Great Day at Gulfstream from Morning ‘til Night
If there were an opportunity to ensure that Saturday’s Pegasus World Cup Invitational day would be a reprise of what happened yesterday at Gulfstream Park--from early on a low-lying fog-shrouded morning to a champagne-sipping toast to the Thoroughbred champions of 2016, Frank Stronach would be asking: “Where do I sign?”
In what was the final workout of his career, the soon-to-be two-time Horse of the Year worked five furlongs on the Hallandale oval in 58 4/5 seconds, galloping out another furlong in 13, on his left lead into the clubhouse turn with exercise partner Dihigi Gladney never moving a muscle.
In its way, it was the 2016 Pacific Classic of workouts. To merely say that he’s all set for his career finale in six days somehow diminishes the effort.
As prelude to next weekend’s world’s richest dirt race and last evening’s Eclipse Award ceremonies was the Sunshine Millions, featuring some of the best that Florida-breds have to offer competing in five stakes.
If one were to add up the combined winning margins of the Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf, Distaff Sprint, Sprint, Turf and Classic, a total of 1-1/4 lengths would separate the winners from the runners-up.
The best was saved for last when Hy Riverside out-bobbed Nauset Beach in a photo so tight as to be reminiscent of Beholder’s victory over Songbird in the 2016 Breeders’ Cup Distaff.
And it was a nice touch that Hy Riverside gave his local trainer, Antonio Sano, his third winner on the afternoon.
It was a great lead-in to the Eclipse Award ceremonies to follow that went off without a hitch and crisply, until the very end that is.
Even in Small Ways, The Meadowlands Keeps Trying
HALLANDALE BEACH, FL., January 17, 2017—It is no secret that horse racing in New Jersey is in trouble and has been for some time. Competition from casino-enhanced purses in neighboring racing states has dealt a serious blow to its economic viability.
But unlike, say, California, the Garden State’s woes can’t be attributed to lack of trying. Contrarily, when it comes to new ideas, it can be argued New Jersey is one of horse racing’s most progressive jurisdictions and has been for some time.
New Jersey was the first to embrace exchange wagering in the U.S., and while that concept hasn’t set the horse-betting world on fire, it has raised awareness that expansion is possible via diversification and choice given its appeal to a Wall Street mentality.
Exchange wagering pits player against players or player vs. crowd by locking-in prices based on handicapping skill and knowledge of the public’s betting habits. At once, players have diversification and control over their money.
In an effort to spur business, The Meadowlands lowered parimutuel takeout to 15% across the board at its brief all-turf meet. But lowering takeout works best only over the sustained trial periods needed to overcome near term revenue shortfall.
In order to attract people into their buildings or online bet shops, New Jersey horse interests have lobbied for sports wagering, with its venues as gateway, a concept that has received governmental support, then not; public support, then not again.
At blame is hypocritical right-wing attitudes toward gambling and because New York casino interests and sports leagues have lobbied against competitive racinos that are 20 minutes from Manhattan or Westchester County.
Whatever it’s tried, New Jersey has been stymied to the point where horse racing is rapidly becoming unsustainable.
The pressure to stop the bleeding by any means necessary occurred recently when The Meadowlands decided to computerize it the harness-racing morning line earlier this month.
In the big picture this looks like a small issue, but it’s indicative of the fact that horse racing everywhere is failing in its attempts to keep the fans it has, never mind attracting a new audience.