QnA on Horse Racing, Omaha Beach, Santa Anita Drag and more

Q: So help me sort this out. Omaha Beach is gone for six months, returns and wins a sprint race, and now suddenly he’s back in the Breeders’ Cup picture again? I heard he was not under consideration for the Classic anymore, and now he is? I’m confused.

A: After his impressive victory in last weekend’s Santa Anita Sprint Championship, one in which he ran the 6 furlongs in an insane 1:08.79 over a track that has been playing extremely slow, trainer Richard Mandella said “anything is possible,” that the 3-year-old colt could run in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, Dirt Mile or Classic. Word is the horse’s camp is leaning toward the Sprint because Mandella hasn’t had enough time to gear him up to run the Classic’s 1 1/4-mile distance. If he had time for one more prep race, I think they’d go in the Classic, but he doesn’t. Whatever decision Mandella makes, it will be the right one. He knows a heck of a lot more about horses than I do.

QnA on Horse Racing:

New book explores Montana’s horse racing history

After a 10-page introduction and timeline, and a chapter tracing the advent of horses and racing in the New World and Montana, Wahler starts knocking off the tracks. She documents by chapter the history of racing in Fort Benton, Virginia City and Deer Lodge in the earliest days, then on to Helena, Butte and Anaconda and Daly’s Bitter Root Stock Farm in Hamilton during what she called racing’s first Golden Age in Montana.

Wahler hasn’t ignored the first Montana horse racers. While not state-sanctioned or controlled, racing continues in places like Browning, Crow Agency, Dodson, Baker and Busby. It includes the popular Indian relay racing that Wahler said is helping keep tracks around the state from disappearing under development.

Traces of Spokane’s first training track remain …

Group Seeks To Infuse Youth Into Aging Horse Racing Industry

young attractive British racegoer“Young people can bring new creative ideas to the sport,” said Jaime Roth, who runs her family’s LNJ Foxwoods stable. “Are there bad things? Yeah. But for the most part, it’s a great sport. We’re dependent on the future and young women are a big part of the future.”

Bussanich firmly believes “if we don’t get these young people into the sport, we’re not going to have horse racing.” A 2016 study noted the average horse racing fan is 63 , — younger only than golf — and decision makers, owners and trainers are still prominently older white men.

“We constantly sit around board room tables and say, ‘How are we going to get more young people involved in horse racing?’” owner and Thoroughbred Ideas Foundation president and CEO said Craig Bernick said. “I’m the youngest person around the table a lot of times and I’m 41.”

Nexus is full of people horse racing executives yearn to attract: Bussanich grew up in New Jersey and developed her affection for the sport from going to a track in Florida at age 6; Sutton fell in love when filly Rags to Riches won the 2007 Belmont and Nexus member relations director Mary Cage was hooked by Smarty Jones’ underdog story during the 2004 Triple Crown.

Horse racing is so often a passion passed down generationally. The Nexus co-founders are trying to break down what they see as a high …

R.I.P. Tim Conway, aka Jockey Lyle Dorf

The one-and-only Tim Conway passed away today at the age of 85.  He was best known for his role in the Carol Burnett television show, but for those of us in the horse racing industry, he was also jockey Lyle Dorf.  Here is his skit with Johnny Carson.

Here is a 1988 interview with track announcer Trevor Denman of Santa Anita.  Denman sits down for a conversation with comedian Tim Conway, a big fan of horse racing.  Conway gives a great tip for new fans at the 1:40 mark of the video.   Denman also provides some great insight that is the worth the listen for every horseplayer.

 

Industry Profile: Professional gambler Mike Maloney

A Richmond native who lives in Lexington, the 63-year-old Maloney has been studying horse racing since age 15. But he turned pro, so to speak, about 20 years ago, becoming a full-time horseplayer and leaving his business as a wholesale antiques dealer.

It’s a journey he chronicled in the 2017 book “Betting With An Edge,” which was co-authored by Peter Thomas Fornatale. Maloney has wagered as much as $12 million in a year at one point, and he says he has turned a profit each year.

