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May 27, 2010

American Turf Club Lead

By: Joe Girardi

            A lot has been going on over the last week in the horse racing world. Monmouth Park opened up its special meeting and it got off to a roaring start with the attendance for the opening day crowd of over 17,000. NYRA was approved for a $25 million dollar loan from the state that will allow them to stay in business until early next year. In addition to that Hollywood Park had to cancel their Wednesday card because of lack of entries.

            Monmouth Park started their 50-day $50 million dollar meeting on Saturday May 22nd with a crowd of 17,903 easily beating last year’s crowd of 10,292. The handle for opening day was on target to double that of last year’s opening day. There were 13 races on opening day most of them with large fields going postward allowing for large payoffs. The exacta in the first race paid $1,296 with the super paying over $34,000. Garret Gomez and John Velazquez have set-up shop here for this meeting and both had a good opening day with Gomez taking one and Velazquez winning two. Chris Decarlo had two winners and Carlos Marquez Jr. had three.

            With the bigger fields and bigger payoffs also brought some carryovers on opening day. The 50 cent pick five pool had $193,151 compared to opening day of last year when the pool was just $28,018. The excitement this meeting has brought is obviously translating to the windows with that type of betting. The big fields also help when it comes to handle; the opportunity for the big score is always there. However, will this last or was it just a one week wonder? Well the fields are big, in the entries that have been taken for upcoming cards the fields are still large and with the purse they are giving away you can expect plenty more of that.

            Moving on to NYRA, they had sent out notices to their employees that they were going to close their doors by June 9th unless the state was able to help them out. This would have been a disaster of epic proportions if that had come to fruition. Not only would the state have lost out, the employees of NYRA but more importantly the die-hard fans that go to the racetrack day in and day out. The state legislature approved a loan of $25 million dollars to NYRA which will allow for racing in New York to continue for the time being. This money should get NYRA through to early next year and allow their premier meeting, the Saratoga meeting to go off without a hitch. There is hopefully a decision soon as to who will run the VLT’s so maybe just maybe, NYRA can compete on a yearly basis with any racetrack in the country. New York was always the Mecca of racing and for it to have been on the verge of having to halt racing in New York was a travesty. This loan will buy them time but they need to get the VLT’s in here which should allow them to develop the racing side of things to where it should be.

            To show just how hard it has become in the horse racing industry, Hollywood Park in California, one of the major tracks throughout the country had to cancel their Wednesday, May 26th card because of lack of entries. Golden Gate Fields in northern California, near San Francisco also had to cancel due to lack of entries. Part of the reason for the cancellation was also that Golden Gate had cancelled. The California tracks in northern and southern California strive to run simultaneously to maximize simulcasting revenue. Part of the problem was that if they could get a Wednesday card in they would be hurting for Thursday entries. It is sad to see have far horse racing has fallen in this country, I guess the news of Monmouth’s meeting and the loan to NYRA may be a start to things turning around. The industry needs some good news and anything that shows an improvement in attendance and handle is a good thing.


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