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Is Horse Racing The ‘Original Sports Bet’ With Long-Term Appeal For Gamblers?

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Alex Waldrop is as optimistic about the current and near-future state of the pari-mutuel industry as a president of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association could be after the Triple Crown has been postponed, reshuffled, altered.

But with the Kentucky Derby moved from the first Saturday in May until Sept. 5, the traditional Triple Crown-capping Belmont Stakes shortened and pushed back to June 20 and the Preakness Stakes now the finale on Oct. 3, Waldrop sees a chance for horse racing to sustain some of the sports betting interest it absorbed during the COVID-19 shutdown.

Horse racing is uniquely qualified in the endeavor of enduring after decades of decline, and Waldrop believes it’s poised now to establish a new foothold.

PlayUSA spoke to Waldrop about this old-school sport will gallop into a digital realm of modern sports betting.

What has helped horse racing raise its profile since the major four sports were forced to shutter in March?

Waldrop: A couple of the things that we have done probably the strongest over the last couple of months is the fact that we have been on two national cable channels, FOX Sports and NBC Sports on Saturday afternoons, which has given us visibility, which we don’t ordinarily get beyond TVG, which is the primary television channel for horse racing.

 It’s available widely, but not widely on cable, generally on streaming live on the internet. But FOX and NBC Sports have both been showing us. In fact, NBC Sports has been taking TVG and rebroadcasting it on their own channel through all of their subscribers, nationwide. FOX Sports has done the same for some of the same tracks. Churchill Downs has exclusively on Fox.

So you have big platforms now that are showing racing that’s giving us visibility to people who don’t ordinarily watch racing horse racing as a sport. And then just [last week] we rolled out a new marketing strategy, a new marketing awareness campaign that is going to be focusing not just on television but also on digital and social media.

 And we have our [advance-deposit wagering] platforms, those online platforms which allow people to watch and wager every day. But certainly, now that opportunity is at a premium because many sports bettors don’t have that opportunity. From what I can tell, it raises our profile.

How have race tracks gone about conducting race cards safely while much of sports is shut down?

We’re doing it in a safe and responsible manner because we can social distance on these expansive back stretches. We’re not allowing fans in the stands. We’re protecting anyone who has to work on a daily basis there with all the hygiene protocols and social distancing protocols.

And the horses themselves, fortunately, the primary athletes, are not susceptible to the virus, so they can compete safely. And, we, of course, have to be mindful of the jockeys themselves.

Besides just being available, what has made horse racing an attractive option for bettors recently?

One of the things we have noticed, one of the other things that has gone up significantly, is the average field size, more horses per race, which we also think is a big factor here because that makes for a much more attractive betting interest. Bettors like full competitive fields because it means that the payouts will be better, on balance. And so as average field size has gone up, we’ve seen that handle increase, which is frankly what we had always known, that field size is important, hard to parse out exactly how important, but it’s very important.

How important is it to exploit the exposure the Belmont Stakes should get on June 20 before other major sports return?

It was disappointing to lose our normal season, if you will. Horse racing season is really the lead-up to and including the Triple Crown. And it’s never good to lose that traditional season because that’s the one time of year when we were top-of-mind. The ability to come back now, later, is great. For the Belmont to be on a day when it’s the only game in town, literally, that’s also great. We’ll see how that field shapes up. It’s going to be a different race, a shorter race.

Is Monmouth Park’s foray into fixed-odds wagering in July potentially a game-changer for horse betting in a growing sports betting market? 

Well, it’s certainly going to be for a guy like [Monmouth operator] Dennis Drazin, who’s as creative as anybody in the business. We’ll see how that picks up across the country with other operators.

How crucial is bridging the two systems between sportsbook wagering and commission-based pari-mutuel wagering?

You have to have a high tolerance for risk. Horse racing thrived more than a century ago because of the commission-based structure that it had, which really for the operator removes that operator from the process, provides an element of security and also of integrity, but also makes it difficult for some of these operators to go back into this world where every wager they have to set a price.

They’re used to letting the people that set the price and that works. And while in theory, it seems great, we know that there are sports bettors out there, there are horse players out there that are really annoyed by the fact that they think they have one price when the horse goes out of the gate and then by the time that the race is over them, the price has dwindled some because of the late-changing odds on the board, which are not because of past posting, we call it, not because people are betting after the race starts, but it’s because we’re collecting wagering from some 2,000 sites around the country and that can’t be done instantaneously. It takes some time to collect all those wagers.

Then generally that late money is going to change the odds and smart guys wait until the very last to bet and so when that price goes down, it is sometimes the inclination of folks to think there’s some kind of shady dealing going on and in fact there are people out there just as smart as they are who figured it out and just put bet a little bit later than they did.

No one wants to think someone else had the same brilliant notion, especially if it came in late, right?

Right. Nobody wants that smart money. That’s why they love Derby day. That’s why people love the Triple Crown – bettors do – because there’s a lot of folks in the pools that aren’t as savvy as the everyday player.

Because dabblers with a julep in their hands are betting colors and their favorite horse names?

Yeah, so you get these massive win pools or just massive pools that are just there for the picking for the guy who can figure out exactly what’s going to happen. It makes for a great day of wagering, but day in and day out, it’s tough because there’s so much information available about our sport now. And so it’s hard to define that one nugget that the other guy’s not going to get and focus on.

We run the National Horseplayers Championship, NHC, which is conducted in Vegas every February. We deal with the best of the best because we name the horse player of the year and give that person an Eclipse Award. And, so, we see firsthand how savvy these guys are. They’re men and women. I say guys, I don’t mean to exclude women. Certainly there are many women who enjoy horseplaying as well. And so there’s a lot of folks that love our business and we’re trying to get more to understand the unique challenges.

Fixed-odd wagering is part of that. It’s hard for me to say right now just exactly how quickly that would catch on and to what extent that will take up what percentage of the handle. It’s hard to tell right now.

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When Are Major Horse Racing Events Scheduled To Return?

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If it’s not already trademarked, Alex Waldrop should consider it.

“We were the original sports bet. We’re still here. And we’re still going strong.”

And with COVID-19 keeping sports contested by humans off their fields of play, the chief executive officer of the National Thoroughbred Racing Association earnestly hopes one of the United States’ original sporting passions can extend a moment it has inherited since major professional and college sports went dormant in mid-March.

While new-age virtual games such as eSports and iRacing have also had their moment, horse racing — for one of the first times since its slow decline in popularity began decades ago — has so far had the bandwidth to satisfy a national appetite for betting markets.

Horses can’t contract the novel coronavirus that has led to more than 100,000 deaths in the US. Expansive track facilities and a relatively small amount of humans needed to conduct the sport has allowed track operators to hold meets that were generally an online wagering enterprise and devoid of spectators anyway.

So while Russian table tennis has found a novelty following and a virtual NFL Draft flared and faded, the national pari-mutuel industry has so far surged. While national handle figures for May are not yet available, April revealed that horse racing had made some hay.

According to Waldrop, pari-mutuel wagering handle was down 24 percent from April 2020 as compared to April 2019, “but that is remarkable,” he told PlayUSA, “because we had a 72-percent decline in the number of races and race days. That tells you that we had much less racing product out there for horse players to bet on, but they were betting a lot more.”

The average wagering per race day, he added, was up 176 percent to $7.5 million. That was with a small collection of tracks including Gulfstream Park, Fonner Park, Oaklawn Park, Tampa Bay Downs and Will Rogers Downs. Now larger venues are about to open with social-distancing restrictions and governmental sign-off.

