As if our industry didn’t have enough issues, we now learn the race timing issue is far worse than we even suspected. If the times of the races are off, even slightly, that throws off several other factors as well. Speed figures, pace projections, sheet numbers, etc. It is just something else we don’t need, but it also reflects a problem we have faced a long time—weak technology.
There is no reason, with the exception of money, our industry does not lead the sports world in technology. There is so much we can do with timing, replays, tote, and past performances we just ignore because nobody in a position to will invest in improving the sport from that standpoint.
One of the worst ramifications of this is the late scratch rule in horizontal or multi-race wagers.
As we all know, a late scratch in a horizontal wager gets replaced with the post time favorite. You, the bettor, have absolutely no say on who your money is assigned to. Nobody cares if you like the favorite, intended to bet against the favorite, or even already have the favorite. This changes the entire structure of your wager and also impacts the value of it and in it. That’s just not fair.
Adding insult to injury is when this happens, and you have a different horse, perhaps a long shot, you would like to add to replace the scratched horse. When that horse wins it stings and it should.
There are simple enough fixes to this. Unfortunately, nobody is looking out for the bettor here.
If you scratch any of my horses in a multi-race wager, I want the option of a refund. Tracks have already likely spent my takeout and yours and don’t even consider that an option. I think we should be able to bet our money on who we actually want in each and every scenario and not on who some rule says it should be assigned to because technology is outdated.
What is wrong with an alternate? Nothing except tote systems won’t allow for it. That shouldn’t be our problem, but it is.
Bettors fail miserably at wielding any power and forcing change. A while back, I wrote this column on this very issue. It frustrates me because we all fall into the trap set for us. We’ll just play no matter what. While that holds true for the most part, the game is losing players while attracting few new ones. I always say if we can’t take care of and keep our current players, how can we expect to grow with new ones?
The late scratch rule is just one of the ways we as bettors, or customers are taken for granted. There are many others. The late scratch should be low hanging fruit to fix even with just offering a refund.
An equally bad rule is the off the turf rule after a horizontal sequence has started. Ouch. The race becomes an all. Sounds great, you win that leg. The problem is so does everyone else, with each and every horse they used. Try making any money in that scenario with a decent sized ticket. I’d sooner have the sequence scrapped. Heck, I hate that so much I might rather have the favorite.