Saturday, November 13, 2021

Getting the Horizontal Rules Right

California steward Scott Chaney caused quite the brouhaha on the twitter box yesterday. The quote itself - primarily about horses in general running for purse money only not being a huge issue - was not terrible. But in the context of what happened in the Breeders' Cup with Modern Games it was, in fact, pretty terrible. 

In verticals, barring horses from wagering is not necessarily a bad thing. It can turn some bad betting races into good ones. In horizontals, I believe it also can be used. If we have a pick 4 sequence with four 1-5 shots we can't find any holes in, I'd much rather them all barred. Then I'd at least look at it. 

But in this case last week, in this world, the statement was, well, ugh. It wasn't about that. 

We've spoken a lot about wagering here over the years, and one trend that has been apparent for a long while has been the explosion in horizontal wagers. Gone, for the most part, is the high cost pick 6, replaced by lower denomination wagers that the general public has embraced. This type of wagering - long ago solely a daily double - has grown to a point where they're talked about on each and every simulcast, and they've even spawned twitter feuds. 

What hasn't changed much, however, are the rules and how they're handled. Late changes of riders or drivers, surface changes, dead heat rules and yes, late scratches "for purse money only", where millions of dollars pivot to another horse are all part of this lexicon. 

When something changes, in any business or entity, there's usually a response. Leaving out the tribal political people on social media, there's great and important discussion to be had on voting rules, as more and more people cast ballots in modern ways; self driving cars need to be addressed; how consumers consume with larger and larger companies taking more of the pie is perhaps the Standard Oil question of the century. 

As racing's make-up changes, it's just not like this. Racing waits for something to happen, shakes their head, and hopes people forget about it by next week. 

Is devising a better system to handle all of these millions in horizontal money easy? Hardly. But it would be nice, just this once, at one of these fancy conferences or board meetings someone decides to get the ball rolling; it'd be nice for customers to know that someone is home. 

Have a nice weekend everyone. 

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