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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

New Jersey Fair Start Proposal Update; Everybody into the Pool!

I know today has been a particularly busy day for me on the blog, but being I have been a strong supporter of instituting the fair start rule in New Jersey, I felt it important to post this update as soon as possible.  The bad news is the original proposal was not passed but referred to the racing commission staff for possible revisions which means a longer delay.  The good news is it looks like a fair start rule will be coming to New Jersey.

It is true that the fair start proposal, the one which was supposed to emulate  the Ontario rule was not approved but apparently the racing commission feels a fair start rule of some type is necessary to protect gambler's interests as the decision was made to direct the racing commission staff to propose a revised fair start rule to address concerns raised at the January NJRC meeting.

The concerns raised by those in attendance were the following: 

  • The proposed rule failed to address whether a horse eliminated from wagering is also eliminated from sharing in any purse money if the horse recovers form the poor start and continues to run in the race and qualifies for a portion of the purse.  Okay, apparently rule proposals need to be precise and you can't assume anything when it comes to rule making.. 
  • The commission also discussed whether the proposed rule should be modified to allow the payment of winning tickets if the horse finishes in the money.  I must admit, this option was something I did not consider.  In one way it would be more gambler friendly in the event the horse did finish in the money the wager would stand but in the more likely case the horse would finish out of the money and the gambler would get their refund.  Of course, the devil is in the details as to how the rule is actually modified.  For example, let's say the horse finishes third; does this mean those who bet the horse to show will get paid and those that bet the horse for place or win get their refund or as long as the horse gets into a paying position (say fourth in the Superfecta), all bets on the horse will stand?  How the rule is written with respect to this will be challenging to say the least.
  • The racing commission also contemplated the possibility of moving the fair start pole back to 330 feet (1/16 of a mile back) instead of 200 feet from the starting point.  Obviously, it would be best if the fair start point was the same at all tracks, but if it needs to be 330 feet to get it approved; so be it.  Why 330 feet instead of 200 feet in Ontario?  It's all speculation but it could be the fact the tracks already have a pole a sixteenth of a mile from the start; it could be the existing patrol cameras could not get a good view of the fair start point at 200 feet, or it could be a compromise with the horsemen and tracks who in all honesty rather there not be a fair start rule at all as they lose the commission on each refunded ticket. 
Like everything else, politics play a role as the racing commission is in the difficult position of trying to balance the interests of the racing public, horsemen, and racetracks.  Would a rule different from Ontario's be ideal?  Probably not, but make no mistake about it, getting a fair start rule in any of the racing states would be a big accomplishment and could lead to the establishment of a fair start rule in all racing states.  Rather than focus on the possible shortfalls the new version of the rule may have (there is nothing to say it won't remain 200 feet and we don't know how the NJRC staff may decide to handle wagers on bad acting horses that somehowy get into a payoff position), I rather focus on the fact the NJRC is actually working on taking steps which are gambler friendly; something that many racing commissions forget about and for that the NJRC needs to be congratulated.

We will continue to follow the Fair Start Rule as it continues to move forward in the rule making process.

Everybody into the Pool: HANA is sponsoring the first Pool Party for harness racing on May 27 at Western Fair to coincide with the running of the Molson Pace (FFA Pacers).  Not only will the pool feature the Pick 4, harness racing fans are being asked to determine which races in addition to the Molson Pace will comprise the Pick 4.  For further details, here is the press release announcing the event.

Why the Meadowlands will Succeed.  Earlier today we talked about how the drivers, trainers, and owners have been abandoning the Meadowlands.  Some people feel all is lost.  I don't feel that way.  Read this article from the NY Daily News and read the last paragraph.  I bet you he is right.

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