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Monday, November 17, 2014

Round Two of the French Connection

The second week of 'French' racing at Yonkers Raceway was an improvement over the first week as approximately $1.8 million was wagered on the five races simulcast to Europe.  Clearly, Europeans are willing to wager on races over the half mile oval.

Domestically, the handle was $446,368 for the entire 12 race card; much less than the Tuesday card it replaced (when less tracks are racing) and about $50,000 less than last Thursday's card; the weakest card handle-wise of the week.  To make any definitive comparisons of handle with the American public's reception of European-style racing would be dangerous as there is no Sunday with traditional racing to compare against.  When you consider you are racing against one of the busiest days for thoroughbred racing, especially when competing against NYRA which is the preferred signal for locals, and football, I tend to doubt any racing card at Yonkers would do better than this card did.

I do think it is safe to say there was no wholesale repudiation of European-style racing.  My belief has and continues to be harness racing fans are adaptable to new styles of racing if you deliver it to them consistently and commitment; not one week, it didn't work, stop.

Meanwhile, it is interesting to note the Meadowlands once again is attempting to try to race one event on each race card at 1 1/8 miles with twelve starters.  Purses will be increased a modest 10% and those finishing out of the money will be paid $150.  Let's see how these races are received this go around.  To be perfectly honest, I think to get these races accepted you would need at least two races each card contested at this extended distance.  Hopefully, horsemen in New Jersey look at the New York results and are more receptive this time.

Best wishes to Sydney Seelster and Sydney Weaver as the former was scratched sick last night at Flamboro Downs as the horse didn't warm up right.  What the exact problem is remains to be seen.  Hopefully, 'Pinky' will be back soon giving harness racing's #1 spokeswoman in Canada some more joy.

While Dave Palone will likely re-take the title of World's All-time Winningnest Driver this afternoon, no tears should be shed for former champion Heinz Wewering who is quite an accomplished trainer in his own right.  How good a trainer?  He's the world champion all-time winningest trainer with 19,300 victories.  He is the complete horsemen.  The MSBOA has run some interesting promotions of late.  They should invite Wewering to compete against Palone at the Meadows for a head-to-head competition.

Some horsemen are upset with vet at Cal-Expo for scratching horses from races for soundness issues despite the fact the owners and their vets can't find any problems.  One horse has an unusual hitch in his gait and has always had it.  He had been racing this way for quite a while and then the vet decides to scratch the horse despite looking the same as he always has.  With only two days of racing a week it is hard to get into race as is, but now having to re-qualify means losing more racing opportunities.  How the trainer is going to fix a sound horse with an unusual gait is the question of the moment.  If it was one owner, it would be one thing but there is another owner who had their horse scratched despite looking the same way he did when he won several times in a row.  We are not advocating unsound horses being able to race but someone needs to remind the vet in question if the horse had a perfect gait, odd are they would be racing back east and not at Cal Expo racing for paltry purses.

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