A prominent individual in the standardbred industry summed up what is going on in New Jersey this way:
“There's a down the road agenda which doesn't include the money drain which unfortunately the horse fraternity has contributed to by it's abandoning ship for Racino pastures.... And OBVIOUS reluctance to stop the crap and put on a better show.”
Actually, he said something besides 'crap', but you get the drift. Clearly this person feels the decision to close the Meadowlands was pre-determined before the Hanson Commission even met, most likely for the benefit the casino lobby. Of course, horsemen fleeing the Meadowlands for greener pastures helped the argument to close the Meadowlands more palatable as handle and attendance declined. As for his last comment? I will let his comment speak for itself.
Perhaps even more damning is an editorial in The Herald News, sister publication to The Record, which serves the Meadowlands area and has been traditionally supportive of the Meadowlands Racetrack. When you have lost the support of your local newspaper, how much success are you going to have enlisting the general public to your cause?
For those who say, live attendance doesn't matter, let this be a warning. Maybe your biggest players are no longer coming to the track, sitting home at their laptop, but you need to put people in the seats at the track. In some ways, the casual fan is more important than the whales They may not bet as much as the whales, but they bet some. They spend money in the local community before and after the races. They make the track look alive rather than being an empty cavern. They show people care about racing. People see or hear about what's going on. When you have a racetrack which looks more abandoned than alive when you are racing, it gives off the perception no one cares; making it easy to say it is time for the track to close.
Lastly, I bring you the words of Scott Rowe, the former Chairman of the Board at Georgian Downs:
"The possible demise of the once greatest harness racetrack in North America is a wake-up call to an industry that has been sleeping heavily for too long".
I think it is safe to say the industry has woken up. The question is will the industry finally make the changes they need to do? If the Meadowlands does close, maybe it will be the moment industry leaders get it.
For those playing Tioga Downs, here are my selections for Sunday afternoon.
1st - Don'tcomeout, Allamerican Solo, First Of Fun (3-4-5)
2nd - Power Park, Mike And Jim, Goodbye So Long (4-5-1)
3rd - Hit Away, Alexanderthegreat N, Lite The Fire (4-1-3)
4th - Slick Sylvestor N, Big Al's Delight, Reasontocelebrate, Leutenant General (7-5-2-1)
5th - Coronet Hanover, Village Blizzard, A Canuck Eh (6-3-2)
6th - Life At Midnight, Draftmania, Southwind Mario (5-7-1)
7th - Hay Goodlooking, Vertigo Hanover, Who Dey, Special Character (7-1-3-4)
8th - Big Mystery, Shinedupnreadytogo, There He Is (2-4-8)
9th - Life's Bandit, Yokozuna Bo, National Artchive (3-1-5)
10th - Bullville Powerful, winbak Dimension, Paydaze A Comin (6-2-3)
11th - Hearty Fellow, Sun Beau Slick, Whole Lotta Wow (6-1-7)
12th - My Time Hanover, Bolero Artifice, Brighton Bay One, Gota Go Bullville (2-1-9-4)