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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

It's Not Just the Trotters

I came across an article in the DRF talking about the breakdowns that have been occurring at Aqueduct with the racing over the winter track. An investigation is on-going regarding the problem, but there is speculation with slot fueled purses, some horsemen are throwing anything in to these races to get a chance at these purses.  With the bottom claiming price being $7,500 it can tempting to run  cheap horses as often as possible as the purses for this class have been running between $27-$30,000.  Aqueduct is setting the bottom claiming tag now to $10,000 and cutting the purses for the cheapest horses to avoid trainers running them too quickly.

While this is not a good situation for horse racing, I came upon a quote in the article which goes to show you that thoroughbred horsemen don't get it either when it comes to slots.  Thoroughbred trainer David Jacobsen is quoted in the article as saying:

These purses are great for the game. 

Given the chance, I would ask Mr. Jacobsen,"How is it good for the game?  It is good for the owners; good for the trainers; good for the jockeys, but answer me this, "'How is it good for the gambler?'"

I suspect after thinking quickly, he may say something about the fans getting a better class of horse, but otherwise, he may be shuffling his feet and looking at me with a quizzical look.  Certainly the 18 breakdowns on the Aqueduct winter track since January 1 can't be good for the game and I tend to doubt even the most hardened horse player enjoys seeing a horse go down.  The bottom line is the fans are getting nothing out of these gigantic purses.  To this day, it is the same product the fans were getting before slots came to Aqueduct.

While harness racing fortunately does not have a high breakdown rate like the runners, standardbred fans have a lot in common with their thoroughbred compatriots.  While slot profits are "great for the game, horse players for all practical purposes reap no benefit.  It is as if the horse people would just as soon close the grandstand and just race around the track as the gambler no longer figures in the game.. For the most part, none of  this has been good for the fan. For them it is the same old game. 

Does anyone care?

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