A lot to catch up with after being in the hospital for several days. It may take me some time to get back up and running on full steam, but it's time to catch up on some things that have happened while I was on the "vet's list":
Canterbury Park Makes a Deal - Running Aces Harness Park got dealt a setback this week when Canterbury Park made a deal with the Mdewakanton Sioux Community to give up their attempt to get slot machines for a payoff of $75 million in purse subsidies over a ten year period. Sounds a lot like New Jersey's old deal with Atlantic City which the New Jersey horsemen have come to rue, but time will tell if Minnesota thoroughbred horsemen will experience the same as time goes on. The problem is this leaves Running Aces Harness Park out in the cold with no support now from the runners on their drive to add slots and no assistance from the Sioux tribe.
A comment in another press source indicated that Running Aces can make a deal with the tribes in their market area, but the chances of that happening for any significant amount of subsidies is small as on their own, the chances of Running Aces being able to secure slots is unlikely. What is more troubling is the agreement with Canterbury Park requires the thoroughbred track to oppose Running Aces in their effort to get slots.
One has to wonder if there is anti-trust implications in this deal. Granted there is not much which can be done to the Indian tribe as they are treated as a sovereign nation, but Canterbury Park making a deal to deliberately oppose Running Aces' bid to get slots for cash payment does sound anti-competitive to me.
The good news is Running Aces opening night showed a 20% increase in handle. Of course, at $117,000; that doesn't attract the big money, but it is certainly a hopeful sign.
The Brennan Incident - Harnesslink had another story about leading driver's opinion of the Brennan banishment from the Meadowlands. A couple of great quotes from Ron Pierce. Well, great in they say a lot. “In racing today there are great trainers and there are great chemists – and sadly a lot of these great trainers can no longer compete against the great chemists," is certainly disheartening but honest. It is very sad to hear a leading driver say this, especially when we know he and others have likely driven for the chemists; not that you can blame them. After all, if the sport is that sick when it comes to medication, what should a driver do? Someone else is going to drive that horse. However, Pierce makes a great suggestion on how to handle this. “It should be like Scandinavia does it. No horse is permitted to be touched by a needle, except for maybe acupuncture, 13 days prior to the running of a race. Of course, that is easier said than done. After all, with the elimination of the backstretch, it makes it much harder to enforce such a practice. I still say we should have training facilities like the JRA has in Japan; training centers where all horses are stabled and you can have strict control with regards to what gets in.
Pandalfo Weighs In - Robert 'Pandy' Pandalfo weighed in on the Brennan incident and while I agree with him that the Brennan issue will resolve itself, I found his comments about how the sport has become to speed favoring. While I don't think the sport will ever go back to the conventional sulky, something does need to happen. I think adding distance will be the way to go. Yes, gamblers will offer resistance to the change, but remember gamblers offered resistance to the mile oval initially as well. If done right (including past performance information), gamblers will grow to accept and eventually relish the added distance races.
Big doings in Canada. We'll take a look at that and other things in the next post