This is Part 6 of the Thoroughbred Idea Foundation's (TIF) series “Wagering Insecurity.”
Faced with remarkable competitive pressure from the rise of legal sports betting, horse racing is at a crossroads. Confidence amongst horseplayers and horse owners is essential to the future sustainability of the sport. Efforts to improve the greater North American Thoroughbred industry will fall flat if its stakeholders fail to secure a foundation of integrity. Achieving this is growing increasingly difficult after the sport has neglected its core base–horseplayers–for decades.
“Wagering Insecurity” details some of that neglect, and the need to embrace serious reform. Fortunately, there are examples across the racing world to follow.
One professional horseplayer suspected betting pools at tracks across America were not closing when they should.
After his pleas were ignored for months, he proved “past-posting” was possible. He bet one race approximately 50 seconds after it had started.
“I thought that would be enough for those in charge to realize that there was a real problem with the tote systems and that now it could get fixed.
“Instead, I was called before two Commission meetings to show cause as to why my racing license shouldn't be revoked. It seemed that more than anything, they wanted to intimidate me and interrogate me, almost like I was a criminal for revealing to them their own systems' failings.”
In 2020, officials changed one long-standing rule which left the past-posting horseplayer flummoxed:
“I can't imagine a system where an update of these protocols would bring us to, hypothetically, a less secure operation.”
Saturday's Kentucky Derby will feature the largest betting pools of the year in American racing. That includes the superfecta pool, which in 2019 topped $16.5 million.
The “late scan” protocol which was exploited by Chris Harn and his conspirators in the 2002 Breeders' Cup Fix Six is still in place today when someone places a superfecta bet on a U.S. race. The full bet detail of each superfecta ticket is not secured by the host track, but rather held back by the bet-taker with only the amount of each bet transmitted.
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