Cary Fotias

Cary Fotias is the Founder and President of Equiform, a New York City firm that produces The XTRAS and The SHORTS, handicapping products for evaluating current condition and form cycles. He is also the author of the critically acclaimed handicapping book, Blinkers Off, which describes an innovative numerical approach to form-cycle analysis.

After spending eight years as a currency trader on Wall Street, Fotias has spent the last 16 years as professional handicapper. He is a member of the NTRA Players Panel and was chosen to give a presentation to the Ad Hoc Committee on the Future of New York Racing on behalf of New York horseplayers.

Fotias is a vocal proponent of lower takeouts. He also has a strong interest in the cutting-edge concept of betting exchanges and how they might be developed in the U.S. He feels the game would prosper if it would only adapt to the economic and technological realities of the information age.

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Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Another Inconvenient Truth

Five-O. Fifty Percent. That's the take on lottery tickets, but they still sell like hotcakes. Whether it be Pick-3, Pick-4 or Lotto with a big carryover, state governments handle big money every day (and some places, twice a day). Even with a take that would make horseplayers blush, the lottery does a great business. Why? First of all, it panders to the modern American mindset that requires virtually no thinking. Secondly, it sometimes offers prizes that even the Sultan of Brunei wouldn't sneeze at. But most importantly, it can be played almost anywhere at any time. In New York City, you never have to go more than a block or two to get a bet down at your favorite bodega or newsstand.

In order to prosper, horseracing has many issues that need to be resolved. You've all heard me rant about takeout rates but, today, I'm going to talk about convenience - or rather, inconvenience. In business school, we learn that having a good "distribution network" is crucial to sell a product effectively. Coca-Cola and Marlboro have superior distribution networks. Horseracing doesn't. But it should, given that you can't drink a Coke or smoke a Marlboro over the internet.

Byzantine simulcast rules and regulations, Patriot Act invasions of privacy and right-wing fundamentalist anti-gambling zealots have coalesced to make betting on horses a frustrating experience that alienates many players. Magna, Churchill, NYRA One Account, You Bet, Xpressbet, Tracknet, Brisbet, Winticket,
New York City OTB, and on and on. Often, a player has to open accounts at multiple wagering platforms to get all the action he or she wants. One outfit doesn't carry this signal and another place doesn't take that one. What a joke! The game is struggling to attract business and these morons make it tough to get a bet down. Can you imagine Caesar's Palace saying they don't deal blackjack? The casinos offer one-stop shopping and have perfected a way to "take your money and make you feel good about it". Racing could do the same but, until the powers that be realize that the "customer comes first", it will be remain a second-tier gambling (yeah, it's gambling) option.

Written by Cary Fotias Provides the Most Accurate Thoroughbred Handicapping Data
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Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Declaration of Horseplayer Independence

When in the course of thoroughbred events, it becomes necessary for horseplayers to dissolve the financial bands which have connected them to insensitive racetrack owners and short-sighted state legislatures, and to assume among the powers of the earth, the rightful station to which they are entitled, they should declare the causes which impel them to action.

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all horseplayers are endowed with certain unalienable rights, that among these are market-driven takeout rates, sterner drug policies, the integrity of the wagering pools and the embracing of new technologies that could make it easy to bet on any race, anywhere, at anytime.

At my urging, Ron Geary has started a revolution in Henderson Kentucky. Paul Revere is riding once again, and the Ellis Park 4% Pick-4 is catching on like wildfire. Although Sunday's Pick-4 was canceled due to a lightning-induced power outage, Saturday's Pick-4 wagering was over $65,000 - a remarkable achievement, given that only the twin gorillas of Belmont and Hollywood handled more.

Please continue to support this bet as often as you can and for as much as you can. This Pick-4 isn't just about Ellis Park, it's about the future of the game. If we all band together and SEND IT IN, the residual effects down the road will be very beneficial. Other tracks will start losing Pick-4 handle to Ellis and will be motivated to lower rates themselves. Maybe then, politicians and racetrack owners will finally realize that LOWER TAKEOUT RATES are actually GOOD FOR BUSINESS. I chose the Pick-4 as a launching pad as it wasn't handling very much. If Ron and I had tried to lower WPS to 8%, where it probably belongs, the resistance would have been overwhelming. As guerillas, we have to choose our battles wisely.

