Thursday, April 30, 2009

Kentucky Derby Betting Guide

Well, actual more of a referral.

I defer you to the bloggers and experts all much better versed in this stuff than I. Best place to start is our homepage where you can find free Past Performances on the Derby (and a bunch of other stakes including the Oaks), all the TBA blogs, standings, links to non TBA blogs and Twitter links.

Bad economy or not, I expect the money to come streaming in. To get a grasp on just how much is actually bet on this race, between on track, off track and all the various on line betting sites I am looking forward to watching at 9 pm tonight the CNBC special on the business side of racing I previously posted about.

For what it’s worth regarding my Derby Picks, I will toss out I Want Revenge and Pioneerof the Nile (ha, ha spelled it right), who both look like they will be way overbet too me.

I’ll play with 5 different horses in my various plays: Friesan Fire (looks fit and workouts good), Regal Ransom (I think he has a chance to take the lead and just stick around to finish in the money), Dunkirk (loved his guts in the Florida Derby), Desert Party (the other Dubai horse-or is Regal Ransom the "other" one) and Chocolate Candy (love his pedigree, sired by Candy Ride- although I think too much smart money will come in on him, lowering his odds more than I would like). Check out all Kentucky Derby Betting odds here.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Beautiful Belmont Park

Beautiful Belmont Park opens it Spring Meet Wednesday 4/29/09. With the NY Rangers and Jersey Devils both losing in Game 7 playoffs last night, and the Knicks and Nets missing the playoffs yet again, the Metro NY Sports fan can focus on attending the new parks of the Yankees and the Mets and hopefully they can visit Belmont Park.

Probably the first thing I always notice when I visit Belmont is just how big it is, not just the 1 1/2 mile oval dirt track but the entire complex. The vast grandstand area makes Saratoga's grandstand seem so tiny in comparison. It is really a beautiful place -the Paddock is a must visit and on the rare day when the grandstand is fill, the place just roars. I think the loudest I ever remember it was in '04 when Smarty Jones came around the final turn heading for home, only to be later taken down in the stretch by Birdstone.

The opening of Belmont always reminder that time keeps going and as you get older, it goes real quick. The Belmont Spring meet opens and in whiplash like fashion, here comes the Derby, the Preakness, the Belmont Stakes, the month of July , the Saratoga meet and than bam, like a punch to the face- Labor Day is here.

So if you are in the area, bring a few bucks and enjoy the day. Some call it the Big Sandy but too me it is simply Beautiful Belmont Park.

NBC Derby Plan: Big Event Strategy

NBC Universal Sports has a clear strategy for the Kentucky Derby: Watch the "event" and stay for the race.

NBC will use its "Big Event Strategy" which they used with great success with the coverage of the Beijing Olympics. This strategy involves making full use of its varied television networks and online platforms. Hence look for segments this week on the NBC Today Show and NBC produced "Access Hollywood" as well as on all NBC owned online sites.

NBC will also this year for the first time show the Oaks on it's Bravo Network. That one hour show on Friday will be titled: “Ladies First: Bravo at the Kentucky Derby".

Nancy O'Dell of Access Hollywood will host the Friday Bravo show along with (wince now racing purists) Bethenny Frankel of Bravo's Real Housewives-NYC show.

The Bravo website describes Frankel as a "horseracing afficianado". The program will feature a "Top Chef" cooking segment, a feature on Derby fashion and a segment on how to throw a Derby party. If you have any doubt the program isn't geared for the casual fan, the Bravo Website promo makes no mention whatsoever of the actual big race that day-The Kentucky Oaks. I assume somewhere during the hour they will squeeze in a word or two and one hopes a full live showing of the Oaks.

But maybe NBC knows what they are doing. According to NBC the only other sporting event besides the Kentucky Derby to draw a higher percentage of woman viewers is the Olympics. All in all, this is the type of sporting event NBC does well. Since taking over Derby coverage from ABC in the year 2001, NBC has averaged a very impressive 8.8 rating for the 8 past years (2001-2009). ABC averaged a 6.7 rating for the prior 8 years (1993-2000) before NBC took over.

