Things That Make You Go Hmmmm (10)

In reporting record fourth-quarter revenue in 2011, Churchill Downs Inc. noted live horse racing and full-card simulcasts continue to lose money, while the gaming and online wagering sectors are profitable. … Not mentioned is the fact the company’s online wagering operation currently is based solely on the horse racing product, and that two of its slots casinos are in existence because they are located at racetracks. … Can’t argue with the facts, but let’s acknowledge the critical link here.

The New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority in its lease deal for Monmouth Park is providing a $4 million “grant” to assist the New Jersey THA in 2012. There’s nothing wrong with that, but you can’t help but remember the governor said there would be an end to all “subsidies” for racing. … So why didn’t privately owned Atlantic City Race Course and Freehold Raceway receive grants, justified or not?

During testimony before a Kentucky Senate committee on a constitutional amendment on casino gambling, the anti-gambling Family Foundation of Kentucky argued Kentucky isn’t a referendum state. A few weeks later the public policy group pushed a constitutional amendment through another Senate committee on protecting religious freedom, which is already protected in the state and United States constitutions. … So what it is, guys? A referendum state or not a referendum state? … By the way, this flip-flop received no media coverage.

Still can’t figure out the ultimate strategy of the Ontario provincial government and Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corp. in setting a March 2013 deadline for the OLG to be out of the racetrack gaming business, but word that three tracks, including Fort Erie, already have been targeted is disturbing. … Ontario is one jurisdiction in which I didn’t expect this to happen, but if the plan isn’t blocked, it could be the first. … Wakeup call folks.

Jeff Gural, who is leasing Meadowlands from the State of New Jersey and operates two upstate New York racetrack casinos, seems to be picking up support for a proposal that would dedicate a small percentage of purse revenue from gaming to equine drug-testing and the marketing of harness racing. I hope he’s not a voice in the wilderness on this one, but getting horsemen to part with even a small share of their purse supplements won’t be easy.

The first video in a series launched by The Jockey Club and NTRA Communications—we’ll call it “Hoof Locker”—is bizarre. I like it. … Lost in the good-bad discussion is an important fact for an industry that consistently fails to follow through on plans: The Jockey Club already has put into action many recommendations from the 2011 McKinsey and Company report—and in less than eight months.

And a few leftovers from the National HBPA winter convention:

An interesting discussion revealed this alleged but believable statistic: Roughly 120 gamblers account for $2 billion in pari-mutuel handle on Thoroughbred racing each year, or almost 20% … Glad these folks continue to send it in, but one can only hope the industry is scared to death of this statistic.

More and more ADW companies are touting good rebates for big bettors, which is fine. But if this industry is so concerned about where revenue goes through such systems, wondering why no ADW companies advertise or publicize revenue percentages to attract bettors who do care about where the revenue goes.

Sam Gordon, former longtime president of the Florida HBPA and now a consultant for The Stronach Group, received an achievement award from the National HBPA. Gordon has been recognized a tough negotiator but one with a sense of humor. … “I’m still accused of horsemen being my first love even though I work for racetracks and get a check from them,” he said of his role as a consultant. And of how consultants operate, he said: “Gray hair makes you look distinguished. Hemorrhoids make you look concerned.”


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Bravo to the Jockey Club! In re: "The Jockey Club already has put into action many recommendations from the 2011 McKinsey and Company report—and in less than eight months."

I watched the Roundtable from last August -- several times -- and I've seen they are following up on many of the suggestions from the McKinsey Report. (See their release of their two progress reports at the Jockey Club's web site) I am glad the JC is wresting many of the functions away from the NTRA and taking a more "hands on" approach.  The NTRA had become a toothless dragon...not even being successful at retaining membership levels for themselves, how in the heck were they going to be able to be effective in marketing the sport! Not sure it was anybody's fault, really, as structurally it was set up to fail.

As to Kentucky's Senate being tone deaf to its voters, it makes them look totally ridiculous!  Here's a state that its claim to fame is "the Sport of Kings", is the center of the universe for the Thoroughbred industry, and, also, does it still grow tobacco? Nobody really likes the fact that for the time being at least, the sport is being held together with spit and bailing wire, and the casinos.  When you already have gambling in  your state, big time, and you are on the deck of the Titanic, now is not the time to rearrange the deck chairs! You go with the flow. When better solutions come along, be in a position to deal from strength, not from a leaky lifeboat.

14 Mar 2012 4:08 PM

Something that I find intersting is that a Horse of the Year would come back in an allowance race when there was a graded stakes to compete in that offered more money right up the road. Weights is what they were talking about, sounded like Allen Iverson and his rant about practice, stop arguing weights and run the horse in races worthy of consideration. This type of race in which she will be in an open gallop to finish is an embarrassment to the Eclipse Awards. Moving on. Thank goodness the owners of Royal Delta and other top fillies don't seek out and look for allowance races to start their horses seasons.

14 Mar 2012 4:30 PM

how about this Hmmmmmmm:

A horse racing Internet add is appearing on a site other than a racing industry site, to wit--TVG ads have been spotted on National Review and National Journal. As one may expect, the ads are completely and totally lacking in imagination, but then the journey starts with the first step.

14 Mar 2012 8:13 PM

Ontario better be ready for the 60,000 or so unemployed people who'll be claiming social benefits once the government has killed racing here - for the loss of the hundreds of millions of dollars that the government gets after racing takes its paltry 20% for hosting/paying for the show.

You should know that Ontario is NOT known for making sense (I live here, so I know!. You should also know that, in Canada, it seems that if it isn't hockey, it doesn't count. I find that most offensive as I HATE hockey and have loved racing for over half a century.

How sad that a healthy sport is to axed for no good reason. I think the government might find it misses the subsidy racing provided - but by then it may be too late. It's a time I'm proud NOT to be a native born.

17 Mar 2012 4:18 PM
Edd Roggenkamp

I have been told the same statistic (or a similar variation) that the whales, a few gamblers 120 account for  20% of all bets. Maybe, maybe not. No one can or will report actual/factual statistics. Unfortunately this statistics seems to stop every one in their tracks. Why? Instead of "oh my God, oh my God", we need to ask, so what now?

Big fleets buy 20% of all vehicles, but that does not stop the vehicle manufacturers from persuing aggressive product, advertising, and marketing strategies for the other 80% of the buyers.

This out-of-reality concern about the few big bettors (if they really exist) is just another excuse for the lack of plan, the lack of action, and the lack of a real marketing and profit strategy in the business.

17 Mar 2012 10:25 PM

As regards the Ontario mess: Drummond is perpetuating a lie. The government doesn't subsidize racing; racing subsidizes the government (racing provides the facilities, etc., and is allowed to keep 20% of revenue; the government grabs the rest. Some subsidy, huh!). However, in this country nothing matters except hockey - which I HATE - so who gives a ^*%** about racing? I hope Drummond is ready for the welfare/unemployment benefits coming when some 60,000 people are put out of work here - or don't they matter because they're only racing people?

I live here and the logic of our government defies explanation on many, many counts. I think this is a shining example. I doubt if pretty Fort Erie will live long; Woodbine might stagger along some longer. And those of us who love racing here will nurse our broken hearts much, much longer. This is one time I'm glad not to be a "native-born." I'd have to be ashamed.

19 Mar 2012 1:30 PM
Bret Stossel

Here's something that will really make you go hmmmm: Anyone read The New York Times article about breakdowns in racing? That will have all of the wrong people saying hmmmm!

25 Mar 2012 10:26 AM

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