Sunday, December 31, 2006

Adios, Sionara, Shalom, Hasta Luego.....


As the final post of 2006, I would like to wish everyone out there; friends, family, neighbors, bloggers, readers, fans, haters, trainers, jockeys, agents, horses (of course!), writers, journos, editors, ex-lovers, past flames, future partners and everyone else in-between - a very happy, healthy, prosperous, friendly, exciting, and enjoyable 2007.

The past year has been a roller-coaster ride of fantastic highs, tempered by the occasional lows - all a part of the journey through life. I am truly thankful for the opportunities I've been lucky enough to come across via this blog, as well as the relationships that have been forged.

Thank you to everyone who has supported me over this past year. I am truly looking forward to an amazing, limitless 2007.

Please be safe tonight...
"I cant seem to see you baby
Although my eyes are open wide
But I know Ill see you once more
When I see you, I'll see you on the other side
Yes, Ill see you, I'll see you on the other side"
(lyrics courtesy of Ozzy Osbourne)

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

OMG!!! (December Version)

What the hell am I doing???

The world keeps moving on and I continue to get bogged down.

I just love my compatriots who do an amazing job carrying the load.

I say, thank you!!

This group of talented writers/documenters continue to offer an amazing support group and an invaluable resource (no matter what the mainstream media might say).

I have not posted in several days - for reasons yet to be revealed - but the intrepid, tenacious group of bloggers that continue to create unique, compelling content have my back and keep hacking away. For that, I am thankful.

For that, horse racing fans should be thankful.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Wanna move to Oklahoma?

According to both the DRF and the track/casino's own site, it looks like the World Famous Will Rogers Downs in beautiful Claremore, OK has a plethora of jobs available for the coming season.

From Valet to Assitant Racing Secretary; Track Announcer to Entry Clerk; you too can spend the last few months of Winter and first few months of Spring working at the track. Racedays are Sat/Sun/Mon.

For more information on Claremore, OK go here.

For Will Rogers Downs' site go here.

If you are a RTIP student/recent graduate, or just want to break into the industry, this looks like the perfect opportunity. Last week in Tucson, There were I heard a lot of converations consisting of "new blood" looking for j-o-b's. This actually seems like a cool place to break in to the business.

BTW, I'd love to hear from anyone who's ever been to WRD or even Claremore. Inquiring minds want to know.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Correcting a Fellow Blogger

In an interesting role reversal, I have been called to the table on something I have been “reported” to have said on another blog.

Horseplayer Magazine blog contest winner AirForbes1 wrote the following on his blog Dec. 8th:
Next up was David Rubin, creator of the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance. He described how he got started in blogging and how the Thoroughbred Bloggers Alliance came to be.
For the official record, as soon as I read this piece, (3 days after it was posted) I immediately posted a comment to the author:
“Dave Rubin (Homepage) on December 11, 2006 at 11:59 PM
Hey John:
Just to clarify, I am not the creator of the TBA: there were 7 of us who came together with the original idea and started the group.
Congrats on the victory!!”
I am prompted to make this defense of myself thanks to a concerned reader who came across the statement. When I originally saw what Mr. Forbes had written, I thought a simple comment on his site by me would suffice. The concerned reader either didn't see my suggested correction or decided that my only recourse for contacting the author - posting on his blog - wasn't enough.

As of this post, he has yet to make the official change and now I find myself in a position of defense.

Below I have posted what is the official bio produced by the University of Arizona’s Racetrack Industry Program for me (as a panel presenter). I wrote my own bio (as we were asked to) and as you can see, nowhere in the bio do I claim to be the “creator of the TBA”.

Furthermore, there will be DVD’s and transcripts of all the panels, and I will ask anyone who thinks I might have uttered those words to actually find it.

Don’t waste your time. You won’t – I didn’t say it.

John Forbes paraphrased my words and in doing so mis-quoted (or is it "mis-paraphrased"?) me.

We all make mistakes and if you’ve been reading this blog long enough, you know I’ve made my fair share. Mr. Forbes is a good person who has made an error - hopefully he corrects it.

(click on the bio below to enlarge)

Story of the Day

This just feels so....right.

