April 16, 2007

Leave it to statistician extraordinaire Bob Heyden to cite Murray Brown’s 40th year in Hanover, Pennsylvania with Hanover Shoe Farms and The Standardbred Horse Sales co. And a Happy Anniversary and many more to a sure fire Hall of Famer.

That was a rather noticeable statement made by Joe Alborano’s Artistic Fella at Dover Downs the other night. The Pacific Fella 4-year-old looked like a very serious young fellow in decimating his Classic Series field and should make things interesting for incumbent free-for-allers as the season progresses.

There’s certainly a noticeable glut of attractive racing opportunities abounding from the newly infused slot emporiums at Yonkers and Pocono.

Yonkers had been doling out about $225,000 per Saturday with $35,000 Open events resulting in noticeable numbers of better horses shifting to their side of the Hudson River.

A recent Saturday Yonkers featured no less than six $50,000 opening legs of the revitalized George M Levy series for the Free-For-All set though most of the entrants would be considered somewhat below that level by the any standards. In fact most would be considered AA types with an occasional JFFA thrown in.

Basically what it means is that solid Saturday night raceway horses will be earning considerable purse monies in the weeks to come.

Pocono Downs meanwhile kicked off with a pair of $20,000 opens and an improved purse structure all around.

Add this to the reinstated and reinvigorated traditional classics like the OTB Classic and Battle Of Brandywine at Monticello and Chester, and suddenly the end of the tunnel might just have a glimmer of light.

Seems like a message that needs to get “out there” very loud very often and very clear.

Can’t help but thinking this new Isle Mile I, Isle Mile II, Isle Mile III and Isle Mile IV winners over $2,500 life is just a Pompano version of the old ABC classification system. Be it so, ABC has worked before and might well again.

One thing about the ABC system is that there were seldom illusions about the overall abilities of horses. They were clearly identified as class FFA, JFA, AA A, B or C as opposed to the often ambiguous and interchangeable open/preferred/winners over designations that not only vary from week to week in accordance with card filling realities but can be applicable to most every horse on the grounds.

Rather refreshing was Ben Liebman’s erudite message to Albany in which he comprehensively states how nobody in the New York racing business seems knows anything which has more than a modicum of truth to it. While, most drivers can drive horses as trainer can train horses with varying degrees of expertise of course, far too many race track officials have proven notoriously clueless especially in fathoming just why spectators come to their buildings in the first place and how to keep them coming back.

First sensed this during the nightly mutual wars at Yonkers and Roosevelt when our sometimes petty but generally valid customer complaints almost always fell on deaf ears until we concluded that official indifference was due to an inability to relate to grievances never having been product consumers (bettors) themselves.

Accordingly always wondered why it wasn’t mandatory for fledgling racing officials to spend at least some time during the orientation process simulating public handicappers in which their weekly salary was governed by the number of winners they could pick.

They’d learn real fast just what the customers were griping about.

Until totally dependent on slot subsidization, racing is a spectator sport and as such needs some degree of sensitivity towards the needs of those supplying betting handles.

For what it’s worth, Commissioner Scotty Tickets thinks Chester is a great place to watch a race…

Don’t know about you but it’s hard to get enthusiastic when Hambletonian and potential age group champions make their seasonal debuts at 3:16 on a Monday afternoon….

Heard a major driver was upset over the loss of a racing day at a major racetrack… You think maybe he could be a tad mortified as well for it basically means no one is coming out to watch him drive…

The unequivocal lesson from the defunct XFL is that all the hoopla, fancy camera angles and window dressing could not compensate for inferior football.

Come to think of it, we meaning a substantial number of racetrack regulars in the good old days thought of ourselves as horseplayers not gamblers. It is the lack of the horseplayer mentality that is so damningly absent at racetracks these days..

If REVENUE works and there’s every indication that he could, will historians liken it to a Tesio type maneuver down the road?

One good thing about the ABC system back then is that 4-year-olds got classified in accordance with their abilities instead of getting victimized by having too much stakes earnings on their cards to fit most conditions…

Bob Marks



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