It is not amazing that harness bettors don’t care about breeding. Mind you, many of them know of great horses that have gone on to be stallions, but not many of them know that those great race horses have gone on to be stallions.
An acquaintance of mine at a simulcasting section of Penn National Racecourse came up to me recently, knowing of my connection within the Standardbred business. He said, “Hey, whatever happened to Artsplace?”
“He retired and became a stallion,” I said like a robot, since I was sure he didn’t know that had any impact on any horse he ever bet upon.
“Oh,” he said, “well he must be old now because I remember a year he never lost and …” he went on and on and on about racehorse Artsplace, but he didn’t remember any other details from the great pacer’s 4-year-old season, when he beat everything older thrown at him.
A fella who can hardly recall the hero’s accomplishments on the racetrack should not be expected to know how productive the pacer has been as a sire.
That night I asked a few regulars if they knew what happened to Artsplace, if, of course, they remembered Artsplace. One guy thought he was a trotter; a few other guys were sure he didn’t keep racing because he died; and one guy actually told me with a sense of confidence that Artsplace was the pacer that inspired the Little Brown Jug.
I wonder if people within our industry are unaware of how little the sire or dam means to the average harness bettor. We are so close to the mechanics and business of our sport that we tend to be an ocean length’s distance from the common harness bettor.
Things are a bit different on the Thoroughbred side and I don’t know exactly why things are like that, but my experience with Thoroughbred bettors over the years more than indicates they have a strong knowledge of bloodlines. This is really strange when you consider how many sires perform on that side of the equine racing breed world compared to the numbers with Standardbreds.
I knew a fellow who wagered on juvenile Thoroughbreds only in their first crack out of the gate, handicapping by using sire statistics. He was well-versed on the sires’ percentages with first-time starters and kept copious notes on the subject in order to get a betting edge. The strange thing about this was that so many other people knew enough about sires that this fellow had a problem making the edge as valuable as he would have liked it.
But bettors of harness racing never—and I say that confidently—treat sires with a reverence that affects how they wager. Mostly, the common harness bettor is not concerned with the sire or the dam or any member of a specific bloodline and he wouldn’t know where to find sires statistics, no less how to make any use of them for betting, if his life depended upon it.
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