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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH, June 18, 2023 – It’s been 16 years–a recent press release reminds us–since the Breeders’ Cup Challenge Series was launched and unquestionably it has been loyal to its stated mission.

This year’s series consists of 80 stakes races whose winners receive automatic berths with fees paid into a corresponding race at the Breeders’ Cup World Championships, scheduled for the weekend of NOV 3-4 at Santa Anita Park.

The Breeders’ Cup win-and-in races begin later today in South America with the Grande Premio Brasil, an 18-horse contest but billed as a two horse match between Raptor’s and multiple Group stakes winning mare, High Wire.

And North America has nothing on southern hemisphere horsemen as both runners hail from one barn, that of Luis Estevez, who has three other runners in here. The winner of today’s mile and a half gains entrée into the $4 million Breeders’ Cup Turf at the same 12-furlong trip.

While they will be rockin’ and rollin’ in Rio this afternoon, it’s Tuesday in Berkshire England that’s more familiar to U.S. horseplayers as the Royal Ascot meet begins its prestigious 5-day meet.

Ascot runners ship over for our championship series each fall, and one such champion runs in the Group 1 Queen Anne, dual Breeders’ Cup winner Modern Games. The Kings Stand, the other headline grabber on the initial program, is always a hotly contested five-furlong sprint.

In all, four Royal Meet races this week will qualify as Breeders’ Cup win-and-in events. Tuesday’s winners will gain entry into the Breeders’ Cup Mile and Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint, respectively.

Prior to placing in Keeneland’s Maker’s Mark this season, Modern Games was undefeated over America’s firmer courses thrice, but made amends back home by taking the Group 1 Lockringe Stakes at Newbury last month. He will be joined in the Queen Anne by stablemate Native Trail.

Said trainer Charlie Appleby of his duo: “Modern Games has already done it this year … and I’m a strong believer Native Trail won’t be too far behind him in getting his Group 1. Native Trail had wind surgery over the winter and has definitely come forward for his first run this season.”

Meanwhile, the Frankie Dettori road show rolls on. The redoubtable Frankie will be looking for his 78th Ascot win aboard Inspiral, who won the Coronation Stakes at Ascot at 3 at the direct expense of Graham Motion’s talented New York-bred, Spendarella.

Said John Gosden of Inspiral: “She has taken her time to come to hand due to a cold, wet spring. Last year we were just taking on three-year-old fillies. This year we are taking on proven older horses … so it is a much bigger test. I’ve been very pleased with her lately,” added Gosden.

One of the more hotly contested events will be the King’s Stand sprint where the Euros and the home team will need to contend with Australian sprinters. The sprint specialists from Down Under are widely known for their speed and toughness.

Highland Princess, a multiple Group 1 winner last summer, arguably is the most accomplished Aussie. Said trainer John Quinn: “She is a tough, durable mare who has been great for us. It’s a spicy King’s Stand but we’re hoping for a big run.”

Australia’s Coolangatta is another female sprinter with a big chance and will attempt the join the ranks of prior King’s Stand winners  from Down Under,  including Choisir, Takeover Target, Miss Andretti, Scenic Blast, Black Caviar and last year’s uber impressive Nature Strip. 

America’s Wesley Ward, who won the King’s Stand in 2017 with Lady Aurelia, will saddle Breeders’ Cup winner Twilight Gleaming, who was second in the Queen Mary at this meet two years ago. Irad Ortiz Jr. is flying over there to partner her.

Speaking of Americans, George Weaver, who won a pair of win-and-in Ascot races at Gulfstream Park last month, is shipping over a colt and a filly to join several Ward juveniles in races later in the week.

Free past performances will be available for all Ascot races. Check your favorite Advance Wagering provider for details

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23 Responses

  1. Can someone explain why the Omni bet does over $1,000,000 at Ascot and underperforms so badly in the U.S. ?
    There are races it doesn’t do $1,000 at Woodbine.

  2. Because TOO MANY BETS are offered, and because horseplayers, perhaps more than any other collective, are creatures of habit. Here’s a proposition no one will like.

    Before I propose it, consider how many “score bets” are offered now: Supers, HI-5, to a somewhat lesser extent, Trifectas, and of course, Pick 4s, 5s, and various Pick 6s. Many paths to riches.

    So how about scrapping the exacta, scraping the quinella, and offer a $2 Omni/Swinger– and never again complain about getting a 1-3 split in the exacta or quinella, and a logical extension as Tri/Super saver wager or optimizer.

    It will pay less, yes, but it will help players STAY LIQUID. Liquidity… churn’s best friend.

    1. You nailed it John. Too.many bets. If you lost a few bets a race, you would create more of what racing needs most. Liquidity. The older folks remember what the last race trifecta pool was when there was only one trifecta. That bet made almost everyone stay for the last race.

      1. Ah yes, the finale, the “get out” race, I remember it well.

        Now, for better or worse, every race is a “get out” race.

        Mostly for worse…

        1. I believe you could give some of the old bets new life with a lower minimum and a low takeout . Perhaps a $1 twin trifecta, or a 20 cent twin superfecta. With a low takeout, these bets are perfect for a get out wager. For $2 or $3 many years ago, these wagers couldn’t get traction without a carryover. With a lower minimum, that would not be the case.

      2. The twin trifecta at Suffolk Downs. 2 races where 24 $3000 Claimers lined up in full fields of 12. I’m having flashbacks. Yikes.

        Go to Equibase and look up some of the names. Ollomont, Lothatory, Pat of Armagh.

        Mrs. DanM has been warned that I may wake up screaming in the middle of the night, now that I have been reminded of the Creature Double Feature.

