Md Racing Commission to adopt bettor-friendly rule

Out with the old: multi-race wager players receiving the post-time favorite when another horse chosen by the bettor scratches.

And in with the new: players being allowed to choose an alternate selection.

A new regulation given preliminary approval Tuesday by the Maryland Racing Commission should  put a smile on the faces of permitting them, in each leg of a multi-race wager, to choose an alternate selection to be used if one of a bettor’s picks scratches.

“It gives the bettor the flexibility. Sometimes guys have been frustrated,” said Maryland Jockey Club acting president Mike Rogers. “[They say] I hate the favorite. So this gives them a chance ahead of time to say, ‘You know what? I want to put an alternate in this race.’”

The option will be available to bettors in each leg of the wager. If they do not pick an alternate – or if the chosen alternate scratches – then they will, as is current practice, receive the post-time favorite when one of their horses scratches.

The catalyst for the change was bettors’ concern about receiving a post-time favorite they’d already decided to try to beat. But the immediate impetus came from the MJC, which is a subsidiary of 1/ST Racing, owners of Gulfstream Park, Santa Anita Park, and Golden Gate Fields.

“We’re doing it right across our entire company,” Rogers said. “We’ve heard that complaint [about undesired post-time favorites] and that’s what we’re trying to address.”

The ability to choose alternate selections will be available to bettors using wagering machines; Rogers said he thought but was not certain that it would also be available through the tellers.

Commission executive director J. Michael Hopkins said the regulatory process to permit the selection of alternates will probably mean implementation will take place in the fall.

Another rule approved by the Commission is specific to the harness industry but has resonance – and could one day have application to – the Thoroughbred side of the game.

That rule, adopted as policy guidance rather than a regulation, was proposed by the Cloverlealf Standardbred Owners Association, which represents Maryland’s standardbred horsemen. It has two key components of note for the Thoroughbred industry:

  • If a trainer is suspended for a medication violation, the horse will also be suspended for the same period of time.
  • If a trainer is suspended for a medication violation, no horse owned wholly or in part by that trainer can be transferred to another trainer during the suspension.

Hopkins said that this rule would be issued to the standardbred judges as policy guidance.

The Commission denied the appeal of owner Bob Bone regarding the running of the ninth race at Laurel Feb. 23. Bone’s runner Birthday Wish had finished second, beaten a nose by El Bochinche after the two had, according to the official chart, exchanged bumps in the furlong grounds. Bone’s rider, Angel Cruz, claimed foul against the winner and rider Xavier Perez. That claim of foul was denied by the stewards, prompting Bone’s unsuccessful appeal.