02/01/2012 9:08PM

Going the extra distance


When I looked at the entries for this Friday, I could not help but notice the absence of the weekly 1 ½ mile race at the Meadowlands. What I originally viewed as a far-fetched attempt at something crazy has turned out to be a nice surprise.

To date, the Meadowlands has carded three of these added-distance races and the results have been pleasing. Good prices and plenty of racing action has been the norm during these 14-horse marathons for $7,500 claimers.

I was actually looking forward to another edition, but the race did not fill, with only 10 horses dropping into the entry box, short of the 14 needed to card the race.

“We accomplished what we wanted and gave a few Freehold horses some place to race,” said Peter Koch, Director of Racing at the Meadowlands.

Apparently I’m not the only one in favor of going the extra half-mile. Bettors are putting their money through the windows and ADWs.

“It has been about the third-best betting race of the night,” said Koch on the handle totals for the 1 1/2 mile events.

In fact, at $222,607, race 9 (where the 1 ½ mile races are always carded) on January 27 ranked second on the card for total handle. Though, in the interest of full disclosure, that includes more than $76k from the Pick 4 pool. Still, that ranks the race competitively with other races that are not the last leg of a multi-race exotic bet.

With only two more potential 1 ½ mile races scheduled before the $20,000 estimated final on February 23, I’m already missing the added-distance events.

“I don’t think the race would fill with better horses, especially when other tracks start to open,” said Koch on the possibility of keeping the concept alive past February 23.

The main issue is convincing horsemen that they should enter a race with 14 horses when they can race at a racino track with eight horses and possibly higher purses. I can see how that could be a losing battle.

Since I don’t want to be the one who lists problems without solutions, I have one of my crazy answers. The Meadowlands agrees to card one extra race for amateur drivers every other Thursday with a small purse of say $5,000 and a field of 14 horses. In exchange, the amateur drivers agree to drop their horses in the box the following week with catch-drivers listed to drive. I am sure most amateurs would jump at the opportunity to race consistently on the card at the Meadowlands and would be glad to have a guaranteed start for their horse nearly every week. So, we get 14-horse fields every week. Brilliant!

Granted, not everyone wants to bet amateur drivers, but with the purse being so low and with most of the amateur-type horses not normally appearing on the Meadowlands card, no one really loses in this deal.

News and Notes

  • Another big DRF announcement on the harness side could be coming soon.
  • After a successful $3 million handle night last week, Koch confirmed that he plans on carding 13 races on Saturdays for the next few weeks.
  • Starting Friday, February 3, the Meadowlands’ Pick 5 pool will be guaranteed at $20,000.
  • Itrustyou puts his winning streak on the line versus another early-season sensation Special T Rocks in Friday’s Exit 16W at the Meadowlands.
  • USTA’s Back to the Track promotion is scheduled for July 13 to 15 this year. Come on out and support your local track.
  • FREE Friday Daily Harness Program Past Performances for the Meadowlands are available this week. Check them out!
DHP Meadowlands Friday PPs 2-3-12.pdf1014.51 KB