Power Cap

Power cap- existential handicapping

30 December 2010

Neither of them deserve the honors

For those blissfully living underneath a rock since late October I am referring to the "great" horse of the year debate that has been going on since the finish of the Classic. During the Christmas break on both of the cable racing channels it was all they would talk about. It as is if any other racing has not occurred since this time and that was the last race of the year that anybody saw.

Neither camp should get horse of the year based on one fact, they cancel each other out. Their negatives and positives as far as racetrack efforts are equal. The negative on Zenyatta is her loss in the Classic, a race she was prepped up all year long for by way of winning weak grade one races. The positive is her record though, one loss the whole year and doing what has been told of her no matter the competition or task.

Blame also has one loss on the year, the race he ran in before the Classic. In early October Haynesfield threw a monkey wrench in Blame's unbeaten season in spectacular fashion. This loss has been a sticking point to Zenyatta's supporters, their reasoning is that if this horse is a beast he completes the year unbeaten. Zenyatta's loss kind of cancels out Blame's loss though, both had only one loss on the year. Blame has also been faulted on his competition, which kind of mirrors what detractors of the mare have been using for two years. So once again both debating points are rendered null and void for being common. Blame's supporters counter that he won the races he was entered no matter the competition, once again offsetting the positive point made by the opposing side. So as you can see we are at an impasse.

Which brings me to option C in this pointless war of words, vote outside the box. Yes, you can! Vote for Stormy's Majesty. He has brought joy and riches who have seen his talent and he will be racing next year so you can see him defend his hard earned title. Next year's class of handicap horses are shaking in their shoes at the sight of this hulking monster of horseflesh, mark my words! I implore the eclipse voters to use the slightly edited ballot below that was not crudely changed by way of liquid paper and send it in to the proper authorities. A vote for Stormy's Majesty is a vote for the future!

26 December 2010

2010 Year in Review: Win and you’re retired division

This year marked the second straight year the Derby favorite would miss the race due to a career threatening injury. Eskendereya was on top of everybody’s Derby prospect list after an authoritative win in the Fountain of Youth and fortified that assumption with a run away win at Aqueduct in the Wood Memorial. His injury was a sign of things to come, almost every winner of a major three year old stakes is now at stud.

This year’s Derby hero sure didn’t look like a Derby winner in his three starts following his May 1st triumph under the twin spires. After Eskendereya was knocked out with injury, the possibility of Pletcher going another year without that coveted victory in this signature race looked very likely. History repeated itself for the third time though when Borel rode the rail to victory on Super Saver who loved Churchill and the mud. The Preakness was another race that Pletcher wanted to add to his lengthy resume and Super Saver looked like he was in with a chance with three furlongs left only to weaken throughout the stretch to finish eighth. Pletcher gave Super Saver some time off to get ready for the Haskell, this was Lookin at Lucky’s coming out party though and the Pletcher star was caught for third by a resurgent First Dude. The Travers was four weeks later and the shine was completely off Super Saver at that point, he was not particularly well bet in this race and ran a distant tenth. On October 28th the Derby victor was retired not accomplishing much after his successful run on the first Saturday in May. Sea Hero and Giacomo accomplished more than Super Saver did and raced at four. Sea Hero won the Travers and raced at four in turf stakes races for a majority of that season. Giacomo won a grade two stakes at four at Del Mar and finished out his career a decent fourth in the Breeder’s Cup Classic. Super Saver retired with a minor injury that he could have returned from with some rest and relaxation.

Lookin at Lucky was the last of the major retirements and this happened after he finished fourth in the Classic. It appeared as if he would make a return to the races at four where he would have the chance to dominate a depleted division. Most years it would take three or four wins in major races to clinch divisional honors, this year it only took two. Lookin at Lucky won the Preakness in less than convincing fashion and came back in the Haskell to dominate a lot of the same foes he struggled to hold off at Baltimore. Baffert has had a good amount of high quality three-year-old runners and not a lot of them have made it back to the racetrack for a four-year-old season. The last one that comes to mind is Congaree who was a dominant force at Aqueduct, before that he had Real Quiet and Silver Charm come back to compete after their three-year-old season. Silver Charm won the San Fernando, Strub, Dubai World Cup, Kentucky Cup Classic, Goodwood, Clark, and San Pasqual, from ages four to five. The breeding market gets another son of Smart Strike to breed to now though, a field that includes Curlin, English Channel, Papa Clem, and Square Eddie.

