JC / Railbird

#delmarI met Marc Subia today and he told me the story of his amazing autograph jacket. "It's my most prized possession." Marc started coming to Del Mar with his dad in the 1970s. It's his home track. And he's been collecting jockey autographs for decades ...Grand Jete keeping an eye on me as I take a picture of Rushing Fall's #BC17 garland. #thoroughbred #horseracing #delmarAnother #treasurefromthearchive — this UPI collage for Secretariat vs. Sham. #inthearchives #thoroughbred #horseracingThanks, Arlington. Let's do this again next year. #Million35Lady Eli on the muscle. #BC16 @santaanitapark #breederscup #thoroughbred #horseracingThat's a helmet. #BC16 #thoroughbred #horseracing #jockeys

Boom, Sports Betting Is Here

Anticipated as it was, Monday’s Supreme Court ruling killing the sports betting ban rocked a lot of players across the gaming industry. I wrote something for SB Nation about horse racing and its flashy new legal competition.

If you’re looking for something else to read, I have recommendations — check out the links below for some of the more interesting/informative things I’ve clicked this week about sports betting, racing’s reactions to the ruling, what might happen next in Massachusetts, and opportunities for sports media.


Supreme Court ruling opens door for legalized sports betting

“This decision will have immense implications for the entire sports industry, including the technology sector that will power most of the wagering — and be responsible for preserving the integrity of games.”

Winners, losers of sports betting legalization

The winners: New Jersey, team owners, sports data companies, gambling companies, racetracks, app makers, the betting public, Twitter.

The future of U.S. sports gambling might look like an evening I spent on an English main street

“I already knew Britons tend to bet only while breathing, and that they bet colorfully and comprehensively — and that’s just on golf. I just had never seen a real soccer gambling sheet until Wednesday night, when I set about trying to feel the American future. I entered a William Hill, saw some roulette machines and found a rack of soccer sheets, voluminous and intimidating, pages and pages with wee print on the FA Cup final of May 19 (Manchester United vs. Chelsea), the European Champions League final of May 26 (Liverpool vs. Real Madrid), the World Cup coming in June, and who would score goals, and how many, and when. An entire page concerned halftimes. One could bet on such minutiae as whether a match would have a red card.”

The Supreme Court’s sports gambling decision won’t ruin sports because any damage is already done

“As for a dystopian future of sports watching, that probably shouldn’t bother anyone, either: That future is already here. Professional sports teams have been catering towards in-stadium fan experience for years, as opposed to building stadiums or arenas that can stuff in the most people possible to watch a game.”

Here’s how NFL will embrace and cash in on sports gambling

“Monday’s decision will offer plenty. Not just through a traditional cut of gambling profits, which is sure to be sought by the NFL. There will be other streams of cash, too. Whether it’s through higher television ratings from coast to coast, new waves of advertising partners, or more complex and lucrative deals with media partners, the equation laid out is fairly simple. A wider national gambling platform means more eyeballs. More eyeballs means more customers. And more customers means the same thing it has always meant: A bloated cash register.”

The Supreme Court made it easier for more people to place bad bets

“Casinos kept just 2.81 percent of the sports wagers they handled in 1992. But over the next 15 years, casinos set the betting lines in a way to entice lower-information bettors,3 and their win rates soared well above the standard service-fee rate, peaking at a whopping 7.89 percent in 2006. Casinos are still winning in the 4- to 5-percent range over the past decade, with the house taking 5.11 percent of all wagers in 2017.”


Supreme Court opens door for added sports gambling

“On Monday the National Thoroughbred Racing Association said horse racing needs to be prepared for both new opportunities and new competition.”

Euphoria, uncertainty for racing as sports betting era dawns

“The landmark May 14 ruling is generally viewed as favorable within the U.S. horse racing industry because racetracks–at least at first–are viewed as likely to land some of the initial sports betting licenses under the logic that they are already regulated entities set up for the purpose of taking bets. In some states, legislation is already being crafted that will give racing interests a cut of the revenue from sports betting, similar to the way some casino gaming subsidizes purses. But the initial rush of euphoria within the Thoroughbred industry must be tempered by the daunting reality that numerous other non-racing entities will also want in on the lucrative action.”

Can legalized sports betting boost horse racing?

“If you look at other markets where [horse] racing is growing — and I think Australia is probably the best example — horse racing in Australia 10 years ago was in a multiyear decline,” [TVG CEO Kip] Levin said. “It was similar to the U.S. in that it was pari-mutuel only. And when online sports betting started to take off, you saw a shift.”

View from the eighth pole: Who wins from sports betting?