“Larger tracks, like Churchill Downs, Santa Anita has been back and operating for the last week or so, Maryland starts this weekend, [New York] starts sometime in early June,” Waldrop added, “so the major race tracks are about to crank back up and we should see an increase in the number of races and race days, which hopefully will translate into recovery, putting handle back to where it was or above last year.”

Attempting to maintain this momentum, the Breeders’ Cup and Jockey Club on Thursday launched a national campaign specifically targeted at sports bettors that are bolstering its coffers.

And at Monmouth Park in New Jersey, where a horseman’s lawsuit was the first maneuver in the campaign that eventually made legal sports betting a national possibility, track operator Dennis Drazin is about to unveil the device he has long seen as the bridge from sports bettors to horse players: fixed odds wagering.

Even with the Kentucky Derby rescheduled for just the second time since 1875 and its signature Triple Crown scrambled and delayed, horse racing is generating promise.

When will horse racing hubs open nationally?

California
Del Mar: July 18-Sept. 7
Santa Anita: underway through June 21

Florida
Gulfstream: underway through Sept. 27
Tampa Bay: underway through May 30, then Monday and Wednesday in June after an extension was granted by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Kentucky
Churchill Downs: underway through June 27; Sept. 1-5
Ellis Park: June 28-Aug. 30
Keeneland: July 8-12

New Jersey
Monmouth: July 3-Sept. 27 (not yet approved by state of New Jersey)

New York
Belmont Park: June 3-July 20.
Saratoga (NY) – July 16-Sept. 7

When are the Triple Crown races in 2020?

Belmont Stakes
June 20 (moved back two weeks and from final leg to opener)

*Note: The longest race of most thoroughbreds’ careers will not be on the resume for this crop of 3-year-olds. To alleviate injury concerns in a disjointed approach to the Triple Crown, stewards have reduced the race distance from 1 ½ half miles to 1 ⅛ miles. The Belmont goes from the longest to shortest Triple Crown race for this season. The Kentucky Derby is 1 ¼ miles and the Preakness 1 3/16. … The purse will drop from $1.5 million to $1 million because no spectators will be allowed.

Kentucky Derby
Sept. 5 (originally May 2)

Preakness Stakes
Oct. 3 (originally May 16, second leg)

Horse industry launches national campaign to retain sports bettors

The “Still. Running. Strong.” campaign, launched in conjunction with the NTRA, TVG network, which is an affiliate of the FanDuel Group; the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association and Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association will attempt to leverage “broadcast, digital, and social media elements,” according to a release to exploit heightened exposure even with the Triple Crown delayed more than six weeks. NBC Sports and FOX Sports have already filled programming gaps with live racing, providing a natural entry point for the effort.

A focal point of the digital and social media campaign is legal online horse betting, centered around educational materials at a new America’s Best Racing website.

“We’re going to be turning sports bettors, because we know there are lots of sports bettors out there that are desperate for content. They’re not able to bet right now. There’s not enough sports,” Waldrop said. “But horse racing is still going strong. And we have our ADW platforms, those online platforms which allow people to watch and wager, do it every.

“Certainly, now that opportunity is at a premium because many sports bettors don’t have that opportunity. It raises our profile. That’s the purpose of the awareness campaign. It’s the oldest form of sports betting.”

Horse racing getting a leg up as human sports shelter in place

Johnny Avello would have preferred that horse racing’s renaissance as a betting market was spurred by something besides COVID-19.

As head of sportsbook for DraftKings, he fully comprehends the impact of the pandemic shutting down the sports that would normally have comprised the vast bulk of his sports betting and daily fantasy sports company’s offerings. But even as a Las Vegas transplant, the product of Poughkeepsie, N.Y., longs for his annual pilgrimage to the Saratoga summer meet, and with MLB, the NBA and NHL still in the planning stages of a return to play, Avello hopes horse racing can capitalize on the opportunity. Because so far, he told PlayUSA, that’s worked well for the industry at large at a crucial time.

“Horse racing was getting dinged pretty good there with all those deaths of horses at San Anita, and I was really frightened for the game, especially in California,” he said. “California racing has been such a great product for many years. You’ve got Del Mar and then you got Santa Anita and then they go to the fairs during the summer.

“But I was concerned and I thought that this could be a good thing for horse racing because it could isolate them and as long as things went well, which they pretty much have, with the isolation, people could just concentrate on betting on horse racing because it was one of the few games that they were very familiar with.

Crucial, Avello said, is that the Belmont Stakes, traditionally the final leg of the Triple Crown, but now the opener, has the weekend of June 20 relatively to itself in terms of other major events.

“Talk about isolation. There won’t be a lot of sports going on, most likely,” Avello said. “So, I think that race is going to get a lot of exposure.

“And as we move forward here, you’ll have the Belmont, you’ll get a couple other races in between. You’ll have the Travers, which is normally in the end of August, probably going to shift the dates there and that’s probably going to be a prep for the Kentucky Derby. Hopefully, some younger people have gotten involved lately. Let’s hope that momentum continues. I can’t say it will for sure, but I’m hopeful that it will.”

Another reason horse racing and betting are still thriving

Though the disruption of the one annual period when horse racing becomes at least a passing mainstream interest represented a loss for the sport, Waldrop said, horse racing still holds an industry-wide advantage on professional team sports. Though its classics have been impacted, it’s daily business has been able to restart quicker despite local shutdowns.

“It’s never good to lose that traditional season because that’s the one time of year when we were top of mind. The ability to come back now, later, is great,” Waldrop said. “For the Belmont to be on a day when it’s the only game in town, literally, that’s also great. We’ll see how that feels shapes up.

“Our awareness campaign is really focused mostly on sports bettors than the casual fans who generally learn about us on national television. But it’s all about converting people from casual fans to fans who’ve watch and wager.”

DraftKings has a license to offer pari-mutuel wagering through its association with the Scarlet Pearl sportsbook in D’Iberville, Miss., but couldn’t capitalize on the rush because the state hasn’t legalized mobile and online wagering.

A report released last week by Infiniti Research claims that the “horse and sports betting market is poised to grow” by $139.52 billion, progressing by a nine-percent compound annual growth rate through 2024.

The first day of the delayed Churchill Downs, contested without fans posted a 183% increase in handle as compared to the same night, one replete with customary Louisville opening festivities, in 2019, according to WDRB television.

The home venue of the Kentucky Derby wasn’t the only park awash in interest. The handful of tracks open and running without fans – Gulfstream Park, Fonner Park, Oaklawn Park, Tampa Bay Downs and Will Rogers Downs exploded by 129 percent through the first few weeks of the meet.

At Santa Anita, the total handle for nine races on May 15 was $11,207,076, a 61-percent increase from an eight-race card on the same date a year ago.

While an increase of interest is a boon for the tracks, it has hardly been a financial windfall, with tracks being hit with the type of financial loss the major pro leagues could face with fanless games. The reason: tracks receive only a percentage the handle their tracks generate via simulcast and away from their betting windows.

The boom is also being experienced internationally with a Swedish government minister noting that “horse betting has exploded” during COVID-19 while debating regulations on the online casino industry there.

Horse racing resurgence amid COVID-19 shutdowns

Various sports and events have experienced an increase in exposure during the novel coronavirus pandemic. There was the wildly popular virtual NFL Draft, eNASCAR and eSports.

That horse racing — a vestige of America’s 17th-century agrarian past — and eSports, a digital vanguard of our presumed gaming future, were key among them created a fascinating spectrum for sports’ ecosystem. Both became focuses because they happened to be left standing for differing reasons when college and professional team sports were forced to go dormant. eSports can be conducted in relative confinement even though large arenas are being erected to present the spectacle of events like the Fortnite World Cup, pre-pandemic. Horse racing, which has fallen into a sad state of decline, where the Kentucky Derby is generally the only event to resonate with the general public, didn’t have many fans to turn away.

