Saturday, February 15, 2014
Did Pierce Make the Right Move? Only Time Will Tell
As things stand now, Ron Pierce's move to Yonkers has been everything he could have hoped for and more.
The purses are huge there, considerably bigger than they are at the Meadowlands, and Pierce has been a dominant force at Yonkers from the second he announced his intention to be a Friday-Saturday regular there. He came into last night's card at Yonkers with 14 wins from 44 drives.
On most nights, there's simply more money to be made at Yonkers than there is at the Meadowlands.
But that doesn't necessarily mean that Pierce made the right decision.
Pierce has come right out and said that it's all about the money, but the real money to be made in harness racing is not at Yonkers and not at the Meadowlands, but anywhere where there is a Grand Circuit race going on.
If Pierce remains a factor on the Grand Circuit scene then the move to Yonkers will have been a wise one. If he does not then the move to Yonkers will actually cost him.
The reason that so many top drivers still slug it out night after night at the Meadowlands racing for purses that don't stack up to those at the top slots tracks is because they benefit from a prestige factor that exists at the Big M and nowhere else. Fair or not, owners and trainers still view the Meadowlands as some place special, and they choose the top names from there when choosing drivers for their Grand Circuit horses.
That's a big reason why Tim Tetrick and Yannick Gingras remain the two most successful Grand Circuit drivers in the sport–not only are they good, they are good at the Meadowlands.
That's why young up-and-comer Scott Zeron chose the Meadowlands and not Yonkers when making the move from Canada. The flip side is Jason Bartlett. He's an outstanding driver and wins a ton of races at Yonkers.
But come Grand Circuit time he becomes all but invisible. Bartlett was ninth in North American in earnings in 2013, good but not Tetrick or Gingras good.