Friday, 26 December 2014

Western Fair Boxing Day Photos

I spent Boxing Day enjoying the special afternoon card of racing at Western Fair down in London. I woke up early, got my new camera, hopped in my car and drove two and a half hours, got to the Raceway, played some races, and had a great time. Here are some of my favourite shots of the day.
Smockity Frocs wins the 2nd with Lorne House in the bike

11 year old Weskey wins the 4th easily

Leading driver Alfie Carroll wins the 6th with Class Me Nice

Down the stretch in Race 7

Beach Hero and Billy Davis Jr winning the 7th

Beginning of the 9th race

6th race field enters the first turn
Nice action shot of Northern Illusion and Nicholas Steward in Race 9

Irish Thunder and Scott Wray wins the 11th easilly

Beginning of the 12th and final race
      Racing resumes at Western Fair on Monday, December 29th at 6:15 PM, with a 12 race card. My selections will be featured on the live feed and this blog.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Western Fair handles $700k Tuesday Night

The bettors came out in full force at The Raceway on Tuesday night.

       Highlighted by two $7,500 guaranteed Pick 4s and a trio of Preferred 3 events, the 14 race card at the Western Fair District handled $700,685. Both Alfie Carroll and Nick Steward scored driving doubles on the night. Carroll is currently London's leading driver of 2014, with 148 wins. Prior to his double on Tuesday, Carroll had scored seven wins the night before.

      Despite being guaranteed at $7,500, the Pick 4 wagers far exceeded their expectation, with pools of $16,610 and $17,248. Although there were no carryovers or guaranteed pools for the two Super Hi-5 wagers offered, they handled $8,139 and $7,871. The Pick 4 and Super Hi-5 at Western Fair both offer $.20 minimum wagers and reduced 15% takeout.

      On January 3rd, 2014, Western Fair handled $536,725, which Standardbred Canada was quoted as saying was "the highest single night total for the track more than a decade." Tuesday's handle built on that by 30.5%.

     Racing resumes at The Raceway on Friday, December 26th, with a special 1:15 post time for Boxing Day.

Saturday, 13 December 2014

Takeout Matters, it's a Fact

Some people want to keep debating this.

      Let's play a hypothetical game. We've got a field of five horses and a win pool of $10,000. Below are the amounts of money wagered on each horse.

  1. $2,000
  2. $1,500
  3. $750
  4. $4,000
  5. $1,750
     The takeout of this pool is 20%. That leaves $8,000 to be paid out to the winners. Below are the odds of each horse at this takeout.

  1. 3-1 ($8)
  2. 4.3-1 ($10.60)
  3. 9.6-1 ($21.20)
  4. 1-1 ($4)
  5. 7-2 ($9)
     But if we slash the takeout to 10%, the odds become
  1. 7-2 ($9)
  2. 5-1 ($12)
  3. 11-1 ($24)
  4. 1.25-1 ($4.50)
  5. 4.1-1 ($10.20)
    By cutting the takeout, your $2 win payout have increased by 12-13%. Which pool would you rather play into?

    One of the arguments that's been used against me is "human nature," saying that if a horse goes up from say 3-1 to 7-2, more people will bet him and his odds will go back down to 3-1. There are two major flaws in this: a) the odds on every horse goes up with lower takeout, and therefore each horse will take more money. However, since a higher percentage of the pool will be paid out, the odds will be higher, and b) if that horse suddenly does take way more money than it normally would at the lower take, the odds on every other goes up. It would even out. 

     The other big argument against lower takeout is that "nobody cares." Let's take a look at a group of gamblers who definitely don't care, slots players. Slots players are people who just want the action, nothing more, nothing less. They are aware that it's a game rigged against them. However, the takeout on a slot machine is (generally) 8%. Not 21%. 8%. Now, if you're dealing with a group of gamblers who blatantly don't care and are playing a game they can never win, why not rake 30%? 40%? Hell, why not rake 87.32%? They don't care. The reason is simple: when people win more, they play more. Churn is an important driver of handle. If a slots player cuts a profit just one night, which he is far more likely to do at 8% takeout than 21%, he is more likely to want to come back and keep playing.

     Takeout makes a difference. Higher takeout leads to lower handle. Lower takeout leads to higher handle and growth for the game. This is a fact. Stop denying it. Stop wallowing in your own ignorance, accept reality, and join the fight to revive horse racing. Racing is losing customers to poker and daily fantasy sports. I don't mean losing potential new customers, I mean losing people who were betting on racing but have left the sport and have started playing other games. It's not because horse racing is for old people. It's because it's a hell of a lot easier to win against a 5% house edge than 21%.

