Was Sunday's fifth race at Thistledown racetrack in Ohio a textbook case of how to beat the bookie? That's what one Paulick Report reader thinks, and the evidence is pretty compelling.
Missjeanlouise was odds-on favorite in the six-horse field of $20,000 filly and mare claimers (also open to non-winners of a race in 2014), until the final cycle of wagers was flashed on the tote board midway through the six-furlong race. Missjeanlouise went from 1-2 favorite to 3-1 as the horses approached the far turn. Every other starter in the race took significant action, putting each one of them at odds of between 3-1 to about 5-1. For example, Dusty Lily, the longest shot on the board, dropped from 35-1 to 9-2 in the last flash.
Missjeanlouise won comfortably by 2 1/4 lengths, giving owner Midwest Thoroughbreds and trainer Roger Brueggemann the second of their three winners on the day. Finishing second was Vilao, who went off at 9-2 after being 13-1 before the final odds change, according to a report from the Ohio State Racing Commission.
Missjeanlouise paid a healthy $8.20 to win as the second choice but only $2.10 to place and $2.10 to show, suggesting she was the heavy favorite in the place and show pools. The $2 exacta paid $17.60. View the chart here.
The win-place-show pool in Missjeanlouise's race was substantially larger than any other race of the day. A total of $45,855 was wagered in those pools. The next-highest WPS pool of the day was $21,887 in the sixth race, which had eight starters compared to the sixth race's six starters. The average WPS pool of the day's seven other races was $14,049, so the fifth race WPS pool was three times larger than the average for the day (excluding race five).
The fifth was not a particularly attractive betting contest in other pools. The $12,536 wagered on exactas was the fourth largest exacta pool of the eight races on Sunday.
So why would someone bet thousands of dollars on other horses in a race, including longshots, to improve the odds on the most probable winner?
That's simple. Manipulating the odds on the winning horse allows a gambler to receive a bigger payoff betting through a bookmaker or offshore sports/betting book, where the money does not go into the pari-mutuel pools.
It turns out, according to William Crawford, executive director of the Ohio State Racing Commission, that someone put $20,000 on the race ($4,000 on each of the other five starters) betting through an advance deposit wagering service affiliated with the North Dakota-licensed Lien Games.
(Editor's Note: The original version of this article incorrectly identified the source of wagers as coming through the Greyhound Channel advance deposit wagering service. The bets were made via an ADW affiliated with North Dakota-licensed Lien Games. Greyhound Channel and Lien Games are not affiliated with each other in any way.)
If the people involved in the odds manipulation made a $10,000 bet with bookmakers on Missjeanlouis, it would return $41,000 at track odds. In that scenario, it would mean an $11,000 profit from the amount wagered ($20,000 through the pools on the five non-winners and $10,000 on the winner through bookmakers). It's possible more than $10,000 would have been bet through various bookmakers and offshore operations so the profit could have been considerably more than $11,000.
If $30,000 had been bet to win on Missjeanlouise through the pari-mutuel pools, the profit would have been five cents on the dollar, or a total of $1,500.
Please note that I am not in any way linking the connections of Missjeanlouise with this possible pool manipulation and “beat the bookie” scheme. Their horse just happened to be an obvious winner in a short field where the odds could be easily manipulated.
What's next? Will the Ohio State Racing Commission and/or the Thoroughbred Racing Protective Bureau demand more information from Lien Games on who made the $20,000 in losing wagers? We'll keep you posted as we learn more.
UPDATE: The North Dakota Racing Commission, which has jurisdiction over Lien Games, issued the following statement on Tuesday afternoon:
“The North Dakota Racing Commission recently became aware of betting through one of our licensed ADWs which may be an attempt at odds manipulation on races at Thistledown racetrack. The Commission immediately reached out to both the TRPB and the Ohio State Racing Commission to begin collaborative efforts in resolving this issue.
“It is the highest priority of the North Dakota Racing Commission to ensure the integrity of our licensed ADWs. To that end we have established key relationships with prominent industry members such as the TRPB to support these ongoing efforts. The Commission hopes to use this unfortunate incident as an opportunity to work with the TRPB and others within the industry not just to resolve this single issue, but to begin an effort aimed at developing methods to prevent any possible odds manipulation in the future.”
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