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From Coast to Coast

Coupled Ramsey trio detrimental to betting

These days it seems like every time I turn around someone is complaining about the quality of the fields entered in top tier races. The race itself is listed as a Grade 1 (or two or three), but when you start analyzing the field, you realize that with the exception of maybe one or two entrants, the field itself looks more like something you would see in a high dollar optional claimer or overnight stakes. Such is not the case with this weekend’s G1 Joe Hirsch Turf Classic Invitational Stakes, but I have a different bone to pick in regards to this one.
With no overarching regulating board in American horse racing, each state is free to make its own rules and regulations. I have addressed this issue once already this year, so I won’t get back into that other than to say, once again, that this needs to change. For it is not just drug infractions and punishments that vary from state to state but also how horses in a race must be entered. In some states horses entered by the same connections must be listed as a coupled entry, but in other states it is optional.
It just so happens that in the state of New York, “all horses in common ownership must be coupled and run as an entry” and “all horses trained by the same trainer must be coupled and run as an entry.” There is, however, an exception to the rule. The New York Gaming Commission made an allowance so that “no entry shall be coupled by reason of common ownership or training in any race in which the gross purse is $1,000,000 or more.”
With a gross purse of “just” $600,000, the Joe Hirsch does not fall into the allowed exception category of the coupled entry rule. Because of this, half of the ten horse field is running as a coupled entry. Boisterous and Imagining, owned by Phipps Stable and trained by Shug McGaughey, constitute one coupled entry; and Big Blue Kitten, Real Solution, and Joes Blazing Aaron, all owned by the Ramseys, comprise the second coupled entry. Despite the fact that Boisterous is not likely to run Saturday, that still leaves one-third of the Joe Hirsch field running as one entry. From a betting stand point, that means that even though the Joe Hirsch drew a solid field of Grade 1 winners and Grade 1 placed runners, instead of having 10 betting choices, bettors will only have 7 choices.
Because of the nature of the rules by which NYRA has to abide, what should have been a golden betting opportunity has been turned into a farce. I could make a case for at least half the field to win, a fact that would have played to the bettors’ favor because the odds would have been good across the board rather than having one heavily bet favorite. Instead, the coupled entry that includes Real Solution and Big Blue Kitten will be fiercely pounded, lessening the payout for them both should either win. Additionally, should Joes Blazing Aaron pull off the shocking upset, his payout would be greatly diminished, too. All this because the Joe Hirsch’s purse isn’t $1 million.
Now I don’t really expect Joes Blazing Aaron to pull off an upset since he is merely in the race as a rabbit, expected to prompt and pull King Kreesa and Little Mike along to set things up for his stablemates. I do believe that both Real Solution and Big Blue Kitten stand a really good chance of winning, and it is this belief that really fuels my disappointment in how the rules are currently set up. In this field, I would not expect any of the entrants to go off as odds-on favorites if they all were running as separate betting interests; however, since the two Grade 1 winners are considered one entry, they likely will be sent off as odds-on favorites, or close to it, even with Joes Blazing Aaron coupled with them. Not an attractive betting possibility at all.
There is a touch of irony in this whole situation, though. There is a clause in the rules that states “the board steward may require any horses entered in a race to be coupled for betting purposes prior to the commencement of wagering on-track and off-track, if he finds it necessary in the public interest.” You would think that would work in reverse, too, but since it doesn’t, the only logical conclusion to be drawn is that the rules are the way they are in order to minimize the amount of winnings paid out to the bettors. I understand the logic behind having coupled entries, but the New York Gaming Commission should really reevaluate their rules here. Rather than the exception to the coupled entry rule being the amount of the purse, it should be the grade of the race, with emphasis on the Grade 1 races. Doing so would be both beneficial to bettors, who would get better odds in cases like this, and to the track, who would see the handle go up because of the more attractive betting opportunities. 


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you couldn't have stated that better.

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Meet Ashley Tamulonis

Despite growing up in a non-horse racing state, Ashley has been a fan of the sport since a young age. Her love for horse racing was fostered through the kids’ book series Thoroughbred by Joanna Campbell, and it was her love of reading and horses that led her to educate herself on the ins and outs of the sport. Since becoming actively involved in the industry just a few short years ago, Ashley has had the opportunity to meet many important players in the industry, attend the Eclipse Awards, see personal favorite Mucho Macho Man race twice in person, and get to personally meet and befriend many of the fantastic fans and horsemen involved in the sport.


Before joining Horse Racing Nation, Ashley created her own blog Wired with Ashley Paige. The idea to venture into the world of blogging came to her when she realized that she had much to say about horse racing and no one to say it to at the time. Ashley began her time with Horse Racing Nation blogging as The Florida Filly. Using that moniker, she mainly covered racing in South Florida but also blogged about nationwide racing, industry issues, and from time to time offered her opinion on how various changes could be beneficial to the industry as a whole. A move north to New Hampshire began both a new chapter in both Ashley's personal life and professional life. She currently pens the new From Coast to Coast blog for HRN, which is simply a revamped version of The Florida Filly. Don't let the new look and name change fool you, though. Ashley still brings to the table the same great coverage as From Coast to Coast as she did for The Florida Filly. Ashley also participates as a voter in the NTRA Top Thoroughbred Polls.


An alumni of Macon State College, Ashley is from Central Georgia but is currently living in New Hampshire with her husband Chris and their two sons Charlie and Michael. A stay-at-home mom, Ashley juggles parenting with blogging and her other passions. Aside from horse racing, Ashley is a fervent football fan, enjoys reading and studying history, and hopes to someday author a historical work covering the Tudor period as well as biographies of horse racing’s stars, equine and human alike.

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