So how did the Cal-Expo meet go, the first under Watch & Wager's management? Pretty darn good. The meet which ends Saturday night shows a 24.4% increase in handle, averaging just north of $830,000 on a nightly basis. Out of state wagering on Cal Expo, no doubt helped by having each card on TVG was up 65.4% with online wagering up 40.2%. Business was good enough that Cal-Expo will re-open, pending approval of the CHRB, on October 5, a month earlier than this year. While this is great news, being there is no other standardbred racing in the area, Cal Expo must see if there is a way they can expand their meet to racing three days a week.
Another advantage of the 4yos being required to race? A great race at Hoosier Park; the 20th edition of the Dan Patch Invitational featuring the likes of Hurrikane Kingcole, A Rockinroll Dance, Bolt the Duer, Fred and Ginger, and Aracache Hanover lead the field of ten in Sautrday night's race. This is probably one of the strongest Dan Patch races ever.
The USTA and DRF have announced an expansion of the Strategic Wagering Program where program pages for key races will be published in the Daily Racing Form along with information on the guaranteed pools. Obviously, the intent is to try to get thoroughbred players interested in harness racing and since we are talking about one or two races at a given time, it may get their attention at least for those races.
Right now, it looks like come the end of the year, my selection for Owner of the Year will be Sheik Mohammed, ruler of the UAE. That's right a foreign thoroughbred horse owner. The way he handled the scandal of his Godolphin stable's positives for anabolic steroids was admirable; he had a proverbial cow when his horses came back positive, shutting down his stable and finding out what other horses may have been treated with steroids at his own cost. Now, he has decreed in the UAE that the use of anabolic steroids will be a criminal offense under their criminal code.
Granted, a ruler of a country is expected to aim for a higher standard, but you don't see many owners having a cow when their successful trainer gets caught doing something improper, sacking him and making sure his stable is put back in order and operating with the highest integrity. Unfortunately, we don't see this that often.