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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Eye on Racing Under Saddle

Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs was the latest track to have an exhibition monté race, hosting a $10,000 non-wagering event which was won by Armbro Doyle ridden by Helene Gregory in 2:00.2, a new world record over a 5/8ths oval, crushing the old record of 2:03.3 established in 1995 at Scioto Downs, also surpassing the time trial mark of 2:02.1 set at Pompano Park back in 1994.  As suspected, the races are getting more competitive with experience as in the Pocono race, the field stayed together for the first 5/8ths of a mile before the leaders starting opening up from the balance of the field.

The $15,000 RUS Exhibition race at the Meadowlands on Hambletonian Day (August 4), is attracting global attention, drawing Norway's top-rated monté rider Malin Beras to cross the Atlantic to ride in the race.

Malin Beras after scoring a victory.

Clearly this time around, Racing Under Saddle (RUS) is being treated more seriously by both tracks and participants and I believe in a couple more years, it is likely we will be seeing parimutuel wagering on such contests.  This is not to say improvements can't be made.  While riders need to pass practicals in order to receive licenses to participate in these events, one thing which is missing is the lack of qualifying standards for horses.  Next year, it will be essential to require horses participating in RUS events to demonstrate they are able to race without going off stride.  After all, while the races are non-wagering events, racetracks are putting up significant purses for these events so asking horses to be held to similar standards as they are in traditional events is not unreasonable.

This past Friday, Monticello Raceway held their second annual all-amateur racing card as part of the Back to the Track weekend and it was an unqualified success.  This year, wagering was up close to 100% with a handle of more than $417,000 wagered on the twelve race card.  True, the other four racing days last week showed an average handle of $550,000 for thirteen race cards, but being the racing date was added relatively late to the schedule, more competition for being placed on simulcast schedules on a Friday, and the hesitation of many to wager on these type of races, everyone involved with this event have reason to be pleased.  Of course, with Monticello having a strong amateur driving club, many of these drivers are somewhat known.

Today begins the next step in the Meadowlands Renaissance as Winners, the Bayonne OTW  location opens at 11:00am.  The Bayonne OTW is the first one operated by New Meadowlands Racing, LLC which will provide a boost to the purse account.

Lastly, in this scorcher of the summer, I would be remiss if I failed to note that 110 years ago today, William Haviland Carrier invented the first commercial/industrial modern air conditioner designed to control temprature and humidity in a Brooklyn printing plant.  As far as I am concerned, there ought to be a national holiday for Carrier.

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