What do Afleet Express and Line of David have in common? They both retired shortly after wins in important stakes races. Line of David shocked the betting public by winning the Arkansas Derby over Dublin and Super Saver, he was no where near the winner in the Derby and a stud deal was reached in June. Afleet Express won the Travers and was retired on November 10th, ten days before the announcement of Lookin at Lucky’s retirement.

Drosselmeyer is back in training after an injury that was detected after his victory in the Belmont Stakes. Probably the only reasons he is not standing at stud are that the market for breeding to Belmont winners is not there and his stable mate Super Saver is in the breeding shed for 2011. Drosselmeyer ran in a Belmont that did not feature a winner of either the Kentucky Derby or Preakness. The last time this happened was 2000 when Commendable wired the Belmont field. Commendable did not win a race after his Belmont score. The only difference is there is no Albert the Great or Tiznow running next year like Commendable had in his class.

Santa Anita Boycott Will be a Failure

These price conscious players are like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster; often spoken about but never seen. The group that is advocating a boycott of Santa Anita is unfortunately not going to make a dent in Santa Anita's business. The small uptick in action generated by a takeout reduction can never account for the loss in revenue generated by the takeout reduction itself.

Before you go off and launch into ad hominem mode I am only speaking from experience; with data collected the hard way. There was a time when I used to play Sam Houston solely for the low takeout (12%) pick 3. If some working class guy in New York is spending his evenings working over Sam Houston there must of been many more players like me. I was shocked to see the trifecta pools (25% takeout) at Sam Houston were 2 to 3 times bigger than the pick 3. The Sam Houston pick 3 was a great value; yet it was completely ignored by the public. The public preferred the fast action of the trifecta even if the cost was over 100% more. This was not the only failure of low takeout wagers offered by racetracks to entice players to look at their tracks. The low takeout pick 4 at Ellis was failure. The low takeout offered at Laurel last year was unfortunatly a failure too. This boycott of Santa Anita is destined to be an inadequate effort.

The vast majority of horseplayers are expressing a compulsive vice when they visit the windows; tracks make money by feeding this vice. There is no reason for track management keep hitting their heads against the wall expecting a different result chasing a nonexistent demographic of price conscious players. The demographic is too small to matter. If you want to reach the price conscious crowd publish some coupons in the Sunday paper. Tracks make money by having a large horse population and carding big fields.

23 December 2010

2010 Year In Review: King of the tough beats

Zito has had more tough beats in big events this year than anyone else I can think of in the last ten years. In almost all of the marquee three-year-old events he had horses garner place or show in excruciating fashion. His year started out well enough; once again he had a shed row loaded with newly minted Derby prospects, including a privately purchased Jackson Bend. Jackson Bend was one of the hot Derby prospects up until February when he had his doors blown off by Eskendereya in the Fountain of Youth. Ice Box took over Jackson’s spot as the top Zito prospect with a fast closing victory in the Florida Derby in March.

The Kentucky Derby is not a race known for an abundance of great trips. Ice Box finished second, yet was considered by many to have run the best race that day due to the fact he had to mount two bids with 3/8 of a mile left to run after getting shut off the first time. The usually consistent Jackson Bend threw in a clunker in the Derby finishing well off the board with the only viable excuse being the sloppy surface. A week later at Belmont it looked like Zito was loaded for the Belmont Stakes when Fly Down blew away the opposition in the Dwyer that included Drosselmeyer, a highly touted Mott trainee.

Back in 1996 Zito had Louis Quatorze turn a poor Derby run into a Preakness victory, no such luck this year. Jackson Bend back after his non effort in the Derby looked like he was going to win during a couple of points in the stretch run just to come up short finishing third. Lookin at Lucky repelled Jackson Bend and First Dude made a comeback to capture second after setting the pace. Jackson Bend has had three starts since this race versus competition of grade three horses or less and has finished fourth, fifth, and sixth in those efforts.

