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Wednesday, March 19, 2014

The Second Tier Dilemna; Meadowlands Statement on Saturday Night

Pocono Downs reopens this weekend and the Meadowlands is feeling it already.  On Friday's card, the first three races consist of only six horse fields.  With another race of seven horses, four of the eleven races are grossly short of horses, making horrible wagering propositions.  Of the eleven races, only two races have full fields of ten.  Granted, this week is the last week of Thursday night racing, so the short fields may be addressed next week.

That being said, things were not helped when only twelve horses dropped in the box for the Horse & Groom series resulting in two fields of six horses.  I know the argument that if you pay to get in to a race you deserve to have your nose on the gate but this thinking is hurting not only the Meadowlands but tracks and horsemen all over as it creates races which many horseplayers will never touch.  From the gambling perspective, wouldn't it be better to have one great race to wager on instead of two races which most people won't touch?  Participants in the sport have to learn sometimes you need to take one for the sport.  Perhaps offering an incentive where horses starting from the second tier earn a 20% bonus on what they earn in the race will induce owners to be willing to have their horses start from the second tier or at least get drivers to race more aggressively from the back row.

We have discussed the unfortunate choice of words used on Saturday night's in-house racing show at the Meadowlands in this blog for a couple of days so it is appropriate to publish here a press release from the Meadowlands regarding the incident.  Let this be the final word.

Meadowlands Statement On Saturday TV Interview

East Rutherford, NJ - Last Saturday night at The Meadowlands driver Joe Bongiorno was replaced on two of his mounts after a pre-race interview in which he stated that his instructions from the owners of those horses were to race those two horses conservatively in anticipation of upcoming stakes.

The judges at The Meadowlands, after listening to the interview, felt that he should be replaced to protect the interests of those wagering on the races discussed. Protecting the integrity of the racing is their job description.

Drivers and other racing personalities that may be interviewed or post comments on social media are certainly not trained in the field. Mr. Bongiorno has said publicly that he did not state his intentions clearly in the interview. At twenty years of age, his media exposure is limited but his enthusiasm for racing and his integrity are unquestioned.

Experienced horseplayers are aware that there is no substitute for observing the actions taken by drivers during a race to determine if the horse was driven properly. The interview comments made by drivers are similar to the way the NFL discloses injuries, to provide interested parties with the most current and accurate information possible as well as adding a personal component to the broadcasts.

In this age of information saturation, as we navigate through the process of utilizing the various social platforms to our best advantage, there will be missteps. So long as wagering is an element of our product, those will be magnified. While this situation may be regrettable, it was dealt with in an objective and thoughtful fashion.

The Meadowlands considers both information and integrity vital components to the future success of harness racing. Our expectation is that any horse entered to race at The Meadowlands is racing to win every time.

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