10/19/2009 4:26PM

A $154k Miss


If you played the late pick-4 at Belmont Park Saturday, you made a great bet whether or not you won: The pool was one of the very rare positive-expectation propositions in parimutuel wagering, with the track paying out more than it took in due to a huge miss on its $350,000 guarantee for the pool.


Because of the guarantee, Belmont had to pay out 74 percent (after 26 percent takeout) of $350,000, or $259,000, even though only $196,087 was actually wagered on Saturday, NYRA's biggest miss on a guaranteed pool. You could blame it on the miserably cold and rainy weather, but NYRA really has only itself to fault for offering such an ill-conceived and unappealing sequence.

First, it carded four grass races for Saturday, two of them in the pick-4 sequence, even though it didn't take Saturday entries until Thursday, by which time everyone knew that storms were coming and NYRA itself had postponed Saturday's Athenia Handicap until Wednesday. How did they think they were going to run four grass races, and why put two of them in a guaranteed-pool sequence?

Then it took the only race on the card with fist-time starters and made it the last race of the day. Of the 10 places on the card it put this race, that was the very worst choice, since it put people playing the final pick-3 as well as the guaranteed pick-4 and the pick-6 completely in the dark. Everyone understands that if it's Saratoga and there are four firster-laden maiden races on the card, some blindness in the multirace bets is unavoidable, but that was not the case with Saturday's card.

Customers repeatedly complain about this misguided practice, and it won't happen for a couple of weeks, but then you get a situation like last Saturday and it begins to look like a deliberate thing despite track officials' denials. If someone in the racing office thinks he's being a good employee by trying to create pick-6 carryovers this way, it backfired badly Saturday, costing NYRA more money than it would have made if there had been a carryover -- not to mention alienating customers who clearly bet elsewhere or not at all.

Those who did play were paid nicely since the track paid out $259,000 instead of the $145,104 it would have paid out without the guarantee. Winners paying $3.90, $10.20, $6.70 and $4.90 combined for a $391 payoff, more than double the $163 parlay. And instead of the pick-6 carryover NYRA was trying to create by concealing relevant information from customers, the payoff for 6 of 6 was $892.

--William Hill, the British bookmaking firm that posted lines for nine of the Breeders' Cup races last week, today released its first lines for the two main-track 2-year-old races:

Breeders' Cup Juvenile: 2-1 Lookin At Lucky, 4-1 D'Funnybone, 8-1 Dave In Dixie, Homeboykris, Pulsion, 10-1 Noble's Promise, 12-1 Aikenite, Dublin, 14-1 Aspire, Gallant Gent, Western Smoke, 16-1 Smiling Tiger, 20-1Make Music For Me, Backtalk

Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies': 9-2 Blind Luck, 5-1 Hot Dixie Chick, Mi Sueno, 7-1 Awesome Maria, She Be Wild, 8-1 Negligee, 10-1 Beautician, Devil May Care, 12-1 Always a Princess, Jealous Again, 14-1 Amen Hallelujah, La Nez, 16-1 Midst, Pure Class, Softly Singing, Worship the Moon, 20-1 Bickersons, Biofuel, Touching Beauty

The firm also noted the following "Market Moves" since last week:

Breeders' Cup Turf: Presious Passion 7-1 from 8-1

Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare: Lahaleeb 12-1 (inserted), Pure Clan 12-1 from 16-1, Criticism 25-1 from 33-1, Moneycan'tbuymelove 20-1 from 12-1

Breeders' Cup Mile: Gladiatorus 10-1 (inserted)

Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint: Field Commision 7-1 (inserted), Gotta Have Her 8-1 (inserted)

Breeders' Cup Sprint: Gayego 6-1 from 8-1, Not for Silver 20-1 from 33-1

Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile: Quality Road 5-1 (inserted - new fav), Midshipman 8-1 (inserted), Girolamo 14-1 (inserted)

