For photos from the Meadowlands contact

Thursday, November 22, 2018

Give Players What they Want

Now is a good time to be a player if you wager on harness racing now that the sport has gone international.  Harness racing from France?  Yes.  Sweden?  Absolutely.  Even Australia on weekends?  Check.  What more can you ask for, harness racing virtually 24 hours a day.

That is unless you are legally stuck with one ADW; in my case 4NJBets which is run by TVG.   Why doesn't TVG offer this?  After all they offer French and Swedish harness racing on their other platforms, what would be the problem with offering it in NJ (Australian harness racing is a new product in the States so it may take them a little time to offer it)?  Don't say it is taking time to roll it out, wagering on the continent's harness product has been going on for months; it doesn't take that long to implement.  Granted, it may not be a huge money maker in the grand scheme of things, but if they can offer it in another state, it would pay to offer it elsewhere.

Yes, NJ is cumbersome in you need to get approval from the NJRC for each signal you bring in and it should be the case to protect horsemen's rights.  However, with NJAW being by the organization which runs Monmouth Park, it is not likely they are pushing the harness expansion.  Either way, the log jam needs to be broken..  If you aren't going to service the customer free, it is time to let them go.

Sure the game is different but with the Internet, you can expect people to take your signal if you don't offer theirs.  Be it tracks or ADWs. the revenue available to you during off hours will only improve your bottom line.  I didn't think the sport was doing so good that we can turn money away.

Perhaps worse of all, there is a better ADW product out there which you are keeping customers away from.  If you don't want to service your customer properly, cut the cord which binds us and let handicappers select an ADW which meets their needs.

It is Thanksgiving in the States which means the only harness racing action is limited to Canada with Flamboro Downs and Woodbine Mohawk Park racing.  May those celebrating have a great Holiday and kick-off to the Holiday Season.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Life Happens but We're Back!

I knew things were not going well for me when I transferred View From The Racetrack Grandstand to another individual but had no idea what was in store for me.  Months and months of being on the DL.  Let's say I was feeling as good as a $1,000 claimer.

Life Happens.

When I was starting to feel worse, transferring the blog to another individual, one eminently qualified to continue the blog, seemed to be a great idea.  Who knew life was going to throw them for a loop?

Life Happens.

Anyway, roughly a year and a half later, we're back.  Ready to pick up where we left off.  Well, maybe not exactly the same.  While VFTRG is being resuscitated, the frequency of postings will be reduced.  How often?  It won't be daily, but the plan is to post often enough so it will be worth your while to check-in to see what's new. 

We're glad to be back.

P.S.  While most posters are responsible and with the current anger which seems to be in the world, thanks to politics.  I just wanted to remind everyone this blog is a place of civility.  You may differ in opinions and express it, but you must be respectful to all.  Any comments which cross the line will never see the light of day.

Monday, June 26, 2017

VFTRG Lives!

Coming in the first half of July, I will be transferring ownership of the blog to a new blogger who will continue writing from where I left off.  I can't say who the new blogger will be but they are well informed in the sport of harness racing and I am sure they will bring an interesting perspective to you, the blog reader.

So keep VFTRG bookmarked.  It will be well worth the wait.

Thursday, June 22, 2017

There Comes a Time to Say 'Adjö'

Perhaps it is fitting this decision comes on the day the Great Herve Fillion has passed away, though I certainly would never claim any type of equivalency.  It's just funny how some things come together

There comes a time when one must face reality; after 3,308 posts (including this one) and over 992,000 views, it is time to say goodbye to VFTRG.  Long-time readers shouldn’t be surprised by this news as the almost daily posting of articles has dropped off to a point where it could be a week or two between postings.  I have been debating this moment for a while when today, the decision was made to say ‘enough’; the chronic pain (and varied illnesses) have worn me down to the point where a work of love has become a chore.  When it is no longer fun, it is time to stop. 
Since my initial blog entry on May 18, 2009, I’ve tried to stand up for the person often ignored when it comes to harness racing, the racing fan.  I covered races, specific horses, handicapped races (sorry about that), and perhaps most importantly, discussed issues facing the industry as well as how it impacted the racing fan.

