The Friday Show Presented By Cal Racing Cares: Freezing Out The Form?

by | 12.01.2017 | 8:59am
The Daily Racing Form, founded in 1894, was not sold at the recent Churchill Downs meet

The Paulick Report recently reported that Churchill Downs Inc. has stopped selling the venerable Daily Racing Form print editions at its racetrack in Louisville and at Fair Grounds in New Orleans.

In its place, Churchill Downs is offering its own betting guide with Brisnet information at half the price of the DRF.

In this edition of The Friday Show, Scott Jagow and Ray Paulick discuss the move and potential broader implications. Watch below and share your thoughts.

  • Michael Castellano

    It appears to be another factor pointing to the eventual extinction of thoroughbred racing as we know it. Generally, racing has been in sharp decline over the years, so it seems that there are more battles being fought for a shrinking market. This being the latest skirmish, which will not, of course, benefit fans and gamblers. What Churchill Downs fears, is that if both products are allowed to compete for sales, many will still buy DRFs paper. I prefer it myself, being an old timer used to their product’s arrangements and PPs. That’s essential to one’s handicapping prowess, because the memory stores info from the past in that form, and likes to have new info in the same form. I have problems with the other format, not so much because it may not have the same info, but trying to handicap a full day’s card takes a lot more time with a format one is not as familiar with. In any case, this can only piss off those used to DRF’s format. How much the cost of DRF’s paper is due to price goughing and how much due to decreased sales and increased costs over the years I do not know. I think that what’s needed is not to ban DRF’s paper/form, but to design a new and better one. Haven’t seen Churchill’s to comment on it, but a form for more casual gamblers and fans is needed and should be free upon a paid admission to the track. Each race should be analyzed by an experienced handicapper for who may be the speed, a closer, etc. And how the race may develop. Then they would provide past performances in a more basic and understandable way. I know from experience that more casual fans don’t have a clue as to how to use DRF’s PPs, but it would make sense to give new fans something that they can find useful and will encourage them to make bets.

    • Dennis

      Most people are looking for more bang for the buck .time to join the future

      • Michael Castellano

        Fine, just don’t take my choice way. I’m a computer geek, I am in the future. Program in three languages.

    • stealth wager

      Yes, agree. However, i stayed with the overly priced DRF until the printing changed to the present smaller size & the use of a lessor quality paper. My living is made from a lucky God given gift, excellent eye sight, which the DRF has challenged! Bris was difficult at first, but is now my first choice by far. Haven’t used the form for years! The move by Churchill, business & politics aside has a minor hidden side effect of possibly producing new fans by offering great information at a reduced price. Who wants to buy a form at the present prices? Those that can afford it only. The average fan with average income plays less as a result and new fans aren’t cultivated? Paulik Report is my favorite horse racing publication, Paulik you are the best! A personal opinion, mantra i’ve chanted for the last few decades, was mentioned in todays show, am pleased. Compare years gone past when the less expensive daily news papers had so much great racing information found in the sports section, while the DRF was usually 500% more expensive than these news papers. Today the cost of DRF represents an even higher percentage of the average fans salary. The profit motive is not only leading to the demise of the form it is holding back the growth of the new and young fan base.

  • Barry

    ESPN got its start because all the professional leagues were willing to allow ESPN to broadcast replays of the games on Sports Center. When you dont have cooperation and forward thinking, it reflects poorly on the sport itself.

  • greg

    While the DRF is a horrible online product, the paper with the pp’s is far and away the best there is, I’ve used it since the mid 1970’s and it is still the most accurate, clearly written, and helpful handicapping tool there is. Now if they would only delete the Beyer figs would make it perfect

  • Horsemonger

    I have been a horse player for over 50 years – and at some point I have started to become
    sensitive to the start up cost of going to the track…parking, entry, food, and the rising cost of the DRF. There are 3 racing forms needed to enjoy the national coverage of all tracks –
    So yes, the cost of a day at the races EVEN before you make a wager is not helpful to attract
    young people.
    Even worse is the cost of a seat at a major race – who can afford to go to the Breeder’s Cup or Kentucky Derby…ONLY THE VERY WEALTHY – not your every day player who supports the industry. And don’t tell me the infields are open for us peons. We want to see the race, not the heads of the jockeys circling around us. If you want to see the race on a tv monitor stay home.

  • Tinky

    It should be crystal clear to everyone at this point that CDI’s only real interest in racing is the (cash-cow) Derby. Their purchases of tracks that have allowed them to develop casinos only reflect an interest in racing in the sense that a property developer shows an “interest” in nice old houses by purchasing them and then demolishing them.

    So, while they may coincidentally be bad at running racetracks, don’t confuse that with their now fundamental lack of interest in racing.

