12/14/2007 11:26AM

Q&A 12/14/07


partisan says: I see that the NYRA and IRS settled by reducing the 1.6 Billion to 25 Million. Good news for the NYRA but not for us players since the federal court hearing might have led to a decision containing language criticizing the ridiculous IRS regulations which don't permit the full deduction of losing wagers against winning wagers. Any thoughts?

Lots of thoughts, most of them poisonous. The IRS regulations regarding gambling are uniquely unjust, failing to distinguish between gross proceeds and net winnings. If applied to any other business, they would bankrupt that business in less than a year. The NTRA's lobbyists understand the issue and have been making some slow progress in getting support for reform, but until track operators and influential industry individuals make this issue a priority, nothing will be done. Fairness aside, they should do so out of self-interest: I believe the parimutuel handle would easily increase by $500 million if money currently being unjustly withheld and/or confiscated were put back into circulation.

One promising possibility being discussed is to change the definition of a bet from $2 to the actual cost of a winning ticket. So if someone put in a winning $48 partwheel, reporting and/or withholding would not kick in unless the payoff were 300 times $48 ($14,400) rather than the current $602.

If you've had any substantial gambling winnings reported this year, you could be facing an even heavier burden than usual: Congress has yet to make any adjustments to the Alternative Minimum Tax and millions of taxpayers may be subject to it for the first time this year. The AMT hits winning horseplayers extra hard because reported gambling proceeds (not profits) are counted as gross income, the basis for the AMT, while offsetting losses are considered itemized deductions. You might want to consult an accountant now to consider any year-end strategizing rather than being faced with an unexpected tax bill on April 15th.

bandini says: Why on earth are U.S. racetracks built with the dirt course outside the turf course? This doesn't make any sense to me.

In many cases, it's because the main track was built first, coming as close as possible to the apron, and a turf course was added later. For newer tracks, the thinking probably was that with an overwhelming majority of races still run on dirt, those races shoul start closer to the stands. A prominent exception is Woodbine, where the 1 1/2-mile grass course circles the one-mile Polytrack

michael_doheny says: I just read your exotics betting book and you said there are some good pick 6 software products out there. Are there any that you care to recommend for those of us who do not enjoy going through the manual process?

The only one I ever used myself was something called Sixshooter, which allowed you to put in your main and backup selections and then generated a list of the necessary tickets. It has disappeared from my hard drive and I have no idea whether it's still available. More recently, several people (including a member of NYRA's board of trustees) have come up to me at the track and shown me little spreadsheet programs they've written and installed on their PDA's that do the same thing with A-B-C selections for pick fours. One of these days, I hope one of the account-wagering services will come up with a little suite of horseplaying software tools that interface with the actual betting screens. It's not really a timesaver to have a program generate the ticket combos if you then have to enter them manually.

tony says: [Saturday] there was a David Jacobson horse who was # 2 in the race and the form had him listed as being in the 11 hole . So even through he was the best speed i don't play him and when the race goes off he breaks from the rail and wins easy . What was that about ?

Explosive Count, the David Jacobson trainee who won the sixth race Dec. 8, was correctly listed as breaking from post 11. The rail horse in that race, Favorite Sweep, ran second. It may have been confusing because the winning program-number exacta was a 2-3 even though by post position it was an 11-1 finish.

bc says: Two questions for you: First, with the unusally large number of races involving NY-bred horses in front of us over the next few months, where can a handicapper find pars for these races? Second,at the last Expo in Las Vegas, I seem to recall a discussion that took place about the possibility of including in the DRF race pars for all races.Is that a possibility ?

Current pars for many conditions can be found in print and online versions of Simulcast Weekly. As a crude rule of thumb, pars for NY statebreds are generally 7 to 10 Beyer points lower than the corresponding open condition, i.e. an open N1x sprint par is around a 94 and a statebred N1x is an 86. It is still DRF's intention eventually to publish pars in race headers, but that project has been further complicated by the introduction of new racing surfaces and a lack of sufficient data to produce reliable pars for those surfaces.