NHC Chatter: Smart, Greasy or None of the Above?

In Sunday's final table at the NHC, the eventual winner Jose Arias picked a losing horse, but held on when his nearest foe's winning pick (the one horse, Fit To Rule) fell $1.20 short. Close only counts in horseshoes and hand grenades.

What would be the end of the story wasn't, however.

As "Q Racing" explains here, Fit To Rule took a late hit on the odds board, knocking him down from 8-1 to 6-1. At 8-1 Mr. Arias loses, at 6-1 he wins. This led to some speculation that Mr. Arias or someone in his camp bet $10,000 to win as a "hedge" or to knock down the odds enough so he was a winner. First place was $750,000, second place was $200,000; a big difference.

Former NHC Champion Michael Beychok said:

"The whole possibility of some sort of nefarious hedging being done by Arias is a non-starter with me.
Of course he hedged. I would have and my cast members on Horseplayers discussed this possibility ad nauseum during the three day contest and immediately before the final race went off.
If the above occurred - i.e. it was a hedge - there is absolutely nothing wrong with it. When you or I have a pick 6 going, oftentimes we will scan the odds of the horse's we are not live onto, and bet accordingly. Sometimes we'll bet $500 to win, or $2000 to win, depending on how much we want to hedge and how much the pick 6 is paying. This is not a whole lot different. Mr. Arias would want to take as much home as possible if he lost. There was no malice to manipulate an odds board, and that's the salient point.

If somehow - and this is not as difficult to orchestrate, as some would lead you to believe - the bet on Fit To Rule was designed to win the $750,000 by driving the odds down below the magic number and blindsiding an opponent who is unable to fight back, then we get into a whole other area. It gets greasy. No real gambler I know would want to go there, although I am sure there are some.

So far we've seen nothing from anyone involved in the contest on this matter. Peter Fornatale has promised a DRF article on the subject, and it looks like he believes nothing untoward went on. Others like a Las Vegas horseplayer on Asaro's email list have commented that 'they hate to see Jose's accomplishment tarnished by grassy knoll conspiracy theories."

As TimeformUS's CJ said on Paceadvantage, there's an easy way to fix this (remember we might/probably be fixing something that did not happen, but it is what it is) next year:

"I just see no reason a track wouldn't agree to close a pool for one race one time a year for the last race of the contest. That way everyone can see the odds and the totals could be tabulated before the off time."

Strangely enough, this whole chatter about the final table, strategy and what could've mighta who knows what happened, has given the NHC a shot in the arm. That's probably needed.

**** Update: Jose talks about the win here ****


ron said...

Too much of a coincidence to me, I'd say 1/5 they played that horse. Though unethical, not against the rules as far as I know. The format opened itself to this,whether or not something shady happened.

kyle said...

First, I agree with Beychok. And I'd add, no one has any right to limit another's ability to bet as he wants. In this case, it seems unlikely he bet the eventual winner as he also had another player only a few dollars behind him. If I'm not mistaken, didn't that player have a different horse than Arias as well? As for a solution - they should just wait until the horses are going in the gate before they reveal the selections.

Doug said...

There is no doubt he or someone close to him placed the bet....Why wouldn't they? I totally disagree that they should lock the windows early...How about the easier solution of not showing who anyone has until they leave the gate? With the 6 second Roberts DISH delay if they flashed the numbers up as soon as the windows lock, the players would still have them before they break


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