11 August 2011

Four Topics Four Opinions

Jeff Gural's Plan To Discourage The Retirement of Three Year Olds To Stud
Great idea. In fact, Gural have he may have got that from me. Unfortunately for thoroughbred fans, Gural is only talking harness here, and only talking three tracks.
No mention of broodmares. I think it is important that they don't stop racing too quickly either.
The two good things that will come from this for either harness or thoroughbred horses, is that good horses will have careers that can be followed longer, and it gives them a chance to develop a larger fan base, and secondly, it will lead to horses being bred for longevity instead of being bred to be a shooting star.

Trainer Lou Pena Barred At Yonkers
Two harness stories in a row, well they could be thoroughbred stories just the same, as the issues overlap in both industries.

Pena was barred for winning way way way too much. The controversy here is that whatever he is allegedly using to improve horses so drastically has not been found.
Tracks are private property, so one can be guilty until proven innocent. But this line of rule is hardly used.

As for his guilt, I think John Carter's comment at Standardbred Canada says it all:

"Lou Pena has this sport figured out. He knew the exact right speed to jog his horses thru the week. He figured out the exact right amount of hay and oats to feed his horses on a daily basis. He probably also knew the exact right amount of water to let them drink every day. This was pure genius on his part, no other trainer on the planet has been able to crack this formula and step up horses like they were given rocket fuel. No it is all technique."

The reality here is that both the thoroughbred and standardbred game doesn't do enough to deter cheating. Trainers get a slap on the wrist usually when caught. How about making cheating a criminal offense. Kinda like the riots in Britain, if I was vandalizing a business, I'd expect to be shot at, and until a couple of youths are shot or hurt real bad, there is nothing to stop it.

Super trainers are bad for the game. They not only create races that many handicappers won't play, but they also deter new owners from entering the game (if you are up against cheaters, you are mainly running for third or fourth money).

California Takeout Hike Is Hurting Handle

Del Mar's handle is shrinking (doesn't seem to be the economy judging by Saratoga's results so far), and the tracks want to reduce the takeout on at least a couple of exotics but the TOC isn't too into it. As long as the purses are artificially? higher, the horsemen have no urgency to do the right thing. But since the deal that was made last year which winds up giving the horsemen a higher percentage of what is bet, handle has fallen, and it is the tracks that have been getting clobbered. This is unsustainable, and the tracks know it. The horsemen may know it too, but until they are faced with purse cuts or date cuts, they will probably tend to stay away from fair negotiations regarding the future.

The Players Boycott is hurting them too. Probably not as much as they think, though I know at least 5 players who won't even open up California past performances, and my guess is that there are probably a lot more.

No, the decrease in handle has more to do with increased signal fees and takeout which create a lot less plays for value bettors, which causes them to be pickier and play less. Secondly, those who cash tickets are getting back less, and have less to churn with. This phenomenon gets only will get worse, as these players who don't last as long as they used to have less urgency in coming back to the track as often, and some actually quit over time.

As for the Players Boycott's effectiveness, well how many tracks have increased takeout since California decided to? NONE! How many have lowered takeout on at least one wager? Lots. Even Parx and Penn have got into the action of reducing takeouts. The Boycott is good for Horseplayers, and that means it is good for horse racing's future.

Is this a leading indicator that the economy is about to rebound? How come we aren't seeing the same thing in horse racing?

Maybe it has a lot to do with the US government coming down hard on online poker. These players need to go somewhere, they are after all gamblers.
Too bad horse racing doesn't have the visible winners poker did. Oh wait, the takeout is too damn high for that to happen.

There is very good reason to believe that some online poker players are actually getting their feet wet in online horse racing now. Again, the fact they won't last very long means that racing is missing a golden opportunity right now. And the learning curve is very steep as well.

The online poker players willing to give horse racing a shot though are probably smart enough to get started at ADWs that give rebates, as they are by nature, very price conscious. This fact may help cultivate the odd player into a long term Horseplayer. The industry can only hope.

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