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Tuesday, February 20, 2007

TVG Talkers Tuned Out

- Still getting comments on TVG, though not from the poster who threatened to call out Steve D.

One thing everyone seems to be in agreement on is that most of the blabber we hear from the TVG talking heads isn't worth a whole lot, especially to those holding a Racing Form or the BRIS PP's, which I imagine has to be around 98%, doncha think?

In the matter of the TVG on-air talent, I prefer to stick to the principle of "if you don't have anything nice to say, say nothing at all." But in thinking about the various hosts, I realize that I don't really listen to them. I tune them right out, and couldn't really distinguish most from the others. They might as well be playing that groovy music from Monday and Tuesday nights. I thought Vic Stauffer had more interesting things to say during the few times I saw him on the air than I've ever heard from some of the others. Of course, Gary Stevens catches my attention, and there's some worthwhile talk from Simon Bray, Matt Carothers, and Frank Lyons, at least when he's not trying to hide his disdain for his partner.

And I'm in total agreement with Steve D about The Works. That's great TV. Stevens, Lyons, and Tom Amoss all have their opinions and they're not afraid to mix it up with each other. They quickly developed a nice chemistry, and it's just about the only really lively exchange and debate of ideas we ever hear on the network, Carothers vs. Watchmaker aside. Even Todd Schrmmmppff does a good job playing the straight man.

As for HRTV, I haven't had it since last spring, and I have to say I rather miss it. I thought that their on-track coverage of the Santa Anita races was very sharp. Millie Ball and Becky Witzman did a good job with their pre- and post-race interviews, and I thought that the on-air talent was just generally stronger - Jon White, Kurt Hoover, Jeff Siegel, and Peter Lurie all brought a lot of knowledge and left the phony "gee, isn't this $15,000 NW2L claiming race exciting" posturing at home (or for Laffit Pincay, Jr.)

But getting back to TVG (and I rarely hear from anyone who has HRTV these days), commenter Lenny said that he would rather watch races with no analysis. And those in the NYC area with Time Warner Cable, which doesn't carry either of the racing channels, instead get exactly that with the NYC OTB Channel - at least when the NYRA track is done for the day. Once the 9th at the Big A has been run, the races come in rapid fire one after another from Gulfstream, Santa Anita, Fair Grounds, Oaklawn - and a second channel for some spillover tracks like Turf Paradise and Bay Meadows. No frills, no chatter, just hardcore racing. The director usually does a great job switching back and forth at relevant times. And this goes on for the rest of the night - harness and thoroughbred, even Australian races. I wouldn't be the least bit surprised if Time Warner doesn't any requests for TVG at all.


Superfecta said...

It sounds like I'm not missing much by not being able to receive TVG or HRTV; I've only ever seen The Works back when we had TWC and enjoyed that, but it seems the rest of the programming is a bit sub-par.

Here in Comcast Land, we do get the Philly Park OTB feed and Let's Go Racing once a week, but I'm still annoyed that I'm missing the races that are 'exclusive' to TVG. If part of the concept behind TVG is to create new bettors, locking potential ones out of the system is not the way to go about it.

Anonymous said...

TVG does provide some decent content such as The Works and The Quarters. Also when they are setup at Hollywood, Del Mar, etc. they tend to provide alot more insight into the races. Interviews with trainers and jockeys before and after the races provide information most people can not access.

On the flip side there are several things that I think need to be changed. For one stop pushing the audience toward the P4 and P6. I know those types of wagers tend to pay the most but for a normal $2 bettor or to a new person they are not that appealing. On top of this is the format with which the on-air tickets are constructed. No serious player is going to bet all of his/her money on a single P6 ticket and most do not play a single P4 ticket. The ideal strategy as pointed out by many expert handicappers (Cramer, Christ, etc.) is to put each races runners into several categories (A,B,C,X for example) and play multiple tickets. I would expect Matt Carouthers to play this way simply because his father (Gibson) is a legendary P6 player. Do you suppose that Gibson plays only a single ticket when he plays the P6 and limits himself to $120? This brings up the second problem: ticket limits.

