Thursday, November 20, 2014
Slouching Towards Tucson
PORTLAND, OR, November 19, 2014--Beginning December 8 for four days, racing's biggest movers and shakers will gather at the 41st Annual Global Symposium on Racing and Gaming in Tucson, Arizona.
The annual pilgrimage has become the place for industry stakeholders to keep in touch with each other, swap a little gossip, and get a sense of how the industry is tracking as a whole.
This will be my 10th trip to the great American Southwest, a journey I look forward to at the end of each year for the colorful characters one meets while congregating at the hotel bar each night, talking about the year that was.
It’s great to see that behind the scenes of racing and gaming stand people who are trying to insure the industry continues to tick.
It’s a place where companies can showcase anything the industry requires, from new betting software platforms, to television cameras, to racetrack surfaces.
Although the exhibitors have got smaller over the years, attendance at the seminars has remained very strong as there's always something new to discuss each year, always something new to take away, hangovers notwithstanding.
This year, the University of Arizona Race Track Industry Program has received major sponsorship from huge industry player The Stronach Group, and Sportech Racing and Digital, our tote providers at 123bet.com.
Our company is proud to be amongst the smaller sponsors getting behind this initiative.
Most of the major tote companies will be there competing for business, securing track deals over dinner and cocktails. How civilized; isn't that the way all business meetings should be conducted?
As one might expect, the biggest wheelers and dealers are conducting their business on the golf course and great things can happen when all these people and ideas come together.
The Race Track Industry Program (RTIP) has gained worldwide recognition since its inception in 1974. The Symposium attracts a wide range of attendees representing Thoroughbred, Standardbred, American Quarter Horse, Greyhound, and Racino interests from all over the world.
The focus of the conference is to include cutting-edge trends and issues of importance to the pari-mutuel industry, including simulcasting, account wagering, marketing, track surfaces, casino gaming, human and animal health issues, operations, new technologies and regulation; a full lid.
Symposium speakers and panel sessions include racing and gaming leaders, as well as specialists from outside the field. The broad cross-section of participants makes the confab the largest industry-wide conference in the world.
It all started in the early 1970’s when a group spearheaded by the late Frank Vessels Jr. of Los Alamitos Race Course conceived the idea of a collegiate program to train young men and women to become racing's future leaders.
With a group that would become today's Association of Racing Commissioners International, a decision was made that the program be located in a state with year-round racing and at a land grant institution.
Many universities were offered the opportunity but none expressed genuine interest until U of A's College of Agriculture consented to try it on a trial basis for five years.
The late Dr. Darrel S. Metcalfe, who became Dean of the College of Agriculture, outlined a financial plan that forced the racing industry to make a commitment to provide funding.
Vessels, President of the American Quarter Horse Association at the time, enlisted resources from the AQHA racing department to help get the program started.
After receiving financial commitments from Los Alamitos, the AQHA, the NASRC, the latter-day American Greyhound Racing group, classes began in the Animal Science Department in January of '74.
As one might expect, the program began very modestly with about 15 students, a curriculum that included three classes, with no text books and little chance given for success.
By 1977, enrollment was up to about 25 students, a fourth subject was added and two successful programs were launched; internships in which students received on-the-job training, and an annual seminar, a symposium that would bring industry leaders to campus for an exchange of ideas from which students might derive benefit.
That first year 45 industry people attended; the following year the seminar was expanded to multiple topics that attracted 185 attendees. The RTIP had begun lengthening its stride.
The current Advisory Council continues to direct and support the program while identifying long-range goals that the RTIP might help reach.
The program now gets broad funding support, contributions coming from racing trade organizations, racing commissions, breed registries, service organizations, individuals, alumni and the private sector, all helping to ensure that the program remains on solid financial footing.
As the RTIP has grown in size and scope, the staff has expanded from a single instructor to four, with an administrative assistant, a marketing specialist, and a number of student office employees.
Given the events of 2014, this year's symposium figures to be a lively one, indeed. I can hardly wait to get this session started.
Written by Robert Earle
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Adore Me’s World Record Performance Down Under Unforgettable
Christchurch, New Zealand – Nov 11 – That’s no typo; you read that correctly. Indeed, harness horses often race at distances over two miles here and last week I witnessed the fastest two miles—that’s 3,200 meters to us—in harness racing history.
