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Thursday, March 8, 2012

Award Race Dates Like NASCAR

Some tracks are good when they get slot revenue.  They may not do little advertising of the sport and racing may no longer be their main interest, but they do try to keep the racing facility half-way decent if not improving it.  Then there are some tracks where they let things fall apart and you have to wonder what maintenance is being done.  According to the Chatham Daily News, apparently Dresden Raceway in Ontario is one of those tracks where it seems the track has been left in disrepair.

There is an article in The New York Times on how the greyhound tracks are, in the eyes of the dogmen(?), betraying the greyhound industry by trying to get rid of greyhound racing by track operators who used racing to get slots in the first place.  So far, track operators have not been successful in their efforts, but it is a matter of time.  While horse racing is not in as dire of straits as the greyhound industry, we shouldn't think we are immune to the same treatment.  This is why I always say the horsemen need to invest in  the industry by accepting some reforms to make the sport more desirable and if that means shorter meets, so be it.  Otherwise, they will be joining in time their greyhound counterparts at Walmart.

Speaking of downsizing, The Pennsylvania horsemen have threatened that almost all stake races in Pennsylvania, including the Adios, may be cancelled if the state does take the additional  $72 million out of the Horse Development fund.  Of course, out of that $72 million, a good chunk of that money will be coming from the thoroughbred industry.  Earlier, estimates were made that purses would be cut up to 30% if the latest proposed cuts took place.  So what does this threat mean?  Either it is just a bluff to get legislators attention as to how devastating the racing industry feels these cuts will be or the horsemen are willing to gut the racing program which at present is perhaps the second best program in the United States (after New York) in order to minimize the cuts on the overnight horses.  It is true it is the horsemen's money to spend, but instead of getting rid of all the stakes, maybe consider getting rid of those $5,000 baby races they were holding last year before the pari-mutuel cards, and see if the horsemen who have nominated and are still eligible for these stakes races are willing to accept a purse cut or the elimination of consolation races in order to keep some of the stakes going this year.  I am not saying some of the stakes may not need to be dropped this year, but it may be more prudent to share the haircut between the stakes and overnight horses.  I don't see why your Open races need to go for $60,000 or more during the racing season; at $40,000 you are still paying more than the Meadowlands is.

It is your choice as to what you want to do.  However, if you want to basically become a stake-less track like Monticello and totally devastate your breeding program to prove a point, go right ahead.  I'm sure New Jersey and Ohio will be happy to welcome some of your stallions if you go with the scorched stakes strategy.

It makes you wish racing was like NASCAR, where races are awarded to tracks.  One of the criteria for NASCAR is the ability for the track to be able to hold the race in the proper manner which includes the quality of facilities.  You don't keep the track in top condition, you lose the race dates.  Wouldn't it be great if the ORC and other racing commissions had a similar mandate to deny race dates if a track is allowed to fall into disrepair?  Of course, to encourage track management to keep on racing, the racing commission should be able to shut down the slot machines and the accompanying payments which go along with the slots.  Then we wouldn't have problems like this.  While we realize racetracks are not making the racing facilities look like a four star hotel, horsemen and horseplayers shouldn't be forced to deal with run down facilities.

You still have time to participate in Heather Moffet's Polar Mare Plunge by making a pledge prior to the plunge which occurs this Saturday.  This is a benefit to help the organization Wells for Ghana which was founded by Delaware horsemen Ken Wood.  Not only is Heather bringing attention to Wells For Ghana with her event, it will buy good will for the sport as there are reports there will be press covering the plunge.

The runners return to the Meadowlands.  There will be a day-night double headere on May 4 and 5 at the Meadowlands with the runners hitting the turf course in the afternoon and the trotters on the main track at night.  There will be additional thoroughbred turf dates after the harness meet has concluded between October 12th to November 3rd on Fridays and Saturdays.


Anonymous said...


The Pennsylvania horsemen are threatening the stakes program when they don't even control all of it. Sure, some track stakes happen because of them, but what say do they have in the Sire Stakes? The money's there, at least this year, and the state organizes them.

The $60-70,000 Opens apparently are already gone for 2012. Chester's first Open of the season Friday night has a $35,000 purse.

Pacingguy said...

The Sires Stakes are not controlled by the horsemen, but I am sure they are getting funding based on the Horsemens Development Fund. While it may not matter for this year it will get hurt next year.

As for the regular stakes, the added money typically comes from the purse account so they could have a say on those. To cancel them, it would be foolish.