For photos from the Meadowlands contact Lisaphoto@playmeadowlands.com

Saturday, April 20, 2013

Feeling Jilted? Move On; Dealing with Market Forces

Elsewhere on the Internet, people were talking about today's qualifiers at the Meadowlands; in particular the finale, which features Sweet Lou, Mel Mara, Romantic Moment, and others when the topic came up that all which is missing are two drivers.

No doubt, the two drivers being referenced were George Brennan and Brian Sears.  With regards to these two, I say good bye.  Don't get me wrong, I harbor no bad feelings to these two drivers who have decided to do what they feel is in their best interest financially.  Ideally, it would have been nice if they stayed at the Meadowlands during this period of rebuilding, but it is not for me to criticize them for doing what they felt they needed to do  

That being said, I don't know why people are stilling pining for them.  It may have been for all the right reasons but they have jilted the Meadowlands and by extension you the gambler.  What's the sense of continuing to mourn those who have deserted you?  Look at the positives.  With the departure of Brennan and Sears, would Corey Callahan have had the opportunity to shine this year?  Would some out of the out of state drivers had their chance to ply their trade in New Jersey? 

Look at it this way, when the Meadowlands opened up back in 1976, what would have happened if all the Yonkers/Roosevelt drivers uprooted themselves and jumped over to the Meadowlands?  Would some young upstarts by the names of Campbell, Remmen, O'Donnell, Paisley, Waples, Wing, and Wright have had the opportunity to come to New Jersey?  Some of these drivers made a name for themselves at the Meadowlands, others were not so fortunate and went back from where they came from but they had the chance.  The fact is change is good. 

As in love, there is a time to stop mourning and to start looking at your new prospects.  That time is now. 


I was talking to a trainer who races in the New York area and I asked if they had any Meadowlands horses.  The trainer responded while they admire what is going on at the Meadowlands, they are reluctant to race in ten horse fields.  To translate, race at Yonkers, you need to beat three horses to pick up a check; race at the Meadowlands, you need to beat five.

In the ideal world, purse earnings would be aligned with the horseplayers' interests; if a gambler can't collect on the horse's finish, the horse's connections shouldn't earn a check.  But then there is reality.  If trainers aren't going to race at the Meadowlands because it is 40% harder to earn a check, maybe it is time to recognize market forces and change the purse distribution to make it as attractive or more to race there.  If the Meadowlands and other mile tracks are in competition with other tracks for horses, maybe purse money needs to be paid to all finishers or through seventh place so once again, horsemen need to only beat three others to make money. 

12 comments:

JLB said...

The trainer's opinion would, to me, be compromised by the fact that if your horse draws the 6,7, or 8 post at Yonkers, you are pretty much resigned to racing for fourth or fifth money unless your horse has tremendous gate speed. I would rather take my chances at the Meadowlands, particularly if the purses became comparable (which, at present, they are not).

Anonymous said...

Pacingguy:

Paying all race finishers sounds like Little League. Anyone who puts on a uniform gets a trophy at the end of the season. Why reward people for finishing last or close to it? Racing is about competition. Are you suggesting Olympians get something just for trying?

Pacingguy said...

I am certainly not suggesting paying them anything near what they get for finishing in the top five; I am talking about no more than 2.5% of the purse meaning if they race in a $10,000 race, they get no more than $250 for finishing out of the money; at least recover some of the costs involved with racing.

Anonymous said...

Pacingguy:

I'm with you on many of your opinions, but not this one. Racing is gambling for the bettor and the owner. Your example would earn a horse $1,000 for racing four times in a month and finishing last. The reality for bettors is that we also have costs. Gasoline, sometimes admission, parking and seating, programs and the bets themselves. Think a track will cash my losing $2 tickets and give me a nickel (2.5%)for each one to help me recover my costs?

Pacingguy said...

Anon, Okay, let's say you finish last in a month four times (assuming you get in four times) and you 'earn' $1,000. Where does that leave you? In the metropolitan areas over $12,000 in the hole (probably a lot more). True, owners are hoping their horses race well to earn a lot of money but they are also supplying the track with a horse to have people bet on.