Of course, that makes the time of 3:54—with a last half-mile in an astounding 55 seconds—trotted by Adore Me so extraordinary.
We know the Yanks love their speed and appropriately Adore Me is a daughter the prize American stallion, Bettor’s Delight, a very familiar name to harness racing fans world-wide.
And the five year old mare didn’t just establish a new world record; she smashed the old one by 1.5 seconds in an event that was just as extraordinary as her performance:
The nine horses behind her also eclipsed the old standard, making this edition of the New Zealand Trotting Cup so unforgettably exciting.
Adore Me was driven home by leading co-trainer and driver Mark Purdon. Purdon shares the training duties with Natalie Rasmussen. Not to be outdone by their mare, the tandem won seven races on the 12-races on the program.
American harness fans should remember that it was Purdon who brought Down Under pacing Champion Pacer – Auckland Reactor to the US for a campaign a few years back.
Auckland Reactor had some success in the states but probably best remembered for pacing one of the fastest final quarter-miles—a slick 25 seconds—before returning to New Zealand to stand at stud.
I consider it a privilege to have attended this year’s Trotting Cup and sponsor one of the races on the card.
The New Zealand Trotting Cup is a free-for-all open to both trotters and pacers but only pacers participate on the day, easily one of the best events on the Australasian Harness racing calendar.
Adore me wasn’t the only champion to compete. The 7-year-old Terror to Love appeared to be scribed into the history books, looking very much like he was headed for his 4th New Zealand Trotting Cup in a row.
The veteran pacer hit the lead with just under one mile to go, causing a few anxious fans to head toward the tote windows to collect their tickets, but the fireworks had only just begun.
There was a battle royale down the back straight which saw the eventual race winner challenge four wide with a quarter mile to run, Adore Me fighting on strongly to prevail by a nose.
Early handle figures on the New Zealand Trotting Club’s biggest day suggest it was their best meet ever.
That’s what can happen when two horses travel over from Australia to compete in New Zealand’s premier day, one running the race of his life only to finish third after losing ground in the early stages.
New Zealand Trotting Cup was extremely well promoted with national television coverage leading up to the event with a live broadcast from the track beginning at 6 a.m. on the prime time breakfast show: We breed them tough in New Zealand.
The event attracted over 25,000 fans which saw several track and national records set but it was the performance of Adore Me that made the day so special, easily the highlight of an extraordinary day of harness racing.
U.S. harness racing fans can read all the full stories and watch replays online on Harness Racing New Zealand’s website: http://www.hrnz.co.nz
We are planning to bring live harness racing action to America from Down Under on our 123bet.com site in the coming months.
HARNESS RACING IN THE NEWS:
It was great to see Yonkers Raceway
report that it had successfully exported its racing signal to France. Trotting fans love watching races no matter where they’re from--as long as you can understand the race caller. ..
By molding the product to suit the audience such as Yonkers did, it created extra handle that otherwise would not have been available. Well done, Yonkers! You’ve done your best to make harness racing the sport of kings…
A total of 156 horses were entered Tuesday for the 12 Breeders Crown
events at the Meadowlands. The $5.4 million Breeders Crown finals will be Friday, Nov. 21, and Saturday, Nov. 22, celebrating the one-year anniversary of the new Meadowlands grandstand under the management of Jeff Gural.
Post time is 7:15 p.m. both nights.
Finally, I’m very excited to report that we are now able to offer NYRA content on the 123bet.com ADW live beginning this week. Thank you New York Racing Association
for showing your faith and confidence in our wagering site. Cooperation benefits us all.
Written by Robert Earle
Thursday, November 06, 2014
We’ll Be Trying to Make a Difference
MELBOURNE, November 3, 2014--When John encouraged me to write a column a few weeks back while we were gearing up to market our new wagering site 123bet.com
, it was a daunting task at first.
What do the American public want to hear from a Kiwi who has just launched a wagering site here in the USA?
