TDN Writers’ Room Podcast, Episode 18: January 8, 2020 with Guest Caller Mark Taylor

TDN Writers’ Room Podcast, Episode 18: January 8, 2020 with Guest Caller Mark Taylor

good afternoon it is 4 o’clock Wednesday
January 8th this is the tdn writers room i am joe bianca associate editor of the
Thoroughbred daily news rd wishing we could hit reset on 2020 and I’m bill
Finley and I write occasionally for the Thoroughbred Daily News
Jonathan green general manager for DJ stable Alan crow so managing editor the
Tinian so right at the top of this week’s episode we have some exciting
news we have added a second sponsor to this lovely program right here in
addition to the generous sponsorship from the green group we have signed on
with West Point thoroughbreds to sponsor our news flash Week in Review segment
every week so we want to thank everybody over at West Point for coming aboard for
the ride and I guess we should just get right into it then today’s news flash we
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our website West Point I think we’ll start with a little bit of a recap
of the racing that we missed out on since we’ve been off for a couple weeks
I think it’s already Derby season it’s a little crazy with it being early January
but you know we had three big preps over the last week to kind of get these
three-year-olds off and running and I thought personally that there was a lot
to like about each individual performance starting with Independence
Hall last Wednesday in the Jerome you know he’s one of those horses that seems
to be a bit of a nut case and you know there was a kind of field where he
really kind of had to fall down to lose but at the same time you’ve seen better
horses than him lose their race in the paddock with antics and all that and I
thought you know he broke slow I thought it was like there was a great quote by
Jose Ortiz he said he didn’t want to be a hero and try to get too cute and try
to get behind horses and all that I appreciate that I think there are some
riders out there who try to get a little too cute when they’re on big favorites
so I thought there was a lot to like about his performance
Loup the field you know it wasn’t as dazzling as when in the Nashua but I you
know I like to see you know we talked about this a little bit with tis the law
I like to see these horses overcome a little bit of adversity even if it is
self-inflicted I think that that was an encouraging performance we had authentic
in the sham on Saturday for Bob Baffert another horse who seems to be a little
bit of a head case at least at this stage but you know to win by eight
lengths or whatever it was considering his antics and the stretch and
considering that he ran sideways for a lot of the stretch I think that’s pretty
impressive and speaks to his potential and then the third one was the biggest
battle of the three which was chance it and as seen on TV in the Mucho Macho Man
Saturday at Gulfstream and I thought chance that got a little bit of lucky he
was in behind a dying speed horse and the horse came off the rail a little bit
and let him sneak through at the inside and then he and has seen on TV hooked up
in a good stretch battle I believe nothing got that I got the highest buyer
of the three I think that was a 94 buyer and I think it’s good to see a little
bit of tenaciousness tenacity etc in this early stage and I think there was a
lot to like about all three performances what do you guys think I would
definitely concur I liked all three horses but I didn’t love all three
horses and I think that was probably the general feeling out of the weekend enjoy
you touched on that a little bit I mean I’m not ready to raid my college fund
for my kids to go out and bet on chance at Independence Hall or authentic in the
Kentucky Derby you know little things about the races that you might nitpick a
little bit like Independence Hall’s antics authentic being very green in the
stretch chance it you know in sort of a hard-fought race there but yeah I
totally agree you know there’s not any major negatives about all any of them
but I don’t think maybe with the exception of authentic it was only a
second lifetime race and his first was at five and a half furlongs I thought
sure we learned a whole lot about Independence Hall or chance it like you
said Independence Hall had to fall down to lose in there and what do you make of
the buyer pattern on him as well he starts off his career with an 82 in the
maiden wind then runs a 101 in the Nashua then goes back to an 83 in the
Jerome is he the 83 horse he’s the 101 now to play devil’s
advocate and look at both sides of the picture he would had to win by 20
likes to get another 101 and maybe it just wasn’t in the cards for him there’s
no reason for Jose Ortiz to you know drive him to some big finish when it
comes to a margin of lengths etc so yeah you know let’s give all three of them a
B+ yeah and and again we can talk about these preps until we’re blue in the face
the reality of it is that the Jerome the Sham the Mucho Macho Man even the
springboard mile if you want to throw that in there as an early prep you know
you can look back to three years and those forces that win those races don’t
even show up in the Derby so it’s great that Independence Hall ran a monster
race and he did he ran a really impressive race who was he running
against though okay that’s number one so they’re bringing him to Tampa Bay
allegedly and he’ll run against some better horses down there authentic wired
the field was very green one impressively and you know you could some
people can even say that he’s the the Alan Caruso of resources you know just
uncouth you know pretty good-looking but in the grand scheme of things may not
have what it takes to be there at the end but you know we’ll go that route you
know we’ll start Jocelyn already in 2020 okay but that being the case you have to
look at you know the Sham winner authentic from a you know from a clocker
standpoint he went twenty three and four for the first quarter twenty four and
one matched a twenty four and one and finished up in twenty five that actually
is pretty impressive concern he won in a hand ride and went laterally more so
than north to south and in that race shop lifted you know beat a decent and
full field down in the supreme board mile and you don’t chance it in the in
the Mucho Macho Man you know ran a hard race but again I don’t think we’re gonna
be talking about any of these horses you know as the favor for the Kentucky Derby
this time in May I guess I’ll go in Reverse
I guess I would upgrade or give chance a little more credit I kind of figured
that that they would maybe try to get him back a little bit where has he shown
pace been on the front end in his previous wins I thought he switched off
okay I mean he get through and as seen on TV had much
the worst trip but you had to fight it out and it’s always good to show that
sort of grit inside as an early three-year-old thought Independence Hall
did what he had to do in that race gets you know from point A to point B and
authentic you know like think you guys pretty much covered it all a little bit
