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Monday, May 18, 2015

Saturation, The Story Gone Before it Gets Legs?

Sunday afternoon was a busy day for harness racing.  Racing in the afternoon (in the United States) was: Harrah's Philadelphia, Plainridge Racecourse, Saratoga Harness, Scarborough Downs, Tioga Downs, and Vernon Downs.  These tracks all began within fifty minutes of each other.   There were a few Canadian tracks also racing, but they are your minor tracks so they are unlikely to attract much American interest.

If one is looking solely at combined handle at each track, one doesn't need to ask what is wrong with this picture.   While there may be some local interest for Sunday afternoon harness racing, the majority of the local handles tend to be small.  As for ADW and OTW wagering, the vast majority of players are likely getting their fill with thoroughbred racing but even with those playing the trotters, the amount of handle is being divided between six tracks.  Can it be worth it?  Other than possibly introducing the sport to potential customers, most likely not.  

Of course, it should be noted all these tracks, save Scarborough Downs, are slot tracks.  Does it really matter how much is being wagered on their product?

But for the serious horse player, if they even are looking at the trotters, so many harness tracks running within the same window results in even more diluted pools not to wager into.  Is there any wonder why thoroughbred racing is more popular with the serious player?  If so many tracks are going to race at the same time, there needs to be a better way on deciding who races on a Sunday and at what times.

There is a great story in the making which probably will never be given the chance to help the sport.  By now, most are familiar with Hannah Miller, daughter of  Erv Miller who is killing them on the amateur circuit right now.  So far this year, her record in amateur races is 28-11-6-1 which equates to a .524 UDR.

Admittedly, it remains to be seen how she would do competing against 'A' drivers on a full time basis but it appears we will not be getting that opportunity anytime soon.  Current plans of Ms. Miller is to go to college and get her degree.  So while the potential for a great story exists, odds are it will never be given a chance to come to fruition due to Miller's decision.  You can't argue about the importance of getting an education, but one has to wonder was the decision to further her studies her own,or is the future of the sport that murky.  

In the meanwhile, let's enjoy Miller's story for as long as it lasts.

American Pharaoh is the latest horse seeking to complete the thoroughbred triple crown.  I wish him all the best of luck but I tend to doubt he will win as it always seems there is a fresh and ready horse waiting in ambush to take all comers on in the Belmont.  Regardless, the thoroughbred industry has three weeks of promotion for their sport coming up until the Belmont is contested.   The use of Lasix seems to wash these horses out after two races so they tend to throw in clunkers.  As long as Lasix is permissible and the rules allow a horse to skip the first two legs of the crown and race in the last leg, we may never see another a Triple Crown winner again.  As far as I am concerned, to start in the Belmont, a horse must have started in either the Kentucky Derby or the Preakness.

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