Things That Make You Go Hmmmm (9)

Nice to see experiments with reductions in pari-mutuel takeout, but this one really caught my eye. Mardi Gras West Virginia, a Greyhound racetrack and casino near Charleston, received approval recently to lower the takeout rate on win, place, and show bets from 16.3% to 9.4%. In effect, the rate is similar to that of the rate on video lottery terminals at the facility. … Yes, WPS pools at dog tracks are w-a-y lower than those for exotic wagers and need some incentive, but the joint gets credit for trying. Racing needs more of this.

Haven’t digested all the information from the recent International Medication Summit in New York, so it’s possible I missed a few things. … Was there any discussion about drug-testing levels in foreign countries, and whether horses actually do race on medication of some sort? Was there any explanation of the difference between training on therapeutic drugs and racing on them? Are horses that train on medication but don’t race on it any less “tainted” when they go to stud? If anyone knows the answers, please let me know.

The Breeders’ Cup World Championships is probably my favorite racing event, and I believe the organization has done a fine job over the years expanding it and reaching out to the international community. But I don’t get taking $500,000 from the grade I Sprint and creating a 2-year-old dirt sprint for boys and girls. May have liked it a bit more if it was on the grass, but even then it’s a tough sell on me. … That said, if it draws a full field, I’m sure the handle will be fine.

Had the usual good time Preakness Stakes week at Pimlico Race Course, which has a certain charm. (Yes, I get hammered for saying that.) Upset of the week was the popularity of mascot “Kegasus.” … Repeat campaigns aren’t the norm, but surely there’s a good chance this guy is coming back in 2012?

Ventured to Keeneland on a recent weekend and ran into Frank Angst of the Times. We were talking when I opened my simulcast program to handicap a few races and noticed it had been marked up. I showed Frank, who promptly told me he hoped whoever had it first didn’t handicap in the can. … Thanks, Frank, nice image indeed. … Bottom line: How do used programs make it back to the program sellers for resale? Yikes.

Got a package in the mail from the Brandywine Valley visitors’ bureau that contained a small horseshoe and flyer from, the online marketing and promotional Web site for Pennsylvania racing. … The objective, the flyer says, is to “target an audience bored with the same old bars and play up the great nightlife, lively crowds, and surrounding points of interest that can stretch a day at the track into a weekend.” … Very good strategy, and if you’re ever in the Brandywine Valley, be sure to eat the mushrooms. Awesome.

Speaking of fungi, it brings to mind something said to me (probably more than once) by a longtime industry official who is never on the popular side of issues: “We’re like mushrooms. They keep us in the dark and feed us shit.” … After 15 years or so of covering this industry, you’d think I wouldn’t be able to relate to that anymore.

Remember “handle up, purses down”? Lately it has been “handle down, purses up.” … When the heck will it be “handle up, purses up”? … It has long been apparent the lack of transparency in reporting pari-mutuel handle and resulting revenue has made it hard to have any gauge of what’s going on by racetrack, state, or even the country. How does this occur in a highly regulated business with an industry database?

Here’s a comment from a horsemen at a slots racetrack in regard to repeated claims horse racing is being subsidized by gaming machines owned by the company that operates racing there: “It’s not a state subsidy. It’s a profit-maker for the state. We are not being subsidized. We are subsidizing the state.” … It’s hard to argue with the guy, huh?

Have you ever watched National League MVP Joey Votto of the Cincinnati Reds at the plate? Could you imagine what this industry could accomplish if the collective powers that be had that same concentration, intensity, love of the game, and the desire to win? … No politics, just crushing the ball.

Recent Posts

More Blogs