Dean Hoffman wrote in this months Trot Magazine that we need to think outside the box with post positions. Some of his ideas are extremely radical. Radical is good, because our sport has hit the skids. Ray on Paceadvantage.com has given us post position stats for 2008.
Flamboro Downs Post One: 46% more than expected winners
Buffalo Raceway Post One: 41% more than expected winners
Yonkers Post One: 41% more than expected winners
On half mile tracks are we a racing game with nine possible results or are we a coin flip?
This is a speed game. Horses can go like the wind and stagger the last bit and win. Further, lower class horses are more prone to this, and tracks like Flamboro with many $4500 claimers exacerbate the numbers. Draw the rail, you win (522 winners out of 2276 post ones). Single file racing, in post position order is (in many races) assured.
In addition, this is terrible for horse owners. At some B tracks it is tough to get in more than three times a month. With vet bills and inflation of owning horses out of control, getting the six post or worse two times a month is a killer. Horse owners tend to pray for a good draw, and if they don't get one, they know they are finished.
What can be done about this? What can make races on B tracks more competitive in a gambling environment that needs change and variety? What can be more fair to horse owners who truck their horse out to these tracks and are immediately 50-1 or higher if they draw outside?
A couple of things have been tried in the past. Yonkers went to a mile and a 1/16th to lengthen the run to the turn, for example.
I am fairly confused on what to do to improve this. A few random things to throw out there for half mile B tracks.
* Staggered starting gate.
* Paying a higher percentage of the purse if the 6,7 or 8 posts win. This done to encourage leaving from the outside.
* Handicap system like thoroughbreds.
* Handicapping system based on gate speed/average first quarter speed, i.e. give the fastest horses off the gate the outside.
* Starting 4 X 4. The fastest four horses start behind the slowest four horses. The first quarter and subsequent movement in the second quarter would be marvelous to watch as the speediest horses move to gain control of the top.
I am sure we can bat around a few others as those are off the top of my head.
I think the question is a good one, and one we should explore. The B track scene is virtually dead. Pools are so small. Fans are not receptive to the product. It is perfect for a radical experiment. What do we have to lose?