27 November 2008

Fort Erie Race Track Appears To Be On Death's Door

Nothing but negativity is coming out of the rumour mill regarding Fort Erie Race Track existing as a race track in 2009. Lets face it, rumours are all there is when dealing with this subject. Oh, and some logic as well. Not that logic weighs heavily when it comes to politicians and racing execs, especially in weak economic times.

Lets look at the facts as I know them. Nordic Gaming has been trying to sell Fort Erie for at least a couple of years now, ever since they realized that slot revenues were dropping severely due to many economic and competitive reasons. They were asking too much. Now the slot revenues have sunk to a level which most likely will be constant more or less for the predictable future. It means around $4 million in profit for Nordic, if all they have to do is sit back and let the OLG run the slots.

The thing is that they have at least up until now, had to race. And they claim that even with the slots, they are losing $4 million a year (as quoted in a recent article by Perry Lefko). This means that they are losing $8 million because of the racing operations a year. Is that possible? I doubt it, but then again, I haven't seen their books. It makes me wonder how so many small tracks that don't have slots survive (like Ohio tracks, although barely today).

They do get betting revenues, and concession stand revenues as well. I don't see how they can possibly be losing money with a $4 million cushion from slots. But if they say they are, lets give them the benefit of the doubt.

The big question that still hasn't been answered is can Fort Erie Slots still operate next year without live racing? And does Nordic Gaming get their cut?

The OLG has to be grossing over $30 million (since the track and horsemen get 10% of gross profits from slots each). Surely they aren't going to walk away from net profits of at least $20 million. Do they actually think that Niagara's casinos and lottery tickets will get that $40 million plus that is lost by patrons at the Fort Erie Slots? I hope they aren't that stupid, and I doubt they are that stupid.

If the slots are closed down or if Nordic can't keep getting their share of the profits, Fort Erie Race Track is pretty much worthless. Property values in the Fort Erie region are on the decline, and if the track closes, there will be a glut of houses on the market. It will mean that developing the Fort Erie land would be a useless endeavour.

So the track that Nordic bought from the Ontario Jockey Club for $10 will be worth about that without slots and live racing.

Does anyone think Nordic Gaming cares? I'm sure they do, but not very much in light of the current global recession. Nordic Gaming is a subsidiary of ElAd Group. ElAd was in the news today. The land for a project in Las Vegas that ElAd is partners in, was just valued at $652 million. ElAd and their partner paid $1.24 billion for that land only last year.

ElAd is a subsidiary of Delek Group. Delek Group is involved in just about anything that can get clobbered during a recession: autos, real estate, insurance, and energy. I don't know how leveraged the company is when push comes to shove, but I do know that their stock is trading around 1/7th what it was trading at only a year ago, so I'm guessing they are leveraged on a few things.

We are talking billions of dollars in lost net asset value right now. Fort Erie Race Track must be on their priority list the same way the weather on Pluto is.

I have another question. Since Nordic obviously can't run a race track ($8 million in losses a year), what would you do if you were the owner? I can come up with 10 bucks right now, and I'm pretty sure I can make the track profitable too (YES, I think that highly of myself).

And forget the government coming to Fort Erie's aid. They don't even have a clue about what is happening today thanks to the Mayor and Fort Erie Economic Development and Tourism Corp feeding politician nonsense. Nordic Gaming's representative has already said that the $300 million pipe dream expansion project has been postponed indefinitely (and this was before the recession was officially announced), yet Progressive Conservative leader John Tory was in Fort Erie and here is what appeared in the Niagara Falls Review 5 days ago:

...it's time for the provincial government to "get on board with tangible support for the development" (said John Tory) of the Fort Erie Race Track.

He blames "bureaucratic inertia" for delaying the implementation of the Sadinsky report's recommendations for the redevelopment of the racetrack, which at a cost of $300-million will include a mega-resort with condominiums and a large-scale entertainment complex.

Are these guys on glue? I hope Tory, Mayor Martin, and the EDTC read this. They aren't helping the situation one bit by barking up the wrong tree.

What can Fort Erie hope for? The owner to walk away or sell it to someone who knows racing for what it is worth, or for WEG (they don't understand racing either, they just have a great location for slots and a huge home market) to jump in and subsidize racing in a creative way (it might give their marketing department something achievable to do, even though this isn't about marketing).

I heard a rumour in the early summer that Ajax was going to take over for Fort Erie dates, and that Ajax knew it. I wonder if the government is making it happen, and has been complicit all along. I hope it is only a rumour.

If Fort Erie Race Track closes, the local economy will be devastated. The most popular places will be by far the unemployment office and the welfare office.

