You may have heard of a speedway promoter—a person who promotes or oversees horse racing events. They are responsible for putting on the races, which include setting the starting times, settling the bets, and collecting the money. Without them, the racing wouldn’t happen, and people wouldn’t be able to enjoy sports and betting on horse races as much as they do.
But what exactly does a speedway promoter do? Let’s take a look.
Set The Racing Schedule
The schedule for a horse race is made up of four components – the days of the week that the race takes place on, the times at which the race starts and finishes, the distance the race is, and whether it is a “rest” or a “work” race.
The morning of the first day of a horse race, the owner of the horse will call the “track captain” – the individual in charge of setting the race schedule – and ask them if they can set the first race of the day at “eight o’clock – a miles and a half on the main track,” and if it’s okay if they also set the “third race – a quarter mile race on the back track.” The race schedule will usually include an “off track work” race or “off track work race” on either Sunday or Monday, which means that it is run on a track other than the one the main race is being held on.
The owner of the horse will also tell the track captain that they need a “rest” day or “day off” around midweek so they can rest the horse before the next race. This allows them to maximize the speed and performance of their horse – minimizing the risk of “over training” – which can result in the horse being unable to perform at their peak level. For example, if the horse is already half way through their season and they have just one “rest” day left before the end of the season, they will try to schedule the last race as early as possible so that they can maximize their chances of winning.
Collect The Money
The owner of the horse will then have to decide how much they want to pay for each win. If they are “betting the favorite,” then they will have to decide how much they want to bet – how much they are willing to risk – on each win before the start of the race. If they are “betting the handicap,” then they will have to decide what weight – or “handicap – they want to give their horse and how much they want to bet – how much they are willing to risk – in order to win.
Speedway promoters often work with bookmakers or “tote workers,” individuals who specialize in taking bets and collecting money. These bookmakers will take the bets on the “favorite” or “handicap” and then pay the owners of the “under dogs” (i.e., the horses that they think will lose) their share of the “winner’s winnings.” The “margin of win” is the amount of money that the “favorite” or “handicap” wins over their “predicted loss.” For example, if the “favorite” is -2, which means that they are “odds on the favourite,” and the “handicap” is +2, then the “margin of win” is +4.
Organize The Bets
After the owner of the horse has decided how much they want to pay for each win, they will have to decide how they want to handle the betting. There are four methods of betting that are commonly used at horse races – parlay, “lay down” betting, “show betting”, and “track betting.”
Parlay betting is when someone bets on all the races (or “events”) that they think the “favorite” will win. So if they think that the “favorite” is -2 and the “handicap” is +2, then they will make a “parlay” bet on both races. If the “favorite” wins both races, they will win the “parlay bet.”
“Lay down” betting is when someone lays down a “bet – a guess as to which horse will win a race or event – before the race starts” (source: the Horse Racing Answers FAQ website). This is the most commonly used method of betting at horse races. The individual laying down the bet walks up to the window at the “track book” or “window book” and places it – either with a “tote worker” or “bookmaker” who is standing there, or with a cashier who is processing the “lay down” bet at the “tote book” or “window tote” – and the “bet is then settled – either profitably or unprofitably – when the race is over.
“Show” betting is when someone “brings their own horse to the races and watches the horse race from start to finish – without betting on each individual race” (source: the Horse Racing Answers FAQ website). So if they think that the “favorite” is -2 and the “handicap” is +2, then they will choose “show betting” – they will bring their own horse to the race—and may set up a “chicken wagering” system whereby they wager on how their horse does from start to finish (rather than on individual races). If they think that the “favorite” will win, they will “show” the win and collect their winnings when the race is over.
Track betting is when someone “places a bet on a horse race using a form – sometimes called a ‘form bets’ – before the race starts” (source: the Horse Racing Answers FAQ website). With track betting, the individual placing the “bet – either with a tote work or a bookmaker – picks the winners of each race and collects their winnings when the race is over. They do not “bet on multiple races at once, as in Parlay betting, but instead bet on each race that they think will be run (or on the ‘kings’ – the two race events that will be run most often) separately and bet on those (and only those) specific races (or events). This allows them to profit from the upcoming races while minimizing the risk of losing their money on unanticipated outcomes.
Which one of these methods of betting do you think the speedway promoter will use?