Jun 062021

One thing Islanders games won’t have, at least not yet: in-arena sports wagering. There won’t be betting windows for horse racing at the arena, according to Michael Sciortino, SVP of operations for UBS Arena. But Leiweke said the arena has been built with an eye toward legalized sports wagering, including 5G technology inside the building. Other arenas such as Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C., have integrated sportsbooks into their buildings.

ESPN – Wyshynski – Inside the New York Islanders’ new UBS Arena, built for the NHL’s COVID-19 era

Sportico – Bloom – Islanders Playoff Run Boosts UBS Arena Season Ticket Sellout

Paulick Report – Meadowlands Sponsoring Race Announcer Workshop On July 10

Paulick Report – New Test Can Detect Bisphosphonate Three Years After Administration

ESPN – AP – U.S. champion Shelby Houlihan banned four years for testing positive for steroid, blames result on pork burrito

Washington Post – Garcia-Roberts and Rich – The dark side of Bob Baffert’s reign

Unknown Soldier

TDN – Baffert Files Suit Against NYRA

Bloodhorse – King – Judge Urges Resolution Over Medina Spirit Urine Sample

TDN – Bill Finley – In Baffert Case, Sides Haggle Over Urine Sample

Paulick Report – Voss – Judge: Extra Testing In Medina Spirit Case Will Go On, Only Question Is Sample Size

There are three kinds of men. The ones that learn by readin’. The few who learn by observation.
The rest of them have to pee on the electric fence for themselves.

 Will Rogers

Indeed, over four decades he has 30 drugs positives to his name – often minuscule amounts for substances perfectly legal outside raceday.

But, come on. Someone’s not done the weeding, a groom has peed on the hay after taking NyQuil for his cough, an assistant trainer has a bad back, we forgot about the skin ointment … would you really want your million-dollar horse residing in a stable with this level of negligence?

Thoroughbred Racing Commentary – Has Bob Baffert been hard done by?

Southern Living – Yarborough – 12 Topo Chico Cocktails That Are Easy-Sipping and Oh-So Refreshing

Topo Chico

Sal says that Topo just keeps popping up everywhere.

Paulick Report – Voss – Baffert, Zedan File Suit Against Kentucky Commission Over Extra Testing In Medina Spirit Saga

Read a copy of the civil complaint here.

WDRB – Ragsdale – Baffert files lawsuit saying Medina Spirit’s positive test didn’t violate state racing rules

Horse Racing Nation – Baffert lawsuit claims Medina Spirit result does not violate rules

Ace Casino Airport is scheduled to open in late 2022 as a 72,000-square-foot operation that will also include a large restaurant, meeting rooms and offices. It is an ideal location surrounded by hotels in an area where there is little entertainment today.

Calgary Herald – Parker – SM2 Capital places bets on Calgary with casino redevelopments

6 guigno

National Anthem

Roger understood that the fans came to see the game, not Roger.

TSN – CP – Gov. grants NHL playoffs travel exemption


TDN – Essential Quality ‘Looks Amazing’ After Belmont; Cox Eyes Travers

TDN – Cox Sets Sights On Travers Stakes For Essential Quality

Paulick Report – Hot Rod Charlie Full Of Energy After Gallant Belmont Try

LA Times – Cherwa – Horse racing newsletter: Essential Quality wins Belmont Stakes

Bloodhorse – Ehalt – Essential Quality Caps Unforgettable Day for Godolphin

Bloodhorse – Eric Mitchell – Broad Use of Stallions Strengthens Godolphin’s Stable

Paulick Report – Hackbarth – Essential Quality Masters Test Of The Champion; Cox, Saez Celebrate First Classic Winners

Brisnet – Scully – Essential Quality runs down Hot Rod Charlie to win Belmont

TDN – Sherack – Essential Quality Gives Tapit Fourth Belmont Win

Bloodhorse – King – Essential Quality Prevails in Belmont Stakes

TDN – Record Handle for Non-Triple Crown Year at Belmont

Paulick Report – $112.7 Million Wagered On Belmont Stakes Card; Record For Non-Triple Crown Year