The Belmont looked like Zito was going to get a win in the classics, he had the top two contenders lining up for this race. Ice Box skipped the second leg of the Triple Crown specifically for this race and Fly Down was lights out in his prep for the longest of the three races of the series. Ice Box never looked comfortable finishing eighth and Fly Down finished second less than a length by the same horse he beat in the Dwyer, Drosselmeyer. Mike Smith was on the winner as well adding a little more salt to the wound, Smith rode Jackson Bend in the first two legs of the triple crown.

The last big event for the three-year-olds before the weight for age races in the fall is the Travers. Zito came into this race with three entries, Ice Box, Fly Down, and Miner’s Reserve. Miner’s Reserve avoided the spring classics and ran well in allowance races leading up to the Jim Dandy, a prep for the Travers. Unfortunately for Miner’s Reserve he ran into a horse that also missed the Triple Crown races and was highly touted before missing the big races, A Little Warm. Miner’s Reserve set the pace and could not hold off the charge of A Little Warm. Much like the Jim Dandy in the Travers Miner’s Reserve got out to an early advantage and looked like he had a chance to pull a major upset as they turned into the stretch. He gave way inside the 3/16 pole and was passed by Afleet Express and Fly Down. In one of the tighter photo finishes in the history of the Travers Afleet Express came out the victor, Zito lost another close one. Afleet Express won the Pegasus in June defeating Jackson Bend in an upset.

Things looked like they were going to turn around in the fall when Morning Line won the $1,000,000 Pennsylvania Derby on September 25 defeating a quality field that included First Dude and A Little Warm. The saying things get better before they get worse clearly did not apply here though. The Breeder’s Cup Dirt Mile had some of the fastest fractions one will see for a flat mile and Morning Line was on the pace that went in 22.41, 44.94, and 1:09.44. He dueled Hurricane Ike, Vineyard Haven, and Tizway into defeat and had a clear advantage going into the last eighth of a mile. The Jerry Hollendorfer trained Dakota Phone was the biggest beneficiary of the rapid pace up front and picked off horses from the 3/4 pole to the stretch, moving from tenth up to third, and forcing a photo finish. If you read this far, it is no surprise who won and who lost the photo. Zito had a horse in the Classic though, unfortunately this Classic field had to be one of the toughest fields assembled in the 27-year history of this event. Fly Down, a multiple time tough beat made his march to the lead around the same time Zenyatta was kicking it into high gear, unfortunately he did not have the same acceleration as the champion mare. Fly Down finished third, three and a half lengths behind one of the greater stretch runs ever seen in this sport.

As it was said at the top, Zito has had a treasure trove of mind numbing defeats, I know regulars at Belmont and Aqueduct that don’t have this many tough beat stories as Zito has compiled this year. That being said, Fly Down looks like one of the top 4-year-old prospects along with Morning Line due to all the retirements of the big names in the 3-year-old and the handicap division. It may not take much to be dominant force in the older male division either. As far as silver linings go, that is not a bad one to have.

Would you look at that

They are showing dark day simulcasting on the ghost of the OTB channel, this is faster progress than expected with regards to New York racing and simulcasting.

22 December 2010

NYRA Video Streaming Approved in New York

After four years the state finally approved streaming video. This was along drawn out battle that lasted longer than WWI. The reason for the delayed approval was the state protecting OTB's interest. The idea from Albany is that if New Yorkers can't watch NYRA at home they will be compelled to OTB parlors or watch the OTB channel. For some this was ridiculous as not every county in New York had an OTB or an OTB channel. These people were caught in the crossing fore between OTB and reason and ended up with access to only TVG if they were lucky to have satellite TV. This is the principle of might is right. OTB had the might in NY state and dictated the terms.

