When I first went to the races (about 1960), the CPI was about
30, now it's about 180. (1983=100)
The base bet was $2 then, and had been for a looong time.
That $2 from 1960 is now worth about 35 cents (i.e., 1960 dollars).
When you consider what $2.00 buys you - a gallon of gas, 10 cigarettes, 1/20th. of a Yankees ticket, it really doesn't seem like much.
If I could bet $1 straight trifectas, I'd love it, 'cause I'd want to bet 20-30 per game. At $2 or $3, it's a bit harder.
$1 boxes do cause the bets to spread, but it's still a level field - everybody knows the rules.