Yes, it is that time of year, and Derby Fever is in the air and almost everyone in the game, at every level and in every capacity, has it. I’m no exception. Both Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby day provide some of the year’s most exciting, historically significant, and competitive races, along with incredible equine and human athletic performances. Additionally, there are a plethora of wagering opportunities, many of which can be life changing. We also have the new Kentucky Derby Betting Challenge, a tournament that, in my opinion, done like The Breeders’ Cup Betting Challenge, reflects true handicapping skill.
While I’m as excited as anyone about this year’s Derby and the supporting races, it’s not the only thing looming in The Sport of Kings on my radar.
If you are a follower of mine on Twitter, or a regular reader of Past the Wire, then you know I am a big fan of exchange wagering, and am as excited as anyone it is coming to the US. Although as I understand it, it will only be offered at Monmouth Park initially, I think it’s obviously a sign of things to come.
You can’t resist change and evolution in this game. It’s constantly changing, and so must how we approach it. Wagering options change, and we as bettors have to look for new and potentially lucrative opportunities.
I have been saying for a long time now: Exchange wagering is going to provide a lot of new ways to approach certain races, wagers, and horses. Essentially you are your own bookie and can tailor wagers in a whole host of ways. You can even offer odds on horses to lose and you will have takers. You can bet head to head, and even during the race based on your perception of how things are unfolding. The possibilities and opportunities this creates for the skilled player are nearly limitless.
People against exchange wagering cite the potential for larceny and dishonesty. Is there a game involving money that doesn’t face those issues? Is horse racing currently immune from such issues? The answer to both those questions is no. Blackjack has card counters, poker has players that play in teams, one can only imagine what goes on in online poker which is pretty much unregulated. In our game we have drug issues, people giving a horse a race or racing one into shape, and you may be wagering on that horse. We have those and all kinds of other factors too. How much worse exchange wagering makes things, or if it worsens them at all remains to be seen. It’s been done in England for a while and has gone relatively well. Yes, there have been incidents, but the history of our game and all those involving money have incidents.
With exchange wagering, whether you are laying odds, taking odds, going head to head or horse to horse, or even if you are betting during the running of the race, you are doing so with the ADW holding the funds, thus securing payment when you win. It will be regulated and licensed so safeguards should be in place making things secure. Hopefully the lessons learned from The Breeders’ Cup betting scandal are not in vain.
I prefer to look at the opportunities exchange wagering is going to provide, and capitalize on them. I loved Tonalist in The Belmont a few years back. I didn’t think California Chrome could or would win that day. I even commented in an older column had exchange wagering been available I’d have offered 4 or 5-1 on him and had takers lined up for as long as I could afford taking the action. I’d have gone all in and collected a fortune. Three or four of those a year and you could be doing really well for yourself. There is no greater advantage in this game, than knowing a short priced horse that won’t win. With exchange wagering, in that scenario, you only have to know who won’t win not who will. How many times have you bet against a bad favorite only to not go to the right horse to beat it? Have you ever left out a favorite in a multi-race wager and used three or four horses only to have the favorite lose but you not have the winner? Exchange wagering gives you an opportunity to bet on these opportunities and use your skill to offer odds that can wind up making you a lot of money when you are right.
When I think back over the past few years at some of the short priced horses I was sure would lose I see dollar signs. Dreaming of Julia was a sure bounce in The Kentucky Oaks and the masses loved her. It’s those types of opportunities in exchange wagering that can produce life changing scores. I’m all in and can’t wait. It’s horse racing’s version of head to head Hold Em and I think and hope a big part of our future wagering menus.
There have been and will be so many opportunities to really lay it on the line if you believe in yourself and your opinion. I can only imagine the odds I could have gotten, and laid for that matter on Game On Dude not hitting the board in that Breeders’ Cup Classic a few years back. It will also be fun seeing the men separated from the boys in the heated social media exchanges.
n 2010 The New Jersey State legislation passed the bill allowing the Garden State to be the first state in the US to offer exchange wagering. Betfair, the UK based owner of TVG has the conditional license to operate exchange wagering at Monmouth, which is a good thing as they have experience with it and the technology required to run it. The technology aspect has to be huge and complicated and if I ran an ADW I’d be looking at that now. The future is almost here.
The way it looks now, in the infancy stages, it will be open to New Jersey residents, through TVG or NJBETS accounts. People in the UK would also be able to participate and bet against or with NJ residents. Over 50 million people participate in Fantasy Sports, and one day leagues and this is like that times 10 for horseplayers, and the odds factor makes it so much more lucrative. Racing missed the boat on the poker craze, and to some extent fantasy sports, but that ship hasn’t exactly left the harbor yet. Exchange wagering may be a good way to get on board. Hopefully this goes through, the Federal Government doesn’t stop or block it, and players have a whole new world of wagers to explore.
As we approach the first Saturday in May, people are falling in love with their Kentucky Derby picks before they have even drawn the race. It’s hard enough to pick the Derby winner race day. I’d love to be able to offer some attractive prices on some of the early choices now, and compete with the Vegas books for that money. If you can bet with the fearlessness of a dragon, exchange wagering is for you. You can bet a horse to win, or to lose, a whole new concept and opportunity to beat the game. I’m ready and waiting.
Jose Luis Ortiz, first rider this year to reach 100 wins. Jimmy Riccio, Jose’s agent for doing a phenomenal job. Jose is one of the best young riders in the country, and is on his way to being one of the best in the game as is his brother Irad.
Larry Collmus. Sorry Larry, Past the Wire loves you and gave you plenty of high fives, but when you blow the call of The Wood Memorial you get the low five. It can happen to anybody.