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Friday, July 1, 2011

Good News and More Coupled Entry Thoughts

There is good news in New York State as the NYSRWB has established a Fan Advisory Council (FAC) to advise the NYSRWB and stakeholders in the state about improving racing for fans.  The five members of this board will be selected by the Chairman of the NYSRWB (3 selections) and the heads of the Senate and Assembly Racing committees (1 each) and each member will serve for a term of five years.  Being this council is supposed to represent thoroughbred and harness racing, one hopes the committee has at a minimum two fans who have experience with harness racing to give the council balance.

No doubt, it would be better if a national council could be established but being racing is fractured along state lines, it is certainly a progressive move on New York's behalf to establish the FAC.  Of course, the proof is in the pudding so as long as this council is listened to and most of its recommendations are implemented it will be a good thing.  If, as it often happens, the stakeholders pay lip service, it will be a lost opportunity.  In the meanwhile, other states would do well to emulate the FAC model. 

More thoughts on the situation of when to couple and when not to come to us from Harness Racing Update.  In their interview with Trond Smedshammer, as to why he was unable to drive in the Beal Memorial last week, Smedshammer believes uncoupling entries is a bad thing for harness racing.  Specifically, Trond said:

I understand the argument that they want as many betting interests as possible in the race. There still needs to be someone looking out for the interests of the bettors. It doesn't matter if I drive, or it's two catch drivers with same the ownership, same trainer, same connections, they are not going to hurt each other. That's just the way it is. I knew, and everyone else knew, that if Pastor Stephen didn't get to the front end in that race, there was going to be a hole there because of a stablemate on the inside. Being a handicapper, you know those things. That's why they should be 1 and 1A, and 2 and 2B. I think they're headed in the wrong direction when they eliminate all these entries.

These comments were made regarding a $500,000 race.  This would suggest the thinking in a big money race everyone is racing for themselves may not be the case; at a minimum they are going to give their uncoupled stablemates a hole to drop into in a race.  Yes, the everyday gambler will recognize this is going to happen, but what about the once a week or once in a while horseplayer?  Will they know this?  There is a good chance they won't and while the experienced gambler knowing this and the occasional gambler being ignorant of this situation gives the experienced gambler an advantage which they love.  Unfortunately, I think racing needs to protect the interest of the novice; after all if we don't, there is a good chance the occasional gambler will not become the experienced gambler. 

Yes, coupled entries can eliminate Superfecta and Trifecta wagering in races, which may cost tracks and horsemen some money in the short run, but when almost every track has a Trifecta in every race  how damaging is it to give up a Trifecta wager once in a while?  As for losing a Superfecta wager, tracks can easily shift the Superfecta to a different race or card the race out of the Superfecta slot.  While in the short term, money may be lost, in the long run racing can profit by protecting the interests of their fans instead of assuming it.  The best way to eliminate entries would be for more tracks to schedule stakes races against each other, this way the 2nd and 3rd string horse of a stable would have another race to compete in an effort to take down the winner's share of the purse.

Earlier we looked at Saturday's races of note.  I would be doing a great disservice to my readers by not reviewing the Ben Franklin FFA at Chester Downs on Sunday.  Here is my review of that race:

Harrah's Chester Downs 12th Pace - $500,000; The Ben Franklin FFA
1 - Bettor Sweet (Sears, 10-1) - Returns to rail where he won the Bettor's Delight.  Possible longshot play,
2 - We Will See (Pierce, 5-1) - Was leading into the stretch where caught at the end.  Draws inside.  Major contender.
3 - Aracache Hanover (Tetrick, 6-1) - Will attempt a rail trip again but don't think it will work in $500K race.
4 - Atochia (Napolitano, 12-1) - Has not been at best of late.  Will have to consider a toss.
5 - Ideal Matters (Palone, 10-1) - Seems to be biting off more than he can take.  Pass.
6 - Foiled Again (Gingras, 4-1) - May be tailing off.  Can't play at this time.
7 - Vintage Master (Dube, 7-2) - Pulls off an occasional victory, but likely share at best.
8 - Won The West (Miller, 5-2) - Has woken up to be the WTW of old.  Does draw post eight.
Selections: 2-1-8

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