keen trying to turns for the first time but obviously much the best and should
get better with time John if I disagree with you on something will you rip me a
new one like you did to poor Allen just know that was all an in love with out
okay there’s one thing you said I definitely disagree with you said I
don’t think any of these horses will be the favorite for the Kentucky Derby come
May I think in the pencil is the favorite right now for the Kentucky
Derby I think if you put you know the top twenty horses around into the
starting gate and had this race run tomorrow I think he would be the
favorite and it doesn’t look like anything’s gonna happen in the immediate
next couple weeks months that’s gonna knock them off they’re talking about
going in the Sam F Davis next so there’s gonna be another ho-hum you know one to
five when win and pay to twenty type of race you know so we’re not gonna find
out more about him I assume after the Sam if Davis if that is where they go
he’ll run in a prestigious great one racing Lisa might have to because of the
point system because they’re not picking up many points in these kind of nickel
and dime races they’ve been running in but I think you’re discounting never
short shortening him a little bit I know you’re not in love with the fact that he
ran in the Jerome but that’s where they chose to run he got the job done and you
know bigger and better things are in the offing for him no question and from a
managing standpoint they’re hitting all the right races I mean they’re hitting
an easy Jerome they’re gonna hit as you alluded to a relatively easy field it
looks like down in Tampa Bay I just don’t think right now that if we’re
looking at history on our side I don’t think right now that you can look at the
Jerome winter as the potential favorite for the Derby albeit he may right now be
the horse to beat there’s so many more prep races you know forthcoming that
that will change the landscape of it but if you’re asking me John would you
rather have Independence Hall or the rest of the field I’m going to take the
field on this one you know there are there are
courses like green light go and and Faison and Maxfield and storm the court
structure there’s there’s at least a dozen horses I can think of right now
that haven’t even gotten into one of these preparations yet
that I think have potential better than independence all that being said
indepence Hall has been managed perfectly right now and able to dodge
some of the big heads and and go to some of the racetracks where you know where
he will be the 800-pound gorilla I’m just not confident he’s gonna be the
800-pound gorilla the first weekend in May yeah and I think that it’s bill
brought it up before about his regression on the figure standpoint I
think part of that can be attributed to his you know mental shortcomings I would
say in that race chance it’s a little interesting to me because he is my
currency swap who was a sprinter type but his dam is by pleasantly perfect who
we remember winning at a mile and a quarter in the Breeders Cup Classic and
the Dubai World Cup so I always find those horses interesting whereby a
sprint tire with a little bit more pedigree in-floor distance influence on
the damp side so I think he’s interesting to look forward to and also
authentic I just wanted to mention like you guys said the 5 and 1/2 furlongs to
a mile that’s a big stretch out and especially you know for a lightly raised
tourist racing at sources who have more experience you know obviously wasn’t the
toughest field in the world and he did have it his own way but I always like
horses who can stretch out from a from a real short sprint to a to turn race and
really not lose anything so I think that part is interesting about him as well
yeah I thought he’d galloped out great as well yeah you know even though he was
up to be the class clown and in the final eighth of a mile but definitely
thought that as he did in his maiden as well thought that he showed good energy
on the gallabat once he found out figure out which direction the right he was
killing it the other the other big news over the
weekend was the release of the total handle numbers for 2019 total handle was
down 2% you can you can debate about how significant that was but I think the
main thing is that purses have gone out purses went up about four and a half
percent and the total the average field size went down I believe from about
seven point six eight to about seven and a half so I just this is that’s the
problem to me I don’t want to like really get into the minutiae of whether
or not 2% is significant enough to really cause
for a cause alarm I get why it does for some people because handle had grown for
five straight years this was the first time that it had dropped since I believe
2013 so I can understand it from that point of view but my issue is that
purses go up field size goes down and there has to be a remedy for that long
term because handle is only going to be negatively affected by that and I go
back to my original point when we were talking about what we would fix first
and I said fewer racetracks I just think there are too many options right now for
trainers to duck each other and duck other horses and pick their spots maybe
a little bit more carefully than they should be able to I know it’s not a
popular opinion I’m not gonna like single out tracts that should be closed
Mountaineer but you know overall I just think there are too many options and I
think that’s that’s the most realistic way to address the idea that purses
continue to go up and then field sizes go down because it’s it’s absolutely
abysmal for racing in America to have a seven and a half average field size like
owl I would defer to you on this but I got to think it’s like in the double
digits in Europe and most places overseas I can’t I just don’t think it’s
a sustainable betting product long-term if yours have seven horse fields and I
think also that’s part of the reason that you’ve seen a lot of tracks kind of
transition into more turf racing because you do get bigger field sizes and turf
races than you do in dirt races so maybe that’s a way to offset it but I think
that’s the most troubling trend is that purses are going up and Horner’s still
aren’t entering their horses guys I’m gonna defer to Bill here he’s okay man
let’s go well I wrote this story and Joe first of all on the handle down 2% I
think you nailed it that what is upsetting is it was the first time in
several years that it has gone down and what does that mean for the future I
think the handle got a nice bump and the year before by the or was it two years
before I’m not sure but the new tax laws where they didn’t take all the
withholdings out of the earnings when you hit a big-ticket you know pick five
and that sort of thing but is 2% the beginning of a cycle I think that’s what
worries people and I think a lot of people think it is particularly with
sports betting now a big beast in the room ready to if you ask me swallow up
horse racing betting I hope I’m wrong about that
but I think that can only be a very bad thing for horse-racing getting back to
