|The Lion Of Winter Roars Louder|
Every year, as the self-proclaimed Czar of Winter Simulcasting, I track the amount of interstate wagering on each track’s simulcast signal. I then take this number and divide it by the number of races that were run in order to generate these wagering numbers. This gives me the average wagering per race which indicates the most popular wagering signal on that day. For the last fourteen years, the most popular signal to wager on in the winter has always been Gulfstream.
Why do I do this you might ask? Well, back in 2000, a number of racing writers were reporting about the decline in quality of racing at Gulfstream Park. I was curious as to where the best racing was taking place if it wasn’t at Gulfstream. It seemed that tracking the wagering by race would lead me to the signal most wagered on which would supposedly be where the best racing was taking place. My little experiment proved that Gulfstream indeed had the best racing in North America during the winter. It further displayed that Gulfstream also had the best signal, and therefore, the best racing on each and every day of the race week.
In the early years of this experiment, The Fairgrounds was a very formidable exporter of its signal and actually finished second to Gulfstream. Then the Fairgrounds signal began to slide and finished behind Aqueduct and Santa Anita. CDI, Churchill Downs Inc., then bought the Fairgrounds and the signal recovered slightly for a year or two before CDI pulled the plug on any of their tracks giving out handle or attendance numbers to the media, unless, of course, the numbers were really good. With no published wagering numbers available from the Fairgrounds, I dropped them from my wagering study and replaced them with Tampa Bay Downs.
A few rules were established by the Czar of Winter Racing with the most notable being that if at least two tracks didn’t operate on the same day, no simulcast numbers were used for that day. The other rule is this study begins when Gulfstream Park opens and ends when Gulfstream closes. There is one exception to that rule, and that is that Arkansas Derby day is included in the study as an extra Saturday for Oaklawn Park. This is because it is Oaklawn’s biggest day, but it is run after three of the other tracks have already closed, including Gulfstream.
Historically, the tracks studied always ran five day race weeks, save for Gulfstream which ran 6 day weeks during half of their race meet. Now only three of these tracks run five day race weeks and one struggles to do that, Aqueduct, but that is solely weather related as it’s not easy to run during northern winters. Oaklawn and Santa Anita have opted for four day race weeks, and while it has seemed to help Santa Anita's simulcast numbers it seems to have been flat for Oaklawn.
As you can see by looking at the accompanying simulcast chart, Gulfstream was a clear winner on simulcast wagering per race on every race day of the week. Mondays were both holidays and were in a week were Wednesdays were dark. The thing that holds true every year is the tremendous amount of wagering on Gulfstream’s signal on a Saturday. Gulfstream clearly separates itself from the pack on racing’s most popular and profitable race day. I believe this is the first time I have had a track handle over a million dollars a race as Gulfstream did. The Gulfstream handle per race was a quarter of a million dollars more than even its sister track, Santa Anita, which finished second on Saturdays.
Fridays have made vast strides as a popular day to wager on simulcasts to the point where they now threaten Sunday’s as the second best wagering day of the week.
Santa Anita has replaced Aqueduct as the second most wagered on winter simulcast signal for the last three or four years, but she doesn’t seem able to close any significant ground on her big sister, Gulfstream, which just keeps stretching her lead every year.
Clenbuterol is an excellent respiratory medication, and one that is very widely used and highly valued in the race horse. Unfortunately, when anabolic steroids were banned a few years ago one of Clenbuterol’s other properties came to the fore. This would be so called “partitioning” action of Clenbuterol, or its ability to increase muscle and reduce fat in the body. This anabolic steroid-like property that Clenbuterol has becomes evident when used on a regular basis at relatively high doses rather than just a short seven or eight day regimen to clean up a horse’s airways.
So now we know that banning anabolic steroids has had the unanticipated outcome of making a really useful therapeutic medication now a medication that can now be looked at with a suspicious eye. So what is a trainer to do?
I would think the answer would be to do what is best for his horse. If this is the case then what is the withdrawal time for the administration of Clenbuterol to avoid a “positive”? To get the answer to this question, I checked the RMTC website which is rmtcnet.com for suggested withdrawal times. Here is what I found:
If you are racing in Louisiana or Oklahoma, the withdrawal time is 24 hours or one day.
If you are racing in Canada, Kentucky, Minnesota or Pennsylvania then the withdrawal time 72 hours or three days.
For those racing in Iowa, New Jersey, and Ohio the withdrawal time is 96 hours or four days.
For those racing in Florida, Indiana and Virginia the withdrawal time is five days, but Florida states that it is “five days (Commission has a zero tolerance policy).” So which is it? Five days or zero tolerance? It can’t be both, because zero tolerance is impossible to achieve and certainly no withdrawal time could be assigned to it. The Laboratory’s limit of detection (LOD) would go well beyond five days which would lead to the Regulators playing “Gotcha” with the horsemen trying to follow one of the two (?) withdrawal times.