Let's play a game....'s called, "What's missing from this story?"

powered by ODEO

For those of you who may be new to the site, I say welcome. It has only just occured to me that there may be some new folks hanging around these parts - the stats just say so. Thanks for participating, it's great to have you along. We're big fans of participation in these parts.

I did, however, want to pimp myself here for a minute - it is my blog.

In an effort to help those that are here for the first time, here's a good link to something that speaks volumes as to the possibilities of the Internet as it pertains to Racing and Gaming:

AvgHorsePlayer Breeders' Cup Coverage/Month of November

If you want to get a good feel of what this site is all about, I've directed you to some of the coverage I did a few weeks back in the month of November at the Breeders' Cup.

Thanks again, and don't forget to leave a name or some sort of contact information if you post! (It really helps the dialogue thing)

BTW, if you know what movie is on the audio player above, or have any comments whatsoever, shoot me an email:

Monday, December 11, 2006

Oregon Championship Day

The biggest day in Oregon Racing took place today here in Portland. Portland Meadows hosted its annual meet highlight, Oregon Championship Day. Unfortunately, I was unable to attend. My take here is all based on official releases put out by Portland Meadows. I know Jolene and her crew were on hand, providing their usual "kids table" for the days festivities.

Jolene is probably settling back in at home after having to make the 2 + hour drive south, so check out either one of her sites tomorrow here and/or here for more information from her. Don't forget to also check out the TBA's favorite race caller, Jason B. over at his site where I'm sure he'll have an interesting tale or two after calling his first full Oregon Championship Day card.

I am in the process of putting together some more detailed information about last week's symposium, and hope to have a full blog panel review up by Tuesday afternoon. I hope everyone has a great Monday to start the week!!

Sunday, December 10, 2006

UPDATED: F YouTube right now...

UPDATE: Footage is now available.

I put together some more footage from The Westin and inside the Symposium Showroom floor. For some reason You Tube is not enjoying yours truly and my upload request, so below is my written entry - sans video. When I wake up Sunday am, I'll try again to upload the footage. Trying not to go to bed pissed off....

Here is some footage from the hotel and the "showroom floor." Not to bash, but if you had a booth at an event like this and you saw someone with a video camera, wouldn't you stop them and ask them what's up? I know, most likely you're not in the industry so of course your answer is yes.

Walking through the middle of the floor with my camera, only a select few decided to speak with me. TRAKUS and had people manning their booths who showed enough interest to step-up and speak to me about their product. One other booth took the time to speak with me and that was Cantor Gaming who has some cool new bets they are trying to "Sell" to tracks. Those guys didn't want to go on camera (WTF???), but they gave me the full rundown on what they were selling. Too bad they didn't want to be filmed, could have been some great pr for them and others.

It's shit like this that pisses me off about this industry.

Do you think it's true that the whole industry has just never needed to aggressively promote itself and therefore has no idea how to do it? It's almost as if the industry is still acting like a 6 yr. old - never grown up - while the rest of this country's major entertainment and sports properties are somewhere around 40?

Friday, December 08, 2006

I made it out alive!

Wow, it’s been more than 24 hrs since I last posted. I’ve been traveling all day today and didn’t get a free minute yesterday afternoon from about 1:30 on.

For only the 2nd time in the last three weeks, I’ll be sleeping in my own bed here in Portland. Not that I’m complaining, but it feels really great to be back in my room, fully stretched, in complete decompression mode. Much needed!!

Even though yesterday’s panel got mysteriously left out of any mainstream coverage coming out of Tucson, I know it was a huge success. The panelists were outstanding, and our moderator Bob Wolff did the best job moderating that I saw all week. Instead of three talking heads reciting to the crowd, our panel consisted of three opening presentations, a Q&A conducted by Mr. Wolff where we all would give our thoughts, and finally a good 15-20 minutes taking questions from the audience .

At one point during Steve’s presentation, I tried to get a quick estimate of crowd size. In the video I posted yesterday of the first 5 minutes, it looks like there weren’t that many folks. When Steve (who went third) was presenting, I did what I though was a pretty decent guesstimate of about 100 people. I could see it being as high as 125 or, but def not lower than 100. This item in today’s Horse Player Magazine Online called it at “an estimated crowd of more than 200 industry leaders.”

