If you have been reading this blog recently, you know one of the biggest complaints I have is what 'Post Time' means. In the beginning, barring equipment or shoe repair, post time had two meanings; either the race was beginning or (in harness) the marshal would start to gather the field meaning the race would begin in two minutes like clockwork.
Nowadays, post time may still have the traditional meaning, but more often than not, it may mean time for the horses to come to the track for their warm ups, it may mean the race will begin consistently X number of minutes later, or absolutely nothing as the mutuel manager watches the wagering and will signal the starter when wagering has virtually dried up on the race and they may start the race.
Now don't get me wrong. Racetracks and horsemen, especially non--slot tracks, need handle to survive, but in the long wrong this variable definition of post time is going to hurt the business. Besides boring the newcomers to death because they expect a race to start at a certain time, it makes it harder for gamblers to know when a race is going off and when they will make their bets.
It's one thing if you have a gambler who plays Charlestown all the time and nothing else; they know what post time means there. Knowing that Charlestown's definition of post time means the race will go off in X minutes, they know when they need to get their wagers in.
But many gamblers don't play just one track. With post times set willy nilly and meaning different things, gamblers don't know when they need to get their bets in at each track risk getting locked out more often. Of course, tracks who wait until every blessed dollar is wagered are a different story; in my opinion gamblers should ignore those tracks completely.
What makes this whole delaying post time so ridiculous is gamblers are like Pavlov's dogs. If you always start your races at the same time with regards to post time gamblers will eventually learn this and make sure to get their wagers in on time whether a casual gambler or a whale; they don't want to get shut out. So if this is the case, why can't racetracks go back to the traditional definition of post time?
Basically, because with so many tracks racing at any given time and there being no coordination of post times between the different breeds of racing, tracks keep adjusting their post times so not to conflict with others. If a race goes off at Racetrack A at 2:00pm, Racetrack B doesn't want to start their race until 2:05. If you are dealing with two tracks, it would be easy to coordinate post times but when you have six racetracks going off at 1:00 with who don't coordinate post times, the situation begs itself for the dreaded sliding post time.
My challenge is for the tracks of all breeds to come together and set up model post time intervals for regular days and big event days grouped by total handle withing breed and have tracks adopt them. Realizing the number of tracks racing at the same time, you will not be able to avoid conflicts in post times completely, but tracks should be able to have predefined post times which maximize wagering while minimizing gambler frustration. Then post time can return to the traditional meaning. What would change is 'Broken Dam Downs Race 3' would now be known as 'Broken Downs Race 3 (3:10)' and it would be published as such in programs and racing publications. As such, gamblers will know exactly what time each track will go offs and they will be able to bet accordingly.
I know there is no perfect solution, but if tracks care about their customers they will reign in floating post times. The question is, are the tracks willing to work together?