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Thursday, February 10, 2005

Late Money

- Thanks again to reader Green Mtn Punter, who was kind enough to forward to me a link to transcripts of a conference last year conducted jointly by the Harness Tracks of America (HTA) and the Thoroughbred Racetracks Association (TRA), where there were several panel discussions related to the rebate shop issue I wrote about the other day. There's a lot to get through here, and I'm in the process of trying to digest all of it in the midst of Derby preps and will certainly have some more thoughts to share in the next few days and weeks.

One thing that made an initial impression however, was reading the presentations by a couple of big rebate bettors. One, David Cuscuna, in trying to make the crucial point, from his standpoint, that track handle generated by rebate shops is incremental revenue that would not exist for the racetracks if not for the existence of rebate shops, even if they do receive a much smaller percentage than that of on-track or simulcast revenue, he said:

If you need one more piece of evidence that the money is new, think of the issue of the late fluctuations of odds in the tote board. This did not happen a long time ago. Obviously, it is the result of new significant money. It is not money that is just coming from a racetrack.
Well, you know what? We don't like the late fluctuations in the odds board. Nobody does. It sucks. Besides lending fodder to those who grumble that every race is fixed, it makes for mutuel surprises that usually seem to be unwelcome. One panelist made the point that we're moving towards the point where you'll have the morning line and the final payoffs with virtually no meaningful guidance from the tote board in between. And if these bettors are placing these large bets based on unfettered direct access to all the information in the mutuel pools to take advantage of overlays, then it's not fair either. It's not good for the game, at least the way most, probably around 99% of us like it. We, as bettors, don't need nor want that money. The question to be discussed and resolved is whether the tracks do, and if so, how to make sure that they, the horsemen, and the bettors all get a fair shake. More to come on this.

- Jay Privman's Derby doings for this week, from the Daily Racing Form. If you're planning on waiting until after this weekend's preps to make your Pool 1 Derby futures bets, you may not have the full picture:
Most of those races will be evaluated by bettors who are playing Pool 1 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, which closes at 6 p.m. Eastern time on Sunday. However, as of Wednesday, Santa Anita racing secretary Rick Hammerle said it was not known if the San Vicente would be run before the pool closes.
Roman Ruler and Consolidator are expected to make their 3 yo debuts in that race.