Friday, August 23, 2013
Travers Program a Sight for Track-Sore Eyes
All would agree that no one needs stakes races with short fields and odds-on favorites, but relief is in sight Saturday at Saratoga, which will offer four graded events--three Grade 1s and a Grade 2—replete with competitive fields of at least nine horses.
Furthermore, those four races comprise four legs of the Pick Six. The 14-race card returns to reality with New York’s seemingly obligatory $20,000 claiming turf sprint and maidens on turf going long. The 13th race concludes the Pick Six sequence.
Parenthetically, the turf route preceding the four stakes has a full field and is a much more attractive handicapping puzzle. But racing secretaries seem to think that bettors want to use lower class runners to complete their horizontal wagers.
This is, of course, shortsighted and wrong-headed, but then what do executives know about what dedicated horseplayers really want?
Why couldn’t the Pick Six conclude with the contentious Travers? Parenthetically, the last two races could have been eliminated altogether, allowing those inside the shrine of American Thoroughbred racing on its most memorable day to leave with a final image of racing at its very best?
Post time for the Travers is 5:46 PM EDT and 5:10 for the preceding King’s Bishop which will be included in the hour-long national telecast.
How hard would it have been to include stretch runs of the prior Pick Four legs, the Test and the Ballston Spa, so that conclusions to both Pick Threes would also be viewable live? I understand this is a network decision but since they pay for the air time, racetracks should have some input as to program content.
The excitement of gambling also needs to be part of this opportunity to lend exposure to the game.
So why am I whining even when things aren’t as bad as usual? Because this opportunity is just the latest example of racing executives in leadership positions lack of imagination, even at its most successful venues.
Impertinent Questions and Possible Solution?
Who needs uniform wagering rules much less race-day medication guidelines? Why are players at NYRA tracks unable to play all exotic wagers offered with fifty-cent minimums at other venues? Why should residents of some states not be able to watch and wager on races like U.S. citizens in other states?
Why can’t DRF Bets customers bet Arlington Park? Why can’t stakes schedules and post times be staggered permanently to generate greater participation and handle?
There’s no need for the Federal government to get in the business of running horse racing unless ineptness, self-interest and corruption is truly widespread. All that’s needed is to mandate the existence of a national racing board whose membership equally represents every state that conducts interstate racing.
This Board can be funded by those states in proportion to the total annual handle generated from out-of-state sources. Two tiers of membership would exist based on the level of funding with the major tracks contributing the highest levels and lesser tracks at lower levels, respectively.
Representatives could be comprised of reputable and respected industry participants. They could not be active employees or officials of any State government agency, racetrack operator, or horsemen/breeders’ association. Nor should they be board level decision-makers associated with the preceding.
In a perfect world, racing participants, including customers, would register to choose their representatives for their home states.
These elected representatives would, in turn, elect a Commissioner of Racing from among membership for a specified period. Their decisions would be final during that term.
This should inform the level of industry knowledge and experience needed by all board members. All majority decisions would have to include a majority in both membership tiers in order to be implemented and binding on all. Subsequent issues that did not reach the level of agreement required would then be decided by the Commissioner.
The board would be charged with establishing uniform rules of racing and wagering, including guidelines for all medication testing procedures and levy penalties for violators. Decisions as to the appropriateness and accuracy of information supplied to the board would be made by the Commissioner.
Any representative could propose an initiative for change or additions to existing rules for the Commissioner’s consideration. All changes approved by the Commissioner would then be validated by board vote. All decisions made by the Commissioner must be in writing to assure transparency and made available to the public.
What prominent name in racing do you most associate with good communication and organizational skills, having the ability to balance the interests of competing parties who would have the confidence and trust of the racing public?
This notion seems workable and fair. Could something like this happen? If so, would it be viable?