Google+ Followers

Monday, January 20, 2014

A Huge Week for Horseplayers

Of the many awesome experiences I had during my two years at the RTIP (1999-2001), the NTRA National Handicapping Championship (NHC) ranks up at the top.  The NTRA had asked four of us students to help out with registration and other various tasks for the two-day contest and all of us were very excited to make the trip to Las Vegas.  

This year's DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship will be held at Treasure Island Casino in Las Vegas Jan 24-26.  The three-day tournament will offer $1.5 million in prizes with $750,000 to the first prize winner.  This is quite a jump from the $200,000 total prize money in 1999 and the NHC has become a life-changing event for those that have won the title of top handicapper.  

I love contests and I was able to absorb as much as I could at what has turned out to be the largest handicapping contest in this country.  From meeting top handicappers to helping out with tallying up the rankings, it really didn't feel like work as it was so much fun!  Fortunately, we were asked to come back a few more times and we had as much fun as we did in the first year.

One of the ideas being discussed during this time was a television series that would feature horseplayers.  It would show how a horseplayer arrives to their play for a race and follow along as the race runs. That idea has finally become reality as the show "Horseplayers" will make its debut on the Esquire Network on Tuesday, Jan 21 at 10 PM.  Each episode will follow a group of handicappers around the country while they compete for the title of America's top handicapper.  One of the handicappers on the series is Peter Rotundo who was one of the organizers we had worked with at the NHC. 

Like the fantastic movie "Let It Ride", I hope this series will show the horseplayer's point of view and what we all go through during a day of racing:  The ups and downs, the great wins and the bad beats along with the characters you meet at the track or simulcast facility.  I also hope that racing executives watch as well to give them an idea of what a horseplayer goes through and why we feel our ideas will help out the sport.

The biggest mistake I made while working the NHC in 2003 was not following the "buzz" about a horse a lot of handicappers were talking about.  Keep in mind many of the top handicappers in the country were in the building and many talked about making a Kentucky Derby future book wager on this particular horse.  He had run that weekend and I went back and looked at him in the past performances.  I can remember saying to myself: "Yeah right, a NY-bred gelding is going the win the Kentucky Derby!"  Well, he was 75/1 at the time and Funny Cide would go on to win the 2003 Kentucky Derby.  Here's hoping that racing executives do not make my mistake and listen when horseplayers speak.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Can higher minimums in exotics wagering be attractive?

A few days ago, one of the birthday gifts I bought for my Mom was a lottery scratcher ticket.  On this particular ticket, it said there were over 13 prizes of $5 million and that you have 28 chances to win any prize on a single ticket.  This particular ticket cost $20 which is the highest one you can purchase in California.  While Mom did not become an instant millionaire, it got me thinking maybe there is a way to make some horse racing wagers more interesting using this higher cost/higher payout idea. 

In recent years, many exotic wagers in horse racing have had their minimums dropped to $1 and even a few dropped all the way down to $.10.  This gives the horseplayer a higher chance to collect a ticket with multiple combinations at a lower cost.  The only one that I can think of that hasn't changed is the straight Pick 6 (not the Pick 6 where a large percentage of the pool is only paid out if there is only one ticket selecting all six winners).  In Southern California, the Pick 6 has become a mainstay and has attracted carryover pools into the millions which can lead to a six-figure payoff.  This is a minimum $2 wager which helps keep the chances for a carryover much higher as the chances of winning are low and tickets can get expensive fairly quickly.

What if there was an exotics wager that required a minimum $5 or even $10 bet?  I think for this to work it would have to be something like a Double or maybe even a Pick 3, but it would have to be a separate pool than the consecutive/rolling Double or Pick 3 that is offered (i.e. races 1-2, races 4-6 etc.).  The current tote machines can handle such a wager as there is the Kentucky Oaks/Kentucky Derby Double wager available which is two races on two different days.  

This type of wager would likely have to be offered in the middle of a card as money starts to flow better whether people are churning money from their winnings or people still trying to cash a ticket.  I can see a $5 Pick 3 offered for races 3, 5 and 7 while a $10 Double might be for races 4 and 7.  While I would not expect to see a huge increase in pool size, I could see it becoming more popular with time as people become excited and attracted to the bigger payouts.  Also, with a higher minimum it would increase the chances for a carryover especially in a Pick 3 pool. 

While I do enjoy the lower minimums in exotics wagering, I feel there should be a wager or two that offers a chance for a higher payoff.  I'm not a Pick 6 player as I feel the chances of me winning are slim especially with a slim bankroll.  However, I may dive into a high-minimum Double or Pick 3 as there would not be as many combinations covered which would lead to a higher payout.  I think a horseplayer with any size bankroll would find this attractive as we are all looking for that big score.  

Maybe next year Mom!