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Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Some Wishes for the 2013-2014 Meadowlands Season

We are two days away from the first qualifiers at Meadowlands Racing and Entertainment for the 2013-14 meet.  While the track hasn't opened yet, here are some of the things we are wishing for as the curtain is set to rise.   Some can take place now, some require regulatory action. 

  1. A Blockbuster Opening Night - It is very important to the psyche of the Meadowlands that the new grandstand is packed solidly; wagering is secondary (on opening night).  The whole idea of MR&E is to attract people back to the track as well as getting people into the seats.  With emphasis on making MR&E a year round entertainment option whether or not racing is occuring the  key to the success of the track is somewhat dependent on getting people to try the Meadowlands as an entertainment option.  Opening night is important for this reason. It may very well determine if going to the Meadowlands is a cool thing to do or not.  
  2. About That Weather... - Good weather on the weekends.  If there is to be lousy weather, let it be Sunday-Wednesday.  This way, weather won't be an impediment to people going to the track or cause any cancellations and if the weather is lousy during the week, it will give people a reason to head to the track; avoiding cabin fever.  Besides, with the lack of a backstretch, you can't race if horses can't ship in and out.
  3. A Great Response to the TVG/Meadowlands Classics -  A little less sure that it will happen but Captaintreacherous taking on the older horses in the TVG/Meadowlands Classic to draw media attention to the race and make the series a success.  Success this year means continuing the classic series with perhaps additional sponsorships.  
  4. Laying Down The Law - At the drivers meeting, make it clear that courtesy tucks, driving half-in half-out is verbotten (at the start of last year this message took but as time went on the message was lost); feet remain in the stirrups EXCEPT for pulling the plugs; a reminder on the proper use of the whip.
  5. Christie and Sweeney Change their Mind - And decide it would be okay to have a casino in the Meadowlands.  Hey, we can dream can't we?  Well, back to reality....
  6. Eliminate the Coupled Entry Rule - Okay, we realize the racing commission is unlikely to go for that in one clean swoop.  However, there is no reason not to allow uncoupled entries in overnight races with bona-fide separate ownership.  Short fields are the bane of racetracks and gamblers.  If there are those super stables with abundance of horses, you may as well take advantage of those stables by letting them enter more than one horse in an overnight race.  The racing secretary can establish a preference where a horse from a different stable gets preference in getting into a race with all other factors even.  The main thing we don't want to see is where last year you had ten horses in a late closer and only have seven betting interests. 
  7. Parity, Parity, and Parity - Last night George Brennan won six races on the Yonkers Raceway card.  The last thing the Meadowlands needs are drivers and trainers dominating the standings. Parity means better payoffs.  Better payoffs mean more interest by gamblers and increased wagering. 
  8. A successful meet at Cal Expo in 2014?  Exchange wagering comes to the Cal Expo in January.  A successful meet with respect to exchange wagering will mean exchange wagering at the Meadowlands will be coming sooner; anything but successful means exchange wagering remains on hold.
  9. A Smooth Hambletonian -  The Hambletonian typically draws 26,000 people to the track.  This year with the smaller physical plant, it is safe to say logistically the 2014 Hambletonian is fraught with perils.  Here is hoping it goes smoothly and the Hambo becomes a big party.  Not quite like Kegasus, because we want the betting windows to hum, but you get the idea.
  10. Casie Coleman not being Temporarily Banned - The last two winters Coleman's stable ended up with a positive which resulted in her getting suspended, despite her being in Florida with the babies.  Each year she transferred her NY/NJ string to her second trainer and Jeff Gural wouldn't allow her horses to enter during her suspension.  Here's hoping this year the Coleman stable doesn't get a positive.  It would be a refreshing change.
  11. Lack of a Horse Shortage Come Spring Time - Let's face it once Harrah's Philadelphia and Mohegan Sun @ Pocono Downs reopens, there will be an exodus of horses making it more challenging to fill cards.  If the Illinois legislature is determined to kill racing in the Prairie State, send out Nick Salvi to talk to Illinois horsemen and convince them to come East, telling them they can race not only at the Meadowlands but Tioga and Vernon Downs.  Also, make sure there are racing opportunities for Freehold's better horses.
  12. A Bang Up Breeders Crown - MR&E and the SBOANJ have made a large financial stake to bring the Breeders Crown to East Rutherford in 2014.  Hopefully, Europe will send some of their best to race in Crown events making it a truly international affair.
  13. Great Numbers - The meet can be an artistic success but let's not delude ourselves, the true measure of success will be at the window.  Here is hoping for double digit gains on tracks and off-track.

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