If you are a horseman in the Northeast, life is pretty sweet. Racing Secretaries are practically romancing you to come race at their track this week, you get to find the spot that fits your horse the best, and best of all, you get to race for tons of money wherever your race; even the Meadowlands without subsidies is paying a good amount of money to race there even if not top dollar. You are often stabled in Central New Jersey where it is pretty darn convenient to ship over to Chester Downs, Pocono Downs, the Meadowlands, and even Yonkers (if the George Washington Bridge Gods are kind). The best thing is the tracks are hurting so bad for horses, no racing secretary can remain mad at your when you spurn them; you know you will be calling you next week.
On the other hand, is the poor spurned racing secretary who is constantly getting rejected by horsemen who are getting a better offer to go to the dance each week. Even if you get a trainer to dance with you this week, there is a darn good chance he's going to spurn you next week for a better offer. You are wondering whatever happened to courtship? There is no more dating, it is all about hooking up. You're getting pretty frustrated at the new rules and most importantly, even if you are offering obscene amounts of money, you can't get your dance card filled. What is a racing secretary to do?
This is life in the New Jersey/New York/Pennsylvania market and it is maddening to the racing secretaries at all the tracks, perhaps with the exclusion of Yonkers Raceway. At Chester Downs and Pocono Downs, you have scads of money to spend and even you can't fill your race card. At the Meadowlands, while you can't through money around like racino tracks, you still offer purses that horsemen at many other tracks would die for and you can't even get more than six races filled on a Friday night. You lose sleep, try coming up with mini-series for no nomination fees, offer more money. Every trick in the book you have learned just doesn't work. "What happened you ask"?
I have said it often here before and I will say it again. There is too much racing going on and while the horsemen are fat and happy, the tracks are getting creamed with diluted racing. Losing money due to short fields and cards; losing money because they are competing against other tracks racing and it is killing the tracks. The problem was no one cared until this year when the Meadowlands is struggling to even put on a mediocre race card. For sure a lot of it is the tracks' own fault; by getting rid of backstretches which kept the horse population localized, horsemen are now stabled at training centers which means you no longer have a dependable source of horses as the trainers can chose their spots instead of racing at a track and taking their lumps on certain weeks.
Don't think racino tracks care about staging inferior race cards? Sure the purses are being paid by slot revenue, but it still costs the racinos money to stage racing and reset assured their accountants rather have a smaller loss than they are incurring now by having short fields. As for tracks without slot subsidies, they are getting their butt kicked; threatening their survival.
It is time the racetracks work together and stop the insanity. Even before this racing season has concluded, it would be a smart thing if track operators got together and attempted to build a racing calendar which works out the best for the tracks over all; a way where each track can be assured of putting on racing cards so they can maximize the quality of their product. No, horsemen won't like it one bit as all of a sudden they are going to have to start treating racing secretaries with some respect and return some of the love which comes their way, but they still will be racing for good money.
Do what you want. Even if it is each track gets a summer month to run a championship meet and the other tracks run a state-bred meet during those months (a boon for state breds by the way). Alternate months where each track gets the best horses; do it by week; do it by days; just do it. At least racing secretaries will know what kind of races they will need to put on their condition sheets, horsemen will know where they are racing each month, and more importantly, gamblers will know that whatever track they prefer, they will have full bettable cards.
Just stop the insanity.
Jockey Michael Baze found Dead: My sympathy goes out to the family of Michael Baze, who at the age 24, was found dead at Churchill Downs. At this time foul play is not suspected. There will be no speculating as to the cause of his passing on my blog. A loss of life at any time is a sad occasion; the death of a child is a parent's worst nightmare. To Bazes's family, may Michael's memory become a blessing to you.