I personally am holding my nose on this proposal, but the fact is for a track like the Meadowlands, the owner has something the track wants. The horsemen can always race at Yonkers, Pocono, Harrah's, and if a high enough class, Dover so if the Meadowlands wants the owner to compete against one or two more horses what are they going to do to sweeten the pot especially if the purses are higher elsewhere?

It is supply and demand plain and simple.

Anonymous said...

are you saying that it coast more than 12,000 a month to keep and race ONE horse raceing at yonkers and medowlands for a MONTH

Pacingguy said...

No, I am saying it costs probably close to $25,000 a year to keep a horse racing on the circuit; at least $2,000 a month. Hence, if you earn $1,000 a month in starting fees and earn not a penny more, you will be down at least $12,000 for the year; assuming you were to keep the horse (doubtful) racing. Of course, if you are a trainer/owner the costs are less as you won't pay training bills; you put in sweat equity. However, on this circuit, most are owned by people other than the trainer.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
JLB said...

I would suggest that racing a horse in the Metropolitan NY/NJ area, or at any top track in the Northeast, would cost $ 3000/month, not $ 2000/month. As a former owner who blanched at steadily rising shipping, paddock, and vet bills, I am still against paying a stipend for finishing worse than 5th, unless the field is comprised of more than 10 horses. Place the horse where it belongs, and it is unlikely to finish out of the money four consecutive times.

Pacingguy said...

Anon, I agree with you 100% with respect to the fact the greatest racing of all time was Yonkers/Roosevelt in the 1960s and 1970s before the Meadowlands opened (after the Meadowlands opened, I wouldn't say that because handle and attendance plummeted at the NY tracks. However, that was a different era with no lotteries or east coast alternative gaming available. Truly racing was in its golden era back then. Half mile racing was exciting.

Then the Meadowlands opened which I have said before in hindsight was not the best thing which could have happened as it changed the complexion of the game (it became more of a business than it was before). It changed the way horses were bred, made them less resilient than before. It forced the style of racing to change so it has become routine and in some aspects boring, especially on the half mile ovals (how often do you see three wide moves on the backstretch?).

That being said, with the advent of the lottery and alternative gaming, harness racing would have gone into deep decline due to various reasons including takeout.

However, we must deal with what is now and not look too much in the past. The Meadowlands is here, wagering is down, especially at Yonkers compared to the glory days. You need to remember tracks need to raise revenue where possible so they run ads to get money in. With more wagering occurring at home, tracks have had to modify their in house broadcasting to simulcasting audience which want these interviews and analysts.

As to your other complaints, I suggest you voice your issues with Meadowlands management. Provided you are respectful in your complaints, you will get a response.

But all things considered, the fact is the betting public now likes its racing on a mile track. The wagering handle at the Meadowlands is far greater than most racetracks which have harness racing. When you look at stakes programs, which tracks come close to the Meadowlands when it comes to late closers and stakes? I am not suggesting any are good, but name one track in North America whose closing would be more damaging to harness racing than the Meadowlands?

The Meadowlands is 'great' only because of its importance to the sport. It certainly pails to the glory days in New York (regardless of the exact years)and Chicago. But it is what it is. Breeding is getting devastated. The disappearance of the stakes program at the Meadowlands would wipe out most of the breeding farms in the country for which track(s) would put on a stakes program like the Meadowlands. Who would pick up the Hambletonian and offer a $1 million plus purse. Who would offer a pacing event like the Meadowlands Pace? Who would offer the other stakes such as the Haughton, Nat Ray and others? Now you know why the Meadowlands is important to the industry.

Again, I suggest you register your issues regarding the Meadowlands to the appropriate people at the Meadowlands where they can do something.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for your quick response Pacingguy and keep up the good work with your excellent blog! I have to respectfully disagree with you though with simulcast venues desiring to see interviews and ads rather than the odds on the exotics! I don't see a single person at the Meadowlands (I generally go every Saturday) that's actually listening to the interviews but I see plenty of (justified) griping about not seeing current exotic prices - sometimes until literally minutes until post time! They have plenty of monitors where they can just keep the matrices visible! Anyway thanks again! Peace - The Count!

Pacingguy said...

No one wants to see the advertisements but they help pay the bills (see this link; http://standardbredpress.blogspot.com/2013/04/new-meadowlands-tioga-downs-vernon.html). The interviews have some use, probably more those on the computers at home who have access to the will pays on their computer.