“We woke up in a different world today. Yesterday, outside of the state of Nevada, the only legal ‘sports’ betting in the United States was on horse racing. Today, or more realistically in the coming months and years, Americans will be able to bet on baseball, basketball, football and hockey, among other sports. They’ll be able to bet on the next pitch, the next touchdown. And this helps racing how exactly?”

Sports betting provides plenty of upside for racing

McKinsey & Company analysis: “While all forms of gaming ultimately compete for shares of the wagering wallet, we believe the cannibalization threat from legal sports betting is limited.”

Sports betting brings massive opportunity to horse racing

“Las Vegas-style sports wagering will offer a challenge for horse racing in all jurisdictions and it’s one that needs to be met aggressively and intelligently so that the sport can benefit from the billions of dollars that will be tossed into legal wagering pools in the years to come. It’s a time when horse racing cannot afford to passively watch from sidelines. It has to have a seat at the table when laws are enacted in the various states so that it can protect its interests and become a vital part of a new era in gambling, instead of finding itself overwhelmed by the new form of competition.”

Sports betting will likely not be a positive for horse racing

“Sports betting’s passage has not guaranteed even one dollar to horse racing.”

Horse-racing channel ready at gate for legal U.S. sports betting

Bloomberg piece about TVG from before the Supreme Court ruling.

Churchill Downs Inc.’s long road to New Jersey

“The anticipated start of New Jersey operations for CDI is first quarter 2019. It has been a long road to New Jersey for Churchill — at least six years.”

Could sports betting boost the action at horse racing tracks?

The view from Stronach (and California): “We would pursue [a sports book] at every one of our racetracks,” said Tim Ritvo.

California sports betting bill unlikely for November ballot

“The Supreme Court decision will be the subject of a closed-door meeting Wednesday involving representatives of racetracks, horsemen’s groups, and attorneys ‘to discuss what is in the best interest of racing,’ according to [CHRB chairman Chuck] Winner.”


Here’s what the sports gambling ruling means for Massachusetts

“Currently, Massachusetts lawmakers have not acted on a proposal to study sports betting, and it’s not clear whether any actions on the measure will come before this year’s session winds down. Until lawmakers act, we won’t know what the prospects are for legalization — including what the games would look like, where you could play, and what companies will be able to offer games here.”

Legal sports betting: Here’s how it could happen, and happen fast

“The local legal market could get pretty big. Massachusetts is home to rabid sports fans and top-tier teams, as well as two resort casinos expected to open this year and in 2019, and a slots parlor …”

All bets are on

“Those running the state’s new casino industry, shockingly, think their facilities are best suited to handle any sports wagering that comes online. But how can you look past the most experienced hands, asks Chip Tuttle, chief operating officer at largely moribund Suffolk Downs, which still does a healthy business in off-track bets. Suffolk Downs is already in ‘the legal betting business’ and would be ‘ready to go as soon as, if not ahead of, a lot of the other wagering businesses in the state,’ Tuttle said. Then there are the sports fantasy sites like DraftKings, which certainly don’t want to be left at the gate. In the spirit offered by Loveman, they are all ready to be of humble service.”

If it’s legalized in Massachusetts, sports betting could take many forms

Players vying for a piece: Sports teams, casino license holders, racetracks and simulcast parlors (Suffolk Downs), daily fantasy sports companies.

Making book on Beacon Hill

“I have spoken, in particular, with my Senate co-chair about an approach to how we might look at this and I’ve had conversations with the speaker as well,” [Representative Joseph] Wagner said. “It’s something we need to do a deep dive on and we need to do it expeditiously. Other states will move quickly on this and I think the challenge will be to be quick out of the gate in an effort to look at this in a comprehensive way, but not so quickly that we do something and don’t get it right.”

As others race ahead with sports betting, DeLeo blows the whistle

“I think there’s a couple of questions I think that really have to be decided beforehand. I think right off the bat you have the question of integrity,” House Speaker Robert DeLeo said. “Secondly, also, is the issue of revenue. What’s going to happen in terms of the states around us, the other states in the country and whatnot.”

White paper on sports betting

The report issued by the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in March 2018.


Congratulations, sports media: You just got a big business-model subsidy from the Supreme Court

“An awful lot of sports reporting is about to move from entertainment information — stuff you read because you enjoy it — to production information — stuff you read because you think it’ll help you make money. Whatever your thoughts on gambling — I tend to come down on the side that it’s a giant vacuum sucking money out of the wallets of middle- and working-class Americans, ruining a lot of lives in the process, but hey, that’s just me — the opportunity for sports journalism is clear.”

