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Sunday, January 29, 2012

We Have a Long Way to Go for Global Simulcasting - Prix Results

The Meadowlands offered wagering on the entire Prix d' Amerique card.  I appreciate despite the transition of the Meadowlands to new operators, they realized the Prix was not on the original schedule (NJAW is still controlled by the NJSEA), so hats off to the Meadowlands for getting the Prix put on the schedule with less than a week to go.

That being said, the Prix d'Amerique simulcast shows America is not ready for global simulcasting. Here are a few of the problems that came up with the simulcast.

1.    While full card simulcasting was being offered via the NJAW, there was no streaming of the early races, so if you wagered on races 1-3 and the Prix, you didn't know if you won or lost until after the fact; probably by seeing the results posted.

2.    Besides the morning line, all the horses in each race showed odds of 99-1; you had no way to know if a horse was getting public support or not. In addition "Unknown" was a busy person and also a very busy stallion and dam. On the website, every owner, sire, dam, trainer and driver was Unknown.

3.    In addition, according to NJAW every race was supposedly at the distance of one mile including the 1 11/16 Prix D' Amerique. Purses were not reported correctly.

4.    Races did not show if they were monté races (race 1), or sulky races with an autostart or vault,

5.    You may say I am picky, but if they can get all the information correct for Australian and European thoroughbred racing, they should be able to get the information correct for French harness racing.

This should not be taken as a slamming of the Meadowlands. A lot of the problems I am sure were caused by Scientific Games, which runs the NJAW site for the NJSEA.  Whether it was the short notice, the inability to get the program information in a timely manner, or just the fact they don’t have enough staff on duty for an early (7:45am) first post to get the information up it was inexcusable.  Of course, there have been problems with other harness simulcasts when it comes to multiple heats so it may be Scientific Games doesn’t know enough about harness racing.

However, there were other problems which took place outside of the actual simulcast.

It might have been good if a program was provided for the racing card. NJAW gamblers were left to their own devices to find a program or something similar to handicap the races. If not for Harness Racing Update providing
program pages for the Prix d'Amerique, a lot of players would be using information which is not easy to use, especially if they forgot their high school French (as did I).  Or I suspect with the exception of the Prix, they just sat out the races. If HRU could get program information for the Prix, I am sure such information was available for the other races. How hard would it have been to put the program pages on the website of NJAW?  I am sure gamblers would have been happy to pay Trackmaster or the Daily Racing Form for program pages if they would have been made available (free program pages would have been better).

It may seem like I am nitpicking, but not really. Clearly the American standardbred industry has more to do when it comes to foreign simulcasting of harness racing, in particular with importing races.   Bad enough program information is not standardized which makes it a challenge for handicappers, but how do we expect to make harness racing popular as a global simulcasting product when people can't get reliable information to make wagers? While it is sad most harness tracks survive with taking wagers on thoroughbred races, wouldn’t it be nice if tracks looking for more revenue for purses and operating expenses could get it by taking wagers on standardbred racing from Europe or Australasia?  To do this, it will be essential to offer a simulcast product which people can bet on; be it racing in the morning from Europe or racing from Australasia in the evening. If the thoroughbred industry can manage global simulcasting, why can’t the standardbred industry?

You can't expect horseplayers to wager on foreign harness racing when they don't know anything more than the horse's name. So what happens is people say there is no interest in foreign harness racing when they sabotage themselves.  While I am focusing on NJAW, I am sure other ADWs had similar problems or didn’t even try.

Maybe there is no interest in wagering on foreign harness racing in the United States, but you can’t tell if you can’t get a simulcasting event right.  I am sure some of those NJAW horseplayers were done by the fourth race and went back to sleep or did other things; the frustration must have been tremendous.  However, for the Hambletonian and Breeders Crown events, Europe is anxious to take those races so I suspect there may be a market for their events if sufficient marketing is done to make gamblers aware of the races. .

Another opportunity presents itself in May for the Elitlopp. It would be good if the USTA could coordinate with Swedish standardbred authorities, ADWs and racetracks to ensure a full card simulcast from Solvalla of Elitlopp day takes place, making sure program information is available for American gamblers, making sure all tracks and ADW services have the opportunity to participate. Maybe then, we can see how much interest there is in simulcasting foreign standardbred races.

A longer term project is the standardization of racing information from the various standardbred racing authorities so each country can have past performance information gamblers can understand.  While each country may not be able to provide all the information foreign fans usually get, they should be able to provide information so foreign gamblers won’t scratch their head and say, what am I looking at?

Meanwhile, the 2012 Prix D' Amerique is now history and for the second year in the row, Ready Cash was an easy winner of the famed race.  While winning was easy for Ready Cash at 2-1, there was a much closer finish the rest of the way, with my top pick Roxanne Pick, at 32-1 coming in second with The Best Madrick coming in third at 80-1.  Maharajah, the horse expected to challenge Ready Cash finished fourth.  Timoko, another of my picks finished fifth.   The winning time for the 2,700 meters was a kilometer rate of 1'12"0.

Watch the race in the replay and tell me something like this couldn't catch on with North American horse players.  Note the video is very long.  If you want, you can start at the 3:00 minute mark and get an idea for the crowd and the vault start.  I would love to see the vault start here in some races.  People complain about recalls, but the race actually got started very quickly after the siren called for a restart. 

One thing I found very interesting was the loudness at times of the crowd.  It sounded like the time Zenyatta won the Breeders Cup in California.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

100% with you on this. I've watched this race in the past and I enjoy putting a few $$$ on it, but NJBETS is such a bare bones system, they just can't get it together. The fact that the live video is not up for the big race is just shameful.

I would love to be able to join a real site like TVG or youbet etc, but of course that's not allowed for NJ residents...which of course drives people to overseas rebate shops.