Well, it's almost that time. For Santa Anita, of course, and the much-anticipated - by a lot of people other than me - return to dirt racing there; and the grand opening day card featuring two gloriously full-fielded Grade 1 races to mark the occasion.
Hovering over the festivities however is the talk of a bettors' boycott over the rise in the takeout rates for exotic wagers. I discussed my feelings about the takeout issue in this post (one of my most popular in terms of response in 2010). And again, if you HANA guys want to spend Sunday betting on Turfway instead of Santa Anita because its cut on triples is 1.68% lower, that's up to you, and fine with me. Since you're such smart guys, your money going elsewhere should create enough value at SA to more than make up for the takeout anyway!
In a much blogged-about post encouraging the boycott, Bill Finley wrote:
There's nothing wrong with putting more money into the pockets of owners, trainers and jockeys but to do so at the expense of the downtrodden horseplayers is, frankly, sinister. No one is more deserving of a break than the people who bet on horses. They are what make everything in this sport go and they have had to put up with nothing but abuse, starting with takeout levels that make the game all but impossible to beat. Now they want to take even more money out of the Average Joe's pocket. This is criminal. [ESPN.com]Whoa, Bill Finley. I don't really buy the concept of the "downtrodden horseplayer." I certainly don't put myself in that category, do you? Quite the opposite; as I count my blessings during this joyous time of year, top amongst them is the fact that I'm lucky enough to have enough disposable income to participate in my favorite game, and the temperament to do so as a pastime rather than out of compulsion. I know a couple of people who have to stay away due to the latter. Anybody who truly falls into the downtrodden category probably needs to find something else to do, or seek appropriate counseling.
Finley seems a bit hysterical here overall. He makes it sound like people are herded into the track and forced to bet. In fact, nobody is taking any money out of Average Joe's pocket here. The Average Joe doesn't go to the track. Instead, he's downtrodden and abused by the MTA, cable and satellite TV providers, health insurance companies...and I could certainly get more morose than those. So, lighten up, man.