the the purse thing and it doesn’t make any sense that purses go up every year
this is a record that purses in 2019 are the highest they’ve ever been in the
history of racing yet the field size in the fall crop goes down every single
year why is that John maybe when I’m done getting off my soapbox you could
have an explanation for that as somebody is more of an insider to me but if you
don’t have enough horses the answer is to have less racing and we need a lot
less race and you totally nailed it get rid of mountain ear Park but run a
bulldozer over that goddamn place and you know we’re picking on them because
you know they had a bad year and the PR with that awful thing with the trash
dumping all that but there are plenty of Mountaineer parks that the racing
industry would be better off if they did closed and the reason why they don’t is
because the normal economics that adheres to the rules of business are not
in effect because of slot machines slot machines both giveth and take it
away they’re making the purses record high levels but all these racetracks
stay in business strictly so they can have casinos and slot machines there’s
at least 10 racetracks in the country right now that would be closed and would
not be running and maybe even more than ten if no one ever heard of slots at the
racetracks but it keeps mounting your Park alive it keeps Charlestown alive
Penn National Live Finger Lakes and it you know it’s probably keeping alive
some you know good be level tracks as well so we don’t need all these darn
racetracks and until we get rid of some we’re gonna have these anemic field
sizes know you guys hit the nail on the head you know and to look at the numbers
and say okay the handle was down in 2019 and certainly you know other
opportunities to gamble is a big reason why and then you have you know all the
the fatalities in California you have the record heating on Haskell day which
which you know killed that day also PETA and the anti marketing and the protests
and the disqualification in the Kentucky Derby and two tracks that were basically
unbearable for the you know for their entire racing
you know meat you know other than that how was the plain mrs. Lincoln you know
so you wonder with all of those variables that are just continuing to
beat up and beat up and beat up the industry it’s not even so much that you
know the everyday person that goes to the racetrack isn’t going to bed because
they’re gonna come they’re gonna come anyway because they they know how to
read the Racing Form they feel like they have a competitive advantage you know
over the general public it’s the casual people that aren’t going
to come to the racetrack for any of those or all of those reasons and that’s
affecting handle but you know bill you said it best it’s the 800-pound gorilla
in the room that is gonna swallow up racing and that’s all these other you
know sports betting opportunities well we’re looking at the figures from a
two-year window a 3-year window a four-year window it might be more
pertinent to look at him from a much bigger window in 2003 the handle on
paramutual horse race in the United States was 15 billion dollars now any
industry wants to see growth that’s you don’t want to just keep the status quo
not only have we not seen the status quo maintained we have seen rapid and pretty
substantial declines so 16 years later in 2019 the handle is at 11 billion now
so that’s a considerable drop over a period of 16 years but I plainly I went
on online I got one of those Inflation Calculator things you know Google
inflation calm or whatever 15 million dollars in 2003 is worth 22 million in
2019 so roughly if you use that as a barometer I think it’s fair to do that
to calculate an inflation intuit handle on paramutual wagering in America
has declined by 1/2 that’s really scary and we don’t see anything that’s going
to turn that around matter of fact a lot of people I interviewed for the story
said isn’t it great that we didn’t lose a lot it was kind of like their take on
it well no it’s not you want to be proud that you know Handel was up 10% in the
year and we’re we broke through again and we had another great year and
unfortunately I don’t see anything that’s going to occur in the next couple
years where you can look at and say okay now we’re gonna see light at the end of
the tunnel the major factor I think and you guys
touched on it is the introduction of legal sports betting and I think that
that is possibly reason for optimism that it was pretty
much flat is that new competition was introduced racing had a monopoly on
legal online wagering for a long time and now it’s suddenly had a had a much
greater competition in the space but it think about it another way – and I just
don’t know how much crossover there is I don’t know that there are a ton of
racing betters that now that sports betting is legal are gonna go bet sports
betting instead I don’t know like I I would like to see stats on that how much
crossover there is because I think most people had a bookie or had some kind of
thing you know you know on the side it’s a bet sports if they really wanted to I
really have no interest in betting sports I mean we’ve been through that
like I don’t want to wait 3 and 1/2 hours to get – 1 10 to 100 like that
doesn’t do it for me but that’s the thing I think that is the major factor
here and whether or not that’s gonna eat into Racing’s handle numbers over time I
don’t know the answer for that – that yeah I mean just just anecdotally you
can look at Monmouth Park and you say okay the first year they had two people
there who would accept sports betting wagers then they took over the
restaurant now if you go there it’s an entire almost one third of the
grandstand has not only people there you can pick that you can bet but also now
they have the paramutual automatic machines so it’s growing the sports
betting is growing and taking over now I didn’t do a paul straw poll and say
would you have been on the exacta race you know on the Daily Double at Aqueduct
or on the the weekend football games but I would I would bet dollars to donuts
that most of the people who were there are gonna bet on anything and it’s just
more convenient from the bet on sports right now and that’s gonna continue to
eat away and eat away at the horse owners plus it’s a whole lot easier to
bet on you know I’m gonna pick the Vikings to beat New Orleans Saints with
the point spread then it is the handicap even a seven and a half from her field
it’s just easier it’s just you know for most people they can they can figure out
they can say oh I like the color of that uniform I’m gonna bet it yeah I mean and
even if you’re just you’re a casual sports watcher I think that you feel
like you have a certain base level of knowledge that you can go mean go on
it’s not really like that in racing where you really have to learn how to
read the forum and learn how to look at
horses and learn how to watch replays like it’s very labor-intensive to learn
how to first of all to learn how to bet the races and then to get good at it if
you’re able to it takes years if not decades whereas with sports s Sports is
