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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Scrap the Pace Consolation?

Among the races being drawn today for Saturday night's Meadowlands Pace card is the Meadowlands Pace Consolation.  Assuming the event fills, entrants will race for a purse of $100,000.  One must ask why a consolation event is being offered; certainly the money could be used for better purposes.  After all, why offer a $100,000 purse for a race which at best will draw six starters this year as it would not be a good betting race and thus draw a relatively anemic response from gamblers.  Some will argue without a consolation event being offered, nominations to the Meadowlands Pace will be reduced, but with only sixteen horses making the starting gate for the eliminations (two others would have made it to the dance if healthy), how much lower can it go? 

So what could be done with the $100,000 if the consolation was not offered?
  1. The $100,000 could have been added to the final purse.  After all, the $800,000 estimated purse is turning out to be a race for $600,000.
  2. Offer a new race for 4yos (more below).
  3. Offer a new race for 3yos (more below).
  4. Offer two $50,000 Invitationals.
  5. Fund ten races for non-winners of $4,000 last 5 starts (in effect, almost an additional day of racing).
As you see, the $100,000 from the purse account could be put to better purpose.  If you want to spend the entire $100,000 on another race, there are far better ways to spend it.  

In the future, instead of a consolation race, the $100,000 can be spent on a race for three year olds who make the May 15 sustaining payment for the Meadowlands Pace but don't start in the eliminations which may increase the number of horses who make the May 15 payment. Or, if you want to reward the three year olds who don't advance to the final, a $100,000 3yo Open could be offered on Meadowlands Pace night with preference given to those who raced in the Meadowlands Pace eliminations but don’t advance to the final and if there are enough horses entered, the race could be divided into divisions; at least ensuring the $100,000 is being used on races which would generate interest from gamblers.

Another option, since there is an initiative to keep top three year olds racing past their three year old season is the $100,000 could be used as added money for a late closing event for four year olds that made their May 15 Meadowlands Pace sustaining payment, providing another incentive to pay into the Pace, or if you don't want to create a late closing event, use the $100,000 each year for a race restricted to older horses that made their May 15 sustaining payment for the Meadowlands Pace in their three year old season, giving horses a multi-year option at a large purse race. The bottom line is if you are going to spend the money, make it count.

A bill banning the slaughter of horses in the Garden State awaits Governor Christie's signature. In addition to banning slaughter or selling horsemeat, the bill also makes it a criminal offense to knowingly transport a horse intended for slaughter. The legislation provides for civil penalties in addition to criminal penalties. Being the bill has passed overwhelmingly in both houses of the legislature, I expect the Governor to either sign the legislation or allow it to become law without his signature.  After all, one usually doesn't veto a bill which is almost certain to be overridden.  When enacted, this bill will make New Jersey the fifth state to explicitly ban the slaughter of horses in their state.

Congratulations to Mark McDonald on his 5,000th driving victory at Yonkers Raceway last night.

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