I’ve bad news for SVREL.
- It’s stuck with Caymanas Park. I don’t care how many rumours (or whether they’re true) of “exit” clauses are bruited about, Government isn’t taking it back;
- The financial hole which Government spent the past 40 years digging for all horse racing promoters is too deep, wide and populated to be escaped simply by cost cutting.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s always best practice to keep expenses as low as rationally practicable, BUT this concept of returning to financial health by chopping whatever choppable expense catches your eye is not only futile, it can be counter-productive. Take for example the inane, ignorant, unilateral and unlawful decision to cut breeders’ bonuses. This was a recipe for race-track closure as, without breeders, SVREL has no product.
This breeders bonus thingy has NOTHING to do with breeders’ entitlement to a share of purses earned by horses already sold and EVERYTHING to do with finding a way to subsidize a needy, indispensable sub-industry from industry-wide revenues rather than asking reluctant governments to do so from the Consolidated Fund.
Not so long ago, yearling sales, with over 200 entries, rambled on into the night. These days (less than 90 entries in 2017) it’s over by lunchtime. Worse, the best and most expensive yearlings are exported without penalty to bolster an Eastern Caribbean racing product. A 25% export tax would keep the sales alive whilst boosting the local product with the best local bred horses.
So, reducing expenses alone won’t cut the mustard and cutting the wrong expenses locks the mustard jar forever. SVREL must concentrate on significantly increasing tote revenues because that’s where everybody’s livelihood is made. As always, the key is to stop depending on persons with available but expensive transport, especially in light of the anticipated transformation of the petrol retail industry from a high-priced to a very high-priced one. Horse racing is no longer the only game in town. Customers have more convenient choices.
Emphasis must be placed on remote sales via telephone/internet. Engage some young, tech-savvy programmers/coders and devise a secure website that can be used via computer or smartphone. Sell subscriptions to the form for every local race at a small monthly fee. Currently, Track and Pools, woefully inaccurate and uninformed, sells for almost $300 per issue. Most punters would pay $2,000 per month for online access to detailed form lines, analyses of past performances and, for a premium subscription (say $3,000 per month) replays watched by clicking on the relevant icon next to a form line of the particular horse.
Then, for a V.I.P. subscription (say, $4,000 per month) punters could also watch races live every race day with a properly produced TV show around the races to include analysis from studio (including pre-first race discussion) and race-track analysts; live on-track interviews and betting shows.
At a conservative projection of 10,000 subscribers (the industry employs more than 25,000) the minimum intake would be $20 million per month. With all these facilities a click away, punters should be able to bet without leaving their homes resulting in increased turnover as well. As I’ve written before, OTBs, so revolutionary in 1990, are obsolete and contribute unnecessary expense to SVREL’s bottom line.
My sources say SVREL is working on introducing online betting. Well, they must be doing it at KFC (work it out; it’s comic). There seems to be a gross misunderstanding (you all know that’s 144 times worse than an ordinary misunderstanding, right?) to the effect that telephone/online betting is “illegal” and needs regulatory approval or new regulations before start up.
Bollocks! The confusion occurs because the Betting, Gaming and Lotteries Act, section 18, which provides that pool betting may be carried on “by a racing promoter on an approved racecourse” has been read as excluding any other location. I doubt that (the Act’s sole restriction of Pool Betting is aimed at unlicensed persons) but, even were that interpretation correct, the location of all bets placed with SVREL is the Totalisator at the track. Telephone, internet, OTBs, etc are just methods of placing bets in the tote and not the location of the final transaction.
Internet sports betting is illegal in all USA states except Nevada because states were barred by federal law from authorizing sports betting. Geography was irrelevant. The good news is that, on May 13, in a case from New Jersey, the US Supreme Court, by a 6-3 majority, struck down that federal law as unconstitutional and left it up to individual states whether or not they want to authorize sports wagering.
So, SVREL, ignore bureaucratic obstructionists and get this urgent revenue-earning show on the road!
This regular review of local performances is based on REAL times.
