Sunday, February 12, 2012

What does it mean when your horse is "AE"?

The "AE" horses appear in the program at the bottom of the list of horses entered in a race, usually in a shaded box with "AE" next to them. That means these horses are "Also Eligible". Which means that if only 10 horses are allowed in a race but more than 10 are entered, the horses who definately get in the race have satisfied various criteria, and the rest are on stand-by. If one of the definate horses scratches out of the race prior to a set deadline on the morning of the race, then an AE horse takes its place, in a set order. It's my understanding that the preference system and also the scratch time deadline can vary from track to track - someone please correct me if I'm wrong about that.

Owners need to understand this part of the game. It's a part that can be foggy for owners and bettors alike. It's tough for owners to plan to attend a race when their horse is "on the AE", but it's part of the drama! Today Jere talked to his owner at about 11:30 on the day of the race to discuss "plan B" since their horse on the AE that day did not get in. Some owners think they have until the time of the race to maybe get in if a horse scratches, but that's not the way it works in the United States.

Jere had a good time relating how in Saudia Arabia he had to have his horse ready up until the time of the race in case a horse scratched to let his horse in. Many things can happen between scratch time and the race - the state vet can scratch a horse for signs of lameness in the post parade, a horse can get loose and run off before the race, etc. But as he told his owner, as of 11am on the day of the race, if your horse doesn't scratch into the race, "The Party's Over, Done and Dusted. Time for plan B."

How do travelers who are unfamiliar with horseracing decide to visit a racetrack?

I know one thing - many racetracks don't make it easy for new customers to find them and that worries me. For instance, if you Google "Hawthorne Race Course" and click on the Google Map that comes up at the top of the search results, you get a big blank space with a lake and a pin labelled "Illinois Thoroughbred Breeders". So although Hawthorne has a web site, they are not working on their overall internet presence (as of today anyway, hopefully this is quickly fixed).

Similarly, I wrote a quick review on of Busch Gardens in Tampa after a recent visit. After you submit a review the web site automatically emails to ask you to review more attractions in the same city, so I figured I'd give Tampa Bay Downs a nice review. Unfortunately this very popular travel site has no idea about Tampa Bay Downs, so I'm waiting on them to tell me that Tampa Bay Downs meets their criteria as an "attraction", then they'll let me review it.

What in the world? I admit that as a small business I'm not too good at keeping up with my own internet presence, but Hawthorne and Tampa Bay Downs are big companies that should be able to keep up a little better than this. If you notice things that racetracks can do better, please join me in speaking up so we can all help our industry survive!

Saturday, February 04, 2012

I spent a day at the races with a gambler who had never been to a racetrack!

I hung out with a racetrack newbie the other day, he's a retired mailman who plays poker with my husband occasionally. He came along with a group of the poker night people. We figured he'd want to know all about handicapping, and my husband was busily picking winners and explaining why he picked each horse, etc. I directed his attention to the payoffs of the races to show how it can be lucrative to bet exactas and other exotics, but he was not particularly interested in that stuff.

He wanted to know, "Who are the people in the red coats out there, what do they do?" (outriders) Then when the starting gate was right in front of the grandstand for a 1 mile 40 race, his attention was rapt. He was fascinated by the pony guy who looked like the Marlboro man might look at age 70, and his extremely well turned out pony that looked ready for the hunter ring. He even quizzed the track vet about how she got that job and what was she looking at out there on the track during the post parade.

What do you know? Potential new racing fans don't necessarily start out by betting on races! But those who have a good EXPERIENCE at the track usually end up betting on races.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

I missed a good bet the other day

When I notice a race result with a young horse or possible future claim that I want to follow, I add that horse to my "stable alert" list. I use BRIS rather than Equibase for email alerts simply because I started out with BRIS a million years ago before Equibase offered the service. So the other day I got an email alert, two days out, for an entry of one of my horses in a stake race at Gulfstream and on the morning of the race I made a show bet on that 12-1 shot through my TVG account, then went on with my day doing other things.

I found out later in the day that my horse scratched out of the stake at Gulfstream and raced instead in an ALW at Tampa Bay. Unfortunately I never got the entry for the race at Tampa Bay so I didn't bet it and of course my horse won the race at 5-2 odds. So I'm pretty mad when I find out my horse was double entered and I only got the one entry notice. Why is it legal in this case to double enter? Because one of the races was a stake that required a nomination fee.

Just thought I'd mention this to let owners know they can nominate and enter for a stake, then scratch if it comes up too tough so their horse can run in an easier spot on the same day. I don't know if there are exceptions to the rule depending on the state, or other considerations.

I'd like to hear more about the rules on double entering if anyone would like to elaborate.