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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Have You Sent Your Letter?

Previously, I had written about a proposed rule change up for public comment in New Jersey.  This proposed rule change would institute a fair start rule in New Jersey, requiring horses who are 200ft (2/3rds of a football field) behind at the start of a race to be scratched from the mutuel pools and refund those wagers.  This rule would mirror the fair start rules in effect at Woodbine and Mohawk as well as the other harness tracks in Canada.

Have you sent in your comments to protect your own interests?  The current rule in New Jersey does not protect the gambler and is encouraging gamblers to give up harness racing.  How can a horse lose before a race actually starts?  Yet this is what is happening when wagering continues as the starting gate moves.  Under the current rule, a horse can be 200ft (2/3rds of a football field) behind at the start and be considered a legitimate starter.  How can this be?  After all, under the old recall rules that same horse would have been scratched as uncompetitive.  What now makes this horse competitive?  Nothing.

To ensure this rule gets implemented, people need to make their thoughts known in support of the proposed rule change.  If you don't have time to write your own letter, you can copy the following and fill in your name and address and mail it in (e-mails not accepted).  The important thing is to get your comments in before the public comment period ends on November 6.  Not a resident of New Jersey?  With simulcasting, it doesn't matter.  If you play the Meadowlands through simulcasting you have an interest in this rule as well.

You don't often get a chance to stand up for your rights in horse racing.  Here is your chance.  Don't let the opportunity go by. 

The sample letter follows:

[Your Name]
[Your Address]

Frank Zanzuccki, Executive Director
New Jersey Racing Commission
P.O. Box 088
140 E. Front Street
Trenton, New Jersey 08625

Re: PRN 2010-185
Mr. Zanuccki,

I am writing today in support of the proposed amendment to N.J.A.C. 13:71-17.1, regarding the implementation of a fair start rule in the State of New Jersey for harness racing.  The implementation of a fair start rule would be a net positive to the standardbred racing industry as it would reinstate protection for horseplayers wagering on New Jersey standardbred races which was lost when the recall rule was previously revised. 

Under the original recall rule, if a horse was deemed uncompetitive before the recall pole, a recall was ordered.  If a horse caused two recalls, the horse was scratched and wagers involving the offending horse were refunded.  When the recall rule was revised, an error was made by failing to introduce a fair start rule at the time; leaving the horseplayer’s interests unprotected.

If wagering ceased when the gate begins to move, a legitimate argument could be made not to refund wagers on uncompetitive horses as it could be argued the race has begun.  However, allowing wagering to continue during the roughly thirty plus seconds it takes for the field to reach the starting point indicates the race has not begun.  To not refund wagers in the situation described in the proposed rule change would be like not refunding wagers on a thoroughbred who can’t be loaded into the starting gate; a situation which would never be allowed.

I understand a refund in wagers would result in tracks and horsemen not earning commission on the refunded bets, but this is short sighted.  For an industry seeking to retain and obtain new gamblers, how does the industry benefit by losing horseplayers who consider it unfair to lose a wager this way and decide to no longer wager on harness racing?  The current rule encourages the exodus of gamblers from racing.

For the reasons above, I encourage the adoption of the proposed rule change.


[Your Name]        

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