In 1971, I was a student at the University of Michigan. John Sinclair, manager of the band MC5 and former leader of the White Panther Party, had been sentenced two years earlier to a 10-year jail term after giving two "joints" to an undercover narcotics officer. It was outrageous - the police, with consent from the Nixon administration were conducting all kinds of illegal searches ( I got pulled over many times just because I had long hair). On December 10th, the worm finally turned. John Lennon, Yoko Ono, and several other 60's activists like Abby Hoffman and Jerry Rubin staged a rally for John Sinclair at Crisler Arena.

Lo and behold, marijuana's status was changed from a narcotic to a controlled substance, Sinclair was a free man within a week, and the citizens of Ann Arbor got the local legislature to reduce the penalty for marijuana possession to $5 for an ounce or less. After a while, I guess "the authorities" just didn't know how to deal with 40,000 people getting high on the diag at the annual April Fool's Day Hash Bash.

So, you see, the system does work. You just have to get involved, fellow horseplayers.

Written by Cary Fotias Provides the Most Accurate Thoroughbred Handicapping Data
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Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Well, here I go again

I am going to beat this “dead horse” ‘til more of you wake up. Ellis Park has a 4% take on the Pick-4 – YES, 4%. I am ashamed to say that my fellow horseplayers have not yet supported this wager with the handle it deserves. This bet should be handling $300,000-$500,000 per day.

Just last week, horseplayers bet over seven million dollars into a big carryover pool at Hollywood. I invested thousands that day and, let me tell you, it was not vintage racing. The Pick-6 sequence started with a bottom-of-the barrel $8,000 Claiming Race and continued with a cheap Starter Allowance for horses who had broken their maiden for $40,000 or less, a NW1 Allowance, a Cal-bred Maiden Special Weight for fillies, a small Stakes, and the usual So Cal Maiden Claimer in the finale. What a card!! And yet over SEVEN MILLION dollars was poured though the mutuel machines.

This Hollywood pool was the biggest Pick-6 pot in US pari-mutuel history and made thirteen (twelve if you only count the Los Alamitos guy once) lucky winners very happy. It left the rest of us poorer and, apparently, none the wiser. Chasing big Pick-6 payouts provides a lot of entertainment value and, once in a blue moon, a life-changing score. But day-in and day-out, it is LOWER
TAKEOUT RATES that will keep us in action and give skilled handicappers a real chance to win in the long run.

If you don’t get involved in the Ellis Park Pick-4 as often as you can and for as much as you can, you are obviously not a card-carrying member of the Horseplayers Union. If Norma Jean can create change, we can too – but only if we take this golden opportunity to speak with our pocketbook. SEND IT IN on the Ellis Park Pick-4 and show the industry that TAKEOUT RATES DO MATTER. Let Ellis Park and innovative owner Ron Geary be a beacon unto an industry that treats its customers like cattle being led to slaughter.

Are you tired of horseplayer/handicappers being referred to as bums and compulsive gamblers. Well, here’s your chance to show the powers that be what we are really all about. We love the intellectual stimulation of handicapping and that, when coupled with the majesty of the thoroughbred, we are playing the greatest game in the world. We will not all die broke. But certainly, many of us will give up playing the game seriously if takeout rates and other issues are not
concretely addressed in the not too distant future.

I am doing all I can to promote the Ellis Park Pick-4. Along those lines, I am offering all HorseRaceInsider viewers free Equiform product for the rest of the meet. That’s right, just e/mail and we will send it out every day.

I am doing all I can to show the industry that SERIOUS PLAYERS REQUIREE CHANGE. Ron Geary and Ellis Park are doing all they can do. The question is, dear horseplayer, are you doing ALL YOU CAN DO?

I Hope So..

Written by Cary Fotias Provides the Most Accurate Thoroughbred Handicapping Data
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BallHype: hype it up!

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