The gang’s all here

by Trey Nosrac

Are you a trainer looking for a wealthy owner? Are you a gambler tired of getting hammered by the whales and high takeout? Are you a small-time breeder who wants to promote your yearling? Do you have a new racing product? A new harness racing initiative? Do you have an idea for a new method of engaging new members to join our tribe? Sitting around will not change your situation. Young or old, trying new roads can be rewarding. Here is another wild pitch:

July 21, 2021, 4:57 PM

From: Bingo

To: Glen Filmore, Pete Malinowski, Renee Pittman

Hi, Racing Gang,

I hope this email finds you all healthy and happy. I sure miss hanging out with you folks in the Peanut Gallery at Hazel Park Raceway, or as Pete used to call it, The Post Race Autopsy Room. That was a sad day in 2018 when they closed the doors for the last time. By the way, I only had email addresses for you three. I do not have Teddy B, Mister Scissors, or Jerry the Pretzel. If anyone has their emails, please forward this note.

I want to try an experiment and need four lab rats for the early trials. The lab rats need to be harness horse gamblers. Not surprisingly, you folks jumped into my brain.

I am not even sure if you folks play the pacers and trotters online these days. The sport is not the same sitting by yourself, clicking buttons, watching our devices. That’s progress, the world turns, and all that garbage. I still play some harness races, but, honestly, I’m running out of steam (and money).

In the grandstands of Hazel Park, before the technology revolution, we played against each other in the pari-mutuel system. Picking winners and squeezing out a few bucks was difficult, but not impossible. And the grandstands were entertaining.

Who will ever forget the night when Jerry lost a photo finish and bellowed so loud that he inhaled his pretzel? When Teddy tried to give him the Heimlich, Glen laughed so hard he got a cramp in his hamstring and began rolling around the floor, groaning and laughing. The place looked like a MASH unit, with Renee yelling to onlookers, “We need a little triage here.” Good times, I miss them.

Or, Mister Scissors, the guy who cut his racing program in half to avoid the temptation of playing outside posts. Nice guy, gosh, he sat with us for several years, and I don’t recall him ever mentioning his name. Should any of you know him away from the grandstands or have a way to contact him, it would be great to hear from him.

Gambling on racing these days is a jungle of high takeouts, whales, rebates, computer programs, algorithms, wagering syndicates, and chalk. I read reports of artificial intelligence being used to pick winners, which in my mind will never replace natural foolishness.

Speaking of foolishness, this is my proposal. I want to wager against people like you, try to go a bit retro, and return to more authentic pari-mutuel days where people bet against people. Try to return to when wagering was more social.

I have an idea that I want to try. Maybe I can franchise it somehow and make some cash. Even if it does not work out as a business venture, it may bring some of you back to the sport. Most of all, it will be fun. It is not brain surgery. It is like an ante in a poker game.

My early prototype goes like this. Every Friday morning, I will email you and four other players a link to a racing program for Friday evening at a racetrack. The racetracks will vary. I will select and note four consecutive races that we will play. To play, you wager precisely $6, and only $6, on each of these four races. You can place the wagers through a wagering outlet like Xpressbet. You email me and CC the five other players your selections at least an hour before the first race. The guidelines are that we each play the same four races and wager the same amount. You can wager your $6 per race any way you wish.

Fifteen minutes before the first race on Thursday, all five players join in for a Zoom meeting. I will post and monitor the wagers, and I will post a running total for each player on the screen. We can talk before, during, and after the races. It was always interesting to hear why we selected our horses, what went right or wrong during the races, and anything else that pops into our heads.

The twist to this is more than social. The new component is that you also send me $20 for each four-race competition. For these experiments, I will act as the bank for this $100 side pot. The winner of the $100 is the player who has the highest total return on his $24 wagered.

For example, let us say that Friday’s races are at The Meadows — races 7,8,9,10. Glen wagers his $6 per race like the rest of us. Glen has a good night. After the fourth race, his choices end up earning $87 (minus his $24 wagered) for a winning total of plus $53, the best of our fearless five. Glen receives the $100 from our side bet, not to mention bragging rights for a week.

I hope this will be fun. The $100 from zero takeout side bets will lessen the bite from sharks in the traditional pools. The process will keep us all on the same page. Racing will be more of a social event like the good old days. Heck, maybe Glen will have another hamstring cramp.

Oh well, email me back if you are in or out. CC the others when you reply. It will be good to catch up with the gang. If this idea flies, it flies – if it flops, it flops. We can do an autopsy either way, just like old times.