Sources: The Nielsen Company
NBC Universal Sports

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Kentucky Derby Week Television Guide

With Kentucky Derby Week upon us, Horse racing jumps into the Television Spotlight.

The biggest omission will be no telecast of the Derby Post Position Draw, with ESPN deciding to drop this years coverage of the event. Also the Oaks day coverage shifts from ESPN to Bravo and shrinks to a mere 60 minutes of coverage.

Here is a guide of Derby related programming throughout the week:

Wednesday 4/29/09: 4:30-5 p.m.: ESPN Classic: No Roses, Derby Heartbreak

11 p.m.-midnight: ESPN Classic: Sportscentury: "Citation."

Thursday 4/30/09: 9 a.m.-10 a.m.: ESPN Classic: Sportscentury: "Seattle Slew."

9-10 p.m. : CNBC: Run for the Roses: The Kentucky Derby and the Business of Horse Racing

"Run for the Roses" offers a breakdown of money that surrounds The Kentucky Derby including the $200 million that is pumped into the Louisville economy, the $100 million-plus in bets, and the $2 million purse.

Interview subjects include Mike Iavarone, of IEAH (owner of 2008 Derby champion Big Brown); Chris McCarron, Hall of Fame jockey; Steven Crist, from the Daily Racing Form, Andrew Beyer, Washington Post horse-racing columnist/author; John Asher, Churchill Downs historian, and Hall of Fame jockey Pat Day.

Friday 05/01/09: 5-6 p.m.: Bravo: Ladies First (includes telecast of the Oaks)

Saturday 05/02/09: Noon-3 p.m.: ESPN: Today at the Kentucky Derby

3-5 p.m.: ESPN: Kentucky Derby Special

4-5 p.m. : NBC: Kentucky Derby Pre Event Show

5-7 p.m.: NBC: The Kentucky Derby

Friday, April 24, 2009

Joe Talamo on Last Call with Carson Daly

In case you were not up late last night here is the Joe Talamo(Jockey who will be riding potential odds on favorite I Want Revenge) video feature from Last call with Carson Daly, courtesy of NBC.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Less is More

It is the time of the year for opening day at many tracks in the coming weeks.

Churchill Downs opens this Saturday, a week before the big Day of the Kentucky Derby, Hollywood Park opens Tomorrow, Monmouth Park opens May 9th and Delaware Park opens this Saturday. And opening day for Saratoga is now only 97 days away.While we sometimes scratch our heads with the knucklehead logic of Race Track officials, I like the comments of Delaware Park Executive Director John Mooney with reference to reducing this years racing days at Delaware Park from 136 to 116 and eliminating Sunday Racing, except for the month of June. Fuller Race Fields are expected with an average of 9 horse fields up from the usual 6 or 7. Mooney stated:

"It's more of an advantage for us to race on Wednesday, particularly in the fall of the year when you have to compete on Sundays with NFL football and all the other sports activities that take place," Mooney said. "This not only helps us to increase the handle, but the money committed to the [horsemen's] purse account through pari-mutuel wagering."

I am all on board with this thinking. A recognition of the marketplace, an awareness of the competition and a plan to not over saturate the product.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Kentucky Derby Ticket Sales

Looking to go to the Kentucky Derby this year? You can still purchase an Infield Suite Ticket, a two day ticket for Derby Day and the Oaks on Friday. What is an Infield Suite Ticket, you ask. The suites are described by the Churchill Downs folks as follows:
The Infield Suites offer panoramic windows, hardwood floors, granite counter tops, and wet bars to name just a few of the many upscale amenities available in these elegant luxury suites. An audio-visual entertainment center allows you to stay updated on the latest odds for each race, then watch and listen to each race on interior monitors with surround sound. Your guests will appreciate the view from the rooftop observation deck where they will enjoy a leisurely day sipping Mint Juleps while watching the finest horses compete for millions of dollars in purse money over two days.

The Infield Suites Package goes for $1,900. If your willing to slum it with the college sets, $40 bucks gets you a general admission ticket to the infield. No seat, no nothing, just entry into the grass infield area. Coolers are allowed and you can bring as much beverages as you desire to drink.

