Remember the days of the good old fashioned programs? You got the program at the track and you handicapped off of it. Quite honestly, there are days I still handicap off of programs like that though I must admit I am a recreational horseplayer, not a heavy hitter. Even though I am a recreational player, given the opportunity, I want to see additionally the horse's individual fractions, the trainer for each start, and a race comment for each horse. This is the bare minimum I want to have and think any handicapper should get in a program.
Now, if I was designing the race program, there are some more things I would want to see. I would also want to see the mile rate for each race; which being 99% of all harness races are at one mile would be the finish time, but it would really be handy for those tracks that do throw in those occasional odd distance races as it makes it easier to compare horses and unless my crystal ball is fractured, there will be more odd distance racing in the future. Speaking of time, each horse should be individual timed and instead of fifths, timed in tenths. I know some people who would like to see races timed in hundredths, but realistically, does it matter if a horse finished in 1:54.81 or 1:54.83? I think 1:54.8 is sufficient.
Being it is appears classified racing is not going to make a comeback anytime soon, I would want meaningful conditions listed; something like 'nw3/$20kLT' standing for non-winners of 3 races or $20,000 lifetime. Being most horses tend to race only at one track at a time, I would also have the race secretary define their list of race conditions where a maiden race may have a race rating of 1 and a FFA race would be rated at 10 with the other classes being ranked in between so the newcomers would have an easier way to interpret the quality of a race. If an also eligible condition(s) is used, the classes would be averaged out to come up with a race class. When it comes to claiming races, put the race's base claiming price in the past performance line. If it is a claiming handicap, I want to see the bottom and highest base claiming prices for the race listed such as $10/$20Hdcp. You want to know if the horse was in for $10k, $15, $20k? Put it at the start of the comment line. If claimed, list the claim at the base price (without the allowance for easier comparison).
I don't mind for early closing and stake races seeing the name of the race listed as the class, but with tracks having late closing events more frequently than ever who was the person who decided to put the series' name in the past performance line? If a late closing series is for nw4 or $50,000 lifetime, put it in the program as nw4/$50,000LT and a race class of LC. If I am a gambler at Dover Downs, am I going to know what the Mayflower at Pocono Downs is?
Why in America can't we use the circle indicating parked out to indicate if parked with cover or without cover? Fill in the circle if parked with cover and leave it empty if a horse was parked without cover. Now we know the parked out symbol doesn't tell you how far a horse raced. If the track uses a Trackus type system, they should show how many extra feet over the mile the horse raced as all parked outs are the same. Speaking of additional symbols, once in a blue moon you will see a bk to indicate a horse was blocked in coming down the stretch. Why can't the use of that symbol be mandatory?
This would not necessarily make the program too wide. There is no reason we can't put a horse's mile rate in the program instead of the final time. Many of the other changes would go in the actual past performance line for the actual race. But a program like this would give the typical horse player enough information to be successful gambling.
Anything you would want to see in the program that I missed? Do you think something is overkill? Let me know.
We hear a lot about the bad news in Illinois, but we don't here the good. PTP reports on how Balmoral Park's handle has been increasing over time.
Also, found an article on how Northville Downs has been surviving over the years. It is a good read.