Note: Updated to include links to articles from The Record and Star Ledger.
For those looking for a review of Hambletonian Day, I suggest you look at Standardbred Canada's website which recaps all of the stakes races and provides videos of most of the races, In addition, there is an article which concentrates on the Hambletonian. There is no sense to repeat what has already been written.
I do have some observations of the day. The Gural influence was subtly on display. Traditionally, on Hambletonian Day, the only simulcasting races shown were Monmouth's, (Freehold if racing), and Saratoga. This year, it was the normal simulcasting calendar being broadcast. This was a good move. You need to give gamblers what they want to bet on. No doubt the vast majority were busy with the Hambletonian, but by accepting wagers on the other tracks, it helps the bottom line as the Meadowlands gets the lion share of the commission of those wagers generated there.
Attendance dropped 5.1% this year by from last year's 26,712 to 25,354 which all things considering was not bad. Perhaps it was the lack of a super horse coming into the Hambletonian, perhaps it was the result of the broken meet this year, with no advertising most of the year (I did see some newspaper ads the last week or two), or continuing economic doldrums.
Domestic wagering, suffered, and suffered badly. Those 25,354 people on track pumped $1,749,297 through the tote machines on the Meadowlands card, meaning there was a per capita of $69 per person on the Hambletonian Day card. The total Hambletonian handle for North America was $5,602,562 compared to last years $6,001,385 (-6.7%). Globally, things were not as bad as all source handle which includes action from non-North American sites (excluding Italy) and have their own pools was $8,290,672 which is down slightly (-1.3%) from last year's $8, 391,600. As for all the USTA strategic wagering options of the day, the wagering exceeded the guarantees.
I think everyone will be glad when this meet is over and the Gural regime comes in and takes over. Hopefully, they will be able to turn things around. There is no escaping the fact it is going to take time to get handle up but hopefully with reduced labor costs, things will be a lot better on the balance sheet.
In the meanwhile, here is an article from The Record which gives you an idea of what some of the attendees of the Hambletonian feel about the track being taken over by Jeff Gural. Here is an article by the Star Ledger indicating what racing officials feel they need to make harness racing big in New Jersey again (as if you need an article) plus what Jeff Gural plans to do to Hambletonian Day.