“I was in my 30s before I ever began to consistently show a profit at the track,” Maloney said. “Then once that began to happen, I thought, ‘There’s a possibility here.’ … I haven’t had a negative year, but there are a lot of years where I’m not happy and I want to do better. Then there are some years that were really good. But it’s not a smooth ride. You know, it’s gambling, and you have to embrace it that way.”

“There’s plenty of 12-hour workdays,” Maloney said. “It’s a 70 to 80-hour workweek.”

Some may instinctively recoil. Others might believe he’s got the best job in the world.

But neither response does justice to how rare it is that Maloney has had the makeup to thrive full time in a profession that a select few could do — or would want to — with numbers that seemingly dwindle each year as the game grows more difficult.

“These days, the people betting the most money, it’s AI, it’s computers, it’s algorithms, stuff like that,” Fornatale said. “But for an individual, you can’t really name (anyone better). Other people I know who’ve been doing it for a comparable amount of time as Mike are, I think, more consciously phasing out as the market gets more efficient and the game gets tougher. He’s still there grinding away, and it’s the only job he’s had in nearly 20 years.

“He really is at the pinnacle. As far as I’m concerned, put him on the Mount Rushmore of horseplayers.”   Read the rest…

Here’s One Look at Free Horse Racing Data

by Rich Nilsen

In the fall of 1992 I graduated from the University of Louisville Equine Industry Program, and the following summer, the director of the program, Dr. Bob Lawrence, got me connected to Dick Broadbent, owner of Bloodstock Research Information Service, Inc.   Mr. Broadbent hired me and I soon became their Marketing Director.  Over the years this job expanded into head marketing duties for their ADWs, BrisBET.com and TsnBet.com, as well as their sister data company, Thoroughbred Sports Network (TSN).  [TSN utilized Equibase data, whereas Brisnet utilized Daily Racing Form data].

Shortly after he partnered with Beulah Park in Ohio and created the ADW BrisBET, Dick Broadbent had the genius idea of giving away complimentary past performances to customers who wagered through his new betting site.   I wish I could say it was my idea, but it wasn’t.  The concept was simple.  All the customer had to do was place a $2 bet on a given track and he or she could download the Brisnet Past Performances for free.  It was viewed as a loss leader, as BrisBET would still pay the appropriate royalty to Equibase for any and all past performances accessed.

At this time we were kicking the DRF’s butt, as we had the Brisnet Ultimate Past Performances, a product that was far superior to the original ‘Racing Form.’  Wagering sites like DrfBets.com were over a decade away from existence, and BrisBET was becoming well known and growing rapidly each year.  Wager with BrisBET and get your data for free — the data you were originally paying for.  A majority of the Brisnet data customers who resided in eligible states switched over to BrisBET for their wagering, and tons of new customers came flooding in the door…every day.

We didn’t have the astronomical marketing budget of major competitor YouBet, but we had free past performances and that carried a lot of weight.  We also had a rock-solid wagering platform, and we executed other ideas well, such as the AmericaTAB Players Pool and the Brisnet NHC online qualifiers, the first of its kind on the “world wide web.”

BrisBET continued to grow like a hot tech stock, and consequently, the company (along with its partner companies) were purchased by Churchill Downs in June of 2007 for over $80 million.  BrisBET, TsnBET, and WinTicket (the Ohio racetracks’ ADW) became the foundation for Twinspires.com, and the rest is history.

This past week Pat Cummings, Craig Bernick and the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation (TIF) put out a white paper to the industry in hopes of changing the market place by encouraging industry stakeholders to give away data in the expectation that it would lead to growth in the sport.  It was entitled “Embracing a Future with Free Racing Data.”  This is an idea that has been batted around for years but never really put down on paper and presented to the whole sport.

OTHER SPORTS DATA

Needless to say, there is a ton of free information available for other American past times such as baseball and football.  For example, within minutes I was able to pull up the complete minor league stats from the 1950s for my father’s best friend and sandlot teammate, Bob Lennon.  Born in 1928 Bob hit 64 home runs in one season in Nashville Double A, a record feat that earned him a plaque in Cooperstown, NY.   His detailed minor league and major league statistics, including fielding stats, as well as those of thousands upon thousands of obscure players are easily accessible at baseball-reference.com.

