Tonight at Woodbine/Mohawk a horse without a charted line since January 10th roared off the wings and won in a lifetime best, paying $124.10.
Some of you may ask how a horse off that much time without qualifying was allowed to race, and that's an honest question. They changed the Qualifying layoff time from 30 to 45 days awhile back. For harness horses, this is a big change, as we all know. These horses need to race week to week, so any stale dated line is a red flag.
The rules were changed - as they often are - not for bettors, but for participants. They have to ship to qualify, and shipping costs money. This same exact rule was changed in the US, as well, for this reason.
When I brought up the implications of this to some in the sport, I was dismissed. Something I am certainly used to.
But the reason I brought it up was precisely this:
The pick 5 - something Woodbine wants everyone to play - included this stale dated horse. It attracted $63,000 in money.
The pick 4 also included the horse, and that pool was $52,000.
The race itself had a handle of about $110,000.
All the pick 5's were four of five - something I've never seen before at this pool size. Everyone was blindsided.
That's real money, bet by real customers, who had no idea what said horse would do off 40 days off. How could they know, she didn't even have a charted line.
As bettors we're conditioned to this. We play and it's "part of the game". But what kind of game is it, when likely two or three people out of the hundreds of thousands of dollars bet know the horse is on go off the stale date?
I remember my first job in the mining industry. I was assistant to the Corporate Secretary who wrote the press releases. One day there was big news at the office - our drilling hit 50 feet or so of gold, at 0.5 ounces per ton. The stock was going to fly.
And..... the cone of silence went up. If we got caught even whispering to someone - hey I am sure I had a buddy who could make a quick couple of thousand - we'd be strung up by our ears by the authorities. It has to be that way, because the investing public needs to be protected, or there won't be an investing public.
In racing, with changing qualifier rules (and a hundred other things) not only do authorities not protect the bettor, they pass policies like this that make it worse.
This is nothing to be fixed; it's shouting in a vacuum. The horse was a longshot even with a line; it is what it is; life goes on. It's racing.
But for once, just once, I'd love to see the business ask, "how does this change influence the customer"? And when the bettor does share his or her opinion, they at least pause for a moment before doing the opposite they ask.
Have a great night everyone.
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