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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sundays at the Meadowlands

Sunday racing is underway at the Meadowlands. Racing on Sundays at the Meadowlands has always been a tricky situation. While it provides an opportunity to expose harness racing to people who for are unable to attend the races at night, their simulcast signal competes against plenty of thoroughbred tracks which race on Sundays. As a result of competition for simulcasting dollars, wagering on the Meadowlands' races leaves plenty to be desired. Since wagering is poor on Sundays, the Meadowlands tends to race a weak program on Sundays. Often the card consists of bottom level conditioned and claiming races with a large number of trotting races; not a formula to encourage heavy wagering and it is certainly reflected in the handle. This needs to change.

The question needs be asked why the Meadowlands races on Sundays in the first place. If the goal is to attract new fans to the sport, then the Meadowlands can continue to race these weak cards realizing the handle is going to be poor those days. If the goal is to give people who normally are unable to go to the races at night due to work obligations or are unwilling to go out on cold winter nights, then there is a need to upgrade the card to encourage wagering. I am not suggesting the card be the caliber of a Saturday evening, but including two or three mid-level conditioned or claiming races on the program is not unreasonable.

Rather than racing on a Sunday afternoon, a better option may be to race at 5pm where the race card is completed by 8:00pm. This will allow people unwilling or unable to come to the races during the week to come to the track and be home at a reasonable time. With the Eastern thoroughbred tracks having completed their cards by this time, there would be less competition for simulcast dollars would will allow for improved handle, thus meriting better races to be on the card. If a 5pm Sunday night start turns out to be successful, it may be worth racing on Sunday evenings throughout the standardbred meet.

A bridge jumper got burnt at Cal Expo on Saturday night. I don't understand the logic of bridge jumping; risking a large amount of money to get a five cents on the dollar return on the investment. In this case, a person wagered $10,000 in an effort to win $500. A person can win nineteen times in a similar situation and if they lose the twentieth time, the gambler will end up losing money. When a bridge jumping situation arises, a better move may be to figure out how 'sure' a sure thing is. It could be a situation where betting to show on every other horse in a race may be a better play; at least you can win an amount worth the risk you are taking.

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