The harness racing race secretaries are convening in Florida starting today to set up this year's stakes schedule. For sure, what stakes races the Meadowlands will or will not be carding is an issue of concern, but let me provide the following observation.
The current system of scheduling stakes so they don't compete against each other has failed its objective. It is time to rethink the thought process being used.
How many stakes races this year had multiple trainers entering multiple horses into the same stakes race? Far too many. As a result of trainers like Burke, Takter and others entering multiple horses in a race, what could be exciting races become ho hum events; not being competitive. Despite what people think, teaming occurs. Do you think a stablemate from Team Trainer is going to play hardball with another stablemate in the same race or do you think any resistance will be minimal or the horse will make it easier for his stable mate to compete? Even without the assistance of a stablemate, these races become ho hum events as they are non-competitve. Why is this? Because the racing secretaries card their stakes races so not to compete against each other, leaving nowhere but the top tier event available for the first, second, and sometimes third tier horse from a particular stable to race except in the same race.
Now, lets pretend the racing secretaries secretly declared certain races tier 1, 2 and 3 and they decided certain races would compete on the same dates. For example, let's say the Meadowlands Pace and the Adios were scheduled for the same date. Both races have big purses. If the two races were scheduled the same day, you could be sure instead of a stable like Ron Burke sending their top two or three horses to the Meadowlands Pace, one or two of the second tier horses would find their way to the Adios instead of competing in the Meadowlands Pace. The net result is we would have two competitive events which would be more exciting wagering propositions to gamblers.
Yes, all the marquee horses may not be appearing at a particular race, but let's not kid ourselves, many of the so called marquee horses are nothing but also rans. If they raced at a different tracks and were victorious, perhaps they may be horses worth noting and at a later time draw interest when they race against the true marquee horses.
A perfect example of what can be done ins Super Sunday at Chester Downs when races like the Battle of the Brandywine has the top nine horses in the main race, the second nine horses in a consolation, and the next nine horses in a second consolation. What if the Battle of Brandywine was limited to the top nine horses which enter, and Pocono Downs scheduled a similar race, and Indiana Downs scheduled a similar race at their track? You would have three races worth interest on a national level; perhaps the basis for a Racing Saturday Night program. In addition, you will find purse money being distributed to a greater number of horses instead of a select few.
The current system does not work. Why perpetuate a failed approach?