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Jan 17, 2014

AMERICAN TURF CLUB LEAD-AQUEDUCT CANCELLATION

By: JOE GIRARDI


               Just when I thought I saw it all at the racetrack, on Saturday January 11th at Aqueduct this might take the cake. After dealing with extremely cold weather from the “Polar Vortex” just the week prior we here in New York got relief as the weather warmed up. It was in the early 50’s on January 11th and there was some fog that had encompassed the racetrack. However, since I have been going to the racetrack, for well over 30 years I have never seen, (at least in New York) a cancellation because of the fog. The track condition was sloppy and sealed and understandably with the freezing and thawing out the track could be an issue.

               After about a 10 minute delay before the first race, they ran that race in the fog over the sloppy track and despite not being able to see most of the race you could see the finish with 10-1 longshot, Physical Delivery getting up to score over the favorite Uman Candy at the wire. This was a good result for those that bet pick 5’s, Physical Delivery was the 5th choice in a 7 horse field, a great horse to have in the pick 5. I had used 4 horses in the pick 5 but pressed with two of them, the #2 (Uman Candy) and the #5 (Physical Delivery). Going forward I had some good coverage and multiple tickets where I could have hit the pick 5 if I got the best results for $5.50 cents; a chance to make a good score. As I waited for the second race (I was also alive in dd’s with the same three horses I had in the pick 5) there seemed like there was a delay again. A few minutes of the horses walking around the paddock it was announced that the rest of the races that day would be cancelled because of the fog! Wait a second, did I hear that right? The fog? Well that’s right they cancelled the fog and the track condition were to blame. Now I am for the safety for the jockeys and horses first and foremost. I would never want to see any jockey or horse injured because of some unsafe conditions. However, they have run in the fog forever, what was so different this time. There was some word that two jockeys didn’t check their tack for the second race but five jockeys did. As usual, there was a lack of communication between management and the jockeys which hurts the bettor, the customer, they are never given the common courtesy they deserve.

               Let us look at this cancellation from a bettor’s standpoint and see how it really affected those who wagered on this day. This was not talked about in the media at least from the media side of things, and if it was I didn’t see it. The pick 5 which started in race 1, had a pool of over $220,000. After race 1 those who didn’t have the winner, #5 Physical Delivery, would have thrown out their tickets as they could no longer hit 5 out of 5. Now there is a chance that it could pay 4 out of 5 but it hasn’t happened since and because there is no consolation payout on those days when 5 out of 5 are hit most people would throw their tickets away. Well after the cancellation, with only one race run, by the brilliant state law concerning pick 5 wagers, the whole bet is refunded. Yes, you read that correctly, the WHOLE POOL IS REFUNDED! If you bet the pick 5 for example and wagered $1,000 in that bet and didn’t have the winner of the first race. You just got an early or late Christmas present depending on how you want to look it. You could have bet $1,000 in the wager, lose and get all your money back, as long as you didn’t throw those tickets away. If you bet in an account where you didn’t have to hold on to a physical ticket then you wouldn’t have any problems, that money would be refunded back into that account. If you threw your tickets away, hopefully you were able to find them before the “stoopers” did. But even more egregious than those tickets that were thrown away was for those who actually had the winner. If you had the winner in the pick 5 and moved forward to the second leg, you got the same exact thing as those who picked the loser. You got your money back. That is how the rules of the pick 5 are written. Clearly, those who wrote the rules, those who approved the rules don’t have any understanding of horse racing or those who gamble on it. It is always a problem when people that are in charge of a gambling establishment or those who govern over bets made at that establishment don’t know what it means to gamble or what goes into certain bets and how they affect the bettors. This is a perfect example, reward those who chose the loser and punish those who choose the winner. It is hard to comprehend how something like this can happen. The horseplayer has been up against it for a while now, the taxable and withholding levels are way out of wack, the takeouts are high, the NYRA thinks raising admission prices will help, cancellations two weeks in a row, one for a tractor stuck on the track and the other because of fog. The tax laws are against the horseplayer and it makes it hard to stay in this game. Those that are in charge just don’t get it and seem to do just the opposite of anything that makes sense. The game is in a bad state right now and without some serious changes it will never turnaround.  



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