View Full Version : "I Won! I Won!" – Or So I Thought

07-22-2009, 08:40 PM
"I won! I won!" No, I wasn’t at the track, nor was I betting off my computer. I was sitting on my couch watching a racing TV show.

Turn back the clock to April, 2008. I had decided for one of the few times that year to visit one of my favorite haunts -- Plainridge (MA) Racecourse – a harness track located between Boston and Providence.

As I walked into the track’s simulcast teletheater, I immediately spotted one of my racing buddies.

Well, soon Mike saw me. He called out, "Dave, come over here." He then continued, "Good to see you. Where ya been? I haven’t seen you in a month of Sundays. Hey, there’s an empty seat right next to me. Sit down."

Over the course of the next three hours, Mike and I played the races and carried on a steady conversation.

Well, as the afternoon was wearing on, Mike happens to mention a TV program that’s on one of the racing channels; it features harness racing from The Meadowlands. I remember Mike saying, "Dave, I know you’re a big harness fan; ya oughta tune in."

That Thursday evening, I decided to watch the program Mike had suggested. I recall there were two hosts. They immediately began talking up a harness racing contest. The rules were simple. The hosts said that all you needed to do was to send in your top pick, via e-mail, with an alternate choice (in case there’s a late scratch) for Meadowlands races: #s 6,7 & 8 (Pick 3).

Well, I sent in my picks. As it turns out, I only picked one winner out of the three races. I was eliminated. I did, however, watch the program for several more minutes to see who was the eventual winner of the preliminary round of the contest.

That next evening, I once again watched the racing show. I was curious as to what picks the man who had won the preliminary round was going to make in Meadowlands races: #s 6,7,8,9 (Pick 4). I immediately noticed that not only was the guest handicapper’s picks being displayed on the TV screen but also the picks of the two hosts and a handicapper from the Meadowlands. There were four sets of picks. The only rule: The combined picks of each person could not exceed the value of $50 (no money need be sent in).

That Friday evening, I recall watching as the contest races: #s 6,7,8,9 began. I believe the guest handicapper was knocked out fairly early. I recall turning off the program after the first couple contest races.

Yet, that following week, I once again tuned in to the racing show.

Well, I again entered the contest. As, in the previous week, I submitted my three picks via e-mail. This time, however, I was the only contestant to correctly select the winners of all three Meadowlands races. I was now -- according to the contest format -- in the contest finals. The finals would take place the following evening.

In the interim, I received an email from a racing channel staff member requesting that I submit my picks for Friday evening’s contest by 3:30 PM Friday afternoon, Pacific Coast time. I was also encouraged to send a digital picture of myself. I was told that I needed to meet this time limit so that the show’s graphics department would have ample time to have everything ready to go by the time the show aired at 5 PM Pacific time (8 PM Eastern).

Well, I complied with station’s wishes. I sent them an email with both my Pick-4 harness racing selections and an attached digital photo.

That evening, my picks and my picture were posted, side-by-side, with the selections made by the two hosts and the Meadowlands handicapper.

As the contest races were about to start, I fully believed – I recall hearing or seeing nothing to the contrary -- that if I were fortunate enough to correctly select the winners of all four contest races (Pick-4) that I would be financially compensated for the pari-mutuel value of my selections. That was my understanding of how this contest worked. The only contest rule that I was made aware of was that my combined picks for the four contest races could not exceed a value of $50 in wagers.

In addition, I might mention that I both listened attentively and watched intently during all racing shows. I neither heard nor saw anything that this was a "fun contest". If there had been any indication through verbal remarks or visual displays that this was a "fun contest," I wouldn’t have bothered to enter. It was only my firm and sincere belief that I would be paid for the monetary value of my Pick- 4 – if I should win – that caused me to enter the contest in the first place.

Further, my belief that I was to be financially compensated was strengthened by an incident that took place just before Friday’s contest races were to about to begin. One of my selections in the first contest race was a late scratch. One of the hosts then suggested that I be given – as usually happens when there is a late scratch at most horse racing tracks – the post-time betting favorite in lieu of my scratched horse. This offer only added to my belief that this was not just some "let’s-have-some-fun" event, but a serious money-making contest. Why -- if this were simply a "fun"contest – go through all the trouble of giving me another horse; it wouldn’t have made any difference. As an aside, the host’s on-air suggestion that I be given the post-time favorite was quickly withdrawn at the urging of someone in the studio.

Well, as the contest played out, I was the only one of the four handicappers who was consistently picking winners. I picked all three horses to hit the board in the first leg, Race 6. In the second leg, Race 7, I was the only one of the four handicappers to pick the winner. The horse paid $16.40. In the third leg, I skipped over the odds-on favorite and chose #s 9 and 6. The two horses came in 1-2. The winner paid: $10.60. When the fourth and final leg (Race 9) of the contest arrived, I was the only one of the handicappers "left standing." I had two horses in the contest’s final race: the # 5 horse and the # 8 horse.. If either of my horses wins, I would have successfully picked a winner in each of the four contest races. I would, in fact, win the contest (I might mention that I believed that if any of the other three handicappers had picked four consecutive winners, they too would win the monetary value of their Pick 4 selections).

I might also mention at this juncture that it was my understanding from their on-air banter that the hosts were each, respectively, playing for the pari-mutual value of their picks. It was my belief from the way they talked about their selections that either announcer would have collected, or would have been credited with the pari-mutuel value of their winning ticket. As for the Meadowlands handicapper, I’m not sure how his situation worked. Yet, all of this -- without any indication to the contrary – led me to believe that I too was part of the mix and that I too would be rewarded with the monetary value of my ticket should I pick four straight winners.

Well, just before the final contest race, the hosts displayed the Pick-4 potentials. As the race was about to go off, the hosts made a point of emphasizing that I had two horses in the final leg and that if my #5 horse wins, the Pick-4 was paying over $400. If my #8 horse should win, the Pick-4 was paying over $600. The hosts’ action in calling attention to the dollar value of my picks further strengthened my belief – seeing no contrary evidence, i.e., no comment was made at that time: "...of course you know he’s just playing for the fun of it." – that I was, indeed, playing for the pari-mutuel value of my Pick-4.

Well, my #5 horse won the fourth and final leg of the Pick-4. I was ecstatic. I was about to collect over $400. Or, so I thought. I said to myself, "I won! I won!" (To Be Continued)