The road to the Little Brown Jug has begun in earnest with the announcement that the first Little Brown Jug future wager of 2009 will begin on Thursday, July 23rd. Well Said is the 2-1 favorite in the first pool. The press release also indicates that wagering will be accepted at racetracks and Internet wagering sites throughout North America and Europe. Unfortunately, not all tracks will accept the wager. Checking the Meadowlands and NJAW's schedule, they will not be accepting wagers.
Last year I inquired why the Meadowlands did not offer the LBJ future wager and I received a nice response. Several reasons were given. The Meadowlands did not want to divert attention from their harness meet, the information provided gamblers is spotty, interests are limited to 24 betting interests, and lastly there has not been a demand for the wager.
I give the Meadowlands a .375 batting average on their reasons. First, let's go over where I think they strike out.
Not wanting to divert attention from their harness meet - First of all, the big pacing race is done and over. Do they really think having a future wager on the Jug is going to divert attention from the Meadowlands meet? No one says you have to over promote the future wager. Keep it low key. Let people know the wager is available, make programs available. That is it. Secondly, this is parochialism at it's best. Name any race in harness racing which gets 50,000 people to show up to watch in the middle of the week (or even on a Saturday) and gets many of the top horses to race even if it means racing in heats over a half mile oval. Doesn't being one of the top two harness races in the United States overcome parochialism? Apparently not.
There has not been a demand for the wager - Well, if you don't know about it how can you demand it? If the flagship harness track (for now) in the United States can offer future wagering on a thoroughbred race, is it too much for them to offer a future wager on the biggest American harness race outside of East Rutherford?
Wagering is limited to only so many interests, everyone else gets lumped as the field - On this one, they get half credit. True, if you bet in Vegas you get to bet the horse, not only 23 horses and a field. If you like someone in the 'Other 3 year olds', you get artificially low odds where as if you could bet one horse which the handicappers don't think deserves consideration you can get big odds. That being said, this principle doesn't cause the Meadowlands to turn down future wagering on the Kentucky Derby.
Past Performance Information is Incomplete - This is one issue where the Meadowlands is absolutely correct. Last year, the program information provided by the Little Brown Jug only showed the past performance information for the separate betting interests and no information for field horses. For the Kentucky Derby future wager, the Daily Racing Form not only showed the top 23 horses, it also showed the horses that comprised the mutual field. What will happen this year remains to be seen as the program pages have not yet been loaded onto the Jug website. There is no reason why all eligible horses can not be listed on a website version of the program. The Jug does not allow supplemental entries after the first three year old payment; other than that, the only other horse that can get into the Jug is the winner of the Cane Pace. There is no reason why they can't show past performance information for all the remaining eligible horses on the website; for those not eligible to the Jug but are Cane eligible, denote they are eligible only if they win the Cane Pace. It should be noted, the free program the Meadowlands offered for the Kentucky Derby only showed past performance information for the 23 horses, not those that made up the field so as long as the information is available online a free program offered at a track for the Jug future wager can only show past performance information for the 23 leading contenders.
I am sure other tracks are also declining to offer the LBJ future wager. Hopefully, if the program information for all eligible nominees is made available, those tracks which don't offer the future wager will change their mind.