Monday, February 23, 2015

The TVG-HRTV Merger/Buyout Thingy

TVG has bought out (or is in the process of buying out) HRTV. Some quick back-of-the-napkin thoughts on why this could be good and why it could be very, very bad.


  • TVG has better distribution deals, notably with carriers such as DIRECTV and Comcast. (Both channels are already on DISH.) TVG owning both channels could be the ticket to placement of HRTV (or TVG2, cause that's what it essentially will be), in more homes. That would be very good.
  • TVG and HRTV duplicate some tracks (like NYRA and Cali) while some other tracks get relegated to the almost-worthless "tape delayed" status. With both channels coming under the same network (and hopefully equal distribution of both channels), the opportunity could arise to show many more races live.


The Bad 

  • The worst case scenario is TVG taking all the good content from HRTV, running dual channels until the full acquisition is complete and then simply shutting down HRTV. I don't think that's what they plan on doing but that's the nuclear option.
  • There are a lot of things that each channel does well and I hope that TVG execs has the self-reflection required to incorporate some of HRTV's strengths at TVG. The entire day doesn't need to be filled with the on-air talents Pick 4 and Pick 6 tickets (most of which are absolute horrible bets). You don't need to spend an hour in the morning before the first race talking about a Pick 6; there are other bets and handicapping angles than Pick 4s/6s, and, incidentally, most of those are much better plays for over 90% of all horseplayers.


Something Else That Needs To Get Done

The press release announcing the buyout mentioned that TVG has new, state-of-the-art HD studios. That's nice and all but those studios are useless if the standalone TVG channel is SD.* (The only time TVG broadcasts in HD is when it's simulcasting over the FoxSports regional stations, like FoxSports West, etc.)

It's time to have a full-time, HD horse racing channel. Check that. It's waaaay past due to have a full-time HD horse racing channel. Horse racing is already a decade behind other sports in implementing HD technology and the time is now to fill that gaping hole.

So, TVG, when you're talking to the satellite carriers and cable companies, it's time to push for them to carry TVG HD, otherwise you're new studios are, for the most part, useless.

*Multiple things must occur to get HD on your TV at home: 1) the action must be filmed with HD camera, 2) transmitted from HD studios to 3) an HD channel (which is offered by a satellite or cable carrier), 4) which is then viewed through your HDTV 5) after you have purchased an HD package from your carrier. 

You'd be surprised how many people think they are watching HD when they are actually watching SD. Really surprised. Like shockingly surprised.

Speaking of lack of HD technology - the tracks as big of a problem as the broadcast channels. Santa Anita, New York, Kentucky, and several others, have HD cameras filming races at the track, but many, many more are still in the stone age, both in terms of the signal beamed out for simulcasting and the in-house coverage. It's time to get with the times.

Tweet Of The Week

I want to say "breed to Star Guitar" because, well, that commerical with John G. Dooley providing the emphatic "STAR GUITAR!" call is pure money. But Joe Theismann is a pitchman's pitchman.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Fountain of Youth: Tiring track or tired colts?

If you were watching Saturday’s Fountain of Youth with the hopes of catching a glimpse of a potential Derby-winning colt you probably came away a bit disappointed. That’s not to suggest that the Derby winner couldn’t be among this year’s field of three-year-old Fountain of Youth participants, it has more to do with the unimpressive way most of the field finished the mile and a sixteenth trip around the main track.

As Upstart lumbered across the finish line at Gulfstream Park I couldn’t help but noticed the sectional times at the top of the HRTV screen with the thoughts of “oooh, that ain’t good” running through my head. The early fractions were solid if unspectacular – 24.27 for the opener; 47.87 at the half; 1:11.65 – and then things started to fall by the wayside. The field then clicked off 1:38.98 at the mile - a whopping 27.33 fourth quarter split – followed by an “about-the-only-way-to-call-it” pedestrian 7.82 for the final 1/16th of a mile on their way to a final time of 1:46.80.

