by Garnet Barnsdale
There’s a new bet coming at The Meadowlands Racetrack, and it generated a lot of chatter on social media this week as bettors debated whether it’s a good bet for the average player.
The new bet, The Pick 10 Survivor wager, requires the selection of the winner in the first 10 races on the program and it works as the name suggests. If you survive race 1 by picking the winner, you move on with other bettors that tabbed the winning horse and so on for each race. This continues until there is only one correct ticket (“The Survivor”) or all 10 races have been completed. This first-of-its-kind wager will debut when the New Jersey harness track opens its Fall/Winter Meet on Saturday, Nov. 4.
The lone surviving ticket will win the entire pool minus the wager’s 15-per cent takeout. If there are multiple tickets that survive through all 10 legs, or are the last surviving tickets eliminated at the same time, they will split the net pool. The wager will carry a 20-cent minimum and begin each night on the first race. There is no carryover associated with the wager. The Meadowlands is partnering with the USTA’s Strategic Wagering Program to guarantee the wagering pool at $10,000.
“We think it is imperative for our industry to innovate and create new ways to wager on our product for our core customers,” said Jason Settlemoir, Meadowlands GM/COO. “We believe the horseplayers will love the fact that the winner takes down the entire pool each night. The Pick 10 Survivor is the result of lots of hard work and dedication from both our staff at the Meadowlands and our partners at Spartech and I would like to thank everyone who has helped get us to this position.”
There were differing opinions being tossed around on whether this wager offers a good opportunity for the average bettor, or if they become fodder for the “whales” by placing a Survivor bet.
Driver Yannick Gingras started the ball rolling last night on Twitter with this tweet: “Love the new survivor bet @TheMeadowlands Hope it takes off because I can see this becoming V75 like.” His tweet was met with varying opinions on the bet’s chance to succeed with some tweeters – like @InsideThePylons – stating that the bet was essentially a “David vs. Goliath” situation for the smaller bettors, who are almost guaranteed to cash $0 virtually every time due to being disadvantaged from a coverage standpoint.
Prominent owner Mark Weaver, who isn’t shy to tell you he loves to bet, doesn’t seem fazed by the possibility of whales buying big tickets. “Large players will have no bigger advantage with this wager then they do with any other, in fact they might be worse off here,” he theorizes. “You’re not realizing how expensive it gets to just throw in all horses that have a chance. If the pot was $50 million then I could see this being a possibility, but with the pot being anywhere from 10k- 500k there is no added advantage to the bigger player. There are just too many combinations for it to be relevant. Like I’ve told other people, I’ll gladly put my money where mouth is and I’ll play 300 units and they can play up to 30,000 units, and we can do it on any track that has 10 races. We blindly give our tickets to Garnet 30 minutes to post time and see who lasts longer. It would be fun.”
Darin Zoccali – former director of racing at The Meadowlands – opined that the whales had the upper hand in a wager of this type: “The problem isn’t that the whale has 3,000 combinations. The problem is he will front load the combinations just to out-last you. Barring a miracle, you have no chance.”
Justin Horowitz, media relations manager for The Meadowlands, said The Big M’s brass is listening to feedback from customers that has been coming in steadily since the new bet was announced. “It’s a totally new wager and we think there are a lot of different ideas about the wager,” he said. “We have heard from many players both in the building here at The Meadowlands and on social media that are excited about the wager. They are intrigued by the possibility of a huge score and the challenge of outlasting the rest of the horseplayers. Since it is so new and never been done before, I think we will learn a lot as the bet plays out.”
Time will tell if this new, unique wager can sustain long-term success, but one thing’s for sure; it’s already creating quite a buzz and that isn’t necessarily a bad thing.