so endemic to our culture it’s so ingrained in everything we do and
everything we watch and the way we talk about the watercooler and all that so I
think that the main the like the the layman at the tracker at the casino
everything feels much more comfortable laying a bet on a sports game than on a
horse race just because there’s less you need to know at least I think most
people for that way so I this fun anecdotes of my ten year old son and I
played this little online just pick him football contest this year and like we
were off of like last Sunday after the four wild card games I I tweeted that I
was very grateful that I don’t bet sports and that’s why I was bored but so
for everything that you just said about the ins and outs and the mechanics of
learning how to work the handicap a horse race and the different kind of
bets there are and it it’s much easier to bet on sports to bet on a money line
or to bet on a plus/minus or an over/under so I mean there is a certain
amount of knowledge that that you need to have a base knowledge if you really
if you’re serious about it and you want to succeed
I mean interestingly enough I looked at the Monmouth year-end press release and
all sources Handel was up by nearly 17 percent attendance was up by a good
chunk on track wagering and things like that so I you know it’s logical sports
betting does seem like it’s going to cannibalize from from horse-racing but I
mean based on these numbers maybe it’s hard to draw a conclusion I think New
Jersey is interesting in that way because of Atlantic City and because
there is like that gambling culture that’s kind of been part of New Jersey
and Atlantic City has been such a big deal and such a destination for a lot of
New Jerseyans for a long time I think you kind of already have an appetite for
it amongst the local population but I think that’s an interesting test case
whether or not people will more people will come to the track and then more
people will also bet on racing as opposed to people just coming there
because they see there’s a legal sports book now so you
there’s a lot of different factors that go into and I think it’s going to take
longer than just one one year’s sample to figure out the effect its gonna have
but I think to go back to what Bill was saying I think part of the reason people
might be celebrating handled going going slightly down is because there is so
much more competition now but maybe it’ll be a boost you know we’ve just we
need more time to figure this stuff out the green group guest of the week is
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how they can help you visit and as you do at most
sales I was looking through it and I took a little bit of a few notes some
grated steaks whereas the mistakes winner is America’s tail twirl girl you
poo princess girls know best classy act so you guys have good amount of steaks
winning mayor’s here a good amount of short yearlings I know it’s hard to
narrow it down because you have such a large consignment what are you looking
forward to most going through the ring next week well fond memories last year
was a very fun January sale because we had Abel Tasman billion you know she was
coming those iconic bears that is part of the TaylorMade
brand you know it’s so fun this year we don’t have a marque
member of our consignment like that but I think we’ve got a lot of really solid
depth and you know I’ve thought a lot about you know tailor made in our the
way we work in the market and it’s kind of like we have all the best brands you
know so many of the top breeders in the country sell with Taylor Made and so
many people that are successful in hookers players in the industry so what
we really take pride in it’s just bringing the best of the market for our
customers and showcasing them you know the best way possible so January’s a
great opportunity to get that started off again in 2020 you know it’s like my
favorite football coach Debra’s when he said there’s not oh there’s a ton of
books about how to become successful there’s not a lot of about how to stay
successful how are we going to get better and how are we going to continue
to represent our customers the best way possible didn’t take you long to work at
Clemson reference and mark markets John Green good to talk to you hey John
yeah the thirteenth’s gonna be an interesting day for you because
obviously you have the the first day of the January sale and then I think you
have that small college playing LSU and the Sugar Bowl what’s more exciting for
you right now okay so the yeah I always have this kind of I don’t know conflict
internally like I’ll have a horse that maybe we solo there something running
and I play this game like okay I knew that horse could win the great one or if
I could know Clemson was going to win you know which would be more important
at the end of the day the horses always win so you know if we can go in there
and have a great January sale and kickoff 2020 that’s of paramount
importance but we’re kind of spoiled Clemson’s all you’ve done better than I
never thought they would do though anything from here on out to gravy so
the horses are still the top of the top of the mountain for for me mark this is
a quick follow up but you know so many people who were in the breeding business
have a very difficult decision every year as to whether or not they should
put horses into the November sales or into the January sale what do you look
for as far as you know bringing horses into the January sale which historically
is not a strong sale as the November sale but certainly as you mentioned
there’s opportunities for top horses to rise to the to the top of the
marketplace well the you know if you look at the way the the thoroughbred
market has evolved over the last 20 years I think what the market is cried
out for is more chances liquidity and you know more if if the
the annual sales cycle is a bus route they want more stops on the bus route
for people to jump off in people on and look back maybe fifteen years ago
October sale or at the fasig-tipton February sale but as time has large
don’t line you know there’s always new updates coming there’s new developments
in the industry and it’s more opportunities for people to turn horses
into cash so I think the January sale is very important and it’s a matter of
timing you know some years are going to get a big time or like abel tasmin most
years you don’t but if the timing of their retirement coincides where it
doesn’t get into the november sale then you end up with a bigger january or some
years you have dispersals but in general when we’re having conversations with
people about january is for short yearlings there’s really two different
categories there’s horses that the breeders would have liked to sold you
know maybe in november but they weren’t mature enough they needed a few extra
months they maybe were later foals they got weaned late or they didn’t take
the weaning process as smoothly as some other horses so that’s one group and
then the other group are horses that you know for that particular breeder they