Original ledger from the 1944 Mill Basin Athletics, Brooklyn Sandlot champs

Playing fantasy football?  The plethora of free data available is also impressive.  With the growth of sports betting, the need to provide even more free data will be a necessity for companies with skin in the game.

TIF CALL TO EQUIBASE/TRACKS

According to the TIF paper: “Equibase–as a going interest of the racetracks and The Jockey Club–should eschew their interests to profit from data sales, absorbing the costs of data collection and distribution in favor of the wagering participation and the trickle-down industry benefits this would yield. In other words, the collection and distribution of racing data should be considered a marketing expense, used to attract and retain gamblers…. Equibase’s success should not be measured in terms of data sales, but in the performance of racing’s wagering markets.”

The bottom line and the reality is that Equibase, DRF, and BRIS are all in the business of selling data.  That’s their bread and butter. Unlike Twinspires.com, Equibase does not get a cut of the wagering handle.  They sell advertising and they sell data.  Equibase and their track partners earn a cut of every sale.

However, it is reasonable to consider a method to give away a fraction of that data without hurting their overall sales.  And if done properly, the ‘giveaway’ could grow overall sales and increase wagering within the sport.  That’s a win-win and what we all want to see happen.

A SAMPLE FREE PP

In an attempt to do just that and provide a visual of what could be done, I mocked up a stripped-down past performance product utilizing basic Brisnet data.

 

sample City of Light free pps

 

For those wondering, the following bits of data were altered or removed from the traditional Premium Plus Brisnet PPs:

5 past performance lines remain (5 removed)

6 workouts remain from the traditional 12 workouts

3 trainer categories remain (3 removed)

BRIS Race Shapes (too complicated for the novice)

BRIS Speed/Pace Pars removed

 

Of course, Equibase and the Daily Racing Form could give away their comparable version of the stripped-down, basic past performances. There are, no doubt, other ways to present free data and an online resource comparable to baseball-reference.com would make sense.

A few key items were removed from the PPs presented above, but in my opinion, this is a very good past performance product for a giveaway.  If a beginner player starts using this product, eventually they will gravitate towards a better product such as DRF Formulator, TimeformUS or the BRIS Ultimate Past Performances.   And that will cost them money.

 

Note: The opinions in this article are strictly those of the author and do not represent or speak for any company within the horse racing industry.

Related Articles:

Will Industry Answer Renewed Call for Free Betting Data

What Sports Betting Data Can Cost for a Commercial Business

TDN Article about Free Horse Racing Data

Handicapping Tip of the Day # 48 – A Horse for the Course

Handicapping Tip of the Day

by Rich Nilsen

One of the best ways to find a value play in this game we call horse racing is to find the horse with clouded form.  For whatever reason or reasons, the horse had a legitimate excuse not to run well  in his last start or two.  Finding a legit excuse is not always easy, and the last thing a handicapper should be doing is inventing excuses to justify his or her preference for a horse.

A week ago at Parx Racing (Feb. 19, 2019), the veteran 10 year old runner Bowman’s Beast was returning to Parx off subpar efforts at  both Charles Town and Penn National.  He was well beaten at 3/5 odds last time out at basically the same level as today.  Of course, Charles Town is a step below Parx, so, on the surface, it didn’t look good for the old gelding.

However, there were three good reasons to throw out that dismal 4th place performance.  For starters, that last race was in the mud and Bowman had a career record of 11-1-1-1, showing 8 also-ran efforts.  He was clearly a better horse on fast going.

Also noteworthy was trainer Bernard Dunham’s record with beaten favorites.  According to BRIS data, he was a 57% winner from 7 starters in their subsequent races following a loss as the favorite.

