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Monday, July 06, 2009

Belmont Notes - July 5

Ugh, last place for Duke of Homberg after a perfect trip, sorry about that. However, the 4-1 odds at which he went off is quite different than his 10-1 morning line. We were out for the day, so I bet the horse early; but don't think he would have looked that enticing at that price if I'd been at the track. Maybe I should start setting minimum prices so I'm off the hook in those cases. (I hesitate to do so because there's also a theoretical maximum price over which I wouldn't bet a horse due to lack of tote action.)

Perhaps I would have had my second choice Ballast instead at a fair price of 5.60 to 1. Jacobson's horse led until the final jumps, battling gamely before succumbing to Radical Sabbatical ($12.60) in another tour de force for the irrepressible Ramon Dominguez. In a tight spot between horses after turning for home, the meet's leading rider spotted an opening on the rail, maneuvered over and got up to win by a neck with his usual powerful finish. The win capped a perfect two-for-two weekend for Barclay Tagg, the meet's leading trainer-other-than-Contessa at 18 for 67 (27%), which, considering that the latter has started well more than twice as many horses than any other trainer on the grounds, should be worth an award of its own. (And that's right....believe it or not, the preceding link is to an honest-to-goodness local newspaper article on Dry Martini's win in the Suburban, courtesy of Ed Fountaine in the New York Post!)

Dominguez had three winners on the day, including Ketubah ($7.70) for Christophe Clement, another trainer enjoying a fine meeting (16 for 61, 26%). This three-year old daughter of Broken Vow made her turf debut a successful (and well-bet) one. She's out of a mare by a Storm Cat sire named Catrail....gotta say I don't know that one. But she has some interesting inbreeding - 3x4 to Fappiano, 5x5 to Dr. Fager - and she descends from the same female family as the Grade 1 turf winner Colstar (2000 Flower Bowl.

Carlos Martin took the third with Multidude ($6.40), continuing this barn's nearly perfect record with 180+ day layoff horses at this meet. That's now three winners, and a second, by a head, from four such starters.

In a statistical quirk, the crowd on Sunday was 6,767. On Saturday, it was 7,667. (But no, playing the 6-7/7-6 combo on any two-horse exotic on either card would have yielded a big fat zero)

- Veering completely off-topic into music, any of you who might recall the band Polvo should be excited to hear of their reunion and upcoming album release, their first in 12 years, on the venerable indie label Merge, which is celebrating its 20th anniversary. Pitchfork has a preview track which is slammin'. Polvo is doing a free show at the South Street Seaport on July 31, just a couple of hours or so before the Head Chef and I will be checking out The Wailers at Del Mar (with or without the kids remains to be seen...)

And I wanted to mention a website - don't know if it's new, as I'm not necessarily up on the latest developments. But Lala is a site which allows you to legally stream, in their entirety, just about any song from any album you can imagine....once. After that, you're limited to 30 second samples, unless you add it to a permanent streaming library for ten cents each (I got 25 free songs upon registration). I find that Lala serves extremely well on a site like Pitchfork, which presents a widget of all the songs alongside its album reviews. So a great way to check the music out for yourself and see if you agree with the reviewer. Whatsmore, you can download complete albums (ITunes compatible MP3's) for cheaper than ITunes - for example, just $7.49 for the new Wilco album linked to above, not too shabby!


Anonymous said...

Monmouth drew more fans on Saturday alone than Belmont did for the two day weekend.

Anonymous said...

Remember the Buffalo site's most viewed articles a few weeks back? I just heard on a local sports talk station that Googles most searched is the woman who may have shot McNair.

Anonymous said...

I noticed Colonel John is starting to gear up on his works.

Anyone take him seriously as a handicap horse this season?

Anonymous said...

Monmouth's supposed 15 plus thousand in attendance bet $857,300. Belmont's Saturday on-track was $1,378,296. Monmouth, thus, handled 62% with, supoposedly, twice as many in attendance.