Perry Lefko has also written a new negative (realistic) article on Fort Erie's future at Peter Gross' Down The Stretch Newspaper.

22 November 2008

Will The Global Recession Wake Up The Horse Racing Industry

Horse racing handles were dropping prior to the official announcement that the world has entered into recession. Handles in North America recently can't even keep up to tiny inflation increases. Even though horse race betting is available in more and more homes than ever before, the racing execs have forgot that their product is a game of chance, and they have not even attempted to compete with other games of chance.

Click Image to enlarge it:

By all accounts, I expect 2008 numbers to be down anywhere from 5-8%. Here is an industry that should be experiencing nothing but tremendous growth. Horseplayers know that nothing compares to horse racing when it comes to gambling, when it comes to excitement and self admiration when it comes to selecting the right outcome.
I don't want to sound like a broken record, but the reason for the stagnation and decline in numbers boils down to one major thing: the cost of the takeout versus other games of chance.

While we are at it, lets look at another chart compiled by The Jockey Club:

As you can see, handle stagnated in the early 1990's but grew considerably from 1994-the late 1990's. This was due to teletheatre and mainly internet ADW growth. Many patrons didn't need to go to the track anymore to place a bet, thus on track attendance also declined, and continues to do so today.

Do these stats mean that people are gambling less? Absolutely not.
Take Canada for instance. $13.6 billion in gambling money was lost last year by Canadians last year. In 1992, only $2.7 billion was lost.
Canadians can and do bet on anything. Internet sports, poker, Pro-line, slots, all sorts of lotteries, oh and horse racing. We didn't have as many options in 1992, but we did have to go the track or the teletheatre to make a bet on a horse race.
In 1992 handle in Canada was $770 million, last year it was only $560 million. Not only is that shocking (I know slots took away a lot of it), but if racing grew at the same rate as total gambling grew in Canada, the handle number last year would have been over $3.5 billion.

In 2004, The Cummings Report was published. It seems that racing execs used the valuable information and recommendations in the 72 page report as toilet paper.

The problem is that they probably read it, but they didn't react. In 2004, they were still making money. Tracks were not closing.

The Report basically spelled out that racing needed to compete for gambling dollars, and pretty much predicted the downfall we are seeing today.

I'm sure the same is true with the North American auto sector, and their refusal to aggressively compete with Japan, by making more economical cars and cars that use other sources of energy.

I have news for the racing industry, not enough people care to even considering bailing it out.
But the biggest problem with horse racing today is that the industry might be too far gone. It is completely dysfunctional.

Some racing execs may now know that they HAVE TO REDUCE TAKEOUTS TO COMPETE AND GROW, but the horsemen groups won't take a risk on a complete new way of thinking. I just don't see it at this time.

Meanwhile, bettors are leaving, owners are leaving, handle is dropping, sales numbers are dropping, and tracks are closing, yet gambling overall is flourishing. Under the current pricing model (high track takeouts) there is no light at the end of the tunnel. There will be no growth, only decline from here.

There may be some temporary fixes soon, but don't get fooled. Horses will start running more and more for what they are worth, so tracks can put on a lot more low claimers, therefore paying out a lot less in purse money. And if the withholding tax law in the states gets overturned, gamblers will have more churn money, though they will end up losing the same as they would by the end of a calendar year, handle will spike a bit for a meaningless while.

If you play the horses and you mostly agree with what I have said above:
It is free. We are closing in on 400 members. The more members we have, the more pull we will have with the industry.

19 November 2008

Fraser Downs Attempts To Lessen Intimidation Factor New Customers Face

Baymount Signs FasTrack Agreement With Fraser Downs
FasTrack ("the other racing guide") is Baymount's proprietary software
program that uses sophisticated analytical tools to interpret data and run
calculations that would normally be done manually by a professional bettor.
The new processed data is delivered to fans in the form of a user-friendly
"how-to" guide to placing bets.
FasTrack serves to educate and foster new fans to the horseracing
industry. As noted by Baymount's President and CEO, Graham Simmonds:
"Horseracing is a sophisticated wagering experience and FasTrack helps remove
the intimidation factor. By educating the user, it also provides comfort and
more enjoyment in the wagering experience."

Chuck Keeling, VP of Operations for Great Canadian Gaming stated:
"FasTrack is an important service for our industry.
Our racetrack venues combine the thrill of racing with the excitement of
casino games which attracts a large number of people who might not be familiar
with betting on the races. FasTrack provides a more user-friendly format and
provides anyone with the tools to feel more comfortable with the wagering
experience and have more fun at the track."

Disclosure note: I personally had a lot to do with the development of the FasTrack program as a consultant for Baymount.