Abbreviations: CT = “Corrected Time”; TV = “Track Variant” (a calculation of the effect of track conditions on official times to arrive at “real” or “corrected” times); TVs are in fifths of a second; “minus” means a fast track; “plus” a slow track (e.g -2 means fast by 2/5ths of a second). Variants beside horse’s names represent the difference between its official time and the grade standard.
Two more race days for your notebook:
May 5, 2018 [TV -0.4/200m (Rd); +4 (straight)]
Mr Universe (-9) won by 6l (Race 1; $350,000 Claimers/4yonw3O/T; 1100m; TV-2) clocking 1:05.2! His CT (1:05.4) is 2/5ths second faster than Overnight Allowance standard so, having resumed upward mobility, he should win again.
Outrageous Taj (-11) is also on the upgrade (Race 3; 3yonw2/Imported Maidens; 1300m; TV-3) outstaying importees Super Sparkle/Hilly’s Halo (-7) by 2 ½ lengths in 1:19.0! The winner’s CT (1:19.3) is 3/5ths second faster than nw3. The 2nd/3rd produced a joint CT (1:19.2) which is 1 2/5ths (or 7/5ths) second faster than Imported Maidens standard and 2/5ths second faster than imported nw(?) so they are winners in waiting.
Seeking My Dream (-11) is back with a vengeance (Race 6; Open Allowance; 1500m; TV-3) slaughtering Another Bullet (franked the form on May 12 winning an Open Allowance sprint toting 57kg) by 8 lengths in 1:30.2! His CT (1:31.0) is 1/5th second faster than Grade 1 standard so the Diamond Mile is once again in his sights.
May 12, 2018 [TV+0.4/200m (Rd); +5 (Zillow) -3 (Sir Jhunjhun Wala)]
Eddie’s Princess (-11) was awesome in victory (Race 1; 4yonw2; 1300m; TV+3) clearing away by 13 ½ lengths in 1:20.2 (CT 1:19.4). Her CT equals the 4yonw3/OT standard so she should repeat at nw2.
Overseas Betting Opportunities (OBOs)
Justify took advantage of a sloppy track to win the Kentucky Derby and goes to Pimlico for the Preakness as howling favourite. While keeping my fingers crossed for a dry track, I’m sticking with my Derby pick Bolt D’oro, who floundered in the mud at Churchill Downs, to turn the tables despite his 0 for 2 record against Justify.
Across the pond, the Group 1 Lockinge (one mile) will be run tomorrow at Newbury. William Haggas’ progressive 4yo Addeybb steps up in grade after winning the Lincoln (handicap) at Doncaster and a Sandown Group 2. He’s unraced on fast ground; ante-post favourite Rhododendron (Aidan O’Brien) may be best at 10f; and Group 1 winner-in-waiting Beat the Bank makes his reappearance having been exclusively campaigned right-handed since his debut on polytrack at Dundalk. So the value lies in opposing the fancied contenders with Deauville who was withdrawn from his Churchill Downs Derby day target due to inclement weather but should get better ground now.
Before we meet again the Irish 2,000 and 1,000 Guineas will be run at the Curragh (May 26/27). Aidan O’Brien’s high class Gustav Klimt disappointed in the English Guineas (won by stable companion Saxon Warrior) and is a small colt but that must’ve been a glitch and he can atone in the Irish version.
In the Irish 1,000 Guineas it’s becoming boring and definitely unoriginal but Aidan O’Brien should win again with either Clemmie or Happily. Should both start, the former is preferred.
Finally, it’s time to begin building our Royal Ascot ante-post portfolio:
Gilgamesh [4yo b.g. Foxwedge – Flaming Cliffs (Kingmambo)] Raced mainly on sharp tight circuits as a 3yo so, considering his physically imposing physique, it’s noteworthy that he won 3 of four starts losing only when first encountering a slow surface (unlucky in running; 2 ½ lengths 4th of 13 to Boy in the Bar over 7 furlongs on polytrack at Chelmsford). He flopped on good-to-soft on reappearance at Newbury before producing an eye-catching staying on 7th of 27 in the Victoria Cup (good-to-firm; first in the group racing on the unfavoured near side). He looks nailed on for the Royal Hunt Cup.