Bloodhorse – Genaro – Patience Pays off for Domestic Spending in Manhattan

TDN – Martini – Domestic Spending Powers to Manhattan Score

Brisnet – Brisnet – Reilly – Domestic Spending pours it on late in Manhattan

Bloodhorse – Ehalt – Silver State Makes it Six in a Row in Met Mile

TDN – Silver State on Top in Met Mile

Brisnet – Reilly – Althiqa collars Summer Romance, tops Godolphin exacta in Just a Game

Bloodhorse – Eric Mitchell – Althiqa Leads 1-2 Just a Game Finish for Godolphin

TDN – DiDonato – Godolphin Not Playing Around in Just a Game

TDN – Jimmy Creed’s Casa Creed Flies Late to Take Jaipur

Bloodhorse – Ehalt – Casa Creed Flies Home Late to Upset Jaipur

TDN – Letruska Wires the Ogden Phipps

Bloodhorse – King – Letruska Romps to Easy Win in Ogden Phipps Stakes

TDN – Angst – No Denying Search Results in Acorn Stakes

TDN – DoDonato – Search Results Back to Winning Ways in the Acorn

Bloodhorse – Kieckhefer – Lone Rock All Alone at Brooklyn Wire

TDN – Hanson – Lone Rock dominates Brooklyn foes

It is certain, in any case, that ignorance, allied with power, is the most ferocious enemy justice can have.

James Baldwin

Racing Post – Harding – Adayar upsets the odds to provide Adam Kirby with breakthrough Classic success

TDN – Frary – Adayar Gives Frankel His First Derby

Bloodhorse – Mottershead – Kirby Revels in Derby Breakthrough on Adayar

Bloodhorse – Racing Post – Burton – St Mark’s Basilica Dominates French Derby

Paulick Report – Santa Anita – Willman – Venetian Harbor Makes It Look Easy In Monrovia

Gold Dust Woman

TDN – The Tin Man Injured, Retired

Tin Man

Bloodhorse – King – Drain the Clock Earns Grade 1 Score in Woody Stephens

TDN – Drain the Clock Up in Time in Woody Stephens

Bloodhorse – Ehalt and King – Mean Mary, Baron Samedi Capture Turf Stakes at Belmont

Gold Dust Woman

Bloodhorse – Ehalt – Jose Ortiz Steps In, Wins True North With Firenze Fire

TDN – Vequist Sis Becomes Rising Star, First NH Winner for Astern

Bloodhorse – Racing Post – Riley – Snowfall Romps by Record Margin in Oaks

TDN – Berry – Snowfall, Rainfall And An Oaks Day To Savour


Paulick Report – New, Old School Combine In Ownership Of Hot Rod Charlie

The beautiful thing about poker is that everybody thinks they can play.

Chris Moneymaker

Horse racing has a great opportunity to step up our game and attract new fans. The Kentucky Derby and Preakness ratings showed people are interested in horse racing. Heck, my Gallery Furniture promotion shows that the Kentucky Derby and racing resonate with the guy and gal on the street.

We’ve got to attract younger people. We need to attract the followers of Barstool Sports, Bleacher Report, Action Network. We need to embrace sports-betting content.

There is no easy fix. It takes commitment, effort and ingenuity. But our sport and industry are worth it. Excluding football games, the Kentucky Derby was the third-most watched sporting event since the pandemic hit in March 2020, trailing only the NCAA men’s basketball championship game won by Baylor and Gonzaga’s semifinal victory over UCLA, according to Sports Media Watch. That’s impressive.

The Kentucky Derby, Triple Crown and horse racing are still relevant. But you’ve got to flame the fire–and also be smart about where we bet. Cumulatively, it makes a huge difference.

TDN – Letter to the Editor from James McIngvale: Where You Bet Matters

Paulick Report – McIngvale: Where You Bet Matters

In a time of changing sensitivities, an ancient sport struggles to justify itself.

The New Yorker – Finnegan – Can Horse Racing Survive?

