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Steve Byk
The Dead (Heat) Pool

It would be nice to write that Friday's $1,000,000 Gr. III Delta Jackpot was a thrilling late season juvenile event that delivered a three horse blanket finish leaving fans excited about the upcoming sophomore season. The race appeared coming in to have a real opportunity to enjoy ramifications on the 2008 Derby Trail, and the dead heat between Bill Mott's Z Humor and Mark Casse's Turf War, with Gary Thomas' Golden Yank pinballed between them, certainly should have people eager for the next round of soon-to-be-sophomore challenges.

I would write something along those lines, except it would torture those that happened to be live in Pick 4 plays to 39-1 Turf War... In that case, you won't want to see another horse race any time soon.

Why you ask? Wouldn't anyone that had Turf War in the last leg of their live P4 play be thrilled with the result? Uh.. no. They wouldn't. As we've seen time and again, any P4 players that ventured a wager with that highly clever opinion were cheated of a deservedly handsome payoff by ridiculous dead heat 'emergency' rules that deliver a common quad payoff instead of splitting it proportionately between those that had the two disparate winners.

The favorite and 8th betting choices were inseparable at the wire, and no matter which one you had at the end of your four race wager, the payoff was $127.60 ($2). Outrageous.. Sickening.. And totally unfair.. The parlay to Bill Mott's winner, off at $1.50-1 was about $60. Those that found Mark Casse's brother of Grasshopper appealing at $39.70-1 were scheduled for a $950.00 reward parlay-style. And based on the P3 prices which ARE paid out proportionately, (31.80 to Z Humor; $402.40 to Turf War), likely much, much more.

How is it possible that in an era where the computerized pools can track anything, that those that took less risk betting to Turf War in P3's are rewarded by a factor three times greater than those that risked more, and likely spent more, betting to Turf War in P4's?

Just one more insult to those that put money through the windows. Steve Crist has written about this repeatedly, and never has it been more clear than in this dead heat finish. There is not a single reason that Racing and Wagering Authorities could give to defend this ongoing injustice. Yet the state's who gleefully glom their 20-25% takeout on these pools, an estimated $20,000-$25,000 for Louisiana Friday night in the all-stakes P4 alone, cannot be bothered to rectify this egregious situation which raises its' ugly head on a major scale about once every 6 months. Enough already. Change these rules.


Self-described 'whale' Mike Maloney's past posting revelation at the University of Arizona Symposium on Racing and Gaming set off alarm bells industry-wide last week, and fed into conspiracy theorists' insistence that betting goes on after the bell as a matter of course. Maloney, a $6-$12 million per year bettor, fed the kitty well into the Fair Grounds 3rd November 25, and later said it was not a 'once in a blue moon' occurrence.

Wagering does not go on past the bell as 'a matter of course', but disclosures like this only serve to undermine the work of groups like the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau (TRPB) and the Wagering Transmission Protocol working group that includes nearly every major entity in the Industry. TRPB Director of Wagering Analysis J. Curtis Linnell Emailed me Friday that the incident was already being investigated and Fair Grounds' acknowledged the case as an isolated occurence.

Linnell's office presented a report in September at the annual International Simulcast Conference in Kansas City that demonstrates the quirkiness of late-changing odds based on the TRPB's monitoring of pool accumulation in the minutes before the bell at this year's Del Mar meet. Only 73% of pools are generally accounted for with 1 minute to post, and an estimated 7% of handle is generated within seconds of the gates opening. Current systems cycle wagers every 45 seconds and add a forced cycle of the odds 10 seconds after the bell. Those elements conspire to give the appearence of large amounts of accrual coming in AFTER the gates open when patrons see odds change between the time the first and second flashes occur with races underway.

The industry is not only obligated, but must make an immediate priority of utilizing whatever modern technological safeguards are available to guarantee nearly immediate reflection of odds changes leading up to the opening of the gates. If the 10-second force is possible after the gates open, why not perform forces every 20 seconds the last 2-3 minutes preceding the start? That way the movement of odds will not appear nearly as nefarious to suspicious horseplayers. At the same time, security measures, and redundant safety nets, that ensure a lock down of tote units at the bell must be incorporated systemwide to render the integrity of the pools beyond question. Whatever expense is involved for racetracks and tote companies in repairing these potential loopholes is a bargain if it puts to rest horseplayers' concerns over past posting, pool integrity or any other Byzantine Gondorffing.