Archives for October 2013


The 2013 Breeders’ Cup will be televised from Santa Anita Park, as follows:

Friday, November 1, on NBC Sports (cable channel), 4 PM- 8 PM (Eastern USA time zone)

Saturday, November 2, on NBC Sports, 3:30 PM – 8 PM (Eastern USA time zone)

Saturday, November 2, on NBC (network) 8 PM – 9 PM (Eastern USA time zone)

In the early days of the Breeders’ Cup, beginning in 1984, there were only seven races and they were carried on NBC network television on a Saturday from about 1 PM to 6 PM. Then, for a few years, the races were on the cable channel ESPN. The Breeders’ Cup was expanded to two days in 2007, and most of the races have now been moved to cable television. The Classic is the only race presented on network television in prime time. This split between cable and network makes sense, given the traditionally tepid ratings for the Breeders’ Cup on network television and the impossibility of attracting a large audience for four and 5 1/2 hour telecasts on Friday and Saturday, respectively.

The cable telecasts will undoubtedly have low ratings and draw the vast majority of their small audiences from among horse racing aficionados. Making matters worse, NBC Sports is a channel that comes as a premium offering on most cable systems, meaning that a large segment of horse-racing fans won’t receive the bulk of the Friday and Saturday telecasts. This will further detract from the potential audience size. When the Breeders’ Cup was telecast on ESPN, the situation was not as limiting because ESPN, though a cable channel, was usually included in basic packages of Time Warner and other providers.

The TV audiences for sporting events have been in decline in recent years. For example, the exciting Game 2 of the 2013 World Series attracted only 11.5 million viewers. Thus expectations concerning TV ratings for the Breeders’ Cup Classic in prime time should not be optimistic.

The same can be said for on-track attendance. The Friday card is held during the work day in Los Angeles (1 PM – 5 PM on the West Coast). The Saturday card is about a workday-long when the preliminary races are factored in.

People in general, circa 2013, do not have the patience for marathon sporting events. For instance, some of the top-flight college football programs in the country have seen empty seats in their student sections and coaches have criticized fans for leaving games early.

The judgment here is that the Breeders’ Cup watered down its brand equity when it expanded to two days. The perplexing part of the decision is that the addition of the Friday card ran counter to shortening attention spans in the 21st century. In the case of the Breeders’ Cup, less was more.

The overall quality of the Breeders’ Cup has been damaged by the absence of some of the better turf horses from Europe, owing to prestigious autumn races in France, England, and Ireland. Consider the attraction had the Breeders’ Cup been able to entice the connections of Sea the Stars and Frankel.

In spite of diluting the brand and the obvious embellishment of billing itself as the “World Championships,” the Breeders’ Cup is still a great show for horse racing fans to watch and bet on.

Copyright © 2013 Horse Racing Business


Twitter users send out about a half billion tweets daily.

Some 32 million people tweeted last year about specific television programs, with the Super Bowl being the topic of 24 million tweets and American Idol 5.8 million. The recently launched Twitter Amplify capitalizes on this latter trend by enabling companies, including many with commercial ties to horse racing, to coordinate social networking on Twitter with television advertising.

Here’s an example of how Twitter Amplify works. Delicioso, a fictitious national fast-food chain, employs a digital-fingerprinting device referred to as a “TV ads dashboard” to automatically detect and catalogue the exact dates, times, stations, and programs its numerous television ads are shown on across the United States. Twitter is also able to identify the exact people who tweeted about the TV shows sponsored by the restaurant chain.

This information allows Delicioso to zero in on Twitter users who tweeted about–and thus most likely watched—television programs its commercials appeared on, and to send the individuals a follow-up message embedded with an ad. Multiple exposures increase the likelihood of an advertisement being noticed and remembered.

ESPN is placing college-football highlights, or instant replays, from telecasts into Twitter feeds that include an eight-second ad for Verizon Wireless. The National Football League is following suit by creating a steady stream of custom content for tweets. On game-days, the NFL sends out tweets of advertiser-sponsored clips from action that has aired on CBS, Fox, and the NFL Network.

Horse racing has a significant television audiences and a great deal of Twitter chatter fit the profile for cross promotion of products and services on TV and Twitter. Companies that sponsor horse-racing telecasts have the means to reinforce their advertising messages with the people who were interested enough to tweet about what they viewed.

Copyright ©2013 the Blood-Horse. Used with permission.


Numerous empirical studies pertaining to wagering on horse races have demonstrated that favorites are underbet and longshots are overbet, relative to their actual chances, therein demonstrating the “favorite-longshot bias.”

The bias becomes more pronounced as field sizes narrow, as bettors take on additional risk in search of higher returns.

The most definitive confirmation of the favorite-longshot bias came from a study published in 2010 by professors from Cal Tech and Wharton. They statistically analyzed the Equibase archives of every race run in the United States between 1992 and 2001, which yielded over 6.4 million starts.

The investigation included not only win bets but also exotics like exactas, quinellas, and trifectas. A common explanation for the favorite-longshot bias is that longshots are overbet owing to gamblers love of risk. An alternative explanation is that bettors misperceive actual probabilities and place wagers inconsistent with the true odds of winning. The 2010 study found much stronger support for the latter explanation.

More recently, researchers at UCLA and in Germany have examined the psychological bias of wagering referred to as “partition dependence.” People generally think that a numerical event is more likely to occur when it is partitioned or divided into smaller intervals. To illustrate, when bettors were given choices pertaining to how many NBA playoff games the Miami Heat would win, they wagered 20% more when the options were 4-to-7 games and 8-to-11 games, rather than the single interval 4-to-11 games.

Thus the amount people wager is influenced by how a bet is presented. Partition dependence shows why it is advantageous for racetracks to offer races with full fields. If two horses are coupled in a race, the coupled entry will typically generate less handle than would the two horses running as separate entries. Partition dependence shows yet another reason why racetracks benefit from larger fields.

Above all, bettors seek bigger returns, and races with full fields of entries, or intervals, offer a better opportunity for a higher return. Increasing the number of intervals should augment handle on a given race. To bettors, the sum of the parts–the intervals–are psychologically greater than the whole.

Copyright © 2013 the Blood-Horse. Used with permission.