As everyone knows, I'm a very strong believer that in order for racing to grow again, a complete overhaul of the takeout system must be done. Winners need to be created so that a buzz occurs in order to get substantial repeat business and create potential lifelong gamblers.

It will take an across the board realization by many or all tracks for this to work.

In the meantime, tracks are desperately out to try to at least try to get new repeat customers. Many new customers typically go to the track on a corporate excursion. And they are tremendously intimidated by things like racing forms and even how to bet. FasTrack helps get rid of the intimidation factor, and in more cases than not, makes the customers first time at the track at least a little more enjoyable, while educating the customer as well.

I'm surprised it has taken such a long time for Baymount's Fastrack program to sell. I'd have expected it to be used by a multitude of race tracks by now.

Good for Chuck Keeling in recognizing the fact that racing has to at least do their best with the hand they have been dealt, at this crucial time where horse racing growth has been declining.

FasTrack is available for both harness and thoroughbred tracks.

For further information on Fastrack contact: Baymount Incorporated, Mr. Graham Simmonds,
President and Chief Executive Officer, (416) 979-2881 Ext. 223

CHRB Pushes For Action In ADW Standoff

Texas Horsemen Sign Deal With Two ADWs
XPress Bet and Twinspires will have exclusive rights to Texas racing signals. I also believe HPI never lost the rights as for some reason they aren't considered to exist as an ADW by warring horsemen groups. I think the same is true for any exclusive state associated ADWs as well.

Keeneland sales drops a whopping 45%

Harness Horse Owner Colm McNulty Could Be A Fugitive

The Ontario Racing Commission is currently investigating McNulty who owns 15 horses.

The post, 2008
Horse Racing Must Drop Takeouts Substantially
that was also posted at Bloodhorse
caused a few head veins to bust. I got many comments on this blog, and Bloodhorse got at least 20 comments as well. Bloodhorse does moderate the comments, so they didn't post all of them. It was starting to get personal, so Bloodhorse decided to pull the post.
After I started asking what happened, Bloodhorse agreed to put the post up again without comments. I happened to copy 8 of them when the first 11 magically disappeared, including one comment (by someone named SBVO) who basically questioned my credentials while stating I know just enough to be dangerous, implying I don't really get it. Here are the eight I saved:


You criticize this piece yet offer no back up for your assertions, which frankly are wrong.

Some facts on takeout:

Australia studied it and went to an optimal number (and this was done before the pre-internet age). They, to maximize revenue have a 16% takeout ceiling. Their takeout is 37% less than the US and it is mandated by their central organization.

The UK has six percent takeouts through bookies (on shorter shots), who are in business for one thing - to maximize their revenue. Do you think bookies are leaving money on the table by not charging 20%? If so, with respect, you don't know bookies.

University of Colorado did a study long ago showing 11-13% takeouts are optimal.

The HPBA has said that racing has a churn factor of 7. With that churn factor, which is their own number, mathematically the optimal takeout is 13%.

Betfair in the UK studied hold and settled on about 5% for win takeouts. This firm is now, in six years worth over $4B dollars and contributes millions to UK racing and is widely considered the most successful gambling experiment in world history.

Hong Kong takeout was reduced via rebate by giving back 10% on losses to lower effective takeout. This move last year increased handles to over $67 billion there.

So to say that bloggers are not using facts, and are spouting off about things is simply not true. The people in US racing must realize that this game is priced like a monopoly and the monopoly does not exist any longer. The days of people falling over themselves to bet 22% blended takeouts are long gone, and until modern economics and econometric based policies are adopted to find optimal takeouts, and grow this business, expect the negative 25% real growth this business has had the last ten years to continue.

I have a degree in economics and own my own marketing firm if that makes you feel better about my post, however I am not naive or egotistical enough to think that it matters. This information is there for anyone who wants it by digging on the web, and I for one applaud people like this author for bringing it to the attention of racing. Just like it is inevitable that takeouts need to be reduced for our business to compete, it is also inevitable that good bloggers like this can expedite this process and help racing achieve what we all want - success.

Huh? 15 Nov 2008 4:09 PM

Here's the facts. Horse racing is an elite sport.

The only average people who can afford it are people who are involved in MEGA partnerships, not even the elite partnerships, or at the lower level tracks. Those who own on the elite level have expendable income/funds. We know we're not doing it to get rich, won't happen. It's for the fun, enjoyment, camaraderie, competition and travel. Yes maybe a little ego involved too.

Just like owning a sports franchise isn't available to everyone, owning top race horses in the premier circuits isn't either.

If you have to worry about making ends meet or paying the bills then it's probably not for you at least in the upper echelon.

