On Friday at Freehold Raceway, the Lady Suffolk for three year old trotting fillies kicks off the stakes season in earnest for sophomore trotters (with the Dexter Cup being raced on Saturday). Granted, this year with seven of the entrants making their first pari-mutuel starts of the season, it would probably be better if the Lady Suffolk was raced as a non-wagering event. But that is not the worst of it.
With ten horses entered, the race is being split into two divisions. As a result of owners demanding to have their horses on the gate, horseplayers will be subjected to two five horse fields, assuming no scratches. Well, not really subjected to; most horseplayers will merely give these races a pass. What happens as a result? The Grand Circuit horses get their money, the horsemen who race at Freehold day in and day out have money taking out of their purse account to subsidize races like this, yet these races don't contribute hardly anything to the purse account. And you wonder why horsemen resent their purse account being used for stakes races. It is time for the tracks to stand up for the overnight horsemen and horseplayers without whom this added money would not be available. If these grand circuit stables insist on having their nose on the gate, then they need to be willing to risk the chance they don’t get a chance to start due to lack of earnings leading up to the race. Otherwise, they need to be willing to accept a second tier.
Speaking of short fields, the Meadowlands is giving us a five horse Invitational field in the third race Saturday. The short field is due to eliminations for the Graduate Series. Rather than wasting $32,000 from the purse account, it would have been better for the Meadowlands to skip the Invitational this week and bring the race back next week when a full field could be assembled. The horses could probably use the week off anyway as racing at the Meadowlands is hard on the horses. In many ways, this is another example of the rich getting richer. Rest assured if only five less stellar horses entered another overnight race, the race would never get used by the racing secretary.