For photos from the Meadowlands contact

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Saturday Briefs

While not a fan of thoroughbred racing, I am glad to see, pending legislative approval for the diversion of funds dedicated to the purse account from casino proceeds to help operate the meet, Suffolk Downs will be racing for the next two years wile track management explores alternatives for their property.  Two years is not a long time but it gives the Massachusetts horsemen more time to come up with alternative plans to continue to race in the Bay State.  I have no problem with the legislative changes provided the proposed amendment only concerns the diversion of funds for the thoroughbred horsemen and doesn't alter the currently legislated formula for standardbred interests.

You may have seen press about a Michigan Indian tribe wishing to re-develop Great Lake Downs, a failed thoroughbred track it purchased back in 2008 into a casino.  The track raced from 1999 - 2007.  Not too many people outside of Michigan may realize before becoming Great Lake Downs, the facility was a harness track called Muskegon Race Course which operated from 1989-1997.

The Indians can operate casinos in Michigan, Non-tribal casinos were allowed to open casinos.  Racetracks continue to struggle due to its inability to compete with its racing product or expansion of alternative gaming.  Unless something changes, Michigan racing, of all breeds, will continue to be on the ropes.

Two hundred mares have registered for the New Jersey Standardbred  Development Fund (SDF).  To qualify for NJ SDF designation, a mare has to foal and spend 150 days in New Jersey which allows their off-spring to raced in SDF races along with NJ-sired horses.  Two hundred mares may not mean much, especially when the first SDF races for two year olds are raced in 2016, but for breeding farms, it means board bills from 200 mares which may not have been in the state in the first place.  This program brings needed revenue to farms which may have been hurting from the lack of breeding activity in the state as it provides for an alternative revenue source,

This has been a tough winter in the Northeast in particular and I don't know about you, I long for the days tracks had backstretches.  When there were backstretches, it was 'snow be damned', you raced anyway because you had an off-track audience ready and willing to wager on your product; it didn't matter customers may not be hardy (or foolish) enough to come out.  As long as the horsemen were there, racing took place, albeit with a few scratches

Now, with the lack of backstretches, some tracks cancel racing the moment the first snowflake falls.  For sure, with horses being at farms instead of tracks, there is a safety issue to be considered for the horses and horsemen but some tracks cancel too early (typically slot tracks), and sometimes a little too late (such as the Meadowlands last Saturday).  I understand the need for safety, it is paramount, but being the racinos never seem to close their slot parlors, I can't help but wonder if some of those cancellations are more an excuse to cut a money-losing racing day off the racing calendar than anything else.

Have a great Saturday everyone.

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