So what is racing, harness racing in particular, doing about it? For sure, New Jersey racing interests need to continue the good fight; perhaps there will be a game changing moment which will give the drive for VLTs or a casino new life (perhaps table games in Pennsylvania or New York), but nationally, what is standardbred racing planning for in light of the increasing possibility that the flagship harness track in the United States disappears or becomes the home of $5,000 claimers?
In California, harness horsemen have shown amazing resilience. Realizing their days racing at Cal Expo may becoming to an end because the Cal-Expo fairgrounds may be redeveloped for an arena, the horsemen are looking to have a harness meet at Fresno starting next year. The goal is not to abandon Cal Expo, but to race at the two tracks for six months each so they may ensure themselves of a year round circuit and hopefully have a strong presence in Fresono should the Sacremento arena plan come to fruition, possibly in 2013. That is right, they are planning for a contingency that won't occur for at least four years, if at all. Not only are they looking to secure their position in California, the horsemen are hoping to become stronger racing more, for more money and other benefits. They are being proactive and look to come out even stronger than they are now.
If California horsemen can plan for something that may never come to fruition, one would hope the sport on a national level is considering the possibility of life after the flagship Meadowlands which may come as early as 2011. Will there be a new flagship for harness racing or will we do without that one 'super' track? What will happen to the Hambletonian if the purse account at the Meadowlands will no longer support the race? Does the trend of racing on mile tracks reverse and all of a sudden the 5/8 mile track reign supreme or does Yonkers recapture the mantle as the center of the harness racing universe? Do we reduce the books of stallions to prevent the collapse of the yearling market?
The time to plan for the future is now. The possibility of losing the Meadowlands is too significant for last minute planning. Hiding one's head in the sand is not an option. The stakes are too high.