Did inside information make The Meadowlands’ Championship Meet better?
by Debbie Little
In June, The Big M partnered with Marty Marsh’s Inside Harness to get more information to their fans.
While it’s impossible to quantify exactly how successful the partnership was since there’s no way to tell how much money was wagered as a result of the team up, there are some numbers that can be examined.
Once the collaboration was announced, www.insideharness.com immediately saw 700 new bettors sign up, nearly doubling their clientele.
“It went a little bit better than I expected, actually,” said Marsh. “I had people contact me, asking me to do it for the thoroughbreds. I’m like, ‘No, I don’t do thoroughbreds, just harness racing.’ It’s too much work and I don’t love thoroughbreds like I love harness.
“So as time went on, I’ve gotten emails and contacts from thoroughbred bettors that are now betting harness along with thoroughbreds and they weren’t before. If we can pull thoroughbred bettors over to harness, they’re big bettors, and there’s lots of them, so it would definitely help in the long run.”
Marsh believes that getting The Meadowlands, the top harness track in the world, involved with Inside Harness intrigued the thoroughbred players.
The success or failure of Inside Harness is totally dependent upon the participation of the horsemen. All did not embrace this opportunity the same, and, in fact, some refused to comment at all, but those that did, like trainer Ron Burke, driver Scott Zeron and members of the GSY driving club, can see the ultimate benefit.
“Anything new that we’re up for trying, I’ll try,” said Burke. “It can’t hurt. I do it as honest as I can and I do think I have a good feel for my horses. What I say I honestly believe. I’m not always going to be right, but as a trainer I know my horses probably better than even the drivers do.
“I know when my horses have been at the wrong track or they’re moving to a better class or when a horse has had a really bad week and I say a horse has had a bad week, I know it. He’s fine to race, but is he going to be at the top of his game? No. Very rarely when I say a horse has had a bad week do they race good. I’ve always said my barn is very train good, race good, train bad, race bad.”
Zeron, last seen sharing his expert comments live as co-host for part of The Meadowlands’ Hambletonian Day simulcast show, is hopeful to return to action in October as he continues to heal from a bad accident in late July.
“My thing is, you can never give enough information,” said Zeron. “You can always give the public more information and they can use what they want.”
When it comes to making comments for Inside Harness, drivers can be in a tough spot because if they say they’re planning to race a horse from behind or off a helmet and instead leave, the public could perceive them to be less than honest, but Zeron thinks it’s possible to be informative without discussing strategy.
When host Dave Little asked Zeron if he thought Tetrick would fire out of the 10-hole with Fashion Schooner in the Oaks, Zeron responded: “He certainly is” and went on to explain that regardless of the odds, Andy McCarthy would be leaving with longshot Mon Cheval (post 9, 75-1) because her trainer Nancy Takter said she was at her best when you were aggressive with her. “So, if the nine’s pushing out really hard, I think Timmy has no choice but to push over top of the nine,” said Zeron, who predicted the start perfectly.
Marsh believes that even basic or unimaginative driver comments like “I don’t know the horse,” are still beneficial to a gambler.
“It does give the public information that he doesn’t know this horse, he’s never driven it,” said Marsh. “There’s always something you can say. Even if you just said horse had a good week, that’s enough for me. If I’m a bettor and I know the horse has had a good week, that’s a go for me, I’ll bet that horse.
“Over the years I’ve said this 100 million times, I’d rather have a guy tell me my horse is not going to do very well tonight than I’m going to win. Half the time they’re not going to win but when they say they’re not going to do very well tonight, 99 per cent of the time they don’t do very well. You can throw them out of your handicapping.”
Towards the end of the Championship Meet, participation from some of The Meadowlands’ horsemen declined and some just stopped altogether.
Marsh knows he will never get comments from 100 per cent of the participants but does wish they viewed it more the way other athletes do and understood it was for the promotion and betterment of a sport which has so much to offer.
“To be honest, part of racing’s problem is that the transparency is not there,” said Marsh. “Anybody can win on any given day. If it was a perfect science people would lose interest in it. That’s what makes it great.”
Typically, Meadowlands’ track photographer Mike Lisa is the one pointing the camera, but on Saturday, Sept. 10, roles will be reversed and he’ll be the one in the spotlight.
Lisa and his band, The Past Masters, will be back at the track performing at The Big M’s Victory Rooftop Terrace with a kick off time of 5:30 p.m.