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Monday, April 4, 2011

Gaining Interest with Prop Bets

Let's face it.  For most people when they think of harness racing, odds are they are thinking of Ben Hur.  Even amongst those who are fans of harness racing, there is a certain lack of excitement as the racing season tend to go on from January to December.  What could be done to improve the interest of hard core racing fans as well as those who are casual fans; perhaps even attracting a few newcomers?  What about proposition wagering?

Now, we are not talking about who is going to win the Little Brown Jug or the Hambletonian; but offering wagers which may keep the interest of gamblers for an extended period of time.  For example, how about the 3yo pacer which will have the best overall finish in the North American Cup, Meadowlands Pace, and Little Brown Jug?  For 3yo trotters, the horse with the best overall finish in the Canadian Trotting Classic, Hambletonian, and Kentucky Futurity?  Simply award points with first place getting 10 points; second place getting 9 points; third place getting 8 points and so on and at the end of the series of races, the horse with the most points is the winner.  This way, not only do you gather a source of additional revenue, you gather the interest of fans as they watch the whole series of races play out; hopefully increasing handle on individual races as well due to increased interest.

But it doesn't even need to be a series of races; it could be one particular series.  For example, the Levy at Yonkers Raceway consists of five preliminary legs and the final.  What if once the nominations closed, a proposition bet was offered where you had to predict the horse that would have the best overall finish in the entire series?  The winner would not be the one who wins the Levy final, but the horse which earned the most points in the series; again with points being earned in each leg of the Levy.  You would have the attention of gamblers for at least six weeks straight.  If a track has a series of major events for a certain type of horse, a track could offer a proposition wager for those races if they wanted to.  Voila!  Not only do you have a wager which earns the track money, but you also have a marketing campaign surrounding those events at little or no cost.

Now, I am not naive.  These type of proposition wagers will likely draw little interest without some juice added; after all we are talking harness racing.  Let's say we offered the 3yo pacing series proposition wager which includes races at Woodbine/Mohawk, Meadowlands, and the Delaware County Fair.  Each track puts up  $3,333.33 and we have at least a pool of $10,000 before the first wager is made.  Perhaps the USTA could fund part of a pool through their strategic wagering initiative?  A proposition wager could be tried with little downside risk for each participant.

What do you think?  What races would you use to create a proposition wager?  Let's hear from you.

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