We sent letters three years ago to no avail, the only action or elected officals took was accepting kickbacks for the Aqueduct casino. Four years of no racing video and no real coverage in the press. Too bad it wasn't the Yankers or NFL, if the would have been front page news if video was blocked of those sports. It took the crisis shut down of NYCOTB to finally stream video in New York. Rushed, desperate and reactionary are adjectives that describe how how business is done in New York. With this odyssey under the bridge I look forward to booting up NYRA rewards and watching streaming video next time I play Aqueduct.

16 December 2010

The week long nightmare is over

No need to change the primary start-up channel from 71 to something else anymore. The in-home simulcast feed made a triumphant return today and there is talk about NYRA opening wagering teletheaters as a replacement to the shuttered NYC OTB locations.

Off track betting won't die without a fight though, it is still on the Time Warner Cable listings. Channel 71 will probably be listed as OTB on NYC TV long after the bankruptcy proceedings conclude.

Update, after Aqueduct's live program the blue screen of doom reappeared. Unfortunately, there is no after hours simulcast shown after the conclusion of racing from Aqueduct, hopefully they work towards rectifying this. Some live racing in the living room is better than none though.

14 December 2010

NY Times is a Source of Disinformation

As chief journalistic representative of a culture that supposedly has a love of diversity- the NY Times does a great job of proving otherwise. While the talking class drones on about a love of diversity- the esoteric truth is that this culture from top to bottom is racing towards homogeneity. The NY Times racing coverage affirms this truth. Niche sports like racing doesn't have any room in New York according to the Times "It is hard to shake a feeling that Aqueduct’s precious 192 acres in South Ozone Park, Queens, might be put to better use, perhaps for parks or for reasonably priced housing, which goodness knows the city sorely needs. " When the Times and the cultural masters are done manipulating opinions this world will be a one trick pony- horse racing will not be providing the pony.

While most can agree with that opinion that aqueduct is not a venue enjoyed by all the Times really goes off the rails when it becomes a medium for disinformation. "With the failed bookie operation known as the New York City Off-Track Betting Corporation forced to shut its doors, the numbers of horse players trooping to Aqueduct racetrack have swelled." NYCOTB was never a bookie operation, it was a parimutuel outlet- this is a huge difference in complexity and the nature of the operation.

If the New York Times is going to send a reporter to Aqueduct-- shouldn't he be informed? Why report these facts while taking them totally and completely out of context. OTB operated as a political patronage mill and was filled with inefficiency and mismanagement. OTB often acted against ( banning streaming in-home video for example) the best interest of the product. It was the fact that government corruption and ineptitude killed OTB; not the lack of appeal from the racing product. This is not clear in the piece as shows how reporting misinforms rather that informs.

While I have to agree that Aqueduct certainly is not an ascetically appealing new construction palace- I contend that Aqueduct holds a different type of charm. Certainly in this world there are diverse experiences and tastes- especially in New York. Aqueduct is a remnant of old working class New York- like an old pair of jeans that are the most comfortable, rugged and familiar article of clothes in your wardrobe. Everything in the wardrobe can not be a new suit. Must we steamroll/cleanse everything in this culture for the sake of homogeneity? Do we really need to demolish Aqueduct to make way for yet another Wal-Mart or Starbucks or Wal-Mart or Starbucks? Do we need to raid the taxpayers for billions to construct new stadiums -three here in the NYC area just the last two years- so the masses can consume more ball games and only ball games. Does every sport have to be a TV show masquerading as a team sport? If it doesn't fit the narrow mold of Mr. Haberman's world it must be demolished. This is the cultural homogeneity that the NY times silently yet ubiquitously promotes. The worldview is narrow and it is the cultural equivalent of rainforest slash and burn farming. The old is neglected and new turf is constantly slashed and burned to provide the fresh newly built experience that is requisite for "bucolic retreats"

