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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Dangle the Carrot and Make the Product Better?

Has racing gotten too boring and predictable for you? Fed up with someone getting the lead with a good number of the horses just following behind, hoping to get a trip instead of making their own trip? Maybe it is time to induce a more aggressive style of driving which will make racing more exciting and unpredictable.

What would happen if we took 25% of a purse and awarded it to the leaders at the quarter, half and three-quarters with the other 75% of the purse distributed as currently done? For example, in a $12,000 race, the leader at the quarter, half, and three quarters earns $1,000 each with the remaining $9,000 being distributed in the traditional 50-25-12-10-8 manner?

Think how it could make a race livelier. If a horse in our $12,000 race was able to wire the field, it would earn $7,500 instead of $6,000. A horse that guns for the lead and falters to fifth at the end of the mile would earn $3,450 instead of $600. A horse that goes for the early lead and is nowhere at the end of the mile will still come out ahead by $1,000. Conversely, stay back looking for a trip and finish first, you only earn $4,500; second $2,250 and so forth.

Picture all the three-wide moves on a half mile track as horses seek the cash at each quarter pole instead of sitting on the wood the whole way around the track.  Imagine action throughout the mile elsewhere instead of just the stretch run.  For those tracks with the passing lane, maybe that horse sitting second the whole way around waiting for the stretch will try to take on the leader earlier instead.  Who knows, it may actually look like a race instead of a game of chess.

If twenty-five percent of the purse is too much money to be used for quarter pole awards, let’s set it at a fixed rate for each track; perhaps a $1,000 per position at one of  the ‘A’ tracks; $500 per position at a ‘B’ track; $250 per position at a lower level track. The point is slow quarter rules don’t work. Using cash as a carrot may be what we need to make a race exciting from the start to the very finish. Not sure how it would works?  Then why don’t we have a trial period where money is added to a purse instead of deducted so we can evaluate the difference. I suspect we will see less horses going around for a ride and mutual pay-offs which would be of interest to the gambling public instead.

Let’s put it this way, what do we have to lose?


Anonymous said...

Interesting idea. Perhaps for Xtreme horsepower as a tester.


riceownz2 said...

Pacingguy its a very interesting idea. But what do you do about wagering?

Pacingguy said...

With regards to traditional pari-mutuel wagering, there is no direct impact as you would not be wagering on leaders at the fractional points; merely the traditional wagering.

I imagine with exchange wagering, down the road there could be potential for some proposition wagers such as who is leading at what point; does someone wire the field; which horse is in front at the most points of call, etc, but that may require the adoption of Trakkus at tracks where proposition wagering like this would be offered. All of which would improve wagering handle.

Scott Jeffreys said...

Dear Pacingguy : Among the obvious issues that face quarter position payments are these.

[1] Photo finish determination of the winners at each quarter pole.

[2] Horses/drivers turning into three-quarter mile (or worse) specialists to win a guaranteed $3000 or 25% of the total pot.

[3] Develop harness horses to hit the quarter pole in 25:0 so that you are guaranteed $1000 per week.

In short, if the sport wants variable distance racing, let's have variable distance racing ... but not racing within the race!

(Why does this feel like arguing about COME wagering in a craps game?)

Sincerely, Scott

Pacingguy said...

Scott, the amount used was just a suggestion. The amount can certainly be lower.

Let's say the amount was $750 for each quarter fixed regardless of purse. Do you think an owner would be happy with winning $2,250 when you could be missing out on the distribution of the remaining $42,000 purse in an Open? I don't think so.

Actually, this a variation of this idea is being used in NASCAR. You earn points for number of laps on the lead. The reason? To make the race more exciting. Our races are not very exciting and too formful resulting in poor payoffs. The idea is to get the races more exciting and unpredictable so payoffs can get bigger.

riceownz2 said...

My comment about wagering is more about the unfairness brought about with races within the race. Granted after a certain period of time past performance lines would show what a horse is going to do, but at first how would we know? How would we know what the intention of the owner/trainer/driver is? At least right now we "think" everyone is going for the win lol.

Pacingguy said...

Right now, when you handicap, you assume the race is going to be run a certain way. How many times do you figure a horse is going to leave or not and the opposite happens? No difference as the emphasis will be on winning the race.

Don't focus specifically on the idea of a fixed $1,000 per point of call or using 25% of the actual purse for these leading bonuses. Maybe the amount needs to be $500 or 10%? It is the concept which matters.