Until something is done to level the wagering field, you can take this headline to the bank.

What’s that? I don’t bet enough to matter? It’s no big loss? Well, I’m not the only one. Some lifelong passionate players have already walked away from the game because of your indifference.

With every non-action you take, you continue writing your own epitaph. But, like cowardly modern day politicians, as a group you sit on the sidelines, waiting for things to blow over.

Well, as long as there are a few people willing to tell the truth, the inequities that exist never will be allowed to blow over. Don’t want to hear or read it? Then tune out daily like one of every three Americans: Only my life matters.

So, as a whole, take all your alphabets and just keep doing nothing because you have 38 separate states to use as an excuse. With no central authority you’re powerless. As long as state patronage jobs continue, who cares?

Here’s something that no one will care about, except the HRI Faithful and a handful of players who bet on the winner of Monday’s third race at Saratoga. Let’s start at the beginning.

I have readers who subscribe to my Horses-to-Watch service. As soon as my stable mail arrives, it is turned around quickly and emailed to the men and women who believe that my time is worth money to them.

After one late scratch, the third race field was reduced to five. My H2W figured strongly in the quintet and, coming from the white hot Jimmy Jerkens barn, I figured the price would be too short to get involved in straight wagering.

Given the small field, and with the horses to beat exiting the Pletcher and McGaughey barns, even exactas likely would have little or no appeal.

With post time scheduled for 2:06 pm, I turned TV on at about 1:55 and couldn’t believe my eyes: Pletcher’s Big Muddy was even money; my horse, Point to Remember, was 2-1. In my opinion, that was excellent value.

Believing Big Muddy was vulnerable, I saw that McGaughey’s Domain was 9-2. I could key-box exactas, pressing the value-laden Domain for a handsome profit.

I watched the post parade—Shug’s horse caught the eye, and Point to Remember was a picture, too. A check of the odds board and little had changed.

For a flash or two in the final few minutes, Point to Remember dropped to 9-5, drifted back to 2-1, Shug’s horse alternated between 4-1 and 9-2. The favorite vacillated between even money and 6-5. I made my bets

Point to Remember was 9-5 as he walked into the starting gate.

In this age of computer batch betting, with its wild late-odds fluctuations and the attendant negative publicity it generates, some tracks have stopped posting odds on the screen during the running of a race.

I can’t say whether or not that happened yesterday. I was watching Junior Alvarado (who’s having a great meet) and wondering why he was racing three across the track in a five-horse field?

Turned out Alvarado knew exactly what he was doing; maybe his horse didn’t like racing inside of horses, or he knew he was on much the best animal. Either way, Point to Remember drew off with authority in deep stretch.

Good deal! My subscribers would be pleased and, after deducting my exacta losses, I would have to settle for about a $30 profit, the equivalent of 3-2 or 8-5, depending on breakage.

I turned my eyes back to the computer and heard TVG host Rich Perloff say to analyst Nick Hines, or vice versa, “the winner got a lot of late money, went off at 4-5.”


Point to Remember was 9-5 entering the gate; saw it with my own lyin’ eyes. The favorite around even money or 6-5, Shug’s horse at 4-1 or thereabouts.

As the new, too-late-to-do-anything-about-it 4-5 favorite, Point to Remember returned $3.60. My profit, after deducting exacta losses—was $8. I got 2-5 on my money.

My point? I didn’t need to waste my time, or risk my money for such a paltry reward. Late computer-robotic wagering stripped me of my wagering options.

If there are racing officials reading this, understand it’s not about yesterday’s dollars and cents. It’s about the integrity of the game I’m playing, that what I see at the last minute is approximately, given reasonable fluctuations, what I get.

And for all mainstream horseplayers, the optics suck. I am tired of defending the game re late-odds fluctuations on this site, that it’s not past-posting or canceling bets at the last minute--athough sometimes I find it hard to believe myself.

When gambling, integrity is everything. The game is hard enough without unfair and unnecessary roadblocks being set up by greedy racetracks who worship at the altar of Handle Almighty.

Frankly, I’m sick of it. When will some racetrack go to its state capital and demand that its track be allowed to offer fixed odds wagering now? If tracks and state governments weren’t so damn myopic, they would see it might even increase handle.

Short of showing they truly care about the customer beyond lip service--it’s bad enough that they provide rebated, deep-pocketed robotics players with a huge edge; direct access to betting pools--at least level the field.

While 95% of the customers pay for admission, parking and overpriced food and services, it's not until the last minute when they figure out that their pockets are being picked.

At the very least—the very least—tracks could shut off computer access at the three-minute mark, thus allowing rank and file players time to react or reassess on the fly.

The vast majority of players don’t have the wherewithal to match the whales in the straight pool. But they might change their approach and pick another pool to bet into. They deserve a fighting chance to survive this tough game.

Industry: You probably could care less but you’ve lost my steady business. I will limit bets to only big fields of good horses, even if I have await short boutique meets or big-field big events like Saturday’s Travers.

A handful of players cannot be allowed to own the betting markets. I’m finally going to heed the wisdom of that old television commercial: “It’s enough to make you sick; isn’t it enough to make you stop?

Acknowledging a small character flaw, suffice it to say that in the near future I will only allow myself to get a little bit pregnant. It doesn't have to be this way.

But as long the present climate continues, I'm considering a return to sports betting. The rewards might not be as rich, but at least I know the price I’m willing to accept is the price I get.

One Too Many Maraghs?

Social media went wild Sunday and Monday after Musical Heart finished second in a photo finish following Sunday’s fourth race at Gulfstream Park. Why?

Well, according to the Equibase chart footnote, “Musical Heart, reserved racing wide and unasked while trailing field in early stages, began to move up closer racing wide still unasked in the turn, entered top stretch eight wide and continued to gain without being persevered with.”

As one might expect, it caused quite a stir. After viewing the video several times, it’s difficult if not impossible to disagree with the majority opinion. Between ownership, training and riding interests, the Maraghs had four family members involved in the race.

Musical Heart’s jockey Tony Maragh has a date with the Gulfstream steward Wednesday morning. Two of the officials work for Gulfstream, the other for the state of Florida.

Inflamed by the computer-betting incident I suffered through Monday at Saratoga, below was my reaction posted in the Paulick Report comments section early Tuesday morning:

“God forbid the racing industry puts its big boy pants on and says enough; we can no longer do things on the state level because we finally acknowledge that it doesn't work. We need help at the federal level to nationalize (read and grow) the industry.

“We need to create a league or leagues of racetracks, interview, and appoint an independent commissioner with experience from within the Thoroughbred community. We need a board of federal stewards who review races nationally and dispassionately. We have no uniformity vis a vis medication or penalties for wrongdoing.

“The patchwork of 38 states continues to fail, the Association of Racetrack Commissioners International continues to fail, and the Jockey Club has no authority. If the Feds don't want to get involved, empower the Jockey Club. Have independent industry sources review their work and get back to [Washington].

“Sound crazy, impossible, too convoluted? Of course, any port in an impede-the-process storm will do. We know our sport will never become mainstream as long as the status quo remains. And that's just the way we like it, and the way we want it.”