Sports betting could soon be legalized: Media companies can’t wait

“Media companies have heard versions of this before. But now several of them are optimistic that legalized gambling could be a thing, for real. And they are mulling ways to take advantage. As Time Inc.’s Sports Illustrated talks to prospective buyers, for instance, it is telling them it could put betting advice and other info aimed at gamblers into a digital subscription package that could eventually generate a substantial minority of the title’s revenues … it’s easy to imagine a mobile prompt from Turner’s Bleacher Report that doesn’t just tell you that the Celtics-Sixers game has gotten interesting in the fourth quarter, but asks if you want to place a bet.”


Sports Betting and Bookmaking: An American History

Arne Lang’s history of sports betting in America thoroughly covers the state of play right up to 2015. “This excellent look at ‘America’s love/hate affair with sports gambling’ delivers fascinating insights,” said Publishers Weekly.

Derby ’18 Links

It’s that time of the year again — it’s Kentucky Derby! Hello Race Fans is out with its cheat sheet for the 2018 field, and J.J. Hysell’s capsule ‘capping of each contender will get even the most casual Derby fan up to speed on this Saturday’s starters. (The cheat sheet’s perfect for Derby parties.)

For handicapping:

The historical criteria spreadsheet is back and updated with the 2018 draw.

Don’t forget the Derby prep results spreadsheet: Get the charts and watch the replays for each of this spring’s Derby points races. Beyer and TimeformUS sped figures are also included.

Need historical Derby charts? Download the 1991-2017 charts here (ZIP).

Get free Derby past performances from Brisnet (PDF).

Racing in the DPLA

View of a beautiful black horse, identified as Double Trouble, and a man that may possibly be a trainer or handler; the man holds the horse's rein with his left hand, and is holding a large, fluffy cat next to his chest with his right hand
Double Trouble at Santa Anita (Los Angeles Public Library)

Depending on how you search, there are anywhere from more than 3,000 to more than 5,000 items in the Digital Public Library of America related to horse racing, such as the photo above, which depicts:

a beautiful black horse, identified as Double Trouble, and a man that may possibly be a trainer or handler. The man holds the horse’s rein with his left hand, and is holding a large, fluffy cat next to his chest with his right hand.

Because the web can always use more cats, more horses, and more racing, I remixed a bot at the community app building platform Glitch that tweets racing items from the DPLA. Follow along @racingpix.

Pop this Balloon, BC Board

If Thoroughbred racing has a silly season, it’s the weeks between the winter holidays and the Eclipse Awards. And things don’t get much sillier than floating the idea to create a Breeders’ Cup Derby, restricted to 3-year-old horses, and move the Breeders’ Cup Classic to December. Ray Paulick reports the idea may get a hearing at an upcoming Breeders’ Cup board meeting:

Should the Breeders’ Cup expand again?

That’s a question the organization’s board of directors is expected to ponder at an upcoming meeting, when a proposal to add a “Breeders’ Cup Derby” for 3-year-olds and push the Breeders’ Cup Classic to a separate date in December will be discussed. Craig Fravel, Breeders’ Cup president and CEO, declined to comment on what he called “matters that may or may not be considered by the board of the Breeders’ Cup.”

(Disclosure: I’ve worked with the Breeders’ Cup on digital media initiatives as a contractor. My work doesn’t put me in contact with the board or BC decision-making, and I haven’t talked to anyone at BC about the Derby/Classic idea or other BC planning. All opinions my own, etc.)

Paulick runs down the major objections to such a scheme: Reduced field quality for such races as the Dirt Mile and less attractive betting. (I can’t imagine any excitement for a new race restricted to the 3-year-old glamour division.) It would also have the bizarre effect of holding a championship weekend without featuring the marquee division. What even is the Breeders’ Cup if the horses at the top of the American racing hierarchy aren’t the thrilling culmination of the event, as they have been since its inception?

In that sense, the proposal poses an existential question for the Breeders’ Cup — is it a competitive event, or is it an exhibition? Is it for horseplayers and fans, or is it for owners and breeders? That’s the tension at the heart of the BC and a Derby and standalone Classic would snap it in favor of one constituency.

For that reason, I have trouble believing the idea is coming from within the Breeders’ Cup. Paulick refers to “some industry stakeholders” pushing the proposal, possibly out of “Triple Crown envy,” and those stakeholders obviously have the clout to compel the BC board to consider the idea. But the idea feels so anti-fan and enough of a threat to dilute the BC brand that it seems unlikely to have strong organizational support.

