Bill Popfinger in Harness Racing Update brought up some interesting ideas for increasing wagering. In effect, offer wagers which would appeal more to those who like the bigger payoffs that casinos can provide. A couple of his suggestions are worth of consideration.
We all know how the best drivers get the opportunity to choose the best horse in a race leaving the lesser renowned drivers to pick up the scraps in a race. Popfinger suggests letting the "Horse Select the Driver"; in effect, drawing for drivers like one draws for post positions. As a result of this, your leading driver may end up with the horse who would be a rank outsider and a lesser known driver may get the drive on the horse who would typically be a heavy favorite. In the most ideal setting, you would end up with the best driver drawing the worst horse and working your way through the field, the 'worst' driver ends up with best horse on paper. As a result, you may not end up with an odds-on favorite and payoffs would be inflated when compared to a traditional race.
How would you decide which drivers would be in the race? What I would suggest is you draw the other races and finalize the drivers in each race. At that point, each driver who has a drive on that racing program would be assigned a number, if they indicated they would be available to drive. Let's assume you have twenty-five different drivers on the race card with mounts. Therefore, you have twenty-five drivers being in the mix for a random draw for the ten horses in the race. After those ten horses were assigned drivers, you would draw three to four 'also eligibles' so if there was a driver change needed for some reason, the driver would draw in as typically done when there are horse also eligibles. No doubt, you would need to offer higher purses to encourage horsemen to allow their horses to be entered in the race.
Let me make it clear, this would not be like the ill-fated experiment which was done in Maryland years ago when after the wagering closed, the horses then drew for post positions so people would be wagering not knowing what post position the horse had. I would like to see a track try this in one or two races a night to see how it is received by the wagering public and if it differs from the 'typical' payout.
The other proposal Popfinger made was offering a wager where you have to pick the order of finish in a race, from first to last. If no one has the complete order of finish, 50% of the pool would carryover to the next race where the wager was offered and the balance of the pool would be paid to those who have the most selections correct. How most selections correct would be defined is up for discussion. It could be the ticket(s) with the most horses in order until a horse is in the wrong order (Method A), or it can be the actual number of winners on the ticket regardless of the number of horses in the incorrect positions (Method B). For example:
Order of finish Ticket Method A Method B
1st - 5 5 x x
2nd - 4 4 x x
3rd - 6 6 x x
4th - 8 3
5th - 3 2
6th - 1 1 x
7th - 2 8
8th - 7 7 x
Using Method A the ticket would have three correct while under Method B, the ticket would have five correct. Regardless, it would be hard to pick the exact order of finish in a race, but we can make it even harder by requiring there be only one winning ticket to hit the jackpot; multiple winning tickets with the complete order of finish would only be entitled to the 50% of the pool. Hence, we should be able to draw the interest of the casino and lottery audience with a wager like this.
I am sure some other ultra-exotic wagers could be devised. We may not be able to attract the casino and lottery people by highlighting the beauty of horse racing, but wagers with better payoffs or massive jackpots will Regardless of what you think about these wagers, we need to think out of the box when improving the existing wagering menu.
Famous Retired Racehorses with Second Careers - In what I hope will be a regular feature, I would like to salute a thoroughbred, Lava Man, who has a new career as a stable pony. Highlighting the second careers of racehorses, regardless of breed can only help these types of horses to get second careers instead of ending up in a more precarious situation.