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Saturday, May 30, 2009

Improve the Program

The current race program provides a good amount of handicapping informaton if you watch the races every night. Unfortunately, not everyone is able to follow the horses that closely. This puts a lot of people at a disadvantage. What can be done to improve the program?

Show the base purse for each race. In some states, there is additional money added to the purse for state owned or restricted races. At the Meadowlands, they do not indicate in the program what races are restricted or have a preference for NJOS. As a result, you may see the same race in the past performance line for $10,000 or $12,500. Is this due to a hidden condition difference or other reason? A regular fan may know the difference is due to a purse supplement for state restricted races but someone who is not a regular will not. Even worse is when that horse ships out to another track. Seeing a purse of $12,500 may lead the fan to think the horse was in a better class race than he was. To solve this problem the past performance line should show the base purse for the class; in this example $10,000. In the same vein , the top of the program should show the base purse amount and underneath show the additional amount added due to a purse supplement such as "Plus $2,500 added for PA Sired" This would keep the information consistent.

In the past performance program, show the range of claiming prices in a claiming handicap race in addition to the base claiming price for the individal horse. Currently you see something like 25000clmhcp which tells you the horse was in a claiming handicap race and what tag it was in for. Was the race for 20-25000 claimers or 20-30000 claimers? Show the race as 20-25k clm hcp (22k). This way you see the range and the '(22k)' will let the person know what the horse was entered for.

Get rid of names for early closer and late closer series and show the conditions for the series instead. I know this is a step back. Let's say you are a regular at Yonkers Raceway and you see in the past performance a horse coming in from Pocono Downs showing "...ft WilkesBarre ...". Does a regular at Yonkers know this is a late closer for nw25000lt or 3pm races? It can even be a series from Yonkers. If you don't go all the time you may not know the conditions for the Hopeful Pacing Series was nw20000lt or nw2pm. The race line for Early or Late closers should show something like "nw25000lt/nw2pm lc". This way the person reading the program will be able to figure if a horse is moving up or down. If there is additional room to show the series name that is fine, but the conditions of the series should be shown.

For stakes races, ensure the type of stake is shown along with the name. For example, if you are going to show "ADIOS", make sure you show "ADIOS 3yo stk". I have seen a horse ship in from Maywood showing 'ABE LINCOLN" and it did not show that it was for 2yos. Yes, I can assume from looking at the horse it was a 2yo race, but I would not know if it was an early or late closer or a stake race. If a stake race, was it for IL breds or open company?

For condition races show all primary conditions. I am not a big fan of condition races but if we are going to have them, let's give people enough information. The Meadowlands will show a race that is non-winners of 2 races lifetime or $10,000 life time as nw2cd. There are times you will see in the same race horses showing nw2cd with different purse amounts. Odds are it is because the 'or' condition is different which means there is a better class of horse in one race versus the other. Show in the past performance "nw2cd/10000lt".

Meaningful comments are a must. These are critical. A lot of people can't come each evening or a horse is coming in from a different track. Was there a problem in the race? Who knows. Some tracks list comments, others don't. If the thoroughbreds and dogs can do this, why can't we?

With changes like this, the program will become more meaningful and more people will have a chance to win. After all, if people keep losing they eventually don't come back.

Are there any other changes you would like to see to the program?


figureman said...

good article, but why not have the program show the takeout for each type of wager and the takeouts at all tracks instead of showing comparative speed ratings which are totally useless to a handicapper?

Pacingguy said...


While I was concentrating on past performance information, this is an excellent idea. The Meadowlands prints the takeout rates in their simulcast program for the various states but not in the regular program. However, this information should be printed along with an explanation of what the takeout is and for the 'live' track, it should show a breakout of how the takeout is split.

Unfortunately, most tracks will not want to publicize this information so the USTA should mandate takeout information be reported to them and require the tracks to list a USTA web address where the information readily available.

As for the comparative speed ratings listings, I don't even know why they are showing them anymore. The USTA stopped updating these ratings a couple of years ago. Any track still using them is showing stale data. Some type of comparative speed rating list would be helpful, but the methodology used in the past is no longer valid.