EQUIBASE TAKES STEP IN RIGHT DIRECTION

by | 11.17.2010 | 12:47am


By Ray Paulick

UPDATED FRIDAY, SEPT 4:
Readers of the Paulick Report started sending us e-mails Wednesday night telling us about Equibase’s new policy regarding historic charts (going back to 1999) being made available at no charge to registered users at equibase.com. We also learned from readers that Brisnet.com was offering the same free service (going back to 1990), ending for both information companies the ridiculously greedy policy in place for years that charged racing fans and horse industry participant a fee to look at the full results of a race run that was more than one week old.On Thursday, I sent a note to Hank Zeitlin, the president of Equibase, asking if a press release had been sent out on the expanded free charts policy or if it was mentioned at the recent Jockey Club Round Table, which I did not have the good fortune to attend. I also asked if there were plans to roll out more free information services to fans and industry participants in the future. I sent the same note to the director of communications for the Jockey Club, which oversees Equibase operations at its Lexington headquarters.

At day’s end, I’d heard back from neither individual.

At 5:50 p.m., however, a notice from Equibase was emailed to registered users of its web site telling them about the new free charts policy (Brisnet apparently sent an announcement out on Wednesday).

 



 

UPDATE: Later Thursday night, after this article was posted, I received the following e-mail reply from Equibase president Zeitlin: “The decision was made by management to offer historical charts for free in the first week of August. We discussed it with the Management Committee on Aug. 20 and launched it earlier this week. No press release, just an e-mail advisory to our customers. We are constantly evaluating the service that we provide and looking for ways to improve our customers' experience. Thanks for noticing and taking the time to comment.”I’m not sure whether or not our recent two-part series critical of Equibase had anything to do with this new policy (UPDATE: apparently not, since our articles were dated Aug. 17-18, after Zeitlin said management decided to make the charts available for free but before discussions were held with the Management Committee). The Paulick Report series (click

 



here for part 1, here for part 2) accused the company owned by the Jockey Club and member tracks of the Thoroughbred Racing Associations of North America with worrying more about Equibase’s profits than using the information it now owns to try and expand and better engage racing’s fan base. The series compared equibase.com, which is the Thoroughbred industry’s official database, with the information web sites run by other major sports, including mlb.com (baseball), nfl.com (football), nba.com (basketball), and nhl.com (hockey). Those sites offer voluminous and detailed information, organized intuitively for ease of use by readers, all at no charge to consumers. The hope is, I suppose, that by making available as much information as possible on their sport, its fan base will grow.Equibase.com compared woefully to those other sports in what was offered. It has been charging fees (and not particularly affordable fees) for historic information that these other sports were readily giving away. And unlike those other sports, racing has an immediate and direct benefit by bringing more people into the game if they wager, since pari-mutuel handle is the economic engine that drives the sport. I don’t understand how it makes sense for the “guardians” of the sport to charge for this information.

It would be flattering to think the Paulick Report made a difference in this policy decision, but it doesn’t really matter. The bottom line is, by offering free historic charts (at least going back 10-20 years) Equibase and Brisnet (which is owned by Churchill Downs Inc.) made a policy decision that makes sense, and I congratulate them for it. It’s a start, a step in the right direction.

I hope this new policy is only the beginning of a self-evaluation by Equibase that puts the future of the sport ahead of its own profits.

 



 

Copyright © 2009, The Paulick Report

Savvy businesses recognize value. Advertise in the Paulick Report.

Support the Paulick Report. Make a donation today.

Sign up for our
Email Flashes to get the latest news, analysis and commentary from Ray Paulick
  • Picksburg Phil

    You’re shaking things up, Paulick. Making it happen. Now, if you could only get lower takeout, peer-to-peer, comped cocktails….I might go back to the track.

  • Brian B.

    I find it interesting to see the major racing data companies releasing more of this information free to the public. I love to use these charts to identify possible stallion and mare purchases.

    I was shocked that the information service I used for British Isles racing has adopted a new policy of charging for their charts. Until recently, one could find more or less complete major European results on races or horses. Now, a fee is required to access the complete charts…

    Each country moving in opposite directions…

  • Sue

    Picksburg Phil has it right’ you’re really shaking things up Ray.

    How about tackling full disclosure of racing drug positives. Along with the trainers, name the OWNERS. Maybe a little public shame would go a lot further than a slap on the wrist.

  • Ned T

    Brian B,
    You can still get free British/Irish and some European form on http://www.racingpost.com, they have just started charging for various extras. Also you can watch free replays of all Irish and certain British tracks for free at http://www.attheraces.com
    Hope that’s some help

  • Good work Ray.

  • Donna Hayes

    I think you might be on the right track here Ray. Just keep after the greedy people. I was amazed to look at the equibase charts and see changes and free past racing history. Go get um!

