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Wednesday, May 5, 2010

How Low Can We Go

So after being tipped off, I took a look at TVG's race coverage today and until 6:00pm this evening, the only thoroughbred race tracks having races shown on TVG are Belmont Park, Delaware Park, and Hollywood Park.  So with the exception of an hour where there is a transition from East to West coast racing, no more than four races an hour are being shown on TVG.  In the meanwhile, Freehold and Monticello Raceways, whom TVG has the right to televise live, are racing and not one of their races are being shown.  Nary a race.  Granted, they are not Meadowlands-quality races, but I doubt Will Rogers Downs and Fairmount Park are top quality either yet TVG found their races worthy of showing the day before.  Have we become so irrelevant that TVG prefers to have their hosts twiddle their fingers and fill their time with endless chatter on the air instead of showing a live harness race which people can wager on? 

HANA is promoting Tioga Downs this week with live commentary on their blog on Saturday evening. There will have guest handicappers providing their selections for races on the Tioga card. It is all part of their effort to support tracks which attempt to address horseplayer's concerns. It is clear that HANA does represent horseplayers of all breeds.  If you are not a member of HANA you may still join them (it's free) by going to their website.

Running Aces Harness Park opens thier backstrech on May 10 for their 51 day race meet which begins on June 1.  Apparently there is so much interest in racing there this year (probably due to the situation in Illinois) that it was necessasry to make an agreement with the Barnum Fairgrounds, an hour away from Running Aces, to make 90 stalls to handle those horses who could not get stall space at the track.  The reason for the demand?  Chicago's $4,000 claimers currently racing for $1,800 will be going for $4,000 at Running Aces.  This will be good for Running Aces as their racing program will likely be the best it has been since they opened.  Of course, what is good for Running Aces will be bad for the beleagured Chi-town tracks.

Remember the news of a possible thirty person race fixing ring in Michigan when it broke on March 5?  So far it is reported only one person has been arrested for allegedly being involved in this ring.  One has to wonder why news of this alleged wide-spread ring was made public with only one arrest made.  From my perspective, it appears to be politically motivated by a government looking to get rid of horse racing.  Why else announce allegations devastating to a beleaguered industry without the cameras showing a 'perp walk' of numerous people on their way to an arraignment?.  Is there any coincidence that an investigation which supposedly was underway for over a year when racing was under control of the racing commission was not made public, yet the investigation was made public soon after racing became under the control of a regulatory body which regulates casinos?  Race fixing is a serious crime which needs to be prosecuted.  Just the same, I don't know how you can publicly claim a wide-spread conspiracy with only one person arrested.

You don't need to tell me what Monticello Raceway thinks about harness racing.  Go visit their new website and you will see.  At least the title has the word raceway in it.  On their brand new home page, there is no mention of horse racing at all except for the word 'Raceway' on the top right corner which brings you to their old website.  Oh, they are on Facebook too; not a word about racing there either.  They can't get rid of racing fast enough.   
The blogosphere is abuzz over the snub of two Kentucky Derby winning jockeys, Jorge Velasquez and Ron Franklin by Churchill Downs. It seems Churchill Downs couldn't come up with two tickets for these jockeys to attend the big day. Normally, I don't really discuss going ons in the thoroughbred industry unless it is relevant to standardbred racing, but I found this behavior inexcusable. Would squeezing in two or four more people into Churchill Down private boxes been too difficult, especially when I am sure Churchill Downs has a few extra seats on the side (could you see Churchill Downs turn down President Obama if he decided at the last minute to attend)? Just a total disgrace and a lack of class.

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