For photos from the Meadowlands contact

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

If it is March 8, the Defection Begins

With Harrah's Philadelphia opening, the question was not if, but how bad the Meadowlands was going to be impacted by the defection of horses.  Well, we are starting to get an idea by looking at Friday night's entries at the Meadowlands.  For Friday evening's card, there are only eleven races being contested (versus thirteen last week) with no odd distance race on tap; the first time this year a race card will be conducted without an odd-distance race.  Of the eleven races, nine races (vs. five) have short fields, anywhere between seven and nine starters being contested, resulting in a net difference of twenty-nine horses scheduled to race this week compared to last Friday night.  With two less races on the card this week, is this the Friday night the string of $3 million handles come to an end?

Things are likely to get worse when Pocono Downs reopens on March 23, but by then I would not be surprised if the local horse population gets a boost by an influx of refugees from Ontario unless something dramatic happens in the Canadian province.  Twenty-six days remain until the end of SARP and with the exception of the WEG circuit, there are no other racing dates in the province after then scheduled. 

Of course, the way wagering is taking a hit at Pennsylvania racino slots, the annual trend of horsemen defecting for Pennsylvania may slow down or come to an end as the Pennsylvania Race Horse Development Fund experienced a drop of 14.3% in February for a cumulative drop of 6.1% ($11.16 million) so far for the first eight months of the current fiscal year; a drop attributed to additional non-racing casinos in Pennsylvania and the expansion of gaming elsewhere; something which will only get worse once the new Ohio racinos open on the Pennsylvania border.  Then Pennsylvania horsemen will realize handle does matter.

Casie Coleman's license has been suspended indefinitely pending a hearing on Monday in front of the ORC for three class four medication violations.  Before people get too excited, a class four medication is a therapeutic drug with little impact on the performance of a race horse.  While Coleman will likely be given days, I don't expect the book to get thrown at her.  It should be noted Coleman claims she doesn't know where the positives came from and is supplying the ORC with veterinary records to prove it.


Anonymous said...

Do you find it odd that this group focuses on wringing its hands over less money for racing from casino betting? I get that it's a concern, but how about also discussing what the tracks and horse people should be doing to pump up what racing itself delivers to purses?

Its as if this group is watching a fire, complaining no one's available to put it out and water and hoses are just a few feet away.

You can't always point the finger at someone else.

Pacingguy said...

Sadly, it doesn't. Then let's not kid oursevlves, horsemen sold their soul to the devil to get slots and with regards to Harrah's in particular, they have a partner who could care less about racing; they would be just as happy to see it die.

As for Pocono Downs, they did try cutting some takeout rates but their overall rates were so high it didn't really matter. However, if asked, I think they would try cutting their takeout rate.

I can't speak for the operators of The Meadows. But the fact racing comes after their bowling alley on their website doesn't speak well.

Even if horsemen want to cut rates, they can't without the tracks going along and being they split the rake 50-50 (typically), I am not sure the track is willing to take a cut.

Anonymous said...


Pocono Downs handle dropped last year with a 25% maximum takeout. It responded by increasing the maximum takeout this year to 30%. Even Harrah's Philadelphia which shows little support for racing has a 15% rake on the Pick 4.

Pacingguy said...

This is the problem when you get to be known as a high takeout track. Even Harrah's with a 15% cut and a $5K guarantee at times doesn't make the guarantee amount.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the horsemen who "sold their souls" are the ones in NJ, who were more than happy to accept the casino "bribe" to NOT pursue slots. That decision doomed their fate, as neighboring states ALL implemented slots during that period. Of course, it's more fashionable for the horsemen to blame the politicians for their current situation in NJ, even though it's primarily of their own making.

Anonymous said...

I disagree about NJ horsemen selling their souls. The BigM was run by the state who wasn't about to have a casino at the track compete with AC. What choice did the horseman have at the time,,,,zilch. The governor never had any intentions of having casinos outside of AC.Horsemen played the best hand they were dealt.