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Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Despite What They Tell You Past Posting Occurs in Harness Racing

The first day of the International Simulcast Conference is in the books and the first panel discussion discussed the integrity of the wagering pools. One point which made is the wagering pools are secure; the reasons for odds changing after a race starts is not a result of past posting; just the processing of wagers already made.

Well, I am here to tell you this is a lie. Past posting is occurring every day in harness racing and I will explain why this is a case.

You bet a horse in a race and the starting gate moves. No sooner does the gate start moving that a horse goes off stride or refuses to race. The starting gate reaches the starting line and the field is released. Your horse is way, way back; more than 200 feet (2/3 of a football field) back. Do you get a refund? No. You lose your wager. How do you explain that? The only logical explanation is the race has started for wagering purposes. Well if that is the case, and the race has started, what do you call the wagering that is still going on once the gate is moving?

Past Posting.

That's right, every time a horse goes off stride once the starting gate moves and is hopelessly out of contention, there is past posting going on. The race has had to have started; otherwise how do you justify not refunding money to those whose horse did not get a fair start?

No doubt some people will say there is no past posting; the race did not start. If that is the case, we are cheating our customers. How do we justify not refunding money in a case when a horse is 2/3 of a football field back when a race starts? I have seen cases when a horse is closer to the paddock than the starting line when a race starts and there is no refund. Let's look at some other gambling products and let's say they did the same thing we are doing by not guaranteeing our customers a fair start:
  • You are playing blackjack in a casino and after the first card was dealt to everyone the dealer dropped the cards. The casino takes your wager away before you even saw your second card.
  • You play the maximum number of lines on a slot machine and the machine goes blank; it malfunctions. The casino keeps your original wager.
  • The thoroughbred you wagered on was cast (stuck on the ground) in the starting gate or the jockey was not on the horse before the starter releases the horses and the starter sends the field on their way. They don't refund your money.

If any of the these situations above occurred, what would happen? It would be an outrage and we would expect the gambler never to come back. Fortunately for those people who play these games, the people in charge know better. Well, how come harness racing doesn't know better?

If harness racing had a fair start rule, meaning a horse that was 200 feet or more back when a race started the horse would be scratched and the money bet on it refunded, we would be treating our customers correctly. You can make a case that a horse that is less than 200 feet back at the start is competitive, but if it is 200 feet or more back any chance of being relevant in the race is virtually impossible.

We know why there is no fair start rule. Tracks don't want it. Horsemen don't want it. No one wants to refund wagers because wagering contributes to the track's bottom line and the horsemen's purse account and their worst fear is having to refund any sizable amount of wagers due to a horse not being competitive before the start. This is why when the recall rule was changed, there was no provision for a fair start rule; where a horse must be within 2/3 of a football field distance from the starting line when the race starts in order for him to be considered a starter. I would like someone to explain how a horse that was that far back used to be considered uncompetitive under the old rule is now considered to be competitive.

Everyone says we need to get more interest (wagering) in harness racing, yet every time we have a horse that does not have a fair start we are chasing gamblers away, pushing them to other gambling games. All in the name of short term profit. Well, there may be a short term gain but in the long run racing is losing.

It is time for harness racing to treat their gamblers right by introducing a fair start rule. In the meanwhile, remember past posting is going on every time a horse does not get a fair start.


Scooter D said...

Outstanding work again Pacingguy. Why can't the powers that be understand what you are saying? We must keep the newcomers to our sport happy if we are to succeed. This stupid rule does the opposite like you said.

Ontario has it right and we should adopt those same type of rules. It looks like it will never happen though....more greed.

Pacingguy said...

Actually, you can help push the issue. In New Jersey I submitted a petition for a rule change to adopt the fair start rule. At the August meeting of the NJRC, they apparently voted to accept my petition and are in the process of drafting a rule change proposal for public comment. If it survives, the public comment period there is a chance it may get adopted. Of course, it would be helpful if the proposal was pushed in all the states.

Elsewhere in the blog, you will see information regarding this subject; just check the archive. You will find other entries which have a sample letter you can send your local racing commission.

Pacingguy said...

One thing which I neglected to mention in this posting is when the rules were changed to eliminate a recall in this situation, the racing commissions had to agree to no refunds. So one may argue the racing commissions did not protect the public's interest; they share the blame for this occuring.