JC / Railbird

Wagering

The Right Side

So, here’s a feature idea I’ve been kicking around — an occasional series called “You’re Doing It Right,” calling out instances in horse racing of good work. For example, Woodbine choosing to replace its Polytrack surface with Tapeta, because it makes sense for their racing program and business goals. Or NYRA, for whatever it’s doing to deliver a sharp, never-buffering high-definition video feed of its races across its digital platforms. Or TimeformUS, for its upcoming faster and more responsive relaunch and the backend development involved in making that happen. (I got a peek; you’ll want to check it out.)

Or Kentucky Downs, which edged out Keeneland — the leader for six years running — in the 2015 edition of the Horseplayers Association track ratings by offering full fields and lower takout:

“… Kentucky Downs has definitely given horseplayers something to get excited about,” said HANA President Jeff Platt. “Despite the short meet, the ratings algorithm does not discriminate when it comes to value; Kentucky Downs has it and horseplayers have been responding.”

Complete rankings are in this month’s Horseplayers Association magazine (PDF). There’s also a terrific interview in it with Andrew Beyer about carryovers, jackpots, and the grind of the modern game, plus seven questions for several players and handicappers. (Including me. Thanks, HANA!)

Figuring

The March edition of HANA’s monthly newsletter is now out, and it includes two great interviews, one with jockey Julien Leparoux, and the other with Dana Byerly talking about Horse Racing Data Sets, the site she launched last month for sharing data. I’m biased, but HRDS is swiftly becoming a good, useful resource — the most recent addition to the site is a spreadsheet from Brisnet containing 25 years of winning speed and class ratings, which I’ve just begun exploring for possible Kentucky Derby implications.

Somewhat related: TimeformUS posted their winning figures for the last five years of Triple Crown race preps. You can find Beyer speed figures for the same races since 2010 in the Derby prep schedule (the column labeled “BSF”).

HANA’s newsletter also includes a short primer on churn, which Lonnie Goldfeder recommends setting a goal for each day you play. Goldfeder’s latest column at Daily Racing Form is about staying sharp; it’s a reminder that wagering, like any discipline, requires a commitment to practice.

Dark Pools

Michael Cox reports on “price steaming” in unregulated exchanges:

[It] might sound like a lot of money to bet on horses that you don’t want to actually win, but if the liquidity was high enough on CITIbet, it could easily be a lucrative strategy. Because CITIbet pay-outs are based on the home totalisator dividend, a bet on the exchange of $20,000 — depending on some other factors, including the liquidity available — could have returned around $128,000 to the instigators of the sting for a total spend of around $60,000 — still a tidy profit of more than 100 percent and at much better odds than the 1-to-5 initially showing before the price steaming took place. Still, in this instance, the strategy backfired to a degree as the large investments triggered robotic wagering programs that also took a slice of the inflated odds, and as a result, the payout was much less …

Pricing

Tom LaMarra on simulcasting fees and Churchill’s recent takeout hike:

I’m no math whiz, so correct me if I’m wrong. In the case of Churchill, if its host fee remains the same, a rebate shop and its customers get to keep the extra 3 percentage points when the exacta takeout goes from 19% to 22%.

If you operate a rebate shop or are a large importer of simulcast signals, higher takeout is money. That may explain why racetracks, rebate shops, and [ADWs] don’t complain about 30% trifecta rakes: If they pay the sender 3% for the signal, there’s 27 cents per dollar to play with before taxes.

Matt Hegarty on how those cents might get shared:

If simulcast rates do not go up at the same rate as the takeouts, then some players may not feel the full impact of the hikes. Many account-wagering operations, including Churchill’s mammoth twinspires.com and an offshore site the company bought several years ago, offer rebates to players, and some sites may elect to forgo the additional revenue to increase the rebates to their players on the Churchill signal. Many rebated players, including those who use automated systems employing algorithms to determine their wagers, are highly sensitive to takeout rates.

Odds and Ends

Exacta-mundo on the current state of turf blogging: “… I can’t help but think we’re now truly in a time when there’s no one left to ask the needed questions without feeling like they have something to lose.”

If you’re in Massachusetts, you still stand to lose 5% on winning wagers paying more than $600: An amendment striking the new withholding requirement, which went into effect this spring, didn’t make it into the final version of the supplemental budget bill passed by the state legislature. How many Bay State bettors have been affected? Racing director Jennifer Durenberger told the Massachusetts Gaming Commission in this morning’s meeting that the state’s three simulcasting licensees report a total of 860 instances of state withholding since May, compared to 10 for federal withholding.

Another kind of loss: “… last Saturday at Hollywood was either a celebration or an early funeral.” (For consolation, see the coach.)

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