In perhaps far reaching news news, the French government has revised their betting laws opening up for the first time their markets to foreign betting operators provided they pay revenue to the government and the sport producing the product. In effect, if a bookmaking company wants to accept wagers on harness racing at Vincennes, the track needs to be compensated. However, in an important ruling, the new legislation effectively outlaws Betfair as betting exchanges have been banned. While betting exchanges accounts for just under 10% of the wagering market it has been growing. The reason betting exchanges have been outlawed is that they don't contribute funds to the sport the wagers are being accepted on. This legislation can be far reaching as British interests are looking to get their government to outlaw betting exchanges as well.
This news will surely cause some turmoil. Some people were arguing betting exchanges were the wave of the future as it allows new wagering opportunities with minimal cost to the bettors. However, it is unreasonable to expect any sport to produce a product and have other people profit on their product without sharing part of the revenue. Yes, it may be old way thinking but it is a question of fairness. It is one thing to when Joe and John have a personal bet on their own on a sporting event; it is totally different when a company makes money facilitating this type of wager.
That being said, racing needs to offer new wagering opportunities to their fans besides the traditional win-place-show and exotic wagers currently offered; perhaps some proposition wagers like which driver will win the most races on a program. It is also important to get the takeout reduced so the need for betting exchanges is greatly reduced; the main reason the exchanges exist is to circumvent the onerous takeout rates. Rather than gloating, racing interests need to take heed as to why betting exchanges have been popular in the first place and correct the situation, otherwise people will flock to other betting alternatives.
Saturday not only brings the curtain down on The Red Mile grand circuit meet, it is the unofficial end to the regular season for the stars and upcoming stars of harness racing. After this week, the only major stakes races remaining for the year are the Breeders Crown eliminations and finals at Woodbine and The Matron Stakes at Dover Downs.
The Red Mile concludes with the strongest card of the meet. While Muscle Hill is taking the week off, Explosive Matter will be leading the Bluegrass Series for 3yo trotting colts and geldings. The Tattersalls for 3yo pacing colts and geldings features Well Said looking to complete the Little Brown Jug/Tattersalls double. Not to be out done, there are several divisions of the Allerage for older horses. Lanson leads the field for the Open Trot; Buck I St Pat leads the field for the Fillies & Mares Open Trot; Southwind Tempo leads the Fillies & Mares Pace; and a field of all-stars headlines the Horse & Gelding Pace. Even if you don’t wager on the card due to the likelihood of low pay-offs, if you are a fan of harness racing you want to watch this card if possible.
The third race is the first split of the Bluegrass. Russell Hill raced a credible fourth in the Kentucky Futurity elimination where he met Muscle Hill and Explosive Matter. He did scratch out of the second heat; no doubt because he had enough of the Hill and with the poor post draw his connections decided to call it a day. Russell Hill meets an easier field here and can start off the stakes portion of the card with a minor upset. Tom Cango finished fourth in his elimination of the Futurity and returned to finish third in the final; is the logical pick but draws poorly. Howthehaloareyou was victorious in a late closer; may be good enough to pick up the show position. Magic Carpet Ride raced against a very good field of aged trotters in last start. There is no Lanson in this race; must consider in exotics and is a possible long shot.
Lanson leads the field for the Allerage Open Trot (fourth race). Many of the same horses he beat last week return; no reason to think he can’t repeat. Gift Kronos finished second to the top pick in last race; completes chalk exacta. ABC Mercedes jumped last week when second; can pick up share if he minds his manners. Farifant may have enough to pick up the last position in the super.
Buck I St Pat is the overwhelming choice to win in a short field of five trotters in the fifth race, the Allerage for Fillies & Mare trotters; 1-9 is not impossible. Classic Lane is the choice in what really is a race for second. Diana Hall steps up but did show a decent line against Buck I St Pat in the Conway Hall at Vernon Downs. Dynamite Diva is the best of the rest.
In the Allerage Fillies & Mares Open for pacers (sixth race), Southwind Tempo is the horse to beat in another short field as she was very impressive in the Milton at Mohawk. Tug River Princess raced credible in her first start back against Southwind Tempo by finishing fourth after racing from the ten hole; lands second. Hana Hanover has been racing well all year; should complete trifecta. Apricot Brandy finished second in an overnight open here after a brief layoff; may sneak into exotics.
In the seventh race, the second split of the Bluegrass, Neighsay Hanover is a tepid pick to win. He is clearly the best but draws the worst of it. Photoforwin broke in last at Delaware but has a couple of third place finishes to Muscle Hill. If he minds his manners in his return to the larger oval and things don’t go Neighsay Hanover’s way he can deliver a shocking upset. Broadway Bistro draws inside and meets easier, completes the trifecta. Judge Joe’s best efforts are on the half mile racing on the lead; may improve this rating.
The eighth race, the Allerage for aged pacing horses and geldings brings the nation’s best aged pacers together. Being last week’s $10,000 elimination was raced to eliminate only one horse, don’t let last week’s races alone determine your picks. Shadow Play is one of the gutsiest horses around but unfortunately has soundness problems due to problem feet. In his first race back after a scratch-sick, he raced an uneventful fifth. Should be tighter this week if he makes it to the post; my pick with the money on the line. Mister Big is coming to a conclusion of a successful career. While the victories are spotty this year, don’t discount him with the ideal trip. Shark Gesture has been racing well; lands show. Art Official has lost a step from last year but can complete the superfecta.
The first division of The Tattersalls (ninth race) may be the more competitive of the two splits. Vintage Master seems to have bounced back from his performance in the second heat of the Jug; draws the worst of it but should be able to pick up the win position. Carnivore has turned into a nice colt; can once again pick up the place spot. Annieswesterncard has been racing out of the spotlight all year; I expect big things for this gelding as a four year old. In the meanwhile, my pick for show can improve with a trip to land second. Straight Shooting is the best of the rest.
The tenth race is another division of the Bluegrass. Explosive Matter may be 1-9 by race time and will show once again he had the misfortune of being born in the same year as Muscle Hill (no disgrace as he also earned over $1 million this season); romps as his connections consider racing him in the Orsi Mangell in Italy this November. Swan For All had to overcome problems as he has made only two starts this year. He has been undefeated in this shortened campaign. With his win in a 3yo open overnight in last, he may be fresh enough to pick up the second spot and add some value to the exacta. Calchips Brute has the back class to be a factor; can improve rating to compete for second. P J Clark had shown some success in Canada. Finished second to Swan For All, consider in exotics.
The second split of The Tattersalls (eleventh race) features the future pacer of the year Well Said. While I see him winning here, the Jug winner has shown he can throw a clunker in when his connections dip into the well once too often. If less than even money, watch and appreciate his abilities. If I Can Dream is the horse who can upset if the top pick is off. Hypnotic Blue Chip came out of the NYSS to finish third in Bluegrass against Vintage Master; possible If I Can Dream – Hypnotic Blue Chip exacta? Vertical Horizon has been racing well; draws the worst of it; completes the exotics.
Another great year of racing at The Red Mile comes to a conclusion on Saturday. Based on what we saw this meet, it looks like next year will be another great year of racing.