The recent HANA Harness survey (not the one going on now) revealed that while gamblers want more betting interests, they have no desire for more than one or possibly two trailers in a second tier. Well, there is another way to get more betting interests in a race, and assuming the Meadowlands resumes racing, it could become the trendsetter.
Widen the stretch.
Since plans are underway to reverse the configuration of the racetrack, putting the grandstand in the backstretch and making the current stretch the backstretch, why not during the off season before they open the new grandstand widen the stretch to allow for twelve starters on the gate? This way, you immediately have the potential for two additional betting interests in each race which should increase wagering handle and payoffs. There would be no reason to widen the new backstretch as when was the last time you saw the field race twelve-wide down the backstretch? For those few odd distance races which would require a start on the backstretch, you would then revert two a maximum of ten starters.
Yes, I realize the outside posts currently have a poor win percentage, so what makes me think adding two additional starters to the front line would be doing anything more than adding two starters which would have a near impossible chance of winning races? First of all, by adding additional horses to the front tier would, by nature, necessitate drivers to be more aggressive leaving and the start/finish line can be moved back a little to give the outside horses a better chance to get into position. Use of a more staggered starting gate would also be helpful.
Widening the stretch would increase handle and allow the Meadowlands to resume its level. of prominence. It's worth considering.
Sometimes you come across some old blog entries which need to see the light of day once again.. Take a look at this column, where I state it is time for racing to fix it's own problems and call for the American version of Canada One and tell me what you think.