Hambletonian Day 2013 is in the books and it was an artistic success. Unlike previous years where there was an 'it' horse racing in the Hambletonian, while a good crop of three year olds were competing, there was no standout who could help produce a buzz about the event
For a review of the day's races, I'll direct you to this page and this one for the Hambletonian; no sense re-creating the same work,.
Unlike the rest of the year's meet, the handle seems to be down from last year when $7.6 million was wagered compared to this year's $6.9 million, a decrease of roughly 9.3%. What possibly caused the decrease? The choice of races; removing certain stakes races from the card and adding the Miss New Jersey and New Jersey Classic races as well as the reintroduction of heat racing may be a factor. While the weather cleared up in time for the big race, the early part of the day was showery possibly keep attendance and wagering down. I am sure the Hambletonian Society and Meadowlands will be going over statistics to ascertain the cause of the decrease.
The CBS Sports Network broadcast of the Hambletonian was enjoyable with Gary Siebel, Dave Brower, and Justin Horowitz forming the broadcast team. The program went along at a good pace with little down time. A couple of criticisms about the broadcast was the broadcast team itself. Not that the team was bad but it would have been better to add the feminine touch to the broadcast team by having a woman such as Heather Vitale, Ellie Sarama, or even Wendy Ross to the team (Wendy Ross could have handled reporting on horseback, gotten drivers responses as they returned to the paddock).
With the broadcast itself, the only criticism would be it seemed like the broadcast was geared to a local audience and not a national market. Talking about the last day of racing in the old grandstand was something someone in the NYC market may be interested in, but I tend to doubt the person watching the Hambletonian in Peoria could care less. I am not saying it couldn't be mentioned, but mention it once.
That being said, if you were going to talk about the old grandstand, it may have been a good idea to show a video montage of the great races which were contested in front of the old grandstand. Same thing with the new grandstand; if you were going to talk about it, show a few sketches to let people know how state of the art it was going to be.
Other than one horse refusing to come to the gait, this year's Hambletonian Day Monté race was a success. Yes, there was one horse who refused to come to the gate and another who raced off the gate, but when the race started, it was a competitive race.
Some may say the horses were spread out. We are used to horses racing with sulkies so we forget how horses look when ridden instead being driven. Take a look at a midweek overnight thoroughbred races and see how the runners spread out.
As more RUS races are conducted and riders gain experience as well as more horses are tried under saddle, it will be possible to classify horses in proper conditions and make races more competitive. In other words, RUS is a work in progress.