By: Rob Longley for Woodbine.com
TORONTO, March 20, 2020 – Before the real-life madness intervened, we were supposed to be charging full speed into the magical time of year for sports fans and their close relative, the sports bettor.
March Madness basketball style, the race to the Stanley Cup and NBA playoffs and baseball’s Opening Day are both on their own and collectively highlights of the sporting calendar for fans of the games themselves.
For as many years as we can remember, they have also been heady times for those of us looking for more of a stake than just a rooting interest.
No sports on the menu definitely doesn’t mean no action, however, a fact well-known to horse players but a competitive arena quickly becoming the only game in town. For now, anyway, the show goes on so why not take advantage?
Though like everything around us the horse racing world is changing daily – with tracks like Woodbine Mohawk Park and other Standardbred operations in Ontario suspending live racing operations – the game is cautiously still alive, albeit before empty grandstands. With all respect to the gravity of the pandemic and the restrictions it brings, what a welcome diversion it is given that racing is the first and best-equipped sporting venture to operate remotely.
For as long as horse racing is able to continue and from the comfort of whatever isolation quarters you are confined to, the original sports betting pursuit provides a welcome entertainment reprieve from the challenges we are all facing on a daily basis.
From the novice looking for a nibble of action to more sophisticated handicappers who have long taken advantage of the online technology betting on both the Standardbred and Thoroughbred races provides, for now, at least, horse racing is filling a void.
With apologies to those well-versed in the established off-track platforms to watch, wager (and ideally profit) on the ponies, both the betting and entertainment options horse racing has to offer have rarely been more attractive.
Long before the rapid growth of sports wagering, horse racing had fine-tuned an infrastructure to accommodate remote action, be it in your basement, your place of work or wherever a wifi signal is available.
Canadian racing fans specifically are fortunate to have one of the more thorough infrastructures in horse wagering at their disposal in the form of the HPIbet platform. For now, more than ever, it’s a welcome reprieve for a sports fan or bettor confined to their home with nothing to watch but the gloomy news reports or re-runs of old basketball games.
With that in mind, some quick tips on how to “play the ponies” from the comfort of home, especially if you are new to the game.
First, horse racing can be intimidating to the neophyte wading into the game for the first time, though it need not be. Different breeds, different tracks, different distances are all part of the handicapping puzzle but don’t have to over complicate things.
For starters, find your way to www.hpibet.com and self-navigate. The left of the screen reveals the daily schedule, a menu that has been reduced but still offers plenty of options, particularly with Thoroughbred tracks.
From there, the process can be as simple or involved as you care to make it. Signing up for an account is simple business that literally (or virtually, anyway) has you off to the races. From entries, to program pages, to expert opinions on selections, the game is user-friendly.
When it’s time to make a wager, the HPIbet website is user-friendly whether one is making a win, place or show wager or some of the more exotic multi-race, multi-horse bets. Live streaming of races around the globe are available as well on HPItv, which is offered by most Canadian cable companies.
Of course www.woodbine.com, (where you find these words) offers information and news updates on both breeds as well as schedules and handicapping advice.
Though the menu is changing daily as some tracks temporary put racing on hold, there are plenty of opportunities. On Saturday, for example, the $1 million Louisiana Derby, a traditional important prep race for the U.S. Triple Crown, is on tap. NBC Sports certainly recognizes the opportunity and has added the Fairgrounds’ signature race to its Saturday afternoon menu.
As tracks around the globe adjust their schedules and operating practices to align with the new and rapidly changing reality, racing is a welcome diversion for the sports deprived. And the longer the show goes on, the better.