The Association of Racing Commissioners International has developed a model rule that could make a proposed Breeders' Cup future wager an annual event and expand early wagering on the Kentucky Derby (gr. I).
The rule is expected to be adopted by the Kentucky Racing Commission during its regular meeting Jan. 14. Churchill Downs is asking the Kentucky commission to adopt the model rule because commissioners in other states have said such an endorsement would make them feel more confident about adopting the rule themselves, according to Patrick Troutman, director of operations for the Churchill Downs Simulcast Network.
"The rule really does all the leg work for other jurisdictions," said Lonny Powell, RCI president. "It has already been vetted by racing officials and people with regulatory backgrounds."
California is the most notable among a half-dozen states that prohibited its residents from participating in the Kentucky Derby future wager last year. Troutman said he is hopeful that California will adopt the model rule before the first Derby future pool is opened Feb. 14-17.
Since the RCI model rule is a broad future wager rule, it should open the same markets to Breeders' Cup, according to Powell.
"I'm sure most of the foundation items will be similar," he said."When the country first got involved in pick six wagers, tracks eventually moved toward pick fives and pick fours. Now the rule has become pick 'x' so similar wagers could grow out of the same platform."
Breeders' Cup Ltd. is hoping this summer to offer future and proposition wagering for the first time on its championship series. The products were not available before now because of regulatory roadblocks, according to Ken Kirchner, Breeders' Cup's director of simulcasting.
"We have been looking at these products for a couple years," Kirchner said. "The difficulty has been finding the right states and the right opportunity. New York would have been very difficult. We would have needed legislative approval in addition to racing commission approval."
The next Breeders' Cup will be held Oct. 26 at Arlington Park near Chicago. Illinois is a more friendly state from a regulatory standpoint because its racing rules already provide some framework for future and proposition wagering.
"We still have to go to the Illinois Racing Board and may have to do specific race wager rules, but it appears that these bets are contemplated in the rules," Kirchner said. "Illinois has provided our best opportunity to this point."
He agreed the RCI's model rule should help Breeders' Cup keep the future wager going once it's introduced.
"Anything that would allow more states to participate would make it more successful," he said.
If plans materialize as envisioned, Breeders' Cup will offer future wagering on selected races with each race offering 150-200 choices. Fans may also place proposition bets, such as an over/under bet on how many races jockeys Jerry Bailey or Pat Day may win.
Las Vegas casinos were the only places offering future wagers and proposition wagers on horse racing until now. The exception being the Kentucky Derby (gr. I) future wager, which debuted in 1999. Churchill Downs offers three future wagering pools that last year and this year will provide 24 separate betting interests. The Breeders Cup proposition wagers will be different than those offered by casinos because they will offer pari-mutuel odds instead of fixed odds. Pari-mutuel odds change according to how much money is wagered.
Breeders' Cup also expected to offer the new wagers internationally.
"If we put together a future book on the Turf or the Classic and we listed European or Japanese horses, then it would be our intention to get as many outlets as possible betting into the pools," Kirchner said. "That will be taken on a country-by-country basis."