need cash more than they need that horse you know they think uh you know for a
smaller person it might be hey I’d love to get fifteen or twenty grand in the
bank just to cover me until we can start selling yearlings in the fall or for
some of our higher-end breeders they might say this horse is not really
cutting it it might be a nice horse for somebody else but it’s not worth
beekeeping it’s not going to be a six-figure yearling so you know some of
them are calls just to be honest but as we’ve seen before
one person’s call can turn into a great opportunity for somebody else so you
know on the on the short yearling side that’s kind of what people are looking
at I like the point mares towards the January sale that have later cover dates
because it shortens up the amount of carrying time for the
it just seems like people are more willing to buy a mayor with a late mayor
cover in January than they were in maybe people didn’t get their orders filled
they want to get a mere bot and maybe they have to give on something they’re
like ok I can’t with the cover date it’s not quite as far off as it was hopefully
I get a that can fold it here so those are some of the issues and then you know
there’s a lot of resources that maybe aren’t the marquis abel tasmin but
they’re just nice racehorses that the people wanted to run them as long as
they possibly could before retiring them so they can become brood mares so
there’s there’s kind of a mixed bag of that in there hey Mark it’s Alan cross
oh how are you hey Alan just on you know supply versus demand seem to always be a
sort of a hot-button topic where it comes to to horse sales and and being as
you just described that it’s something of a clearinghouse sale to sort of
lighten the load and and sell off maybe some undesirable stock but how do you
assess the supply versus demand situation going into the sale ok are you
referring just at this moment in town or just in general
you know when we’re approaching any sale well I guess just for this in in this
instance specifically okay so you know the way I saw the market in 2019 was
that it was it was good but it was not electric I think you you see that the
the top end of the horses that the top end of the market is always gonna hold
its value but the longest and I think the market was healthy but in general I
think that breeders are feeling the pinch of increased production costs you
know partially from stud fees but mainly from if you look at the labor market in
the US and specifically as it pertains to horse farms labor is going up
dramatically and board rates have had to go up in lockstep with that
and you know that has a effect on that care or glance notes on
everything everything has gotten more expensive in the last five years and
it’s really gone up it’s it’s like leapfrog I mean what our overhead is to
take good care of our horses and raise them has gone up exponentially in the
last few years because there’s very low unemployment and the labor market is is
tight and it’s you know it’s difficult to find the good staff and you have to
pay them so that’s really putting the squeeze on breeders you know when I
think that combined with and you know this isn’t to pick on the vet community
there’s so many good things that have happened because of the vet community
and increased the health of the horses is better but as scrutiny increases
every year there’s a higher power you know x-ray machine and there’s a
more sophisticated scope and there’s you knows every year you can see more and
more inside of these horses and you’re continually going to find things that
you’d never seen before and so there’s always a learning curve and I see a lot
more breeders being pinched by the demand of the sales it’s like the horse
that jumps through that last hoop you know there’s 10 of them that are by
the right saiyr have comparable pedigrees and have similar conformation
but the two or three that have the pristine vet checks and all the hoops
they bring an absolute fortune and everybody else is fighting to keep their
head above water so that dynamic is something that you know John you see it
because you are a breeder and you’ve been through it we get to see it much
more closely and we see that happening in real time because we sell so many
horses I don’t think anybody gets quite the perspective that we do of what
breeders are going through that the cost going up and then the scrutiny on their
product intensifying every year where less horses hit that bullseye so it’s a
it’s a tricky situation for breeders and I think you know it’s driving some out
of the market so as far as supply and demand go you know is there demand for
the mayor because do people really want to be
breeding those twenty thirty thousand dollar mayor’s a lot of people that
don’t want to do it anymore and then on the flip side you know demand for the
the yearlings when they go to the sale you know we always need more buyers so
that’s a long-winded answer but it you know just trying to shed some light in
the whole picture of what’s going on in the market markets bill Finley here and
thanks for joining us I’m piggybacking off the question that Alan just asked
you and I’m not a sales guy so I’m gonna go a little bit outside the realm of
just this specific sale and every year we see this same phenomenon at be it
january type sales broodmare sales yearling sales two year old sales or
whatever the top-end horses they can’t sell for enough people just kill
themselves to buy the very best of the best which you just talked about but the
middle market etc is really struggling and you just said that that in your
answer to Alan that nobody wants to breed to these twenty thirty thousand
dollar mayor’s well I can understand why not but the support needs people to
breed to these kind of Mayors because they produce the product they produce
the horses they’re gonna run on a Thursday afternoon at Aqueduct or maybe
if they’re really not very good at Finger Lakes and what we’re seeing is
shrinking field sizes shrinking fall crops despite the fact that purses are
up so what can this industry do to get that section of the market going
stronger than it has been for the last couple of years well you know I think
eventually if we can sustain purses over the long a longer haul like you know
racing in Kentucky you know we’re blessed right now it’s it’s probably
better than it ever has been in my life and we’re getting a 365 day a year
circuit built here so I’m hoping that some of maybe the Kentucky breeders that
we’re feeling that squeeze you know they’re gonna find more demand for their
product and these Kentucky breads are going to be worth more and so if we
could sustain the purses and it’s the purses are really good in pockets around
the country then eventually it will pull you know the yearling crisis will back
that up and do it but thinking outside the box you know there’s it would be an
interesting constant because from my perspective as somebody
who sells more yearlings every year than anybody else on the planet other than
you know Keeneland or fasig-tipton you know we watch what these horses do okay
so so we follow we don’t forget about the horses once we sell them we follow
