Archives for October 2017


On October 12, 2017, ran a post titled “Keeneland’s Takeout-Rate Increase” that analyzed the potential profit/loss effects of the track’s takeout boost on win, place, and show betting by 9.375% and on most exotic wagers by 15.79%.  These increments began with Keeneland’s fall 2017 meet and became the target of a boycott endorsed by the Horseplayers Association of North America, or HANA.

The October 12th post stated:

“Keeneland would breakeven on its takeout-rate increase decision on win, place, and show bets if handle declines by exactly -8.57%.  A smaller decline than -8.57% will yield a profit and a larger decline than -8.57% will yield a loss.

On exotics, Keeneland would breakeven on its rate increase if handle falls by precisely -13.64%.  A drop in handle of less than -13.64% will result in a profit and a drop of more than -13.64% will record a loss.”

The Keeneland meet is now concluded and all-sources wagering (on-track plus off-track) declined by $11.32 million or 8.52%.  It looks as though Keeneland gained a small dollar amount on its price increases because anything better than a -13.64% drop in exotic wagers was profitable.

A Keeneland spokesman blamed the weather for the decline in handle.  That perspective, however, does not comport with the fact that the track had near-record attendance yet on-track wagering was essentially flat compared to 2016.  Moreover, as HANA points out on its website, Keeneland’s all-sources handle was poor when benchmarked against two top-of-the-line racetracks that also had live racing in October.  Belmont’s all-sources handle was up over 12% and Santa Anita’s increased by 8%.

As noted in the October 12th post on this subject, whether Keeneland’s decision to substantially raise takeout rates proves to be a significantly profitable one, or a blunder, won’t be determined until the end of the spring 2018 meet.  Keeneland’s top management must wait six months to see how many of the boycotters come back or persist in avoiding the track.

Copyright © 2017



Gambling in North Korea has until recently been punishable by three years of manual labor.  However, strict international sanctions on the country have made for a scarcity of hard currency and caused the State (Kim Jong-un) to change its policy.

In March 2017, North Korea requested proposals for casinos and on October 15, 2017, people were allowed to gamble on horse racing at the Mirim Horse Racing Club near Pyongyang.  The wagering method employed was not conventional pari-mutuel but rather was a raffle-like system to bet on jockeys.

The Mirim Horse Racing Club is a former military horseman training center that the State in 2012 began to convert to a leisure center.  It has seven outdoor riding courses, an indoor training facility, restaurants, a pavilion, and a sauna.  Mirim stables around 120 mostly white-grey horses, including 67 Orlov Trotters from Russia.  The State purchased the trotters for the equivalent of a reported 175,000 U. S. dollars, a significant amount for a nation in which severe food and housing shortages prevail.

The limited gambling permitted in North Korea is pathetic when contrasted with the opportunities people have in free-market economies and is yet another example of the country’s control of individual freedom.  Imagine what a North Korean horse-racing fan would think about having access to the choices available on a service like TwinSpires or Xpressbet or seeing the spectacle of an American or British Triple Crown race or the Breeders’ Cup.

Betting via a raffle on jockeys in North Korea has no appeal to most horse-racing punters in market-based nations in the West.  If someone wants to engage in a North Korean-oriented bet, a much more interesting and challenging betting proposition can be found on online betting shops.   For instance, two current bets on one popular website are as follows:

“What year will Kim Jong-un cease to be Supreme Commander?

2031 or later 4/7

2026-2030 5/1

2021-2025 9/2

2018-2020 7/1

2017 14/1

Method that Kim Jong-un is removed from his role as Supreme Commander?

He dies 1/10

Overthrown in a coup 5/1

He resigns 8/1”

The payoff if Kim Jong-un dies in a coup is unclear.

Copyright © 2017 Horse Racing Business


North American horse racing is periodically embarrassed and tainted by doping incidents, with the most famous being the disqualification of Dancer’s Image in the 1968 Kentucky Derby and the latest publicity black-eye taking place at Penn National Race Course.

Now another sporting event has been dogged by medication cheating, the 2017 Iditarod.  This famous race requires sled dogs and their mushers and support personnel to traverse the 975 mile isolated and forbidding terrain between Anchorage and Nome Alaska while encountering bitterly cold conditions and blizzards.

For the first time since Iditarod authorities began drug-testing of dogs in 1994, dogs on one of the teams tested positive for a banned substance, Tramadol, a narcotic-like pain reliever.  However, the team was not penalized because the ruling body, the Iditarod Trail Committee Board of Directors, said it could not prove that the intent was to improve the dogs’ performance.

The Committee responded on October 6, 2017 by changing its policies regarding positive drug tests.  The new rule is similar to the ultimate-insurer standard for trainers in horse racing:  mushers are held accountable for positives.  Unlike horse racing, an exception is granted to mushers if they can prove their innocence.

The updated policy bans 12 substances and Rule 39 states in part: “No other drugs or other artificial means may be used to drive a dog or cause a dog to perform or attempt to perform beyond its natural ability.”

As long as there are monetary incentives to administer performance-enhancing drugs to humans and animals in competition, some people will choose to flout the rules and, in so doing, tarnish the image of their own sports.  With adequate attention to due process for the accused, the answer is strict oversight and enforcement.  North American horse racing has yet to have reached this state of affairs.

Copyright © 2017 Horse Racing Business