Disinformation and cultural provincialism is not enough to drive the point home for the Times. They have to supplement this with the old stereotype. This is the old "punter as loser" stereotype that constantly appears in the press and by extension in the culture at large. The Times is very careful not stereotype most ethnic groups and certainly does not stereotype ballgame fans as braindead TV watching dolts. Why does the horseplayer always have to be stereotyped as a loser over and over.
I can’t look at horses anymore — there’s no fun,” said Michael Partridge, 69. He regularly added money to his account, but never withdrew. “I got the pleasure of it,” he said. “To handicap horses every night.”
More lackadaisical journalism from the times. There are winners at handicapping and some very sharp handicappers. This can not be read about in the New York Times. For them it is just easier to stereotype the entire group as losers and idiots. I guess if the goal is to demolish racing and get rid of all horse racing from the sports pages it is intellectually convenient to paint them with a broad brush as losers. This way when they are removed from the landscape the cultural guilt will be minimized.

This quote really highlights the poor understanding Mr. Haberman has of twentieth first century parimutuel operations:

The New York Racing Association, which operates the Aqueduct, Belmont and Saratoga tracks, has begun busing displaced OTB devotees to South Ozone Park. But even with higher attendance figures as a result, the amount bet at the track — the handle, in racing parlance — remains a small fraction of the overall wagering.

On Saturday, for example, the handle from all betting sources for races run at Aqueduct was nearly $8.8 million. At the track itself, in relatively mild weather, the handle came to just over $1 million. That ratio of about nine to one was not significantly different from that of a comparable Saturday last December.

Are ballgames a failure because millions watch on TV with only a few thousand in the stands? Are women abandoning shopping as a source of amusement because the business has migrated to on-line while brick and mortar flounders? The fact that most wagers are being placed on-line or at distant locations is a sign of progress. Mr. Haberman completely misses this point in his piece. Does he not know about simulcasting? As most of us know this gives racing the ability to reach almost everyone in the country. Now snowbound fans in Duluth Minnesota can play Aqueduct from their couch or fans in Chicago can bet Aqueduct from their Hawthorne racecourse. This is progress and not a sign of a game in crisis. Haberman stands this fact on its head and uses it to make the point that horseplayers have found "other ways to throw away their money". Anyone who does not understand this elementary fact should not be an information source- conversely this is the mark of a source of disinformation.

11 December 2010

Two can play this game

Hollywood park took out an ad in the Saturday racing form making their case for Zenyatta as horse of the year, clearly they are using this to submarine our bid to make Stormy's Majesty horse of the year. Much like Hollywood Park we believe that defeats or in our case multiple defeats does not matter when deciding year end honors. Time to start up the propaganda machine for Stormy.

The ball is in your court Hollywood Park.

10 December 2010

NYCOTB Closing Is Great News

It would seem that NYRA is truly in crisis mode without the handle from NYCOTB. They are chartering buses to funnel OTB players to the Big-A, pressing to overturn laws that prohibit live video and predicting that there may be purse reductions. Even the head of failed NYCOTB went on record to say that " there’s a definite possibility that the Saratoga Race Track will close as a result of the shutdown of OTB". The numbers after one day do not agree with this dire assessment. Instead of true crisis this could be a case of crisis as a means to an ends. It was Hillary Clinton that said "never waste a good crisis". NYRA could be using this "crisis" to accomplish goals which have stagnated in the sea of Albany dysfunction for decades. Beneath all the doom and gloom there may be a light which will be the start of a new paradigm for NYRA. A novus ordum of New York racing that will benefit the long term health of the industry.

Last Thursday 02DEC10 Aqueduct handled a total of $5.6 million including $475,000 on track and $1.3 million at all OTBs within New York state. Attendance was 2101. This week on Thursday 09DEC10 Aqueduct handled a total of $5.2 million with $536,000 on track and $822,361 from in state OTBs. Attendance was 2,704. While handle did drop a total of $416,000 Aqueduct enjoyed increased on-track handle along with more bodies in the plant. Every dollar wagered on track must be worth at least three wagered at OTB. With OTB in bankruptcy there were no guarantees that NYRA would ever see these funds wagered at OTB. With more people at the track converting to NYRA one accounts-- NYRA is gaining market share over the local handle. The fact that on- track handle has increased from last weekis a positive sign and will help NYRA weather the storm of decreased total handle.

