Long ago when purses were $250 at Dresden Raceway, or $400 at a meet in Oklahoma coupled entries had its place. If you can make $125 for the win, but can make $1,250 for betting the other half to win, there was some incentive. It's not that way any longer, and bettors know that.
For evidence, look
no further than Betfair. They uncouple horses. There is no 1 and 1A and 1X or 2 and 2B/ They have done so because it encourages betting, and most importantly,
their customers demand it.
A quick anecdote. I was
watching the races recently and there was a 1 and a 1A at a major US track. I did not mind
the one, but I feared a huge overbet. The 1A was more than solid and had
great late pace numbers on a track that was playing to late. The entry
was 3-1 and I sat on my hands. I flipped over to betfair. The one was
9-2 and the 1A was 18-1. There was $4,000 matched on the 1
and 1A uncoupled, instead of(in a short field) almost nothing of note bet overall. (the 1A won easily, and those who liked her got $8.20 in the pool, and $37 at Betfair for a $2 bet)
As a horse owner I admit, I love
three horse fields, and non-competitive races. If I were a part of our
old market (the one who now plays slots) I could see wanting not to
change this rule as I would see a bogeyman behind every sulky or on top of every horse. But for
us to be taken seriously in the gambling world it is about time this
rule found its way out of racing. We are intelligent and need to be treated as such.
Business and marketing writer Seth Godin had an interesting blog piece
about tackling problems. He says that we should envision our business
as a big box with 16 squares. The problem comes when one of the boxes
encapsulates our efforts and we wring our hands over that box and ignore
persuade yourself and your friends that times are really tough and that
you're bound to fail, you'll probably do the things you need to do to
make that true in the long run."
Things are tough, yes, but uncoupling entries is one box of the sixteen and it should not take any time or effort at all. It won't kill us to fix it.
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