One thing which hurts harness racing is the number of odds on favorites which win races. Let's face it, no one is going to get rich with a bunch of odds on favorites winning, but even worse is the payoffs for show when those overwhelming favorites finish in the money. Making payoffs cheaper is the problem of short fields. Let's face it, when you have a six horse field and the 3-5 shot has a 50% chance of finishing in the money, you have a pretty good chance any horse you bet to Show will be paying less than $3 for show.
Not payoffs which inspire potential customers to start playing the horses. After all, a lot of beginners will wager to Show as they dip their feet into the mutuel pool. When you are dealing with that daunting takeout, the chances of being able to make anything worth talking about is all but impossible.
The time has come to eliminate the Show wager and replace the current Place wager with the European wager. In Europe, the Place wager will payoff those to finish in the top three, just as our Show wager does, but if there are fewer than a specified number of horses in a race, the wager only pays off if you had one of the top two horses, just like our Place wager.
For a mile track, the cut-off number should be eight. Eight or more starters at the time wagering begins, and the Place wager would pay for all three positions; less than eight, only the top two. For smaller ovals, the cut-off would be six. With a wager like this, when you get short fields due to a dominating horse, a horse player would have to think twice before making a hefty Place wager as anything worse than second would mean their wager was lost. True, the astronomical payoffs for show position would be gone when the heavy favorite runs out, but conversely, the price place wager would typically for all three positions would be larger as the amount deducted out of the pool of winning wagers would be reduced, leaving more to be distributed to winning tickets..