RSS Feed for this Blog

Sunday, October 07, 2012

The Global Pari-Mutuel Village

We're traveling abroad for a few days, and will be back in NYC this week, at which time I'll endevor to resume a more regular posting schedule.  Or, at least I'll do so after Wednesday night's highly anticipated and well sold-out show by Swans at Bowery Ballroom in support of their superb (though not for everyone) and epic new album The Seer.  (And a belated shout-out to Spin Records in Carlsbad, CA, one of the dying breed of independent record stores, who was playing the album when we dropped in during our trip there over Labor Day weekend.)

But as far as racing goes, it doesn't much matter where I am.  It was with much fanfare over the last year or so that Amazon and Apple rolled out their cloud platforms for music.  But wagering on horse racing has been in the cloud for quite some time.  As long as I have an internet connection, doesn't matter if we're down at my mom's house in Florida, out in California, or, say, in Gay Paree.  All I have to do is click on my NYRA Rewards account.....and voila!  Just like home.  Can bet, watch, and add money to my account, just like I was home in Queens.  (And, conversely, those of you back in the city were able to watch and wager on the Arc today.)  That's at least one way in which horse racing has been out on the least technologically.

And it's also why, as I was discussing over lunch with a couple of other know-it-alls last week, the matter of on-track attendance is really irrelevant nowadays.  Sure, we all love to see a vibrant scene at the races....and we do at the boutique tracks like Saratoga and Del Mar.   And we'll continue to do so there.   But the bottom line is the bottom line, and, truth be told, the proof is in the handle figures, and it really doesn't matter to NYRA whether there are 800 or 8,000 people at Belmont, as long as people are betting, especially through their Rewards advance deposit wagering platform.

Speaking of which, saw another newspaper piece, this time by Ed Fountaine in the NY Post, bashing NYRA and its "apologists," of which I guess I'd be considered to be one (though I'm not "apologizing" for any of its shortcomings, only pointing out that they are hardly the only ones to blame....I mean, where the hell is the invective towards the trainers who, and I quote directly from the task force report, "consistently indicated that they [not Charlie Hayward - ed.] determine the pre-race medication program for the horses in their stable"?), over the said report on horse safety.  He writes of the "shameful crowd of just 8,639" at Super Saturday....and does so in the same article in which he's bashing NYRA!  I mean, don't you think that this steady and relentless drumbeat of NYRA Sucks, NYRA robbed horseplayers of millions of dollars because the takeout on certain wagers was 1% too high, NYRA kills horses because it cares more about filing races than dead horses, can have an effect on how many people go to the track?  Made me laugh to see Fountaine write that in the same piece in which he contributed to the misleading hysteria.

But anyway, enough of that, I'm on vacation 3600 miles away.  So I guess I'll finish up and bet on the 2nd at Keeneland.  Best of luck and have a great day.


Sal Carcia said...

When does the negative drum beat against the NYRA end? Cuomo has been in charge for a few months and all this drug stuff has been going on. And he knew about it as he sat on the report. I guess we can now blame him for a these months. Does this make him corrupt (I am only talking about horseracing)?

Anonymous said...

Perhaps there is more NYRA "stuff" to come, more than just bad takeout math? It does seem odd that Governor Cuomo is dragging the New-New NYRA formation for weeks on end. I just hope it will be worth the wait.

August Song said...

He can kiss his hope of landing in the White House, other than to visit or to congratulate someone else, good-bye.

o_crunk said...

Here's the thing though, Alan - if "the proof is in the handle figures" as you say, then Fountaine's point is actually *stronger* than just citing attendance.

It would be nice to stop talking about attendance like it means anything ("Oh look, 40k people at SAR that means the game ain't dead") and start having a real conversation about where handle has gone. By my quick estimate, NYRA has seen their all sources handle erode by 25% over the past decade.

The decline of handle *long* precedes any of the "NYRA sucks" or "NYRA robbed horseplayers". This isn't a chicken or the egg deal either. People stopped playing and that was reflected in *the bottom line*.

Now here's the lag of "NYRA sucks" and "NYRA robbed horseplayers". The players figured it out before the media did. The same media your quick to blame here.

Anonymous said...


You make your assertions about the handle numbers at NYRA without discussing the handle numbers for the entire industry. You clearly suggest that horseplayers have somehow abandoned NYRA specifically. If this is the case, the overall industry numbers must be the same in 2011 as they were in 2002 ( surely you can find sources other than the NYRA media guide ). Let's see those numbers so that you can put some teeth behind your reckless assertions that it is NYRA that is being targeted by horseplayers and not the entire industry that has seen a downturn in handle.

Give us the comparisons between the NYRA tracks, Gulfstream, California tracks, as well as other major jurisdictions, and back up what you said. Surely you don't want to be yet another with internet bravado that can't back up what they say with actual facts.

Or do you?

o_crunk said...

Handle is down overall, industry-wide, in the US 27% in the last decade.

I fail to see where I said horseplayer's singled out NYRA specifically. The same problems NYRA has are pretty much the same everywhere else from a horseplaying perspective. Read it again, carefully.

I don't think the assertion is reckless. Handle is down and if "the proof is in the handle figures" then in any industry where revenue takes a 25% hit, then it's time for a change. Usually one starts with the management in most cases.