A collection of tracks remained open during the shutdown, notable among them Oaklawn Park, which hosted an expanded Arkansas Derby on the day the Kentucky Derby was originally scheduled.

In a perverse sign that business seemed to be as usual, the Bob Baffert-trained Charlatan, a runoff winner in one of the two races that comprised the event is said to have tested positive for illegal substances.

Can fixed-odds wagering bridge gap from sportsbooks to horse tracks?

Drazin knows their frustration. He’s absorbed it through their emails and voice messages: Dabbling horse player bets a filly at Monmouth Park at long odds. Filly wins. Dabbling horse player is surprised to find a pedestrian payout waiting at the window. Late money had come in on her, the odds plummeted. The payout decreased.

That quickly, a winning bettor and potential repeat customer had a bad experience.

Standing at the nexus of sports betting and pari-mutuel wagering, Drazin has long advocated for fixed-odds wagering as a means to appease those dabblers and perhaps retain sports bettors disinclined to accept that a lot of late money generated online and as smart as theirs ruined a payday. And their fun.

“They bet the horse at 7-1, then it’s 5-1, at the gate and 8-to-5 and by the time it breaks out of the gate it’s 3-to-5,” Drazin said. “They say ‘What happened?’ And that’s not because there’s anything improper going on, it’s just all these wagers that are made by computer and otherwise the last minute being added to the pools. But I don’t think it gives the public a good feeling. I think the public would feel better if they’d bet at 2-to-1 and they got 2-to-1. So I think that will help bring some people back to racing.”

So in February, the New Jersey Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association and Darby Development LLC, which operates Monmouth Park, entered a 10-year deal with BetMakers Technology Group to facilitate fixed-odds wagering for that track. The Australian company will initially offer just win, place and show bets.

Fixed-odds betting has been credited with stimulating the horse racing industry in Australia and is expanding worldwide, but has been resisted in the United States because of the differences in takeout structure between sportsbooks and pari-mutuel pools. Tracks often hold up to 20 percent of handle to feed pools, while sportsbooks take less. Proponents of fixed-odds horse wagering assert that players will make up for the shortfalls with their increase volume of wagering.

“These are issues that happen not just on a state by state basis, but really on an operator-by-operator basis. People are moving cautiously in the sports betting arena,” Waldrop said. “It’s too early to tell whether the fixed-odds wagering will gain traction.

“It should, it absolutely should. It provides some certainty to players, the kind of certainty they’re used to getting in the sports betting arena. But I can’t predict how quickly that happens. The revenue factors that have to be considered. The risk factor is not an element for parimutuel because you’re basically commission-based wagering and how to convert a sports wager into DraftKings offered fixed-odds betting on the Haskell Invitational card at Monmouth Park last year.

Any vendor with a skin in a New Jersey sportsbook, Drazin said, is eligible to contract for fixed-odds horse wagering. Waldrop said that TVG, whose parent company is Flutter Entertainment, is also “looking at” fixed-odds wagering.

Horse racing provides boost to sports betting, needs a residual effect

It was once ironic that the campaign that ultimately led to the possibility of legal sports betting in the entirety of the United States began with a horsemen’s association lawsuit in New Jersey. All those new consumers would have even less reason to turn their attention to an afternoon program at Monmouth Park. But now there’s a symmetry.

The horse racing industry collectively hoped after the repeal of the Professional and Amateur Sports Protection Act in 2018 that newly cultivated sports bettors would turn the occasion dollar toward the flagging pari-mutuels industry, and for now, they have. While the industry faces the same sustainability questions as eSports and Russian table tennis markets once the “big four” return, the present is heartening.

“We love it,” Waldrop said. “We love it.”

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Horse Racing Bets Supplementing Minimal Sports Betting Options

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Welcome to another week of quarantine. Potentially, though, it won’t last much longer.

States across the country have started reopening select businesses and easing isolation restrictions as they pertain to the coronavirus pandemic. They have developed policies and guidelines for the public and industries to follow in order to resume operations.

In due time, it appears, casinos will reopen their doors after being closed, for the most part, since March.

Along those lines, major sports are reportedly close to returning. As such, legalized sports betting across the country could pick back up. For now, though, we continue to wait. Hopefully, not for much longer.

On to the Rewind:

Sports betting down, horse betting up in US

As spring turns to summer, any other year, we’d be coming out of one of the busiest times of the sports calendar, what with March Madness and playoff pushes in the NBA and NHL, not to mention the start of MLB and the Masters.

Of course, as it has been well-publicized, the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the suspension and cancellation of major sports schedules and events, starting March 11. Notably, the NCAA tournament was scratched, which certainly hurt the wallets of bookmakers.

So it should come as no surprise that a virtually sports-less March included sports betting handle in the US plummeting by 65% as it relates to the previous month and reflects a year-over-year decline of 45%. Similarly, overall revenue dropped nearly 60% month to month.

Nevada took the brunt among states with legalized wagering, as its handle and revenue from February to March nose-dived by 71.1% and 96.2%, respectively. For the Silver State, the lack of March Madness delivered a blow, as basketball in March 2019 accounted for 83% of Nevada’s handle.

That said, it appears bettors may have found another outlet: horse betting.

In April, while year-over-year handle dropped 24.4%, horse racing attracted more than $639 million in wagers last month. Consider, though, that many tracks across the country remain closed and just 746 races took place — a 71.4% drop.

Most notably, the average race day boasted a whopping $7.5 million in handle. Compared with April 2019, that’s a 176.5% spike.

Michigan casinos closed until vaccine developed?

Since March 22, casinos in Michigan have been shuttered due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Some tribes have targeted reopening as early as this month. That’s not the case in Detroit, where properties might not open back up until a coronavirus vaccine is introduced.

As told to The Detroit News, city Mayor Mike Duggan noted that while reported COVID-19 cases and deaths in the state have declined, “[w]here we are today is where we’re going to be in September and is likely to be where we are in January.”

Duggan added that the virus will continue to exist until a vaccine is developed.

That said, Duggan related a potential world in which casinos potentially operated “at 25%-30% capacity” until a vaccine is introduced. He continued, saying he wouldn’t push for anything “before it’s medically safe” and that casinos might not welcome customers for a “few months.”

Closed casinos certainly hurt Detroit, which pocketed adjusted gross receipts of $1.45 billion from casinos in 2019, resulting in more than $184 million for the city.

Louisiana sports betting bills come to light

While sports remain sidelined, lawmakers in Louisiana have introduced three bills to potentially land legalizing sports betting on the ballot and in the hands of the public.

Sen. Cameron Henry, as he told Legal Sports Report, expects the Senate to vote on his bill in short order.

That bill, S 130, simply requests the legalization of the industry to hit the November ballot. This strategy provides Louisiana legislators to take a step forward toward potentially regulating sports betting by gauging the interest of state residents.

It also gives lawmakers ample time to develop regulations, as Henry said, ones that “we’ll have months to work on rather than days or weeks.”

But it won’t be a statewide legalization. Individual parishes decided to approve sports betting via referendum. As an example, 47 of 64 parishes green-lit daily fantasy sports.

To reach the ballot, legislators must pass a referendum bill by June 1. If approved by voters, Louisiana then implements language for a bill in 2021. Finally, a revenue bill with tax rates and fees must pass the legislature by a two-thirds supermajority and receive governor approval.

The other two proposed bills also aim to get in front of voters and include regulatory language for legal sports betting at 15 riverboat casinosone land-based casinos in New Orleans and four racetracks. Both proposals limit online wagering to casino properties.

