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The Conscience of Thoroughbred Racing


HALLANDALE BEACH, FL, September 13, 2022 — On September 10, HRI opened a press release sent to our inbox. Here, in part, is an edited version:

“Churchill Downs Incorporated has entered into a multi-year agreement with FanDuel Group involving different facets of FanDuel’s sports wagering, advance deposit wagering, and television business.

“Under the Agreement, CDI will provide certain technology and services to enable FanDuel’s customers to place pari-mutuel wagers on horse racing via FanDuel’s sports wagering and ADW platforms.

“CDI will also authorize wagering on CDI’s owned or controlled horse racing content via FanDuel’s platforms in the United States and grant FanDuel certain television and media rights to broadcast CDI-owned racing content on FanDuel’s television network(s).

“In addition, the agreement provides FanDuel non-exclusive Kentucky Derby sponsorship rights within the sports wagering category.

“Beginning in January 2023, FanDuel will pay for CDI technology… As previously announced, CDI has entered into an agreement to sell 49% of United Tote to New York Racing Association (NYRA) in a transaction that is expected to close by the end of 2022…

“CDI will provide FanDuel wagering rights to horse racing content owned or controlled by CDI, including the Kentucky Derby, and will receive customary content fees when FanDuel accepts wagers on CDI-owned content…

FanDuel will also receive exclusive television rights to the racing content of all CDI Thoroughbred racetracks, including Churchill Downs, once its existing non-Derby media rights deal expires in 2023…

“The agreement excludes certain specified racing content, including Kentucky Derby Week. As part of the agreement, FanDuel will also receive a non-exclusive sponsorship of the Kentucky Derby in the sports wagering category beginning in 2023 in exchange for an annual sponsorship fee.”

A few days later, this release arrived:

“NYRA Content Management Solutions (NCMS), a subsidiary of the New York Racing Association, Inc. and 1/ST CONTENT, the leading global provider of premium content for North American horse racing, announced a 10-year partnership that will dramatically expand the availability of North American horse racing content throughout international markets…

“The new partnership solidifies 1/ST CONTENT as the world’s premier international distributor of North American horse racing content… this agreement furthers the co-operation between 1/ST CONTENT and NCMS over the content rights, data, odds, and signals from a host of first-class venues…

“By leveraging its vast international distribution network and direct-to-home rights in the UK, Ireland, Europe, Australia, New Zealand and Africa, this agreement will deliver more than 3,000 days of racing each year from Gulfstream Park, Santa Anita Park, Golden Gate Fields, Laurel Park, Pimlico Race Course, Belmont Park, Aqueduct and Saratoga, along with Del Mar, Keeneland, Tampa Bay Downs and Woodbine…

“[This partnership] will [continue operating] only in regulated markets ensuring the highest level of integrity and fairness as it deploys ground-breaking 1/ST ODDS pricing engine, and an innovative in-running betting service currently in trial with numerous Tier-1 operators.”

What was glaring over the prime summer meets of Saratoga and Del Mar, is that pre-FanDuel branding, TVG had a strong, live presence at Del Mar while the Saratoga meet was available only on the Fox family of regional networks.

The NYRA product in particular requires video recording in advance, given the cross-country time zones, varying size of racing programs that occasionally result in disparate first-post off times.

The ever-annoying reality of not knowing when and where NYRA’s Saratoga Live program can be viewed–either FS-1 or FS-2–often requires three channel changes and recordings to cover a single racing card. Sometimes races fall between cracks given often haphazard scheduling.

Programming on both networks becomes even more dicey when prior commitments to the NBC network and/or its satellites have exclusive rights on that day’s stakes fare, especially when races align with the Breeders’ Cup Championships.

Battle lines between the networks have been joined for a while. When Churchill Downs no longer appeared on TVG, NYRA programming picked up the Churchill simulcasts, the races shown and analyzed by NYRA roster of racing analysts.

No one knows that will happen when alliances made before the recently announced agreements expire. Does Fan Duel’s exclusive rights to CDI content leave NYRA programming without content from Churchill’s stable of racetracks?

Other CDI properties includes Fair Grounds, Turfway Park and fairly recently made incursions northward into Pennsylvania (Presque Isle Downs) and Virginia (Colonial Downs) which recently closed its best meet ever. CDI has the Commonwealth of Kentucky locked up with one notable exception: Keeneland.

