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Thursday, April 28, 2016

Saratoga Casino and Raceway, RIP

So Saratoga Casino and Raceway is no more.  In a decision to re-brand the racino in anticipation of competition from a new casino opening in Schenectady in March, officials rolled out a new name, Saratoga Casino Hotel.  No mention of racing in the new name.

Needless to say horsemen are not pleased. They fear track management may be de-emphasizing racing despite management's assertion racing is part of the entertainment package they will be offering at their facility; it's just necessary to emphasize the fact there is a resort hotel making it clear to the public Saratoga Casino Hotel is a full-fledged destination resort not just a day trip racino.

Quite honestly, horsemen really don't have a leg to stand on.  Sooner or later, this is what happens when you make a deal with the devil.  Horsemen have their slot-fueled purses and in return, management does what it feels is best in managing their property.  Besides, if typical of other harness raceways on non-event days, the tarmac and grandstand makes it clear people are not there for the racing so in many ways it makes sense operators of racinos tend to minimize the promotion of racing.

Eighteen horses drop in for the Dexter Cup eliminations at Freehold Raceway and as typically is the case, there will be three divisions of six horses each instead of having two splits with a trailer in each.  I understand the desire of being on the gate in eliminations (and finals), but especially at non-slot tracks, handle is what drives profitability.  Can these two be reconciled?  How about a compromise?    Write in the stakes conditions if eliminations will reduce fields to six horses, the eliminations will be contested with a trailer at a distance of 1 1/4 miles.  By adding a quarter mile, there will be more opportunity for trailers to get into the race.   Not a perfect solution for horsemen, but if they are sincere in wanting racing to live longer, they need to assist management in maximizing revenue wherever possible.

Over at the HANA Harness blog, there is a posting which discusses further the starting gate issue from the prior week's race at Pocono Downs and asks the question, "Are gamblers numb to bad calls?".  The posting also is conducting an unscientific poll.  Why not read the article and have your say?  

The 2016 Thunder Ridge Racing 21 day harness meet is underway and needless to say, no positive records are being set on the handle front in Prestonburg, Kentucky.  For example, last Thursday's five race card brought in a total handle of $10; no one bet the first two races while $6 was wagered on race three and $2 each on the last two tilts.   Handle was much better on Friday with $106 wagered,

While I realize Kentucky horsemen need every opportunity to earn purse money, the only response I can have with regards to holding this meet is "Really?"  What does it cost to have the tote equipment at the track to handle the one tote machine needed to handle the wagers?  Certainly more than what is made on a $106 handle.  If not for the exception of being able to have OTB offices, it would make more sense to get rid of wagering and just run these events as fair races.

1 comment:

JLB said...

While I agree that 2 9-horse fields are preferable from a wagering standpoint, I do not think your idea of lengthening the race is sensible, principally because trainers would want more than the few days between entry and race, to give their horses the foundation to go the extra quarter mile.