Saturday, August 2, 2008

Hambo Day

It rained, it poured and it was, sunny!

I'll have more to write when I get a chance about my first Hambo Day/Week, but a few quick notes.

* This event is bigger than any I have been to for harness racing.

* The staff and crew at the Meadowlands & Hambeltonian Society pull this off every year without a hitch? I can't believe that. It is a huge undertaking.

* It's a nice day to be Jody J. He snags two fifth's in catch drives (both good steers) as a plane leaving Toronto apparently had some problems of some sort and Trevor does not make the event. Mid-lane I personally thought Clerk Magistrate was going to win the Hambo for him, resulting in a catch drive for the ages.

* The box area at the Hambo for owners and some heavy hitters contained some serious money. It kind of made me think that this was a lil bit of a thoroughbred event. But then Dewey wins, with a trainer/driver bringing me back to the reality that harness racing is grassroots, and there is absolutely nothing that can take that away.

* It struck me that the box area did have those many owners, much of them Meadowlands regulars. These regulars are treated extremely well. And that is a good thing, they should be as some of them put a couple of million a year into this sport and we have to make sure they always feel special. However, the three or four bettors I hung out with this week also put a couple of million into this sport (commissions at 21% blended rakes that go directly to purses and operations) each year. At Pull the Pocket Downs they will have boxes just like the owners. In my opinion they should take a back seat to no one.

* All in, this week gets a 10 out of 10. Quite a week. It is amazing that we can not fix the game of harness racing with all the know-how and passionate effort I saw this week.

I'll hopefully get some more thoughts down and would like to hear everyone's comments on the Hambo. I just have to catch up on work first. I have to pay the bills somehow, because after a very solid beginning to the week at the windows, I went kaput. Misterizi was about my only cash the last couple of days, although I did have some nice near misses, and did have the right idea. Pitching the Thong entry was smart, but I could not convert. That tri was super-light. Someone must have had that for $5 or so, in addition to the usual numbers players. Anyhow, I hope y'all fared better.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

You have to pay some bills?? I take you're not a Pulp Fiction(the movie) fan.

RG

JLBiever said...

I have never been a fan of Ray Schnittker. His driving style 20 years ago had no finesse, he has over the years pushed his developing 2 YO's very hard, resulting in the premature devaluation of some, and his speaking style has been, shall we say, somewhat more profane than Messrs. Campbell and Jamieson.

Having said that, I accord him a big compliment for his development and racing of Dewey, and his almost unprecedented willingness to make this horse accessible to the media in what had to be one of the most pressure-packed weeks in his career. He also drove a very smart race, and if there is such a thing as backing into the pocket horse on a mile track, he accomplished it yesterday, keeping Crazed boxed until it was time to unwind and get to the wire first.

Allan said...

Hambo Day 2008 may have been an artistic event, but it was in reality a failure. Let me explain:

- Attendance. Yes, it rained, but they counted the people who showed up, even if they left due to the rain. Just over 25,000 people. Sixth worst attendance since the Hambo came to East Rutherford in 1981 and the second worst attendance since 2003. This, with an undefeated horse running.

- The acting governor could not find his way to the Meadowlands to present the trophy? He found his way to Monmouth the following day for the Haskell.

- The clubhouse seating was half full. Half the granstand was closed off and concession booths were closed due to lack of business.

- Despite Dewey, this was one of the weakest Hambo day cards they have had in a while. Maybe it was because the other superhorse in harness racing was back in Canada (no problem here; he is a Canadian horse).

- Overall lack of excitement that day; it seemed everyone was going through the motions. The governor's letter in the program was the shortest ever (all they need to do is change the date and the edition number next year)and the usual welcome letter from the chairman of the NJSEA was not even in the program (couldn't bother).


I have been to every Hambo since 1981 and to be honest, it is time to move the race again. You can get over 45,000 people to a county fair in southern Ohio (LBJ) but can't get more than 25,000 people in the metro-NY area to see a superhorse (they did get 40,000 people the following day to see Big Brown at the Haskell); it is clear the Hambo is no longer appreciated in the metro-NY area and should be moved where it would be appreciated.