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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Pssst...... Wanna Buy a Track?

It is reported by the Boston Globe that the owners of Plainridge Racecourse are looking to unload their property as soon as possible in an effort to save the slots parlor bid which the state of Massachusetts has indicated can't proceed due to the ownership not being fit for licensing.  

Ownership has in the past indicated that racing can't continue without slots so the clock would appear to be clicking on harness racing in the Bay State but let's not kid ourselves as much as ownership says they want to preserve racing, the fact is they are trying to preserve the value of their investment in the property as much as possible.

Would the MGC reconsider the Plainridge bid if ownership changes quickly?  It appears so.  Commission chairman Stephen Crosby said "In the abstract, we’re supportive of the racing industry and supportive of competition”.  Time appears to be the biggest obstacle as any new ownership group would need to undergo an extensive background check in time for consideration.

Harnesslink divulges some additional information regarding the investigation in Pennsylvania.  Apparently, three trainers have had positives for Arensnep, a stronger EPO-like steroid.  No hearings have taken place as the trainers have requested split-sample testing.  The original article said it was Pocono Downs trainers but of the three positives, two of them came from Harrah's Philadelphia.  I suspect once the PHRC makes their decision, the appeals process will be lawyer-ed up for a while.

Meanwhile, do you have a lower class horse which will have no place to race soon due to tracks closing and/or preference rules?  The California Harness Horsemen Association and Watch and Wager (the operator of Cal Expo) are offering a $1,000 bonus to horses making their first start in Sacramento, but the bonus is open only to the first 100 horses.  Cal Expo has something else going for itself; free stalls.  That's right, no stall rent.  Granted, there are only two days of racing each week but when you consider how little you may get in at local tracks, it may be worth a look, especially
for Kentucky Horsemen who race so few days in state.

The Jockey Club has announced they have inked a deal with the new Fox Sports 1 cable channel for them to broadcast 10 prominent stakes races in a series designed for Fox Sports.  It is frustrating to see thoroughbred racing getting put on television while the only way harness racing can get television access is by buying the time.  To think at one time harness racing was more popular than thoroughbred racing; it's shameful.  

Rosecroft Raceway has announced they will be starting their Fall 2013 harness meet on September 14 with another purse increase; meaning horses will be racing with purses roughly 200% higher since racing resumed under the Penn National Gaming banner with a nightly average purse distribution of $55,000.  For Maryland Preferred races with at least seven starters, those finishing sixth through last will earn $100.  Not exactly enough to pay the training bills, but at least pay the shipping expenses of getting the horses to the track.

Of course the question remains how long racing will continue at Rosecroft if Penn National is not the recipient of the sole gaming license in Prince George county?  Still, for at least a little while longer Maryland horsemen have gotten the relief they have long yearned for. 

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