J. Curtis Linnell, director of wagering analysis for the TRPB, said June 10 that payouts for trifectas appeared a little low on the Belmont at first glance, but emphasized nothing in the group’s computer analysis of betting pools thus far would prompt an investigation.
“So far, there is nothing I have seen that is alarming,” said Linnell. “Nothing has thrown up a red flag.”
Trifecta payouts on this year’s Belmont for a $2 bet averaged out to $3,828.50, but with the presence of a dead-heat by Anak Nakal and Ready’s Echo’s, would actually have been somewhere around $7,657 when combined. The $2 superfecta would have been about $95,946 when combined.
Those numbers, while hefty, pale when compared to the last time a favorite ran off the board in a Belmont when a Triple Crown was on the line. In the 2002 Belmont won by 70-1 longshot Sarava, the $2 trifecta paid $25,209, while the super paid $145,334.
The 2002 Belmont, where War Emblem finished eighth in an 11-horse field as the 6-5 favorite, may not be a proper comparison for the 2008 Belmont, where 1-4 Big Brown finished last in a field of nine. But lining up the two races makes for interesting fodder, particularly with conspiracy theories cropping up in some media and internet outlets, and with various fingers of blame being pointed at both Big Brown’s jockey, Kent Desormeaux, and trainer, Rick Dutrow Jr.
The trifecta pool for the 2002 Belmont was $14,503,982, or 4.4% lower than the $15,176,254 compiled this year. Based on those totals, if all the tickets were $1 wagers, there would have been 2,973 winning tickets this year – more than three times the 863 estimated for the 2002 edition. (The takeout on tris and supers at Belmont is believed to be 25%).
In the same thinking, there would be 114 mythical $1 superfecta winning tickets this year, a 200% increase over the 38 projected for the 2002 race. This year’s superfecta pool of $7,281,649 was almost double the $3,681,815 tallied in 2002.
But Linnell said even though there was a lower-priced favorite this year than in 2002 (War Emblem was 6-5), there was nothing to read into the potential number of winning tickets. On a personal level, he said he feels many people completely threw out Big Brown on some wagers, either in the hopes of cashing a big score, or for concern about the colt’s chronic quarter crack problems.
Linnell said he didn’t have any data yet on how many trifecta and superfecta tickets didn’t have Big Brown in any slot, but said the TRPB will likely request transaction records from various outlets. And he said there were no distribution payout concerns, such as the clustering of winning tickets in certain locations.
“There was wide-spread cashing across the network,” he said.
In April, the New York State Racing and Wagering Board passed a rule on the licensing of tote companies that, in part, requires real-time independent monitoring systems for pari-mutuel pools be in place by Jan. 1, 2009.