For photos from the Meadowlands contact Lisaphoto@playmeadowlands.com

Friday, July 20, 2012

Friday Miscellanery

The Chicago racing circuit, near death a year ago, is experiencing a renaissance thanks to lower takeouts on exotic wagers.  The handle at Balmoral Park has gone up 27% for the first six months of 2012 while in June, Maywood Park joined in with growth a more modest, yet important increase of 12%.  Much of this growth is not only due to the reduced takeouts, but reduced minimums and guarantees on their wagers.  Also helping the Chi-town harness tracks is the relatively low number of winning favorites, meaning there is no nightly parade of favorites winning at low prices; there is value in their wagers.  No, the quality of racing may not be as good as tracks back East, but give the gambler a competitive field, competitive takeout rates and they will bet it.

Of course, things are not out of the woods in Chicagoland.  Most of the wagering is still occurring off-track where the portion horsemen and tracks receive is a pittance of what it would be if bet on-track (I know this will likely never change).  Purses have gone up due to the riverboat tax money finally being released after a long delay but they are still claiming the need for slot machines which at this time is uncertain as the Governor has not indicated he would sign the latest gambling expansion bill. Regardless, the increase in wagering is a welcome sight.

It's great to see the handle increase and I wish Balmoral and Maywood continued success, but the fact remains those who bet these new exotics are benefiting from the takeout reduction.  Horseplayers who wager on the more traditional wagers don't benefit as the takeout rates remain unchanged on wagers such as single horse wagers as well as the exactas and trifectas.  While tracks all over are quick to reduce takeout rates on their super exotics, there is a hesitation towards cutting the rates on what I call the meat and potatoes wagers  It is true tracks like Balmoral will not be able to offer massive takeout cuts on these wagers, but there is no reason why their rates can't be reduced downward towards 15%, even if done gradually. 


Assembly Hearing Wrap Up -  Okay, while I covered the hearing a lot more than I planned to, the truth is in the grand scheme of things I avoided it as much as possible.  First of all, it was a waste of time as Governor Chistie said and all we heard was the same old 'cowchip' from the pro-Atlantic City group of politicians and their supporters.  But the main reason I didn't cover it any further is I would have started violating my own policy of treating people with respect as several times I started writing stuff referring to people in derogatory terms (a violation of my own blog policy) for as a resident of New Jersey, it is a bigger issue than giving racing access to slot revenue; it's about funding state programs and tax relief.  Maybe then, this so-called "Jersey Miracle" the Governor talks about would be more than smoke and mirrors.  Jeff Gural and Tom Luchento made their case to the Assembly Committee, but until the grip of a certain political boss is broken, nothing is going to happen; the outcome is predetermined.  This is why racing needs to start working on raising funds for the 2013 electoral cycle where legislative seats as well as the Governor's position are up for election.


Lou Pena's hearing in front of the NYSRWB is now scheduled for August 29.  Nothing more to say as this hearing is like foreplay, the step you need to go through before you head to the court system.  Then the real action will begin.

Was Walter Case Jr.'s licensing request in Massachusetts doomed before it even began?  Some people have suggested there was no way the Massachusetts Gaming Commission was going to give a license to Case after the Commission Chairman attempted to name an individual who was accused of alleged sexual assault on a fifteen year old as Executive Director blew up in the commission's face.  The line of thinking is since that bonehead move caused an uproar, there was no way they were going to give a reformed felon a license for fear of another uproar occuring.

Most people think amateur races on the betting card is a nightmare, and truth be told the wagering is quite a bit lower on these races.  So while these races should be contested during a wagering program as these individuals are doing their best instead of contested before most people have shown up, most of these races should be contested as non-wagering events.  However, on a chat board I am a member of, there are quite a few individuals who like the amateur races, basically because unlike most regular races which seem to be played like a chess game, they actually race the entire mile.  Perhaps it would draw more interest to the sport if we learned something from the amateurs; that is racing the entire mile.  Take a look at this race, especially heading into the far turn and notice how they race heading home.  Who knows? With races like this, people may actually want to see racing and even bet. 

The field bunching up as they approach the 3/4 mile mark.

Nine horses fanning wide for the stretch drive.

Pullthepocket writes a great column today on Lasix and raceday medication.  Everyone things the trotters are bad when it comes to drugs, but take a look at what he has to say.  It seems to me standardbred racing is getting an unfair rap.

We wonder why press releases typically don't get picked up by the mainstream media?  When it seems almost every press release includes a title that says "... sets a new track record ...", we should expect them to go into the digital circular file.  After all, if we look only at the traditional mile distance, each track has at least twenty-four track records and that doesn't include stakes records. Maybe it matters to breeders and the most extreme horseplayer, but to the rest of the world, they want to know two records; one for the trot and one of the pace.  As long as we keep writing press releases for the industry insiders, we shouldn't lament about the lack of coverage in your local newspaper or other media outlet.

Meadowlands Pace Postscript - Everyone thinking the Meadowlands must be in trouble with the Meadowlands Pace having only a $600,000 purse?  It turns out the problem is not just the Meadowlands, it is an issue facing the entire industry.