them every year and we track the ones that run and the
ones that don’t and what level they find you know the correlation between what
the dextran report says and how they run is it there is the correlation is very
unpredictable I mean yeah that there’s the the bad statistic is very few of
them win grade ones I don’t care how they vet that you that’s this you know
that that’s just a fact of life but you know if there was a new approach and I
don’t know if buyers would never endorse this but if you had a sale like let’s
say it was uh you know if you took Keeneland September books four or five
and six then you just said there’s no repository there is it’s absolutely
buyer beware and we’re going to take horses in there that are raised that
these horses that cost a fortune because now you have to x-ray them in February
of their yearling year they all have these little tiny chips that you got to
send them to the clinic they hang them upside down put a tube down their throat
anesthetize them do all this stuff then they got to stand in a stall for 45 days
before they can get back outside we’re doing all these really unnatural things
to the horse to fix problems that in my opinion many of them were never going to
bother the horse to begin with so if you had a if you had a new concept that we
said this is just old school old school horse auction and we’re going to bring
horses in here there there are no x-rays there’s no scoping it’s totally buyer
beware and you brought in a bunch of well raised horses and you advertise
that these are raised basically organically we didn’t do anything to
them they haven’t been x-rayed they haven’t been anything you know if it
were says a boggy hock or a big joint then you’re gonna have to do surgery to
fix it but most of never have that and you took it in there
I just wonder if the if the trainer’s would respond and go in there and just
by you know they’re protected by million-dollar horses like that but
would they buy fifty sixty seventy thousand dollar horses like that say
this horse looks sound we’re going to drug test everything and guarantee
they’re not on any anti-inflammatories and not on any steroids or not on
anything it’s completely transparency we’re gonna get it a market like that
would be so much more healthy because you would save the breeder probably an
extra you probably save the breeder an extra I don’t know six seven thousand
dollars on all this stuff they got to do to them and you would be delivering a
sound product so I mean that sounds crazy but that could be what the future
this whole thing could just come back full circle to where it was like when my
dad was raising horses I mean they didn’t go looking for problems if the
horse got lame then they’re going to check it out diagnose it and try to fix
it but we we subject our horses to a ton of unnatural things trying to satisfy
the vet report you know that that’s what we’re that’s what everybody’s trying to
do it’s the most important component of the sales process which is completely
you know the tail wagging the dog I don’t know I get off on these tangents
but that would be a way to rectify some of these problems and draw breeders back
in because you can breed a great horse do everything right and he ultimately
might win a great at stake but when you go to the sale that piece of paper
better be clean or you’re completely you know up the creek alright mark that’s
all we got for you thanks so much for the time and great stuff because the
next question mark is going to be are you are you the smartest or the
best-looking of the brothers you know so we’re glad we talked about vets and
stuff I always tell people when they say stuff like that I’m like can you compare
me to a wider pool of humans alright guys I appreciate it have have a
good rest of your week thank you good luck to your Tigers too okay the green
group guest of the week is sponsored by the green group and accounting tax
consulting and advisory firm specializing in the Thoroughbred
industry as the green group guest of the week Mark Taylor will receive a free
one-hour tax consultation the green group red to save you money for more
information on how they can help you visit w-w-w for the horse of the year
you had in bitola and bricks-and-mortar who were luxe to be nominated or to be
finalists I was shocked personally to see maximum
security instead of midnight be sue as the third finalist and I would love I
would love an explanation for that you know let’s take a look at their their
resumes this year they both ran eight times maximum security won six times
maybe some people technically want to count the Derby but he won six times May
night Bisou won seven times was second in the Breeders Cup distaff maximum
security had three great one wins midnight bees who had four max2 of
maximum security six wins came in starter / allowance company at the
beginning of the year at Gulfstream and to me click-click the Eclipse Awards
should be about year-long dominance and obviously midnight bees are still gonna
win the older dirt female award so I was gonna cry or River for them but I just
found it shocking for a horse that duck the Travers duck the Preakness duck the
Belmont duck the Pennsylvania Derby didn’t show
up in the Breeders Cup at all and I still give him a tip of my hat to his
campaign he still had a good campaign I think he’s a deserving three-year-old
championship champion but for a horse who basically was unseen other than a
Haskell from the spring until the fall to be a horse of the Year nominee over
midnight Bisou who had consistent excellence throughout the year she
debuted in Jane we’re at the Houston ladies classic and
Sam Houston and basically didn’t take any time off and was only beaten one
second in the Breeders Cup distaff that’s shocking to me to see that kind
of campaign for maximum security rewarded over the more consistent and
thorough one that men I’d bees who had in my opinion
excellent point but I guess the question I would ask you Joe is doesn’t matter no
because because bricks and water is gonna win the horse of the year anyway
no I understand what you’re saying but okay just you stole what I was gonna say
are you probably reading my story yeah Joe is is entirely right if you take a
horse for horse comparison obviously midnight be sue has better credentials
for horse of the year but no one cares it doesn’t matter they only have
runner-up in third place finish so they can sell more tickets to the freakin
banquet seriously you have these categories I mean you know if
Secretariat ran and won the Triple Crown you know they still have somebody second
and third for the three-year-old championship in 1973 so they say hey
mister mrs. Smith you know guess what you’re a finalist in
the Eclipse Award and you want to reserve a table don’t you and that’ll be
25 grand and please make your check out to the ante RA or whomever and that’s
really you know other than to get people like us to talk about it and that’s one
thing but more than anything else it’s simply to sell tickets we know who’s
gonna be the winner in virtually every category except for maybe one or two or
