The Paulick Report welcomes a new advertiser this week in 123racing, a brand that may be familiar to contest players who have participated in any number of free-to-enter handicapping challenges. The company has developed and is now offering an innovative wager, the 123racing Pick6, that is different from the traditional Pick 6 in that a player gets points for first, second and third-place finishes (based on pari-mutuel payoffs) by his or her selections in each race. Each 123racing Pick6 will have a winner, determined by the highest number of points accumulated.
Starting this week,123racing is providing sponsored editorial to help you handicap a 123racing Pick6 each Saturday.
This week's handicapper is Ellis Starr, the National Racing Analyst for Equibase who is also known as Ubercapper.
Before we get to the Ubercapper's recommendations, however, the following Q&A with Rob Earle, the founder and CEO of 123racing's parent company, 123gaming, provides some background on this new wager.
Tell me a little about 123racing and what makes your company unique.
We are a U.S. and UK-based developer of innovative technology and products to stimulate interest and spend in mainstream, traditional wagering products.
'123gaming Inc.' is the company registered name. Trading as '123racing', and now also '123bet.com' to showcase and build the 123racing wager pools.
As 123racing we have been supplying some of the most popular online handicapping tournaments to major U.S. racetracks for more than seven years. (Monmouth Park, The Meadowlands, Woodbine, Remington Park etc.)
Based on the success of those tournaments, and on-trend with the huge rise on both handicapping contests as well as fantasy sports in general, the company has created the world's first truly interactive and social handicapping contest-style leaderboard based pari-mutuel wager to be fully integrated across all access points of a national tote betting platform (self-serve wagering terminals, teller windows, online, mobile).
The wager was designed to:
1) Just like a handicapping contest – put eyes and wallets on that racecard to stimulate betting across all bet types
2) Maintain interest across all races
3) Particularly appeal to a younger demographic while also challenging the advanced handicapper
4) Breathe a breath of fresh air into wagering halls across America – color, fun, excitement and most importantly a bit of friendly competition and social interaction
That's why 82 percent of respondents on Emerald Downs' independent online email survey to their database that had played the wager said they would play it again.
We also have a wealth of U.S as well as international racing and gaming experience in the management team, and aim to bring as much of that to the table to benefit the racing industry as possible.
What is your own background in horseracing?
Standardbred breeder, owner and trainer and amateur harness driver. Ex-raceway director (www.addington.co.nz) responsible for marketing and technology. My main profession however is in IT with 25 years-plus experience! I left high school to become a stable hand and pursue career in racing but ended up in technology.
I obviously have a passion for harness racing in particular, but love all racing. My first ever winner as an owner was a Thoroughbred horse in the UK. All the different aspects that go in to making a race meet from operating the track to training the horses. It's the best sport in the world. I have a small harness breeding establishment in New Zealand.
You talk about racing needing to be fun. How do we achieve that goal?
Simplicity and interaction – whether that's wagering, handicapping contests or just at the track. We all know that a big hurdle is the fact there's a lot of jargon for the novice to learn. That is part of the appeal of 123racing, as well as friendly competition.
Color – this may sound petty – but the industry can be a little stale and data based. Elsewhere in the world the racecards often display the jockey's colors next to the horse, and believe it or not people will genuinely make their picks because they like the horse's name or they like the colors! You would be surprised what a difference that makes to the fun of betting compared to not having that for the novice. I think Equibase have looked into providing this and may even be working on it.
Attracting younger handicappers is obviously a major challenge that has been facing the industry for some time, and let's face it, they like to have fun. So I see making racing fun and attracting younger racegoers as going hand-in-hand. Generally they like noise, entertainment, competition etc. I've noticed Emerald Downs do a great job of this. They have great family days, 'guys' days, etc, and an excellent young marketing director who loves racing. But they also have nice new facilities and that brings me on to my final point on this…
Unfortunately something else often required is investment! People that love racing, generally really do love the sport and are crying out for innovative and fun products. The problem is that often takes investment and flexibility. Those are typically hard for operators who are generally strapped for cash, and that's a hard cycle to break. It's also difficult for new entrants to enter this market, which is normally a source of innovation and new life for an industry.
For example it has taken us around five years to get the wager built, approved, licensed, tested at the track, approved again for Model Rules, as well as getting the online platform built, licensed and approved, etc. But working with Sportech as a technology partner and on the back of fantastic rates of recurring play and consistently great feedback, we are now raring to go!
How does the 123racing Pick6 differ from a traditional Pick 6?
· Better odds of winning – you only have to beat the number of entries in the pool, not hit every race. Average odds of hitting the Pick 6 could be let's say 50,000 to 1. If 123racing has a $5K pool – that means there were 2,500 $2 entries, and therefore all else being equal you have a 1 in 2,500 chance to win the pool
· There is a guaranteed payout/winner every pool.
· You're in it until the last race – you do not have to hit the board in every race. If a pick isn't placed it just doesn't score you any points.
· There's always a winner – the top three points scoring wagers share the pool. Wagers that score the same amount of winning points divide the payout.
