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Friday Four-Pack 8.11.23
Barstool/Penn breakup. Preakness wants to move. See you in Philadelphia!
This was going to be a quick note saying the Four-Pack is on summer vacation after six straight months of publishing, but there’s too much going on.
So I’ll take a break from dominating in bags and losing to my oldest son over and over and over again in Rummikub to bring you a vacation edition of The Four-Pack.
And you can save your jokes on WHAT ARE YOU ON VACATION FROM YOU HAVE NO JOB!?! It’s my wife’s vacation. She’s a saint for dealing with me, especially over the last six months. The boys too. So save it.
I wrote this from my vacation. Just for you. So subscribe for free to receive new posts and support my work.
TODAY’S FRIDAY FOUR-PACK IS PRESENTED BY NYRA BETS
Want to thank NYRA Bets for giving MutStack Fans and new NYRA Bets users a great deal.
New users can take advantage of the MUT200 promo and get up to a $200 deposit bonus when they sign up at NYRABets.com. It’s where I’ve played for over 10 years. They are great. Bet any track, anytime.
When you use the MUT200 promo code you’re supporting MutStack. And when you play at NYRABets you’re supporting New York Racing.
What are you waiting for?!?
On the biggest news in sports media this
By now you’ve heard:
Dave Portnoy bought back Barstool Sports for $1.
Penn Gaming is teaming up with ESPN for ESPN Bet.
We’ve had a front-row seat here in Massachusetts of just how hard it was for the Penn/Barstool marriage to work in a regulated world, something that Dave mentioned in his video above.
We wrote in multiple Four-Packs about Mass Gaming Commission (MGC) Commissioner Eileen O’Brien and the apparent axe she had to grind with Barstool and their brand. Really from the first licensing Q and A with Penn CEO Jay Snowden.
Much of this was highlighted in the very public slapping of Barstool/Penn wrists over the obviously sarcastic Can’t Lose Parlay. We wrote about it back in March.
There were issues in Ohio as well. Minor issues (I mean, we’re really going to nitpick over Can’t Lose Parlay?????), but it felt like the gambling brand was always going to be under constant scrutiny from state regulators as long as Barstool was attached to it.
Eventually, Penn decided they wanted to break free. And you have Tuesday’s announcement.
For Penn…boy this is a lot of money. They move on from Barstool to team with ESPN - at a price tag of $1.5 billion in the first 10 years of the deal. And they didn’t even get an exclusive.
The ESPN ‘brand” has taken its own hits over the last three or four years. Are people going to line up to bet with them? I guess you try and recreate what Pat McAfee had going on over at FanDuel?
ESPN Bet has to compete with among others DraftKings, FanDuel, and soon Fanatics, which is backed by the deep pockets of CEO Michael Rubin.
It’s a very, very expensive move for Penn, but they have to feel like it’s a win to land with ESPN. And, in theory, now operate less encumbered in a regulated space.
And for Barstool it seems like a pretty clear win too*. Dave gets his company back. Gets to fly the pirate ship flag again. Content gets a huge boost. You’re already seeing that with Dave going after his team for not working hard enough. The buzz of Barstool Radio coming back…diehard Stoolies are excited. They should be.
And he does it all for $1. That's a win.
Okay, so the *. There is some sort of non-complete that Dave agreed to when he made this deal with Penn. Some speculation that the non-complete prevents Barstool from doing ANY advertising deals with sportsbooks. That seems hard to believe. No one has any details, other than Penn gets 50% if Dave decided to sell at some point. But no reporting about the non-compete. If we find out Barstool can’t work with ANY sportsbooks in ANY fashion (basically can’t take their advertising money) maybe we’ll reevaluate.
If you’re a sports bettor, you’re getting a new app in the fall courtesy of ESPN Bet. Hopefully, with good sign-up promos.
If you’re a Barstool fan, you’re getting a return to the type of content that made the brand so popular.
It’s a win-win for you. And a win-win for Penn/Barstool, too.
On a potential change to the Triple Crown…
Officials of 1/ST Racing, the owner of Pimlico Race Course in Maryland, have said that they intend to start a “discussion” about the possibility of running the Preakness Stakes at a later date, a move that would disrupt the traditional spacing of the Triple Crown, officials of 1/ST confirmed on Thursday.