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Horse Racing Bets Supplementing Minimal Sports Betting Options

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Welcome to another week of quarantine. Potentially, though, it won’t last much longer.

States across the country have started reopening select businesses and easing isolation restrictions as they pertain to the coronavirus pandemic. They have developed policies and guidelines for the public and industries to follow in order to resume operations.

In due time, it appears, casinos will reopen their doors after being closed, for the most part, since March.

Along those lines, major sports are reportedly close to returning. As such, legalized sports betting across the country could pick back up. For now, though, we continue to wait. Hopefully, not for much longer.

On to the Rewind:

Sports betting down, horse betting up in US

As spring turns to summer, any other year, we’d be coming out of one of the busiest times of the sports calendar, what with March Madness and playoff pushes in the NBA and NHL, not to mention the start of MLB and the Masters.

Of course, as it has been well-publicized, the coronavirus pandemic has resulted in the suspension and cancellation of major sports schedules and events, starting March 11. Notably, the NCAA tournament was scratched, which certainly hurt the wallets of bookmakers.

So it should come as no surprise that a virtually sports-less March included sports betting handle in the US plummeting by 65% as it relates to the previous month and reflects a year-over-year decline of 45%. Similarly, overall revenue dropped nearly 60% month to month.

Nevada took the brunt among states with legalized wagering, as its handle and revenue from February to March nose-dived by 71.1% and 96.2%, respectively. For the Silver State, the lack of March Madness delivered a blow, as basketball in March 2019 accounted for 83% of Nevada’s handle.

That said, it appears bettors may have found another outlet: horse betting.

In April, while year-over-year handle dropped 24.4%, horse racing attracted more than $639 million in wagers last month. Consider, though, that many tracks across the country remain closed and just 746 races took place — a 71.4% drop.

Most notably, the average race day boasted a whopping $7.5 million in handle. Compared with April 2019, that’s a 176.5% spike.

Michigan casinos closed until vaccine developed?

Since March 22, casinos in Michigan have been shuttered due to the COVID-19 outbreak.

Some tribes have targeted reopening as early as this month. That’s not the case in Detroit, where properties might not open back up until a coronavirus vaccine is introduced.

As told to The Detroit News, city Mayor Mike Duggan noted that while reported COVID-19 cases and deaths in the state have declined, “[w]here we are today is where we’re going to be in September and is likely to be where we are in January.”

Duggan added that the virus will continue to exist until a vaccine is developed.

That said, Duggan related a potential world in which casinos potentially operated “at 25%-30% capacity” until a vaccine is introduced. He continued, saying he wouldn’t push for anything “before it’s medically safe” and that casinos might not welcome customers for a “few months.”

Closed casinos certainly hurt Detroit, which pocketed adjusted gross receipts of $1.45 billion from casinos in 2019, resulting in more than $184 million for the city.

Louisiana sports betting bills come to light

While sports remain sidelined, lawmakers in Louisiana have introduced three bills to potentially land legalizing sports betting on the ballot and in the hands of the public.

Sen. Cameron Henry, as he told Legal Sports Report, expects the Senate to vote on his bill in short order.

That bill, S 130, simply requests the legalization of the industry to hit the November ballot. This strategy provides Louisiana legislators to take a step forward toward potentially regulating sports betting by gauging the interest of state residents.

It also gives lawmakers ample time to develop regulations, as Henry said, ones that “we’ll have months to work on rather than days or weeks.”

But it won’t be a statewide legalization. Individual parishes decided to approve sports betting via referendum. As an example, 47 of 64 parishes green-lit daily fantasy sports.

To reach the ballot, legislators must pass a referendum bill by June 1. If approved by voters, Louisiana then implements language for a bill in 2021. Finally, a revenue bill with tax rates and fees must pass the legislature by a two-thirds supermajority and receive governor approval.

The other two proposed bills also aim to get in front of voters and include regulatory language for legal sports betting at 15 riverboat casinosone land-based casinos in New Orleans and four racetracks. Both proposals limit online wagering to casino properties.

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Can You Still Bet On Horse Racing in The US? Live Updates, Cancellations

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COVID-19 has wreaked havoc on the world of sports, with horse racing and betting being no exception. A myriad of horse racing events have either been postponed or will only be held without an audience present.

While the sport of kings is in a state of disarray, Play USA readers can expect this list to keep them abreast of all cancellations, and events tabbed to proceed. States omitted are those without thoroughbred racing tracks.

Tracks and online horse betting apps generally take wagers on races outside of the US, as well.

Arizona

The Turf Paradise racetrack on Saturday announced the cancellation of its season due to the Coronavirus.

Arkansas

Horse racing continued at Oaklawn Park on March 14, as Nadal won the Rebel Stakes. The racetrack has since announced that it will hold races without spectators through March 30.

California

Races at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia will proceed without an audience. The prominent California course will play host to the San Luis Rey Stakes on March 21.

Colorado

As of this writing, it’s unclear whether Arapahoe Park – the state’s only active racetrack- will hold events at the start of its season on May 23.

Delaware

As of this writing, it’s unclear whether Delaware Park – the state’s only active racetrack- will hold events at the start of its season on May 27.

Florida

Gulfstream Park in Hallandale Beach will hold horse racing events that are closed to the public. The Florida Derby is scheduled to take place at Gulfstream on March 28.

The Tampa Bay Downs will conduct races without spectators on March 18.

Illinois

While it’s unclear whether Arlington International Racecourse will be in operation for its opening day on May 1, the venue has canceled several other events this month.

Fairmount Park held a full slate of spectator-free races on March 17. The park and its OTBs will remain closed to the public through March 30.

Hawthorne Race Course has ceased all live races through March 30.

Indiana

Each of Indiana’s racetracks, Hoosier Park and Indiana Grand, announced plans to close for a two-week period starting March 16.

Iowa

The racetrack at Prairie Meadows was shut down on March 16, along with the property’s casino and hotel. The course is next scheduled to hold races on May 1.

Kentucky

The 2020 Spring Race at Keeneland has been canceled, the racetrack announced Monday. The race, which was to be held from April 2-24, generated over $16 million in handle last year.

The 146th Kentucky Derby has been moved to September 5, Churchill Downs CEO Bill Carstanjen said Tuesday. This postponement represents the latest blow the sporting world has absorbed from the Coronavirus pandemic.

Turfway Park hosted the Grade 3 Jeff Ruby Steaks on March 14, which was won by Field Pass. The park announced it will continue holding races through the spring and winter without spectators.

Louisiana

The Fair Grounds Race Course in New Orleans will hold spectator-free races. The venue’s on-site OTB, Pari-Mutuel, and slots facilities are closed, though off-Site OTBs remain open.

Maryland

The Laurel Park racetrack on Friday announced its intention to hold fan-free events. Laurel Park has since hosted the Harrison E. Johnson Memorial Stakes and Nellie Morse Stakes, won by Senior Investment and Arrifana, respectively.

Massachusetts

The Suffolk Downs racetrack announced plans to suspend on-track operations from March 15 through at least April 2nd.

Michigan

The Northville Downs racetrack will be closed through at least March 30.

Minnesota

The Canterbury Park racetrack announced plans to suspend operations starting on March 16.

Nebraska

Fonner Park announced the suspension of its season Monday. The racetrack’s most recent contests were held Sunday.

New Jersey

Each of the state’s racetracks – Meadowlands and Monmouth Park – announced plans to suspend operations on March 16. Meadowlands pledged to provide updates when available, and Monmouth Park updated its opening day to May 23.

