Things That Make You Go Hmmmm (8)

Interesting but not unexpected reaction to comments from Peter Carlino, chief executive officer of Penn National Gaming Inc., regarding racetrack gaming. … The reference to horseplayers being dead was a red herring; slots players die, too. His overall point seems to have been missed: The slots welfare system is doomed to fail without changes—changes that can be readily made if horsemen and tracks work together. … Yes, PNGI could do itself a big favor by embracing horse racing rather than looking like it doesn’t care, but the bottom line is this: The guy, for the most part, is right.

Walked into a newsstand in Miami Beach a few weeks ago to buy Daily Racing Form but ended up walking out without it. Why? The $7 price on it had been blacked out with a marker, and a sticker with a price $8.95 was placed next to it. I didn’t wait to find out if tax was included. … DRF informed me that stores can charge what they want. … Ended up getting the tracks I wanted to bet in Gulfstream simulcast programs that cost a bit less in total. … Houston, we have a data cost problem, perhaps yet another reason pari-mutuel handle continues its decline.

Speaking of data, there’s still no upgrade to the Daily Racing Program being sold as “official” track simulcast programs at various facilities. Still no italics in the PPs for horses that return to win races, jockey/trainer stats that may or may not appear depending on space, and yearly stats instead of meet-specific stats, even though all this information is readily available through Equibase. I guess it really is that difficult to provide bettors with complete, cost-effective information? … Or maybe no one gives a crap. ... Or maybe it's about saving pennies to lose dollars.

How is it that a track with a pool of about 2,400 horses can’t fill fields, but a track with about 1,500 at its disposal can? Maybe because at the latter track, where purses are at least half what they should be, horsemen need to make a buck and are more appreciative of what they have, as inadequate as it may be?

When bettors are hurting, raise prices. … The industry can then blame Penn National Gaming Inc. and companies of that ilk for killing it rather than admitting to suicide.

Did you know there are racetracks, or entire states, that don’t mandate pre-race exams for racehorses? It’s one of the reasons why accreditation through the NTRA Safety and Integrity Alliance has been fairly light thus far. … You would think by now this industry would get it: Being proactive when your conduct is under a microscope is priceless. ... Don't whine when you're caught with your pants down.

The numerous weather-related cancellations around the country this winter haven’t been lost on Turfway Park, which thus far (I don’t believe in jinxes) has lost only two live racing programs in what has been a very unpleasant Kentucky winter. Yes, racing only three or four days a week instead of five reduces the chance of cancellations, but the reality is this: Whether you like synthetic surfaces or hate them, the Polytrack works at Turfway. … The over/under for programs that would have been lost this winter with the old dirt track in place is 10—and it’s only mid-February.

Seems everyone wants a racetrack license in Ohio, where dates have been drastically reduced and handle has drastically dropped in recent years. … You’ve got to love the ones that say they’d build and open a track even if it doesn’t have VLTs. ... Hey, can I have a license? Maybe I can revive the old half-miler at Hamilton Raceway north of Cincinnati.

Can’t find anyone to criticize last year’s meet at Monmouth Park. It was hailed as a game-changer—and here we are in mid-February, again, not knowing what this year’s meet will look like. … We may see live racing at Atlantic City Race Course in late April before we know Monmouth's "official" schedule. ... I’d say only in New Jersey, but that wouldn’t be fair, would it? Look around.

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