Archives for January 2011


Cable television is one of the few industries that have been able to pass on double-digit price increases to customers during a recession.  Now, however, with monthly subscriber rates at $100 to $150 or more, cable television companies are encountering growing resistance.  This has significant implications for televised horse racing, particularly in reaching a younger audience.

A study by GigaOM found that in the second quarter of 2010, cable television providers lost 711,000 customers and–for the first time in history–subscriber increases at satellite and IPTV firms such as DirectTV and Verizon did not compensate for the cable attrition.  About 216,000 of the 711,000 subscribers that disconnected cable TV did not switch to a satellite or IPTV provider.

GigaOM confirmed that in the third quarter of 2010, the trend continued.  Cable providers lost 518,300 subscribers (not counting the losses at privately held Cox Communications) and 200,000 of these did not sign up with a satellite or IPTV alternative.

GigaOM concluded:  “The $100 cable bill is dead; the cable industry just doesn’t know it yet. What killed it wasn’t just a combination of ad-supported online video sites and cheap subscription video services, but a fundamental inability on the part of TV programmers and cable companies to reach the next generation of consumers.”

The major television broadcasters are already distributing programming that has been aired—called “catch-up” or “on-demand” services—via Internet television.  Hulu, a joint venture of three networks, gives viewers in the United States free access to recorded programs on the Internet or through Web TV.  (With Web TV, viewers can surf the Internet and do email on their television sets.)  Another company, wwiTv, allows viewers around the globe to watch, at no charge, both live and recorded television shows on the Internet that emanate from roughly 2,600 television stations in a large number of countries. 

The Internet’s technological challenge to cable and satellite television is just getting underway.  Yet the nascent trend will surely accelerate and Internet television will become an even more formidable rival.  The television networks are battling to protect their own content by suing two startups that stream television stations online in real time without permission.

The 2010 Breeders’ Cup saw ratings soar on ESPN, but the television audience would undoubtedly have been larger had the primetime broadcast been on network television, simply because not all television households subscribe to cable TV, satellite TV, or IPTV.   Similarly, had the live Breeders’ Cup telecast been widely available on Internet TV, the capability for reaching a massive global audience would have been enhanced many times over.  While HRTV and TVG are available online, they are pay services.

The communications frontier for horse racing is Internet television.  Currently, taped broadcasts of major races are available on YouTube and elsewhere.  Soon, advertiser-supported live Internet broadcasts will be customary.

Copyright © 2011 Horse Racing Business

Originally published in the Blood-Horse.  Used with permission.


This is the seventh and final edition of Breeders’ Cup “what if” dream races, as researched and prepared by Patrick M. Premo. Patrick is an avid racing fan with a special interest in the history of the sport. In his former day job, Patrick spent 37 years as an accounting professor at St. Bonaventure University–a fine school academically, south of Buffalo, New York near the Pennsylvania border–before retiring three years ago.

Patrick has selected 20 horses per Breeders’ Cup race and has used the rule that no horse can be entered in more than one race (Secretariat, for instance, would be in the Breeders’ Cup Classic rather than the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile, even though he was American Horse of the Year as both a 2-year-old and 3-year-0ld). Other than that, any racehorse in history could qualify and the objective is to seed the field with the best 20 horses that meet the conditions. Each entrant selected is listed by the year that he or she was foaled and in what nation he/she did most of its racing.

Today’s races are Breeders’ Cup Turf and the Breeders’ Cup Classic.

Breeders’ Cup Turf

1862 Gladiateur FRA
1881 St. Simon ENG
1883 Ormonde ENG
1885 Carbine AUS
1903 Prestige FRA
1913 Hurry On ENG
1915 Gloaming NZL
1926 Phar Lap AUS
1930 Hyperion ENG
1931 Brantome FRA
1932 Bahram ENG
1952 Ribot ITA
1954 Round Table USA
1962 Sea-Bird FRA
1967 Nijinsky II IRE
1968 Mill Reef ENG
1975 John Henry USA
1976 Kingston Town AUS
1983 Manila USA
2002 Deep Impact JPN

Breeders’ Cup Classic

1878 Hindoo USA
1891 Henry of Navarre USA
1902 Sysonby USA
1917 Man O’ War USA
1934 War Admiral USA
1940 Count Fleet USA
1945 Citation USA
1950 Native Dancer USA
1963 Buckpasser USA
1964 Damascus USA
1970 Secretariat USA
1974 Seattle Slew USA
1975 Affirmed USA
1976 Spectacular Bid USA
1986 Sunday Silence USA
1990 Cigar USA
1996 Dubai Millennium DUB
1997 Tiznow USA
2002 Invasor USA
2004 Curlin USA

Copyright © 2011 Horse Racing Business

CLASS ACTS provides two definitions of the word sportsman: a person who (1) “engages in sports, esp. in some open-air sport, as hunting, fishing, racing, etc.” and (2) “ exhibits qualities especially esteemed in those who engage in sports, as fairness, courtesy, good temper, etc.” The second meaning aptly describes the owners of both Blame and Zenyatta.

Seth Hancock is the third generation of his family to operate the famed 100-year-old Claiborne Farm in Paris, Kentucky, which is the co-owner of Blame. The racehorses with a connection of some sort to Claiborne read like a Who’s Who of Turfdom, including Gallant Fox, Princequillo, Bold Ruler, Secretariat, and Mr. Prospector. Blame’s other co-owner, Adele Dilschneider, is the granddaughter of John Olin, who was a prominent industrialist and racehorse owner. His home-bred Cannonade won the 1ooth Kentucky Derby.

Jerome “Jerry” Moss, co-owner of Zenyatta with his wife Ann, has a much different background than Mr. Hancock and Ms. Dilschneider. After he graduated from Brooklyn College and served in the U. S. Army, he entered the music business as a promoter. Mr. Moss moved to California in 1960 and teamed up with musician Herb Alpert in  founding–in Mr. Alpert’s garage–what eventually became A&M Records. Both men are inductees in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. The Mosses’ Giacomo won the 2005 Kentucky Derby and their Zenyatta is named for The Police album Zenyatta Mondatta.

While the owners of Blame and the owners of Zenyatta do not have much in common so far as their life experiences are concerned, or history in Thoroughbred racing, they have demonstrated by their actions that they share one important trait: class. The second definition of sportsman refers to “fairness, courtesy, and good temper” and Mr. Hancock, Ms. Dilschneider, and the Mosses have all shown themselves to be true sportsmen during the contentious debate over whether Blame or Zenyatta should be Horse of the Year. In addition, John Shirreffs and Al Stall Jr., the trainers of Zenyatta and Blame, respectively, have done the same.

Valid Horse of the Year arguments can be made for Blame and Zenaytta and their fans have voiced them, sometimes in an impassioned and not-so-civil way. The owners of these terrific racehorses also obviously feel strongly that their particular individual is deserving of the honor. Nonetheless, they have been circumspect and gracious in their public comments. And this is the second year in a row that the Mosses have been through a controversial Horse of the Year decision process.

In an era in which well-known sports figures are often in the news for trash talking and decidedly unsportsmanlike conduct, it is refreshing to see how well the Blame and Zenyatta owners have comported themselves under pressure. Horse racing is fortunate to have Mr. Hancock, Ms. Dilschneider, and the Mosses representing the sport.

Regardless of whether Blame or Zenyatta wins the Horse of the Year balloting, the sport of horse racing cannot go wrong by conveying the Horse of the Year trophy to any of these owners.

Copyright © 2011 Horse Racing Business