I don’t ordinarily watch television dramas but Yellowstone is an exception.  As a horse aficionado, I found a scene in the third episode of Yellowstone’s fifth season to be interesting and poignant.  It vividly portrays the reverence that Native American tribes like the Lakota and Apache have for equus caballus. 

Monica Dutton (played by Kelsey Asbille) – the pregnant daughter-in-law of ranch patriarch and Montana governor John Dutton (Kevin Costner) – is involved in a terrible car accident that takes the life of the boy she is carrying.  The baby is buried in his mother’s Native American tradition beside a horse that has been put down after suffering an injury.  The horse spirit will carry the baby’s soul to the afterlife.

The horses we humans variously ride, show, bet on, rope with, and breed in temporal pursuits have a long history in the spiritual realm.  Click here for an article that discusses the Yellowstone burial scene in more depth and explains the otherworldly role of horses in some cultures.

Copyright © 2022 Horse Racing Business


A recent CNBC headline caught my attention: “How a horse breeder launched the world’s largest vaccine manufacturer, by volume.” 

In 1966, Dr. Cyrus Poonawalla founded the Serum Institute on his Thoroughbred breeding farm in India, extracting serum from his retired racehorses.  The Serum Institute is currently the world’s most prolific vaccine manufacturer, with Adar Poonawalla as CEO.  Both the Serum Institute and Poonawalla Stud Farms are subsidiaries of the Cyrus Poonawalla Group, which encompasses businesses in horse racing and breeding, biotechnology, engineering, hotels/real estate, finance, and energy.

The Poona Stud Farm in India was founded in 1946 by the late Soli A. Poonawalla.  Today, it is known as the Villoo Poonawalla Greenfield Farm (also called Poonawalla Stud Farms) and is the leading breeder of Thoroughbreds in the country, with about 110 broodmares and 3 stallions.  Two of the stallions have Coolmore Stud lineage (sired by Galileo and Holy Roman Emperor) and the other stallion has English bloodlines (sired by Pivotal). 

It is truly a unique situation to have under the umbrella of a single company the foremost serum manufacturer globally and the leading racehorse entity in an entire nation.

Click here to access a 9-minute CNBC podcast on the Serum Institute.

Click here to access the Villoo Poonawalla Greenfield Farm website.

Click here to access the Cyrus Poonawalla Group website.

Copyright © 2022 Horse Racing Business


Betting favorites in horse racing win about 30% to 35% of the time, which is a high degree of accuracy given that the average field size is 7.38 runners per race. This varies by track, type of race, the number of entries, and other handicapping variables. 

In the 2021 NFL season, favorites won 64% of 272 games, not considering the point spread.  Over the past five years, NBA favorites won regular season contests 67% of the time.

But what about political elections?  In predicting event outcomes, sports or elections, I’ve always watched what people do with their money rather than what they say.  How did this heuristic work out in the November 2022 American elections?

Betting markets on political elections work as follows (using a direct quote from one of the betting websites): “Each share is priced somewhere between $0.01 and $.99 apiece.  If the event comes true (the bet taker) rewards the holder of yes shares with $1 less fees.”  So, if candidate X has a value of, say, $.75 and wins the election, the bettor wins $.25 per share less fees.

On the day prior to the November 2022 elections, the Cook Political Report listed 23 of the 35 Senate seats up for election as being “solid,” meaning that each seat was judged to be safe for a Democrat or Republican candidate.  Indeed, these seats went 100% as forecast and bettors had the winner as the heavy favorite in each and every race.

Cook listed 8 of the 35 seats up for election as “likely/lean.”  These seats were projected as being in play but one party had the clear advantage.  All of these seats went as forecast and bettors favored the ultimate winner in every case.

This left 4 of the 35 seats in Cook’s “tossup” category.  One of these seats (Georgia) is still unresolved and will be decided in a runoff in early December because no candidate received 50% of the vote.  On the day before the election, bettors favored the Republican candidate in Georgia (64 cents) to his Democratic opponent (41 cents).  In fact, the Democratic candidate garnered more votes.  In two other states (Nevada and Pennsylvania), bettors turned out to be wrong, favoring the losing candidate.  Finally, bettors split evenly on the Arizona race, with half favoring the Democratic candidate and half favoring the Republican. 

Removing the Arizona race, where the bettors split, and the Georgia race, which is unresolved, bettors were correct on the outcomes of 31 of 33 Senate seats for a winning percentage of 94%. 

How did bettors do in wagering on who would win control of the Senate and House of Representatives?  In the Senate, bettors favored Republicans (68 cents) over the Democrats (37 cents) and were wrong.  At best Republicans can have a tie in the senate at 50 votes for each party if the Georgia runoff goes their way, but Democrats would have control because the (Democrat) Vice President casts a vote to break tie votes on legislation. In the House of Representatives, bettors favored Republicans (90 cents) to Democrats (6 cents) and were correct in the outcome. 

Bettors would have won by choosing the favorite in the vast majority of Senate races, but the payoffs for doing so would have been small.  However, in the tossup races, bettors fared poorly.  While bettors were right about Republicans taking control of the House of Representatives, it was a closer outcome than the public opinion polls and the wagering predicted.  And bettors favored the wrong horse in the Senate.

“Follow the money” is often a reliable guide to how an event will turn out.

Copyright © 2022 Horse Racing Business