Jessica Chapel / Railbird

Industry Archive

Oaks Reprise

Jon White surveys the likely Odgen Phipps field:

The 2013 Kentucky Oaks field was considered one of the best ever. The five fillies listed above as candidates for the Phipps all ran in last year’s Kentucky Oaks. Princess of Sylmar won at 38-1. Beholder finished second at 9-1 after acting up and unseating Garrett Gomez prior to the start. Dreaming of Julia finished fourth as the 3-2 favorite after she “got annihilated at the start” and “got stopped later in the race,” according to Todd Pletcher, the filly’s trainer. Midnight Lucky finished fifth at 7-2, which has been her only loss in four career starts to date. Close Hatches finished seventh at 7-1.

Amazing. Unlimited Budget, third in the 2013 Kentucky Oaks, hasn’t been mentioned among the Phipps possibles, but she is still running, finishing second in the G3 Rampart Stakes at Gulfstream last month.

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.

Gone, Baby, Gone

Ray Paulick interviews a catchphrase:

Did [Go, Baby, Go] make a difference in handle or attendance?

That’s a hard question, Ray. I’d like to think so as U.S. handle increased significantly from 1998 to 2004 when I was living large. There was definitely more racing on national TV and more coordinated national marketing and promotion. But it might have just been good timing. The game had a nice run of almost-Triple Crown winners from ’98-’04 with Real Quiet, Charismatic, War Emblem, Funny Cide and Smarty Jones and the Seabiscuit book and movie definitely helped put us back in front of American public …

“Good timing” is an understatement: 1998-2004 was the rise of the Internet as we now know it. The industry’s various factions simultaneously managed to catch the moment, via ADWs, and squander it.

Positives

No, not for frog juice. (I’ll leave the negatives for another day.)

Grantland published a terrific interview with musician-chartcaller-reporter Bob Nastanovich that includes this great quote about why he’s working in racing:

So I started working thinking that I could make a positive impact on the sport at different levels, just because I love it so much.

Love the attitude, Bob.

Also praiseworthy: The Breeders’ Cup and Hello Race Fans, two organizations I believe are working in horse racing’s best interests (and not just because they both pay me), are partnering up on fan education. Nice work, all.

The Missing McKinsey Recommendation

Breeders’ Cup president Craig Fravel:

I would love to see the industry create a venture capital fund to nurture new technologies directed at racing and gaming and in so doing utilize the expertise of the many talented people with experience in those areas who own and love horses.

Capital isn’t the only obstacle to innovation in the industry, though. Social gaming bonus points for all involved if unfettered access to Equibase data for the purpose of development were part of any incubator or fund.

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