01/07/2012 12:36AM

Meadowlands: Opening Night Thoughts

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Friday night’s opening of the New Meadowlands featured a few rocky moments but ultimately hit the one mark that mattered – improvement in handle.

Total handle for the 12-race card was $2,166,584; an average of $180,548 per race. Last year the track handled $2,266,921 for a 13-race card on opening Friday; an average of $174,378 per race. On-track handle was up an impressive 55 percent when comparing the two dates- $380,499 versus $245,139.

The wagering menu was revamped for 2012 and at least one change provided mixed results. Superfectas were offered in every race but at different minimum bet amounts. Races with $1 Superfectas generated an average pool of $8,715 while races with a .10-cent minimum produced an average pool of $27,479.

Clearly bettors where more interested in the cheaper minimum. Does that mean offering a .10-cent bottom in each race will produce a higher total handle? There are no guarantees, but it seems logical.

The newly banked turns did not seem to play a major factor on opening night. A few horses closed from second-over and one from third on the rim at the three-quarter call, but for the most part there was no noticeable difference from a handicapping prospective. Driver Tim Tetrick did mention in a winner’s circle interview that the track was still “a little deep” and was not quite “ready” yet.

The video department gets major kudos for producing a first-rate opening as the simulcast signal came on the air just past 6:30 pm. It was upbeat and presented a clear message of youth and excitement.

The night began with a tote delay after the first race and there were some early issues with graphics and the split screen view of the races, but those were cleared up after a few races passed.

Wendy Ross made her debut as co-host of the in-house production in place of Meadowlands mainstay “Hollywood” Heyden. She clearly did her homework preparing for the task but has some big shoes to fill. Few people have spent more time at the Meadowlands over the last 30 years than Heyden.

Well, that is my opening night report.

There are 13 races on tap for Saturday night and you can watch them all right here on drf.com.

My analysis for Saturday’s Meadowlands card is also available for those looking for a second opinion.

Good luck!.

Related Links:
DRF Harness Starts Now!
Meadowlands Qualifying Insider