     Maybe takeout doesn't matter to you as an individual. Maybe it's not something you think about when placing a wager. However, regardless of your position as a bettor, fan, horseperson or whoever, understand this: lower takeout will create long term growth for the racing industry. If you want to continue to deny the role that takeout plays, by all means continue to wallow in your own ignorance. I can't force you to believe anything. However, if you want to see racing grow, support lower takeout.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Kickin' It

There's been some chat on social media tonight about David Miller's drive on McWicked at Dover Downs. Some mild controversy has arisen in regards to Miller "kicking" McWicked. "Kicking" is where the driver removes his foot from the stirrups and brushes his boot on the horse's hocks.

     Miller is "aggravated" about the $750 fine.

  • “I take my foot out of the stirrup and he bumps into my foot,” David Miller explained, “I never kick a horse. People have to understand that. His hock comes back and strikes my boot. There is no way in the world that I am hurting a horse or doing any damage to the horse.”
  • “I realize that people are really down on this idea of “kicking” but it was worth every bit of the $750 fine for letting his hock hit my foot."
  • “Unless people have gotten in a bike and trained or driven a horse they can’t know what it is like being in my shoes,” Miller explained, “I drive to win and I would never put myself at risk or anyone else in a race, driver or horse. It’s not cruel or inhumane what we do in a race. The people complaining don’t know what they are talking about and most have never sat behind a horse. I was in the barn before I could walk. I have driven in thousands of races and I know what I am doing as do most of the drivers.”
     So that's the attitude we're dealing with from Miller. This isn't "I didn't realize that this was a rule, I wish I had known." This is "I think this is a stupid rule, and I'm not going to respect the authorities of racing."

     I don't like that viewpoint.

     Now, I'm not here to tell you "kicking" is abusive or not. In my opinion it is, but I'm not a standardbred horseman, I'm never around standardbreds in other situation other than as a fan, it's not my area of expertise. However, perception is a problem. Optically, when you notice a driver letting the horse hit his boot, it looks bad. Purposely scaring a horse (which is what it is) sounds bad. There's no argument that it's good for the horse. Is it abuse? That's up to you, but it's not nice.

    But more importantly than the "is it abuse or not?" debate is the "is it okay to break the rules?" debate. Willfully breaking a rule and going on to say you will continue to break that rule, topping that off with "I'm a driver, you're not so you don't get a say" is a colossal act of arrogance that should not be tolerated.

Fun comment on Facebook; integrity and cheating are nonsense. Racing has problems
    There is a rule against "kicking." You may not agree with it, you may think it's the stupidest rule you've ever seen in your life, but too bad. It's a rule. We all know it's a rule. If you're a driver, follow the rule. Keep your feet in the stirrups, or pay the fine and shut up. If you don't like it, appeal the fine. Outright saying to the media "It's worth the $750 fine" basically says "to hell with the rules."

    But you can't blame Miller entirely; he's driven for a long time and gotten away with it. He can afford a $750 fine. This is where racing needs to step its game up. Enforce the damn rules. Stop letting these drivers get away with breaking the rules, and sure as hell don't let them outright say "I'm not going to start following this rule." There's no point in having rules if you let your participants break them. Be no nonsense. Make your drivers and trainers perfectly aware that you won't get away with pushing the envelope. Be the adult in the room. The horsemen sure aren't going to.

     Racing has an integrity issue. Having rules and not enforcing them isn't helping it. Drivers who say "I'm going to break this rule." isn't helping either. The integrity of the sport is not nonsense. Enough is enough. Make the game respectable. Put an end to this issue, and move on to bigger things.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Aqueduct Handle Down 13.6%

Aqueduct Racetrack concluded the first portion of their 2014-2015 winter meet on Sunday. The meet, which held the same number of race days and races as last year, saw a 13.6% decline in handle.

    Total handle for the 26 race cards was $158,268,874, averaging $6,087,264 per day and $676,362 per race. In 2013 these figures were $184,204,040, $7,084,770 and $787,196, respectively. Average field size also took a hit, dropping 8.6% from 8.73 horses/race in 2013 to 7.98. The average $2 win payout was $12.19, about even with last year's $12.02.

     The New York Racing Association has announced that they will be increasing their signal fee along with upping prices for group sales and parking for 2015. The increased signal fee could lead to more handle declines in the future.

     The Aqueduct meet switches over to the inner dirt surface today (Wed. Dec. 3) and will stay there until late March (no exact date available at this time.)