I admit, I love my half mile racetrack racing, though I must confess, it is not as exciting as it once was. How could someone like half mile racing? Take a look at this video which shows a couple of races from Roosevelt Raceway and Yonkers Raceway.
Granted these races are back from 1984, twenty-seven years ago (some of you were probably a gleam in your parent's eyes when these races were contested), but take a look at these races. Seven horses virtually across the wire at the finish; three-wide moves in the backstretch; horses challenging from the start throughout the race, no such thing as single file racing back then.
Back then, while the seven and eight holes were tough to win from, they were not out of the question due to all the action of the race. I recall fans screaming and shouting during the entire race as the action went on throughout the race. It was fun to go out to the races, more than just wagering on the races. There was a reason to go to the track.
These days, with the Indian file racing, why should people go to the races? On the half mile track, there is almost as much excitement as watching the grass grow; on the mile track, a little better as the last quarter mile or so is as if someone released all the numbers from a Pick 10 lottery machine and you wonder how the numbers will end up. If there is any hooting and hollering, it is left for the stretch drive only. You may as well stay home and watch the races on the Internet as the excitement of most races will put you to sleep.
Let's not kid ourselves, Roosevelt Raceway was four years away from from its demise and handles were dropping; perhaps not as precipitous as they are now, but at least we provided an exciting product back then; we could still compete on the excitement factor. Now, what can we offer the wagering public? If there is not an accident in a race, you will barely get a reaction from the few people in the stands.
Don't get me wrong, the sport has a lot of changes to make with regards to takeout and such, but if the racing remains as boring and monotonous as it does now, why should people chose harness racing over a more exciting gambling product? We need somehow to get the racing style back to where it was thirty years or so ago or all the changes we make may be for naught.