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Monday, February 2, 2015

Another One Bites the Dust

We recently reported on the demise of Atlantic City Race Course, which with the exception of a six day turf meet, was a glorified off-track wagering facility.  Now joining the ranks of departed former racetracks is Quad City Downs in East Moline, Il, a former harness track which since 1993 when the last live race was conducted, was an OTW facility run by Arlington International.  Since then, there have been several attempts to revive racing on a limited basis to the facility (tied to the introduction of slot machines) but the state legislature and/or governor has refused to approve the necessary legislation.

Of course, QCD, like others, was a victim of the decline in the popularity of horse racing, a good part which can be blamed on the industry itself failing to reinvent itself in light of alternative gaming but an equal share of the blame can be placed on government for allowing other forms of gaming in on sweetheart terms while keeping racing under a regulatory choke-hold.  But alas, when it comes to government, those with deep pockets get their way, often to the detriment of those whose pockets aren't as deep.

While Quad City Downs is likely gone forever, one needs to look at Balmoral Park and Maywood Park, tracks which are operating under bankruptcy protection due to a legal judgement against the owners.  The problem is the purse account continues to shrink and without relief from the legislature at least one of these tracks is likely in the cross-hairs.  

There was harness racing yesterday at Miami Valley and rather than watching the run up to the Super Bowl, I decided to help 'improve the breed'.  The racing wasn't bad (coming out ahead didn't hurt either) but I had a problem differentiating saddle pad colors.  My initial thought was they need to use neon saddle pads but it was pointed out to me the problem is likely the races are not being televised in HD.  I can understand an old track not yet converting to HD (which they need to do if they plan to stick around) but I can't understand how a new track is built without a HD signal.

Race fixing scandals are never good, no matter where they occur and authorities have conducted raids on several individuals in a probe concerning odds manipulations in Victoria.  The good news is apparently some individuals in the racing community went to authorities to air their concerns regarding those charged; a welcome change from the wall of silence which typically envelops the racing community.  It is the responsibility of all those involvled in racing to air their concerns, not just leave it for the officials to uncover.  

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