Basket of thoughts
First and foremost I wanted to send my deepest and heartfelt condolences to the family of Sam McKee. His passing was a terrible reminder of just how fragile life can really be. As someone who lost a father in a similar way four years ago, I know the pain and numbness that accompanies a tragedy such as Sam McKee’s. It’s been wonderful, however, to see the support that the fans and the industry have shown his family. My best wishes to his family as they continue onward. I believe it was the old host of the NYRA Thoroughbred replay show, Harvey Pack, who said, “May the horse be with you…..”
As for racing, I don’t need to say anything about Mr. Faraldo’s “beard” letter (full story here) since, as usual, Vic Dante said it perfectly in last Sunday’s edition (full story here). Again, I could not agree with him more.
Happily and joyously, I was glad to read that Howard Taylor and his partners lost their frivolous lawsuit re: the NJ Classic. Although Darin Zoccali’s opinion could be seen as skewed because of his ties to Mr. Gural and the Meadowlands, his article in last week’s DRF newsletter was absolutely correct. A victory by Mr. Taylor would’ve set a dangerous precedent. However, and most importantly, Zoccali pointed out that this game is a business. Tracks have to do what’s best for business and horse owners have to assume risk every time they purchase a horse. Buying a horse with the idea of centering his campaign around one race to take advantage of the NJ horse shortage was dangerous considering the possibility the race would not fill anyway.
Speaking of horse shortages, I found it a little weird on Saturday night to hear the advertisement for the May horse sale at the Meadowlands being announced by Ken Warkentin use the horse shortage as a reason to go to the sale. With the way things are in the Ohio and Indiana it’s possible that buyers from that area will take more horses from here leaving even shorter fields. Also, is it just my imagination, or is the horse shortage confined to a handful of tracks? When perusing the entries, the tracks are always same. NJ tracks, Monticello (biggest decline), Woodbine/Mohawk (10-race Saturday cards?), and, when open, Mr. Gural’s other two NY tracks seem consistently lacking horses. It seems, Delaware, Ohio, Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Yonkers have no problem attracting horses.
To Mr. Gural, I continue to root for his success. Not as much for him personally, but for the Meadowlands. The track is vital to the future and continuation of the sport. How long he intends to hold on for a casino is the real question. At his age, I worry about the future of the Meadowlands if he is unable to continue. Also, I wish he would bring back the ABC racing classification system. It seemed to me that the races were better and the fields fuller. However, I know the horsemen hated it and its return is doubtful. Finally, not that it’s any secret, but the key to Meadowlands is full fields. Currently, when you factor in purses, the Gural Rule, and most importantly Mr. Gural’s rightful, but fruitless, quest to keep the worst cheats out I can’t see how much longer the Meadowlands can continue. Last year, the winter racing was good, but this year it has really been lacking and now the racing is only going to get worse each week as the other tracks open. It might be time to just run three meets with bigger purses. I would suggest Jan and Feb, July-Hambletonian Day, and then November-Christmas. Boost the purses and hope for really good racing. Mid-March through the Super Sunday program at Pocono in July is just an awful time for the Meadowlands.
— Christopher Fenty / Mount Kisco, NY
Not a good bet
I am so glad to hear that new head of standardbred racing for Pennsylvania knows that takeout rates are high in his state. (full story here) Now he can waste money and conduct a case study.
Even if rates in Pennsylvania are cut to industry standards, they will still be too high. The bottom line is blended takeout rates will be lower than lotteries, but never will be competitive with casinos, sports wagering and poker. Some people enjoy wagering on racing, but lets stop pretending that wagering on racing is ever going to be a good bet.
— David Haaker / Livingston, NJ