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Friday, January 14, 2011

Time to Bite The Bullet

News comes, courtesy of Harness Racing Update, that Yonkers Raceway is planning to change the distance of all their races to a 1 1/16 miles probably around February 1.  While this ties in nicely to my column of yesterday, it brings to the table that the North American past performance lines must change to accommodate the odd distance.. 

The time has come for mile rates to be used in the past performance programs instead of the actual times.  First of all, if a horse that has been racing at Yonkers at the  1 1/16 mile distance ships to another track, be it Monticello or the Meadowlands, shouldn't the gambler be able to have accurate information to compare the horses?  Right now, a horse could have won twelve starts at Yonkers at 1 1/16 with no wins elsewhere and ship to a track like the Meadowlands and the best win time this year will say "No Win Time at Std Dist".  What good is that to the handicapper? 

Let's say a horse has been racing at Freehold and his fastest win time was 1:58.3.  Now the same horse ships up to Yonkers Raceway and wins a 1 1/16 race at a mile rate of 1:54.  Six more races go by and that impressive win drops off the program and the horse ships to another track.  What is the program going to show as the best win time of the year?  1:58.3.  We are misleading the public as to this horse's ability. 

The conversion to mile rates is not difficult.  First of all for those tracks which continue racing at the standard  mile distance, the mile rate will be the actual time.  Only for those tracks where races are run at odd distances would the change be different.  Let's say we are dealing with a race at Yonkers run at the 1 1/16 distance, the fractional times may be converted to quarter mile rates while the final and actual times would be reflected at the mile rate.  Initially on the program, we may want to list the distance the best win time (reflected in mile rate was attained).  As more tracks card odd distance races, we can drop the distance the best win time was attained and report the best win time at the distance being contested today.

But it is not all about Yonkers.  Right now, we are defrauding the public when a horse racing at Maywood moves to another track due to its policy of the quick start, where they release their field 175 feet before the start, in effect lengthening the race.  Granted the the extra distance seems to be small, but it would be more accurate if their times were reported in mile rates. 

In addition, other tracks are starting to field occasional odd distance races be they sprints or routes.  As time goes on, the expectation here is the standard mile distance will become just another distance our horses race at.  The conversion to using the mile rate is inevitable, we may as well do it now. 

Lastly, reporting races in mile rates would be bringing our timing of races in line with non-North American harness racing countries, making our programs easier for them to understand our programs and facilitate simulcast wagering on North American races, something essential as the product becomes more globalized.    

Looking at some of the bigger races this weekend, here are my selections for four of them:

Friday, January 13th - Meadowlands 10th Race - $32,000 Mares Invitational
   3 - Ideal Nectarine (A Miller, 8-1)
   4 - Laughandbehappy (D. Miller, 2-1)
1A - Mano Cornuto (J Campbell, 6-1)

Saturday, January 14th - Meadowlands 5th Race - $50,000 Presidential Series FFA 1st Leg
6 - Bettor Sweet (J Campbell, 2-1)
3 - River Shark (D Dube, 7-2)
8 - Schoolkids (B Sears, 12-1)

Saturday, January 14th - Meadowlands 10th Race - $50,000 Presidential Series FFA 1st Leg
6 - Western Shore (D Dube, 3-1)
3 - Vlos (B Sears, 2-1)
9 - Thisbigdogwillfight (A Miller, 12-1)

Saturday, January 14th - Pompano Park 9th Race - $12,000 WO $10,000LT HDCP
   5 - Daley Deposit Only (D Daley, 9-2)
   4 - Four Starz Bling (B Ranger, 9-5)
1A - Mc Ryan Michael (R Macomber, 3-1)

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