· Fun and interactivity of a leaderboard to compete against your friends, and see how you compared to the industry – added entertainment for your dollar.
· Leaderboards also display the location the wager was placed.
· The method of placing the wager is exactly the same. The only difference is that your wager ticket is assigned a random nickname and you follow you progress on leaderboards either on-screen at the track, on mobile or online.
· Tracks could alternatively choose to operate a 123racing Pick4, Pick6 or even a 123racing Pick10 or Pick12 because the odds of winning do not depend on hitting every race. Pools could also have a side-pool carryover for a Perfect Pick if a track so desired. This just requires a little development.
How was it developed and what is the reason you came up with this new bet?
The original concept began at the track in New Zealand where I was a director and I created the 123racing FREE play version which over a 12 month period attributed to the increase in budgeted handle by $4.6 million.
We developed a 'block box' tote technology that can be integrated with any tote platform in the world, and initially integrated with the Sportech Quantum Tote platform.
We would like all U.S. tote platforms to enable the wager, and even global tote operators to integrate and commingle pools. Imagine leaderboards pitting players from different countries against each other and visible on the leaderboards. We'll get there!
Brand 123racing Pick6 Handicapping Ambassador Ellis Starr, also known as “Ubercapper”, is the National Racing Analyst for Equibase, producing widely distributed selections and analysis for various tracks around the country and writing a “Weekly Feature Race” article highlighting the best racing has to offer. Ellis has been a public handicapper for over 20 years and was one of the first to publish selections on the Internet, sharing his insights as well as the methodology he uses daily. Ellis is a regular racing analyst on the Horse Racing Radio Network on Sirius/XM and when not on the radio, producing selections or participating in handicapping contests, he can be found engaging with fans at the track, helping them become more comfortable with handicapping and wagering.
Keeneland, Friday, Oct. 10
Race #5 Contenders: Stock Yard Hen, Small World, Sky Bird, Songoficeandfire
Stock Yard Hen just ran second at a bit over a mile and one-quarter and was well clear of the next horse so if able to get this mile and one-half trip should run even better. Small World won in her turf debut last time out at a mile and three-eighths. With apprentice Saez aboard I suspect the strategy will be to send her to the lead and try to slow things down early and hold on for the win. Sky Bird, a maiden, just missed to Small World and deserves a long look at the outcome. Songoficeandfire has run well in all three races since her debut, all on turf, and is bred to handle the distance very well.
Race #6 Contenders: Conquest Bigluck E, Indygo Bo, Dom the Bomb
Conquest Bigluck E won in his debut in June with a mature rally from off the pace and could fire fresh off the bench again. Indygo Bo won his debut in August, also rallying from off the pace then was flattered when the third finisher came back to win. Dom the Bomb led from start to finish in August against then was flattered when the second horse came right back to win. He's facing tougher here as he beat Illinois breds only but he may be up to the task.
Race #7 Contenders: Marine Patrol, I'll Call, Tattenham
Marine Patrol won in April at Keeneland on the turf at this nine-furlong distance. He's 4-for-11 on grass in his career and his best efforts would make him very competitive here if repeated. I'll Call has a win and a second at Keeneland on the turf and drops out of stakes company so could improve back to competitive form. Tattenham won at the one lower NW2X level before three stakes tries and could return to top form facing easier company.
Race #8 Contenders: Risk Parity, Waging War
Risk Parity improved from third in his debut to second last out and appears to be coming up to a winning effort. Waging War showed good ability in his debut at Saratoga when fourth then had trouble in his second start. With two strong workouts coming into the race he should improve off his debut and can win.
Race #9 Contenders: Sky Treasure, Ageless, Free as a Bird
Sky Treasure should get a very fast and contested early pace to run at with up to five of these having a need-the-lead style. She finished fast and just a half-length behind Ageless in a Grade 3 stakes race, in July before winning and enters the race in top form. Ageless is 4 for 5 on grass including that Grade 3 win in July and won this past spring at Keeneland in the similar Giant's Causeway Stakes so looks very tough. Free as a Bird finished second in the Giant's Causeway this spring and has won four in a row since then, all on turf, making her a strong contender.
Race #10 Contenders: Muazzaz, Miraculousmo, Holiday Weave, Ghostwalking
Muazzaz goes for his third straight win and could get it, with field high 101 and 99 Equibase Figure efforts to repeat or improve upon. Miraculousmo is 3-for-8 this year, comparing favorable with the 4-for-8 record of Muazzaz. He just won at the level with Castanon up then as now and if the top pick can't lead all the way he's the most likely to go by for the win. Holiday Weave has been first or second in 6 of 10 races at this seven-furlong trip in his career and deserves consideration as a contender as well. Ghostwalking won one race before last and cuts back from two turns to one which could help him run better.
Suggested 123racing Pick6 Ticket:
Race 5 – Stock Yard Hen, Sky Bird, Small World
Race 6 – Conquest Bigluck E
Race 7 – Marine Patrol
Race 8 – Risk Parity
Race 9 – Sky Treasure, Ageless, Free as a Bird
Race 10 – Muazzaz
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