Sal says that Finnegan tangentially hit upon a problem more serious than drugs or whips, the self created problem that horse racing doesn’t know how to solve – the unfair advantage that the whales have been given.

American horse racing was bolstered by the big bettors, known as “the whales,” who came back to the game in the summer. The whales are not obese billionaires sprawled on yachts, as I originally thought, but serried ranks of high-octane computers, operated by individuals who know nothing about horses but everything about betting. They bet on high-payoff combinations like trifectas and pick-sixes, and with the rebates they get from tracks, along with the exclusive access they reportedly get to the details of the existing pool bets, they are able to analyze and exploit all the inefficiencies. The most successful known whales of this type belong to the Elite Turf Club, which apparently has only twelve members and is based in Curaçao. The Stronach Group is the club’s majority owner, which suggests that the company is on both sides of the deal. Win-win. Stronach has taken to describing itself as “a world-class technology, entertainment and real estate development company with Thoroughbred racing and pari-mutuel wagering at the core.” Belinda Stronach, whose legal battle with her father was finally settled in August, leaving her in charge, says she is determined to modernize what she calls “the last great sporting legacy platform.”

Past The Wire – Jackpot Bets – Just for the “Elite”?

Do stakeholders in American Thoroughbred racing really understand the state of the business as it relates to wagering?

Do the horsepeople’s representative groups, HBPAs and THAs, that have a hand in approving contracts to permit wagers on their races, understand it?

Do the boards of major industry organizations?

Does Kentucky, whose economy is so intricately tied to the proliferation of Thoroughbred racing?

If so, there is no conceivable way that our sport would find itself in the position it does, as outlined in this special report.

Thoroughbred Idea Foundation – TIF Special Report: Racing Not Only For (the) Elite

Torture numbers, and they’ll confess to anything.

Gregg Easterbrook

Mattress Mack ‘s right that where you bet matters especially when taken in combination with Finnegan’s and the TIF’s comments about whales.

Sal says that Mattress Mack being a successful businessman also understands that you’re not going to get the bettors to wager where it’s most beneficial to the industry just because you ask them to shop local. The industry needs to make it easy, attractive financially and offer incentives.

There is no easy fix. It takes commitment, effort and ingenuity. But our sport and industry are worth it. Excluding football games, the Kentucky Derby was the third-most watched sporting event since the pandemic hit in March 2020, trailing only the NCAA men’s basketball championship game won by Baylor and Gonzaga’s semifinal victory over UCLA, according to Sports Media Watch. That’s impressive.

Mattress Mack has hit the upholstery nail same place you hope the farrier hits the hoof nail smack dab on the sweet spot on the head. Sal says that the commitment, effort and ingenuity must start with understanding the problems facing the thoroughbred racing industry before slapdashing band aid solutions on. Just look at the mess that Horse Racing Alberta created in this province.

You can observe a lot by watching.

Yogi Berra

This Mess We’re In

Yogi’s right, but you have to spend the time watching to understand the problems and that time spent watching has to be with an open mind free of preconceived ideas. Covid-19 has stretched the hospital capacity thin so we don’t need periodic rushes of broken bones from jumping on and off the various bandwagons.

Everyone wants to raise the handle but so far that’s been a slogan that rings as hollow as Donald’s Make America Great Again no real meaning and no plan on how to achieve it. The overall handle on thoroughbred wagering across North America has been inadvertently increased in 2020 and 2021 when a pandemic shut down almost every other form of gambling. Many of the scribes and minions have hailed this as a resurgence of the thoroughbred industry, but Sal says that this increase may be an aberration and the industry should not be hanging its hat on the handle numbers of 2020 and 2021. The 2021 handle at both Assiniboia Downs and Century Mile is up from their most recent handle figures, but 2021 is not even close to the 2020 numbers.  Some of the new bettors will stick, but how many and will they be enough to counter the loss of old bettors.

Now you may ask yourself what Sal is saying about handle and why is understanding handle important to the future of thoroughbred racing in North America. Like Arizona you can’t raise it unless you understand it.

