Pat Cummings

Wagering: American Racing’s Top Priority Going Forward

Courtesy Thoroughbred Idea Foundation   Racing needs a long-term plan which will put the sport on a path to raise handle to nearly $50 billion annually with more than $5 billion held by the industry by 2040. Sound optimistic? Falling well short of that goal would still be a monumental accomplishment given we are on track for another year at just $11 billion in handle, and down nearly 50% in the last two decades, adjusted for inflation. So where are the plans from the industry to start thinking long-term about...

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TIF’s Cummings Takes on Issue of Timing Problems

One day after Bill Finley wrote about inconsistencies in timing at a handful of racetracks in the U.S.--both big and small--in Wednesday's TDN, Pat Cummings, the Executive Director of the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation, has penned a piece of his own, explaining why accuracy in timing is paramount to the game and offering a framework for how to move forward. "The state of race timing in America is not improving as the years pass. It is getting worse," writes Cummings, who served as the director of racing information for Trakus for...

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Open Letter to Industry from TIF: Decision to Run Saturday at Gulfstream Affront to Integrity

The following is an open letter from the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation: "Will this action foster increased participation and confidence from horseplayers and horse owners?" This should be the question considered by all decision-makers in horse racing. Strong storms cascaded through the area around Gulfstream Park on Saturday morning. Besides races on grass being shifted to the dirt and that course being downgraded to sloppy, there was another significant change on the day. The storm knocked-out several camera positions, including head-on views and a remote camera positioned to capture starts deep...

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Levy Joins TIF Board; Wagering & Integrity Issues Committee Launched

Michael Levy has been added to the Board of Directors of the The Thoroughbred Idea Foundation (TIF). Levy is the founder and president of Muirfield Insurance, a full-service equine insurance agency based in Lexington, Kentucky. Along with wife Meg, they own and operate Bluewater Farm and Bluewater Sales. Throughout his career, Levy has served on a variety of industry boards, including the American Graded Stakes Committee, Breeders' Cup and Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association. "Mike brings a lifetime of experience to our board, and with it, a willingness to think...

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Open Letter to the Industry: #FreeDataFriday Vol. 37: Where’s the Takeout Menu?

Amongst serious horseplayers, takeout rates in pari-mutuel pools are a frequent discussion. It should be a focus of breeders, owners, trainers and track operators. Unless they are serious bettors too, takeout rates rarely "get a run" from those constituencies, though. Our recent #FreeDataFriday piece highlighted the impact of various takeout rates on win pools at three different tracks. The higher the rate, the lower the return to winners--and thus, the less they would have to churn through the pools and start another cycle of betting. Recently, a few bettors lamented...

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#FreeDataFriday — Volume 36: Kentucky Workout Rules Not Working

Our sport can, and should, always seek continuous improvement. Take last Saturday, [May 23]'s first race at Churchill Downs as an example. Trainer Thomas Drury Jr. had two starters in the race--Step Ten, making his career debut and Baby White Sox, who would make his first start for Drury, but his third start overall, having run twice for Joe Sharp in 2019, the last of those starts coming in mid-September. While Step Ten is shown as having five published works, one most recently at Churchill and four at the Skylight...

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Open Letter to the Industy: #FreeDataFriday: Volume 34

UNDERSTANDING TAKEOUT Ogden Mills Phipps, former chairman of both The Jockey Club and New York Racing Association and a legendary owner and breeder, heartily advocated for lower takeout nearly five decades ago. In December 1976, Blood-Horse outlined the Phipps plea, a source of great concern given the rising competition in the New York market. "With continuing declines in track attendance and mutuel handle, Thoroughbred racing is faced principally with twin threats, witnesses at an Aqueduct hearing stressed. There are the existing off-track betting structure, which has hurt track management and...

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Open Letter to the Industry: #FreeDataFriday – Racing’s Open Data Canyon

Thoroughbred Idea Foundation Two weeks ago, Microsoft announced the launch of its "Open Data Campaign," in their words, "to help address the looming 'data divide' and help organizations of all sizes to realize the benefits of data and the new technologies it powers. "We believe everyone can benefit from opening, sharing and collaborating around data to make better decisions, improve efficiency and even help tackle some of the world's most pressing societal challenges." Now, it is obvious that it is in Microsoft corporate's interests to convince others of this, but...

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How Much of the Wagering Dollar Actually Goes to Horsemen?

The following is an abridged version of the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation's #FreeDataFriday entry for this week. The full version can be read at this link. Here is a simple question: How much revenue does a horse race produce for the horsemen running horses in that race? The answer is incredibly complex, and in many jurisdictions, almost impossible to discern. A publication from the Thoroughbred Owners of California in 2016 offers a glimpse into an answer, at least for races run in that state. While these numbers are likely to have...

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TIF Executive Director Pat Cummings Joins TDN Writers’ Room

Thoroughbred Idea Foundation executive director Pat Cummings joined the TDN Writers' Room podcast presented by Keeneland Wednesday to discuss a wide-ranging assortment of macro issues the sport is facing, and how it can be more efficient post-pandemic. Calling in via Zoom as the Green Group Guest of the Week, Cummings was asked about last week's #FreeDataFriday white paper posted by the TIF, in which he focused on the shockingly small percentage of purse money that is derived from wagering dollars. "It's been happening like this for a very long time...

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TDN Writers’ Room for April 29, 2020 With Pat Cummings

The Thoroughbred Idea Foundation issued a paper last week showing just how much of the pie goes to ADWs, and how little to purses, in California. Pat Cummings of the TIF joins us to talk about it.

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Open Letter to the Industry: Horsemen Struggling, Purses Down – Give Away Free Basic PPs

by Thoroughbred Idea Foundation For more than two weeks, Home Box Office (HBO) has offered free streaming via the HBO Now and HBO GO platforms for several of its famous titles, "the first time...this type of programming [is] available outside of a paywall throughout the month of April. The service is usually priced at $14.99 per month." Horse racing is not HBO, but the point is obvious. What a better way to get people to try your product than take the most captive audience period in history and give them...

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