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Friday, April 26, 2013

Play Along wtih HANA; NJ Horsemen Not Happy

The HANA Harness 2013 Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge sponsored by the Hambletonian Society, Chicago Harness, IHHA, Meadowlands, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs kicks off tonight with the $84,000 Courageous  Lady at Northfield Park.  A team of ten handicappers will be making their selections in Grand Circuit final races during the whole racing season and their selections will be available here.

To commemorate the kickoff of the contest, here is my analysis and my $30 in wagers on the race.

Nfld - 11th Pace - $84,000; The Courageous Lady - 3yo fillies
1  Miss Madi M (Stahl, 9-2) - A well beaten second to Charisma Hanover.  Looks to chase that one home again.
2  Diligent Prospect (Noble, 10-1) - Has the ability to go around the half.  Share with trip.
3  Champagne Tonight (Miller, 7-2) - Kicks season off a dominating qualifier.  Chance for minor upset.
4  Carols Desire (Wrenn, 4-1) - Steps up off strong qualifier.  This may be a little too difficult.
5  Charisma Hanover (Palone, 5-2) - Returned like a monster and figures to be the one to beat this week.
6  Whetstone Hanover ( Wilder, 12-1) - Draws poorly against these.  Pass.
7  Cams Macharena (Smith, 8-1) - Grassroots campaigner down from Woodbine.  May find way into the exotics. 
Selections: 5-2-7-4

The plays - There is no denying Charisma Hanover is the one to beat in this race but those 5-2 odds are false; Charisma is likely to go off at 4-5 or less.  Therefore, I will try for some exotics and hope to get a price.

$5 Exacta 5-2,7 ($10)
$5 Exacta 2,7-5 ($10)
$2 Exacta Box 3,5 ($4)
$1 Trifecta Box 2,5,7 ($6)

Northfield Park along with the USTA's Strategic Wagering Program has a $10,000 guaranteed Pick-4 on tap tonight along with a low 14% takeout rate.  With that rate, the wager is worth a look.

The contest continues tomorrow with the Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy Finals at Yonkers Raceway.  The complete schedule of the contest may be found on the contest site.

Discord in New Jersey - For the first time, significant discord is brewing with the Garden State's horsemen groups and Monmouth Park over Gural's plans for slot revenue and racing dates if the Meadowlands gets slots machines, according to HRU.  Horsemen feel they would not get enough revenue from the slots, feel Freehold Raceway is being left out of the equation, and are upset that Gural is not planning on adding race dates at the Meadowlands.  Furthermore, the feeling is without cutting the Atlantic City casinos in for a share, any plan will be DOA.

I will be the first one to say horsemen should get more than 5% of the revenue; how much more is debatable.  In other states they get around 10% but that is with multiple racino locations; each track having their own casino.  With there being only one racino for all the tracks, 10% is not feasible.  That being said, there is no reason 8% could not be achieved.  As for Freehold Raceway, it is possible the SBOANJ can divert part of their share to Freehold for purses.

As for racing days, it would be nice if the Meadowlands could go back to five days a week but it isn't feasible.  While the Meadowlands would have higher purses and draw more horses to the entry box, the fact remains there are three other slot tracks in the vicinity so there will still be a horse shortage.  To go back to a five day a week schedule, there would be an abundance of six horse fields which horsemen may love but is not a good product.  I suspect four days would not work either, but three days a week during the entire meet is certainly reasonable.  If the tracks in New York and Pennsylvania would agree to a circuit, then the days could be increased further.

I would not be all that concerned at this point with this dispute.  This is Gural's first proposal, an opening salvo.  Once talk got serious, I suspect Atlantic City may be cut in (no need to cut them in if you can get away with it) as will the number of dates and percentages for horsemen be up for discussion.  Unlike other individuals, Gural realizes you can't just look at things in New Jersey and say to hell with everyone else; you need to consider the region.  If horsemen groups can realize the world doesn't start and end with New Jersey, an agreement can easily be reached which will be mutually satisfactory.     


Anonymous said...

One question...What has the management of Freehold raceway done to promote the sport or even NJ racing,being NJ's only 1/2 mile track they don't even have NJSS races (I'm talking "A" level ,not the Green Acres)?

Pacingguy said...

The easy and obvious answer is squat. However, this is the track which most NJ horsemen race most of their stock and has the most racing days. Technically, they have no right to any of this money.

I wouldn't hold Freehold responsible for not having the Premier NJSS races and only having the Green Acres. This is the result of decisions made by the NJSS board of trustees. Purse money for the NJSS (and Green Acres) comes from a portion of the takeout and is given to the NJSS to manage. Freehold would love ot have the 'A' NJSS series since that money doesn't come from the purse account; it is free money. It was a decision of the NJSS board of trustees that revamped the sires stakes and made the decision to only have Green Acres races at Freehold. Freehold used to have both. It is the decline in the NJSS product and handle which resulted in the trustees making the change.

Since the SBOANJ is the horsemen group for both tracks, they can negotiate a percentage of their slot revenue to be redirected to Freehold as part of their contract negotiations.

Anonymous said...

Here's a well earned "I told you so":

About 4-5 weeks ago when Mr. Gural was basically begging (threatening?) horsemen to stay at The Meadowlands (rather than seek better opportunities in NY and PA), I suggested to you that perhaps the horsemen are not interested in waiting for a casino that MAY never come, and even if it does, will only be offering 5% to be SPLIT among the two breeds. At the time, you basically dismissed my remarks, especially the part about the measly 5% offer. Well it looks like I might actually have some idea about what I'm talking about, and can at least offer impartial views about matters that effect the industry. As is generally the case, those who carry the water usually end up with egg on their face.

For what it's worth, I truly enjoy reading your blog, even when I disagree with your opinions, or know that you are badly misinformed on certain issues.

Pacingguy said...

I appreciate your comments and there is nothing wrong with a 'told you so'. None of us are perfect.

In the future, feel free to contact me and I may give you a blog entry for a 'Counter Point" posting. The only thing is you would need to identify yourself.

Regarding the 5% offer which I agree is too little. I suspect it is not as much Gural trying to make a large profit from the casino, I think his heart is still in racing. The problem is outside investors such as Hard Rock are looking for a real return on their investment.