Handle matters even though most purse pools are subsidized by revenues from other forms of gaming usually slots or slots disguised as historic racing machines. When Florida Governor DeSantis signed the recent bill allowing sports betting and decoupling gaming he described some of the tracks as sham racing. Let your handle slip too far and you risk being decoupled as the competition for every gaming dollar keeps increasing.

Handle matters, but far too many horse racing industry leaders and scribes comment about handle without understanding that composition matters just as much if not more than size. When all bets were made on track on that track’s product both before and after TAB if 5% of the handle went to purses it was simple arithmetic to calculate the amount that went to the purse account. Total takeout was also very easy to calculate. It would have also been easy to manipulate takeout and rebates at that time to create incentives, but those weren’t needed as when you’re the only gambling game in town and often the only place to get a cold beer on a Sunday or holiday who needed incentives to attract fans. Those days are gone but unfortunately much of that mentality remains in the thoroughbred racing industry.

Everything is change; and you cannot step twice into the same river.

Mary Renault

Starting with the advent of TAB the changes to the manner in which a bettor could place a bet have been astronomical and they will continue to expand. You’ve gone from an Abacus to Lotus 123 to Oracle AI in a scant few years. The only thing that has remained constant in North American thoroughbred wagering is that odds calculation has remained based upon  parimutuel pools. Today when wagering on thoroughbred races in North America Average Joe Bettor can wager:

on track on that track’s product,

on track on another tracks product,

at a track affiliated OTB on the affiliated track or any other track,

online or by phone on any track through an approved ADW that is affiliated with the NA tracks through some agreement and is usually limited in allowed wagering area

online or by phone or on any track at a grey area off-shore or onshore betting site.

All but the latter pay some percentage to the tracks for operating and purse expenses. The amounts paid to the host and betting track and to the OTBs and ADWs vary depending upon the agreement between the OTBs and the ADWs and the tracks. To the tracks and horsemen who put on the show where and how a bet is placed determine what share they are getting to cover their expenses.

Sal says this is a very simplified version of wagering but probably more than most industry leaders understand.

Sal says that when the tracks publicize handle figures for a day like Belmont day you have to read the fine print to see what they are including in that figure. A bet made in Paris through a French ADW may make your handle figure look nice and big, but if 0% comes back to the track and horsemen for expenses and purses all that that sum is doing is giving the betting public and many industry leaders a distorted view of the wagering pool.

Racing’s business statistics are deliberately opaque. There is no central office that tracks racing’s betting business and performance, a perpetual disservice to the sport’s stakeholders. Basic metrics on wagering would be helpful for many stakeholders in the sport but getting them is practically impossible.

Sal says that the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation’s Reports on Wagering Security should be required reading for anyone involved in the horse racing industry.

All payouts except for the  latter are based on parimutuel pools, however some tracks and ADWs take a greater percentage out than the track you are wagering on. The most egregious for increasing the takeout is Woodbine’s HPI where they take what Woodbine’s percentage would be on that race and screw Average Joe Bettor. That’s why you see Bettors shaking their heads at the Alberta OTBs when the TV screen shows the Pick 4 paying $1,000.00 for a $1.00 bet but your 60¢ ticket only pays you $581.40. It’s not the exchange difference that results in lower payouts as that exchange is calculated when you wager, your 60¢CDN ticket is bet into the US pool in US equivalence and paid out in US which is then converted back to CDN with no conversion fee. It’s the chiselling bastards at some of the tracks and ADWs and in Canada that’s Woodbine and HPI. Any Albertan who bets through HPI should shut their mouth the next time they want to criticize Justin Trudeau and the Liberals since by betting through HPI you’re just  another Albertan bitching about your treatment but doing absolutely nothing about it.

Bloodhorse – LaMarra – Woodbine Hikes Takeout on Most BC Wagers

Sal says that Phil told him about Albertans being able to bet through Expressbet on most North American tracks.

