My $0.02 on Familygate

Because I have listened to every song on my iPhone nearly 1,000 times while torturing myself on various cardio machines over the last decade or so, my new thing is to listen to horse racing podcasts in an attempt to make 40 minutes feel like the blink of an eye. It seldom works, but that says more about my feelings towards rigorous exercise than it does about the content of the podcasts. Anyway, I really enjoyed Show 109 of the In The Money Players’ Podcast, as PTF and JK had a mini-debate about a recent mini-scandal in an NHC qualifier.

In case you don’t know what happened, in short, a player who was already double-qualified to the NHC, and therefore not eligible to win another seat, stood accused of using the name of a family member to win a third seat online, and using the same contest picks that HE used in a different contest, even making the picks from (probably) the same computer. In theory, this would give that person control of three entries at the NHC, or perhaps more than three if this was neither the first nor last such entry won in such a way. Since contestants are limited to two entries, this is a no-no.

Again, listen to Show 109 of the ITM podcast for more on their respective takes. And I am not going to listen to the show again so I can take notes and quote PTF and JK correctly. But in short, it seems both of them agreed with the decision made by the NTRA, which was to disqualify the family member who won the “third seat”. I understand the decision of the NTRA, but by a score of 55% to 45%, I disagree with the disqualification.

On the ITM podcast, JK quoted Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart (PTF owes me infinity dollars because yes, I knew who said it as I was listening) who said “I know it when I see it” when discussing a test for obscenity. And in sounded like JK was suggesting that what happened in the NHC qualifier in question was something that was such an obvious attempt to break the rules that the DQ had to happen. Again, I get it. But here is my issue. What if instead of using the the same computer and the same last name to win Entry #3, the guy who committed the crime here had asked a buddy across the country to make the contest plays for him? In that scenario, it would have been 100% impossible to detect. Different last name. Different IP address. Effectively impossible to trace. What the NTRA’s decision to disqualify did was effectively send the message that if you are going to cheat and try to win more than two seats, just don’t be so reckless about it. And therein lies the problem. It is impossible to prevent the bad act that this DQ is trying to prevent. In fact, it only encourages more clever deception.

So here is what I propose:

Allow unlimited entries. BUT…forbid contestants from using the same picks in optional races on more than two of their entries. If a player has 10 entries, he/she can use the same horse on all 10 entries in every mandatory race if he/she so chooses. In the 20 optional races over the two days, no more than two entries can use the same horse in an optional race. This would prevent an NHC contestant from having a good weekend and getting a massive number of entries into Day 3 by using the same picks 36 times on Days 1 and 2. Because if one person controls 10 (or more) of the 68 or so total semi-final entries, now we are talking about what I would call an “earned unfair advantage”.

If someone is able to win three or five or 12 NHC seats, good for them. I’m still not convinced that having multiple entries is that much of an advantage. Yes, it’s undeniably an advantage, which is why people try to win more than one. But under my suggested remedy, a player still has to string together enough good opinions on one entry to make it to Day 3. And if someone can do that while juggling multiple other entries, props to them. That’s how I see it. And under my suggestion, we don’t need to worry about any of this anymore.

Also, in addition to owing me infinity dollars for knowing it was Justice Stewart who said “I know it when I see it”, PTF still owes me two drinks for Lady Montdore’s win at Saratoga in the Waya (I think that was the race) back in 2018. I’ll accept NHC drink tickets as payment.

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