Well, the fields have been drawn for the Meadowlands Pace card and if you look at the card, you might almost confuse it for a thoroughbred card with five of the thirteen races going an extra furlong with eleven or twelve horses slated to meet the starter.
Of course, we are hearing the usual, "With owners paying to get into the race, they should have their horse's nose on the gate", to which I answer 'Poppycock' (to keep it PG).. Did the owners and trainers read the conditions of the races? Here is the relevant condition for the William Haughton Memorial, the other races have the same or similar language. (The underlining I have added)
Racing Conditions: The twelve (12) highest 2015-16 money winners (USTA records) that declare will race at the distance of a mile and
one eighth. If ten or fewer declare the race will be at one mile. If a consolation can be filled with sufficient wagering interests, that may be
raced for 25% of the total purse pool before entry fees are added and the main event will race for 75% of the total purse pool before entry
fees are added. Entry fee for the consolation will be $1,000. Any horse that is declared for this race but does not draw in either event due to
the above condition (including a horse drawn as also eligible that does not draw into the race) and meets the track’s qualifying standards
for the race will have their nomination and sustaining fees refunded in full and shall NOT be liable for the entry fee.
Money Division: One-percent of the purse will be awarded to each horse finishing sixth through last. The balance of the purse shall be
distributed 50% - 25% - 12% - 8% - 5%
Nothing hidden, no surprise. It was there, right in the beginning; not something written at the end of the racing condition buried. The twelve horses and added distance is clear as black and white. When owners made their first payment they knew what they were paying into; the possibility of being in the second tier and having to go an extra eighth of a mile.
Look, I understand an owner being disappointed with drawing post eleven or twelve; just like they do when drawing post position nine or ten. Being mad or angry about drawing into the second tier and/or the added distance? Sorry, you don't have a leg to stand on.
Some will argue the added distance hurts the horse. Really? Now the standardbred is not as sturdy as they once were, but they are not petite flowers either; an extra furlong is not going to hurt the horse if it happens once in a blue moon (more likely once). Besides, the extra distance is there to give the horse(s) who drew into tier two a little more time to get into the race, a better chance to win.
Would horsemen prefer the conditions be limited to the top ten money winners? Not if you are number eleven or twelve on the list. Why not split the race if more than ten horses entered? Great for the horsemen, bad for the punters and for a track which depends on handle to generate a profit or loss. Tracks historically put the most unattractive races, betting-wise on the front end of the racing program so it is no surprise both divisions of the Delvin Miller Memorial and the one division of the Mistletoe Shalee are at the front end of the card; to be raced before the crowd settles in.
Don't like the possibility of racing two tiers? Don't make payments to the race.
Of course, if the casino gaming referendum doesn't pass in New Jersey, you won't have to worry about the second tier next year because most, if not all of these races will have seen their last running and the most recent Fairliegh Dickinson University/Public Mind poll shows the referendum would go down to defeat as only 35% of the respondents are in favor with 57% opposed.