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Saturday, May 22, 2010

Sticking to Home Turf

I know everyone's hepped up about Monmouth. But those races - large fields of horses shipping in from a variety of racetracks (including a pretty fair number from New York) - are just too hard for me! Why expend the mental energy when I can handicap races which not only include horses and trainers with whom I'm familiar, but which also don't require nearly as much guesswork as trying to rate horses who've been running in different classes over different surfaces in different jurisdictions. Not that I don't enjoy handicapping a contentious race; but I find these enough of the races here challenging enough. And I also like to cash once in a while. So I'm sticking around close to home.

They'll be wagering on Belmont at NYC OTB too, but the bettors there will have little choice. The NY State Racing and Wagering Board cracked down on OTB's out-of-state simulcasting and ordered all of the out-of-state signals other than Golden Gate pulled after having "only just yesterday" discovered that the individual simulcast contracts with the tracks were not approved. Matt Hegarty reports:

In addition to accusations that New York City OTB did not receive approvals to offer the tracks, the board notified OTB three weeks ago that it would not approve any other simulcast contracts until OTB "assures us that they are able to meet their financial obligations," according to Joe Mahoney, a spokesman for the board. [Daily Racing Form]
The spokesman is referring to the fact that it's the statutory payments due to NYRA on these out-of-state simulcasts which are the ones being "deferred" by NYC OTB. So one might presume that those payments are also behind the Board's sudden discovery that the contracts were not approved.

Whatever its motive, and inadvertently or not, the Racing and Wagering Board, a neutral arbiter, is coming down on NYRA's side here. Presuming that bettors with money burning holes in their pockets are going to bet on Belmont instead, NYRA would at least get the money since they are currently getting paid by OTB for its own product. The percentage difference isn't that great though - NYRA gets 2.69% of bets on its races, as opposed to 1.96% for all non-NYRA races. Every little bit helps, though this surely won't stave off closure if Albany doesn't come through. (And bettors like reader Figless Anon who will go to Belmont to bet on races from Monmouth would further help, as NYRA collects its full on-track cut of over 9% on those wagers.)

- In the 8th at Belmont, Nobody Like Mike (6-1), first-time out for Greg DiPrima, has worked extremely well for his return to the grass, a surface over which he's run twice and done quite well - a third with excuses and a win. DiPrima, 20% off the claim, has had just one winner in 13 starts at the meet; but he's been live with a second and six thirds, and that one winner was also on the grass and with this jockey. Fit (5-2) goes for the sharp Alan Goldberg barn, but I think he doesn't want to go this far.

In the 10th, Mighty Tuff (6-1) - that one winner for DiPrima I mentioned above - had shown improved speed with blinkers added two races back, and then switched to turf, where he proceeded to drop back to 9th. The above-referenced Victor Santiago showed patience saving some ground behind a wall of horses turning for home before he rallied down the center of the track. The chart comment Caught battling pair may give the impression that he ran down tiring horses; but, according to Formulator, he got his last two furlongs in 11 2/5 each, and earned a solid Beyer for this level. Steps up to face winners, but gets Ramon and there's not much here. Eire's Run (3-1) cuts back a bit after a fair effort first off the claim for Linda Rice; note though that he graduated on dirt. Look for that one to be particularly overbet if the other half of the entry (first-time turf Abilio) goes. E.P. Bombay (7-2) ships in from the west coast; may be overbet off a win on synthetic against maiden claimers.


ballyfager said...

Alan, re your first paragraph, but that's how you catch prices. I like the beginning of meets for the same reason you dislike them.

Figless Anon said...

In these circumstances I generally focus on the local horses with proven form over the surface, all of whom will be overlays due to big name barns entrants.

Off to Belmont to bet Mth today, irony of ironies.

Aware of at least four NYCOTB regulars doing the same, today's Belmont card is so miserable it is actually getting these lazy local gamblers off their asses, out of the dard simulcast parlor, and into the sunshine.

New marketing strategy for NYRA now that NYCOTB can take only their thoroughbred signal, put on the worst possible cards so gamblers will be forced to leave OTB to bet with NYRA.

Its a crazy world.

Figless Anon said...

Or they can sit in the OTB parlor and bet on NYRA or trotters.

And of course they could go to Yonkers but will never be able to find a parking spot since the lot is at full capacity from the VLT players.

Or just fight the traffic and go to MTH, all in all Belmont is the easiest option.

The_Knight_Sky said...

Figless Anon wrote:

Off to Belmont to bet Mth today, irony of ironies.


Now there is an genius New Yorker right there.

We horseplayers whine about short fields all year and then when we're served up something like this at Monmouth Park, we wind up ignoring the menu?

Oh the hypocrisy, Batman!

Help save quality dirt and turf racing in another state. Play the signal this summer. ;-)

Figless Anon said...

Off topic, back to prior thread, Crist indicates Mth needs to increase their daily handle from 3.5M to 10M to make this sustainable, and claims that it will never work.

We will find out soon enough, but I am not so sure it can not work.

Considering they have added races and the field sizes will almost double, which is proven to increase handle dramatically, and the cards that have been elimated are the smallest handle dates of Wed and Thursday, this gap may not be so difficult to close especially with the added attention the good horses bring.

