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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

NJ Horse Drain Begins, Lucky Jim Returns

The first condition sheet for Pocono Downs has been released and it spells bad news for the Meadowlands and Freehold.  Changes were expected in the purse amounts as a result of the reduction of the horsemen's portion of slot revenue, but purses still remain attractive despite the cuts. Here is a sample of the purses being offered as well as a comparison to the Meadowlands and/or Freehold.

Claiming         Pocono               Meadowlands                                Freehold
 $7,000           $6,400                                                                      $3,500 ($6,000clm)
$10,000          $9,800                                                                      $4,900
$15,000        $13,000                   $9,200
$20,000        $17,000                 $11,700
$30,000        $21,000                 $17,000                                        

Condition       Pocono (L5)         Meadowlands (L6)                       Freehold (L6)
nw1pm            $7,500                                                                      $4,000
nw2pm            $8,700                 $11,000                                         $6,250
nw5000cd        $9,000                  $9,200 (nw6000cd)                        $5,800 (nw6000cd)
nw7500cd       $11,000               $11,700 (nw8000cd)                        $8,300 (nw8000cd)
nw10000cd     $17,000               $15,000
Open             $28,000               $30,000                                          $11,000 (Preferred)

No doubt horses racing at Freehold and the Meadowlands will be heading to northeast Pennsylvania for the Pocono meet which starts on March 23.  While Chester Downs has not yet issued their first condition sheet, it is safe to assume horses will be leaving for Chester as well.  Hopefully, the cut back of the Meadowlands race week will help in securing enough horses to fill out their card.  Otherwise, expect short fields and $10,000 claimers at the Meadowlands.  As for Freehold, short fields and a reduction in the number of races on a daily basis is all but certain. 

Lucky Jim makes his 2010 pari-mutuel debut this Friday night in the 10th race Invitational at the Meadowlands, drawing the outside in the short seven horse field.  I expect he will pick up where he left off last year. 


Scott Jeffreys said...

Here is what is so sad about the purse structure : if the Meadowlands folds tomorrow, will the sport be able to sustain itself thanks to the purse structure at Pocono or Chester? Of course not.

What does the sport look like without the Meadowlands in place? Somehow, I think that the void created is perhaps more serious than the void left by the closure of Roosevelt Raceway. Think how it reverberates across the sport. If nothing else, where will harness racing in the United States hold as the capital? Delaware, Ohio?

This note points yet again to the need for a coordinated racing calendar which crosses state boundaries. Unfortunately, state ownership, private ownership, and state regulation on dates do not make for a positive mix.

Scott Jeffreys said...

One last "gambling" point on the purse structure and drawing horses : I would rather support the new structre at Tioga or the quality home at the Meadowlands than plow money into pools where the top take out rate is 35%.

Since harness racing will NOT police itself across state boundaries, the players have to make the statement.

Ryan said...

I understand that it's bad for racing to have short fields at the Meadowlands an owner and trainer of a horse that's racing therre, I LOVE short fields!!!!!!! Racing for $15,000+ and all I have to do is beat one or two horses for, at the very least, a check. My partner and I specifically planned to race our horse at the Meadowlands this time of year EXPECTING the short fields and weak competition

JLB said...

As someone who races a small stable at both Pocono and the Meadowlands, I am not sure the impact on the Meadowlands will be quite as severe as many think. (Even Freehold may not be as affected as much as you think, as only their upper-level horses would do at Pocono). While the purses for the low- and mid-level claimers at Pocono exceed the Meadowlands', the conditioned races are comparable. And, while both tracks are well-maintained, and horses need to be capable of very fast miles, no matter what the class, to be competitive, I would suggest that Pocono's 5/8 track may be more stressful to the horses competing there than the Meadowlands is to its horses. Also, as the owner of a horse who has seen the outside half of the starting gate at the Meadowlands for most of his starts this Winter, I can tell you that one has a much better chance of overcoming a bad draw at the Meadowlands, than one does at Pocono.

Pacingguy said...

JLB, time will tell. I hope you are right. We must remember a lot of horses from Pocono came to the Meadowlands when the meet started. I suspect many of these will return to Pocono when it opens. Either way, when Chester opens, the faucet will like be opened.

Pocket Up said...

SJ, you may like this conversation about what happens if the M does go down and what the sport will look like, on the USTA blog. Here is the link:

Your last comment was very telling and true, "Since harness racing will NOT police itself across state boundaries, the players have to make the statement." Voting with your dollars is the only way the powers that be will understand. I think that's what you meant by your statement?