by LUCKY KALANGES

The Prix de l’Arc de Triomphe is Sunday, which means now is a good time to discuss a few important differences between pari-mutuel wagering in France and the United States.

First of all, what Americans know as a quarter pounder is a Royale with Cheese in France. Second (and more importantly), there are coupled entries in France just like here, but in France horses aren’t ordered to reflect such coupling, and the designating letter can appear anywhere on a list of entries.

E.g. last year when Treve won her second Arc she did so at odds of about 13-to-1, which was calculated using the money bet on her to win. However, she was actually coupled with two other horses. In America, this entry would have been 1, 1A, and 1X in the program, but in France they were just 2A, 8A, and 12A with the win payout reflecting their combined chance even though the win odds did not display in this fashion.

This is how Treve was listed as 13/1, but paid $8.00. She was coupled in the Win pool with two other horses that had the effect of driving the Win payout down well below her listed odds.

While displaying Win odds that do not correlate to mutuel payouts is incomprehensible to U.S. players, according to French officials, the odds are displayed this way in order to give players a more accurate reflection of each horse’s chances of winning for “handicapping purposes.”

What can we say; they also thought the Maginot line was a great idea.

In another French twist, horses coupled in the Win pool, like Treve was last year, are not coupled in the exotic pools. Therefore, if you had Win bets and Exactas with horses 2 or 11 (the horses coupled with Treve that ran out of the money), you received an $8.00 Win payout, but nothing for your exacta wagers tied to the 2 or 11.

Likewise, Place payouts (Show here in the U.S.) are only paid to the actual winning horse in a coupled entry. If you had 2 or 11 to Win and Place, you got paid on your Win bets, but got nothing for Place.

Confused yet?

Well, we’re going to try our best to help players sort this out with a few tweaks to our French programs this Sunday.

To help players identify any coupled entries on the Arc card, we will make the following modifications to the TwinSpires track program:

  • Any horses that are coupled for Win betting purposes will have the “A” designation next to the program number.
  • If multiple coupled entries exist, we will use a “B” next to the program number to separate them from the “A” entry.

Unfortunately, we cannot change the odds that are being transmitted to us directly from the French tote. The odds are being displayed exactly as they are at the track. To help us sort this out last year, a well-known public handicapper who was in attendance at Longchamp tweeted Treve was 13/1 on the board.  

Apparently, he didn’t have a Win ticket on her.

The things to keep in mind this year are:

  • If you see an “A” next to a program number on the Arc card, it will be coupled for Win betting only with any other horse that has an “A” next to its number.
  • BUT the Win odds will still be displayed as if each horse is running as a separate betting interest.