Anonymous said...


Your post was, at best, then deliberately deceptive, as you singled out NYRA and clearly suggested players had abandoned them, when in fact it is the industry that has lost handle, even moreso overall than NYRA.
Your final paragraph said players figured out " NYRA sucks " before the media, thus making it clear you were targeting NYRA.

If what you are saying now is true, your assertions should never have included NYRA, as they were ( apparently ) about the industry, though for whatever reason you decided to make them about NYRA, and it was only when called out that you claimed they weren't specific.

However, thanks for responding and clearing things up. In the future, so as to not create confusion, please try not to cloud the picture.

o_crunk said...

Read it again:

The decline of handle *long* precedes any of the "NYRA sucks" or "NYRA robbed horseplayers".

I don't think that's deceptive at all. It's true. As is NYRA's 25% handle decline in the last decade. If "the proof is in the handle figures", then I fail to see any victories here from NYRA or anyone else in the industry. Even in light of the "way in which horse racing has been out on the least technologically." You'd think that would lead to some handle *increases*.

Anonymous said...


You are now claiming to have made comments that were, at best, tangentally related to NYRA. However, your first post does not appear to reflect that sentiment. Claiming now that through smoke and mirrors you weren't addressing NYRA, but actually the industry, only makes you seem underhanded.

o_crunk said...

Whatever man. You're not addressing much substance of what I'm saying. Your replies are drifting into troll territory.

Alan Mann said...

First of all, and tangentially relating to what I guess what August Song's seemingly random point was, I wish that Obama had argued his points as vigorously and articulately as o_crunk and anonymous!

I do have to side with anonymous here, not surprisingly. Seems obvious that NYRA's handle decline is related to that of the industry as a whole. And I would further argue that any decline that is in fact specific to NYRA is more the fault of the dysfunction in Albany that has resisted any reform to the OTB structure that, unlike in other states, vulturizes NYRA's fair share of its percentage of handle wagered through its outlets.

Sal Carcia said...

25% decline could be due to many factors. The economy is the most obvious. The rise in takeout also results in a corresponding drop in handle. Ed DeRosa showed in his last year TTimes blog. Finally, the effective takeout is also raised with the presence rebate/computer players. The simulcast manager at Oaklawn Park has written about that.

Anonymous said...


Your "troll" comment doesn't make you look good, in case you are interested in a little self reflection, as it is clear to anyone actually reading that nothing could be further from the truth.

The handle declines over the last decade, which are reversing themselves in many places this year, are surely due to many factors. However, people like O_Crunk that basically offer an "off with their heads" solution, without any real substance, rarely ( if ever )with any actual potential solutions. Suggesting NYRA management is to blame, when current NYRA management has only been in place for a very short time, is particularly curious, especially given the recent positive handle numbers. There seems to be a continuing confusion, among many about NYRA, that any person that works under the NYRA heading is responsible for anything and everything that has taken place over the last 40 to 50 years. How does this make sense?

o_crunk said...

Please tell, anonymous, what the numbers are and how I'm blaming NYRA for what happened 40to 50 years ago. Time to back up what your saying with some facts, data and information.

You're way off on a tangent from what I'm talking about.

Anonymous said...


I'm not off on a tangent, just as I am not a troll, and the inferences I have made make perfect sense in relation to your comments. It seems it is you that needs to reread everything here.

Take some responsibility for yourself, man, and stop getting angry.

o_crunk said...

I'm open to being wrong and having my mind opened to another's point of view. You make some decent if incomplete points. Still waiting for substance to your points - what's your solutions? How are this year's numbers reversing themselves? How's NYRA not responsible for any of it?

Anonymous said...


I'm sorry, you aren't aware that handle numbers are up this year? Really?

My comments here stand up just fine on their own, and need no explanation. If you feel you actually need one, and aren't just trying to reverse things in order to draw attention away from your previous comments, maybe you just need to think about them some more.

o_crunk said...

Handle is up, what, 1 or 2% this year over last year? Where's that compared to a decade ago? I guess that it's off 26.5% from 27% a decade ago. Sure, you gotta start somewhere and maybe it's hit bottom, hard to say really.

I re-read what you're saying...there's not much there except that I'm "continually confused" and NYRA's not to blame (but no real explanation for why - just current management hasn't been in place for awhile).

I mean, work with me here. I'm listening!

Anonymous said...


If you re-read them, and then posted what you did, it's you who is deliberately trolling, as I said handle losses were reversing themselves in many places, I did not claim ( as I don't know ) that they are up or down industry wide, nor did I claim they are up substantially. Once again, my comments speak for themselves, that is when they aren't being twisted.

You're not as clever as you think you are. And you aren't fooling others as much as you are fooling yourself. Twisting my words reflects on you, and your arguments, not mine. This has deteriorated far enough for me. I am satisfied with my points.

o_crunk said...

And so goes..."anonymous". Talk about "underhanded". Quite hilarious, truly.

jk said...

Editorial: Run the old NYRA out of town

Originally published: October 8, 2012 5:23 PM

Nicholas said...

This point may have been made above, but for those of us who live in non-racing jurisdictions are trapped under a suffocating umbrella of weird hoops and shady off-shore options.