Churchill Downs Takeout Increase: A Futile Effort to Resurrect a Once Great Track

Resistance is Futile

Resistance is futile you must be assimilated.

Futile

adjective meaning:

1. serving no useful purpose
2. having no effective result
3. unsuccessful
4. pointless
5. foolish

Example: Raising takeout rates in an effort to increase purses for horse races is a futile effort.

Up until last Thursday I was looking forward to the first weekend in May because it usually provides some of the best betting opportunities and most exciting races of the year.

Then came news that Churchill Downs Incorporated (CDI), owner of Churchill Downs among other tracks, decided to increase the takeout rates for the upcoming meet at Churchill Downs to the maximum allowable levels under Kentucky law.

The decision was based on the desire to maintain purse levels for the meet and the assumptions made created a situation that would succeed.

Unfortunately we all know what happens when we assume things.

[Read more...]

Question and Non Answer Session with the NTRA

Yesterday I sent an email to the NTRA (specifically to Keith Chamblin and Michele Ravencraft) and the NHC Player’s Committee.

I reached out to them because Keith Chamblin commented on the last post about the NHC hotel accommodation issues I raised.

Thinking that he had changed course and was willing to answer some questions I sent the following email:

[Read more...]

NTRA Employment Opportunity: Travel Agent Desperately Needed

Treasure Island NHC

The NTRA is in need of a travel agent to assist in travel accommodations for the National Handicapping Championship (NHC).

Requirements:

  1. Must be able to use a computer and the internet
  2. Must have some experience booking hotel rooms
  3. Must have minimal negotiating skills in order to obtain a group discount

Compensation:

  1. Commensurate with experience
  2. Dependent upon amount of revenue of NHC

[Read more...]

NHC Tour: Not an Equal Opportunity Organization

Note: After receiving criticism from the NTRA and members of the NHC Tour Player’s Panel for not reaching out to the NTRA prior to posting the first  part of this series I sent an email to Keith Chamblin and Michele Ravencraft of the NTRA asking for information about the NHC Tour.  Specifically I asked for historical data to include: number of members by year, membership fees collected by year and prizes paid out by year.  That email was sent on February 7th and on the same day I received a response from Keith Chamblin stating he would provide the information requested early the following week.  I followed up several times requesting the information and today I finally received a response but was told the information would not be provided because of my approach to journalism so I am posting this with the information I have collected myself.  If you have not already done so I encourage you to read Part I and Part II of this series first.

Update: After reading this post on Bloodhorse and referring back to a comment by Keith Chamblin on one of the previous posts in this series I realized that 100% of NHC Tour membership fees are taken by the NTRA.  The truth is the NHC Tour is an additional revenue stream for the NTRA and the money paid as NHC Tour prize money is coming directly out of the NHC prize pool.  Updates are in red below.

The NHC Tour was and is marketed as an incentive for players to participate in more NHC qualifying events throughout the year with the goal of growing the NHC prize pool.

On the surface the NHC Tour could be deemed a success because many players continued to participate in qualifying events even after earning a berth in the NHC and the overall prize pool has grown since its’ creation.

Unfortunately that is not the reality because looking beneath the surface reveals the true affect the NHC Tour has on the NHC prize pool.

[Read more...]

NHC Online Qualifiers: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Disclaimer: The following information was compiled from personal research of publicly available information along with information from industry sources that wish to remain anonymous. I do not claim this information to be exact but instead claim it to be the best estimate based on the information I have. The purpose of this post is to shed light on the topic of how much money is being taken out of the hands of those that fund the NHC and to give those players the opportunity to decide for themselves if the NHC is worth pursuing. Lastly all of the back-up information for this post, the previous post and the follow on post can be found here.

In Part I of this series I discussed the overall takeout rate of the National Handicapping Championship (NHC), which amounted to 36.47%.

Half of that amount was directly tied to the NHC itself, which withheld $490,273 and another $48,000 to pay for travel and hotel accommodations for free NTRA seats for a total of $586,273 or 24.43%.

The remainder was withheld by online qualifying sites, which withheld $482,757.

The focus here will be on those online qualifying sites specifically the takeout rate for each in 2013, the projected takeout rate for 2014 and a few troubling issues about online qualifiers in 2014 and beyond. [Read more...]

NHC: Show Me the Money

Updated on 2/7/14 with additional information from Keith Chamblin of the NTRA and McKay Smith of Horsetourneys.

Disclaimer: The following information was compiled from personal research of publicly available information along with information from industry sources that wish to remain anonymous.  I do not claim this information to be exact but instead claim it to be the best estimate based on the information I have.  The purpose of this post and the post to follow are to shed light on the topic of how much money is being taken out of the hands of those that fund the NHC and to give those players the opportunity to decide for themselves if the NHC is worth pursuing.  Most importantly I would like to give the NTRA and DRF the opportunity to respond to the claims below either by replying in the comment section below or by providing a written response, which I will gladly post on this site in it’s entirety without edits.  Lastly all of the back-up information for this post and the follow on post can be found here.

The 15th annual National Handicapping Championship (NHC) crowned a new champion and “Handicapper of the Year.”

Jose Arias, like many horses on his home circuit of Southern California, led from gate to wire and took home the $750,000 top prize.

The performance was especially impressive because not only did Arias beat the largest NHC field in history (500) but he had to do so over three days rather than the two, which was the format for the first fourteen editions.

That may not seem like a big difference but the extra day increased the number of required plays from 30 races to 45, which gave all of his competitor’s 50% more races to catch and pass him.

By all accounts the switch in format to three days and a final table consisting of the top ten players after the first half of the third day were a rousing success.

It’s hard to find fault with the three day championship event but as is typically the case all that glitters is not gold. [Read more...]

Making the Grade

A few months ago the Horseplayers Association of North America created a monthly newsletter called Horseplayer Monthly that consists of articles by horseplayers (myself included), question and answer sessions with people in the horse racing industry and statistics for upcoming or current race meets.

The free newsletter (which you can subscribe to here) has something for all level of horseplayers and it’s a guarantee that you will learn something new every month.

The most recent Horseplayer Monthly focused on handicapping contests but there was an article written by well known horseplayer Barry Meadow on a completely different topic that interested me most.

[Read more...]