When I originally began this article on May 1st , I printed out the withdrawal times from the RMTC web site. I am submitting this article on May 8th and the Florida withdrawal time has now been changed from what it was on May 1st to “None.” I have an unanswered (at this time) email to the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel where I asked the question about their withdrawal time that is in the preceding paragraph. Enough said.
Continuing on, we then have four states with a seven day withdrawal time for Clenbuterol which are Delaware, Michigan, Illinois and West Virginia. Illinois uses the same strategy as Florida by stating the withdrawal time is, “7 days (Commission has a Zero Tolerance policy).” Much the same is stated for the withdrawal time for West Virginia which states, “Commission has a zero tolerance policy; Dalare Labs has a 7 day withdrawal time.” Those last two states have given horsemen advice that is as clear as mud.
Fourteen days is apparently the correct withdrawal time for Maryland, New York and Texas.
The withdrawal time for Clenbuterol in Arizona and California is twenty-one days.
Could there possibly be any more states with different rules from the above?
Colorado and Oregon have a 30 day withdrawal time and Colorado’s has that language about the Commission having a zero tolerance policy. And North Dakota, South Dakota and Wyoming (they all still have horse racing?) have “Zero Tolerance.” And lastly, New Mexico’s rule states, “Banned through 4-20-13.” Don’t know what happens now, but I would assume it’s still banned.
Now to make this more interesting, a lot of these states test for Clenbuterol in urine. In urine testing, Clenbuterol has been shown to begin a spike that starts on about the eighth day, peaks on the 10 day and recedes on the eleventh day. This means that lab tests from horsemen that had withdrawn their horses at five days would have much lower results or levels than those who had withdrawn their horses at 8 to 11 days. This is why many states test in serum.
And now it seems some laboratory directors, one from the East Coast and one from the West Coast, have been unilaterally attempting to extend the withdrawal times for Clenbuterol. On the West Coast, the lab director wanted the 25 pg/ml threshold changed to his Limit of Detection (LOD). On the East Coast, the lab director arbitrarily, and without notification to horsemen, changed the sensitivity of the detection methodology for Clenbuterol, thus supposedly leading to upwards of one hundred positives.
The RMTC Model Rule is for a 14 day withdrawal time with a threshold of 140 pg/ml in urine or the LOD (Limit of Detection) in serum. This actually makes some sense, because of the unfortunate abuse of Clenbuterol by some. I would suggest that you check the RMTC’s Withdrawal Times from time to time, even if they are not guaranteed to be accurate in all cases. Obviously, as you read above some states change them arbitrarily without notice to horsemen.
|Gulfstream Has Yet Another Sensational Race Meet|
pWhile tracks around the country, including one seven miles away, show declines in handle almost every year, Gulfstream continues to buck the national trend. Gulfstream probably advertises their racing product as much as any track in America. You can’t drive down the highways in South Florida without seeing numerous Gulfstream billboards, you can’t turn on the radio without hearing a commercial for racing at Gulfstream and you can’t watch very much TV without seeing an ad for Gulfstream.
Does advertising work for Gulfstream?
During the recession, Gulfstream’s handle numbers were up every year, and this year was different only in how much they were up. Gulfstream’s handle on their live product was up an amazing 20.3 percent and wagering on track on simulcasts was up 15 percent. Gulfstream, whose out-of-state simulcasting handle has been the industry leader for winter simulcasting the last 12 years, made it thirteen consecutive years by increasing over 7.2 percent over last year.
Starters per race slipped slightly from 9.2 to 9.0 this year, but Gulfstream almost reached their record 392 turf races of last year, falling short by just two races.
Total purses paid daily was $411,274 up from $405,971 last year and daily overnights paid averaged $298,795 down slightly from last year’s $299,991. It should be noted that while Gulfstream’s on track and ISW (InterState Wagering) numbers were each up, that their ITW (IntraState Wagering), or wagering in the State of Florida was down 6.1 percent on race days.
|FHBPA/Calder Meeting May 17, 2013|
Present: Calder - John Marshall, Mike Anifantis, Jason Stoess;
FHBPA - Kent Stirling, Phil Combest, Barry Rose, Larry Pilotti, Kathy Davey, Dave Fawkes, Bill White, Gene Stevens, Tom Cannell, Teresa Palmer
Update from John Marshall
An all-day meeting took place this week in Maryland between representatives from Calder and Gulfstream. Details from the meeting were not disclosed, but John shared that the meeting “...went very well.” He believes the meeting was not at all combative, and both sides have the intention to do what’s good for South Florida racing in general “...where maybe everyone can get what they want.”