  3. Can’t agree Michael. Degree of difficulty too high. Then if it becomes popular, attracts a sizable pool, in comes the batch-bettors with their bankrolls and computers.

  4. An analysis is required from several tracks of the different pools, with a focus on how new wagers and takeout structures can cannibalize other pools and not increase handle. The takeouts on horizontal exotics that I find attractive are usually the Pick 5 and Pick 6 (carryover and mandatory payout days only). I avoid almost all DD, Pick 3 and Pick 4 bets. Exceptions are Canterbury and Emerald which are offering 10% takeouts on some DD, P3 & P4.

    1. Good advice, Dan. That study you suggested is something that fits into Michael A’s wheelhouse. Perhaps he will take up the challenge. Unfortunately, my day job already encompasses mornings and evenings!

      1. This is my wheelhouse.
        Many sophisticated bettors have made the move to the 15% takeout wagers. The return on these bets at 15% is over 13% higher than the same wager with a 25% takeout.
        That’s about $130 extra for every $1,000 wagered. This is very serious money spread over an entire year.
        Can small losers become small winners with the switch to 15% takeout wagers.


        1. Another big reason you make the switch?
          You have narrowed the gap takeout wise between the brick and mortar players and the whales.

          Do the whales deserve a volume discount? Yes. But at 15%, the game isn’t stacked against the players at the track and OTB amd ADW.

          Do you want to grow the game? This is how you do it. The more winners you create, the stronger the game becomes.

          1. Agreed, but lower takeout in straight pools by definition is more effective in keeping most players liquid; 15% is great if the betting volume is high, giving those players a better chance in the horizontals. However low the take, smaller bankrolls don’t have the same chance tp success or at maximizing payouts on Pick 4s 5s and 6s.

        2. I am in the choir Michael. I supports some play at Hawthorne because of their low track even in vertical pools. I sure hope they do well and are encouraged to keep it up. Many track try lower takeout, the revenue shrinks in the short term and they move on. For lower tack to work, the money must remain in circulation longer so that churn more than balances out for any shortfall.

  5. If they can address the late odds drop on speed horses , then you might be able to get players back into the win pool. But until that happens, the vast majority of players I see will go into the low takeout multi races.

    It’s too much to fade when the horse you handicapped to make the lead at 4-1 flashes down to 5-2 when he makes the front.

    Until this gets fixed, WIN is a four letter word.

  6. As you are aware Michael, I’ve addressed the odds drops often, including our interview with Tom Rooney. But your take about odds drops on speed horses is an inference suggesting something else.

    Personally, I think the late-odds drops don’t really discriminate between speed and rally, it’s just that it becomes more obvious when bet-down speed takes the lead. I’ll keep a watchful eye on that.

  7. Yet again, the elephant in the room is ignored: what are the odds of the bet being made winning? Show and place bets will send a bettor to the cashier the most often, but the payoff amount makes the bets hardly worthwhile. Thus the straight win bet, where a good handicapper will win at a 31 percent rate, is by far the most logical and profitable when combined with patience and serious handicapping followed by the double where only one takeout rate applies for two races. But who has the patience to wait for a race that has a probable winner that is not odds-on to win (me, Alice)?

    Low takeout multiple races are pure sucker bets; these bets are for people who simply are out for a good time and hoping for a big scorel

    So, yet again, ya’all are complaining about odds dropping during a race yet fail to note that the odds on all the other plodders went up during
    the same race which has me wondering why a whale would plunge on a horse thus reducing the odds further and the payoff he/she will receive.

    Am saddened by Mr. Pricci moving his bets into exotic wagers – a total losing maneuver.

    Ya’all are faced with two types of odds when betting on a horse race: the odds of the plug and the odds of the bet winningl It’s your money, bet as you wish!

    1. Sadly, WMC, I do not create the markets, but being aware of the public’s preferences as determined by betting handle, my efforts are to serve the markets that attract the most interest.
      BTW: We do suggest straight plays as well — on either the Most Probable Winner or a Value Play Straight.
      You will note, too, that we suggest multiple pool wagers at minimums available, but $2 minimums on straight wagers. Meaning? We consider straight wager pools are preferable. So, as you say, readers can bet “as they wish.”

      1. Well said John.
        Ideally, the simplest way to play is the win bet. When you and I started playing horses, the options were limited . But if you had a good opinion and some discipline, many people could generate a profit with a simple win bet. Although win profits can still be attained, the sometimes considerable odds swings after the start have made profitable win betting much tougher.

        Racing is not alone. Blackjack is tougher on the player. Roulette introduced not only a 00 wheel, but a triple zero wheel. Sports bettors are starting to have their play limited when they win consistently. The end result of this in Las Vegas ? Food and beverage profits are now higher than gambling profits.

        There are solutions. The win pool Is your most visible pool, so everyone will notice when the odds change drastically during the race . Let’s do a better job policing the win pool, and players will return to that pool.

        Start a betting exchange that has the same low takeout parameters that the successful Betfair models had twenty years ago. This will get even more people to return to win betting, which is healthy.

        Synopsis? Gambling is extremely popular. Racing is on National TV, takeouts on certain bets and carryovers are very players friendly, and it’s getting easier to play the game from your phone or laptop.
        Parimutuals don’t cut you off for winning. With a couple of positive gambling maneuvers, this game is ready to explode.

        Just take the 00 and 000 off the win pool wagering wheel. Until you do, expect the multi race pools to keep trending in popularity, continuing to create a lot of the wagering interest and liquidity in this beautiful game.

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