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Thursday, September 17, 2009

Judge's Scratch and Quarantine in the Program

Remember when your racing program did not list scratches? As a bettor you were in the dark trying to figure out why a horse did not race for a few weeks. Was the horse sick, just could not find a race, or did the trainer feel the horse needed some time off? Joe Bettor had no idea and usually had to make a guess. Of course, programs now list this information. You see 'Scratched - Sick', 'Scratched - Injured'; 'Scratched - Ineligible'. With these listings, you know what happened and you can make an informed decision when handicapping. But what do you do when you see 'Scratched-Judges'?

'Scratched-Judges' is the catch all for anything else and that is a problem. Was the horse scratched because it did not make it to the paddock in time (perhaps due to transportation problems); a rule infraction (such as pre-race testing violation); raced or will be raced in a different race (perhaps the horse was an also eligible in another race and got in); some other reason? If we want bettors to wager with more confidence, shouldn't we try to be as specific as possible? 'Scratched-Judges' should be used only when a horse is scratched due to a violation of a rule such as arriving late to the paddock, a mess up in the lasix area, pre-race positive or a medication error. Can't we say 'Scratched-Transportation' when a horse doesn't make it to the track due to travel issues (it could be the roads are icy); 'Scratched-Alt Race' could be used when a horse scratched out of a race to race in a different race; 'Scratched-Quarantine' could be used to designate when a horse is scratched due to being stabled at in a barn or track which is under quarantine restrictions. With this information, bettors will be able to make more informed decisions.

While talking about quarantine. Every summer horses come over from Europe to race in Canada and the United States and we even see foreign horses in the Breeders Crown. Would it be too hard to list after their name a 'Q' to indicate they are racing from quarantine or a '-Q' to designate a horse that was released from quarantine within the last ten days? A simple 'Big Trotter D (Q)' would suffice to designate the Denmark bred Big Trotter is racing from quarantine this week. After all, if I am betting on a race, I would like to know if a horse had been restricted during the week from being able to get out into a paddock or otherwise limited in its training. A brief write up in the program indicating the quarantine requirements for a horse in the United States, while not necessary, would be helpful.

Anything which can be done to give the fan/bettor more information within reason should be done. There is no reason why these changes can be implemented.