The grey area off-shore and onshore betting sites are a pinto compared to a bay, they offer most of the tracks’ wagering products, but also many more wager types mainly stemming from their British origins. Many of these sites offer parimutuel odds wagering, but also fixed odds wagering where your odds can be locked in at any time you choose. They also offer parlays that can be cashed in before completion and a myriad of other wagers. Unfortunately for  the North American thoroughbred industry most of these sites do not contribute any percentage to purse or track expenses except when they have to lay off some of their exposure on certain bets. With not having to pay the takeout to the tracks these sites can offer rebates and better enticements for Average Joe Bettor.

You can shear a sheep a hundred times, but you can skin it only once.

Amarillo Slim

Sal says that if you’re going to bet off-shore do your research or you’re just another sheep waiting to be shorn. Sal says that some of the sites look incompetent but have far superior technology than what you’ll ever imagine. Some of the sites appear to be so inept that you can actually wager past post time. Only works if your past post wager is on a loser. If you don’t understand how they do that better take up tiddlywinks. Sal says that if you’re playing online poker and don’t know how to spot cooperating bots or players better take up tiddlywinks. Beware or be bare.

Gambling Sites

Blacklisted Gambling Sites

If you can’t spot the sucker in your first half hour at the table, then you are the sucker.

Mike McDermott

Tiny Dancer

Now that we have introduced the simplified basics of thoroughbred wagering in North America you can see how incredibly difficult it is to take cooperative concerted action to improve the handle and get more money to the tracks and purses when there are so many hands dipping into the pot and not all the hands have the same motives.

To further exacerbate the problem of dealing with so many diverse organizations we’ll introduce the whales and how they affect the pools. Whale is an adept analogy as if the pool they dive into is too small they splash all the water out. The tracks, ADWs and whales themselves have to be careful that the whales only bet into large enough pools or they’ll destroy them. The effect that the whales have on parimutuel pools is very tough to analyze as the tracks, ADWs  and whales themselves aren’t forthcoming with the amounts and manner that they wager, the technology advantages they receive and the rebates they receive, but trust Sal when Sal says it’s detrimental to the long term health of the thoroughbred racing industry.

Slate – McClelland – Why Doesn’t Anybody Go to the Horse Races?

Everyone who has ever bet a thoroughbred race in North America has felt the let down when the winning horse they bet at 7 to 2 3 minutes before post goes off at 3 to 2 on the last odds change as the horses sail past the quarter pole. That’s the whale effect and that effect drives Average Joe bettor to the offshore sites or to sporting betting or to not betting at all.

It’s a given that reducing takeout will increase handle. Just ask the whales. Their rebates effectively lower the takeout rate to them leaving more money in their hands. Would a general reduction of takeout rates for all bettors rather than rebates for whales have a similar effect on handle is a question that is virtually impossible to answer today as the information required to make that determination is splintered and there is no body with the power to make that determination. On top of that if Track A drops its takeout rate on a particular pool there is no guarantee that Track A will be the direct beneficiary of that drop so there is no incentive to Track A to drop their takeout.

On the other hand if Track B or ADW Z rebate a whale to maintain that whale’s loyalty they are the direct beneficiary of that rebate.

It is not down in any map; true places never are.

Herman Melville

The whales aren’t betting the horses they’re betting the betting with information that isn’t readily available to Average Joe Bettor in the same format that it is available to the whales. Yes Average Joe Bettor can purchase the past performances in digital format and use one of the myriad programs  including the Odds Professors’ to analyze the race data, but Average Joe Bettor does not have the direct link to raw wagering data and direct link to wager at 13 milliseconds before post. Then to top it off the whales are receiving rebates for their large wagering that in effect gives them an advantage in the final odds. Average Joe Bettor bets $20.00 to win at 3 to 2 and gets back $50.00 plus 1/1000th of a free cup of yesterday’s coffee. Whale bets $20.00 to win and gets back $50.00 plus a rebate of his wager. If the rebate is 5% the whale gets back $51.00.

Now you may say to yourself Sal’s right so let’s get down to solving that whale problem right now. Sal says that how Horse Racing Alberta got us into the mess we’re in today.

