By John Piassek
Wednesday, December 30, 2015
“A MATTER OF (POST) TIME”
“It is now post time!” It’s an exciting phrase to hear at many racetracks: it means that the horses are getting ready to load into the starting gate, and the race is about to go off. It’s something that inspires excitement and thrills for bettors.
That only applies at some racetracks, though. At other places, post time means, “Alright, we still have a few minutes to go, so we’ll just idly circle the horses around for a few more minutes, we’re in no rush over here”.
An increasingly large number of tracks have begun to voluntarily start their races a few minutes after the supposed “post time”, rendering the old race-time phrase meaningless. There are a few reasons why tracks have to do it: sometimes, there’s an equipment or injury delay before a race. Other times, it’s a race before a big carryover pool is set to begin, and the track will hold up the race for two or three minutes to allow more money to go into the pool. That’s OK. But when it’s done before every single race, for no reason, it’s beyond annoying.
A few Saturdays ago, for example, one major track took the concept of “post time” and turned it on its head. Here was the gap between the listed post time at the start of the day, and the actual off time for each race:
Race 1- 3 minutes
Race 2- 4 minutes
Race 3- 4 minutes
Race 4- 6 minutes
Race 5- 6 minutes
Race 6- 7 minutes
Race 7- 8 minutes
Race 8- 8 minutes
Race 9- 9 minutes
Race 10- 10 minutes
The card wound up ending ten minutes later than it should have, on a day where this track did not have any exceptionally large stakes, nor any major carryovers. In some instances, some horses were walking away from the starting gate, even when it was supposedly “post time”!
The whole concept of never actually starting the races on time is ridiculous, at best. How does it look to the bettors when the listed “post time” is just a mere suggestion, and the actual time that the race will go off is a guessing game? Will it be two minutes after “post time”? Three minutes? Who knows?
Even worse, how does this all look the new fan, who shows up to the track, only to watch the races delayed for no reason time and time again? How does that make the track look? All it does for a new bettor is slow down the day, and allow their attention to go to other forms of betting.
Now, I’m not trying to say that delayed post times will mark the end of American racing as we know it. But it can’t be that hard for tracks to honor the post times that they, themselves, set. When the clock says “0” minutes to post, the horses should be, at the very least, loading into the starting gate. Post time should mean post time. There’s no reason for it not to.
John Piassek is a student at Loyola University in Maryland. He prides himself as a supporter of racing in New Jersey and Maryland. John is an aspiring race track announcer, marketer and writer. His “Mid-Atlantic Musings” column on DanonymousRacing.com focuses mostly on NJ and MD racing, ways to market them, how the states can improve their racing, and how racing should start focusing on bettor-centric marketing.
You can follow John on Twitter @Theyreoff.