12/14/2007 12:26PM

Q&A 12/14/07


partisan says: I see that the NYRA and IRS settled by reducing the 1.6 Billion to 25 Million. Good news for the NYRA but not for us players since the federal court hearing might have led to a decision containing language criticizing the ridiculous IRS regulations which don't permit the full deduction of losing wagers against winning wagers. Any thoughts?

Lots of thoughts, most of them poisonous. The IRS regulations regarding gambling are uniquely unjust, failing to distinguish between gross proceeds and net winnings. If applied to any other business, they would bankrupt that business in less than a year. The NTRA's lobbyists understand the issue and have been making some slow progress in getting support for reform, but until track operators and influential industry individuals make this issue a priority, nothing will be done. Fairness aside, they should do so out of self-interest: I believe the parimutuel handle would easily increase by $500 million if money currently being unjustly withheld and/or confiscated were put back into circulation.

One promising possibility being discussed is to change the definition of a bet from $2 to the actual cost of a winning ticket. So if someone put in a winning $48 partwheel, reporting and/or withholding would not kick in unless the payoff were 300 times $48 ($14,400) rather than the current $602.

If you've had any substantial gambling winnings reported this year, you could be facing an even heavier burden than usual: Congress has yet to make any adjustments to the Alternative Minimum Tax and millions of taxpayers may be subject to it for the first time this year. The AMT hits winning horseplayers extra hard because reported gambling proceeds (not profits) are counted as gross income, the basis for the AMT, while offsetting losses are considered itemized deductions. You might want to consult an accountant now to consider any year-end strategizing rather than being faced with an unexpected tax bill on April 15th.

bandini says: Why on earth are U.S. racetracks built with the dirt course outside the turf course? This doesn't make any sense to me.

In many cases, it's because the main track was built first, coming as close as possible to the apron, and a turf course was added later. For newer tracks, the thinking probably was that with an overwhelming majority of races still run on dirt, those races shoul start closer to the stands. A prominent exception is Woodbine, where the 1 1/2-mile grass course circles the one-mile Polytrack

michael_doheny says: I just read your exotics betting book and you said there are some good pick 6 software products out there. Are there any that you care to recommend for those of us who do not enjoy going through the manual process?

The only one I ever used myself was something called Sixshooter, which allowed you to put in your main and backup selections and then generated a list of the necessary tickets. It has disappeared from my hard drive and I have no idea whether it's still available. More recently, several people (including a member of NYRA's board of trustees) have come up to me at the track and shown me little spreadsheet programs they've written and installed on their PDA's that do the same thing with A-B-C selections for pick fours. One of these days, I hope one of the account-wagering services will come up with a little suite of horseplaying software tools that interface with the actual betting screens. It's not really a timesaver to have a program generate the ticket combos if you then have to enter them manually.

tony says: [Saturday] there was a David Jacobson horse who was # 2 in the race and the form had him listed as being in the 11 hole . So even through he was the best speed i don't play him and when the race goes off he breaks from the rail and wins easy . What was that about ?

Explosive Count, the David Jacobson trainee who won the sixth race Dec. 8, was correctly listed as breaking from post 11. The rail horse in that race, Favorite Sweep, ran second. It may have been confusing because the winning program-number exacta was a 2-3 even though by post position it was an 11-1 finish.

bc says: Two questions for you: First, with the unusally large number of races involving NY-bred horses in front of us over the next few months, where can a handicapper find pars for these races? Second,at the last Expo in Las Vegas, I seem to recall a discussion that took place about the possibility of including in the DRF race pars for all races.Is that a possibility ?

