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Thursday, February 25, 2010

Is Anyone Watching Out for the Gambler?

So the driver took the inside route gaining clearance in early stretch and commenced a vigorous urge.

Upon drawing even if not actually by the pacesetter some yards before the wire he abruptly ceases his urge and to the unskilled eye could be accused on pulling up.

But once no longer in apparent danger of actually winning, he visually reinstates his vigorous urge and finishes a safe second.

Of course there could be all sorts of explanations for what transpired many of them totally innocent regardless of how suspicious it may have appeared,

The problem is left to their own devices anyone who wagered on the driver’s horse is odds on to think the worst.

A percentage of those may elect not to bet on horses any more joining the vast graveyard of former horseplayers not all of whom are languishing six feet under.

Sounds familiar? Anyone who has followed the standardbred sport for any length of time has seen situations like this. As the author explains, there may very well be a legitimate reason for the driver's action. Did the horse take a bad step or feel like he was about to jump? Did the horses just stop for a moment? Could it be as simple as the driver blowing it? The problem is the wagering public often never knows. And then the horseplayer's mind goes into overdrive and an innocent event takes on a more sinister meaning. Will this be the final straw which causes the gambler to never return? What can be done to prevent this?

Maybe we need to treat the gambler with more respect.

This means the judges holding off on making the results official long enough to take another look at the stretch drive to make sure nothing was missed. You have the video tape; look at it before you make the results official.

For track management, it means showing a head on shot of the stretch run so gamblers can gain a different perspective of the stretch run (hard to believe some tracks don’t show the head on shot). Show an inquiry or objection even if there is no disqualification. Explain why or why not a placing occurred. Interview a driver after a race to ask him what went wrong in the race. Did the horse throw in a couple of bad steps or did something else happen? Put comment lines back in the program. How come a past performance line of a greyhound, thoroughbred, and quarter horse can have a comment line explaining what happened in a race but few harness tracks bother to provide comments? Not every person can see every race. Do you think it is in the wagering public's interest not to list comments like 'blocked in stretch' in a past performance line? Lastly, post fines and suspensions on the track website. At least then the public may see people are trying to watch out for them.

Drivers need to lodge objections if fouled. We know judges don't see everything. No, I am sure you don't want anyone to lodge an objection against you either. However, the moment a gambler places a wager on a race, he/she in effect becomes your employer. You have a duty to the gambler as well as the owner and trainer to protect their interests.

Maybe if we acted like we were watching out for the gambler, the gambler will not always think the worst. Perhaps we should give it a try?

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