- The races are expected to be faster this year at Del Mar, as the track will be watered in the afternoon. That should make a lot of horsemen happy - the way the track dried out and got slow in the afternoon was the main complaint about the Polytrack last year. My personal opinion remains one of who cares about a couple of seconds either way time-wise if the track proving to be safer. Here's one horseman at least who agrees:
Trainer Barry Abrams just doesn't understand why everyone complained last summer, when race times were slower but there were only six fatalities on the surface ---- and none in the first 39 race cards of the meet ---- compared with 14 the year before on the more conventional dirt surface.Track president Joe Harper is counting on the 'staycation' theory while hoping that the economy does not hurt business. "I figure we'll lose a few (fans) from L.A. and pick up a few from San Diego..."
"It looks good (this year), but it looked great last year, too," Abrams said this week. "It was different in the mornings and afternoons. That's why everyone had complaints, but I didn't. I just thought it was a safe track.
"It was slower, but if you look at the numbers, Del Mar had one of the highest win percentage of favorites in the country, so as far as the bettors saying it was slower, they were really just running to form. I didn't see the problems everyone else had." [North County Times]
Apparently, not all gambling concerns are immune from the economic bad times.
Both sides in the Maryland slots referendum are citing the economy for their cause. Supporters are warning of higher taxes that people will be less able to afford should slots be rejected. Opponents are highlighting gambling declines like the one in Las Vegas mentioned in the first article linked to above.
A recent poll however showed the slots supporters with a big lead, 63% to 34%. We know from experience that little things like a 30 point gap and a huge financial disadvantage will hardly discourage the opponents. However, they announced that, contrary to some prior indications, they will not accept badly needed donations from gambling interests, those in surrounding states who might be inclined to help quash the competition.
- Andrew Cohen of the First Over blog on Harnessracing.com is an owner of Share the Delight, who won his Meadowlands Pace heat to give John Campbell his 10,000th career win. Cohen knows that he's screwed come this Saturday, when his horse will have to face 2-5 morning line favorite Somebeachsomewhere. Nonetheless, he's prodding readers to encourage the local media to cover the race, providing links to lists of local TV, radio, and newspapers.
That's something that us thoroughbred fans shouldn't really feel above. For sure, coverage of harness racing is virtually non-existent here, but that's the direction local thoroughbred coverage has been heading towards for years. Even around Belmont time, most of the stories seemed to be about steroids, cheaters, and bathrooms. I found it revealing last week that Joe Drape's (non)story in the Times about the perfectly legal drugs that Curlin was no longer using was front page of the sports section material. His story on the actual race was buried on the last page of Sunday's sports section.