Great Jeremy, I’ll take that and coroborate to make it official: 200

The RTIP has made all of the panels available for DVD/VHS. Individually, they are $50 DVD & $40 VHS. I have an order sheet I can fax to anyone who might be interested. If you’re not sure you are interested and want to ask me, feel free to email me. I pretty much went to every panel and can help steer you in the right direction.

Right now my body feels like it is slowly melting and I’ll step away from the computer for a bit. I am putting together a little more video, a few panel observations, information on some cool new products I came across, and some lowdown on what I saw and who I was able to spend some time with. I’m also trying to see if there is a way for me to post my presentation. It’s in Power Point form, so if anyone has any insight on what I might be able to do to get up on blogger, please let me know. Also, if you would like me to email you a copy, let me know and I’ll gladly do that. Not to be obnoxious, but I am actually quite pleased with how it turned out.

Here’s my email:

Thursday, December 07, 2006

12:30 PM (mst)

Well, I survived the blog panel this morning, and in fact, if everyone isn't lying, it seems like it went pretty well. There was a decent turnout, probably somewhere around 100 people (give or take). I filmed the first few minutes of the introductions just to give you all a perspective of everything from my point of view. The entire panel/discussion is available on video and the transcripts will eventually be available as well. For all of the information on those things just go to the RTIP website HERE.

I would like to give huge thank you's to Doug Reed, Steve Barham and the entire RTIP staff for not only running an amazing conference, but for making the effort to reach out to me and include me in the discussion.

Also, major thanks to Bob Wolff, our panel's moderator who corralled us from all parts of the country and did first-rate job of organizing our group. Finally, a quick thank you to fellow panelists Norah Barnes and Steve Dittmore. I appreciate your perspective, as well as your depth and knowledge on the subject - I love being surrounded by smart people.

Here's the video:

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Twas the night before The Blog Panel....

I've gone ahead and posted a short, special video for fellow TBA-er, Quinella Queen. I thought I would transmit via the Internet(s) Ms. QQ's "home track" and let her know what they are pumping out to the racing industry here at the Symposium.

In less than twelve hours, horse racing bloggers will take another giant step in the advancement of technology in a slow-to-adapt, old school industry. At approx. 8:30 am (mst), Thursday, Dec. 7th 2006, this blogger will be speaking to a large audience who will gather to hear a panel discussion entitled, "The Blog: New Media Monster?" 70+ million blogs later and this industry is FINALLY getting a clue.


We'll see!!

I went out to dinner with 3/4 of the panel and enjoyed a Ginormous margarita and a rather tasty shrimp/chicken fajita. Sorry John, no chimichanga's for this guy.

This post is short as I am putting the final touches on the ole' presentation. As I told our panel moderator, Bob Wolff, I HATE using Power Point, but I feel like it is a necessary evil in this case. Putting facts and thoughts down on paper for what could be the equivalent of 1st graders (in terms of knowledge, education and experience in this realm) seemed like the best option for me to get my point across effectively. I've got my shpeel down to 14 minutes, and really look forward to the question and answer period. I hope people show up and are caffeinated to the gills!!

TRAKUS at the Symposium

Here is some video from the TRAKUS booth at the Racing and Gaming Symposium here in Tucson, AZ. I'll have some more video up later. I think TRAKUS is one of the best new technologies out there for the sport. If you don't know the full scoop, check out their site and do a Google News search. They've gotten some pretty good press in several media outlets.

Here's me working...

And this is what I'm looking at....

I need a job....

why can't I get a story on MSN about my plight?

Wednesday, December 6th, 2006 - 9:00 AM (mst)

Both the Thoroughbred Times and Bloodhorse have stories from some of yesterday's panels in Tucson. For me the, yesterday was pretty much highlighted by the first afternoon panel entitled, "INTERNET GAMBLING - NEW REALITIES?".

By the time this panel was winding down, my body started to shut down, so I "only" caught about 90% of the discussion. I did catch enough of it to learn some pretty interesting stuff. Most of the "discussion" was based around the Internet Gambling Enforcement Act that was recently passed in both the house and senate.