A big part of that $416K deficit is that OTB players are still in scrambling mode looking for a place to book their action. This $416,000 deficit will likely close as players find a new home and return to action. The deficit may not be a long term affliction. How could these OTB guys just give up the greatest game so easy? Some will land off-shore, some will land with bookies, others with NYRA one and even with national ADWs like expressbet. When this all settles most of the OTB players will transition into a new vendor; some may even find a new love for the game -or a small profit- without that onerous 6% tax on winning levied by OTB. Of course there are some players -the type that used local OTB as a social club- that will be transitioning into a new hobby. These people will focus their dollars on things like lotto, dominoes or local cockfights. Maybe a few will execrate vice from their lives which is what many of these souls need.

In the end I believe that the primary effect is a livened up Aqueduct. A game with vitality. As a whole horse racing in New York will be better positioned to jettison that hardcore degenerate reputation that effused from the corner OTB like the pervasive smell of smell of rotting rubbish on a sultry summer night. NYRA will gain control over local market share and eliminate a divisive competitor that stifled the simplest initiatives live streaming video. Maybe I can begin to tell people I follow, watch and wager on horse racing without the expected gamblers anonymous hazing. From a holistic point of view the loss of NYCOTB may be just the tonic the game needed here in New York- we should have on-line video soon and the political dog and pony show will be over as racing interests are consolidated.

09 December 2010

Blue Screen of Doom

Channel 71 has long been the primary start up channel for my cable box, looks like it is time to pick a new channel. NYC OTB for all of it's industry innovation such as in home simulcasting and telephone accounts has kicked the bucket. The in home simulcasting is one of the great things done in the last thirty years of the game, it has given the serious horseplayer the option of staying home to keep track of the racing card at his or her convenience. It would serve well for the New York Racing Association to take up where NYC OTB left off on the in home feed, lots of NYRA Rewards players wager on the races from their couch because it is easier than going to the plant.
In the absence of a live feed for the racing fans in the five boroughs I suggest signing up for HRTV online, you have to pay for the signal but they offer a live non-delayed signal from the NY tracks. If they ever restore the TV broadcast you have a a way to watch the out of state tracks during the broadcast of the NY card, it is a win-win situation. The link is listed below.

Aqueduct....Its For Old Guys

08 December 2010

NYRA Online Video Banned

Why does live streaming of NYRA video persist in being banned within New York? What is the justification for this law? 17,000 people depend on racing for their livelihood in New York; wouldn't be in everyone's best interest to make racing an accessible, successful product? Wouldn't video of the races promote business; strong business leads to people making an honest living which leads to less welfare and other social afflictions. If racing is banned why aren't other sports like baseball or football banned from the internet?

The ultimate irony is that while video of horse racing is illegal within New York other perversions -including video of crushing animals to death-are protected as "free speech". On the federal level the supreme court ruled that watching small animals being murdered with high heel shoes is protected by freedom of expression-- yet in the same country watching a horse race in the home is prohibited. What a disordered system-completely divorced from all forms of reason- democracy can be. It is no wonder that this regressive system of government died in 3rd century B.C. Greece only to be resurrected 2,000 years later in the new world.

Now with NYC OTB out of the way Albany must abolish the law that bans the streaming video of NYRA horse racing in New York. With few places to watch horse racing around New York City- racing is a game depending on fans watching and wagering from home. It is also a game built for the internet. The state must clear the artificial barriers that prevent racing from realizing it's potential as a web 2.0 product. The increased betting handle generated by streaming video may help close the multi-billion dollar deficit in New York- that is if they are truly interested in closing that deficit instead of fattening the bulge in their pockets.

NYC OTB Shuts Down

NYC OTB Ceases operations

Unfortunately this afternoon, the NYS Senate chose not to pass the bill passed by the Assembly that would have saved NYC OTB. Therefore, due to a lack of unrestricted funds to continue in business, NYC OTB will be ceasing all pari-mutuel wagering operations today, Tuesday, December 7, 2010 as per our Board of Directors vote, and will proceed to the orderly winding down of its business affairs.