Truthfully though, does the guy who owns the Yankees have any more or as much fun as the guy who sponsors the little league or softball teams? No, the big league guy just has more headaches.

ImOwnin 15 Nov 2008 4:24 PM

I agree with part of the paragraph above that states...

"In fact, if racing were to increase their fan/bettor base by competing for more players, the other problems would go away"...etc.

And I agree with Huh? about decreasing the racedates to increase purses. Instead of racing 5 days a week, why not cut it to 4 and make it a Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday schedule when more people are able to come out to the track.

But, and this is what I have always had a hard time understanding...

Why is it that most race tracks refuse to run at night with like a 7:00PM first post ??? I mean how can you "EXPECT" people to come out to the races for a first post at 1:15PM on a weekday when most of them have to work untill 4-5-6PM ??? I can understand having a first post of 1:15PM on a weekend when most people are off of work, but on a weekday ??? Racing has always been killing its own potential fan base because of this.

Maybe race track owners just lack Vision and Common Sense ???

Or maybe it's just me ???

CRob87 15 Nov 2008 6:28 PM

FourCats, I wouldn't have the audacity to make suggestions that only benefited horseplayers.

A radical cut in takeout will still get the same bottom line of money lost from the existing horse players, but it will also attract new players on the premise the game is beatable again.

Everybody wins.

Cangamble 15 Nov 2008 8:20 PM

The argument for reducing takeout assumes that gamblers are rational. That's the principal assumption in Econ. 101 macroeconomics, and it's pretty clearly been proven wrong by recent work in behavioral economics.

A more sensible view is that different parts of the betting world have different degrees of rationality. At one pole, nearest the classic assumption, are the "whales" who bet millions of dollars a year through rebate shops, and have an effective takeout rate of perhaps 3%. At the other end are the casual fans, or the old men you see at Aqueduct, who bring $20 to the track and haven't the faintest idea of what the takeout level might be. For them, racing is entertainment, and the $20 is cheaper than going to a ball game. Somewhere in between are the perhaps imaginary members of our target demographic -- all those 20- and 30-somethings who might be attracted by the fun and spectacle of the sport, but who aren't truly rational economic men and women, though they can usually do the math.

At most, 20% of total nationwide handle comes from the rational end of the spectrum. The experiments that have been done to date with lower takeout don't prove anything much, and we don't really know enough to say what optimal takeout might be. When John Brunetti raised it to 28% at Hialeah, that was clearly too much, but I have no idea whether 10%, 14% or some other number entirely is right. Nor does anyone else.

Steve (who has a law degree and has worked as a UN economist)

Steve Zorn 15 Nov 2008 8:48 PM

Good just to see people on here care & wanting to fix things!!! Long Live The Owners!!!

Bellwether 15 Nov 2008 11:18 PM

There are plenty of people who make a living from racing that aren't horseplayers. But, unless you arrange for the general public to subsidize racing (as in slot-machine revenue) and replace the purse money that comes from betting handle with other sources then like it, or not, if you don't take care of your lifeblood, the bettor, the outlook for the game is poor. Reducing takeout will extend the bankrolls of the current customer base giving some of them a chance to actually be winners and position the game in a more competitive light for the general publics' gambling dollars. If you think horseplayers' money is not paramount then why is there so much fighting over it by the various factions that make up the industry?

Richard R 16 Nov 2008 8:37 PM

I'm a guy who went with his dad to the track in the 1970s. I can read the form, and have studied some famous books on handicapping. All to no avail.

A bet made is almost always money lost. I'm competing against much better handicappers, and, most certainly, inside information.

Illegal in the stock market, it's perfectly legal for those "in the know" to bet, or not bet, their horses. And to tell their friends.

And the beaten claimer that runs like Secretariat every so often suggests to me that drugs are much more effective and pervasive than even I, a skeptic, would have thought.

I've been betting off and on for 30 years, and can count my noteworthy winning days on one hand.

Used to Go with my Dad 17 Nov 2008 12:51 AM

I appreciate the fact that Bloodhorse reposted the controversial piece, but I just don't get the attack on free speech that prevails in some of the Blogosphere. Way too much political correctness is going on. These are blogs. Opinion pieces, where writers don't get paid, and neither do the commenters. Let the gloves come off. You only live once.

Good reading on the woes of Magna Entertainment can be found in The Business Of Racing Blog.
Personally, I think they are done like dinner. The only thing Magna can do right now is audition fat ladies to sing:)

Why I Left Racing Part 3 is up at HANA's blog.

