Back in the early 80's a team of scientists were conducting an experiment to help eradicate the current scourge of malaria in Africa, transmitted by mosquitoes. They and their volunteers created nets, treated with a substance, and slept each night for five months tracking results. Experiments such as these were done before, and it showed nets worked, but people in large numbers were still getting bit, and malaria was in full force.
These nets were different, though - they had holes in them, because most nets in Africa had holes. The results, after trail and error with different substances treating the holy nets, were astonishing. It took some time, but today it's estimated this innovation accounts for 70% of 6 million lives saved from malaria each year.
This theoretical idea was modified to mimic the reality, because theory often does not work in practice.
I think about this story in terms of us bettors and customers. We can pick and choose fifty different things those in the business do not understand about us (and those who are long gone from the game), but last night I found a couple nuanced examples that I think are pretty illustrative.
In race two at Mohawk a "theyknew" horse crushed by 6 and was hammered down to 2-1, while being driven like a 2 to 5 shot. The colt was 9-1 in the doubles after a 12-1 morning line, with a mediocre qualifier.
How could we know, right? Well, we kind of could if we dug and handicapped. If you watched the qualifier it was a bury job, the horse trotted beautifully, is a big strong horse and hails from a barn that sends horses ready. We might've not 2-1 "knew" but we could sniff it out, using in a pick 5 or double as an edge.
I'm in now way saying a track that cares should not examine a race like that and fire a shot across that barns' bow, but really, we could come up with him if we work hard at the game.
Flipping to race four there was a different kind of win. A horse off months with past lines well below par for the class, with 30 plus second last quarters, was shipped into a 2 for 32 barn. The horse went first up like a well meant champ and won in 151 with a 27.3 kicker.
How can you get this one? Can you watch his qualifier to see if he had pace (there were none)? Can you use obscure barn stats or something? No, this is not handicapping, this is knowing something. Some people did, and they took down a ton of public money last night (when we include horizontals there were hundreds of thousands bet with this race tied up). This is money the public had absolutely no shot to share in.
This is probably the time an old time player or track executive would chuckle, saying "it's part of the game" or something equally platitudinous. I'd counter with - the world has changed Dinosaur, and capital is fleeting; moving to games that aren't yours for reasons exactly like this. Wake the hell up.
The venerable author Bob Marks - who toiled many years as a public handicapper before running a breeding operation - has written that on condition of hire, a racetrack executive should head to the grandstand nightly for a month and wager like we do for his or her paycheck. Bob believes it would go a long way to understanding customers - both the ones you have and the ones you'd like to have - because of incidents exactly like this. If you're not living them, you can't possibly understand them.
Last night that executive would have a pretty good education on how this game is played; not in the theoretical C-Suite world, or judges room, or in placating trade papers, but in our world of mosquito nets with holes in them.
After last night, I'd hope he or or she'd watch qualifiers and the betting board more closely, and I hope they'd sure as hell be carding qualifiers so if a 3 month layoff is going to crush hundreds of thousands of dollars of people's hard earned money, at least they have a something to go on.
Have a nice Tuesday everyone.
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