New Mexico

The Sunland Derby, which was to be held at Sunland Park Racetrack on March 22, was canceled due to Coronavirus concerns. The racetrack announced it would take a three-week sabbatical starting on March 16.

New York

Events at Aqueduct Racetrack will proceed, albeit behind closed doors. Aqueduct’s upcoming races can be found here, and will air nationwide on FS1 and FS2.

It will be worth monitoring Aqueduct’s stance, as the racetrack has already received criticism from animal rights organization NYCLASS.

As of this writing, it’s unclear whether Belmont Park will hold races for its opening day on April 24.

The Finger Lakes racetrack will be closed until further notice.

As of this writing, it’s unclear whether Saratoga Race Course will hold races for its opening day on July 16.

North Dakota

As of this writing, it’s unclear whether North Dakota Horse Park will hold races for its season opening in July.

Ohio

Belterra Park in Cincinnati has been closed until further notice.

The Mahoning Valley Race Course has scheduled live racing without spectators for March 17. The facility will otherwise be closed to the public.

The Thistledown Racino has temporarily closed its doors. It remains to be seen whether the course will hold races for its opening day on April 29.

Oklahoma

The Remington Park racetrack will continue hosting spectators for live races with enhanced safety measures.

Oregon

The Portland Meadows racetrack temporarily closed.

Pennsylvania

Parx Racing said its racetrack will be “temporarily closed until further notice.” This applies to its Bensalem location, the South Philadelphia Race & Sportsbook, and the Oaks Race & Sportsbook.

Texas

Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie announced plans to close doors from March 16 through March 31.

Retama Park in Selma has canceled or postponed all live events. It remains to be seen whether the racetrack will hold events on its July 3rd opening day.

Sam Houston Race Park will continue its live racing program without spectators.

Virginia

The Colonial Downs racetrack closed on March 15 and will remain so through the 30.

Washington

The Emerald Downs racetrack said it would be closed to the public in a statement released March 12. As of this writing, it’s unclear whether the racetrack will hold spectator-free races in 2020.

West Virginia

The Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races has maintained live racing, completing races as recently as March 14. Play USA will relay any updates to the course’s 2020 schedule.

The racetrack at Mountaineer Casino has taken proactive safety measures in light of the Coronavirus pandemic, but none have interrupted the venue’s racing schedule. The venue’s next live race is scheduled for April 26.

Wyoming

As of this writing, it’s unclear whether the Wyoming Downs racetrack will hold races on its opening weekend in July.



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Sports Betting

Professional Poker Player Transition to Sports Betting – Where's the + EV in Horse Racing Systems?

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EV or Expected Value is a widely used term in poker terminology to determine if the outcome of a play is +, 0 or – in terms of profitability. This article is aimed for Poker Players who also like to punt on UK and Irish horse racing. It never ceases to amaze me how many good poker players are terrible at betting on horse racing. If they can spend so much time on their poker game then why not also put in the effort when placing a bet to ensure that you have the most + EV decision that you can possibly make with all the information at hand. The title of the post is actually a small bit misleading as I personally believe that all horse racing systems are doomed and the way to consistently profit at betting on horse racing is to have a horse racing method not a system.

The following article will lay the ground work for anyone who wants to start taking their punting to the next level. There is no better satisfaction then spending an hour or two analysing a race and 1 horse just stands head and shoulders above the rest when you compare all the different factors that I will explain below. Of course the toughest part is having the discipline to only wait for when these such occasions occur when placing a bet, and some times, this may mean you do not bet for up to a month. (This may help explain why I moved into playing poker from sports betting as the results of your actions are known instantaneously, and you can play a game anytime of any day). I also think you can compare a MTT player to a professional sports bettor – you can go long periods without a win and then score a few big results and then rinse and repeat and hopefully over the course of the year you will have been profitable.

1. You must specialize. All the most profitable professional sports bettors pick not only 1 sport but only a small niche in that sport. Patrick Veitch, who has won over 10 million punting on horse racing in the UK only bets on UK flat racing. He even has a massive team of researchers who do a lot of the work for him, but he as he also works 18 hours days during the flat season he is naturally burnt out by the end of the season.

For the beginner though, what I mean by specialize is concentrate on an area of ​​horse racing where you can get the most information. Information is power so unless you own a shed load of 2 year old horses or are the nephew of Aidan O Brein, there is no point in specializing in 2 year old horse races as you just wont have enough information to go on. Therefore it makes more sense to specialize on handicap races, where each horse in the race must of least have run 3 times to qualify but mainly are run by the same horses year in, year out until they are retired.

The best races then to specialize in are 4 year old plus handicaps in flat and national hunt racing as you have the most information available and you can start to see patterns in horses and therefore pick out some very + EV selections when you have spotted this pattern and the majority of the racing public haven't. This is the bread and butter of successful punting, going against the crowd.

Personally I used to specialize in 4 year old plus UK flat handicaps in the summer, and UK and Irish National Hunt handicap chases and hurdles in the Winter.

2. In your specialized area, when you select a race to analyze, you must go through every horse in the race to develop a shortlist. Below are my 5 essential criteria that every horse must have when you are placing a bet.

a) Going – The horse must be proven on going conditions.

b) Distance – The horse must be proven on the trip

c) Course Type – The horse must be proven on similar type of course

d) Fitness – The horse must have shown that it can operate at optimal levels since its last number of days off the track.

e) Class – The horse must have either won at the class he is currently competing in before or else gave a very good showing in a previous race at the similar or higher class level.

Going and Distance

With regard to going and distance and to a lesser extent course type, I will not fully discount a horse who has never raced on the going if he has extremely good sire stats (15% + strike rate) however I would always give precedence to another horse in a race who has won on for example soft going compared to a horse who has never raced on soft but has sire stats of 18% strike rate for soft going conditions.

With distance, I would also use sire stats if a horse is moving up or down in trip by 1 furlong on the flat, and 2 furlongs in national hunt. With experience, you can tell by looking at a race if a horses needs the extra trip or not and the sire stats can be a great way to back up that visual piece of information.

Course Type

This often overlooked by the general racing public. The best thing about UK and Irish racing is the different types of race courses you will encounter. Cheltenham (left-handed, galloping, undulating and testing track with stiff fences) is totally different to Stratford (left Handed, flat & Sharp) as it is to Sandown (right-handed, galloping, testing track)

A horse who has won twice in Cheltenham will probably never win a race at Stratford and vice versa. Bigger sized horses are more suited to galloping tracks as they can take the turns easier and can maintain a strong galloping pace for longer whereas a smaller sized horse is better suited to sharp tracks (ie less than 10 furlongs) as most of the running will be going around bends and therefore the bigger horses will not be able to maintain their top galloping speed for long on the stretches.

Also some horses can only run to their best at left handed courses and vice versa. You would actually wonder why trainers persist to run horses which clearly will not win on a certain turning race track, but then you realise by doing this, they will get their official rating down as horse will appear to be trying but will be hanging left or right the whole way through. You have to be aware that trainers will be trying to manipulate the handicapper a lot of the times in the lower grade races by running horses on unsuitable ground, at the wrong distance, on the wrong course type, or running the horse with a different style During the race all to try and reduce their rating so that they can set up a better chance for themselves to win in the future at a decent price.

I love Cheltenham race meet in March for the simple fact, the course is a stiff testing course which straight away rules out a lot of other horses in the race as they just cant handle it, the grade of racing and pirze money on offer means that everyone is trying to win, and you can nearly always guarantee what the going will be. Therefore if you just use the criteria above and select horses who are proven on the 5 factors (and this applies to the non handicap graded races too, you will see huge profits)

Fitness

To determine a horses fitness, you must look at its previous patterns of how it performed when it returns after a certain number of days off the track. The beauty of handicap races is you have loads of past information to go on and you can see if a horse is 0-5 when returning after an 80 day lay off, whereas he is 3-2-5 when he returns between 15 and 30 days.

