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Thursday Notes

The Meadowlands opens tomorrow and I went through the card. It's not too bad at all, although 'capping early meet cards - whether thoroughbred or harness - are generally difficult.

Alan reported a Gural article which spoke of several of the items complained about by you the harness bettor about the driving style at the M.
  • “We are meeting with the drivers and judges in hopes of going back in time to the driving style that used to exist here,” said Gural of his current agenda. “I heard many complaints from customers about the courtesy tucks” – drivers allowing other horses to settle in along the pylons rather than race on the outside – “and half-in, half-out tactics” – drivers who race just off the pylons to prevent other horses from making forward progress on the outside. 
We can hope this meet is better than the last in this regard. We've always firmly believed that leadership and the customer-centric culture borne from that leadership is lacking in harness racing (in all racing really). This is showing some leadership and that should be applauded.

As we've noted before, Santa Anita should be showing some gains this season, because last season was abysmal with people completely turned off their product. With a 15% pick 5, takeout is down too. In 2010 opening day was down about 22%, so the 10% bump off that is still terrible in the big picture, but allows for some good spin. The racing press seems to rarely challenge our racing numbers, so I'd expect a critical look at their stats (and the numbers of all racetracks, for that matter) will not enter the discussion.

Woodbine's harness handles were up in 2011 buoyed mainly by US distribution. 

The music industry wanted to get rid of disruptive technologies early in the 2000's because the margins and gross revenues on a boxed CD were much higher than single song downloads. But you can't stop progress - I am looking for a $900 52 inch flatscreen now, after growing up with a $900 27" tube in 1975. It usually takes awhile, but everything settles, if it's done right. In 2011, music sales are up, mainly because of digital downloads:
  • According to figures from Nielsen SoundScan, sales of physical CDs dropped six percent last year, but a 20 percent increase in the sales of digital album downloads to a record 103.1 million made up for the losses and then some.
We often hear about ADW's taking away from on-track handle. In the end they will probably end up saving horse racing. This century, technology has allowed for higher volumes and lower margins in virtually everything we do. It would not surprise me to see 90% of our handle coming from devices in 20 years.

Some of you are like me, and rarely pay attention to the yearly Awards in racing. I didn't even know there was a special Eclipse. If you want to know more about the US Thoroughbred Awards and how they came about, you can read about it at HRF here.

Have a nice Thursday everyone!

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