Finally, since this a gambling blog from Canada, and Canadians can legally bet on the NFL, at least through places like Betfair, I have to put up this video from Sunday's game between Pittsburgh and San Diego. 5 seconds were on the clock and San Diego needed to go 80 yards for a TD as they were down 11-10:

The film was edited, it took around 5 or 6 minutes for the officials to review the play and conclude the TD didn't count.
Illegal forward pass? Where?
Not to mention that the play isn't stopped because of an illegal forward pass according to the rules.
According to what I read, Pittsburgh was favoured by 4 1/2 or 5, and also attracted close to 2/3's of the action in Vegas which took in close to $10 million on the game.
It is estimated that over $100 million was bet (illegally ha ha) in the US on the game.
Also interesting is the fact that Pittsburgh was penalized something like 15-1 in the game.
Whether the game was fixed or not, it sure smells like it was.
Why did they review the play in the first place, and WTH did they see that made them reverse the TD?

15 November 2008

You Can't Blame David Clark For Getting A Slap On The Wrist

Jockey David Clark Receives His Sentence For Vehicular Manslaughter While Drunk

I have to say one thing, the court system in Ontario really appears to suck in a very big way. 2 and a half years ago a teacher lost her life in a car thanks to a drunk driver.

The driver, jockey David Clark, eventually pleaded guilty to drunk driving and vehicular manslaughter.

Not only was it a joke that it took so long for the judge to hand down a sentence, the biggest joke was the sentence itself, especially if the facts reported in the papers were the actual facts of the case.

I was thinking, minimum 3 years (the maximum is 25 years) at the very least. But no. Clark got 2 years less a day (which I think eliminates any discussion of deportation after the sentence, which Clark faced because he is a British citizen, never getting his Canadian citizenship) of HOUSE ARREST.

House arrest which allows him to work and also allows him to leave the house with specific court approved individuals who are over the age of 18.

Is that even a sentence in today's world of the internet? If I was sentenced to leave my house more, I would find that worse than being sentenced to stay home.
Clark obviously got a great lawyer and a very weak judge.

What does this sentence say to young drivers, for example?

The ORC now gets to review David Clark's jockey license. But how can they deny his right to earn a living even after knowing Clark pleaded guilty some time ago? They allowed to continue in one of the most dangerous professions on this planet then. The judge has OKed Clark to continue riding, so the ORC can't do anything to stop him on the basis of his sentence, or at least that is how it appears. I'm sure they don't want to face Clark's legal team. The ORC can't afford to be embarrassed in real court again.

Again, you can be mad at Clark for driving drunk and allegedly taking away the life of a 34 year old school teacher, but you can't be mad at him for the sentence he received. You can't be mad at Clark for riding in races over the last 2 and a half years, but you could be mad at the ORC for allowing him to do so.

I wonder if the sentence and the ORC's lack of action would have been different if a 3 year old was killed instead.

I'll let the Toronto Star commenters take over from here. One thing I found interesting were the comments saying it was actually the car driven by victim Suzanne Muzano's brother that swerved into Clark's lane. I don't see that being true, because all the reports I've read state that Clark swerved into Mizuno's lane.
You have to wonder what the motive would be for reporters to get the facts wrong...I can't see it. Most likely, the commenters making the allegations against Mizuno are trying to make Clark look better than he looks.

Here are some of the comments:

What a Joke

High priced lawyers win again. Imagine anyone else being that over the limit, crossing into the path of a car and killing someone. Your penalty - HOUSE ARREST !!! There has to be an appeal.

Submitted By Raps07

Get your Facts Straights

The thing about this case is that yes Mr.Clark was drinking but Mr.Mizuno was the cause of the accident. EVERYBODY should get there facts straight INCLUDING this paper.

Submitted By brave4

It's a disgrace!

Sentencing this idiot to TWO years of house arrest exposes all that is wrong with our justice system. At the least this guy must have spent these two years in a REAL jail. When are we going to start treating drunk driving as a REAL crime with REAL effects?

Submitted By ProudIndian

life cheap in Canada

It looks like the deal is so he can keep riding. He deserved Jail for five years which would end his career, after all Suzanne Mizuno's career is over

Submitted By tincase

Another Travesty

How is house arrest and the ability to still go to work serve as punishment for killing a 34 yr. old woman? How will this serve as a deterent to others who will get behind the wheel of a car while drunk? It's no wonder our society is becoming more and more lawless.

Submitted By Piper

Shame on you Judicial system!

When are people's lives going to equal more then 2 years of house arrest. I am continually appalled by our legal system where money crimes continue to be a more serious. When are the loss of lives going to be deemed more important. For someone to knowingly get behind the wheel after drinking and then to kill an innocent person..then too get 2 years is a slap in the face of a family who is already grieving! To Ms. Mizuno's family I apologize for our judicial systems lack of justice...hopefully one day soon this will change. sad in the east end.