Aidan Butler, the chief executive officer of 1/ST Racing, acknowledged that any change to the date of the Preakness would have “implications,” but he said that “the time has come to advance those discussions to the next step.”
“The schedule for the Triple Crown has been varied multiple times in the past, and a close look at making some changes is necessary for a number of reasons,” Butler said, in a prepared statement. “For one, allowing additional time between the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes would give horses a greater opportunity to prepare and be ready between the Derby and the second leg of the Triple Crown.”
So far, the operator of Belmont Park, the New York Racing Association, has no intention of shifting the date of the Belmont Stakes, according to a NYRA spokesperson. An elongated Triple Crown would also have a dramatic impact on the entire late-season schedule for 3-year-olds, disrupting the traditional summer events on the East Coast that lead up to NYRA’s Travers Stakes, held at Saratoga on the last weekend of August.
“NYRA has concerns about fundamental changes to the structure of the Triple Crown,” said Patrick McKenna, the vice president of communications for NYRA. “We have no plans to move the date of the Belmont Stakes.”
RE: change. Go for it. The current format feels antiquated to me.
Three weeks after the Derby run the Preakness, then a month later run the Belmont. Fine.
First Saturday in May is the Derby. First Saturday in June is the Preakness. First Saturday in July is the Belmont. Sure.
Just…don’t make it public this way. Preakness officials leak the story. NYRA immediately gets put in a spot where they have to say ‘thanks but no thanks’ because they’re blindsided by the report. They just signed a huge deal with Fox Sports so they like where they’re at. I get it.
Just brutal public relations, but the norm for the sport recently.
How about you work together behind the scenes, figure it out and then do what’s best for racing? But compromise is not something racetracks seem to do well in 2023. Just look at how many tracks run races at the same time (running races on top of each other) this Saturday when you’re firing away on NYRA Bets.
The Preakness has taken a major hit in recent years and Maryland Racing wants to move its race. NYRA has the big TV deal and a good spot on the calendar so doesn’t want to move theirs. Both are tied to the most important racing series in America.
This feels like it is going to get messy. It probably already is.
On a four-pack of quick-hitters…
Pretty cool to see what my friend Kirk Minihane has built over at Barstool with his successful podcast and loyal community of fans. It was downright staggering to see him put all his energy and effort into a wild three-hour live show last Saturday in front of 2000 crazy Minifans in Plymouth, MA.
Whitney’s right. Watched two guys go full man-hug at the announcement. A wild scene and show. Wasn’t sure it was a lock Kirk would be back for another three years based on comments from his own show.
But a confirmed three more years for KMS and Barstool’s Pirate Ship flying the flag at full mast again? Watch out.
Watched the first half of the Pats preseason game last night. Only cared about one play. New/old offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien ran one of those Welker/Edelman, quick, WR screen-type plays behind the line of scrimmage. I think it was to Tre Nixon. Doesn’t matter. That one play was enough to erase the stench of Matt Patrica and acknowledge how much easier a real offense run, by a real offensive coordinator, is going to benefit Mac Jones.
Happy to announce that if you ever wanted to mock me for a horse racing pick, live at the track, well in September you’ll get that chance! Thrilled to be headed to Philadelphia for the 2023 Pennsylvania Derby, working in the paddock, talking about the races all day for Parx Racing. Already shaping up to be a big day with trainer Brad Cox pointing his good three-year-olds there. Great stakes racing, full fields. More as we get closer to the big day in September. Pumped. Awesome opportunity.
On a Substack I want to recommend …
There has been a lot of news at Saratoga this week. We’ve been writing about it every race day in a separate section of MutStack, StackCapping.
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You can also find that daily content in the StackCapping tab above, but we hope you’ll subscribe. It’s a huge help.
Retired trainer Chuck Simon is in Saratoga and writes about racing every day. Much better than I do. I appreciate his honesty in writing about the sport. He’s also good when he does media with America’s Best Racing or is on the Steve Byk show. I have read every post he’s done here during the Saratoga meet. Must-subscribe for racing fans. Go subscribe!
Going to try and recommend a few more Substack reads over the next few weeks.
Saratoga post later with the usual coverage and maybe a winner. Same over the weekend.
Thanks for reading. Back to the beach.