For photos from the Meadowlands contact

Monday, September 21, 2015

Post Position Blues

I saw the following tweet on Twitter.

Saw a tweet that the avg. win mutuel for the 5 stakes and 2 elims last night at Mohawk was $3.90. That's hideous. IMO we have really hurt the product with this elim winners picking posts for the final thing.
From a horsemen's perspective I certainly understand it, but to me it has absolutely ruined finals because the best horses ALWAYS have the best posts too - nobody from the outside leaves because they're justifiably afraid of getting parked, which causes lineup races with the best horses always on the lead, pocketed, or second-over and they rarely have to work to get in those positions as well.

Look, at the Maple Leaf Trot last night - going for 680k the only leaver was JL Cruze, the rest of the field lined up in pp order.

Maybe even on the outside, the winners of these races would have prevailed but make no mistake, the lack of an open draw for finals is anti-consumer (i.e., anti-gambler).  Yes, the latest iteration of rewarding winners of eliminations have them drawing for post positions 1-5 before the rest go into an open draw, but are they more deserving of avoiding the outside posts as the horse who starts from the 8 hole on a half mile track and finishes 3rd in an elimination?

In a generic stake final, Horse A is 3-5 from post position 3 as a result of winning their elimination.  If in a 'true' open draw, Horse A may be 5-2 if from post 8.   That may not seem much, but a $7 payoff beats a $3.20 dividend.  Earlier I called the lack of an open draw as being anti-consumer.  Isn't suppressing the odds of an elimination winner unfair to the gambler?  Can't this be one of the reasons why people avoid harness racing and go for slots?

Low payoffs are part of horse racing, regardless of breed.  While I understand owners of winning horses want preferential treatment at the post position draw, it goes against the desire of punters to get a better payoff.

In keeping with the theme of the Little Brown Jug, how many more Jugs would have gone to a race-off if there was an open draw for the final?  Now, I don't like race-offs (i.e. a 3rd heat), a race like the Jug should have the winner of the second heat or best in summary being declared the winner of the Jug.  I use this to show how gamblers would have better payoffs when backing elimination winners or any other horse in the race.

Everyday, the rise and fortune of horses goes up and down based on the post position draw.  By not using an open draw, the fortunes of all eliminations losers is automatically lower before the pills are pulled.

We know preferential post positions in races with eliminations is thought to be a way to ensure fairer racing in eliminations.  The fact is elimination races is the bane to harness racing.  The sport would be better off by dropping eliminations in favor of stake races where the race is restricted to the highest earners or even points earned in specified races with lower earnings or point earners racing in consolations.  We are seeing more races for horses with the highest earnings; perhaps the transition is occurring.  It can't come soon enough.

1 comment:

Marv said...

One of the main reasons stakes exist is to provide excitement for fans and to build storylines. If we hold elims (which are problematic to begin with) and go away from open draws, we will end up with either a litany of $3.00 stakes winners or $50 winners. Either way, no bettor likes a bunch of $3 winners (unless it is American Pharoah winning the Belmont) or you're creating a number of unhappy losers with the $50 upset winner. This is not good for horseracing.

Would 100,000+ people show up for the KY Derby if it were a $50,000 race with the same field? I would think not. Imagine if American Pharoah got to choose his post in the Preakness and Belmont based on his KY Derby win.

We should honor our sport and the sportsmen and women who are owners, trainers and drivers by making the races as competitive as possible within the rules and have the outcome determined by racing and racing luck.