As the field lined up for the first $50,000 Meadowlands Pace elimination race last Saturday I noticed Montrell Teague and Yannick Gingras talking to one another from their mounts Custard The Dragon (Dragon Again) and Wink N Atcha (Dragon Again). Moments later when the race began it became crystal clear what was on their minds....
Well this week, the same two horses plus Feel Like A Fool, another stablemate are racing in the Meadowlands Pace final, but this time they race uncoupled. What is the difference? The purse is for $1 million dollars and New Jersey mandates horses to be uncoupled whenever purses are $500,000 and over. It also means if any conversation occurs between the drivers of the entrymates, it will likely happen in the paddock and not on the track.
As well intentioned as such a rule may be to maximize wagering opportunities for these big races, no good can come of it. I remember one time at the Meadowlands there was three horse entry from one stable with two of them being coupled favorites and one of them being uncoupled at long odds and sure enough, the bomb came in and people were furious figuring the other two helped the longshot win. Rest assured the people who bet on the coupled entry that night were fuming after that race with thoughts of a three letter word going through their head.
Even worse is this is occuring on Back to the Track night when racing people are encouraged to bring friends back to the track to see live racing and possibly introduce new people to the races. I can imagine the questions and comments coming from these people?
How can they allow a trainer to have multiple horses in the race not being coupled?
Did you see how that horse helped the other one get a pocket in the race?
And if the longest shot of the uncoupled entry comes in...
The race was fixed to allow that horse to win.
Just what we want as we are trying to encourage people to come back to the track; the possibility of the net result of losing people who would attend the races and newcomers who will never return thinking the game is rigged.
Even experienced horse players as noted in a prior HANA Harness Survey agree horses that have common ownership should be coupled. If a longshot from stablemates come in but at least have separate ownership you have an argument which can be made why they were uncoupled. But when the ownership has a common interest, you try to convince a newcomer how things were on the up and up. We just love to shoot ourselves in the foot.
Miracles of Miracles, The Meadowlands Pace ends up in the DRF. We would be remiss not to note the Daily Racing Form has actually run a few articles concerning the Meadowlands Pace, complete with past performances for the big race. I guess when a million dollars is at stake, even the DRF has to cover the race. We'll know we really made it if they cover See You At Peelers if she continues her incredible winning streak.
The 5-2-3-6 combination for last night's national Pick 4 paid $196.50. You must be wondering with a payoff that low did I win it or how close I came. Well, I was a perfect 0-4 on the wager. Other than the 2nd leg where I picked the #2 for second (but decided to single the leg), I didn't even mention the horses in my top four horses in each leg.
It will be interesting to see how the Meadowlands attendance and handle will be tonight. Living near the Meadowlands, I saw no promotion of the event other than through Back to the Track. I wouldn't be upset if the figures come out less than hoped for as this year is just a meet to forget with the NJSEA running on the minimal amount of money. Next year with the Tioga marketing machine in place, I expect growth in handle and attendance.
On the regulatory front, some good news for Jim Morrill Jr who was suspended last fall by the KHRC. Morrill has completed all the requirements of the KHRC for his Red Mile Incident and will be eligible to apply for a new license on July 24. Hopefully we will see him back in the sulky soon. Cry's Dream who has been suspended for ninety days by the ORC will find no refuge in New Jersey unless they go to court as the NJRC has decided to honor to Ontario suspension due to a prohibited drug violation. Up at Vernon Downs, a certain trainer is in trouble for getting angry and hitting a horse in the face with a water bucket in the paddock, A couple of people came forward and the trainer was shown the door and the horse was scratched. I won't mention the trainer's name until a hearing with the NYSRWB has been held. I don't care how angry you get; you don't take it out on the horse.
As a reminder, the blog entry below this has tonight's selections for the Meadowlands card.