Submitted By eastgirl

Why should we be surprised?

Remember, the hug a thug members of society say it's all about rehabilitation, not punishment.

Submitted By The Hawk


As we come into the festive season and MADD and police try to make the public aware of the dangers of drunk driving this sentence sends the wrong message. The Crown needs to appeal this sentence immediately. The fact that he works in an industry supported by the rich makes one wonder if there really is a law for the rich and one for the poor.

Submitted By berg girl

Facts Unknown to Public

It's unfortunate that the public isn't aware of the facts in this case, but how can they be informed when the facts are not written about?! What the article should read is: Jamie Minuzo was speeding and Jamie Minuzo swerved into David Clark's car to avoid cows in a field. David Clark made a mistake and he is paying dearly for it, and I'm sure he'll never do it again. David Clark did not cause the accident, Jamie Minuzo caused the accident that killed his sister and he is not being punished.

Submitted By MAS_4

Very Sad

I hope his community service involves going around to schools to talk about drinking and driving, especially where Ms. Mizuno taught. Let him have to explain why they no longer have a great teacher, friend and colleague with them anymore. Shame on the judge for the sentence and shame on Mr. Clark.

Submitted By watercolourgal

No wonger the Mothers are Mad as hell.......

Bookkeeper bilked Toronto daycares out of $800,000 gets three years in prison. And our drunk driver killers get ..... Your bad boys go to your rooms damit.

Submitted By Mr Mr

the real facts

the court facts not the toronto star facts are: mr. mizuno was speeding and swerved LEFT into the path of mr. clarks car rather than going right onto the shoulder of the road and possibly hitting a cow in the field.

Submitted By hi2

get your head out of your ass

The ultimate insult to the family-- some moron responding by blaming it on cows and the other driver. I guess you missed the "according to polic, the Maxima swerved into the oncoming lane" part of the story. David has had substance abuse issues for years and instead of getting help for himself, he took the easy route. That choice left a woman dead. And shame on the horsemen's benevolent association for not helping David overcome his addiction. regards, benny beam

Submitted By benny beam

Yet another joke from our courts

So, Clark has to stay home for 2 years, but he's allowed to go to work. How difficult that must be! At least the rest of the world isn't as crazy. Last month in Oregon, an alleged drunk driver killed 4 people. He is facing 4 manslaughter charges and could get 4 consecutive 10 year sentences (40 years). We need laws with real teeth in Canada. Here's the article: http://www.newsregister.com/article/22702-carlton-man-faces-4-manslaughter-counts

Submitted By K.D.

Some things never Change.

No one knows what an impact something like has on the life of the family of victims unless you have personally gone through it. I lost a brother 29 years ago to a drunk driver, and then again in 2006 with the death of Suzanne. People have been told many times not to drink and drive but do they listen? No! There is no excuse for it. No cows in a field (silly remark),they were in the field not on the roadway, what has that got to do with it. Mr. Clarke got behind the wheel after drinking. Mr. Clarke is not a new driver and I'm sure he knew about the laws of drinking and driving. He made his choice that afternoon. And he should have had to pay a stiffer price than what he received, but I knew when they moved his sentencing hearing to Barrie from Newmarket that they had found a judge who would be lenient with him.Which is a shame. How many more families have to weep at a gravesite of a loved one before the laws are changed to zero tolerance for everyone whether they be rich or poor.

Submitted By gopher

The value of Life

A human life can not be of much value considering the tiny penalty given to a killer. He can stay home when most people are at home and he can go to work when most people go to work. Some penalty!

Submitted By jlane

give the guy a break

It was only 1 life. He's a celebrity for pete's sakes. What's a little drink or eight? When will out judicial system wake up and say 'ZERO TOLERANCE'!!!

Submitted By gawg_you_r_ignant

Another site that has reported the story (also chastising the Ontario Justice System) did attract this from an anonymous commenter:

It's unfortunate that the public doesn't really know what happened. This is a result of journalists writing what they want and not writing the truth. The facts are that Jamie Mizuno was travelling 20 or 30 kilometers over the speed limit on the gravel road. When he came upon David Clark's car Jamie Minuzo swerved in to him rather than swerve the other way to avoid the cows in the field. Yes, David Clark made the mistake of having a couple of drinks and getting behind the wheel of a car and I'm sure he'll never do it again, but the accident was a result of Jamie Minuzo's driving...someone else is paying Jamie Minuzo's mistake.

Do anonymous commenters have it right, while reporters have the story wrong? Again, I doubt it, but I guess anything is possible.