Re: the Triple Crown, and whether interest in the Triple Crown season among the general public could be replicated later in the year, I’m skeptical. Non-racing fans watch the Kentucky Derby because it’s a cultural event, not because they have an interest in the sophomore division.

One likely effect of trying to emulate Triple Crown season, though, would be the creation of a new three-race series that would link together the Breeders’ Cup Derby (November), Classic (December), and Pegasus World Cup (January). I have no idea if this is part of the intention behind the proposal! It would just be a very tidy series, especially for television, and for trainers, owners, and breeders — who would then have a series worth up to $25 million to aim for with a conclusion snug against the start of the breeding season.

But what would that do to races such as the Travers or Jockey Club Gold Cup and other 3-year-old male and open-company graded stakes scheduled from July to October? A big part of summer and fall racing (and betting) would be shaken up, potentially affecting tracks from New York to New Jersey to California. Maybe money and attention would flow to other divisions during those months, particularly turf, or new, exciting campaign arcs for older horses would emerge, but does anyone really want to find out?

2:00 PM Update: More details on the proposal from Matt Hegarty, including that board member Bobby Flay is supporting the Derby idea and Classic move:

The Flay proposal is based on the belief among some board members that public interest in 3-year-old horses during the Triple Crown races would carry through to the Breeders’ Cup Derby and make for a popular showdown between those horses and older horses if the Breeders’ Cup Classic were held a month later in December. Critics of that proposal, who did not want to be identified because of Flay’s popularity, contend that it misreads the public’s attention span beyond the Triple Crown.

I don’t know, if public interest in Triple Crown contenders carried over past the season, wouldn’t that interest already register? As usual, @o_crunk has a sharp read on the handle implications of a new race and Classic rescheduling.

2018 Derby Points Schedule

Last Saturday’s Sham Stakes at Santa Anita, won by McKinzie, was the first Kentucky Derby points race of 2018, and that means the big Derby prep schedule and results spreadsheet is back for another season.

No Change: 2017 Multimedia Eclipse Results Stand

After sending the matter back to the judges, the “questions that were raised” about the 2017 audio/multimedia Eclipse-winning work, Barbara Livingston’s “Chasing Man o’ War’s Ghost,” published on Daily Racing Form, were deemed not to warrant a disqualification. The Eclipse Awards steering committee released a statement on Sunday that this year’s award results would stand.

The full statement regarding the decision is on the NTWAB site:

The Eclipse Awards Steering Committee on Wednesday, January 3 became aware of a question regarding the winning entry submitted by Daily Racing Form (DRF) in the Audio Multi-Media and Internet Category.

Steering Committee members representing the National Turf Writers and Broadcasters (NTWAB) and National Thoroughbred Racing Association (NTRA) — DRF representatives on the Steering Committee recused themselves — determined that the question merited contacting the judges in the Audio Multi-Media and Internet category who had awarded points to the entry to determine if this new information would cause them to change their votes. The judges replied that the new information would not have impacted the way they voted or changed the order in which they voted. Thus, there will be no change involving the winning entry in this Audio Multi-Media and Internet Category.

As it does every year, the Steering Committee will undertake a rigorous review of the Eclipse Awards Media Rules to determine if any changes should be made with regard to the 2018 Media Eclipse Awards.

A few observations:

1) By their own description of the review process, the Eclipse Awards steering committee largely dodged the eligibility question regarding the winning entry. The 2017 Livingston multimedia work contained almost the entirety of a 2010 Man o’ War blog post written by Livingston, also published on DRF, and there was no notice on the 2017 piece of the 2010 text’s inclusion. The decision about how to handle the situation was handed over the judges (the judges who had initially given the Livingston entry points, that is, not the full panel).

2) And yet, the statement does acknowledge: “The entry, taken as a whole, was published for the first time between those dates. Portions of the entry were not, as pointed out in the questions that were raised.” In recognizing that portions of the work were not published in 2017, the year covered by the award, and stating that the inclusion of an original video is what qualified the entry for the audio/multimedia category, the steering committee has staked out an untenable position: Previously published work that includes a new video is eligible for the award. The entry does not have to be wholly original.

This is bad precedent, and I don’t see how the rules for this category don’t get altered to prevent future entries taking advantage of such a loophole.

3) In the meantime, how was the judging process then fair to the other people and organizations who entered work in the audio/multimedia category? If I were one of the entrants (and I’m not/wasn’t), I would feel demoralized and alienated by this decision to allow unattributed previously published material in the winning entry. It’s a slap in the face to others who followed the spirit — and the apparent meaning — of the award rules.

