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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Good News Sunday

Beautide (Bettors Delight-Gore Bush by Ticket to Ride) is the winner of the Inter Dominion Pace in 3:36 over a good track (mile rate of 1:55.2) for the 3,309 meter event, a new world record.  In addition, he is the first horse in twelve years to win the Miracle Mile and Inter Dominion in the same year.  A replay of the Inter Dominion follows the commercial.

After a couple days of due to a necessary treatment (nothing to worry about), it does me good to return to a 'Good News Sunday' column.  As such, we will try to focus on the positive.

First of all, if all goes well, Captaintreacherous will be at the Delaware County Fairgrounds this year to compete in the $50,000 Winbak Pace forgoing the $200,000 Bobby Quilllen at Harrington Raceway; the connections deciding to take on for racing and showcase their horse over the famed oval.  As you recall, the Captain skipped the Jug to avoid a multi-heat race as he moved on to Lexington.  With the Winbak Pace, the Captain's connections have decided to give back to the sport this year.

While helped by Los Alamitos' closing due to the torrential rain, the Meadowlands broker the $4 million mark in handle last night for the first time since 2009 (excluding Meadowlands Pace and Hambletonian days).  The handle at Yonkers? $906,000.  Yes, due to the purses Yonkers may get the best horses and some of the best drivers, but to the gamblers, they are just poor cousins to the Meadowlands despite their dependence on lower class horses.  It is clear which track the gamblers think is tops.

Harrah's Philadelphia is scheduled to open two weeks late on March 28, 2014.  What is not known is how (if) the track is going to be fixed to remedy the problems encountered even before the Coletta accident.  If horsemen are not given a satisfactory answer, they should refuse to race there.  Of course, we know that is highly unlikely to happen.

Harness racing on television?  Jeff Gural has negotiated with CBS Sports Network to get some races on television, including some key races at the Meadowlands, Pocono Downs, and the Delaware County Fair.   The time slots have been reserved and it is just a question of raising funds to pay for the races to get on the air.  It looks like the Jug is a sure thing as a sponsor has been found, but funding needs to be found for the other events.  I am confident funding will be found to get at least some of the races on television.  The one downside is there is no space available for the second night of the Breeders Crown on the network; maybe finding another network to televise the second night is a possibility.

None of the races from New York are on the schedule for a couple of reasons.  First the major stakes races at Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs tend to be raced during the afternoon, making it hard to attract and audience and as for races from Yonkers, the last thing you want to see happen is showcasing races with less than six starters as had been the case in the past.

From what it looks like, it was saving harness racing which was the deciding factor in Plainridge Racecourse being awarded the slots parlor license.  While the rules indicated racing was not to be a factor in the scoring, it appears it was the deciding factor with a couple of commissioners when looking at two relatively equal plans.  Now there is only the question of an attempt to repeal casino gambling in the state which looks like a long shot.  It is a shame that in Maryland, preserving existing jobs in the racing industry was totally discounted, leaving the future of Rosecroft Raceway tenuous at best, with racing guaranteed only through 2015.

Speaking of Rosecroft, hats of to CSOA for agreeing to add Virginia bred and owned horses to the list of preferences for racing at Rosecroft Raceway. Maryland owned or bred is still the highest preference, but those Virginia horses get preference over horses from other states.

HANA Harness is getting ready for this year's Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge for the benefit of standardbred horse rescues.  Already, the Hambletonian Society, Meadowlands Racing & Entertainment, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs have committed to be sponsors.  Hopefully more parties within the racing industry will step up and sponsor the contest for the horses.

There is still no harness racing in Illinois due to the lack of a contract and the IHHA has agreed with the IRB's suggestion that both sides go to a professional mediator.  The IHHA has proposed to the tracks that the 2013 contract be extended until the mediator comes down with a decision and then create a contract which reflects the mediator's findings.  So far the tracks have not responded to the offer.  It sounds like the IHHA proposal is the most reasonable way to get the season started.

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