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Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Parx Strikes Out for the Bettor, Are Harness Tracks Stepping Up?

Parx Racing has instituted new rules effective June 1 (not retroactive) in an effort to protect the wagering public from drug cheats and hidden ownership.  Any trainer who gets three drug positives (fine or suspension) or two drug suspensions within a 365 day period will find their stall privileges  revoked and  be evicted from the track, presumably unable to enter any horses at the track  In addition, any horse which tests positive will be subject to a 45 day suspension and will not be able to be sold or transferred to anyone else who stables at Parx.  If the horse is sold, it must be removed from the track property.

As for hidden ownership, any trainer who misrepresents the ownership of a horse which is actually owned in full or in part will find their stall assignments revoked as well as be reported  to the racing commission.

Say what you want about suspending a horse from competition but owners hire trainers and they must be found culpable along with the trainer and if this means the horse is put in jail for 45 days so be it (they are free to race elsewhere).

Now granted, with most thoroughbreds stabled at the track. the denial of stalls makes it easier to punish trainers as most standardbred tracks no longer have on-track stabling, but most tracks lack the will to evict trainers.  It should be noted this new policy was formulated with the local horsemen organization; and it will apply only after all appeals have been exhausted (i.e. due process).

With regards to horse ownership, there have been complaints of horses racing under hidden ownership.  Whether the issue is as big as some complain is up for debate but trainers (and owners)  who misrepresent horse ownership are committing a fraud and they should be expelled as well.

My question is which harness tracks are going to step up on behalf of the bettor?

It is good to know the horsemen and track are working together in the name of integrity but they are bound to be disappointed as these steps are being done to increase racing handle which they feel should be higher.  Here is where they are wrong.  If they want to increase handle, they should revisit their takeouts and reduce the 30% rake on trifectas and superfectas in addition to their 26% vig on pick-x wagers.  (For the record, the Meadows takes 25% on trifectas and superfectas; Harrah's Philadelphia 30% trifecta and 32% superfectas; Pocono Downs 25% pick-x and high-fives and 30% on trifectas and superfectas).  The takeout rates for all wagers at Pennsylvania tracks may be found here.

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