Despite all incestuous entanglements, competition between racetracks and regions remains as contentious as ever.

One hopes is that one day the industry can have a network unto itself which, especially given the burgeoning popularity of international racing, There will be content galore. But until that day comes, horseplayers might find themselves without enough recording devices.

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8 Responses

  1. I expected this type of situation. With all the choices of product, content and wagering, the market for horse racing and sports gambling is in the midst of a shakeout. The Supreme Court ruling on PASPA in 2018 unleashed a flurry of industry negotiations and deals that will continue for the next few years. I favor anything that provides the best deal for the average customer. We shall see.

    Incredible that the various OTBs survive in the State of New York.

  2. And you’re right Dan, everything will shake out. In favor of the players? At the end of the day, is it ever? No answer necessary…

  3. Suspect this will all revert back to ”The Cat and Mouse in Partnership” of Brothers Grimm. “When there is money to be had, there’s just never enough you see.” The focus is seldom about the benefits to the players. You sum it up all quite well with “?”.

  4. CDI, NYRA and TSG are like the three branches of government. It would be nice if some of the benefit trickles down to the players.

    I will give Kentucky this: Implementing penny breakage, even if $7.62 payoffs take some getting used to, is about the players. There’s no reason all states can’t do the same, but for greed.

    If the states who benefit economically from the racing industry want to do something for the animals and rank and file workers that make it all possible, I, as a horseplayer, would donate those odd few cents from every winning bet to go toward a retirement programs, or backstretch worker programs, and the like.

    All those pennies would add up. I don’t think my fellow horseplayers would have any objections…

  5. “All those pennies would add up. I don’t think my fellow horseplayers would have any objections”.

    I object.

    In Massachusetts, whenever a dedicated tax increase question is put to the voters in a referendum, it always includes a clause that makes the allegedly dedicated spending (education, infrastructure, etc.) subject to the approval of the legislature. The tax will be collected, but the legislature retains the ability to use that money on expenditures other than the intended purpose or they can simply dump the money into the state general fund.

    That’s why I always vote NO on tax increase referendum questions.

  6. A Nation of Distracted Gamblers. Greedy ones. When is Too much enough ? ” Even if your teams loses you win ! ” With an Offer like that how can an idiot refuse ?

  7. Saratoga post-mortem part 3 of 3.

    Less than 15 minutes before the start of the NYRA fall meet, so some final words on Saratoga 2022.

    The experiment in wagering that John allowed me to post here is impractical. I don’t bet like that, nor does anyone else. One purpose of my strict wagering rules was to avoid the “scared money” trap. 3 wagers per day, all for $20, all Win, Place or Show. Locked into rules that would not allow me to increase the amount wagered if (in my case when) the losses started to pile up, I could mitigate the damage. That’s exactly what happened.

    My dismal wagering performance was punctuated by 3 particularly abysmal periods:

    July 27 to Aug 4: 1 for 20.
    Aug 7 to Aug 11: 1 for 9.
    Aug 31 to Sep 5: 1 for 20.

    That final week of losses would have been particularly damaging to my ROI if I had the option of increasing the amount wagered in an attempt to bail out. By locking in a constant amount, I achieved reverse proof of the danger of trying to recoup losses at the end of a day, week or meet. Increasing the wagered amount to $50 in the final week would have resulted in a ROI of minus 40%, by keeping the amount constant, I minimized the damage and ended at minus 29%.

    My record showed, in a roundabout type of way, that scared money never wins. Well, maybe it wins on rare occasions, but it almost never wins.

    Now my mind wanders to July, 2023. The people are parking next to the Oklahoma Training Track. They’re carrying lounge chairs and coolers. They’re walking past the signs ‘Count Fleet’, ‘Secretariat’. Watch out – here comes a horse trailer. Left turn, keep walking. Across Union Avenue they go……..

    Good luck at B of A, Belmont at Aqueduct, Something at the Big A or whatever the official name is.

  8. Two immutable rules:

    Don’t chase; bet more when winning, not losing.

    And you’re right; scared money almost never wins.

    Sometimes it’s a function of bankroll. There would be times when I came home and told Toni “I saved $8 today.” “How much did it cost you?” she would respond.

    These days, when I tell her I saved money, she knows the story and doesn’t bother to ask.

    A third axiom is a sin I still commit from time to time, but human nature being what it is…

    It’s easy to say but harder to do: Don’t be afraid to lose.

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