  • Tim Maz

    Kudo’s. Nice job. Let’s keep the progress going.

  • Garrett Redmond

    Ray,

    Thanks for again generating a lively discussion and getting results.

    Hope the following comments on Parts 1 and 2 will encourage you to stay on their case.

    Equibase stockholders have received nearly 25 millions in dividends since 1998.
    What Return On Investment is that? I suggest it is incalculable because they did not invest a dime. None of their money was ever at risk. Registration fees paid to The Jockey Club provided the capital for this and ALL OTHER Jockey Club “Family” ventures.

    Think about it. The Jockey Club is a not-for-profit, tax exempt organization. It does not have outside investors/stockholders. It’s basic revenue comes from registration fees. It has no other capital source. Therefore, everything must be capitalized by the registration fees.

    All the “Family” enterprises must be profitable; otherwise TJC would not stay with them. The great question must be: Where are all the profits going? Surely they are going to the “not-for-profit” parent??? What is the parent doing with all that money ? I’d guess it is stashing it away for further investment opportunities. Is any of it going to benefit any facet of the Thoroughbred business? You tell me.

    “Its a bean counter’s mentality” (quoting from your article). What else can we expect? Alan Marzelli, president of TJC, is a Certified Public Accountant. A professional bean counter. Alan is very good at what he does. Just think of the millions of beans he has counted and carried away to his own stash in the past few years.

    He is actually making more than some Bonus-Bankers. He is certainly making more than we pay the President of these United States. Most disgusting is the overpaid TJC executives are working for a TAX-EXEMPT organization. Only in America!!

  • I’d like to also thank all the bloggers who have brought this issue up time and time again. This is a step in the right direction but there’s still plenty to do, and it will take all of us to do it.

  • rwwupl

    Good work Ray.
    I have several accounts as a lot of us do. Recently YouBet charged me a fee for a deposit tied directly to my checking account. I called a supervisor and argued that most banks will give you a prize for a deposit,not charge you, because deposits are the life blood of their business. If a bank charged me for a deposit, I would keep my money under the mattress and do with out them.
    The fee was waived for me permanently,and a new policy was announced that there would be no fees on accounts of “Gold” and higher,which I qualify for. Regular and “Silver” accounts are still being charged a fee. The average cost of the transfer from the bank is .45 cents and is accounted for in the original overhead numbers of the ADW as the business can not survive with out deposits. They charged several times that much.
    The policy is discriminatory, counter productive and foolish created by beancounters who do not see the big picture.
    If they had not waived the fee for me, YouBet would be in my history file.. I feel bad for others who are being treated as second class customers.

  • Ann o Ymous

    Ray,

    I don’t know why you think this is so great. Weekly/Monthly Charts have been out there for years. I don’t think that many people care to see a chart from 5 years ago.

    More importantly is that Equibase, Bris, DRF, (EBD), etc. have not allowed entrepreunship in developing new things for the racing industry. You could develop a unique and marvelous handicapping system that you want to market, however, the EBD won’t allow you. And if you try to sell your system to the public – forget it – they will shut you down. I know of several people who have had their ideas stolen by EBD. Don’t we already pay the industry enough in attendance, food, programs and wagering? Seems to me that ALL the data within the industry should be open and available. And some of us would even be willing to pay for it.

  • Ray Paulick

    Equibase president Hank Zeitlin replied Thursday night with a brief comment about the decision to provide free historical charts. The article has been updated to include those comments.

  • Brian B.

    Ned T,

    RP was the site I was referring to. They have just recently added the fee for the full charts, running lines, Timeform ratings, etc. I use both of these sites regularly, and I’m sure it is appreciated to readers that these sites are available.

  • I’m curious about how much Equibase makes off all those banner ads; especially ones for offshore wagering sites. Aside from the issue of charging people for information so they can make a bet, does promoting these apparently unregulated offshore ADWs serve the best interest of the US racing industry?

  • Ray Paulick

    Steve,

    While Equibase does accept advertising, I’m not aware that any of the advertisers listed on the site are offshore wagering sites of the variety that do not have contract with horsemen’s groups and racetracks. There is a difference between those sites (with horsemen/track agreements) and the offshore bookmakers that are leeches and pay zero back to the industry. It’s fairly easy to tell: the operators who do not pay full tracks odds on trifectas, pick sixes, etc are bookmakers. They may say they are licensed and regulated, but do not have a legitimate contract with horsemen/racetracks to offer wagering. (i.e., Bodog.com, belmont.com, logans.com).

    The Paulick Report refuses to accept advertising from these offshore bookmakers, and would be shocked if Equibase would accept advertising from them. I think the ads you may be referring to are wagering sites that have contracts with horsemen/tracks and whose money goes into the pari-mutuel pools as opposed to being “booked.”

Twitter Twitter
Paulick Report on Instagram