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Sunday, May 3, 2015

Derby Doldrums

Yesterday, the Meadowlands had their first 40 minute Pick-4 interspersing races from Tioga Downs with Meadowlands races for the first four.  Trying to get it done was a bit of a challenge with the third leg of the sequence not done prior to the third race (leg 4) going off.  Wagering on the Tioga Downs races had to be disappointing;

1st race (Meadowlands)  - Race handle $114,517
2nd race (Tioga Downs) - Race handle $24,961(includes $8,129 in Daily Double wagers)
3rd race (Meadowlands) - Race handle  $72,941
4th race (Tioga Downs ) - Race handle $30,399 (race started before 3rd went official; includes handle of $23,493 in 40 minute Pick-4 wagers and $1,731 in Daily Double wagers).

The overall wagering for the evening had to be disappointing as well.  The handle for the evening was $2,636,839.  With the Kentucky Derby contested and the first four races ran before the Derby, one would have thought the handle would have been much higher especially when last year's handle was $3,287,734; meaning handle was down  $650,895 or a whopping 20% with one additional race this year.  What contributed to the huge decline?  Field size.  In 2014 the average field size on Derby day was 9.46 while last night, the average field size of Meadowlands-only races was only 8.42.  Clearly having many seven and eight horse fields didn't help the handle.

On a side note, last night was the first time I ate at Pink, the Meadowlands fixed price dining option.  The food was excellent, as good as anything I had the pleasure of enjoying, I recommend it to those who may visit the Meadowlands.  I also took the time to head to Victory Terrace on the roof of the track.  It was too cool (windy) to stay up there but I could see it is a great place to hang out on a warmer evening to watch the race.and enjoy the amenities.  If you live close to the Meadowlands, you need to check it out.

Habitat was an easy winner in the Dexter Cup at Freehold Raceway yesterday.  The Dexter Cup officially kicks off the road to the Hambletonian.  Only problem is by the time the Hambletonian is contested, the Dexter Cup winner tends to to an also-ran the first Saturday in August.  We will see if Habitat is able to change the bad luck. 

Harness Racing America has an interview with the NYGC regarding the Pena suspension and the reaction many had to it.  The word unapologetic applies here.  It is worth a read.

Harness Racing Update has a tongue-in-cheek letter (I hope) on the front page of today's edition calling for legalizing of the use of all drugs on race horses.

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