This Saturday will be elimination night at the Meadowlands. With seven elimination races combined for the Hambletonian and Hambletonian Oaks.
Amazing what a $1.5 million dollar purse will do to keep owners interested in taking on Muscle Hill. A total of twenty two horses have dropped into the box for the eliminations of the Hambletonian necessitating three elimination races. As for the fillies, thirty two horses (the highest number of entries ever) have entered the Hambletonian Oaks eliminations resulting in four elimination races; no one scared off there either.
The conditions of the Hambletonian and the Oaks indicate if only eleven horses enter the race there will no eliminations, all start with the eleventh horse drawing into the second tier. If eleven horses are allowed to race in the final, why not in the eliminations?
I know owners feel their horses should be on the gate for races they need to pay into but this attitude puts an inferior product on the track. As a result of not allowing trailing horses for the Hambletonian Eliminations there will be two seven horse races and one eight horse race. Short fields do not make good betting races. If a horse gets scratched out of one of the seven horse fields, the races become less playable. As for the Oaks, we are looking at four eight horse fields.
What would have been wrong with allowing one trailer in each elimination? If there is only one horse in the second tier, the horse can start from anywhere in the second tier (if more than one trailer is in the field then the post positions are fixed). In this instance, drawing the second tier could be better than drawing post positions eight, nine or ten. If the rules of the Hambletonian and Oaks allowed just one trailer in eliminations, we would be looking at two eleven horse eliminations for the colts and two eleven horse and one ten horse elimination races for the fillies. The public would have full field races to bet on and a defection from one of the races would not make a playable race unplayable.
Trailers are bad or they aren't. If eleven horse fields are fine for the finals then lets allow them for the eliminations. After all, aren't we trying to put on a good product for the fans and horseplayers? Giving them full fields is part of putting on a good product.