Like most sporting events nowadays, I expect the general admission infield area to be jammed and the high priced luxury suites to have a few empty seats in them. Hopefully it will not be as bad at the empty seats clearly seen at the high priced luxury seating at the new Yankee Stadium this weekend.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Remembering Tin Cup Chalice

Tin Cup Chalice, winner of the Big Apple Triple, was euthanized this morning, 04/17/09, at Finger Lakes, his home track. He was in a freak training accident on the Finger Lakes track this morning, colliding with another horse, Zany, who was also euthanized. His rider, Pedro Rodriquez, was hospitalized. The 4 year old gelding was beginning training for his 4 year old campaign. His first race was to be at Finger Lakes. As a 3 year old, Tin Cup Chalice, won three races last year at Belmont Park, Finger Lakes and Saratoga Racetrack to take the Big Apple Triple and win a $250,000 bonus from the New York State Thoroughbred Racing and Breeding program.

Tin Cup Chalice went on to win the Indiana Derby (Grade 2) on October 4 at Hoosier Park before finishing 13th of 15 in the $2.7-million Japan Cup Dirt (Jpn-G1) on December 7 in his 2008 season finale.

Tin Cup Chalice was bred, trained, and co-owned by Mike Lecesse, Tin Cup Chalice won eight of his ten starts over two seasons and earned $868,680.

Not very well known outside of New York, Tin Cup Chalice was a great story, a message of hope for all small time owners and trainers with a dream. Tin Cup Chalice, a gelding from a small track,went on to run in a Grade 1 and Grade 2 race. For a behind the scenes trainers journal of the trip to the Japan Cup Dirt, check out Mike Lecesse’s trainers journal at the Thorofan site.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Spring is really here-Oklahoma Training Track Opens

A true sign that Spring has arrived in Saratoga. The Oklahoma Training Track, on the opposite side of Union Avenue from Saratoga Race Course, has officially opened for business. It is a crisp clear morning, temperatures this a.m. in the 40's with perfect blue skies and a forecast for a high later today of 60 degrees. A peak inside the main gate of the Track across the street reveals a few small piles left of dirty snow, but the Oklahoma Track is groomed and ready to go.

There may be no better place to be at 6 in the morning than watching the horses gallop on the Oklahoma Track.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Weekend Ratings Data

After a nice rating of 1.6 for The Santa Anita Derby on NBC, The Arkansas Derby cablecast on ESPN drew a 0.3 rating. Not hard to see why ESPN has dropped the Preakness undercard. There are just too many other sports that draw higher ratings. For instance ESPN's Thursday and Friday Masters Coverage drew a 2.8 rating which for a weekday event on cable is terrific. Geno from Equispace has commented on the ESPN Preakness withdrawal in his recent post.

The weekend overnight ratings for Sports Telecasts of Note (listed by Sport, Event, Date, Network and Rating):

Golf: Masters Final Round 4/12/09 CBS 8.3
NBA: Mavericks-Hornets 4/12 ABC 1.9
NBA: Celtics-Cavaliers 4/12 ABC 2.5
Monster Truck Jam (taped)4/12 CBS 0.9
National Heads-Up Poker Championship (taped)4/12 NBC 12-2 pm. 1.0
NHL: Red Wings-Blackhawks 4/12 NBC 2:00-4:30pm 0.6
Ironman World Championship (taped)4/12 NBC 4:30-6 pm 0.4

Source: The Nielsen Company

Friday, April 10, 2009

Above the Fold

If you want publicity in the media, an old saying in the Newspaper industry is "above the fold". This is when a story is on top, on the front, above the folded paper (think NY Times, not tabloid style). This is the first thing your eyes will see and you will read the headline and at least scan part of the story.

In the Times Union, the local paper of record for the Capital Region of NY, including Saratoga, the above the fold story in both the print edition and the web edition is the story of The New York Racing Association (NYRA) banning Ernie Paragallo's Paraneck Stable horse from running any races at NYRA tracks. Officially Paragallo is listed as authorized agent for the Stable, the owners are officially his 2 daughters. The headline in the web edition states: NYRA bans Paragallo's Paraneck Stable.

