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.
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.