On some message boards, people are complaining about Pocono Downs being the site for the 2010 Breeders Crown. Many complain about it being raced at a track with such a relatively low handle. What about the takeout (subsequently reduced)?
Time for a little reality. If you subscribe to the theory the race should be rotated between the United States and Canada, where should it be raced? At the time the contract was signed in April of 2009, the Meadowlands situation was fluid and expectations were a thoroughbred meet would have been conducted during the time the Breeders Crown would be contested. Yonkers Raceway? Heaven forbid it be run on a half mile oval. Chester Downs? Perhaps better than Pocono because of its proximity to Philadelphia, but they would have had to express interest wouldn't they? Balmoral or Hazel Park? The situation in Illinois and Michigan is so precarious with racing there on life support. The Red Mile? A logical choice except they normally don't race in November when the race was originally scheduled to be raced, nor did they make a bid.
The fact is the only track in the United States who wanted the race and was willing to incur the financial responsibility involved with hosting the Breeders Crown when the contract was signed was Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs. Rather than criticizing this year's host, we should be thanking them for being willing to make the financial commitment and dedicating the resources necessary to host the Crown this year.
Will the overall handle be relatively low Saturday night? Probably so. But this is the state of standardbred racing. Whereas multiple thoroughbred tracks compete for the right to host the Breeders Cup, harness racing's problems have it that few tracks have the ability to host the event. Come 2011, the Breeders Crown returns to Woodbine Racetrack but who is going to host the race in 2012? The Meadowlands would be a logical choice; assuming they are still around and if they are, have the financial means to host the race.
Rather than complaining about Pocono Downs, we need all the factions involved in the industry work together to strengthen harness racing so in the future, high handles will be had regardless of where the Breeders Crown is held and we have several tracks fighting for the right to host the Breeders Crown. As for the gamblers; no, you will not get the typical betting handle you would get at the Meadowlands, but if you stay away, it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Maybe you won't be able to wager as much as you would have if the Crown was at the Meadowlands or Woodbine, but there is no reason why you can't wager on the races; you may just need to scale back your wagers.
In the meanwhile, "Thank You" Pocono Downs.
Speaking of the Meadowlands, here is an editorial from the Asbury Park Press. According to them, it appears Governor Christie and his inner circle are still committed to their original stance. Sobering thoughts.