On-Track - June 2004

21 May 2004
Ohio Woman Wins $25,000 from Online Derby Game

An Ohio woman won $25,000 playing the Kentucky Derby $5 Million Pay Day, a free Internet-based contest of skill offered exclusively through the track's Web site.

The contest challenged players to pick the exact order of finish for the 2004 Derby, which had 18 starters. Of the 250,000 individuals who registered to play the online game, no one correctly selected the entire running line for the race.

However, Nan Sako of Parma, Ohio, out-finished a quarter-million competitors in capturing the $25,000 consolation prize. By picking the first five Derby finishers in order, Sako bested 21 players who selected the first four finishers and 486 contestants who picked the first three in order.

The contest generated considerable interest, as the number of contestants increased by 45 percent from last year's 172,000 entries. Tens of thousands signed up to play in the final hours that entries were accepted.

In fact, the number of unique visitors who logged in on Derby Day at www.kentuckyderby.com, the official site of the Kentucky Derby, reached over 1.4 million, an increase of 70 percent from last year's number of unique visitors.

Derby Wagering Record

Total wagering on the 130th Kentucky Derby and the Derby Day racing card at Churchill Downs smashed a North American record for total betting on an individual event and a single day of races that had been established in the 2003 renewal of the famed "Run for the Roses."

Fans who gathered at Churchill Downs and at racetracks and simulcast outlets throughout North America wagered a record $99,348,706 on the Derby, which was won over a sloppy track by Someday Farm's Smarty Jones. The wagering total for the Kentucky Derby itself rose by nearly 13 percent from the 2003 total of $87,968,037. Total betting on the 12-race Kentucky Derby Day card at Churchill Downs rose by nearly 2 percent to $142,775,857 from the previous North American record of $140,379,426 wagered on a 12-race Derby Day program in 2003.

Simulcast wagering on the Derby race and the Derby Day program at Churchill Downs recorded gains. Wagering on the Kentucky Derby at simulcast outlets totaled $89,860,167, an increase of nearly 14 percent from $78,832,118 wagered at simulcast outlets in 2003. Simulcast betting on the entire Derby Day card climbed to $123,529,647, a jump of more than 3 percent from the 2003 total of $119,740,205.

Youbet.com sets Handle Record

Online betting firm Youbet.com also got in on the record Kentucky Derby action.

Total handle for the day rose to $3.6 million, 45 percent over the 2003 Derby on Youbet.com. The site served 65 percent more bettors at peak periods on the afternoon of the first leg of horse racing's Triple Crown than in 2003, according to company officials. During the day, the Web site logged 37 percent more unique visitors in 2004 over the previous year.

Youbet's site attracted a record number of sign-ups on race day as well. More than 3,460 bettors signed up to wager this Saturday compared to 1,393 last year, an increase of 149 percent.

Bookmakers, BHB Reach Compromise

Racecourse bookmakers and the British Horseracing Board reached an agreement in principle over the amount they will have to pay the governing body for data licenses, giving the on-track layers a second 'result' from which to choose.

The BHB's was trying to charge on-course bookmakers ten percent of their gross profits for using the runners' data. That plan was met with roadblocks last fall, when the Levy Board decided to reduce its demands--which the bookmakers used to offset the BHB charge--from 10 percent to 6 percent.

The bookmakers argued that they should not pay the difference of 4 percent, which attracted VAT, and the issue appeared to be heading to the courts for a decision.

Neither side is commenting on the agreement, but an announcement is expected soon.

Savill Speaks Out About TV Coverage

British Horseracing Board chairman Peter Savill spoke last week of the "critical importance" of getting television pictures back on the screens of satellite and digital viewers as soon as possible.

At The Races (ATR) is set to launch a free-to-air service some time next month, while The Horse Racing Channel (THRC) aims to be up and running in the "next couple of weeks" and will also be free to view, in its early stages at least.

The original plan was for THRC to be a subscription-based service at around £20 per month.

Savill, who is also chairman of Plumpton, one of the six tracks still to sign up with either of the broadcasters, said: "It doesn't really matter whether there are one, two or even three different channels as long as they are viable propositions. There is probably more product now than there was when attheraces and the Racing Channel were on air together, and I think there is no reason to imagine now that it would be impossible for two channels to be on air at the same time."

DailyHorse.com Launched

Officials with LegalPlay Entertainment Inc. announced last week the launch of its horse racing analysis software through www.DailyHorse.com.

DailyHorse.com is a horse racing portal that incorporates a Web-based application available on a subscription basis giving punters an additional level of analysis in terms of predicting race outcomes in addition to providing betting strategies aimed at enabling guidance for maximizing returns.

Revenues are anticipated to be earned through monthly recurring subscriptions paid by subscribers. There are no royalties payable to third parties, as the DailyHorse.com system is wholly owned by LegalPlay Entertainment Inc.