    • Fred and Joan Booth

      The purchase of good , grand, old homes for demolition so as to build UGLY row houses is a trend seen in our states major city. Some areas where we grew up are hardly recognizable! Those new row houses are already beginning to fall out of favor to renters as they tire quickly having to climb stairs at the end of a days hard work or having to go downstairs for laundry groceries etc.We miss reading the old DRF as it had some surprisingly interesting articles in it many years ago.

  • Dennis

    The daily racing form was way over priced and people wanted an alternative plAin n simple

  • dennis mcgarry

    What I don’t understand is the varying price of DRF at various venues. At my home track, Turf Paradise, you can purchase the regional editions for $3 each, and the full edition for $6.50. Due to the fact that I am an oldtime east coast player, I go with that regional form. Also available at Turf Paradise is their program, which is published by DRF, and uses their format, and covers the local track and all simulcast tracks, complete with pp’s, for $3.50. So why the increased prices at other tracks?

  • David Worley

    I get what the main point of this week’s edition is, but the real issue with PPs in horse racing is that it is based on archaic technology of the actual timing of the race itself (and this goes for ALL of racing). Visual, hand timed, fractions are cutting edge of timing technology only in about 1880. If racing wants to going the 21st century (or hell even the 20th century) there needs to be a way have precise location and time data for every horse at every moment of a race. From there, the handicapping products are endless.

    Oh, and by the way, there is already a way to do this. It is video analysis using machine learning (also known as Artificial Intelligence). But, every time I have attempted to explain this to racing officials (I tried recently with someone at Stronach) I get blank stares.

    Some one in racing, perhaps Equibase, should contact me and I’ll explain more.

    • Michael Castellano

      I know precisely what you mean. Fractions as now printed are not quite useless, but do not show what may be the most important thing. Whether a horse gets pushed beyond their ability at some time in the race. Even the average time of an 1/8 of a mile can fall short of showing what happens n a race. If the speed of all the horses is even throughout a fast 1/8, it may not be as important as a very short burst a jockey uses to get position, for example. Such as the entire field except one is unchanged at 12 seconds for an 1/8, but that one horse makes up 4 lengths during that time. Meaning he/she ran an 1/8 in 11 1/4, which is extremely fast. A graph showing the horses speed against a 35 – 45 mph chart would indicate their speed at any given point in the race. Now you have to figure this out on your own, which takes a lot of handicapping experience aided by watching a race reply. If automated, you’d see a graph as an up and down line underneath the current line, indicating the speeds reached at any given point in a race. Of course it requires radar speed tracking of every horse in the race, not something at this point that the racing gods could ever be convinced to try.

  • snowchrome

    I miss the old format of the Daily Racing Form and Pierre Bellocq’s caricatures on the front page when it was a big racing day. Never liked the price, but those caricatures were cool.

  • Jon

    Scott Jagow hit the nail on the head. The information should be free.

    • Lehane

      My sentiments exactly.

  • Mike Oliveto

    Print media is going the way of the buggy whip. Why anyone would pay $10 for a newsprint DRF when they can download the same thing from home days in advance is a mystery to me. That said, DRF has grossly mismanaged themselves out of the game by having what is possibly the most embarrassing website on the internet. As their subscriber base erodes they fiddle while Rome burns. Unfortunately, once a customer has jumped ship it’s all but impossible to get them back. Sad but DRF has no one to blame but themselves.

    • talkingman17

      Website is BAD!

  • Richard C

    It is a bad stumble in business, with the same lessons learned (much too late) — a company believes it has a monopoly on a product and flippantly sets a price point, while ignoring customers and distributors. And there is at least one in the latter group that can do it just as good and cheaper — and finally tackles the challenge.

  • Beau Geste

    For all of those posting positive remarks about the Daily Racing Form, you should have read their message boards when they still had them. There were constant complaints about the cost and the handicapping skills of it’s staff writers. Whatever the motivations of Churchill Downs, this is not the greatest problem facing the Form; it has always been it’s own reluctance to improve the product. I am a subscriber, raised on the Form and though I still use it, I don’t use it exclusively anymore. The decline of the Daily Racing Form mirrors that of horse racing itself and for the exact same reason; it’s failure to improve the product. The Form should have led the way into the 21st Century; instead it was passed by so many newcomers. Perhaps like the threat posed by the Racing Times, this will motivate the Form to do what is needed to remain relevant and appealing to the public.

    • Tinky

      It’s a shame that the Racing Times was so short-lived. With continued funding, it might well have displaced the DRF.

      • Stephen States

        Absolutely correct. However, Maxwell’s death exposed a huge financial hole in his empire. At that time DRF stepped in, scooped up the pieces and utilized several innovative information points that had been exclusive to the Racing Times. Now,
        having said that, my experience in searching for the most informative racing PPs has led me to The BRIS ultimate PPs. For my money there is no other format that gives such an accurate and complete picture of any race. Working at my desk I simply download, print and go to work on my handicapping. I have not used DRF PPs for years. For my $ their format does not equal the BRIS product. .