Current pars for many conditions can be found in print and online versions of Simulcast Weekly. As a crude rule of thumb, pars for NY statebreds are generally 7 to 10 Beyer points lower than the corresponding open condition, i.e. an open N1x sprint par is around a 94 and a statebred N1x is an 86. It is still DRF's intention eventually to publish pars in race headers, but that project has been further complicated by the introduction of new racing surfaces and a lack of sufficient data to produce reliable pars for those surfaces.

kelso13 More than 1 year ago
Steve, Do you still think that the threat of racing being stopped in N.Y. is a longshot?You can never under estimate the ability of the Albany pols to mess this up.The clock is ticking and the potential for disaster looms.Every one suffers if this happens.Horsemen,players and all NY residents.
Machouno More than 1 year ago
Steve, I've been a serious handicapper for the last fifteen years (and I'm only thirty). Recently, I read a book by Dick Mitchell called "Commonsense Betting" that made me realize for the first time that you can really make a living betting on horses. Do you know of any more literature that could point someone in the right direction if they were looking to make a career out of betting horses? I'm not really looking for systems but more of a "How To" on how one would get started.
bobcec More than 1 year ago
Just a comment on your news stories on the home page. For the casual race fan, it would be helpful to include links to the race charts of the referenced races. For instance, in today's (12/15) story on the Hollywood Starlet Stakes, the Alcibiades,the Sharp Cat and the Del Mar Debutante were mentioned. Including the race charts would take some decision making and extra programming I assume, but would add to the interest in the stories.
Justin More than 1 year ago
Since NYRA does not race again until 12/26, and Albany is still futzing around......is it possible that that may be the last week of racing in this part of town for awhile, or will some magical force be bestowed upon us. IS ANYBODY ACTUALLY LISTING TO THE HORSE PLAYER HERE??????!!!!!!!
tracy hernandez More than 1 year ago
I have never heard of canceling races for the following day while running the same day..have you? Aqueduct cancel races on saturday for sunday before running on saturday? I wonder if the races were cancel because Dutrow threaten to scracth his horse Ferocious Fires if it rain. I think the stewards chicken out and gave in to Dutrow...if thats the case whatabout the other 3 horses that were ready to run? Aqueduct management should have waited till Sunday morning till deciding...the rain may neve come...but by canceling they get an extra day off....
Dan MacKenzie More than 1 year ago
Here's an interesting article about the Groetzinger tax ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1986 and another ruling in Minnesota in 2006. I guess the trick to minimizing your tax liability is to make gambling your full time occupation: http://casinocitytimes.com/article.cfm?ContentAndContributorID=29735
Robert Madison More than 1 year ago
Not sure if this has been asked previously; this has to do with lifetime records of horses at particular tracks. Since there are more and more tracks switching to synthetic surfaces, wouldn't it be more accurate to begin giving lifetime records of horses at the particular track's synthetic surfaces instead of just at the venue??
kyle More than 1 year ago
Steve, On the IRS thing. A compromise such as changing the threshold amount to $1000 while taxing winnings at 100-1 or more but using the actual amount of the ticket I think could be sold. Any thoughts?
Ogygian23 More than 1 year ago
Oh yeah Steven, one more thing: I'd like to propose yet another BC race- this one for 7 YO Ridgelings to be run at 1 5/16 miles in the slop. Did I happen to mention that I own a horse by Black Tie Affair with an undescended testicle, foaled in March of 2001?
Ogygian23 More than 1 year ago
Steven- any chance NYRA could offer an "open ended" Pick 6 bet? By that I mean the bettor wagers the full ticket amount before the first leg, but only picks his first leg horses at this time- e.g. I bet $128 on the pick six before race #4, and I designate horses 3 and 7 as my pick for that leg. If I'm still alive for the 5th, I have 32 combinations left for 5 races. I single the winner in Race 5, then I have 32 combos for the last 4 races...etc..ect. So long as I don't exceed the 64 total combinations, I can decide my picks right at each post time. Pluses- can take advantage of track biases, "smart money" is such exists, and problems with late scratches. Also, it would add an element of "liars poker" in the late legs (e.g.- you and several other bettors have to single the 9th, do you go with chalk?) Minuses- no payoff probables could be shown at the opening of 9th race. What say You?