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Friday, June 26, 2009

Other Stakes Action, Promoting in New Jersey (Lack Of)

While the attention of North American harness racing fans is drawn to Mohwak Raceway this Saturday night, there is still some other races of note going on elsewhere.

Tonight at the Meadowlands, is the $246,000 Lady Liberty Final for FFA Pacing Mares. Southwind Tempo, Darlins Delight and Tug River Princess will be competing for the winner's share of the purse. Being Southwind Tempo and Tug River Princess are coupled, don't expect a big mutuel payoff. In the Invitational Trot is Lucky Jim, now going for his 13th straight win. What adds a little intrigue to this race is that Lucky Jim broke in his qualifier, finishing 3rd, 33 lengths behind. Likeabatoutofhell may be the one to snap the streak.

Saturday night at Northfield Park is the $100,000 Battle of Lake Erie. While no marquee horse is in the race, for those in Ohio, it is an opportunity to see a quality race. I will look at Blueridge Western to post a minor upset.

As for promoting the sport locally, on the Delmarva circuit, you have the show Post Time with host Heather Vitale-Moffett This weekly show highlights racing at Dover, Harrington and Ocean Downs and has been running consecutively since July of 1998. The show is both entertaining and informative and spreads interest in the sport. If you have not seen the show, take a look. In Pennsylvania, there is PA Harness Week which features racing from Pocono Downs and Chester Downs. What show covers racing in New Jersey? None. I understand that things are not going well in New Jersey for harness racing and when things get tough, the tendency is to cut spending. However, how is the industry putting their best foot forward to the New Jersey public? They aren't.

Let's call this fictional show New Jersey in Harness. As part of this show, not only do we show racing from the Meadowlands and Freehold, but we will also highligh our training and breeding farms as well as the human interest stories which will show how racing is important to the state. In other words, the people of New Jersey gets exposed to the benefits of racing while being shown it is not a sport just for degenerate gamblers. Not only will this help in the campaign to get VLTs at the tracks but it may help develop new fans. Does producing a weekly show cost money? Sure. But what is the cost of not doing it?

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