Saratoga Springs, March 4, 2009--It was post time for the Fasig-Tipton Fountain of Youth. The horses were parading behind the gate, allowing one final look at Quality Road, breaking from an outside position.

Quality Road looked great. So did 8-1. I indicated in Saturday’s post that I would take 6-1, reasoning that if the Fountain of Youth was run 100 times, Quality Road win at least 14 times.

As for that quoted price, as Casey said, you could look it up.

The Fountain of Youth start was a good start for all, especially the outside horses, or so it always appears on TV when races come out of a long chute.

This Ones For Phil broke like a shot from the extreme outside slip, which probably added to his undoing. He became the unintended pacesetter.

As other speed types rushed up toward his inside, Quality Road was right up there with them in the opening furlong, Johnny Velazquez allowing his long striding colt to get into rhythm.

Quality Road had perfect position, which usually is the case when Velazquez is riding at the top of his game. And Johnny’s riding like Johnny again these days, finding the sweet spot in most every race.

By the time the field approached the five-furlong pole, the running order with odds first appeared on the television monitor: Quality Road, 5-1.

Damn it!

At that point there’s nothing a bettor can do. Nothing sinister happened; machines lock at post time.

But it takes about 30 seconds for the last flash--that includes gobs of simulcast money--to be added to the pool, and for the odds to recalibrate and appear on the tote board.

Then it takes another approximate 30 seconds for tote-board finals to reach TV monitors, which is where most bettors get their information.

What’s frustrating, of course, is that nothing can stop the flow of late money. If odds go down on one horse, they go up on the others, which could, in other circumstances, alter betting strategy.

And being unable to make wagering adjustments to the odds is not the way anyone wants to play this game.

Obviously, there’s nothing a bettor can do about final fluctuations of the odds. But until odds are displayed in real time, nothing can be done except to sit back and root for your horse, somewhat half-heartedly because you‘re not getting your price.

Or, as Tony said when he called my cell about a minute after Quality Road reached the finish line in 1:35.01 for the mile: “Did you see that,” he asked, not needing to explain what “that” he was talking about.

“This is some game. Even when you win you don’t get paid [enough]. No wonder people are walking away.”

No wonder, indeed.

How can 99 percent of horseplayers compete with one percent of the whales who watch the odds and wager with rebate-providing bet-takers, on-shore and off, after their algorithms or experienced eye identifies true value?

Good for them, and good for an industry that needs them. Bad for the game, read the overwhelming majority of horseplayers.

I was speaking with a colleague on Monday, lamenting the $13 win mutuel and $77 exacta payoff with Theregoesjojo, 15-1 on the early line, but opening 4-1 and closing a well backed 9-2.

But with race co-favorites at 7-2, and with seven of the 10 horses at odds of 8-1 or less, you’d think the exacta would have paid more.

I know, I know: They were coupled horses; coming out of the same race.

So what?

“He was a great play,” my phone buddy said. “I got 8.5-1 on the betting exchange. But in this country the rules make it tough to make money.”

This situation also speaks to the high takeout rates throughout the industry. The hold on exactas at Gulfstream Park is 20 percent.

And so, with seven of 10 horses at less than 8-1 in what was universally billed as the toughest Kentucky Derby to date, a $77 payoff was paltry, with nearly $800,000 wagered in exacta pool. (Over $1.1 million was bet straight).

There’s a lesson here, unless the industry is only spinning when it says that it values horseplayers.

Maybe they can figure out a way to incorporate head-to-head exchange betting at the same low rate charged in England, or other derivations of low takeout propositions.

Talk to Lee Amaitis at Cantor-Fitzgerald L.P., or the people at Bet Fair who now own TVG. They might show you a new way to grow handle, and the value of low takeout wagering.

And fear not, revenue will grow. But it takes time. Just like it’s going to take time for the world to get out of the economic morass.

If last minute bettors, betting finite amounts no matter how large, were wagering into an $10-million win pool instead of one one-tenth the size, the odds on Quality Road would have remained virtually the same instead of deflating three points.

Until the industry can figure this out--to the player‘s benefit as well as their own--can there just be a one-minute delay from the close of betting to the start of the race?

At least that way, when some neophyte sees all the late money come in on one horse, he doesn’t think he’s getting cheated by past-posting.

Can’t tracks in 38 jurisdictions at least agree on that much? There is more to servicing customers than safeguarding the health of the horses, no matter how noble that mission might be.