Monmouth had a $100K guarantee on their late Pick-4.....they handled $104K. Belmont had a $350K guarantee.....they handled $566K.

Would somebody please explain how attendance matters. Intelligently explain that is.

Anonymous said...

OK, I will try to explain.

The track keeps about 3% of on track handle, or about $15,000 of the extra $500,000 wagered.

They keep 100% of admission cost, and make a profit on programs and concessions.

So the 8000 extra attendees made more money for the track than the extra handle at Belmont.

That is why on track attendence matters, as well as the overall improvment in ambiance when there are actual people at the venue.

Anonymous said...

The tracks keep 3% of on-track handle?

You need to research this a little better. And not bring a noodle to a knifefight.

Anonymous said...

geesh, you asked a question, I attempted to answer it.

This is an information sharing forum, not a knifefight, why the antogonism?

Feel free to enlighten me all knowing one.

You asked why attendance matters, I provided a number of reasons why it does.

If my percentage is off it does not change the other factors.

Anonymous said...

Your percentage being dramatically off changes everything you wrote save your claims about the ascetic value of attendance. The tracks keep somewhere around 85% of all takeout dollars ( splitting that between themselves and the horsemen through purses ). The number you came up with ( 3% ) is the very low end of what some tracks get from simulcast dollars.

Yes, it would be nice if racing were more popular from an attendance standpoint, and certainly there is also some revenue to be derived from that, but the bulk of their revenue comes from handle.

I find it interesting how many blog commenters knocked NYRA for getting a decent attendance for Rachel Alexandra when the handle figures showed many in attendance didn't bet. It seems when it comes to NYRA that people want to have it both ways.

Anonymous said...

So, using a blended takeout rate of about 20%, the extra $500,000 wagered at Belmont accounted for $100,000 in money "kept" by the track, of which probably (correct me if I am wrong) 50% is allocated by law to purses and breeders ( I did google this and can not find).

Assuming all these numbers are correct, Belmont nets an extra $50,000 from the excess wagers.

Monmouth had 8,000 extra attendees at $3 grand stand admission and $2 a program, they keep 100% of these dollars so net $40,000 before parking, concession, seat sales, and dining revenues.

There is really no argument, the money spent by casual on track attendees is at least as profitable to the bottom line.

And the key point is, NYRA's hard core players making up the bulk of that extra handle will be there regardless, so if NYRA could attract those extra 8,000 people it would be pure profit, which is the point of my original comparison.

As for the Rachel promotion, in all liklihood those fans that did not gamble spent money on all of the above. A small percentage of those will become fans of racing for life and return many times in the future and hopefully bring their friends.

I saw Secretariat win the Belmont and maybe bet twenty bucks that whole day ( I was 15) but it made me a fan of the sport for life and trust me NYRA has made out quite well over all these years in this relationship.

Five years ago, my buddy brought his teenage kids to The Belmont, they are now in college and bring twenty of their friends every year. These are kids that a few years back would sit around playing TX hold'em all week, now they are dabbling at the track. A few weeks back he called to tell me they were all at Belmont for a Friday night at the park while he and I were working, the irony.

To summarize, just because the novices do not wager as much is no reason for NYRA to not try to attract them to the races.

Consider it marketing for the future, as long as the extra admission fees cover the advertising budget it makes sense.

The real question is why they can not attract 20,000 casual fans To Belmont EVERY weekend day when so many live within 10 ten miles.

Thanks for the discussion, I found it interesting to work the numbers (even if not perfect) in an attempt to understand their business model.

Anonymous said...

And btw, re-reading your response, for the record my original 3% figure was a guess at what the track actually was keeping, AFTER purses, breeders and state and local taxes, so while off it was not DRAMATICALLY off ;-).

3% of 500k = 15k
10%? of 500k = 50k

Difference 35k, hardly dramatic.

It did not change everything I wrote, only the break even calculation.

I still believe 8,000 casual fans partying and betting ten bucks are more beneficial to the bottom line than one rich guy drinking coffee while dumping 500k through the window.