No one I know sets strict limits on the amount they play for each type of wager. I may spend $8 on the P4 or $200 on the P4. It all depends on the situation. The $50 limit on P4's set by TVG is rediculous. I know that they are trying to provide newcomers with tickets that they can afford but is this really necessary? A few months ago Todd Schrup was alive in the P4 at Hollywood and he 10 of the 14 runners covered in the last race. Of course you can guess what happened, one of the 4 he did not use won. Now realistically if someone were going to go 10 deep (meaning they had no opinion in that race) would you not expect them to just punch the "all" button and spend the extra money? Well therein lies the problem, with a $50 max Mr. Schrup was forced to eliminate 4 horses in the last leg to get his ticket under the limit. Of course no one knows if he played the ticket and included the other 4 horses, but on the air he acted as if he did not. This leads to the next problem: hitting the "all" button.

Most experts agree that hitting the "all" button is admitting defeat. A person must have no opinion or a race must be impossible to handicap if it is necessary to use every horse. In my opinion the only time it makes sense to use "all" is in the fourth position of a superfecta or in a P3 or P4 where in the other legs you have a solid opinion. I once hit a P4 for $8 playing single-single-all-single and it paid a little over $600 for a dollar. I was lucky because the race in which I used all the longest shot won the race. I only played it because I had a solid opinion on three legs and did not like the favorites in the other. Unfortunately, TVG often provides tickets using "all" or more then half the field.

What it comes down to is laziness. It is easier to play one big ticket or use every horse. It takes time to map out multiple tickets using varying dollar amounts, but it is worth it. There is nothing better then hitting a P4 for $4 because your top selections won every race. Playing this way is cost efficient, TVG should really think about this and stop being lazy.

If anything TVG should look at the people they have right now and ask themselves what value do they add to the company. There are a few that in my opinion add nothing. Expert handicappers should be providing insight to races that most people overlook or are not aware of. By this I mean track biases, workout patterns, hidden moves within a race and key races just to name a few. I think that TVG is a start but it defintely needs alot of refinement.


Alan Mann said...

As Steve D pointed out, the likely reason they push the Pick 4 and 6 is because those bets carry a higher takeout, which benefits them. As far as those limits they put on themselves, Lenny says: I know that they are trying to provide newcomers with tickets that they can afford but is this really necessary?

That's exactly it as i see it - they're trying to encourage bettors to take the plunge with affordable tickets. Pick Six bettors such as Crist would instead counsel people not to make those bets rather than limiting themselves to an amount that prevents them from playing the bet properly.

Anonymous said...

One Crist-ism that I always remember when considering a Pick 6 ticket is this: (I'll paraphrase) The worst Pick 6 play is one that falls between $8 and $128 dollars. Anyone is entitled to an $8 play just in case he hits for $100 grand on the greatest handicapping day of his life, but for you to seriously have a shot at a Pick 6-playworthy card, you need to invest in at least 64 combinations (or $128).

This is one person's opionion, I realize, but it's a good opionion. TVG leads its players astray from such solid fundamentals on a DAILY basis! When have their "experts" ever counseled someone to pass a race?

If anything, I'd appreciate seeing real true gamblers, not commentators, explaining how they are approaching a specific race and telling us what their actual ticket is. I'm not saying you do this for every race, but it would be far better than "Okay...ready for post. Ken likes the 2. Matt likes the 6."

And Todd Schrupp likes himself.

Lenny's comment about "added value" is also important. I acknowledge that TVG adds value with The Works. However, the clearly remove value during the course of the average raceday.

Anonymous said...

I subsribed to TVG for one month, found it mostly unwatchable, not worth the cost.

I live with NYCOTB's CH 71 on sportschannel and survive just fine.

I do miss the early races from KEE and CD in spring, other than that TVG provided zero value. The works summary you can get on the web.

Anonymous said...

Didn't anyone else see the 4th at Tampa Bay today?Look at the replay and once the 1 horse.If this wasn't some joint play, I've never seen one.Steven