For photos from the Meadowlands contact

Friday, February 1, 2013

Back to the Future

Just a few comments this morning before I head off for treatment today.

You don't collect purse checks on style points.  This is very true with regards to Jedrick Hanover who won the third race at the Meadowlands.  I have never seen a gait as awkward as Jedrick's but you can't argue with success.  Granted he races in lower classes but for a horse who races as awkward as he does, you have to admire his guts.  You can watch last night's race here.  Jedrick  Hanover is #1A, starting from post 10.

By the way, the Meadowlands handled over $2 million last night, the first Thursday night to hit this mark since 2010.  Their text messaging system is definitely helping complete race cards.  When the racing secretary decides they are combining two classes to make up a race and need a horse or two to fill the field, it is so much easier to send out the text message looking for entries.  I expect other tracks to adopt this means of communicating to their horsemen.  You do get a few races where you may have races short one or two starters but the races are competitive.  As for their handicap races, they are a lot easier for a handicapper to play; better than the five also eligible conditions needed to put a race together in the past. 

The classified system is a lot different from the system tried last in the past at Tioga and Vernon Downs which makes it worthwhile.  You are an A-2 pacer or not based on merit, not being adjusted weekly dependent on who else drops in the box.  I will be surprised if classified racing doesn't expand to other tracks.

Can the trotters be returning to Assiniboia Downs in Manitoba next year?  It is possible if a report in the Winnipeg Free Press is correct.  What would cause the trotters to return to Assiniboia for the first time since the early 1990's?  A threatened cut in provincial support to horse racing.  A private group wants to take the track over and use it as a dual breed track as well as use the facilities for non-racing purposes to raise income.

Of course, in the let's not make friends topic, the Manitoba Jockey Club is not happy as they heard about the potential plans after the fact.  One can understand the hesitation of the runners for allowing the standardbreds back as 95% of the VLT revenue goes to the runners with 5% going to standardbred racing in the province.  Clearly if the trotters returned, part of the runner's subsidy would be re-directed to the flats; something no one could expect the MJC to jump up for joy about.  Of course, reports have it if the province cuts funding for racing as expected and a private group doesn't take over Assiniboia Downs, it may be a moot point as the track would likely go bankrupt.

I don't know what racing interests are thinking in Ontario, taking joy in a new premier being appointed.  Do they actually think things would be better for them now that Kathleen Wynne is the premier-designate?  True it may help that she feels the individual municipalities should decide where casinos are placed, not pre-determined by the OLG but make no mistake she is in favor of the OLG Modernization Plan which means the end of SARP.  I realize horsemen are hoping for a miracle, but once a decision has been made, politicians are not likely to back away from their original decisions.  I am not even sure one of the opposition partities would stop the OLG modernization.

Former standardbred track Los Alamitos is beginning to look like the replacement to Hollywood Park when the venerable track meets the wrecking ball for redevelopment.  Los Al is starting to meet with city officials about expanding their bull ring to a track slightly less than a mile and adding 1,000 stalls in the back stretch.  Los Al will remain basically a quarter horse track with two three week meets being scheduled for the runners meaning Santa Anita and Del Mar will need to pick up the slack.

Hats off to NYRA for deciding to drop six days of racing during their winter meet in an effort to reduce the number of breakdowns  while they run over the inner track.  Since Aqueduct has a small horse population over the winter, the thought process is by cutting six days, it will in effect impose time off between starts for the horses racing there, reducing the number of breakdowns.  So far eight horses have been euthanized over the first twenty-seven days of racing over the inner course.

As a trainer of one of the euthanized horses said, in the old days horses had a few months off when the season ended but now with all year racing the economics dictate you keep racing.  Yes, this is true, but a good owner will have no problem with a trainer saying it's time to give a horse a break.  Unfortunately those owners are a rarity.  This is why regulators should not approve calendars which call for year round racing.

Have a great Friday all!

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