Finally, and most important, Bowman was returning to Parx.   Here were the lifetime, tabulated records in his past performances:

Lifetime: 72-13-8-11, $453,590

Parx: 38-9-4-7, $331,260

Now subtract the two and you have a pretty revealing stat.  At tracks other than Parx, Bowman’s Beast was:

Elsewhere: 34-4-4-4, $122,330

The lifetime record for this 10 year old runner at Parx versus all other tracks was night and day.  Bowman could be expected to improve on the return to Parx, with the return to a fast track for a trainer dynamite with beaten favorites.

The morning line maker at Parx set his odds at 3/1, no doubt because of his familiarity with the Parx horse for the course, but Bowman went off at over 7-1 because of his clouded, recent form.  He cruised to victory, returning a generous $16.60 for his faithful backers.

 

How Technology Reshapes the Horse Racing Industry

Innovation in Betting

As long as there are horse races, there will be eager punters who are keen to back their favourite horses and jockeys. Horse racing wagering is another area of the industry that has significantly changed and improved with modern technology. These days, instead of having to trek to a bookie’s office, punters can place bets at home or on the go thanks to platforms and apps from international online sports betting operators. The advent of mobile technology means that they can get up-to-the-minute racing news, and major events like the Breeders’ Cup are even beginning to broadcast in virtual reality across the globe so that fans will never miss a meeting.

Future Innovations

It may all sound high tech already, but we could see a whole new wave of innovations incorporated into the sport in the coming years. For starters, a team of Australian scientists successfully shod a racehorse with the first ever pair of 3D printed shoes made from titanium. However, it may take some time before this becomes a widespread thing since a horse’s hooves can change every hour and printing one shoe takes several.

Scientists are even becoming involved in the breeding process since it’s well-known within the sport that a mature colt or filly often outperforms those born later in a year within the same age bracket. To that end, Equilume recently designed a mask that will trigger early breeding times in mares, using a blue light to affect their ….

Getting to Know the BCBC Boys – Tournament Players

Nice profile / handicapping piece from a few years ago by Ren Hakim Carothers

We’ve long marketed our sport as that of kings. While this packaging does reflect the money that goes into breeding, training, and running these majestic athletes, heightening the stakes and romanticizing the idea of triumph, it can also convey exclusivity. It’s no wonder why horses with blue collar backstories competing at elite levels have captured the imagination of those outside our industry on more than one occasion. David, meet Goliath.

It’s time that mainstream audiences realized you need not be an owner of a horse, a trainer, or jockey to delight in the spoils of victory. Racing is not merely a spectator sport. It’s interactive. You simply need a ticket -a bet slip- to go along for the ride, and the fact that it’s not just the horses competing for seven figures this weekend puts an exclamation mark on that point.

BCBC Tournament Players

Again, the BCBC Bonus Boys are fascinating. Take Stephen Thompson, who is known as the “Undertaker” on the betting circuit, as an example. He is from Lebanon, Pennsylvania, where he’s the owner and licensed director of Thompson Funeral Home, Inc, which was started by his great-grandfather in 1890. He fell in love with racing at the tender age of ten, going to the races with his family, and has won entry into the BCBC seven of the last eight years. Stephen says you get so pumped up in these tournaments, but he has to stay “flatlined” to stay focused, and that, should he win, the first check he’s writing is for $100,000 to benefit retired racehorses. “Without them, we have nothing!”

There are two entrants looking to pull off a BC/BCBC double. David Lanzman was hooked on racing after he and a couple of friends snuck under the fence at Hollywood Park as teenagers, having a security guard place what would be winning bets for them. He realized you could make life-changing scores playing the ponies when, with his $400 rent due and …

Understanding Claiming Prices in Horse Racing

and Why Numbers Can Be Deceiving

As much as numbers don’t lie, they can confuse you.

In claiming races, numbers like 12,500 can have different meanings. Sometimes, horses who run for the same $12,500 claiming price at different tracks can face different levels of competition.

At Aqueduct, for example, a horse racing in a $12,500 claimer is probably facing some of the weakest horses on the grounds. Meanwhile, at Finger Lakes, with a much lower ceiling for claimers, some useful horses could be running for that tag.

And sometimes, $12,500 claiming tags can have different meanings at the same track or circuit…