4) Incidentally, the situation points up the ongoing folly that is combining audio and multimedia into one Eclipse award category. The award rests on multimedia containing an audio element. Video is allowed to fulfill the audio requirement, which means that video then becomes synonymous with multimedia. This is such a barren view of digital possibilities. If the multimedia award is going to be for a video, then better to group audio and video into one category and create a new, standalone multimedia category that allows for any combination of media. Think of the potential! Data viz + audio. Video + social storytelling + text. It could spur some fresh work.

5) Finally, I’ll add that I’m disappointed DRF and Livingston did not acknowledge the questions, or the appearance of an ethical issue, or explain the editorial policy that may have allowed what appears to have happened. It does not look high-minded to have remained quiet. It looks arrogant.

Putting Up the Inquiry Sign

12:50 PM: This post has been edited to include a response from DRF regarding the 2010 Man o’ War piece.

It has been four days since it was announced the Daily Racing Form won a 2017 Eclipse Multimedia Award for a piece primarily created by photographer Barbara Livingston, and four days since I pointed out the apparent reuse of a 2010 blog post about Man o’ War by Livingston in the 2017 multimedia piece. In that time, the DRF has made no comment about the award situation. The Eclipse Awards steering committee is discussing the matter.

A sidebar to the question of the recycled text is the related question of what happened to the 2010 post. It was originally published on October 21, 2010, and the live page was captured by the Internet Archive on December 29, 2015. There is some uncertainty about its accessibility from that time to January 3 of this year — the original URL returned an “Unauthorized” message when I attempted to view it on January 3. The Internet Archive captured an “Access Denied” version of the page on October 2, 2017. I retrieved a version of the post on January 3 from what appeared to be a DRF subdomain page, at this URL, for the purpose of comparing the 2010 and 2017 texts. On January 4, and possibly the evening of January 3, the 2010 post was appearing once again at its original URL.

Other people reported a similar experience, and Chris Rossi summed up the URL’s history in two tweets:

(If you cannot see Rossi’s tweets above this text, you can view a screenshot of his tweets or click to view the tweets on Twitter.)

Odd, but there are numerous reasons a URL might seem to be go missing on the web — Google and Internet Archive take irregular snapshots — and the possible range of time the page may have been inaccessible could not be pinned down using either service.

On Saturday, I received two screenshots taken in March 2017. I have examined the EXIF data of the original files and believe both to be unaltered and to have been created on the dates and times I was given. The images below have been cropped and saved by me to remove potentially identifying information.

The first image shows the 2010 page as cached by Google on March 21, 2017. To be cached, the page would have been live, and accessible, on that date:

A screenshot of the March 21, 2017 Google cache version of the 2010 Man o' War post page on DRF

The second image is a cropped screenshot of a Livingston DRF blog page. The original screenshot was taken on the morning of March 25, 2017. The October 21, 2010 Man o’ War piece is not listed between the bookending posts on October 13, 2010, and October 26, 2010 — both of which, subjected to the same search methods as applied to the October 21, 2010 post, do not give indications of being inaccessible during the same period as the 2010 Man o’ War post appears to have been:

A screenshot of an index page on Barbara Livingston's DRF blog that shows the October 21, 2010 Man o' War post missing from the page on March 25, 2017

The third image is a cropped screenshot of the same Livingston DRF blog page. This screenshot was created by me on the morning of January 7, 2018. You can see that the October 21, 2010 post appears on the page:

A screenshot of an index page on Barbara Livingston's DRF blog that shows the October 21, 2010 Man o' War post present on the page on January 7, 2018

The 2017 multimedia piece was published on DRF on March 24, 2017.

I want to caution — there are many technical and production-related reasons why the 2010 Man o’ War post may have been inaccessible for a time. DRF underwent a major redesign in 2013. All of the DRF blogs were unavailable on the site for a lengthy period. DRF has made several changes to its paywall, including dropping it before the Breeders’ Cup, which could have affected the accessibility of pages, as well as made updates to other backend systems.

Whatever may have happened, it’s an unfortunate coincidence in light of the 2017 multimedia piece winning an Eclipse award.

Edited to include DRF’s response: Asked for comment about what may have happened to the 2010 post, DRF’s Mandy Minger replied:

DRF’s editorial team looked into it and can’t determine how it became unpublished. We believe it possibly happened inadvertently during some backend changes to the site. We didn’t intend to unpublish the original blog and republished it after it was brought to our attention. DRF does not typically remove old editorial content from its site.

The reply is appreciated — without addressing the question, the post’s apparent unpublishing/republishing was feeding a shady perception.

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