After reading Matt Scott's recent post on the short fields in California I felt it necessary to give an alternate view of the situation,
which we as horseplayers often overlook.
Unlike many horseplayers, I have experienced the sport from
both points of view because in addition to my fifteen years as a horseplayer I
have also had a firsthand view of the sport from the owners point of view. My father has owned thoroughbred race horses
since the late '70's and over the years I have experienced the high's and the
low's. I know the costs of keeping a
horse in training and I have a great respect for those that choose to invest in
a horse ownership even though the probability of being profitable is almost
With that said, let's take a look at the sport from both
points of view to see why we have differing opinions on field size.
From a horseplayer's perspective short fields rarely offer
any value. Oftentimes they contain an
odds on favorite with a high probability of winning, which in turn results in
depressed exotic payoffs. No value
equals no bet.
From an owner's perspective short fields almost always offer
great value. The opportunity to run with
a guarantee of a share of the purse money so long as the horse finishes the
race is an opportunity that no owner will pass up.
As horseplayers, we seek out betting opportunities that
offer a positive expectation. Those opportunities
occur when our horse is being offered at overlaid odds, when an exotic bet
provides overlaid probable payoffs or when there is a carryover that will nullify
the takeout rate. Those are the
situations that call for a serious bet.
Owners also seek out opportunities that offer a positive expectation. Running a horse in a four, five, or six horse
field guarantees a piece of the purse money.
Running in a ten, twelve, or fourteen horse field does not.
As horseplayers, our goal is to turn a profit each
year. We do that by carefully selecting
which races and betting pools to invest our bankroll in because we must not
only beat our fellow horseplayers but also the exorbitant takeout rates.
Owners also have a goal of turning a profit each year. They do so by carefully selecting which races
to run their horses in. They need to
collect purse money in order to cover the cost of daily training, vet bills and
all other costs associated with keeping a horse in training.
I could continue but I think you get the point:
horseplayers and owners both have the same goal of turning a profit each
year. Betting on horse races is
expensive and owning horses is expensive and combined with the chaos that can
occur in race it is no surprise that only a select few in each group comes out
in the black at the end of the year.
The bottom line is, without horseplayers betting on the
races, there would be no money to fund the purse accounts, and without owners
buying and racing horses, there would be no races for us to bet on.
They need us and we need them and rather than taking shots
at one another a more productive effort would be to sit down and determine how
we can help one another make the sport more attractive for both sides.