That men do not learn very much from the lessons of history is the most important of all the lessons that history has to teach.

 Aldous Huxley

Sal says that what Sal has said so far is complex and confusing and things only get tougher and more confusing trying to get the tracks and ADWs to cooperate and collaborate on providing and analyzing the wagering data to determine if the whales are a problem and if they are a problem(s) what problem do they create and how big is that problem. The newly minted and recently boarded Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority will have some clout when it finally takes over the supervision of horse racing in the US, but will it have sufficient authority to compel the tracks and ADWs to cooperate.

The tracks and ADWs that are dealing with the whales know what inside information the whales are receiving, what amounts and types of wagers the whales are making and what rebates they are giving the whales. However, that information only pertains to their own track or ADW or their group of tracks and ADWs. CDI and the Stronach group don’t share financial information  and sit down and analyze it as they are competitors in the same market. Sal says it may be nigh impossible to obtain the cooperation and collaboration required to  perform a full market analysis of the whale’s effect on handle and the horse racing industry may be forced to rely on the tracks and ADWs to analyze and solve the problems as they perceive them.

A couple of the tracks have removed their single winning ticket Pick 5, 6 and 7s with their carryout provisions and reverted to the pay the full pool every day model as they noticed that the whales were taking unfair advantage of the carryovers. The Stronach group still runs their Rainbow Pick 6 at Gulfstream Park and is rumoured to be majority owner of one of the whales.

Ask the Arlington and Calder horsemen how successful leaving the tracks and ADWs to there own means has been.

Paulick Report – Canadian Sports Betting Bill: Woodbine Supports Exclusion Of Racing From Fixed Odds Wagering

Woodbine’s position on excluding horse racing from fixed odds wagering imposes a solution when you don’t know if there is a problem or don’t know what the problem is if there is a problem. Looks like a knee jerk reaction based on fear of change and fear of risk to protect the old wagering model without understanding the new.

Parimutuel odds calculation just need a simple spreadsheet during and at the end of the wagering. Fixed odds require someone to understand the product, take the risk and set odds to attract the wagers.

Fixed odds are not perfect and they are not the solution to all of horse racing’s problems. Fixed odds usually feature lower odds for longshots and limits on the amount wagered. But banning fixed odds without knowing why removes one option from your solutions quiver.

Offering gimmick bets could attract younger players to horse racing. The average Monmouth Park patron is age 66, Drazin said. Meadowlands’ bettors’ average age is higher.

PlayNJ – Bergeron – Key Vote in June Could Approve Fixed-Odds Horse Betting in New Jersey

That’s the Sal’s Notes version.

Getting back to Mattress Mack and where we started the commitment, effort and ingenuity to fix horse racing require the commitment, effort and ingenuity to gather the information and knowledge required to step up the game and attract new fans. The commitment, effort and ingenuity to fix horse racing require the commitment, effort and ingenuity for the splintered factions in the horse racing industry to work together to increase the size of the pie rather than fight each other for a bigger share of a shrinking pie.

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.

Dr. Seuss

FiveThirtyEight – The Astros Are Good Again. That’s Complicating Their Story.

Gallery Furniture

Paulick Report – ‘Monumental Task Ahead Of Us’: Scheeler Elected Chairperson Of Horseracing Integrity And Safety Authority Board

Thoroughbred Racing Commentary – Hayward – Drugs in U.S. racing: There’s a new sheriff in town – with a strong mandate

Horseracing Integrity and Safety Authority

Paulick Report – Voss – Baffert, Zedan File Suit Against Kentucky Commission Over Extra Testing In Medina Spirit Saga

Read a copy of the civil complaint here.

WDRB – Ragsdale – Baffert files lawsuit saying Medina Spirit’s positive test didn’t violate state racing rules

Horse Racing Nation – Baffert lawsuit claims Medina Spirit result does not violate rules

Sal says that the Medina Spirit Team lawsuit shows what a challenge the HISA faces.

All Apologies

Man on the Moon

Hawthorne Sal

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