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Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Idea Great; Execution? Not So sure.

The Meadowlands has announced changes to their racing program in an effort to provide more information to the horseplayer.  When there is a break of 21 days or more between races for a horse, there will be an explanation as to the cause of inactivity as well as the horse's level of preparedness for the upcoming race in the comments section of the race program.  As the Meadowlands release indicates, it will be like an NFL team report, a handicapping guide for the horseplayer.

Unfortunately, while the idea is great, there are problems which may cause more problems than benefits.  First of all, trainers will be providing the information to the racing office.  While I am sure most trainers will provide truthful information, there is a chance a trainer may not be completely forthright with their information so they may say something such as 'trained well' instead of saying 'schooled in 1:54'. 

Why might a trainer be hesitant to provide completely accurate information?  Drivers read programs.  If someone sees a horse trained in 1:54 or the horse didn't train since their last start, don't you think that may impact the way a driver races against that horse? 

Then there is enough bad feelings regarding trainers already.  What happens when a trainer suggests a horse is not at 100% and it goes out and romps over a field or when the trainer suggests a horse is coming back like a bearcat and finishes up the track?  Does the sport take a hit integrity-wise?  Mind you, I am not talking about deliberate misrepresenting of the facts.  It would be foolish for a trainer to provide misrepresentation as the track has shown its willingness to exclude trainers.

As I said earlier, the idea is great.  I just have to wonder if the idea is going to cause more problems than it is worth.  Of course, the only way to know is to try it and for that, I applaud the Meadowlands for taking the initiative.


Anonymous said...

In reality, trainers will probably give just about the same information on a horse not entered to race as the program already gives on scratches. Sick or Lame. If there's more than that, great. I always wonder if a Scratch-Sick means the horse had a slight cough or it was down in the stall and barely breathing.

It would be nice to know if the horse was rested for three weeks and returned to training in the fourth or the trainer trained daily but couldn't find a race. If there's reliable information, it's another consideration for handicappers.

Marv S. said...

I can see a lot of gaming the comments when it comes to claimers. You want to lose a lame horse, make a comment about how great he is training. Want to hang on to a sound horse, make a comment about how he's hurting. Then watch the connections bet the opposite. Good idea, but ripe for manipulation of betting and other horsemen.

Pacingguy said...

Marv, the one thing we have going for us to prevent gaming the system is Gural's willingness to exclude trainers from the track. I suspect an out-right lie will find a trainer on the outside looking in.