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Saturday, December 4, 2010

Cleveland Classic Preview; What Happened?

Everytime we feel the racing season has for all practical purposes ended, one last big money event shows up.  This week, the big money event is occuring at Northfield Park with the running of the $172,000 Cleveland Classic for 3yo Open pacers.  The sole remaining 'name' horses is One Molre Laugh, the Meadowlands Pace winner.  Let's take a look at the field:

Northfield Park 11th Pace - $172,000; Cleveland Classic 3YO Open
1  Valentino (Merriman, 6-1) - Has shown ability in 2nd tier events over the half mile oval.  Not to be dismissed.
2  One More Laugh (Tetrick, 1-1) - Has recovered of late including 2nd place finish at Maywood.
3  Jackets Required (D Miller, 10-1) - Appears to be well overmatched here.  Pass.
4  Morgan Shark (Stahl, 12-1) - Another one appears to be in deep.
5  Dreamlands Art (Palone, 8-1) - Dropping down.  Was reasonably successful at Lex.  Legitimate longshot.
6  Aracache Hanover (Mcnair, 4-1) -  Winner of two straight including Windy City at Maywood from rail.  Tougher post.
7  Tidewater Teddy (Charlino, 20-1) - Local representative saddled with seven hole.  No luck here.
8  Doc's Yankee (Noble, 15-1) - Half mile ability but draws the worst of it.
Selections: 5-2-6-1

Thanks to Bob Marks for comming up with the following attendnance and handles from some dates during the week of April 29, 1964:.  During this period in 1964, Aqueduct's wagering was slightly higher than Roosevelt's handle. but harness racing had a substantial portion of the wagering handle. 

Roosevelt Raceway (Closed)

Mon  4/20 - attendance 16,028 handle $1,502,146
Tue   4/21 - attendance 19,189 handle $1,742,123
Wed 4/22 - attendance 17,007 handle $1,541,438
Thu   4/23 - attendance 23,958 handle $2,055,892
Fri     4/24 - attendance 28,647 handle $2,212,026
Sat   4/25  - attendance 37,379 handle $2,580,825

Wolverine Raceway (Closed)
Saturday 4/25 - attendance 8,457 handle $463,225

Liberty Bell Park (Closed)
Saturday 4/25 - attendance 13,407 handle $662,359

Washington Park (Closed)
Saturday 4/25 - attendance 14,054 handle $794,115

Rockingham Park (No racing in 2010)
Saturday 4/25 - attendance 11,248 handle $452,368

Buffalo Raceway  (Still racing)
Saturday 4/25 - attendance 7,696 handle $364,410

Green Mountain Park (Closed)
Saturday 4/25 - attendance 7,287 handle $298,697

Greenwood Raceway (Closed)
Saturday 4/25 - attendance 5,163 handle $269,875

Blue Bonnets Raceway (Closed as Hippodrome de Montreal)
Saturday, 4/18 - attendance 9,698 handle $423,643

Now in the Thorogubbred world, things are different ideed.  On November 27, Auqeduct had wagering in excess of $7 million.  Now many of the tracks listed are long gone, but let's take a look at a couple standardbred tracks to see how we compare. 

Meadowlands Racetrack , November 27 - Total Handle $1,630,129.
Woodbine Racetrack, December 3 - Total Handle: $1,393,774   Thoroughbred - $2,488,044

While all breeds of racing are complaining about shrinking handle, the question needs to be asked why handle decreased so dramatically for harness racing?  Why did handles go from nearly 1-1 to a ratio of 5-1 in favor of thoroughbred racing?

I suspect it has plenty to do with the lack of adopting for the twenty first century, letting drivers and trainers in the same family race on a daily basis racing with or against each other.  The public realizes there is a conflict of interest which the industry does not want to address.  There is a place for nepotism and it doesn't belong on the track.  Until this is fixed, we will lose more gambling dollars to the runners.

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