Horse 1/4 1/2 3/4 Mile Finish
Upstart 24.69 23.38 23.92 26.99 7.30
Itsaknockout 24.47 23.66 24.24 26.72 7.71
Frammento 25.20 24.21 24.50 26.26 6.87
Frosted 24.38 23.55 23.72 27.59 7.85
Gorgeous Bird 24.89 23.75 24.30 27.30 7.30
Bluegrass Singer 24.27 23.60 23.90 27.82 7.99
Juan and Bina 24.58 23.64 24.18 27.99 7.51
Danny Boy 25.31 23.86 24.07 27.47 7.36

Sunday, February 15, 2015

Less is more. Old is new.

Hi, I'm Matt. You may remember me from such blogs as SB Nation's And Down The Stretch They Come, or from Press the Pace on Twitter. I've been away from the keyboard for a while but now I'm back. Sort of. It's new but also the same.

The creation and beginning of "You're gonna need a bigger boat" is kind of a "new/old, back to the beginning" transition to blogging about horse racing from my perspective. I spent 4+ years writing for SB Nation and loved every minute of it even though the daily demands of keeping up a blog on that network ultimately led me to step away last fall. However, I knew stepping away from ADTSTC would not end my desire to write about horse racing, which is why I'm now here.

So why am back to blogging in relative obscurity, without the support of a large network and cutting-edge publishing tools?  Here are just a few reasons why I'm here and what will be different at You're gonna need a bigger boat as compared to ADTSTC:
  • Less structure to the content

    One of the great things about blogging is the fact that you have this blank canvass in which to convey an assortment of thoughts and ideas on particular topics. That's really why so many of us do it: to use a medium to express our opinions. Blogging is typically not something we do to try and be a sports writer or a mainstream journalist. Unfortunately, there's a tendency to drift towards what I'll call "No passion news" as a crutch to generate content and page views.

    Over at ADTSTC, I'd have posts on entries and odds, followed-up by a results post with payouts and other information. Those posts teeter-tottered between those sprinkled with opinions and analysis, and ones with simple, plain-fact information that could be found anywhere. The page hits were nice (and, unfortunately, addicting), but the sense of pride in the work was less than fulfilling. 

    This place is going to have a lot less structure than anything I ever wrote at ADTSTC. There will be handicapping pieces and writing about the goings-on of the horse racing world, but I want there to be more "me" in the writing and less "general news". I don't know if that makes any sense but it does to me and, really, I'm probably the only one reading this (other than the Basset Hound sitting next to me on the couch).
  •  Posts that wander off-topic

    I like horse racing. And baseball. And college football. And pro football. And fantastic movies like Die Hard, Road House, Jaws, Die Hard 2, Groundhog Day, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Point Break, Top Gun, A Good Day to Die Hard, Road House 2: Last Call (100% straight-to-video goodness) [edit: and, of course, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory. Under Siege... on a train!]; you know, the "Classics." I may, from time to time, post miscellaneous thoughts on any and all of those topics.
  • Less is more

    Yeah, I don't have access to thousands of photos that I can legally use in my posts. Or a network that can link and promote my posts across the vast landscape of the internet. But in many ways, that makes things easier. Sometimes simplicity is refreshing.

    While this platform provides fewer publishing tools as compared to my old location, you'd be amazed at how much time fine-tuning posts can actually take up when you're just listing out a table of entries for a stakes race. And while those tools invariably increase the reach of your writing, they can also cause the whole process to feel a little "heavy."

    Ultimately, this is just a place that feels right at this point in my writing/blogging life.
So that's what I'm all about here at You're gonna need a bigger boat. Less focus on key words, page views and Search Engine Optimization, and more emphasis on just writing about horses or discussing whether or not Steven Seagal could kick Dalton's ass. (Correct Answer: he could not.)

If you followed me over at SB Nation and have made your way to this site - "thanks!" If you're stopping by for the first time - also "thanks!" If you wandered here in a stuper and have no idea what's going on - cool.