Don't tell anyone and please keep this between us, but I bet a couple of football games this past weekend. From Wednesday onwards I got the injury report, weather reports, and rumors and such regarding things that many I am sure would not like to be public, like the Richie Incognito affair.
I am pretty sure some fans want to know if the wind will be blowing on Sunday in Buffalo, but don't kid yourself, these things are out there for bettors. Gambling on football games is a big business. Although the legally bet numbers are fairly small, the total easily is estimated into the hundreds of billions of dollars. The league knows that, and so do you and I.
I also bet the Breeders' Cup this weekend.
On Friday we all adjusted our play at least a little bit. We had heard stories about kickback, about how outside speed was good on the dirt. We factored that in and we're big boys and girls; we deal with track bias all the time. As fans, on social media and other outlets, it didnt quite feel right. For horse owners who got a closer ready for a big race on a track that he or she would be compromised on, I am sure they were not very happy. This was not ideal for anyone in the sport, really; however, that's racing sometimes.
What caused many the most problem, was what happened overnight.
We heard "rumors" they were trying to slow down the track and make it more fair.
Joe told Pete they were watering more. Some guy on twitter said he thinks he saw them tear up the inside a little bit.
Pete told Susan, and Susan said "they want a track like this on big days so it won't change"
Larry and Janet agreed, but weren't sure.
Some believed Joe and some believed Susan. Some read the guy on twitter but said "I have to wait and see".
The next morning there was a carryover in the pick 5 pool. Bettors would bet up to $7 million dollars into that pool, which rivals what Vegas will take on the college football games that day. I could see what the weather and injury report was for Florida and Florida State. When putting together my pick 5 ticket to that large pool I had absolutely no idea what the track was going to be like. Should I key the speed like yesterday? Are the rumors true so I should use the Romans closer in the Juvy fillies? I really don't know because no one is saying anything.
Where was a press release? Where was a mini-press conference with the track super? Beuller?
Where was a spokesman saying something simple like "we've had a dry season here and kickback is a bit of an issue. We heard horsemen and jockey complaints and some from customers, so we worked on the track all night. We can't guarantee it will be more fair to closers today, but we are trying to make it so, so for those betting upwards of $100 million dollars today, plan your wagers accordingly."
Was that too much to ask?
Ideally our tracks for big days would be fair surfaces - fair for jocks, trainers, owners and the fuel that makes the sport go: Wagering. That might be wishful thinking. But there is no excuse not to give information in a timely manner to everyone at an event regarding track maintenance. It's what professional gambling businesses do as a way of doing business. Horse racing should as well. It's a gambling game, not a hobby.
Related: John Pricci : Track Bias Unfair to Horses, Horsemen and Bettors Alike