Three branches will remain open in Queens, Brooklyn and Manhattan for six calendar days after the last day of operations so that customers can cash tickets/vouchers and make account withdrawals. Thereafter, these transactions can be conducted at NYCOTB’s customer service center located at 1501 Broadway in Manhattan for up to six weeks. The locations that will remain open temporarily are:

107-40 QUEENS BLVD, FOREST HILLS, NYCross Street- Continental Ave
515 SEVENTH AVE, NEW YORK, NYCross Street- West 38th Street
6719 BAY PARKWAY, BROOKLYN, NYCross Street-West 8th Street

The hours of operation will be from 12:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on the six calendar days following the last day of operations.

The corporation's website, www.nycotb.com will be updated constantly to keep our customer abreast of all events.

05 December 2010

The body isn't even cold yet!

Two advertisements from the NYRA website:

This one was before the main page appears on Sunday.

NYRA Rewards had this one going on Saturday on its login page, didn't check on Sunday.

04 December 2010

Special Woodbine Pick 3

Saturday 04DEC10
Woodbine Race 9... the Ontario Lassie
It was hard not to be impressed by #3 Inglorious last out. This one broke last in a short field- found herself at the back of the pack yet rallied impressively to score. This was a first out stakes win not a maiden special weight. The win pool I fear will be short on this filly so lets work the pick 3s surrounding inglorious.

Race 7 pick 3... 4,6,8,10 / 4,8,10,12 / 3

Race 9 pick 3... 3 / ALL / 6,14

The Clear Solution To The OTB Drama

Why does the state continue on with the OTB charade? Not only are they losing money on this operation but they are blighting the sport they have a responsibility to promote. The state is taking an entirely wrong headed approach to off track wagering. These bureaucrats and race hustlers like Hazel Dukes have no business running wagering operations and have consistently placed a loser in the race. Instead of letting OTB die it should be turned over to private businessmen-- people who know how to run an operation. OTB could be a winner for both the industry and the customer. For too long the decrepit and poorly run OTB parlors have given horse racing in New York a reputation that is just a smidgen better than cock fights, brothels or crackhouses. The right operator could resurrect the reputation of horse racing while reintroducing class to the greatest game. There are more options than to close; the problem is not the product it is the operator. If the government does not have the people or ability to run a horse book it should be turned over to the people that have that ability. Certainly there are people out there that can turn this into a winner. Why aren't these options being discussed?

The state should issue franchises to private operators to run bet parlors like they do in the British isles. The unprofitable parlors should be closed and the profitable units could be optimized to maximize profits. New York is not middle America-the local men like horse racing and not TV college sports or tractor pulls. It may not be a fashionable market and it may not be the same market that has supported the 5,000 Starbucks that have opened up in New York over the last ten years but there still is a working class niche for OTB. For a talking class that likes to talk about diversity it seems like pari-mutual wagering does not fit into grand mosaic of Starbucks, Target, Whole Foods and Starbucks that New York has become.

My relatives could run a bet parlor and it all starts with some basic customer service. The right operator is kind enough to offer the patron a beverage and a lunch box along with your exacta box. OTB never could get this right. The right kind of OTB would offer patrons something like "powers cap's play of the day" to ensure they are winners and not part of the masses of loser cappers.

This is not the time to just close OTB, we can not leave all the dedicated handicappers of OTB out in the street. Yet this is what Albany is doing, it is like if their patronage mill can't succeed, there are no other options. Since the media does not discuss any other options no other options are discussed while the best option -private franchise ownership- is never discussed.

The patrons of OTB have lived with a 6% rake on winnings yet have persisted to make NYC OTB the largest bet taker in the United States -if that is not dedication I don't know what is- making them some of the most prized and dedicated customers in the world. We can not just leave these OTB patrons to find new hobbies. It is time to transition into a private owner-- one who will take care of the customer and grow the sport of racing. Let the local people run it; a great choice would be a local operator who knows how to do gambling right. The people from DRF or NYRA may be a good place to start. The wrong people have been running OTB and it shows. To just let the largest parimutuel operation in the country die would be a waste of a resource.