The story gets top billing over the Masters Golf Coverage and the Major League Baseball scores of last night.

On page 2, below the fold, in tiny print in the print edition (and not in the web edition at all) is a wire report stating that Churchill Downs received full accreditation by the NTRA's Safety & Integrity Alliance.

The lesson here: in this sport the above the fold story is more than likely to be about the ills of our sport and the people in it. Don't blame the media, but change it from within. Everyone in the industry, and those who support it and love it, have the ability to run an ethical operation and support and care for the animals that make this game possible. If you run a clean house we are all better for it and you don't have to worry about the only above the fold stories being negative ones.

Monday, April 06, 2009

Weekend Ratings Comparison-NBC Racing Coverage

The Overnight Weekend Ratings Including the NBC Horse Racing Telecast on Saturday featuring the Santa Anita Derby:

(Listed by Event, Date of Event, Network, Time & Nielsen Rating Figure)

Tennis: Women's Final -Sony Open, 4/4, CBS, 12:30-3pm, 0.9
NCAA Basketball Michigan State-Connecticut, 4/4, CBS, 6:00-8:45pm, 8.7
NCAA Basketball Tournament: UNC-Villanova, 4/4, CBS, 9:00-11:30pm, 9.3
PGA Tour: Shell Houston Open: Third Round, 4/4, NBC, 1:00-5:00pm, 1.5
Horse Racing: Santa Anita Derby, 4/4, NBC, 5:00-6:00pm, 1.6

NBA: Spurs-Cavaliers, 4/5, ABC, 1:00-3:30pm, 2.3
NBA: Suns-Mavericks, 4/5, ABC, 3:30-6:00pm, 2.4

Tennis: Men's Final,Sony Open: 4/5, CBS, 1:00-3:00pm, 0.9
LPGA: Final Round 4/5, CBS, 3:00-6:00pm, 0.8
NASCAR: Samsung 500 4/5, Fox, 2:00-6:00pm, 4.2
NHL: Wild-Red Wings 4/5, NBC, 12:30-3:00pm, 0.9
PGA Tour:: Final Round 4/5, NBC, 3:00-7:00pm, 2.7

Notes: The 1.6 for the NBC Broadcast Featuring the Santa Anita Derby is a respectable number. The Telecast, hosted by Tom Hammond and Gary Stevens, also showed The Illinois Derby Live. This figure is actually higher than the 1.3 that ABC drew for last years Saturday Breeders Cup Telecast. Just goes to show a Kentucky Derby prep race with a good field is more in the public conscious than the Breeders Cup. The Wood Memorial was only available on MSG+ Network, which is mostly available only in the Northeast and only on some Satellite Packages. NBC did show the stretch drive of The Wood Memorial on a tape delay basis in the middle of its Saturday Coverage.

Sources: The Nielsen Company

Wednesday, April 01, 2009

TV Ratings-What Sports get higher ratings?

While I admire the good folks behind the "Take Back Saturday" campaign, an effort to make every Saturday a destination for weekly racing broadcasts on National Television, I think the angle should be "Take Back a Share of Saturday".

Lets look at The Florida Derby on ESPN which ran on Saturday. The ESPN televised event had lesser ratings than ALL of these other weekend televised sporting events (listed by Sport, Game/Event, Date aired and the TV Rating household share):

College basketball Oklahoma/North Carolina Sun., 3/29/09 7.7 SHARE

College basketball Villanova/Pittsburgh Sat., 3/28/09 7.5 SHARE

College basketball Connecticut/Missouri Sat., 3/28/09 6.2 SHARE

College basketball
Michigan St./Louisville Sun., 3/29/09 5.9 SHARE

NBA Mavericks/Cavaliers Sun., 3/29/09 2.2 SHARE

PGA Arnold Palmer Invitational, Final Round Sun., 3/29/09 4.9 SHARE

NASCAR Goody's Fast Pain Relief 500 Sun., 3/29/09 4.1SHARE

Figure skating World Figure Skating Championships,Sat., 3/28/09 2.6 SHARE

Racing is too late to the Television party and the other Sports listed above-even Figure Skating- all know how to market it better.