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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Horseplayer, What Say You?

It's no secret successful driers seem have their pick of horses in a race, sometimes being named to two, three or more horses in a races but unlike the thoroughbred jockey, they don't have to choose which horse to select until after post positions are drawn.  The successful driver loves the current system as it no doubt leads to a thick bottom line come the end of the year and the trainers of said horses like having any advantage over other trainers.

But do gamblers like it?  The casual gambler who plays drivers may like it but is it really to the advantage of the gambler for drivers to be able to choose their mounts after post positions are drawn?  What would happen if drivers had to choose their drives before post positions were selected?

Now, before I begin, let me explain I don't expect this idea ever to be adopted..  Tradition and 'the way things have always been done' will likely kill any chance this proposal would be given a chance.  Further complicating things is if one track decided to try this proposal, there is a good chance successful drivers will head to another (racino) track to protect their bottom line.  That being said, here is the proposal:

Come day one, the trainer will enter their horses and name their initial driver choices as currently done.  The racing secretary will then determine who will comprise the field but not assign post positions.  At this point, the drivers would make their final choices as to which horse they would drive and other drivers will be assigned to horses the leading drivers chose off.  Come the second day, after accepting driver changes, the racing secretary would then conduct the post position draw and the morning line maker would create their morning line.

While drivers would still select the best horses, their selections may be mitigated somewhat by the luck of the draw.  Whereas in the past a driver named to two horses, one drawing the rail and the other the outside on a half mile oval would typically choose the rail horse.  Under this proposal, the driver may select the best horse on paper he was named to, but instead of knowing the horse drew a certain post, it would be up to luck as to where he ends up starting (except in handicap races where the claiming price or class would decide approximately where the horse started).

The advantage to the gambler would be clear.  For example, where the leading driver may have chosen a horse on the inside and go off at 4-5, the horse may draw further out and go off at 6-1 or even higher.  Conversely, a horse the driver chose off of may go off at higher odds because a different driver selected him.  Overall, payoffs on straight and exotic wagers should increase (of course, they can still draw an inside post and get away as an odds-on favorite).  Of course, handicapping may need to be altered to consider the horse a little more and the driver a little less.

Again, I realize the odds of this ever coming to pass is unlikely as it is too radical as tradition rules in the sport of standardbred racing, but as a gambler, would you like to see something like this to take place, even if only on a trial basis?  Would you bet more, less, or not at all?  Do you have any other idea you would like to propose to make gambling less about the driver and more about the horse?

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