Sam McKee, race caller extraordinaire at the Meadowlands, is perhaps the best race caller in the business. As good as he is at the Meadowlands, he is even more impressive at The Red Mile where he not only calls the races, he handles the post race interviews which cuts into the time he has to prepare for each race.
On Saturday night, McKee had guests with him as he called the fifth and sixth races. To get a sense of how great McKee is, here is video of him calling the fifth race. Note the only time he seems to look down is when he checks the fractional times.
There is none better than Sam McKee. If and when Roger Huston gives up the race call duties at the Delaware County Fair, here is hoping Sam gets first call on taking over.
We would be remiss if we did not discuss the latest round of purse increases at Freehold Raceway which takes effect on March 31. Thanks to a $4.8 million injection from the casino-fed Purse Enhancement Agreement, Freehold was able to increase purses another 30%, for an overall total of 60% for the year. It should be noted this is an overall increase as not all classes are being increased. For example, $4,000 claimers will continue to race for $2,200 (there are races written for NJ Sired and Owned which race for an additional 25%), maidens will continue to race for $4,000, and non winners of 2 races will still compete for $5,000. $20,000 claimers, which started the year racing for $6,400, will now be competing for $10,200. The Preferred class, which started the year racing for $8,600, will now be racing for $13,800. For a complete breakdown on the new purse structure at Freehold Raceway, you may click here. With purses being increased, Freehold should be able to offer full fields for the balance of their meet.
While horsemen at Freehold will once again be racing for decent purses, long term prospects are uncertain at best. Without any VLTs or future purse enhancement agreement on the horizon, horsemen would be best to make plans to race elsewhere next year if they race cheaper stock. Otherwise, if they wish to race in New Jersey for the purses they will begin racing for on Wednesday, they will have to be able to compete at the Meadowlands.