a little bit up in the air and so I never care one bit who’s second and
third you know I’d write in zippy chippy to be second just to throw a monkey
wrench some year just because I think it’s it’s kind of asinine even have that
I don’t know how long I’ve been voting probably eight years but what did we
just vote for one I think it’s a good question I don’t think I think it’s been
this way for a while yeah the bigger travesty of justice is the fact that
this podcast didn’t win the Eclipse her yeah really for our division that’s the
biggest to jump on a soapbox and and you know scream to the moon that’s what you
need to be doing Joe is there a podcast division I think it’s just a big loser
today multimedia which were eligible for so next year we’re gonna have to start a
podcast category and then I think we can win that exactly that’s that’s
unfortunate I can’t believe they didn’t they didn’t
those are Oryx four-month-long them they’re just not on the ball then yeah
where else where else can you get arguments about the second and third
place right right we are that we are the Mottola of that division so all right so
maybe it maybe next year no I just I I found that ridiculous for him to be the
finalist over her but yeah like you guys said it doesn’t matter in the long term
the one category that I think is wide open is I mean at least in my mind is
female turf force we have Peter Brandon talking about sister Charlie and then
Unni and got stormy I think both have good cases as well if I had to lean I
would go honey but yeah the rest of them seem kind of like foregone conclusions I
totally agree it doesn’t show up in any catalog page midnight Bisou the horse of
your finalist all that matters is that that should win champion female I think
in three weeks time or four weeks time the post eclipse we may have a something
to talk about as it relates to champion mail and I don’t know if I want to spill
the can of beans at this point I may just want to wait and see how that how
the dust settles and then maybe three weeks from now talk about maybe
splitting up at dirt division my hunch is that there’s going to be somebody
who’s not very happy but we’ll talk about that later
Wow inside information yep but but as far as what you’re talking about for the
female you know turf it looks like it’s gonna be you know a really tough field
and then when you start to dissect sister Charlie and Unni individually
against each other I think you have to give the nod to knee you’re talking
about a horse that that won against the boys won a grade one against the boys
was not favored and one too great at stake races too great one stake races
which to me says the betting public was you know looking at other horses in the
race and said you’re you know that then Unni is up against it and still won both
of those grade ones and you know and like I said crossed you know not only
beating fillies but then went and beat the boys in the biggest race of the year
so to me that that one makes the most sense in a very
close you know race between that those two horses but to go back to what you’re
saying before most of the other most of the other divisions are kind of faked to
completely there already you already know who’s gonna win it is interesting
the three-year-old championship and there was one race that I meant to touch
on before when we were recapping the racing from when we were off was Omaha
Beach in the Malibu obviously very impressive not so much for my boy
complexity so I was proven wrong very quickly on my horse to watch for 2020
but you never know I still think he can make some make some noise this year but
it’s unfortunate now that we’re not gonna get to see Omaha Beach and maximum
security head-to-head we only got to see maximum security against Co Devon or the
other finalists in the Derby which seems like a million years ago now so it’s
it’s a little unfortunate it has to do with the purse decrease in the pegasus
gary west was not very happy about that it seems to be very happy about a lot of
things so he’s gonna send maximum security as a saudi cup and i will see
what happens there Omaha Beach is gonna stay stateside for the Pegasus so it’s
unfortunate that we’re not gonna get to see them match up especially at a mile
and an eighth I feel like that was kind of an equaliser distance for both of
them and that would have been fun to watch one more thing to touch on before
we get out of here Arlington Park bill had a story on Sunday or rather Monday
that Arlington’s horsemen say it’s basically 50/50 whether or not the
tracks gonna be dark in 2020 in it that’s like death shocking to me it’s
not shocking you know when you take in what has happened between them and
Churchill Downs in the past year it’s just shocking as a general concept to
think that Arlington Park could just disappear off the face of the map like
that and you know one of my favorite days of the year is Arlington million
day we have our resident Illinois in Illinois and Al here well we’ll get to
in a second but it’s just it’s it’s unfortunate thing and even though I say
I said earlier that fewer tracks should be open I’m not talking about Arlington
Park one of the most beautiful racetracks and in the country you know
whether or not the economics work out at this particular moment is a different
discussion but well it’s you guys pine on that
I’m just obviously you’re having grown up ten minutes from the track you spent
countless hours there in the afternoon in the morning you know we did endure
one two year closure 1998-1999 and then you had the arlington two million the
following year one by chester how so but obviously i mean it’s a it’s a horse
racing institution it’s a beautiful place to visit if you haven’t it just
really is shocking to think of a horse racing industry in business – Marqui
chicago plans so keep fingers crossed well we should keep our fingers crossed
but it doesn’t look good and you know maybe they can scratch out a meet this
year but the long range future of Arlington Park looks like it’s not going
to be around three four years from now now the question is are they even gonna
race in 2020 and I interviewed Mike Campbell who’s head of the Horseman’s
group the Illinois throw about horsemen’s Association he said it was
50/50 that they would race and the problem is that the horsemen and the
track management have to agree on a contract as you do what all racetracks
the horsemen are asking for two hundred thousand dollars a day in purses and
Churchill Downs the owner of Arlington has countered with 130 the horsemen say
they are not budging off the 200 and normally when people make statements
like that I think they’re just you know playing it tough to look good in the
media and to try to shake the other side I really got the feeling they’re serious
about this and I don’t see Churchill budging either from the 130 number
they’re probably already losing money in Arlington as it is and you know there’s
no future for them in Arlington Park because of this whole issue with not
bringing in a casino because Arlington would compete with Churchill’s other