Class

A horses class is often overlooked by the racing public. Statistically horses who are moving up in grade / class do not have a good strike rate, however the public will back it blindly if it sees it has won by 5 lengths in its previous race in a lower grade. Analyze past races to see if a horse has won or come close in the grade of race it is racing in today. You can discount a horse if it has failed 2 times at the grade when having all other conditions to suit except for when it is running for a new stable which has a good record at rejuvenating horses.

Also keep in mind that a horse who has placed in a black type race (ie grade, 1,2,3) will have a more class than a horse who has a good winning record in Class 2 (B) handicaps, so if it It is racing in a Class 2 handicap for the first time, do not discount just because it has never won a race.

3. Once you have created your shortlist based on the above criteria, you can now get down to the real dirty work of finding the eventual winner. Sometimes you might only be left with 1 horse, sometimes with 8, you must then start applying other filters to see if you can narrow down the list more. Sometimes the odds will allow to dutch 3 horses left if you can not narrow it down anymore. Then go for it as it is a plus EV move.

However be aware that every time you discount you must have a very valid reason backed up by a decent sample size. Here's a list of filters to reduce the shortlist.

Weight

Some horses as stated earlier have a bigger frame then others, therefore having top weight doesn't make much difference to them, whereas the smaller horse will struggle. Again by studying previous races you will spot a pattern

OR

This is the official rating that the horse racing board's in house handicapper assigns to a horse to determine what weight it should carry in its next horse race. The OR is updated weekly, therefore you sometimes see trainers turn out a horse 3 times in a week to try and take advantage of this before the handicapper reassigns it a higher rating. For an excellent explanation of official hores racing handicapping see this article written by good friend Malcolm Smith over at www.UKhorseracing.co.uk .

After a while, horses will reach their peak and start to hover around a certain OR mark. Therefore it will be unlikely that it will win if its OR mark is higher than its highest winning mark unless the horse is an improving progressive sort. But for older horses, this OR mark becomes more important and can be more relied upon.

Field Size

Some horses will not race unless they are covered in the pack, other horses need room otherwise they get into trouble during the race. The trick is to identify these type of horses. You will start to spot where some horses only win in races with less than 8 runners, but never figure in races with more than 12. You can safely assume that he needs the perfect ride in a big runner race but more than likely will not get that (This is when you can factor in the Jockeys ability to see if its OK to rule out this horse or not) The field size matters more in National Hunt, as some horses prefer seeing the jumps early / later and as they are pack animals prefer chasing a leader than actually leading

Seasonal

A lot of horses prefer to run in certain times of the year. This could be down to how a trainer prepares the horse over the course of the season and aims it to be at full fitness come March time for example, but other times horses just perform better in certain months. Again by looking at past patterns you will begin to spot these trends.

Trainer Statistics

8 years ago it was a very profitable trend to follow certain trainers at certain race tracks for certain race types. This edge has slowly eroded since the markets have caught on, however it still needs to be factored in when trying to finalize your short list.

Trainer – Jockey combinations

If you try and follow this blindly by backing winning Trainer-Jockey Combos, you will most likely end up with a loss. However it is a good tool to have when you are trying to reduce the shortlist as some stats are just too good to ignore.

Jockey Booking

This is actually a powerful indicator. However this again does not mean much if the horse does first qualify for the 5 essential criteria above. Also if you only ever back horses with the top jockeys on board you are forgoing on EV as, the odds will drop on a horse with the likes of Ruby Walsh or Tony McCoy on board, but odds will still remain good on a horse if for example the jockey booking was Graham Lee, who is a very underrated performer. Look back over past races and see how the horse has performed under their guidance before. You will start to see profitable trends and indicators.

Gambling Stables

There are a few ways to do this. One is manually record stables where horses have been heavily backed and won. Another way is to look at a horses previous wins and see what the average odds were. The lower the winning odds, the bigger chance that the stable money only goes down when the horse has a good chance of winning (Kevin Ryan is an example of a gambling stable). The higher the odds, means the horse has won races that they weren't fully expecting to win and therefore less likely a gambling stable (Veneita Williams comes to mind here for being an honest stable).

Post Race Comments

This is often overlooked. If you see what trainers, jockeys and owners have said to the press after a horse has won (See the racing post website for all the comments), you can pick up some useful information which can help you lean one way or the other on a selection.

Pace of the race.

To understand the pace of the race you first need to figure out what is each horse's preferred running style. They can be broken down into front runners, prominent runners, Hold up horses. Here's is a fantastic article which details the breakdown of winning% of different horses running styles compared to the actual number of race entries of horses with different running styles.

It shows that you should really be concentrating on front running and prominent horses as it accounts for 65% of winners compared to being only 50% of entries in races. Front runners in particular account for 20% of winners even though they only supply 11% of runners in a race.

You can use this to your advantage once you get to know all of the different course types. By backing a front running horse that satisfies the 5 essential criteria on a race course which has a sharp track with a short run in, you have added a few% EV points to your selection.

Another factor here is analyzing the previous 3 races the horse has ran in and check out the in running comments. Especially look at the horses who came placed or came outside the top 4 but were close near the end. Keep and eye out for comments like "finished strongly", "kept on well", "stayed on well", "kept on final furlong" and for other tidbits like "hampered" but then "finished strongly". These can point towards a horse who is on the upward curve and given the perfect conditions in the next race will have a very good chance of winning.

Another thing to factor in is if a race does not have any natural front runners, then the race will not be run at a true pace, therefore could throw up some very unusual results. It may mean that the horse who has the best speed on a flat track will win when it drives all out in the last furlong.

When the pace of the race is guaranteed, the classier horse which satisfies the essential criteria will more often than not win the race.

4. Resources

For 6 years, before getting lured into the world of Online Poker, I punted successfully on horse racing and I used the following resources

Ratings from ukhorseracing.co.uk.

The ratings are based upon advanced pure mathematics but are presented in a an easy to read pdf. The main feature in my view that sets this service apart from a lot of pretenders is the 'Class' filter they derive using their mathematical approach. Fantastically accurate for Non Handicap graded races in both National Hunt and Flat racing in the both UK and Irish racing. They also have a great forum where you can exchange ideas with the other members and have recently introduced a Racing Bot where you plug in all your profitable racing systems and sit back and watch.

Stats and ratings from ukracestats.com

I only found this website 4 years into my sports betting career, and it was free for nearly 2 years after that. It is without doubt the biggest time saving tool when it comes to analysing a race using all the criteria and filters I have mentioned above in the article. The only negative is that they only cover UK horse racing.

Racing Post Website- Last year they introduced a subscription service and I suppose it was about time considering all the information that it provides. It is essential for anyone serious about racing. I used it to confirm my findings from the ratings and stats mentioned above.

At The Races Website – Good for watching previous races and offers different race analysis from the Racing Post. As far as I know this is still free.

I hope that after reading the above that you will now not just throw money blindly at the favorite when you have a punt on the horses. Put a bit of time and effort into the selection process and give yourself a + EV chance of winning.

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Source by Paul Redfern

Sports Betting

Horse Riding – Why Walk Is the Most Important Gait for Your Horse’s Performance

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How your horse carries himself (his frame) while he is being ridden affects his physical and mental state. For him to be able to perform at his best requires that he is supple, balanced and has strong back muscles to comfortably carry the saddle and rider without stress or strain. Your horse needs to work in the correct posture or “frame” to be able to perform at his best.

