There is too much racing going on for the amount of betting taking place. In the old days, the racing commissions in PA and DE used to make sure Liberty Bell and Brandywine did not compete against each one. This logic seems to have gone out the window. Using my area as an example you have the following harness tracks racing at present:
Chester Downs could be included in this group but I prefer to include them in the Delmarva region. Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs are considered upstate NY.
Looking at my area, you suffer from horse shortages and limited gambling dollars available. Money which should be bet at one track is now being spread between five tracks. Short or poor quality cards are being presented which further turns off the gambler. Handles are pitiful and horsemen are more dependent on slot revenue which may eventually disappear.
What I propose is setting up regional racing authorities which will set up circuits to ensure each track is not poaching each other. This authority will ensure that only one track will be racing at the same time. Using the NYC metropolitan area as an example, each track would have an exclusive in the region; each racing only 70 days a year.
What are the advantages?
Purses Increases - Purse accounts will grow all year and be paid out during the limited race meets. When the track races, horses will race for much better purses.
Increased Handles - Less tracks to compete with at any given time. Think, you can be one of seven harness tracks running nationally at a given time instead of one of twenty. Better chance people will be betting on your improved product.
New Racing Opportunities for Young Horses - Have a horse that is MDSS eligible? Nominate the stallions not only to your state sire stakes program but to a regional stakes program and double your earning potential. If you are a breeder, that yearling you are marketing could be MDSS and Delmrava SS eligible. If you have a PA bred horse he would be eligible not only to the PASS but to any regional circuit stake that crosses into your state.
Better Racing - More horses available for each track.
Horse Welfare - More horses racing mean horses will get more time off. Yes, less racing opportunities but you will be racing for much larger purses; you will be able to afford giving your horse time off if it is necessary.
Staying Local - Yes, horsemen may have to ship out to race but by setting up circuits, horsemen will be able to set up a home base and ship reasonable distances to race year round for better purses.
People Will Actually Care - Going to the races will become an event; think Saratoga Race Track (t-breds) with their limited meet and stake races versus the ho hum of Monticello Raceway that races overnights all year. People enjoy football because they play four months during the year; if football was year round there would be less interest in it.
Here are some of the regional circuits which can be set up:
Big East Racing Circuit - Pocono Downs, Monticello, Yonkers, Meadowlands, Freehold.
Delmarva Racing Circuit - Chester Downs, Dover Downs, Harrington Raceway, Rosecroft, Ocean Downs, Colonial Downs.
Upstate Racing Circuit - Tioga Downs, Vernon Downs, Saratoga Raceway, Buffalo Raceway, Batavia Downs
Atlantic Racing Circuit - Scaraborough Downs, Bangor Raceway, Rockingham Park, Plainridge Racecourse
Midwest Racing circuit - The Meadows, Running Aces, Michigan and Ohio Racetracks
Southern Racing Circuit - Kentucky and Indiana Racetracks and Pompano Park
Pacific Racing Circuit - California racetrack(s)
Yes, it is a change to the way things are done now but in the long run it would be best for all involved in the industry. I realize there may be less employment opportunities at the individual racetracks due to shorter meets, but that is better than no one being employed.
Any comments? Would you create different circuits?