casino which is right near the airport some play rivers something or other so
that’s why they don’t want a casino there so if you look at from the
Horseman’s perspective the purses are so bad at Arlington they they’re better off
going someplace else you look at it from Churchill’s perspective they’re already
losing money on the place or I assume they’re losing money on the place they
have not committed to any race in their past 2021 why do they need to move off
their 130th what’s in it for them I’m sure Turks will be delighted if
Arlington Park closed so this is a you know the the proverbial
rock and a hard place and you know hopefully something can be worked out
it’ll probably come down to the eleventh hour but it doesn’t look good I can tell
you that much is there any consideration of running condensed meat so that they
can get those purse levels up to the number per day well not according to the
horsemen but the thing that they have proposed is an Allen will hate to hear
this I’m sure he’s already read it get rid of the Arlington million the
Beverly D and the Secretariat there’s two point 1 million dollars in purses
that could go into overnight right there and I bet you if Churchill said okay
we’ll get rid of those three steaks would you take the 2.1 million and if we
put it into overnights would you come back I think they might say that is a
compromise you’d hate to see those races disappear
nobody would hate to see him disappear more than Chad brown but they’re not
doing Illinois horsemen any good they’re taking money out of their pockets and if
you assess the future of Arlington Park over there be any race in there at all
without the million versus racing see seem to exist period you I think you
would certainly vote for let’s go without the million there Arlington and
the other to Arlington Stakes just so we can have a meet and you have to figure
that even if they rid themselves of those three major races you know the
only ten million the Beverly Day and et cetera
you have to think that another racing jurisdiction would jump in and say we
would love to be able to buy that name in essence and even though it’s not
going to be it are only ten or do what mine did that with your own to me
exactly and and it’s an asset I mean it’s an asset just like when people were
talking about well we don’t you know years ago it wasn’t that long ago
actually about not having the Preakness at Pimlico and it was well can we move
it to another racetrack because it has that name there’s some cachet there’s
some value to it and I think that’s what you’re gonna see is that you know I want
to make it stripped of these major you know grated steak races and then just
have kind of a rough-and-tumble everyday you know three days a week or four days
a week you know bunch of claiming races and
allowance races I guess the bigger question is you know is the state going
to come in and say we’ll prop up racing because it’s going to be X amount of
dollars of our revenue but right now it looks like it’s about three and a half
to three point six million dollars of state taxes
they get so I don’t know if the state of Illinois is even going to come in with
with an eleventh-hour state of execution well I I don’t think they will and
here’s why they’ve already done what they were asked to do the racing
industry including Churchill Downs announced offices they never talked to
the media so everything is getting secondhand but we are told that
Churchill Downs lobbied to get the laws changing in Illinois to have a casino
then they say okay you can have a casino they say never mind and all they did was
alienate every single politician be a Democrat Republican be it the governor
down to the you know state legislators etc so they’re not gonna look to do
racing any favors now you know racing begged for the casinos for years and
years and years the state gave it to him and now all the result of that is to get
rid of the marquee racetrack in Illinois that’s what came of all this that I
didn’t sure the politicians they just take a hike folks yeah no I would agree
with that I think that’s the way it’s gonna play out and and again I know that
we hate to hear about this because Arlington is is just the Illinois
mammoth okay and before mama that sports betting everything and you say well what
would bracing being in New Jersey without the grand-am of Monmouth Park
because I have the similar you know memories of being a preteen and teenager
and spending time with my friends at the races and the backstretch at Monmouth
Park and unfortunately the the the law of supply and demand is gonna ultimately
you know cannibalize some of these racetracks and we don’t need to have
we’ve talked about before we need to have eight racetracks in a 200-mile
radius here in the mid-atlantic region we just don’t and I think that that’s
that’s also adding to the concern that they have with Arlington is just that
you know is there is there a need for it do people really want to have racing out
there I always thought I think going back many years that given the structure
of the racing calendar and and the meet that that Churchill runs typically from
week before the Derby into the first part of July oftentimes wondering why
they didn’t structure sort of what what they did in Monmouth not exactly but to
structure some sort of six-week boutique I mean aren’t ins not Saratoga in
Arlington is not Del Mar you’ve got the Woodfield Hilton over there not the
Pacific Ocean or or or upstate New York but you know like
three weeks before Saratoga opens in three weeks after it closes and just can
dance all that all the personal money around you know those six weeks and see
what you can do with it but it’s obviously something that they never
considered and at this point they’re not going to consider it either kind of like
a colonial dance or a Kentucky down so something like yeah I mean because that
turf course is one of the best in the country so I think it’s gonna be
unfortunate if they can’t figure out a way to use it in some way in 2020 and
beyond but it seems that that’s the way it’s headed this week’s news was
sponsored by West Point thoroughbreds joining a West Point thoroughbreds
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that’s going to do it for the first episode of 20/20 from the tdn writers
room I want to thank everybody for listening I also want to thank Bill
Finley John Green Allen Caruso and our green group guest of the week Mark
Taylor we will see you next week you

One thought on “TDN Writers’ Room Podcast, Episode 18: January 8, 2020 with Guest Caller Mark Taylor

  1. Remember when Duchossois wanted to open a casino boat on the infield lake to take advantage of casino legislation in Illinois? Thye turned him down and he sold to Churchill. I bet they wish that had let him have his way now. The only way AP stays open is if the state takes away Churchill's license and a new owner is allowed to open a casino there. Same thing will eventually happen to GPW, FG and TP. CDI doesn't care about racing. Too bad the industry still treats them as an ally.

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