Gate Number Assignments
Saratoga Race Track
How do horses get assigned their post number on race day?
And why does, sometimes, a horse get a letter added to the number? 1, 1A, 2, 2A, etc.
Answer: Horses in the U.S. are assigned weights and post positions by the racing secretary. In an over subscribed field, one will sometimes see (AE) Also Eligible, next to the post. That means too many horses were entered in the race.
Sometimes there will be 3 or 4 (AE). These horses draw into the race only if another horse scratches.
Post positions can differ from official program number due to scratches, horses coupled as a betting entry or runners grouped in a mutual field.
The letters next to the post number (1, 1A) are called coupling. Coupling rules vary from state to state and the rules are determined by State Regulators, usually the Gaming or Parimutuel Commission.
Coupling can occur under 2 conditions:
1. Two (or more) horses entered have 25% or more ownership in common, even if the horses have different trainers. In certain states, this rule doesn't apply in stakes races with a purse threshold of $50,000 or higher.
2. At some tracks horses are required to run as an "entry" If 2 (or more) horses entered have the same trainer, but not owned by the same entity.
The reason for the above is to avoid fraud by race fixing.
For betting purposes, the coupled horses are considered 1 entry. If you decided to bet a WPS on #1, #1A is included at no extra cost.
Basically, you bet one, get 1A free, and both pay the same odds. If they finish first and second, they both pay for WPS.
This can be good or bad. In a small field, it cuts down on betting opportunity, creating the chance of a smaller payout.
The only time I've seen a 5 horse entry was the 1988 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. D. Wayne Lukas had five fillies entered. So they were 1, 1A, 1B, 1C, and 1X.
They finished 1-2-3-4 and 11. This resulted in a rule change in KY, where the horses only run as an entry if they share ownership!
Answer supplied by Laurie Ross of www.ironmaidensthoroughbreds.com/
NB Draw numbers in GB are randomly allotted by computer at the declarations process and do not include letters.
This process takes place after the 10.0am Declarations deadline, 48 hours prior to racing.