Mega-horseplayer Dana Parham made some interesting points at the opening session of this weeks annual Racetrack Industry Program, hosted by Arizona University.

What qualifies a bettor as a mega-player? How about personal handle of $2.7 billion--thats billion, with a b--since 2000? His contributions to the game, vis a vis pari-mutual takeout? A mere $100-million this millennium alone.

Hes a good guy, too, having quietly contributed $250,000 for the good work done by NTRA Charities.

His idea that marketing efforts geared to attracting more $2 bettors, a.k.a. fans, at the expense of catering to whales is counterproductive does, on its face, have some merit.

But my question is why do efforts that target two distinct types of patrons have to be mutually exclusive? Theres no reason the industry cant do both.

Where Parham is right is that racing never has taken the time to properly explain wagering to its audience. Thats probably because so many in the game dont bet themselves and consequently dont understand it.

Maybe the reason why we believe Parham has something going here is because weve been writing about this exact thing for years, but the message has fallen on blind eyes.

Picking a winner and making the right bet are different animals. Much attention has been given to how to pick winners through scores of handicapping books and/or seminars. One could find a couple of handicapping seminars every racing day at Saratoga Race Course alone.

But no one ever bothers to explain that the odds players see posted on the tote board represents a financial market. As Ive personally explained about a million times to anyone who would listen, there are prices at which each horse should be either bought or sold; bet on or passed over.

One often hears the term value thrown around as if every non-favorite represented a value play. A 20-1 shot actually could be an underlay. An 8-5 shot might be excellent value.

Pari-mutuel derives from the French, meaning between us. Value is assessed by looking at the odds on a particular horse and asking, 4-1 is a fine price but compared to what?

In the earlier example, thats what makes the 8-5 favorite a value play and the 20-1 chance not. Handicapping is the tool used to determine the difference.

An 8-5 shot is value if you believe its chances to win the race are 50-50. If its 50-50, that horse by definition is even money; that makes 8-5 value.

If the industry leaves their annual meeting having learned the betting market principle and defines it as such; embraces the adoption of betting exchanges like those in Europe--a true marketplace concept--then markets both models to a young audience that enjoys solving problems, or follows Wall Street, it will be the most successful conference ever.