  • really?

    Looking forward to the drf going out of business or new ownership. There will be no Racing Forms at KD 2018

    • Beau Geste

      The Daily Racing Form was sold in July, 2017.

  • Big G

    what made the racing form so great was the editorial staff , joe hirsch was the king at writing along with peb pellouq the artist who drew the front page.. and many others that contributed many stories that made the racing form special ,,, this bloodhorse also has a gentlemen that has the talent and the knowledge of racing his name is steve haskin , he also is very special in his own right ,,, so the ten bucks they want you to spend is more for editorial staff than past performances ,, big g.

  • gus stewart

    All of my racing friend’s haven’t used the drf for years now. When sport was still recognized by many, having the stories and commentary was a sales point. No longer is this the case yet they continue it and raise prices. Also drf used to be like pr report where fans could comment on racing stories. No longer do they want your participation and want to charge to read certain article’s. Its so removed in its veiw of where racing is and management is in total denial.

    • Michael Castellano

      They were bought by idiots about ten years ago.

  • Shasta Sam

    DRF has, obviously, decided to stay in the same print era as it was founded. Their website functionality is a disaster. Probably the most cumbersome, least intuitive and least user friendly site I’ve ever used. Hasn’t had a serious redesign ever (as far as I can tell). But the thing that really ticks me off is that they don’t even make their editorial content available for free to subscribers of their PP downloads. THAT is outrageous.

    • Michael Castellano

      I refuse to place my bets through them because of that. Nobody gets away with making people pay for on-line editorial comments . I seem to remember they changed ownership about 10 years ago when this happened. It never occurred to them that free on line pps for the day to anyone who places at least a $10 bet through them might be a good promotion and make people wanna bet with them.

  • CEOmike

    American racing is an embarrassment. Want an example? How about the handle in a country with only 29 million people being higher than the whole US handle. How about state of the art camera work like in the middle east. How about high quality fan experience like in China, China no less.

    For a nation that thinks of itself as world leader, racing in the US is abysmal.

    Give me a break;

    – one wifi camera from the grandstand that keeps cutting out – come on – high quality cameras are only a few hundred dollars – and run some cable for goodness sake – give a guy a shovel and a roll of cable and put in some wired cameras every furlong. Fix the sound while at it.
    -speaking of wifi – stop using $79 routers from Staples – the feed keeps freezing up especially in post parade as all the people at the track use wifi to place bets.
    -and why are there no vet reports posted on websites, other countries do this – all I can think is CORRUPTION, screwing the fans.
    -and walking through the casino to get to the track that many places have, real nice for families – taking kids through places with old women who haven’t moved from a slot machine in two decades (with the owners encouraging them to stay another two decades!)
    -and why isn’t there a NATIONAL ruling body, its now like a bunch of scabbing chickens ie CD and DRF And anyone who bets at PARX or in New Jersey is either on the take or naive.
    – most track websites are absolutely TERRIBLE, by looking at them it is hard to believe the US was actually the one to make the internet possible.Try comparing, the Chinese Hong Kong track website to ANYTHING in the US to see if I am wrong. (even the Pualickreport – actually not bad – but all insider advertising – horse meds, breeding, barns, Cal Cares etc not a single ad for consumer stuff like cars, electronics, travel etc – makes it appear racing is for cowboys)

    Which is the note to end on, US racing is run by cowboys and mobsters. It is in total opposition to what will make it money sophisticated, well educated urbanites.

    • Bravo CEO Mike! Great commentary and absolutely correct too! Can’t disagree with one thing you wrote here. Level the playing field and maybe more people would respect racing a lot more and go to the tracks again. I’d love to see it happen.

  • CEOmike

    Not that I want to come to DRF’s defense or even Churchill’s, most are forgetting DRF wanted money for CD to appear in their east coast edition simulcast. CD refused to believe DRF made any difference to their marketing and attendance/handle.

    And there in lays the problem, good old American business arrogance and aggression. Which is great if you are selling widgets but is a disaster in sports entainment. Look at all the other major sports (assuming you still call horse racing a major sport) one NATIONAL ruling body, players unions, same rules, even enforcement, one TV deal, gate sharing, players pensions and protections. Every single sport increased revenue and attendance for decades after they started to work together.

    Horse racing is a bunch of hillbillies playing Hatfield and McCoy.

  • rpres43

    I find the Brisnet pp’s superior to DRF, and have for many years. I used to pay $30/mo, which was a big savings over what I considered an inferior DRF product. Now, if you wager w/ Twin Spires the pp’s are free. Though I’m not a big fan of CDI, I find their Twin Spires interface the best of several other ADW’s that I have accounts with.

  • Joe Sollitto

    Ray Paulick: “[CDI doesn’t] seem to want to cooperate with other businesses in our industry.”

    Yet, the Breeders’ Cup will be at Churchill Downs next year. Turning the other cheek, I guess?

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