Sunday, July 07, 2013
Saturday Night’s Alright For Fighting
SARATOGA SPRINGS, July 7, 2013--I hate what’s happening in South Florida now as Calder Race Course and Gulfstream Park battle hoof-to-hoof eight miles apart.
At this point, neither faction has given an inch. Both entities have deep pockets but the difference is that CDI has to answer to stockholders; Frank Stronach answerable only to himself. So we shall see.
Thus far, the numbers have been staggering and each can claim to a victory based on results from their best raceday opportunities. Saturday, July 6 was the only day the tracks have raced in direct competition with each other.
With Calder remaining dark on July 4th—“Thursday is a normal dark day,” said management--Gulfstream Park had an All Sources handle of $3.3 million, an amazing total vs. stronger and more traditional national competition the simulcast marketplace.
Yesterday, Gulfstream proactively conceded victory to Calder by carding eight races--five claimers, two maiden claimers, one special-weights maiden event—knowing it could not match Calder’s highly successful Summit of Speed program.
According to Gulfstream management, the Hallandale track handled $2.1 million on eight races from all sources. CDI doesn’t release handle and attendance figures as a matter of policy but according to Equibase result chart data, Calder’s 11-race program handled in excess of $4 million. Advantage Calder, although not the slam dunk it might have been.
The results are not easily assessed. Gulfstream’s pedestrian eight races attracted 49 runners, an average of just over six horses per race, and still handled over $2.1 million, a tribute to Gulfstream’s brand.
Calder, meanwhile, put on a top 11-race program that drew 98 runners—exactly double the number of starters as GP and it featured six stakes, four graded, including the G1 Princess Rooney.
Behind the numbers, it’s reasonable to assume that Gulfstream’s meager Saturday card still contributed to a 10 percent-plus handle decrease from the 2012 Summit of Speed program.
Today should provide more of an apples-to-apples comparison. Sixty-one horses were entered overnight at Calder, as opposed to 57 at Gulfstream. Each track carded an eight-race program.
Horsemen, meanwhile, are continuing their exodus east-northeast. After winning his fourth Princess Rooney Stakes, Marty Wolfson, a perennial leader among Calder-based horsemen, shipped 25 horses to Gulfstream according to published reports.
Goodbye yellow brick road.
Credit Where It's Due As awards go, I’m not sure where the IMAs—the Interactive Media Awards—stand in the pantheon of recognition among peers in the same endeavor but credit must be acknowledged when it’s due.
For all the innovation failings in racing, the race track industry on balance has done a good job at website development which for most people encompasses two areas; Advance Deposit Wagering systems and infotainment track websites.
The New York Racing Association, the host of NYRA.com, was recognized recently for “Outstanding Achievement” in the Entertainment category of the 2013 IMAs. Indeed, racing is entertainment--with a caveat that “past success does not guarantee future results.”
For those old enough to recall the Spearmint Gum TV ads, NYRA.com is two…two sites in one: It’s an information portal and an ADW, with nary a single component of new age media ignored.
From racing news, to handicapping and historical video, to all manner of social media, to the information that’s relevant to horsemen and horseplayers alike and finally the NYRA Rewards link where wagers are placed, it’s pretty much one-stop racing.
(That’s after first checking HRI’s Feature Race Analysis, of course, it being the most emulated free feature-race analysis on the Internet over the course of the last seven years. But, I digress).
Obviously, NYRA is based in “the media capital of the world” and apparently takes that challenge seriously. Along with help from NYRA staffers, the site was the creation of Americaneagle.com, a leader in web design, development and hosting.
Nominations for the IMAs are accepted worldwide, from web design companies, ad agencies, corporate marketers, designers and graphic artists. Judges hail from all manner of media, winners needing to excel in five disciplines; web design, content, feature functionality, usability and standards compliance.
Kudos to NYRA for their leadership role in Internet racing communications. Now all they need to work on are tweaks to the betting menu, making it more inclusive by fractionalizing wagering price points and improving the accuracy of race information that will require installation of Trakus broadcast technology.
Less Is More? Really? I’m not sure it’s because I’ve become accustomed to bad news with respect to the modern game or that bad news isn’t as bad anymore when it comes to wagering.
In Friday’s inbox came the monthly advisory of leading indicators with respect to betting handle. The wagering on U.S. races trended downward by 1.57%, from $949 million in June 2012 to $934 million in June 2013.
But that doesn’t appear to be as bad as it looks when considering that the number of race days were down by 3.52%, more than double the percentage of lost handle.
And so doesn’t this mean that bettors are wagering, in proportion, more money on fewer races? And doesn’t that mean that less actually IS more? Somebody help me with this.