Losing NYCOTB will certainly hurt though, they are the single biggest simulcast facility.

As a multi-race exotic player I have always found the P3, P4 and P6wagers unplayable at MTH, perhaps not the case anymore.

These pools are where they can expect the biggest increases. The Pick 6 pool in particular, can make up a lot of this gap simply with expected carryovers due to the bigger fields.

Not sure if they have done so, but since management is taking risks they should install NYRA like Guarantees on their P4 and P6 pools to create seed money, especially on the latter.

I would love to dive into the P6 pool today, but have no clue whethar their will be enough money in the pool to make it worthwhile.

At NYRA, even on bad days, there is always 25k in the pool to make it worthwhile if you get lucky.

Anyway, I make MTH 2-1 to average the breakeven handle number of 10M per day. Not a slam dunk, but if the weather cooperates it is possible.

PS- Crist is only using handle numbers in his equation, if on track attendance increases that can close the gap too. This is not impossible.

Figless Anon said...

The Knight Sky -

I get to play the more interesting races while supporting NY racing at the same time (and NJ in the process).

A win-win!

Who loses? The middle man, the fat cats at NYCOTB.

In truth, my bad for playing with this organization to begin with, I plead guilty.

But it was purely out of necessity since until recently the politicians prevented me from funding and accessing my NYRA account without fees.

I plan to reactive that account today so I will not need to travel out there in the future, not that there's anything wrong with packing a cooler and sitting in the beautiful backyard (other than the tolls, parking, admission, and most importantly the DWI factor.

ballyfager said...

I will be at Mth today. I wish them the greatest success but I'm dubious. Running $5,000 claimers for $30,000 purses is not the answer. Running J-breds for $80,000 purses is not the answer.

Racing has two core problems:

1. There aren't enough good horses to go around.

2. The takeout is too high.

I don't know what's to be done about either.

Anonymous said...

Alan just admit the fact that your handicapping no matter which venue purely SUCKS.

Anonymous said...

There won't be one odds on horse at Monmouth today and you are not playing. You don't make sense sometimes. This is where an experienced handicapper exploits the competition.

Anonymous said...

So which of the Monmouth races have the CLASS horses?

SaratogaSpa said...

this sets up as a stats freaks dream-analyzing Monmouth attendance, handle and also looking at Belmont weekend attendance, handle and amount bet by belmont attendees on the Monmouth simulcast.

Alan Mann said...

steven - I respectfully disagree. This is the kind of card an experienced handicapper stays away from. Just my opinion. And the presence of odds-on horses sometimes creates a bandwagon effect and value on others that an experienced handicapper can exploit. Good luck today.

Alan Mann said...

...and just to clarify, none of this is to say that i'm not planning to go to, and bet on races at Monmouth races this year; nor that I dislike large fields. But I'm firmly of the belief that it greatly behooves one to wait until there is, if not local form (since that takes weeks now given how infrequently horses race), then at least an idea of which horses coming from which tracks racing at which levels and for which trainers are running well. Honestly, I think it's insane to jump in here with a large investment on the first day given all of the uncertainty and guesswork involved with all the disparate stables shipping in from all over. But again, just my opinion, and I hope you all have a great day wherever you're wagering.

Teresa said...

Winner of the second at MTH pays..$3.60. So much for no odds-on winners. =)

Anonymous said...

Belmont handle will be 30 to 40 % higher than Monmouth today. I can't understand why Monmouth went this route. 4 days a week might have given them bigger fields. You don't need 13 races as a standard. 10 are more than enough for me.

Anonymous said...

Ok Alan, I hear your points. How about this ? Do you think there is a lot of "dumb money" at Monmouth. I mean people betting numbers, colors names, jockeys ? I have been there a thousand times and the handicapping ability of the fans is not too high. I know simulcast money comes in, but still. LOL

Anonymous said...

Monmouthguy says:

Alan there is a 100k plus pik 5 carryover. If I were you I would be concentrating tonight on Hollywood Park 5-6 horse fields to pick a juicy double for 5.00 or a juicy pik 4 for 14.00..... go gettum Alan and try not to hit the ATM machine on the first floor at Belmont.Can you give me one of those 4.80 doubles at Hollywood. Or how about Hollywood dog track in Florida. Sounds good to me eh..

Anonymous said...

From DRF:
Monmouth lured 17,903 fans on Saturday, blowing away last year's opening-day turnout of 10,292. And they brought their wallets. The combined handle from all sources was $9,357,444, trouncing last year's $4,279,438. It was the highest handle in Monmouth history other than Haskell Day or during the Breeders' Cup weekend in 2007.

ballyfager said...

As someone who was there, I'm a little surprised at the attendance figure. It didn't seem that crowded to me, and I've been going there a long, long time.

To put it in perspective, before OTB, when NY racing moved to Sar, Mth would often get 35-40,000 people on a Saturday. Of course the handle would have been much less because the dollar still had some value then.

Today looks not so good weatherwise. That might have a negative effect.

Anyway, the great experiment is underway and I hope it's successful. They don't build things like Monmouth Park anymore and it's well worth saving.

Figless said...

bally, you might not garner it from my prior posts but i simply love MTH and agree with your sentiment that it is more than worth saving. I hope experiment accomplishes this at least.

Good luck today, weather holding up so far.