Last night the first pari-mutuel RUS race was conducted at Mohawk Racetrack. A field of eight, reduced by two scratches, met the starter to compete.
Apparently the method of riding used by Belgian Phillipe Maschaelle was what was needed to get Santo Domingo home first in 1:56.4, with a four length lead. The combined handle for the second race was $62,621, the smallest handle on the twelve race card.
The handle can be explained by a lack of education. When the on-screen talent say they don't know anything about this type of racing you are looking at trouble. In addition, looking at the program it was challenging to handicap as some horses showed only a single RUS line a few starts back so while the horses have competed more frequently, the information was not accessible. Despite these issues, it is reported WEG management was pleased with the effort.
It certainly would have been more helpful if the RUS schedule had more races during the season so horses would have shown more such races in the program. Also, the program needs to be improved to show a horse's record racing under saddle so even with few RUS lines in the program, a handicapper would have a better idea of a horse's ability.
Lastly, nothing like familiarity will give handicappers the confidence to wager more. This can only be done by having more under saddle events at WEG tracks (this applies for all tracks). It would also be helpful to have conditioned RUS events so the races will be more even, thus providing handicapping challenges which translate into higher payoffs.
Hence, last night's race was not an end, but only a beginning, something to build on.