Other issues, where Tampa and Gulfstream have positioned themselves to take a significant chunk of simulcast and rebroadcasting dollars, are more problematic. John referred to them as “toxic problems” to purses at Calder. Calder believes that since they are the only track racing live, they should be able to act as “host track” and sell the simulcast signal as in the past. The Florida Division of Pari-mutual Racing, which has jurisdiction in these matters, has yet to rule on this issue.
Simulcasting revenue for the first (partial) week impacted by Calder losing the ability to host the signal was down 56%, and Calder’s Director of Accounting, Jason Stoess, estimates that full weeks will likely be impacted 70-80%. Up until these issues impacted us negatively, it was noted that “all-sources handle” was quite good compared to the same period last year.
The was brought up. The rule was changed last month to: No caulks, raised toes, mud nails or bent shoes. Only flat, queen’s plate and factory wedge will be allowed. Racing Surfaces Director, Milton Figueroa, will be invited to the next meeting to answer questions and concerns, and discuss the new rule with the group.
Upkeep, Repairs, Maintenance, Safety, etc.
A company has been chosen to take care of rat infestation on the back side. A starting date has not yet been set.
The sudden increase in the fly population was discussed.
Ground water testing shows that water quality has improved significantly since the new manure removal program went into effect.
|Calder Purse Contract Expires Despite Repeated Attempts by Florida Horsemen |
To Resolve the “Open Access” Issue of the Dates Crisis
For More Information, Please Contact: Kent Stirling at (305) 625-4591—office or cell-- (305) 216-1790
Following a year-long series of events that have directly violated its standing purse contract with the Florida Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association (FHBPA), Calder Casino and Race Course (Calder) management has rejected a proposal by the FHBPA to resolve the issue of offering “open access” between Calder and Gulfstream when the tracks are scheduled to race head to head in July 2013. “Open access,” as that term has been discussed and understood by Calder and the FHBPA, would allow horsemen to ship their horses back and forth between Calder and Gulfstream.
The Calder purse contract initially expired on December 31, 2012. However, since the track conducted no live racing during January, February or March, 2013, a simulcast agreement/purse contract was not critical for those months.
Serious contract negotiations restarted in March and, in a show of good faith, the FHBPA even extended the expired contract through April, 2013, so as to address several difficult issues, the largest of which was the guarantee of “open access” when summer came.
In the end, the FHBPA’s efforts were to no avail and the contract finally expired on April 30, 2013. And, with that, the FHBPA’s consent for simulcasting Calder races was revoked.
Live racing resumes at Calder on Thursday, May 2, 2013 at 12:50 p.m.
As the Florida chapter of the National HBPA, the FHBPA works to protect the safety of its members, their stable personnel and their horses, and works with racetrack management to ensure proper accountability, and responsible and humane conditions for those competitors, among other varied and statutory responsibilities. Maintaining the independence of horsemens’ organizations serves to assure the wagering public of continued integrity in the horse racing product.
For over 40 years, Calder Race Course—now Calder Casino and Race Course—has never charged a fee (rent) to its trainers for stalls, nor did it ever charge grooms and hotwalkers rent for their bare-bones-style dorm rooms. Last year, that all changed as Calder management opted to charge room rent to workers and then, in December, charge trainers top dollar to rent stalls. Notably, the December stall rent charge occurred even though the very same purse contract that expired on December 31, 2012 clearly prohibited stall rent, as had all previous contracts.
Now, Calder and Gulfstream Park are scheduled to run head-to-head this July, this impending dates war figures to take a significant toll on the horsemen and Florida horse racing industry, in general.
“The horsemen did not create the dates dispute,” explained FHBPA President Phil Combest, “but they are caught in the middle of it. And with Calder only running three days a week after June 30, there aren’t enough opportunities to race without open access between the two tracks.”
>p>Upon the expiration of the initial extension of the old contract through April, Calder asked the FHBPA for yet another 30-day extension. In a fair-minded attempt to resolve the problem, the FHBPA Board of Directors held an emergency meeting on April 29, 2013 and invited Calder officials Austin Miller and John Marshall to address the full Board. This was followed by two hours of discussion by the Board, which resulted in a unanimous resolution that granted Calder the requested 30-day contract extension . . . BUT ONLY on the “express condition that the horsemen are granted perpetual Open Access (as that term has been discussed and understood by Calder and the FHBPA) to the Calder grounds.”
On Wednesday, May 1, Calder management formally rejected the offer. As a result, the existing purse contract has now officially expired and with it, the FHBPA’s simulcasting consent is revoked.