12 November 2008

Horse Racing Must Drop Takeouts Substantially

I've written about fixing horse racing many times before. Most notably, June 2007, I wrote a post called How To Save Horse Racing, and in February 2007 I wrote a piece called Thoughts On Track Takeout.

In the last year, horse racing has gone even more downhill even more when it comes to the growth and the bettor. Most of this has to do with the current ADW-Horsemen conflict, but in the last year we also saw even more tremendous idiocy when Calder and NYRA raised their track takeouts.

The economy isn't helping right now, but horse racing has been dying for years. The reason is simple. It doesn't even try to compete with other forms of gambling, and no long term winners are produced, so as to attract new players.

Drugs, potential cheating, lack of proper disclosure, fatal injuries, etc. are just secondary problems when it comes to growth. In fact, if racing were to increase their fan/bettor base by competing for more players, the other problems would go away because integrity would actually matter as the game would be taken seriously again, by the masses, and the masses would demand it.

All the marketing in the world won't help grow the game. Sure, it might get someone to come to the track once, but there is absolutely nothing that will hook the person to be a regular customer.

Aside from the fact that it takes years to understand most of the handicapping nuances that allows a player to be better than average, the reality is that being better than average won't make one a winner. Far from it. A handicapper is considered good if he or she only loses 10 cents on the dollar (the collective average takeout at Woodbine, for example, is around 21-22%).

Racing execs have shifted their mentality. And the result: In the 60's and 70's racetracks were hesitant to even bring in exotics because they were worried that fans would lose money too fast and be discouraged.
Now racing is set up under the baseball stadium model: Get as much as you can from the customer as quickly as you can because they might not be back for a while. You will probably not see many of them again.

Why Was Racing So Popular In The 60's and 70's?
It was the only game in town in many places. Players also had lower takeouts to overcome. No exotics. No intertrack. You only had around 40-45 races a week to play.

Sharp handicappers had speed figures, before Beyer figures came along and were published them in the form. There were winners, there were those who were getting a regular return of 95-1.10 on their betting. Those who won attracted many players to at least dabble as well. Friends and family were brought to the track, because quite a few people left with money in their pockets so they could come back again the next day.

Many of players that are still left in the game today are products of home environments that included at least a day at the track each week with their parents. And this was made possible because the game used to be possibly beatable in the long term.

There were no major lotteries to compete with, and in Toronto, it wasn't until the Blue Jays came into town in the mid 70's that the race track realized they were no longer a monopoly.

Still, because racing was still a monopoly when it came to legalized gambling, the stands and the pools attracted a lot of mooch money. Gamblers who didn't even want to bother reading a racing form, who regularly lost 20 to 30 cents on every bet. This created another edge for those who devoted time to handicapping in an attempt to beat the game.

So how did race tracks react to not being the only game in town? They raised takeouts and tried to compete with more and more exotics. Triactors and superfectas with a track takeout of 25% plus are bankroll killers. They pumped in simulcasts, and nowadays an outfit like HPITV show 15 tracks a day.

Intertrack/simulcast wagering made sure that only a few people could go home with money in their pockets. The least they could have done is drastically reduce takeouts so players could last a bit longer each day. But the opposite happened, triactors with their high takeouts are now available in every race that has at least 6 horses. Racing has become like blackjack in the fact that you can play 5 really good hands every 20 minutes. Except blackjacks house edge (takeout) is 15 times lower than the takeout at a race track.

And then came slots and lotteries. Slots made sure that mooch money in the pools has disappeared to almost zero. There is hardly a player left who bets without a form. And family day is dead as well. Slots are way more appealing to those who just want to gamble. No thinking is required. Yet, even those who run slots realize that if they increased their takeout to over 10%, slots would be in trouble too. People keep coming back because it mostly takes time to scoop the players gambling money. Someone going to the track knows that $100 may give you 6-9 minutes of real action depending on how much one bets. If you are lucky enough, you might cash, and be able to win another 6-9 minutes of real action.

The way the game is set up today, it is impossible for winners to be created. Nowadays you have good handicappers facing great handicappers, and the great handicapper isn't a winner unless he or she is getting a very good rebate.

Marketers can't go there. They can't advertise that the only people who win at the track are those who bet offshore, or those who get substantial rebates. Racing has no long term winning poster boys, whereas poker has many. Is it a wonder that online poker, and other forms of gambling have grown, while racing, despite being available all over the place, has gone down the toilet when it comes to growth?


Takeouts need to be in the 10-12% range or forget about it.

Note: This piece is also co-posted at Bloodhorse Blogs More interesting comments can be found there.

