What I didn’t do is read the fine print where residents of California are NOT eligible for Diamond bonus points.  At least 90% of the money I wager is on southern California Racing I am a California resident who supports California Racing but for some crazy reason get treated worse than someone in just about all other states who take bets on California Racing.  Does that seem fair? How can anyone justify this practice?"

"Diamond status" is a points level at Xpressbet, just like Twinspires or other ADW's have. Points are given out based on play, and perks like free Fedex withdrawals and free deposits are offered.

Because Andy lives in California, he does not get these perks (it's an old "law" to protect a fiefdom).

In the post "Stupid is a brand killer" a business author listed several ways to turn off customers.

"Charge different prices at different outlets and shrug your shoulders when you get found out."
"Put the important information in your terms and conditions, in little tiny type."

If Andy played Draftkings or Fanduel in the growing world of fantasy sports he would have no such issue. California players do not have a different prize structure for starting a good football team. If Andy went to a slot machine he would not have to show ID to be eligible for a free dinner if he played a lot of hours at the machine and earned points. Earning points for weapons on the Kate Upton fueled "Game of War" is not different by state.

Horse racing blames other games, the modern world, the economy, and hundreds of other things for why horseplayers have left horse racing. The above is a prime example why people move offshore, or leave horse racing altogether. It shows a disrespect to customers, and customers can only take so much before moving on.

This policy - and policies like it - are old, archaic, anti-customer and bad for the long-term health of horse racing. California should abolish it as soon as possible.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Angst Analyzes Payout Trends (With Some Horseplayer Help)

Today Frank Angst posted a link to his Bloodhorse piece about the declining level of exacta and trifecta payouts.

It's an interesting article with comments from HANA President and long time horseplayer (and data modeler) Jeff Platt. This trend has been going on for some time, and sharp money, along with higher and higher takeouts are playing a huge part.

We at HANA have looked at this experience in the past. Part of the HANA Ratings team, Mike Dorr, penned an article not long ago in the Horseplayer Monthly magazine (pdf) regarding it.

Of note, this month's Horseplayer Monthly was released just yesterday, (download your free copy here)

We thank Frank for talking about this issue, and consulting with horseplayers, some of whom study and work hard on these issues to make horse racing a better game for everyone.