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Tuesday, March 9, 2010

They Still Don't Get It

Standardbred Canada in reporting on the agreement to revamp the New Jersey thoroughbred schedule by eliminating the thoroughbred meet from the Meadowlands and moving it to Monmouth Park where less days would be raced.  Their headline for the story?  More Harness Dates for the Meadowlands.  Apparently, additional harness dates at the Meadowlands is the payoff for the SBOANJ agreeing to provide financial support for the Monmouth Park meet. 

They still don't get it.  While removing the runners from the Meadowlands calendar allows more flexibility in scheduling the Meadowlands standardbred meet, the last thing we need for long term survival is more racing dates.  All more racing dates provides is a diluted racing product, diluted purses, diluted wagering, and more product in a market which requires less.  When you have twelve racetracks racing at one time, you have a predatory situation, where each track is attempting to pull wagering dollars from a common wagering pool.  Rather than having a number of successful tracks left standing, we will end up with two or three tracks.  For those complaining we will lose a significant number of people employed in standardbred racing, how many people do you think will be employed in the industry if we have only two or three racetracks remaining? 

Until horsemen accept economic reality, harness racing is going to continue the downward spiral, making any recovery even tougher.  It is time for horsemen to look at the big picture instead of just their own neighborhood.    


carolnj said...

The articles on this topic may be a bit misleading. There will not be more harness dates at the Meadowlands - but the dates will be reconfigured to extend into the fall.
Less profitable days of the week will be dropped and the concentration will be on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

Pacingguy said...

Carol, thanks for the update. Reconfiguring the calendar makes perfect sense.

Scott Jeffreys said...

One of the things that Satish Sanan understands clearing (reference : At the Races with Steve Byk) as well as PacingGuy is the need for less, not more, racing dates. A shortened Meadowlands harness meeting will likely follow the current horsemen's agreement regarding Monmouth for several real reasons.

[1] With the purse subsidy ending this year, the Meadowlands will no longer be able to sustain the current purse structure given the current handle both on-track and off-track.

[2] Top drivers will migrate, in the short term, to slot infused purse dollars available at Chester, Yonkers, and Dover.

[3] Top owners/horses will migrate to those same three racetracks.

[4] The horse shortage at the Meadowlands, created by the purse monies available elsewhere will create an environment wherein the Meadowlands will be unable to sustain a five program per week schedule.

Back in 2001, I wrote a piece for Hoof Beats Magazine where I predicted that the Meadowlands, following in Roosevelt's footsteps, would not be able to survive another 25 years in their current business model. Little did I realize that all of these econpmic and business factors would come to fruition in just 10 years.

The answer for the Meadowlands is a shorter season and a strong racing circuit coupled to either New York (preferred) or Pennsylvania.

Scott Jeffreys said...

Side note : Love the new caption picture on the website PacingGuy - that rail shot of Monticello Raceway reminds me of many fine Sunday summer afternoons at the Mighty M in the last 70s and early 80s. They were indeed some of the golden days in my harness racing memories.

Pacingguy said...

Unfortunately, with the exception of possibly two weeks, there are no more Sunday afternoons. How are we supposed to get people into harness racing if we don't give them a chance to experience it live?

JLB said...

How true about Monticello. In 1988, I claimed my first horse there, and enjoyed many weekends there, with Saturday night racing, followed by Sunday matinees. My weekend might start off with jogging a few "bomb-proof" horses for my trainer, and it was a thrill being on the same training track as the horsemen I had seen from over the grandstand rail for many years.

Now, with all racing confined to matinees, this opportunity is gone, and the racing fan has been largely ignored, with the casino improvements not carried over to the racing side. The track cards far too many races, diluting the product, and the same air of hopelessness which hangs over the Catskills certainly pervades the racetrack.