Many people are wondering how the Meadowlands fared the first year under new management. For those who depend on numbers and not anecdotal information,here is the information you are looking for. The numbers show:
Live Attendance - Up 6.6%
On-track Wagering - Up 8.0%
Export Handle* - Up 1.7%
Total All Sources - Up 2.5%
* - Wagering at other locations on Meadowlands races
While it is always a good thing to show improvement over the prior year's figures, it is clear things need to improve more. While on-track wagering contributes more to the bottom line than simulcast or ADW wagering, it must be troublesome to see only a 1.7% increase in handle from off-track sources.
The increase from off-track wagering was kept down due to the competition for race horses between the Meadowlands, Harrah's and Pocono Downs. It wasn't necessarily the fact the Meadowlands often lost out when it came to caliber of horses, because let's face it, the serious gamblers were not flooding the pools in Pennsylvania with their high takeout rates, the problem was horses were commuting back and forth between tracks, choosing their spots each week.
One thing harness handicappers love is form and it is hard to gauge form when a horse races one week at one track and ships to another track the following week. What many handicappers want to see is the same horses showing up each week to race at the same track. This is why the Meadowlands needs to work out an agreement with the Pennsylvania tracks to minimize conflicts in race dates so this consistency may be achieved. If no such agreement is reached, the Meadowlands would best be served by racing in the winte when the eastern Pennsylvania tracks are closed in addition to a Hambletonian-centric boutique meet.
Of course, there are two variables in the equation. The first one is Ontario. If no means can be found to support racing in Ontario, in particular Woodbine and Mohawk, expect a flood of horses heading south into the area which will eliminate the shortage of horses in the area.
The other variable is Governor Pat Quinn in Illinois as a new casino expansion bill has passed the legislature and is awaiting action from the Governor. If the bill is not vetoed by the Governor or his veto is overridden, it would take about a year for the slots to be up and running at racetracks, but some ex-pat horsemen may head back to the Prairie State early to make sure they earn any potential preferences for when the purses increased.
If you are looking for a recap of Super Sunday, you will find it here.