HANA has part two: Why I Left Racing. See also Racing Should Cut Prices Right Now at Pull the Pocket.

5 November 2008

Betting Continues To Slide

Betting Drops Again In October Don't shoot the messenger, I want racing to grow, I really do, but racing is dying because the industry is completely dysfunctional, from racing execs to horsemen groups to drug rules. And it simply refuses to compete with other forms of gambling, which is the only way it will attract new long term customers. The takeout has to be reduced substantially or racing will continue its slow death.

HANA's blog has a recent post up "Why I Left Racing, Part One." Well worth reading.

Not helping, is the fact the general public has increased negative sentiment against horse racing because of "animal cruelty" concerns. Read the post by Pull The Pocket regarding the banning of dog racing in Massachusetts.

Don't forget to check out Down The Stretch on the internet. Lots of insightful articles on Canadian horse racing. A much longer article by Perry Lefko on Fort Erie's woes can be found there. I found an article on Ajax Downs very intriguing. Seems that a lot of Woodbine execs showed up there recently. David Gorman, Rod Seiling, Jamie Martin, Nick Coukos, and Nick Eaves were spotted. "Woodbine is interested in horse racing doing well across Ontario," Nick Eaves told the author of the article. Last time I looked, Fort Erie is in Ontario.
Aside from that, Ajax Downs has applied for only 35 dates next year. But the track is now 5 furlongs, making it a realistic though not ideal alternative for thoroughbred racing should Fort Erie close down.

Another good article on the ADW mess. This one mentions The Horseplayers Association of North America as it quotes HANA's President Jeff Platt. I'm surprised Woodbine/HPI was not mentioned as one of the ADW's under the "have" category. I believe Woodbine continues to get good deals from race tracks as warring horsemen organizations in the US seem to ignore them as another source that deprives their purse accounts.

Platt, who has penned a critical open letter to the horseracing industry on behalf of HANA, believes availability should be made to all bettors, regardless of the level. And he said players in the HANA organization and elsewhere could really care less how it happens, as long as it happens quickly.

“You don’t walk into a casino and have someone tell you the craps tables are closed, or the blackjack dealers are on strike,” Platt said. “Racing is making it difficult on its players. Players are leaving the game. They are spending their money elsewhere. And many of them are not coming back.”

HANA, which was launched this summer, has just fewer than 300 members that combined wager about $25 million a year, Platt said. “We don’t have enough members yet to stage a public demonstration (such as a wagering boycott), but the day may come when there will be several thousand members. And then we will be able to coordinate some sort of an effort.”

The message from Jeff Platt:

An open letter to all participants in the signal wars:

Racing is at a crossroads. Thoroughbred handle is down nearly everywhere. That in itself should be your wake up call. Track management, horsemen's groups, and ADWs - ALL of you should be working together - doing everything within your power to grow handle by bringing new fans to the game.

Instead you have done just the opposite.

This is exactly the kind of mess the industry doesn't need at a time when the last thing the industry needs is any kind of mess at all.

Everyone involved in this mess - EVERY board member of the TOC, THG, TVG, YouBet, TwinSpires, and everyone on every board at EVERY track in North America: ALL OF YOU should be hanging your heads in shame over this.


It doesn't matter who is right and who is wrong. No matter which side of this you are on, if you are an active participant in this fight, every hour that you allow this to continue is having a profound effect on the game itself. Simply put: Your actions are driving customers away from the game and giving potential new fans every reason to look elsewhere for places to spend their gambling and entertainment dollars. What a travesty! How can you do this at a time when the game itself can least afford the loss of even one single customer?

Can you not see that you are doing the game irreparable harm?

I implore you to put aside your differences. End this now - before you do the game more damage than you already have.


Jeff Platt

President, H.A.N.A.


HANA still need members, and we can use Canadian members as well (we are low on them). If you are a concerned bettor it is free to become a member, simply click here and join....it will take you 2 minutes tops.
We need numbers in order to have the pull that is necessary to make the customer count.

The Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance Has Added Four Blogs Including The HANA Blog, The Turk and The Little Turk, Pull The Pocket (which is kind of neat, since it is a Harness Racing first blog), and
another Canadian, Triple Dead Heat, who focuses on Woodbine thoroughbred racing.

Maryland Voters Approve Slots. Magna Entertainment stock really ran up prior to the vote.

Universal Racing Licenses Closer To Become Reality Amazing that something like that in such a dysfunctional industry might actually happen, at least on the harness side.

Keeneland Sales Numbers continue to tumble. And that includes the record amount paid for super mare Better Than Honour There are still gamblers out there. $14 million for a mare who produced two Belmont winners, but was barren last year, and isn't pregnant this year.