The speakers were:
Moderator/Speaker: Jay Hickey, President, American Horse Council
Speakers: Nelson Rose, Professor of Law, Whittier Law School
Sue Schneider, CEO President, The River City Group
Maury Wolff , Economist

With all do respect to Ms. Schneider and Mr. Wolff, Mr. Hickey and Mr. Rose offered the most insight into the logistics and minutiae of the the recently passed bill.

Mr. Hickey subtly highlighted the importance of his lobbying organization and the overall efforts of the horse racing industry in making sure that horse racing remained exempt in this failed attempt by Bill Frist to garner enough voting power from the religious right - hoping it would propel him to a Presidential victory in 2008.

Mr. Hickey did a great job of describing some of the more minute details of the bill and the differences between on-line poker, sports betting and betting on horses over the internet(s).

Mr. Rose, a highly respected and extremely well-versed "gambling lawyer" offered more insight into the legal realties of the bill. If you want all of the lowdown, I HIGHLY recommend checking out his website.

Mr. Rose also suggested signing up for his FREE e-newsletter (email him here:, which I've already done and suggest you do to.

One question I was not able to ask Mr. Rose, was why he thinks "gambling will be outlawed by 2035 (ish). I think that's what I heard him say.....

In a nutshell, it seems this bill was passed in a rather sketchy, unprofessional manner by Mr. Frist. Without discussion and hurried through congress at the "12th hour", the bill has most affected publicly traded internet poker sites. The poker sites that remained private are still in business and are probably doing better than they ever could have imagined had the bill not been passed.

It seems the law/bill is somewhat ambiguous and there are World Trade Organization implications that will lead to its ultimate undoing. Mainly, Mr. Rose sees the island of Antigua as the first to challenge the U.S. Dept. of Justice on these grounds. Mr. Rose predicts that the U.S. Gov't. will probably pay off Antigua in a settlement, but other affected countries throughout the world will smell blood and press the issue in the future. Again, for more legal details go to Mr. Rose's website HERE.

Horse racing seems safe for now. Besides the ambiguities and shady nature of the bill being passed, one of the more poignant takeaways for me was the importance and undying hard work that the horse racing lobby does. Without dogged lobbying and political efforts, it is quite conceivable that horse racing would be in something of a serious pickle.

My body decided to shut down at around 3pm local time in an effort to try and catch up from thousands of miles traveled in recent days. I needed to recharge with a late afternoon nap, so the afternoon's second set of panels were eliminated from my schedule. I've pretty much completed my presentation for tomorrow morning's blog panel. With only a few tweaks and touch ups remaining, I am looking forward to meeting with my fellow panelists later on today.

In the meantime, I am armed with my video camera and will be heading to the conference floor to see what kind of products are out on the market. Hopefully I'll have some YouTube videos up by noon MST today.

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Noon (MST)

the first morning of the symposium has come to a close and here are some notes from Tuesday AM:

-The first panel this morning was, "A New Perspective: How Casino Operators Would Run Racing". A pretty interesting panel, and I recommend you check out the Power Point presentation created by Mark Midland of Louisiana Downs. I am not exactly sure when this year's PPT's will be posted, but 2005's are here

-Edward Tracy, CEO TrackPower started the panel off with some intersting thoughts on taxation and legislation. Mr. Tracey spoke about how racing and tracks ARE the casino business. He makes a strong case for the fact that tracks, for some reason, are getting shafted (my term) when it comes to taxation and legislation. An interesting take on this was, "Why are WE so special? - Something like tobacco, pharmaceuticals, Atlantic City and Indian reserveations ALL pay amazingly less tax rates - from ZERO to about 30%. Tracks are bing taxed as high as 70%. Definitely food for thought.

-Midland spoke for a LONG time, but was able to touch on some really great points - mainly from a marketing perspective.

-Some of his thoughts/ideas included:

On-Track Handle is stagnant over the past 10 years

Horse racing's "unknown pay-offs" vs. slots which advertise (agressively) what current jackpots are.

Promoting big winners like casinos do.

Use of Data analysis - Casinos are maximizing software while tracks/racing are NOT at all

Need to make Racing Fun and Easy - SIMULCASTING

Organizing post times (like UK/Australia)

Witholding percentages of wagers to give back in bigger, more marketable jackpots

Like I said, check out his entire Power Point (when it becomes available). He really did a nice job touching on some fresh marketing angles and perspectives.

