Any of you who follow my twitter have probably seen me complain about stupid little things that tracks do. The kind of things that make no sense, hurt the product and are incredibly easy to solve, but they just keep happening. These are things that tracks are in complete control of. It's not like takeout, where they have to negotiate with horsemen to change things. No, these are the kind of things that they are 100% in control of, and it's frustrating to me.
I noticed two of these little things within five minutes of each other, and that's probably why I'm so focused on it right now.
I was checking my email and I had gotten notifications from Equibase with overnights for Friday cards at Assiniboia and Woodbine. I pulled up the Assiniboia overnight and after a quick look shook my head.
Assiniboia's signature wager is their 15% takeout Pick 4. In fact, they frequently call themselves "Home of the 15% takeout Pick 4." The Pick 4 starts in the 4th race. Field sizes in Friday's Pick 4 sequence are 8, 8, 6, & 9. Also take note that the 7th race, the 9 horse field, is the Super High 5 race. This looks like a great sequence, especially for Assiniboia. For a gambler, this is great, good field sizes and low takeout. There's definitely some value in playing. But then I looked at the rest of the overnight and saw that Race 2, a race that's only notable as the end of the early double and the start of a Pick 3, has a 10 horse field. The biggest field of the night. And it's not in the Pick 4. Why is there a six horse field in the Pick 4 sequence, but NOT the field of 10? Who was the genius who made that decision? Not only should that race be part of the Pick 4 sequence, it should be the Super High 5 race. Am I crazy for thinking this? To me this is common sense. When your going out of your way to promote your Pick 4 wager and attract some new bettors, don't you want to create the very best Pick 4 sequence possible?
But the genius-train didn't stop in Winnipeg, it had to make a stop in Toronto for our friends at WEG.
Woodbine is also a track that takes pride in its Pick 4 wagers. There are 2 Pick 4s per card and they work hard to promote them. The early Pick 4 ALWAYS starts in Race 4. The late Pick 4 is ALWAYS the last 4 races of the card. That's the way it is. And boy, did it work out well on Friday. Friday's card has 9 races. The early Pick 4 is races 4-7, the late is 6-9. Now, I'm not a genius but I know there are some things bettors don't like. Overlapping Pick 4s is one of those things. This will hurt the late Pick 4 pool, guaranteed. It happened a few times last year, and each time the late Pick 4 had a much lower than average pool. People are more likely to play the early because it has a $50,000 guaranteed pool, while the late has nothing. Instead of changing the way things are usually done and maximizing the potential of the Pick 4 wagers, WEG is opting to be lazy and creating a 'good enough' wagering menu. Why can they not start the early Pick 4 in Race 2 and the late in Race 6? That way there's no overlap, and pools will be maximized. Bettors aren't going to refuse to play the early Pick 4 because it starts in Race 2, it doesn't work that way. But WEG, a supposed 'industry leader,' is either too stupid or too lazy to take the initiative to change the way they do things.
The sad thing is that we see these sort of things happening almost everywhere all the time. These are the simplest little things to solve, but they just keep popping up. Will racing ever learn from it's mistakes? We can only hope.