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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Eliminate the Eliminations

With the upcoming Memorial Day weekend, the Meadowlands begins it's Championship meet. Stakes season is upon us as the big boys (and girls) begin their campaigns in earnest and the 2yos begin baby racing on June 6 at the Big M. Enjoy the racing and who knows? The next super star may be coming upon the scene.

With stake season now in full force, here comes the dreaded elimination races. Why do we insist on continuing with elimination races? Elimination races are an anarchism which needs to be eliminated. Here you have stake races going for $500,000 or more and the elimination races are going for $25,000 or $50,000. What do we get? Races that are often not competitive with trainers and drivers more concerned with qualifying for the final the next week than winning the race yet we ask the public to bet on these races. It makes no sense.

Now Harrah's Chester Downs has the right idea with some of their big races. For the Battle of Brandywine, The Colonial and The Valley Forge early closers, Harrah's has dropped elimination races. Instead, of having eliminations and finals what Harrah's does in each of these races is seed the horses according to money earned as of a certain date. The top eight horses race in the main race; the next eight horses race in the first consolation and the next eight horse race in the second consolation with the starting fees tiered depending on which race the horse gets into. Using the Battle of Brandywine as an example, the main race goes for $500,000; the first consolation goes for $200,000 and the the second consolation goes for $100,000. The horsemen get to race for very good money and the public gets exciting 'take no prisoner' competitive racing. Last year on Super Sunday, the racing was excellent and the bettors got great payoffs.

I understand Harrah's approach for their major 3yo races would not work for 2yos. For 2yos, I would suggest dividing the race into divisions instead of eliminations and a final.

Other tracks would be wise to adopt this policy. If you think otherwise, how do you think tracks should handle races which currently use eliminations?

In other news, Enough Talk has departed for Sweden looking for his first Elitlopp victory after last year's third place finish. The Elitlopp is Sweden's most important International race. Part-owner and trainer Peter Kleinhan should be applauded for taking advantage of the opportunity to participate in this race; others offered the opportunity to take part in the race have decided for various reasons not to make the trip. The Elitlopp will be run on Sunday morning (EDT) May 31st. Unfortunately, very few people will be able to watch the race live in the United States. The Meadowlands will be opening early that day to allow for the simulcast and one assumes they will make it available through their NJAW system.

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