08/24/2012 2:42PM

Letters to the editor Aug. 24, 2012


Pick four policy has bettor itching for rule update

I am both dismayed and disgruntled concerning an issue of great importance to bettors that the racing industry apparently chooses to ignore. Or maybe we’re presumed to be too naive to recognize when we are being done a grave injustice.

The issue concerns rules governing the pick four at New York tracks.

Bettors routinely endure high takeouts on exotic wagers with minimal complaints, but we are literally being ripped off by one specific rule, the substitution of the post-time favorite for a late scratch from one of the three remaining legs once the first leg of the pick four has gone.

Case in point: On Aug. 9, Stormy Beauty ($8.10) won the first leg of the late pick four at Saratoga. Pearl of Wisdom ($6.10) prevailed in the second leg. I Bet Toni Knows appeared a strong single in the third leg, a New York Stallion Series stakes. She was a three-time winner facing a field of fillies having won nothing more than maiden races and a lone allowance. Additionally, her most recent race was a winning effort in a New York-bred stakes. Finally, she was the only entrant in a speed-laden field having demonstrated the ability and willingness to pass horses. Conditions could not have been more ideal.

Confidently, many singled that filly. Unfortunately, she became fractious in the gate, was apparently injured, and subsequently scratched. Bettors holding live tickets were automatically assigned the post-time favorite, Why Take a Chance, a filly on whom serious handicappers would never take a chance. Why? Because she had demonstrated a propensity for not winning when she appeared most favorably placed to do so. In three of her six career starts, she had failed to win as the betting favorite. Naturally, she failed again.

In such cases, bettors holding live tickets should either be awarded the entire field or allowed to substitute a horse of their choice, not one forced upon us by present rules governing the wager. After all, it’s our money. We prefer spending it on our own selections.

Warrior Up completed the sequence at 29-1. Because it looked like “that kinda race,” he was one of eight on my $64 partial wheel.
The payout for a $2 ticket was $11,209.

Because of an archaic, unfair, ridiculous rule, I missed out on more than $5,000. Why? Because after the scratch of my single in the third leg, the post-time favorite was forced on me, not selected by me.

I encourage the industry to wake up, treat bettors with more respect, and implement a suitable change. The present rule is aggravating and inequitable.

Martin Rogers
St. Louis