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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Good for the Horsemen, Bad for the Bettors

The Little Brown Jug Society has announced changes to the Little Brown Jug which may take effect as early as next year. The most immediate change will result in the revision of the rule that requires two divisions when less than twenty horses are entered into the Little Brown Jug; the goal is to avoid having horses start in the second tier like they will this year. If the rule change was in effect this year, there would have been three divisions, two six horse fields and one seven horse field. Since nominations have already been made for the 2010 LBJ, for this rule to take effect next year, all horses currently eligible for next year's Jug and Jugette must agree; no doubt they will accept it.

This change alone can be summed up one way: Good for the horsemen, bad for the bettors.

Sure horsemen like this change because it ensures each horse gets their nose on the starting gate. I don't blame them for wanting this, but then track executives will wonder why handle is down; it is because tracks end up with five or six horse races (before scratches) which makes a race less desirable to the gamblers. If this was just occurring in the Jug it would be one thing; the Jug is an event and quite honestly, the lessor betting opportunities is not really of concern to the majority of the people in attendance. Unfortunately, this happens regularly at any racetrack that holds eliminations, In a quest to keep horsemen happy, there is a constant parade of eliminations with as few as six horses or less (even on a mile track) making the product less desirable. Need proof? Look what happened to the Meadowlands towards the end of the year when they had plenty of races with less than eight starters. Yes, I know horsemen make all the stake payments but if not for the gamblers, there would not be a racetrack for a race to be held at.

If you go to Walmart, the company determines what their customers want and then they find the supplier who can give them the product the customer wants. With racing, they give the customer what the supplier gives them and it is take it or leave it. This worked in the old days when racing was the only game in town which is not the case anymore. Any wonder why racing has a problem?

Fortunately, all is not lost with the Jug. They have also formed a committee to see if there should be conditions put in place to limit the number of starters in the Jug and Jugette. Being the Jug and Jugette usually draw at least sixteen horses, cutting the number of horses off there would at least ensure full fields race in each division. For other tracks, they should look at the Super Sunday format at Chester Downs and come up with something like Chester's rules for major stakes. Limit the field to a certain number of starters and seed the horses in the stake and consolations by earnings.

Remember, it is what the customer (fan/gambler) wants which matters in the long run. It is time to give them what they want.

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