Why Horseplayer Advocates (& Horseplayers) Give Up the Fight

As most know by now, the $891,000 pick 6 jackpot was hit last week at Santa Anita, but as the DRF reports, it was not without controversy

The controversy arose a half-hour before the race when Horse Identifier Jennifer Paige discovered Fly to Mars was a gelding, even though he was listed as a colt in the track program and past performances.

Paige immediately phoned the stewards, who said they were alerted as the horses were loading the gate for race 10. Stewards quickly investigated and learned the Peter Miller-trained Fly to Mars had in fact been gelded since his most recent start in June 2016.

He was a “first-time gelding,” a piece of information that most bettors consider to be a potentially significant handicapping factor.

The problem Saturday is that no one knew Fly to Mars was a “first-time G” until after race 10 had been run.

At the present time there are insiders, horseplayers and others calling for changes to the "first time gelding" reporting rules, because the current rules clearly aren't working.

The problem with that is, we've all been through this before.

Back in 2011, "At Hollywood Park, a horse who was only reported gelded 30 minutes before post time (giving no chance for horizontal handicappers to change their tickets, or use the information) won, paying $56."

Changes asked for, by horseplayer advocates and others, were that fines be imposed and the horse be scratched. The logic behind such calls was sound, because if a horse is scratched, it's a strong incentive to make sure every horse's papers are in order. - no trainer who got a horse ready, pre-raced him, has owners in the stands, etc, wants to scratch a horse. When you add a fine, it's adds to the deterrent. This problem would likely be fixed forever, with strong deterrents, and strong leadership.

That didn't happen. Fast forwarding seven years, the same problem rears its ugly head in a very public way.

This is why so many horseplayers throw their hands up and leave. It's why so many give up the fight to change the sport for the better. No matter what case you have, what evidence you have; no matter if everyone with a lick of common sense agrees with a simple change like this, nothing tends to happen. Then, in seven years, or seven months, or seven days, you're right back to square one.

Being a customer advocate or customer of this sport is a war of attrition. And attrition keeps winning. 

1 comment:

BitPlayer said...

I am a little surprised at your reaction, especially given how vocal I remember you being about Churchill cancelling the last race on a card and depriving a bettor of a chance to hit a jackpot six (or whatever it's called). Here, a scratch would have had the same impact. The potential jackpot ticket would have been flipped to the post-time favorite, and the ticket would have won only the regular pick-6, not the jackpot. Wouldn't it be fairer to the jackpot bettor to let the horse run, but deprive the owner of the purse and fine the trainer. Of that doesn't really solve the problem of pick-6 qnd pick-4 players who left the new gelding off their tickets.


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