There is a good discussion going over at Standardbred Canada regarding Jack Darling's post on the future of harness racing (linked at Equidaily no less). One post really grasped the issue quite well I find, from a harness player.
Many of the themes are obvious, but one which we speak of quite often here, has been the poaching of best racehorses from the B Tracks. Two years ago the writing was on the wall for the Meadowlands with Yonkers and in some cases Chester taking those horses. It has long been known that in 1990 when Barrie Opens were going for $1200, they were not poaching Woodbine Open horses going for $19,000. This has never been addressed and I believe it has to be, or we will see many players like this not come back to racing.
The harness game is dying out and the powers that be seem to be turning a blind eye to it and hoping that the government and casino companies will continue to bail them out. Well this may continue for awhile but as the wager continues to plummet and the tracks are losing massive amounts of money on live racing they will sooner or later get cut off from there welfare checks.
If something isn't done soon to reverse the handle at racetracks it will reach a point in the next 5 to 10 years where it has become to late to reverse. I have bet the harness racing for years, weg and the big m and i bet big dollars, into the hundreds of thousands per year but i am doubtful if i will ever bet another race.
Here is a few of the reasons why, the product at weg and the big m is a shadow of what it was 10 years ago now yonkers has most of the good horses and yonkers is a half mile track which does not interest me. Secondly dwindling pools to bet into, now if you bet big money on a race you are starting to affect your price. You now see win pools at weg consistently beneath $20k and dropping and the bottom is also falling out at the big m compared to what they were 5 to 10 years ago.
Last but not least is because of the track take out. Years ago the races could get away with excessive take out because there only competition was bingo well those days are over. Now stop and think about it you have to be 20 to 25% better then the rest of the people around you just to break even but if you want to bet big dollars and have any shot of making something worthwhile you have to be 30 to 35% better then those around you. A tall task in this day and age where you get so much information about trainor changes and so on in the programs and on line. Years ago you had to keep all your past programs and if you were willing to track trainors and other things you could get an edge on your competition, well the information age has taken a lot of that away.
For someone like me to consider coming back i would have to see the track take out drop to a maximum of 10% so it is at least a fair game compared to other forms of gambling. To me i am not sure what else they can do to reverse this other then this but if they don't do something soon in 20 years assuming the big m and weg is still in business the condition sheet for most races will probably read for non winners of a ham sandwich last 6 starts.
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