Having spent much of my life traveling between the USA, New Zealand and the UK, I want to say that I love America. Actually, I went to school as a youngster in Tampa, Florida, then New York City-Rockaway Beach to be specific-not far from Aqueduct Race Track.
My aunt had a house close to the beach there and I have fond memories of summer nights walking the boardwalk and mingling with the summer-bungalow holiday makers. It was at a time when Frank Sinatra was buying up beach front properties to one day build a casino.
Playland was the local hangout; “Asteroids” was the most popular game in the video parlours. I can remember an Elvis Tribute show, and that was pretty amazing, too.
However, it is racing that has always been the biggest part of my life, having grown up next to a harness track in New Zealand. I was eager to get involved and so I jumped into a sulky at a very early age.
I can’t describe how exhilarating it is to drive a horse at high speed. It wasn’t long before I was hooked.
Now it is 40 years later and I’m still involved with harness racing, as a breeder, trainer, and the odd amateur drive when I have time to get out to the track.
But the biggest move of my career in racing was launching a wagering site in the USA. I only know that I wanted it to be different; something special, personal, interactive among the players.
It’s been a long haul trying to establish 123bet.com
. I thought the best way to accomplish this was to provide free-play handicapping contests and deliver a new wager to several tracks in the U.S., which we’ve been doing for the past eight years.
And, so, it was finally time to take the next leap of faith.
To get the “123racing wager” out there in public view, we had to put it online, and the best way to do that was to create our own ADW.
Tote companies around the world are renowned for having no money for research and development. Many have not kept up with the times and parts have become scarce for the computer systems they run on.
I acknowledge that there are some really good, innovative tote companies emerging from the dark ages of early technology and we’ve partnered with one of them.
The big question we all face in the global racing industry is simple: How do we keep it going? Where is the next generation of handicappers going to come from?
Money is tight in the world economy, the old boys’ network grows smaller by the day, and large bettors are slowly becoming disenchanted with racing’s problems, especially with respect to the high cost of wagering; pari-mutuel takeout.
So how do we replenish the stock of handicappers who will keep the game alive and thriving? That’s the challenge, and that’s what I am trying to address with http://www.123bet.com
We’re trying to create something different with our 123racing wager, something new, and something that might get younger folks interested in horse racing, something for our regular handicappers, too. We think of it as ‘Fantasy Football for Horse Racing.’
Without new blood, the pie is going to keep getting smaller and smaller. Horseplayers need other horseplayers. Racing needs handicappers to wager; it’s the only thing that will keep owners, breeders, trainers, jockeys, drivers, stable staff, track staff, tote companies and, yes, ADWs, in the game.
For the sport to survive, this ripple effect is the only means by which racing can remain viable. We must keep the circle going round and round.
There are so many moving parts to our industry that it has to be well oiled and maintained just like a classic car, otherwise it will not operate. But nobody is building new cars for our sport!
Mr. Stronach has tried, as he does build great car parts, and operates some of the most successful tracks in the USA, but it has cost him a lot of money.
Without people like Frank Stronach, the industry might have collapsed long ago.
Mr. Gural has done wonders for the Meadowlands and New Jersey harness racing. Having had a tour there this summer, all I can say is; wow--what a great stand they have built there.
There are many great stories in the sport of horse racing. Oil Sheiks have poured gazillions into the game. People like Stronach, Gural, and Sheikh Mohammed have kept our industry ticking globally.
Long may people like them continue to invest in racing’s future. Without them, who knows where we would be? If the game goes away, what would we do then?
Wouldn’t it be great if someone could give the President of the United States a share in a horse and bring him to the backside one morning and the races one afternoon? After all, if it’s good enough for the Queen of England…
I’ve never had the privilege of meet any of these great people but I trust that our paths will cross one day as I, too, strive to make an impact by providing the best personalized online wagering service that I can.
I love this game and I’m hoping that our ADW in some small way can create new fans by constructing a few new, alternative wagers that might appeal to the youthful experience.
As I said in an earlier interview on HRI, someday I’d like to create a wager with zero takeout--now that would be giving something back to our current players.
A wise handicapper once told me ‘winning is everything – losing is not an option!’ I totally agree. The clock is ticking, and the time has come for cooperation to replace competition.
Written by Robert Earle
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