View From The Eighth Pole: Horseplayers Have A Right To Be Suspicious - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

View From The Eighth Pole: Horseplayers Have A Right To Be Suspicious

Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar, Fla.

It's been 13 years since racetracks and tote companies said they solved the issue of odds changing throughout the running of a race. Yet at least one prominent racetrack still has a problem posting final odds until a minute or more after a race has started.

In the fifth race at Tampa Bay Downs in Oldsmar, Fla., on Friday, April 15, the number four horse, Chill Haze, was installed a 30-1 longshot in a field of seven runners carrying a $5,000 claiming price in a mile and 40-yard contest. In three one-turn sprint starts at Tampa Bay Downs in January and February, Chill Haze was never less than 20-1 odds and he beat one horse in those three races. after showing early speed and stopping.

Transferred from trainer Enrique Amado to Rafael Romero, Chill Haze was dropped from $6,250 claiming to $5,000 and stretched out to two turns. None of his four career wins came around two turns, though he'd been tried at longer distances before.

In the April 15 race, jockey Lexander Sanchez gunned Chill Haze out of the starting gate and quickly took the lead. The odds displayed on the race video shortly after the start showed him at 12-1, bet down considerably from his 30-1 morning line.

In another 10 seconds, the odds on Chill Haze were 10-1 as he led into the backstretch. He maintained a comfortable advantage down the backside, but 35 seconds after being listed at 10-1, the odds were suddenly just 6-1.

Ten seconds later, with Chill Haze still leading over over 7-5 favorite Bourbon Wisdom, the odds dropped a final time, to 7-2, making this one-time 30-1 outsider the third choice in the betting.

It took 65 seconds from the start of the race for the final odds to be posted.

Chill Haze put away the favorite, but second betting choice It's Fate ran him down in the final sixteenth of a mile to win by three-quarters of a length. Chill Haze paid $5 to place and $3.20 to show.

A similar incident occurred at Tampa Bay Downs in the eighth race on March 30, when front-running Ideal Breeze defeated the 6-5 favorite R Love On the Run in a six-furlong race at 12-1 odds. It took over a minute for the video to display his final odds, having started the horse at 18-1. then 19-1, then 14-1 and finally 12-1.

When asked about that incident, Peter Berube, the track's vice president and general manager, said he was awaiting a response from tote provider Amtote on some “cycling issues.” Berube insisted there is no betting taking place after the start of a race.

Those issues were said to be fixed way back in 2009 when many tracks were experiencing similar delays in posting final odds, and suspicions about “past posting” – betting after the start of the race – were running rampant. Adding fuel to those suspicions were occasional instances where an official would forget to hit the “stop betting” button or there were technical glitches that permitted some bets to be placed after the start.

My suspicion at the time was that racing had moved into the 21st century while relying on 20th century technology to process bets from an increasing number of locations within North America and from offshore wagering companies. Compounding the problem in recent years are the computer assisted wagering accounts that can dump a massive number of bets into the pools in the final seconds before betting is closed.

The solution in 2009 was to speed up the cycling of bets into the host track's pool, shortening the cycle time from 30 seconds to 10 seconds.  Many tracks opted not to display odds on the video screen until 10 seconds into a race, at which time almost all of the bets had been processed.

Another issue at that time was lack of synchronization between the totalizator odds and the video display software. That was supposed to be fixed, too.

It's not acceptable for odds to change more than a minute into a horse race. It leads to suspicions and questions about the integrity of the betting pools from horseplayers. They have a right to be suspicious. This is something that needs to be fixed once and for all.

That's my view from the eighth pole.

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