It's More Than Just Being an Immature Market

Some of you might have been following the lack of effort drive in last week's TVG prep at the Meadowlands. The New Jersey judges responded by giving driver Brian Sears a 15 day holiday.

Meanwhile back at the ranch, if you look at the entries for Saturday night at the Big M - 7 days later - there's Brian Sears driving Bee a Magician in the TVG Final.

I'm not sure why he is driving. Maybe President Obama knows.

Conversely, let's look at Aussie racing. I could give you a litany of "lack of effort" fines and suspensions, customer and bettor protection decisions, etc. But it's much easier than that.

Here's a stewards report from a few days ago. Just an average day at the races.
All trainers with multiple engagements in any one particular race were questioned in regard to their tactics.
 Stewards questioned trainer R Veivers in regards to the performance of EMPTY ENVELOPE. He said that he had adjusted the gelding’s training regime in recent times and felt that this was a contributing factor for the improved performance.  Stewards noted Mr. Vievers explanation and outlined they expected the horse to race in a consistent manner.
Connections were advised that MAJOR LEXUS would be placed on its last chance to race truly and trainer M Butler was advised to take corrective measures.
There are many more examples, testing procedures, vet reports, etc. This is protecting the public and the game from monkey business, it's about giving bettors ample information about the health of a horse, intent, and making sure the participants follow rules.

Here, I have no idea why Brian Sears is driving tomorrow. I see chat boards about "it's none of anyone's business how a horse is raced." I hear "bettors need to stop whining." and "if you want to drive a horse go buy one." No insider seems to want to talk about it.

Overseas especially - Australia, the UK - this is taken seriously and there was no government decree making it so, no AG's, no lawyers. It was just considered proper business in a business that had to compete from day one, or die.

In Australia, telling a customer about the intent or health of a horse is a part of the game. Here it's a nuisance. Pricing a bet - here done by a formula that would make Karl Marx pause - was never done like that overseas. They had to compete, so pricing was done with those wacky supply and demand curves. It's why there are no "TOC's" leading the pricing changes, no states taking a percentage of the cut, no price floors. "Will people bet more football instead of racing if we do this", yes, OK then we won't.

People like to wax on about differences abroad, and at times it borders on the silly, but it means so much, fundamentally. You are seeing a crowd on Melbourne Cup day, you are seeing $15B Aussie dollars bet in a country with a smaller GDP of Los Angeles, you are seeing some handle growth in places like this, because it's a market that's had a lot of practice being a market. In a lot of places two or three centuries worth.  It's not about TV commercials or food trucks. It never was.

It's probably a whole lot more than a business being allowed to be a business, however.

What we see here in North American horse racing is something that is thrown some slot cash or government protection and tolerated. It's a business for each state to play footsie with, to use as it chooses, and to disregard as it chooses as well (likely soon in more slots states).

It's not only racing, of course. Penal regulations are being talked about in each state for "daily fantasy sports" as we speak too, which will cause it a good deal of harm, and might very well end up killing its business model. The states, one by one overregulating that internet business, are doing just what they did to racing and customers of it 100 years ago. The issues we all see today like signal caps, taking cash out of margins, ADW taxes, Internet betting bans in Texas and Arizona and Michigan, stopping places like Twinspires from advertising, were all borne from zoot suit politicians in a different time.

The bottom line is, those who want action regarding reversals of form, drivers or jockeys not trying, vet reports, and all other things so many around the world do as a matter of course, are left forever wanting. The gambling market in North America, whether it about fielding a team or making a superfecta bet, is not about us as a customer. It's never been about us as customers. That's not changing anytime soon.

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