16 January 2008

Woodbine 2010: Thoroughbred Racing

Pull The Pocket asked me to do a post on improving Woodbine from a thoroughbred perspective. Pull The Pocket did a post from more of a harness racing angle.

1. Lower takeouts or higher rebates. Make that, much lower takeouts or much higher rebates. The reason why Woodbine and other racetracks see stagnant handles year to year is because savvy bettors have discovered Betfair and rebate houses. Savvy bettors also realize they have next to no chance (actually no chance) winning in the long run when betting into pools that have been gouged by management with dinosaur mentality, who fail to recognize that high takeouts need to be a thing of the past.
Sucker money, which gave good handicappers a shot at winning in the past, is now being blown in slot machines. What we have now is good handicappers going against great handicappers. A huge percentage of every pool comes from "whales" who are getting very large rebates (they usually have arranged deals from another hub) and they are usually very sophisticated "investors" as well.

Without winners, it is very hard to attract newbies to the track. I'm not going to take any new people to the track anymore. I used to, when there was a chance to win.

Now with multi-track betting, gamblers go broke earlier in the day, the churning happens a lot quicker than it used to when one could only bet on one track. Horse racing is now more comparable to blackjack or slots when it comes to amount of action one can have in an hour. If blackjack upped their house advantage even by half a percent the tables would be empty. And slots usually stick to an advantage of 7-9%. Yet horse racing is pretty much at 20%. Ridiculous.

Technological advancements are being wasted right now because of high takeouts. Who cares if someone can make a bet from a washroom stall in a ritzy restaurant? What is going to motivate that person to bet on a WEG product?

2. Drugs. The powers that be should reduce the amount of allowable drugs to 4 or 5 compounds. If a horse has to take something else, he or she should be on the shelf for at least three months from the time of the ingestion of the banned drug.

This of course needs to be monitored, and ideally all vets would have to be responsible to report all vet work performed to a race track database.
If a trainer or another non monitored vet does work or administers drugs (banned or unbanned), a heavy heavy fine and suspension should be levied.

3. Purses should be raised for the lower end claiming races around 20% and reduced from the higher end allowance races. This gives partnerships a chance to make money as owners, plus it helps put a real value on horses. Inevitably it will lead to more owners (especially new owners) and more claiming. The reality is that the times that a 50,000 claiming mare runs, for example, isn't much faster than what a 20,000 claimer runs on many days.

4. 20 cent Pick 6's or 7's. Make it affordable to give someone a realistic chance of winning it.

5. North American betting exchanges exactly similar to Betfair which give players more alternatives. The should be regulated by a common racing hub where each track that participates in it have their own home market customers, where they keep the bulk of the commissions earned on them, and a smaller percentage of commissions bet on their product from non home market customers.

6. Ontario bred claiming races. This will inevitably help the breeding industry here, by boosting the prices/worth of all Ontario bred horses.


Pull the Pocket said...

Nice job CG!

Questions and some random thoughts: In my thoughts I said that Woodbine Harness should own a night - a night where they pull out all the stops to promote the product. What day do you think that should be for WOX tbreds? I often play Wednesday nights - and they have advertised this in the racing form. Seeing WOX would be the highest quality racing on Wednesdays with little competition, would you choose this night to do that, or some other day?

The sightlines for the turf course are incredible, imo. I don't know how you promote that more, but the course is stunning.

Outdoors at Champions is wonderful in the summer. That might be a place to do something with for younger fans.

As for the rest of your stuff we seem to be on a similar page. You will be getting called a "pie-in-the-sky" thinker soon :)

I'll review your review on my blog soon.

Great job.

Pull the Pocket said...

PS: I do like the idea of a 20 cent pick 6. You dont get carryover buzz, but I wonder if that would help. No one has ever tried it. It would make WEG "first" in something kinda neat.

Interesting idea.

Anonymous said...

I don't think it a night to promote Woodbine is needed. I'm fine with at least one Stake race Saturday and Sunday.
They have their big days, like the QP etc.
Wednesday nights limit turf course action too. They can't be carded past the fourth race even in the summer because of lighting.
But their turf course is beautiful and lots of exciting finishes happen on the lawn at Woodbine.
Again, younger fans are only going to come if they are friends of gamblers or friends of owners. The way they do things now at Woodbine, neither gamblers or new owners are being attracted very well.