The Paulick Report received this unusual tale of show bets and a major advance deposit wagering company from Frank E. Macauley, who's been watching and playing the races for more than a half century and who is now a member of Team Valor partnerships.
The French have an old saying “Plus les choses changent et plus elles restent les mêmes.” (The more things change, the more they stay the same.)
For over 56 years, I have been a fan of the sport of Thoroughbred racing. For most of those years, I along with many others suffered the indignities levied upon us from insulting parking attendants, outright rude pari-mutuel clerks and many other employees of various racing facilities. It not only was how we were treated by the facilities, but the increases in the mutual take, the lousy food, the high prices, the decrease in the minimum payoff from 10 percent to 5 percent. For most of us it was the love of the sport that kept us going. So some of us endured.
It seemed that the wagering industry was trying very hard to alienate its customers. And how they have succeeded. Attendance dropped. Facilities closed. And a lot of us “old-timers” passed away, which left a smaller and smaller customer base.
About a decade ago, the industry finally woke up to the fact that they needed to change things if horse racing was to survive. It has been a difficult climb because no longer is it the only game in town. A few tracks did quite well in improving their customer base, and there are others that are trying with some success. Attendance will never be what it was. However, this is the age of technology and the industry has done quite well in marketing its product via off-site venues. The handle continues to be floundering at some facilities, but the sport has been kept alive by casinos of various types. How long this will continue remains to be seen.
Now, it seems that the industry, once again, wants to kill the goose. On Sept. 23 I received a telephone call from a very nervous gentleman at TwinSpires, where I have had a wagering account since it was BrisBET.
The purpose of the called shocked me. It was requested that I limit my show wagers to $20. I am 81 years old and hearing impaired. I advised the gentleman of this and repeated to him what I thought he was telling me.
About three weeks earlier my wagering account balance was about $500. My physical activity is restricted at the present time. I needed something to keep my mind functioning and to occupy part of my day. To amuse myself I tried to see how far I could go with the $500 making show bets. Over two weeks I made about 25 show bets of $500 each without a loss. I made about $650.00. Then I got the call.
My selections were made from available on-line data, either the night before or the morning of the race. I was doing this for fun. I waited until close to post time to make the wager; I wanted to watch the race, check out track conditions, et cetera.
TwinSpires' complaint seemed to be that some of the races I wagered on had minus show pools. This I don't understand. Certainly my bet didn't make the minus pools; minus pools have been a part of the sport as long as I can remember. If I was at the track, I could have made these wagers without any problem. It is my understanding that TwinSpires and others commingled their wagers with the track pools. They are not bookmakers, but they certainly are acting like they are.
I was reminded by the TwinSpires representative that in Europe they don't have show wagering. This isn't Europe. If the tracks don't want to accept show wagers, they can change the rules. In fact in some of the races I played there were not any show wagers and I played to place. When I asked about place wagers, it seems that Twin Spires is not too keen on them as well, and would impose the same restrictions.
Through the decades management has made some very bad and belated decisions. These decisions have done a lot of damage to the sport. It is a long, hard road back. This morning I read, once again, “The Horseplayer is a vital part of our industry…”
Always has been, but at times you wouldn't know it.
— Frank E. Macauley
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