I’ve discussed many issues during this eight year run, no doubt multiple times.  Quite honestly, when you are dealing with an industry which at times seemingly digs its heels into the ground, refusing to change, you can’t help but re-visit some of the common themes of one’s blog.  I understand people and industries don’t want to change but if there is any long-term hope for harness racing, the young Turks are going to have to push those who refuse to change out of the way and make the tough choices.  After all, the slot revenue isn't going to be there forever.

There has been a lot of good stuff written over this eight years, so while I am no longer going to post to VFTRG, feel free to read some of the old articles; just type a theme in the search box and see what treasures you come up with to read.

I am thankful for the friends I’ve made over the years and hope to stay in touch with them.  While VFTRG is coming to an end, this is not good bye.  I will still be involved with horse rescue and help continue to promote racing under saddle when possible.  Should the opportunity arise, I may come up with an occasional article for other publications to publish.

Thank you for being a part of my life during the past eight years.  Hopefully, there is a lot of great racing ahead and the industry makes some changes to make the game more challenging to handicap and become more relevant to the millennials and others so they take another look at harness racing and decide it is a ‘cool’ sport and gaming experience. 

I'll see you in the grandstand.....   

Wednesday, June 14, 2017

The Last Meet?

The possibility of Vernon Downs being in the midst of their last season has become more real as the track is slated to close for good on November 11, at the conclusion of the current meet as the New York legislature remains deadlocked over granting Vernon Downs tax relief with regards to slot revenue.  While the Senate has approved relief for the upstate track, the Assembly seems to be bogged down with respect to the bill.  Track majority owner Jeff Gural claims the end of the current legislative session, June 21 is the drop dead date.

Harness racing, while a money loser at Vernon is not the issue here, it's taxation rates for slot revenue as the casino has been losing money since upstate casinos have begun operating, poaching customers from Vernon.  Being restricted to video gaming only doesn't allow the track to compete against the casinos and when you consider the VLTs are taxed at a higher rate than the nearby casinos, the chance to come out in the black is virtually impossible.

Will the Assembly come through within the next week?  Is June 21, the drop dead date or is it more likely to be September 10, the date the casino is slated to close?  All I know is it is a perilous time.

Is the harness racing revival in Massachusetts coming to an end?  Call me paranoid but with legislators in the Bay State reassessing their commitment to slot revenue going to racing, I can't wonder if harness racing is going to get shafted.   The problem comes primarily from slot revenue being earmarked for racing and the pool getting bigger and bigger as the thoroughbred industry has basically left the state.  Suffolk Downs races a few days this year and with it being sold, 2018 may be the last year the track races at all.  Massachusetts bred races have been contested at Finger Lakes (NY).  Try as they may, regulators can't find enough ways to spend the thoroughbred portion of the fund due to the industry virtually dying off.  Meanwhile, the standardbreds keep humming along, doing well.

However, the legislature is wondering if the industry is worth saving at all when they have pressing social issues which could use the influx of funds.  While the legislature can scrap the part of the enabling legislation regarding thoroughbred breeding and racing funding, they can just as easily lump the standardbreds with the runners and decide to gut the whole funding mechanism or cut it to the bone.  Time will tell but people should be getting nervous.  Very nervous.

WEG has announced their intention to move harness racing to Mohawk (or should we say Woodbine at Mohawk Park) starting in 2018 year round, investing $10 million to winterize the facility.  Is this good for the sport or bad?  Some worry about the sport moving out of Toronto to Milton (approximately 31 miles) full time as well as the additional cost in shipping to Mohawk year round.  No doubt this is a problem for some, but being located at a dedicated facility (with a casino) rather than being the stepchild at a track where thoroughbreds are a priority should outweigh the negatives.

Another issue is would the horseplayers get fatigue with racing at one facility twelve months a year?  No more than they get fatigued with racing on the Woodbine-Mohawk circuit already.  If racing was worried about fatigue, it would shut down for the winter months.  Fans may get fatigued but the hard core players have no problem with racing year round