-I walked into "How to grow in a developed market or how to steal the other guy's customer" a little bit late and only caught the last part of Will Cummings' (Cummings Associates) wonky thoughts on numbers and casinos and was hard for me to follow, especially coming in late.

-Joe Weinberg of The Cordish Company walked us through all of his companies mixed use projects around the country. Of greatest note for me was the Woodbine mixed use project they are creating. It looks like they will be creating a huge development right at Woodbine which will have residential apartments, retail shops and a live music venue. Pretty cool stuff. You should check out The Cordish Company HERE. Mr. Weinberg's presentation has some nice visuals of all of the companies redevelopment projects.

-I'm off to the keynote speaker/luncheon and hope to have some more pics and visuals as the week moves on. I had breakfast with the Trakkus folks this morning and look forward to speaking with them in more detail at some point today.

-Let me know if there is anything specifc you'd like to know from me while I'm here. I am aim to please, so email me at with any suggestions or thoughts.

Monday, December 04, 2006

No Toto, we are not in Kansas anymore...

In case you didn't know, or may be checking in for the first time, yours truly is making his debut appearance in the great state of Arizona as a guest speaker at the 33rd Annual University of Arizona Racetrack Industry Program's Racing and Gaming Symposium

I've only been here a few hours and a lot has already transpired. Before I get into any specifcs though, here's an email exchange I had with a "Respected Turf Writer" over the past few days:

RTW: "Congrats on speaking at the Symposium".
AvgH: "Thanks. I'm both nervous and excited. Very much looking forward to the opportunity to address the industry".
RTW: "Good luck. I've never been to the Symposium, but from what I've heard it's a drunkfest, so don't be too nervous :) "

Just for you, my readers, I thought I would set the stage for what the feeling is like around here. Again, I've only been around for a few hours, but already the crowd is settling in and getting quite comfortable here at The Westin La Paloma.

There was an opening "reception" this evening in one of the ballrooms and I will tell you that there are some really cool booths set up. From racing surface providers and barn builders, to Daktronics scoreboards and Trakkus reps, I am looking forward to exploring and chatting with many of those in attendance. I think the first people I will spend time chatting with are the Trakkus guys. From what I know about this new technology, it seems to hold the most promise for new (young) market penetration (in my opinion).

I've met some great folks already - the first of which was on the van ride from the airport. Don't think for one minute I'm not promoting the HELL out of the Blog Panel Thursday morning.

Though I think we all have a pretty good sense of where the industry stands on new technologies - blogs and social networking in particular - the more I chat with industry folks, the more urgent our message becomes.

I need to spend some time honing my presentation tonight, while being sure to keep an eye out for any rogue scorpions or spiders that might decide to make an appearance.

The wireless is NOT free here, which is pretty ghetto in my opinion, and there is some literature saying that "wireless may not be available in meeting rooms", so I'll try my best to update as much as possible.

Two weeks and several thousand travel miles later....

Portand International Airport (PDX) rules. Being here for the second time in less than 12 hours - arriving from NYC and departing for Tucson - I've given myself the freedom to act as an educated, informed traveler. From FREE wireless access throughout, to super easy mass transit connections, this is one of the most convenient, fluid, easy airports I've been in. In fact, the Oregon ethos of "think globally, act locally" extends itself here. I haven't seen so many local businesses and food shops rooted here in the airport that call Portland home. I can't verify this, but I don't even think there is a McDonalds!!

After being in Newark International and now PDX these past two days, I can relay to you that air travel is booming. Arriving here at 11pm last night - delayed :-( this place was a mad house. Leaving this morning, it is just as crowded. Don't even ask about the zoo at Newark.

My flight to Tucson, via Phoenix boards in a few minutes. I won't be back posting until re-emerging at the University of Arizona Racing and Gaming Symposium later on today.

-I am beyond excited to be a part of the symposium and look forward to meeting as many industry folks as possible.

-While in NYC these past two weeks, I discovered something fairly odd - an OFF TRACK BETTING parlor smack dab in the middle of the George Washington Bridge bus station!!

-While in the Northeast, I did not make it to live racing, nor was I able to hook up with any fellow TBA-ers. I was able to spend a few short hours at The Meadowlands for some afternoon simulcasting.

Time to board. Be back soon!