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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Having Your Say (The Scott Edition)

During this series of Having Their Say, some readers may come up with comments in response to some of the comments people I have asked made.  While I value all responses to my blog, some comments are to good to just leave as comments; they need their own column.  Hence, let me present the first edition of Having Your Say (The Scott Edition).

I am not passing judgement on the original respondent's comments, I appreciate the fact they took whatever time they did to give me a response.  These columns are their chance to get their say without my editorial comment and it will remain that way.  But after reading Scott's comments, I wonder if harness racing has gotten to far from its roots, especially after the Meadowlands opened.  New Jersey got rid of their fairs (albeit non-wagering) and many other fairs have ceased racing.  In fairness, some states still hold on to their fair racing heritage. 

Sure, some of the fairs have ended due to lack of interest by the public, but if all the 'stars' refused to race at the fairs, do you blame them?  I am not saying all fair races over a half mile track (as most fair tracks are) need to go in 1:57, but how exciting are fair races in 2:12 where three quarters of the field go off-stride as trainers are using these races as training miles for their second or third string horses?

Anyway, here are the comments from Scott.  Scott talks about his experience at Atlantic City Race Course.

Dear Pacingguy : Having been to Atlantic City Race Course on closing day 2010 and for the Saturday and Sunday cards in 2011, I can attest to the fact that Maureen Bugdon, the ACRC staff, and the facility itself generate so much interest, you would be surprised - the plant has a buzz for each and every day of the Turf Festival.

 Yes, the grandstand seats are all peeling (even my wife just laughs it off as part of the history), no tote board (one thing I wish they had) for the infield, the interior has some worn and crumbling concrete, but all of that is superficial. Someday, the ACRC meeting style will gain more and more favor yielding more and more betting - someday all of these physical plant issues will get addressed.

Atlantic City has a heart beat that goes far beyond those material trappings.

Grass racing, full fields carded (before scratches in every race), six or seven race programs, and a six day meeting : this year 38 grass races as Spring is just about to hit.

Free admission, $1.00 programs, $3.50 beers, local groups selling snacks/treats, great racing and tons of people having FUN. Fun at the races ... fun playing $2 ... fun playing $20.

Look around at how many parents discuss conversations they have with their children telling them about the history - what it was like when they were young.

 You see, that is how you learn about the game in the first case : from mom or dad. It gets passed along like a family tradition. Somewhere, we lost the family tradition in the drive to increase handle by just focusing on the gambling.

Atlantic City is special. While I would love a second six or ten day meeting in the fall to bookend Monmouth, maybe the fact that I find myself tonight counting down the days until next April's meeting tells you everything you need to know about why ACRC works ... and is so special.

 Long Island lost its special Rossevelt Raceway. Here's to hoping that Atlantic City never forgets its heritage.

 Sincerely, Scott

Could it be that simple; that we lost our connection to the past, lost our roots?  No, the wagering may never be great at these fairs, but could it, should it, is it and investment in our future?  Food for thought.


The_Knight_Sky said...

I think a lot of us visit Atlantic City racecourse with the mindset of visiting that dying uncle in the hospital. His days are numbered. We know it - and the patient knows it.

The Doctors however have a cure.
The cure is a costly and painstaking procedure.

I think the management at Atlantic City really needs to look at what Jeff Gural can accomplish with a smaller rebuilt Grandstand at the Big M in the coming years.

There is plenty of real estate to sell off on the property. Aycee itself is a 1 1/8 mile dirt track with a 1 mile turf course. Perhaps that can be reconfigured to and make it financially viable for the long haul. Obviously simulcasting is a hit down south with only the Vineland OTW competing in that region at this time.

With the thoroughrbed horsemen having fallen into disfavor with the Meadowlands racetrack (and the incoming management) they have no other option than to push for Greenwood racing to make a long-term commitment to live racing at Aycee. This helps NJ thoroughbred racing and gives a rest to those who endure the year 'round grind at Philadelphia's PARX racetrack.

The short meet concept in the manner of a Keeneland in the Spring/Autumn is too good to pass up.

Pacingguy said...

That would be great if ACRC became a more alive facility. The question is does Greenwood want to keep people away from PARX (and their racino) that long. Remember, they operate both tracks.

I agree it would freshen racing in the South Jersey-Philadelphia area by giving some people a break from the daily PARX gring, but let's not kid ourselves, without OTW, ACRC would only be a memory.

Greenwwood's partner, PNG, in Freehold Raceway is suing Greenwood for refusing to open an OTW in the Cherry Hill area because it would compete with PARX's properties in PA. Will Greenwood develop a revived ACRC to compete with its PARX property?

Scott Jeffreys said...

Dear Pacingguy : Thank you very much for sharing my ACRC thoughts with your readers in your blog entry from today; honestly, given the introspection and effort that you put into every post, I am actually quite honored to have my thoughts shared with your notes.

Sincerely, Scott