For photos from the Meadowlands contact

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Not Promoting Ourselves; Rosecroft Going

When was the last time you saw a thoroughbred track promote the hopefuls for the Meadowlands Pace or the Hambletonian on their in-house television show? I think I can safely say the answer is never. Yet, on Friday night, the Meadowlands in-house show had Brad Thomas reviewing the Kentucky Derby hopefuls.

I understand the Meadowlands is owned by the NJSEA which operates Monmouth Park, a thoroughbred track. I understand the Meadowlands simulcasts thoroughbred racing and wagering on those races contributes to the standardbred purse account. I understand many gamblers will play both breeds of horses, but something rubs me the wrong way when a harness track promotes thoroughbred racing's premier events when there is not one thoroughbred track promoting a single standardbred race. What bothers me more about the Meadowlands' promotion of the Kentucky Derby is the fact you won't see the Meadowlands handle the Little Brown Jug future wager because they don't want to take attention away from their own signature event, the Meadowlands Pace.

Perhaps my frustration goes past the Meadowlands. What harness tracks promote harness races other than their own events? We have harness tracks that promote thoroughbred Triple Crown events and have special post times to capitalize interest around these races, yet they will do nothing to promote interest in harness racing's big events, such as the Meadowlands Pace, North American Cup, Hambletonian, Little Brown Jug, Kentucky Futurity, and so forth. Do these events have the popularity and recognition like the Derby, Preakness, or Belmont? Of course not. But if harness tracks can’t promote these races, why should we bemoan the fact the media is ignoring these events?
We have met the enemy and he is us.

Rosecroft. Going, Going, Gone?  Monday is the last day of the legislative session in Maryland and with its conclusion comes the likely end to Rosecroft Raceway. The track operator, Cloverleaf Enterprises, Inc. has announced without legislative relief, the track will cease operations as of April 19 and convert from a Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization into Chapter 7 liquidation. The last extended pari-mutuel meet was suspended in 2008 by the Maryland Racing Commission which allowed simulcast wagering to continue at the request of Rosecroft management in order to preserve the long term future of Rosecroft. Since then, the only racing at Rosecroft has been Maryland Sire Stakes events and qualifying races. For all practical purposes, Rosecroft is already gone as prior to last week's announcement regarding the possibly closure of Rosecroft, horsemen were already told the backstretch was being closed as of May 1 and the track has already stopped maintaining the track.

First went Freestate; now Rosecroft. Ocean Downs remains as the last bastion of standardbred racing in Maryland. The owner of Ocean Downs has guaranteed in the current contract three years of harness racing. Some people say the slot legislation requires Ocean Downs to race in order to have slots. Seeing what government has done to slot laws elsewhere, assuming racing will continue indefinitely at Ocean Downs may not be as sure as some would like to think.

Hop Sing Update:  Hop Sing finished last in his race last night; twenty four lengths behind the race winner. Not only is it embarrassing for the horse, it is embarrassing for the sport. They way things are going, how long will it be before Hop Sing is racing somewhere in $3,000 claimers. Hop Sing should be retired now.


Scott Jeffreys said...

Suppose I gave you personally, Pacingguy, access to the in-house network for every single thoroughbred racetrack in the country. You have fifteen minutes to preview the premier harness race - what race would it be? When would it be? Where would it be?

The point is that you would be hard pressed to name "the race".

In thoroughbred racing, the Kentucky Derby is "the race". The Preakness gets little notice and the Belmont is only a major sports event if a triple crown is on the table. The Breeder's Cup effectively "ends" the season. There you have it : brand identification from May to October.

In harness racing, where are those bookends? Where is harness racing's "First Saturday in May"?

The Little Brown Jug on a Thursday in Ohio? No. Anything on a half-time track? No. Canadian racing getting attention here in the US? No.

Your only option is the second Saturday in August for the Hambletonian ... but even that comes with the NJSEA catch - can the Meadowlands hold onto the Hambletonian from a financial perspective?

You wonder why there is no "juice" in a single harness race?

Explain which race you could possibly showcase.

Pacingguy said...

You certainly could have them promoting the Meadowlands Pace and the Hambletonian without any problem. Yes, thoses races may be in jeopardy, but they haven't in the past and they were not promoted by the runners.

The point is not as much why don't the runners promote our races, but why OUR tracks are not promoting OUR races.