art sharkey More than 1 year ago
Steve, I have come to the conclusion the only way to significantly improve the quality/consistency of U S racing is to have a commissioner.He needs to be in control of something everybody wants(ie racing days etc..). We need uniform drug policies and enforcement,less overall racing days and sites with increased field size and media coverage.We need events like the RYders Cup and Presidents cup rather than whatever these Breeders cup people are trying to construct.This can only be done with international cooperation on dates and surfaces which would have to have a single voice from our end.To be involved in this game we have to have above average intelligence and means,why do we allow something that we are all so passionate about slowly fade into oblivion.Your thoughts? [Art: You can't have a meaningful Commissioner unless individual track operators and state regulators cede power to him. I see no indication that that anyone is willing to do this. -- SC]
ml/nj More than 1 year ago
Instead of a commissioner, how 'bout a czar? They seem to be popular these days. Maybe a dictator would be better? Then whatever mistakes he would make would be made at every track and racing association nationwide and maybe noboby would notice.
Andy Scoggin More than 1 year ago
Bought your DVD today!
Evan Gewirtz More than 1 year ago
Steve, Well, lately it looks like I am doing more handicapping of your column than I do horses. While I certainly agree with your criticism of the BC for looking to set host sites ten years out, (I really dislike synthetic tracks also)your push to close betting at zero minutes to post is off the mark. The first problem with that idea is that you are rolling over and allowing the conspiracy theorists to prevail over the illusory problem of past-posting. You should not be putting the burden on the tracks to fix this illusory problem, rather, the tote companies should have been able to create a program for real-time posting of wagers long ago. It seems like at least five years ago that the fix six scandal took place and there was talk then about real time updates. Are we really to believe that this could not have been achieved by now? Lastly, I think your prediction about the pools not being affected is simply wrong. If the pools are open longer there will be more handle. Furthermore, I often wait, where I have interest in wagering on a reluctant or poor loading horse, to see the load before I make the wager. I can unequivocally state that closing the pools at zero minutes would reduce my handle significantly. I am looking forward to handicapping your column next week and the odds are overwhelming that I will wholeheartedly agree with you. This week was certainly an aberration.
Ryan More than 1 year ago
Tax question Steve... Have a couple times this year hit a $1 Pick 3/4 twice at $350 apiece. It wasn't the SAME ticket, however. For example, I didn't go 1X2X2 and hit it twice. One ticket may have been 5X1X5 and the other was 5X5X1. Totally different tickets. Youbet has sent me tax forms for those hits. I understand if I hit a $100 P4, 8 times that I would get taxed on it, with identical tickets. However, my tickets weren't identical. Was Youbet wrong to send me the W2G's? Do I need to report that? Thanks in advance... [Ryan: They're technically complying with a particularly obnoxious IRS regulation about "Aggregate reporting and withholding" that some venues ignore and others enforce. It's an especially unfair procedure because it specifically punishes ADW customers. If you physically bought those tickets at a track or OTB, and cashed them even one minute apart, nobody would aggregate and report it. -- SC]
Walt P. More than 1 year ago
The New York State Government does have a lot to blame for the botching of a lot of things, especially the NYRA VLT issue. One only has to look at Yonkers Raceway, just north of the NYC border in Yonkers to see how much the purses have improved there: Pre-VLT: Lowest overnight purse was $2,500 for $4,000 claimers, highest purse was $15,000 for the weekly open handicaps. Currently: Lowest overnight purse is $8,000 for $10,000 claimers and for the non-winners of $4,000 in the last six starts condition, highest purse is $40,000 for the weekly open handicaps (and that is even with a recent 20% cut in purses at Yonkers from what had been previously all-time record purse levels). Keep in mind, unlike the T-Breds, Standardbreds usually still race every week (missing a week here and there), so they more chances to earn purse money than their T-bred counterparts.
hud More than 1 year ago
NYRA Lockout: Can anyone tell me what is going on with the NYRA One lockout of an account. Haven't used it since Saratoga and when I tried to use it today it was "locked out" and after numerous transfers to different people over the phone I was put through to an anwsering machine. At that point I decided to use one of my other wagering service accounts. Anyone else have this experience and know what is going on???
fashion slipper More than 1 year ago
Hi Steve Love the blog and all the valuab le info...help me on this...recently you or one of the bloggers pointed out that in last years BC with the exception of Midnight Lute the winners had either won both previous races or one won or the other and 2nd or 3rd in the other...jus ttrying to get this fact straight,,,,please help Thank you fashion slipper
Walt P. More than 1 year ago
For the record: NYRA isn't the only place carding grass races with rain in the forecast. Laurel Park has four grass races, including a stakes event for Maryland Breds as part of their Frank deFrancis card on Saturday. While Laurel can get away more easily with running on turf in part because of being able to have multiple rail placements, the rain forecast on Saturday probably makes it tough to do so.
SaddleUp More than 1 year ago
Steve, Does this mean your DVD is available? http://www.breederscup360.com/archives/2009/playing-the-pick-six-with-steven-crist/ I need all the help I can get.