American Harness Tracks, LLC has won the bidding to take over the casino/harness racing license previously owned by Centaur Inc. which filed for bankruptcy. Assuming the bankruptcy court approves the winning bid, the stalled Valley View Downs project will resume and there will be another harness track in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania. Just what harness racing doesn't need.
Just what we need is another racetrack in Pennsylvania; one that is about an hour away from the Meadows. Yes, it will be a mile track but do we need another harness track in Western Pennsylvania; one that is about an hour away from the Meadows? At the best, it means the Meadows will cut back on race dates to facilitate a race meet at Valley View Downs. At the worst, we have another track competing against the Meadows, further diluting wagering interest there and decreasing the number of available horses. In addition, a new racino at Valley View Downs will take business away from the racino at the Meadows which will financially hurt the company that operates the Meadows. This will reduce the slot subsidy the Meadows will receive, which the state is already reducing and possibly puts the Meadows in danger of financial distress. If the company goes into financial distress, how long will it be before they attempt to rid themselves of racing?
Then let's put Ohio into the mix. Northfield Park is roughly eighty-five miles away from Valley View Downs. As we know how well states coordinate race dates, there will certainly be two tracks operating within an hour and half of each other and possibly three tracks. The quality of racing in Western Pennsylvania and Ohio is likely going to suffer.
Then there is the wild card in the mix. Prexque Isle Downs in Erie, PA races thoroughbreds. Rest assured if that track fails, thoroughbred horsemen will be looking for another racing opportunity in Western Pennsylvania and their eyes will be gazing towards Valley View Downs with their mile track. Being thoroughbred racing is more popular than harness racing, the possibility exists for the flow of gambling dollars from standardbred racing to the thoroughbreds if such a move occurs.
So horsemen will be welcoming Valley View Downs. Here's hoping they don't regret it in the long run.