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Monday, April 3, 2017

Anatomy of a Rules Change

On March 05, 2016 the last race at Santa Anita came off the turf and was made an ALL per the rule they were using for the single jackpot P6.

A poster named CJ summed it perfectly with posts #1, #6, and #10 on this thread at Paceadvantage.com:


Post #1:
"Last race comes off turf because jockeys say it is dangerous. First, they didn't tell anyone until after the 7th even though there were no intervening turf races. 
But the real problem is in the P6 rules. Santa Anita pays out 70% to those that hit all 6, 15% to consos, and carries over 15% if there isn't a single winning ticket. But they made the last race an all, so there is NO CHANCE of a single winning ticket. Yet they are just carrying over the 15% anyway, essentially stealing it from bettors.
It is published beforehand, so buyer beware. That still doesn't make it right. These jackpot bets open up way too many cans of worms for me."


Post #6:
"The right thing to do would be pay out all the money that was bet yesterday in this situation, not every day."


Upon reading CJ's posts in the above linked to thread - I did the unthinkable.

I picked up the phone and contacted the CHRB. I directed them to CJ's thread - and explained to them why players believe the current rule is a bad rule.

Then I asked: "What's the best way to get a bad rule changed?"

My contact at the CHRB advised me that the first step would be to get Santa Anita involved. He explained it to me like this:

"Jeff, if you can get Santa Anita on board in asking for a rules change - at that point I think the CHRB would be willing to go to bat for you."

So from there I contacted track management at Santa Anita by email. I directed them to CJ's thread and explained why I thought the current rule was a bad rule - and that I thought it could be turned into a better rule by following CJ's suggestion:

Post #10:
"I'd write the rule so that if any race comes off the turf, resulting in an "all", the entire amount bet that day is paid out. Of course any carryover from prior days wouldn't be included in that."

Track management at Santa Anita got back to me right away and we had a phone conversation. They told me they were open to getting the rule changed and that they would be getting in touch with the CHRB to figure out how the rule should be reworded and to discuss the path of least resistance for effecting a rules change.

On Tues March 14, 2017 the HANA Board met via conference call.

Two of the items discussed on that call were the March 05, 2017 incident at Santa Anita and a proposed boycott over the incident.

Because the CHRB and Santa Anita had both already agreed in principle to work together (on behalf of horseplayers no less) to get the rule changed:

The HANA Board decided to take the CHRB and Santa Anita at their word and to not boycott over the March 5th incident at this time.

Now you know why the HANA Board decided not to boycott.

It took a few days longer than expected because Santa Anita had to wait for the tote company to get the rules change programmed into the tote system.

Last night, Sunday April 2, 2017 - DRF reported that the rules change had been finalized.

Santa Anita alters pick six rules when late surface switch occurs:
Link - here:

"ARCADIA, Calif.- Santa Anita recently received approval from the California Horse Racing Board to change the rules regarding pick six distributions in the event of a surface switch after the bet is underway.
The new rule takes effect on Thursday. In the event of a late surface switch, the 15 percent portion of the net pool typically dedicated to the single ticket jackpot provision of the pool will be redirected to the portion of the pool distributed to ticketholders with six winners, or into a carryover.
In that scenario, 85 percent of the net pool would be paid to tickets with all six winners, or into a conventional carryover, and 15 percent to the consolation pool.
On a day with a late surface switch, it will still be possible for the single ticket payoff provision to be paid out, if there is a single winning ticket. That is less likely to occur on a day with a late surface switch, since any races affected by a change in surface are considered a winning leg for all bettors, regardless of selections, essentially making the pick six a pick five.
The rule change was requested following a situation on March 5 in which the day’s final race was moved from turf to dirt because of excessive early afternoon rain."


Look. I'm certainly not a fan when it comes to the proliferation of single jackpot bets.

But if you are a major racetrack and you are going to insist on having a single jackpot bet for your P6:

The very least you can do is get the best possible rule in place.

And this is a case of a racing jurisdiction doing just that after listening to horseplayers.


--Jeff Platt, HANA President



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