People talk about how strong the racing industry is because of the large purses it is offering. Thanks to large purses, horsemen are doing well, blacksmiths, grooms, and people growing the hay are doing well. Of course, this is due to the state providing purse subsidies from slots. If not for these subsidies, many tracks would race for about 10% of the current purse level, resulting in many owners, horsemen, trainers, grooms, blacksmiths, hay producers, and breeders going out of business. No wonder horsemen fight so hard for slots or maintaining subsidy levels.
Now, let's say the state gave a subsidy to another industry to produce its product. As a result of this subsidy, workers are making good salaries; people who grow bamboo, make beads, and producing wire are kept employed. Only one problem, there is no real demand for the end product by the general public, after all when was the last time you saw someone use an abacus? The state has a financial problem. Should they continue to keep the abacus manufacturing industry strong by providing them with assistance keeping all those people employed or should the state re-route those funds to something which would benefit the general public even though it would put many people out of work? If you are honest to yourself, there is a good chance you will say the abacus industry should not be supported.
So the next time you are racing in front of an empty grandstand or your mutuel pools are minuscule, ask yourself if racing is a strong industry.
What is particularly frustrating, other than offering guaranteed pools, you don't hear much about doing anything to improve the demand for the racing product. Little talk about takeout rates or new wagering types. No one suggesting the industry attempt to take back business from the ADWs by forming a partnership to operate an ADW to compete against the existing ADWs. No one talking about solving the problem of late odd changes after a race goes off, curtailing the number of race days to have the product match the demand for it so we may have pools worth wagering into, nothing about making owners accountable for the sins of their trainers when they gravitate towards questionable trainers, talk about getting rid of beards. All we hear about is closing backstretches and reducing costs. For an industry which is not doing all that well, it seems the status quo would not be acceptable, yet with the exception of the rare few, the status quo seems to be acceptable.
How do you handicap horses of layoffs? HANA Harness has an article regarding this.
Exchange wagering may be coming to California, more specifically at Los Alamitos. The thoroughbred horsemen and trainers keep refusing to give their blessing on exchange wagering so TVG has approached Los Al regarding introducing exchange wagering. The CHRB will be voting on the issue at their next board meeting. Apparently, the standardbred industry has plenty in common with thoroughbred horsemen, in particular the fear of trying anything new for fear it will hurt purse accounts. What should happen is if approved, Los Al should have exclusive rights to exchange wagering in the Golden State for a period of five years; stupidity of the horsemen and owners should be punished. In the meanwhile, no action seems to be taking place in New Jersey regarding exchange wagering, another state which has legalized it.
Tioga Downs is offering a $500 bonus for the trainer of each winning horse on their July 4 program. It will be interesting to see if the racing gets more competitive or not.
Bill Finley writes for ESPN about Googoo Gaagaaa, in particular about the success trainer Richard Hans is having with this pacing-sired trotter. Make no mistake, Googoo Gaagaa is this year's feel good story in harness racing, something the sport sorely needs in the year of the druggist. When it comes to breeding, the Hans basically threw out the rulebook, albeit by necessity. It is far too early to say, but wouldn't it be great if Googoo Gaagaa becomes the next Vivid Photo, coming off the beaten path to dominate the sophomore crop? Time will tell.
I failed to mention yesterday that starting next week, Yonkers Raceway will be increasing their guarantee for their late Pick 4 on Tuesday evenings. The new guarantee will be $25,000.
Thanks to SBOANJ publicist Carol Hodes for bringing the website Recollections to my attention. This website goes down memory lane in harness racing, primarily concentrating in Canada. The current featured article deals with the life of 'Jack' Campbell, the late father of Jim and John Campbell who recently passed away. Those who have an interest in the good ol' days may very well want to bookmark this website.
I came upon a nice article about thoroughbred jockey Rosemary Homeister Jr. and how she is currently doing double duty as a jockey and mother of a nine month-old at Arlington Park. Perhaps the most interesting thing about the article was the part how gender bias is not the issue it once was in thoroughbred racing. Shame the same can't be said about harness racing where if you don't own it, women don't get a chance to go behind the sulky in races. For harness racing to seriously attract female players, we need women in the sulkys.