A good riding frame begins with a good walk. A good walk:

  • is the most difficult gait to achieve
  • is the easiest to destroy
  • has even, active, rhythmical steps with impulsion
  • can only be achieved with supple muscles, a swinging back and flexible joints.

If your horse is stressed or has tense muscles, he cannot achieve a good walk.

To create a good walk, you must encourage your horse to push forward energetically from his hindquarters so that his hind legs step well underneath him. It is important that you release any tension in your own body. Soften from your neck to your seat bones as well as all your joints (shoulders, elbows, wrists, hips, knees, ankles & toes). Keep your core engaged. Your horse will mirror what he feels from you. Maintain a supple, following contact on long reins.

If your horse will not go forward into the contact, hollows his back, takes short “sewing machine” steps or rushes into trot, work him on a 20 metre circle. This way you can encourage him to bend more around your inside leg. Feel and follow the natural swing of your horse’s barrel. Keep your legs gently contacting the barrel and give a stronger push with your inside leg as you feel his barrel swing outward. Ensure your outside leg is soft so that it follows and does not block the movement. The bend helps your horse relax and lower his neck which helps lift his back to level. At the same time, your seat asks your horse to step forward.

Be careful not to tense up the hips or arms as you increase your push. Your hips move in a figure eight pattern following your horse’s natural movement – dropping side to side with the movement of the barrel and moving forward with the steps of the hind legs. Your arms maintain soft, supple contact allowing your horse to stretch. If your horse’s walk is choppy or he wants to rush into trot, add a half halt by taking back your outside shoulder (without pulling back on the rein) as your horse’s outside shoulder comes forward. Be careful not to move your elbow back behind the mid-line of your body as this creates a pull on the reins which will cause too much pressure in your horse’s mouth. Repeat the half halt as necessary but only on that one beat.

As your horse develops a good, relaxed walk with impulsion, swing and suppleness on the circle in one direction then work on the other direction. You may find your horse finds it easier going one way than the other. This is normal because horse’s are left or right sided the same as we are left or right handed. If you or your horse get frustrated or tense going one way, go back to the direction where the work was easier until you get relaxed again. Once you have developed a good walk with some consistency on the circles then you can start to do some work on the straight line coming back to the circle to re-establish relaxation whenever necessary.

At first you work with your horse in a long and low frame. As his strength builds, you can gradually ask him to come onto the bit by taking shorter contact as you increase his impulsion. When he has developed consistency in the walk, you can begin to ask him for transitions to trot but only moving up to the trot when he stays level with a lifted back.

Whether you are a pleasure or competitive rider, if you want your horse to remain sound, perform to the best of his ability and enjoy his job, he needs to develop physical strength, suppleness and balanced movement. His emotional state of mind is just as important. Only if he feels relaxed and confident in your partnership with the proper frame of body and of mind can he truly be your willing partner.

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Source by Anne Gage

Sports Betting

Horse Training – Why Your Horse Needs to Develop Impulsion, Engagement and Collection

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There are three healthy frames that your horse can be ridden in – long and low, level and on the bit (high headed with lifted back). For more information about the importance of your horse’s frame, read my article “Horse Training – The 3 Most Important Riding Frames for Any Discipline”. In this article, I will focus on the three important, but often misunderstood, training components that affect your horse’s ability to work correctly in these frames:

  1. Impulsion
  2. Engagement
  3. Collection

These 3 training components are phases of similar movements. Each phase takes the movements to a deeper level. For your horse to develop true collection, he must first have impulsion and then engagement of the hindquarters. For low levels of showing, trail riding or pleasure riding, having the first phase, impulsion, will benefit and strengthen the important chain of muscles through the back, abdomen and hindquarters that will enable him to perform his job well and comfortably. Performance horses that train for higher levels of competition in any discipline need to develop more muscle strength through engagement to develop true collection.

Impulsion affects your horse’s ability to move forward willingly with elasticity, suppleness and roundness in his back and joints. Impulsion is not speed. It’s pushing forward powerfully from the hindquarters that gives the horse the ability to cover more ground with each step as his frame lengthens from poll to tail. When the horse has impulsion, his step becomes longer as his hind legs step further underneath his body. Without impulsion, the horse pulls himself forward with his front legs, has a choppier step, and no suppleness in his back.

Test to see if your horse has impulsion by using 2 visual markers (i.e. fence posts, trees, rocks or ground poles) that are about 4 to 6 feet apart. Walk or trot your horse over the poles or past the markers and count his steps between them. Next time around, ask your horse to lengthen his stride by increasing the push from his hindquarters. Increase the push from your seat and legs in time with your horse’s natural movement. Count the steps between the two poles or markers again. If you have impulsion, your horse will lengthen his stride and put fewer steps between the two points. If your horse puts in the same number or more steps between the markers, then he has not developed the strength in his muscles to create impulsion. Your training program needs to focus on developing the strength in his hindquarters.

Engagement of the hindquarters lifts the horse’s weight off his forehand as he naturally lowers his hindquarters and lifts his back causing his centre of gravity to shift back towards the hind legs. As his hindquarters reach well underneath his body his hind leg joints have more flexion and his abdominal muscles work harder to lift the back. Impulsion becomes engagement when the pushing force of his hindquarters’ is contained by correct contact of the reins. The contact collects the energy created by the impulsion so that the movement becomes less forward and more upwards. The rider feels more lightness in the front end and more lift in the back.

True collection happens when the horse’s frame shortens and becomes “rounder”. His stride shortens without losing energy. He comes on the bit with his poll slightly higher than his withers and his back lifted. His centre of balance shifts back as the hindquarters naturally lower. The correctly trained horse coming into this true collection will be light in the rider’s hand. The energy that is created from the hindquarters flows softly through the horse’s supple back and poll and is received by the rider’s supple hands, arms, hips and spine.

Collection done incorrectly causes training problems such as falling on the forehand, hollowing the back and going ”behind the bit” (the nose is pulled and held more closely towards the chest). These shapes result in physical and mental stress and trauma as the horse’s natural movement, balance and confidence are impaired, and pain is caused in the neck, back, poll and jaw. His field of vision and airways can also be restricted. Horses who have been trained in this manner have poor muscle definition in the hindquarters, weak or sore backs, and often exhibit uneven rhythm or unsoundness.

The horse can only come into true collection when he is mentally and physically relaxed. Any tension, imbalance or bracing from the rider causes tension and bracing in the horse, which limits his ability to lift his back and prevents him from bringing his hindquarters underneath him. In order for the horse to be relaxed, the rider must be relaxed and supple in all her joints (neck, shoulders, arms, hips and legs), have a following seat and consistent, following contact.

Because true collection depends upon the correct muscle development and suppleness there are no short cuts to creating it. You must focus on developing both impulsion and engagement for your horse’s ability to come into collection to develop naturally.

Regardless of the discipline you ride, true collection when done correctly benefits the well-being of all horses by developing a strong, supple and balanced frame of body and mind without tension, stress or force. A horse ridden for pleasure, trail riding or at schooling level competition will do quite well with a basic level of collection. Having the ability to shorten his stride slightly without losing impulsion or balance will help him to safely and comfortably handle tight obstacles, a sharp curve or a steep incline on a trail or cross-country course, a tight distance between jumps on a low level hunter or jumper course, or to create more elevation for a basic dressage test.

To keep your horse healthy and sound in mind and body work through each of the three training phases – impulsion, engagement and collection. He will not only develop his athleticism but can be your willing partner for many years.

