Monday, September 3, 2012

Labor Day Weekend 2012

Every year when Labor Day weekend arrives I always get a little bit sad. Labor Day marks the end of summer. This year, we’ve had some great summer racing. It is my sincerest hope that each and every one of you was afforded the chance to enjoy your share.

Travers Stakes Dead Heat
The 2012 Travers Stakes at Saratoga saw a dead heat between 33-1 longshot Golden Ticket and 2-1 favorite Alpha.

Link to Youtube video: here:

The dead heat between a 33-1 longshot and the favorite in one of New York’s most storied and prestigious stakes races brings attention to what we at HANA see as a bad (antiquated) New York State Wagering Board rule.

Consider. The payoffs for the late pick four and the pick three ending with the Travers Stakes were as follows:

Pick Four:
$2.00 Base Wager, Winning Numbers: 2-8-1-3/6, Paid: $990.00

Pick Three:
$2.00 Base Wager, Winning Numbers: 8-1-3, Paid: $1907.00
$2.00 Base Wager, Winning Numbers: 8-1-6, Paid: $141.50

How can this be?

By rule, the late pick four pool is split evenly among winning ticket holders in the event of a dead heat. In plain English: Players who had the foresight to include #3 Golden Ticket at 33-1 on their pick 4 tickets received an identical payoff to that received by players who included the post time favorite on their tickets!

Next, we bring your attention to the pick three. By rule, the pick three is handled (correctly) in the event of a dead heat. When there is a dead heat in a pick three race, the money in the pick three pool is divided among winning ticket holders in proportion to the money wagered on each horse.

We at HANA see the rule as relates to handling of dead heats in the pick four as a bad rule that needs to be changed. Conversely, we see the rule as relates to handling of dead heats in the pick three as the correct way to do things.

Both the pick three and pick four are pari-mutuel wagers. By its very definition, pari-mutuel wagering involves dividing up pari-mutuel pools in proportion to the money bet on each betting interest. We at HANA can see no justification for failure to do that when a dead heat occurs in a pick four race.

Accordingly, we have contacted the New York State Wagering Board and have asked what the procedure is for getting a rules change enacted. (We’ll keep you updated if and when any progress in this area is made.)

Jeff Platt
President, HANA

2012 Arlington Million
Little Mike and Ramon Dominguez lulled ‘em to sleep and took the 30th Arlington Million impressively in wire to wire fashion.

Link to Youtube video here:

I didn’t have any money riding on Little Mike. But apparently Mike Ditka did. < grin >

But watching the race, I thought it was 1.) Visually appealing. There’s something to be said when a field of 11 quality runners competes in a stakes race at the classic mile and one quarter distance on the turf. 2.) I thought Ramon Dominguez did a masterful job of controlling the pace while lulling the rest of the field to sleep. 3.) I thought John Dooley (as always) gave the 30th running of the Arlington Million a masterful call.

In my opinion, the 2012 Arlington Million was one of the more memorable races I saw this past summer.

That said, did you happen to notice anything unusual about the race video and John Dooley’s call? You might, if like me, you happen to have been following the racing closely this summer at Arlington Park.


What’s the big deal? (You might ask.)

Back in July, we at HANA ran our first ever track advisory warnings where we shone a spotlight pointing out abhorrent race track behavior to horseplayers. One of the tracks we featured (and not in a good way) was Arlington Park. The abhorrent race track behavior? Races with missing internal fractions, missing final times, and plenty of them!

Here’s a link to our advisory warning about Arlington Park:

Here’s a quote from that write up:

“Players are hereby advised that published times for (far too many) races run at Arlington Park during the 2012 meet are missing, incomplete, or just completely inaccurate. This includes times for fractional (internal) points of call as well as final times for races run on both the turf course and Arlington’s Polytrack surface. Arlington Park management is aware of the problem, has been working on it (since opening day) – but as of this writing, the problem continues and has not been corrected. This (potentially) impacts any and all running lines in the past performance records of horses that have raced at Arlington Park to date during the 2012 meet.”

I’d love to be able to post an update telling you that our advisory warning from July about mistimed races at Arlington Park was for naught - that track management at Arlington Park stepped up and addressed the problem.

Sadly, that’s not the case.

In late June, Arlington Park track management met with a group of horseplayers and one of the topics discussed was the unacceptable number of mistimed races during their 2012 meet. During that meeting, Arlington Park advised horseplayers that yes, there had been problems timing races at Arlington Park but that (new) procedures had been implemented and that those new procedures would make Arlington’s timing issues a thing of the past. Clearly, that hasn’t happened.

In mid July, a group of volunteer horseplayers from HANA compiled a list of races run at Arlington Park during the 2012 meet that had missing and/or bad internal fractions and/or final times. We then involved upper management at Equibase in getting the list of races with bad times to Arlington track management.

I was kind of hoping that Arlington would step up and respond by giving those races a second look, hand time them from video (not sure what else they could do?) - and get the info back to Equibase so that corrected charts could be cut. That way, horses returning to the races after having raced at a mistimed race at Arlington would not have time based info (speed and pace figs, race fractions and race final time) omitted from their Arlington Park 2012 running lines.

In our opinion, players betting the Arlington product deserve at least that much.

To the best of our knowledge, Arlington Park track management took the list of bad races that was handed to them and did absolutely nothing with it.

To do nothing with that list? To give players (and Equibase) the cold shoulder?

That's weak.

Just how bad is it? How many mistimed races are we talking about?

In July, a horseplayer named Ron (whose work with racing data I have come to greatly respect) helped us compile the list of bad races. Below is a direct quote from one of his emails to me:
“Just for a point of comparison, I ran Betfair Hollywood Park, Belmont, Thistledown and Arapahoe. I ran the exact same query as I did for AP, looking for missing times and obviously bad times.

BHP has had 403 races this meet - 0 races were missing a fractional time and all looked to be in normal ranges. 100% score.

Bel has had 487 races this meet - 0 races were missing a fractional time and all looked to be in normal ranges. 100% score.

Tdn has had 319 races this meet - 1 race was missing fractions and all looked to be in normal ranges. 99.6% score

Arp has had 120 races this meet - 1 race was missing fractions and all looked to be in normal ranges. 99.2% score

AP has had 388 races this meet - 27 were missing at least 1 fraction and 7 were missing all fractions, presumably deleted after somebody cleaned up the bad times. 93.0% score

Arlington has a long way to go to meet Arapahoe's timing standards, at least in terms of completeness.

You can forward or quote this to whomever you want.


Jeff Platt
President, HANA

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

While you're at it,ask New York State Wagering Board why their showing pk 3 and pk 4 payouts in
$2 ?.One is a $1 bet the other a 50-cent bet.

The horseplayers don't like this and makes NY look deceiving.