For photos from the Meadowlands contact

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Time for Harness Racing across America

This is a big weekend for harness racing. Not only do we have the finals of the Yonkers Trot and the Hudson Filly Trot at Yonkers Raceway, we have the eliminations for the Meadowlands Pace being held at the Meadowlands on Saturday night. But this is not all the action on Saturday evening. At Hoosier Park, there are the finals of the Indiana Sires Stakes for three year olds along with two races for aged horses; the Reynolds stakes continue at Pocono Downs. Our Canadian friends don't miss out in the action either with the Ontario Gold Rush at Georgian Downs. The racing action concludes on Sunday with the eliminations for the Ben Franklin at Chester Downs.

We often have these nights where there are multiple stakes races at various racetracks and due to exclusive agreements with ADWs, lack of coordination of post times, and other factors there is no way to get the best of these races out to our fans to wager on in addition expose our product to those who normally don't follow harness racing.

It sounds like a job for Harness Racing across America. But wait, we don't have a show called Harness Racing across America, do we? Of course we don't and the question needs to be asked why there is no such show? I am not talking about a show to be broadcast on broadcast television or on cable, but a show which could be shown via ADWs and simulcast outlets; people already predisposed to wagering on horses. The concept is to produce a show which will show the best races being offered on a particular evening and offer the show primarily to any ADW who wants the show for free in return for some commercials promoting harness racing. That's right, free. The show would be two hours long and would require the tracks hosting the races in question to coordinate post times so all the races being shown will fit in the timeframe allowed, yet allow time for wagering on each race.

The show would have two well known personalities to host the show from a central location and they would anchor the broadcast, cutting away the broadcast to the different tracks where local personalities will handle any interviews at the track. Recognizing ADWs need to handle business on their end (thoroughbred racing), the show would have periodic timeouts where an ADW can catch their audience up with replays and recaps of races which occurred during the previous segment of the show.

For this to work, there are a few complications which need to be resolved. It will require ADWs which have an exclusive for a particular track to waive exclusivity for the races which are part of the show. It will require ADWs which don't handle a particular track to negotiate an agreement to accept wagering on the particular races being covered if not already handled by the ADW and of course, will require them to go along with the concept. It will be necessary for racetracks to agree to run their races in a specific sequence with fifteen minutes between races so there will be time for betting between the various races. It may also necessitate a special past performance program containing only the races being shown (offer it for free to bettors).

Would ADWs be agreeable to a program like this? We don’t know until we try. While many wager on thoroughbreds primarily, some may be willing to wager on a card of high profile races. More importantly, we may get harness players to wager more money or get their interest for an evening of high-quality racing. Being the program would be offered for free, there is no reason why they should not be willing to commit to a one evening trial; after all, it may stimulate business for them.

Harness Racing across America is worth a shot. Are we willing to give it a try?

The USTA's Eye on Harness reviews some of last week's action and previews this week's Yonkers Trot and Meadowlands Pace eliminations.

For those wagering on Tioga Downs, here are my selections for Friday evening.  Friday night is somewhat challenging as nine of the twelve races are NYSS races for 2yo pacing fillies.

1st - Savahorsrideasulky, Radiant Hall, Celeriter (6-3-7)
2nd - Head Over Heels, Co Ed Desire, Princess Perpetua (5-7-2)
3rd - Anna Mae, Western Mustang, OK Dynasty (8-5-4)
4th - Court Stenographer, Libby's Girl, Little Pop Queen, Winbak Alice (9-3-2-1)
5th - Whirl The Girl, See You At Peelers, Undeniable Hanover (8-6-3)
6th - Hawiian Hottie, Grounded, New Album (2-1-7)
7th - My Girl's A Star, Winbak Corazon, Park Lane Heather, Beforethedaystarts (1-8-9-5)
8th - Dreamlands Roxy, The filly Princess, Boat House Row (2-6-8)
9th - Miss Annie J, JK Owhatanite, Look Up (1-8-2)
10th - City Delight, Drop The Ball, Bet On Lindy (4-1-5)
11th - Eagle Kelly, JK Soundofmusic, Crazy Luv Bug (7-5-1)
12th - Character Flaw, La Brujita, Wizzard Queen, My Mellow American (9-2-1-5)

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