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Source by Anne Gage

Sports Betting

Gymnastic Exercises For Your Horse

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Remember holding your breath watching a Warm Blood or Thoroughbred horse in full flight, stretching its every muscle and sinew to clear a high and wide fence. Remember marveling at the grace and flexibility of an Hanoveran Stallion executing dressage. Your horse too can do these and more. You just need to teach it a few gymnastic exercises.

Gymnastic exercises have been known to impart degrees of suppleness and flexibility in breeds of horses, hitherto not famed for these qualities. Gymnastic routines also improve jump position, centeredness, balance, strength especially in the horse’s backs, shoulders, and hindquarters, and feel. They are preferred by both basic and experienced riders to develop agility and coordination. Gymnastic exercises, by engaging a different set of muscles, are also proven to counter the crippling effects of overuse syndrome in horses, doing mostly dressage, trail riding, and reining work in shows.

A gymnastic jumping exercise is anything that is not akin to a typical course. You may however, insert two or more gymnastic exercises into a “mini-course.” These exercises combine a series of ground poles and jumps. They are not more than two strides apart than that used in a conventional jump training schedule. They can be set up in varied ways with varying degrees of complexity: differing number of jumps, verticals, oxers, ground lines, and bounces.

When you are setting up gymnastic exercises, it is important that you keep in mind the stride distance between jumps. If you wish to create a normal jump line wherein you will just canter in and out, the average stride of the canter should be 12′. You have to also keep 4′ each for landing and taking off. This is the basic measurement, and you may adjust according to your horse’s stride.

A favorite gymnastic exercise of many show jumping maestros is a ground line, a cross rail, a stride to a vertical, and finishing off with a bounce. You may start off with a cross rail and trot in and canter out, which is a conventional starting for any gymnastic exercise. Then you can add a vertical stride, then some height to the cross rail, and then add a third jump; all of course, depending upon the comfort level of your horse.

Cavaletti are integral to many a show jumping gymnastic routine. Bert de Nemethy, the equestrian legend, popularized the classic cavaletti. De Nemethy used to train jumpers on the flat and over fences. He then thought of introducing some variety and novelty in the routine and brought in low rails attached to X-shaped wooden planks at each end.

Whatever exercise you are designing, remember to build it up one obstacle at a time, so that your horse is comfortable and has time to adjust to the varieties in the routine.

Gymnastic exercises are a fun way to challenge the abilities of your horse. All horses are not born physically and athletically equal. But with gymnastic exercises, you can have your horse match and also challenge the quickness and strength of a stronger and more coordinated counterpart.

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Source by Cathy Barrea

Sports Betting

Horse Racing – The Sport of Kings

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Thousands of years ago, man discovered that an animal from the Equus order was good for carrying his burdens and lightening his load. Then one day, as the human race as a whole are natural competitors, we began to use that animal, called the horse, to race against others.

Then man began breeding horses to excel in speed and endurance. When this new type of entertainment and sport began to evolve, it was the nobility, or royalty, who could afford the expense of breeding horses for this purpose. Therefore, that “class” of people were the ones who most often enjoyed the leisure of competing in horse races.

Early picture records of horse racing were found in the origins of prehistoric nomadic tribesmen of Middle Asia. It was they who first domesticated the horse around 4500 B.C. The first written records came much later, after horse racing was already an established sport from Central Asia to the Mediterranean. Horse racing became a part of the Greek Olympics around 638 B.C. And the Roman Empire was obsessed with the sport.

Modern racing traces its roots back to the 12th century. Knights of the British Empire imported Arabic horses upon their return from the Crusades. In the years that followed, hundreds of Arab stallions were crossbred with English mares to give the most desirable combination of speed and endurance. This breed of horse became known, after its evolution, as the Thoroughbred and of course the nobility were leaders in staging competitions between two superior Thoroughbred horses for private wagers, as a diversion.

As the sport evolved to being more professional during the reign of Queen Anne in the early 18th century, one-on-one races gave way to events in which several horses competed. Racetracks offered purses, or prize money to the winner of the events. And those purses grew larger in order to attract the best horses.

During the mid-1700s, it was decided that there needed to be a governing body to determine the rules and standards by which racers, breeders, and owners must abide. As a result the Jockey Club was established in Newmarket, and still exercises complete control over English racing to this day.

Once the Club established the complete rules and standards of the horses and the races which could be run under sanction of the Club, five races were designated as the “classic” races for three-year-old horses. The English Triple Crown – which is open to both colts and fillies – consists of the 2000 Guineas, the Epsom Derby, and the St. Leger Stakes. Two other races, which are open only to fillies, are the 1000 Guineas and the Epsom Oaks.

As the British settled in America, they brought very fine breeding stock and racing horses with them. The first known racetrack in the Colonies was on Long Island in New York. It was first laid out around 1665. Though horse racing was a popular local event, organized and professional racing did not actually start until after the Civil War. From there, the sport escalated in popularity across the settled parts of the country. And many of the racetracks were run by the “criminal element.” As this was quite undesirable to the more prominent track owners and breeders, they met in New York in 1894 and formed the American Jockey Club. They soon established rules and regulations, similar to those of the English Jockey Club, and quickly eliminated much of the corruption.

The Kentucky Derby, one of the best known horse-racing events in the United States, was first run in 1875. Its home is at the Churchill Downs in Louisville, Kentucky. It is one of the three races which make up the American Triple Crown. The other two are the Belmont Stakes, first run on Long Island, New York at Jerome Park in 1867, and the Preakness Stakes, first run in 1873 at Pimlico Park in Baltimore, Maryland.

Although interest has waxed and waned over the years, horse racing is the second-most attended spectator sport in the United States, outranked only by baseball.

There are other forms of horse racing in both Great Britain and the United States. These include:

– The steeplechase, which requires the horse to clear such obstacles as brush fences, stone walls, rail fences, and water jumps. The oldest and most famous steeplechase in Great Britain is England’s Grand National. It was first run in Aintree in 1839, and continues even today. The most famous in the United States is the American National. It was first run in 1899 at Belmont Park and continues to be held there annually.

– Hurdle racing is similar to the steeplechase, but is much less demanding. It is often use as a training arena for Thoroughbreds who will later compete in steeplechases.

– Point-to-point races are generally run by amateurs throughout the British Isles.

– And last but by no means least is harness racing, which was very popular during the Roman Empire. Once the Empire fell the sport all but vanished until its resurrection, by those who liked to race their horses in harness on the country roads of America, at the end of the 1700s. The first official tracks for harness racing came about in the early 1800s, and by 1825 harness racing became a favorite attraction at country fairs all across the U.S.

Out of the rebirth of harness racing, a new breed of horse was born. In 1788, an outstanding English Thoroughbred stallion was imported to the United States. He was bred with American Thoroughbred and mixed-breed mares to establish the line of Standardbred. The name is based on the “standard” distance of one mile in harness racing speed. The descendants of this line were rebred over the years to create this new breed which has the stamina, temperament, and physical size and structure to endure racing under harness.

Although harness racing suffered a decline of popularity again in the early 1900s, it bounced back in 1940 after being reintroduced at a raceway in New York as a pari-mutuel betting event. Its number of tracks and scheduled annual events outnumber those of Thoroughbred racing in the United States today. It has also gained popularity in many European countries, Australia, New Zealand, and Canada.

What was once almost exclusively “the Sport of Kings” has segued over the years to encompass people of all lifestyles and income. It remains, however, a sport quite often associated with the “well-to-do”, those who can afford the vast expenditure involved with raising the standard of horse required to run in, and win, the large purses awarded by, the most popular horse-racing events around the world.

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Source by Michael Russell