NEW JERSEY HELD UP WELL
According to numbers released in the Horseman’s Holiday
issue the leading New Jersey bred money winners held up
very well against other state bred programs although all
trailed the lucrative Ontario sired program.
For example, New Jersey’s top money winning 2-year-old
Duneside Perch earned $127,125 in State Sanction purses
trailing New York’s Riggins at $185,448 though well
ahead of the Pennsylvania leader Idle Hour at $79,347.
Interestingly enough, New Jersey top winning 3-year-old
pacing colt Fresh Deck $277,800 eclipsed the New York leader
Kenneth J at $167,602 while the Pennsylvania Leader May
June Character earned $85,423.
It should be noted that Fresh Deck was the winner of the
lucrative New Jersey Classic in 07 which falls into heading
of an exclusively New Jersey sired race even though it’s
not officially a New Jersey Sires Stake.
Yearling buyers should always note that Jersey sired yearlings
are also eligible to the New Jersey Classics, Miss New Jersey,
Lou Babics assorted Smith and Dancer memorials all under
the auspices of the New Jersey Racing Program which also
includes the State sanctioned New Jersey Sires Stakes.
This doesn’t even scratch the surface of the increments
for New Jersey Owned and Sired in the overnight program
especially at The Meadowlands where those overnights and
early spring sire stakes serve as prime step stones to the
mega stakes of summer.
WHERE HAS ALL THE HANDLE GONE
An offshoot of an official discussion not too long ago inferred
that some race purses would be decreased due primarily to
reduced pari-mutuel handle. Which in itself is hardly surprising.
Then comes an illuminating column by Tom LaMarra in the
December Hoofbeats entitled “Mystery Numbers”
in which the erudite writer laments that handle figures
for Harness and Greyhound Racing seem virtually unavailable
while the National Thoroughbred Racing Association and Equibase
seem quite able to document handle figures for thoroughbred
This of course raises additional questions in terms of how
harness and thoroughbred wagering handle have held up through
the years and whether the harness numbers are but a fraction
of what they used to be proportionately to the thoroughbred
numbers. If so, where then has this handle gone?
WAITING FOR GODOT
Then comes a very interesting dissertation by Bennett Liebman
entitled waiting for Godot Hanover in which he cites the
several false Messiahs who have not proven saviors for the
good ship Harness Racing.
Towards the end of the article is a rather innocuous but
oh so provocative line which states “The problem may
be that we have a product that the public isn’t buying.”
Which probably is among the answers to where has all the
handle gone. If so, what do we do about it?
Fascinating disclosure some months ago surrounding a ball
team’s reluctance to rip up an existing contract for
a likely hall of fame candidate using the rationale of ”we
can’t pay you for what you did, we can only pay for
what you’re about to do” The unstated implication
being that given the advancing age and accumulation of injuries,
the player’s best days were likely behind him.
While at first glance it may seem as a somewhat ungrateful
team posture, the resulting analogy is not so different
to what breeders must often deal with when presented with
superstar fillies coming off the racetrack.
It so often seems like their price tags are a reaffirmation
of what they did do and were well compensated for in purse
earnings-which may or may not approximate what they might
do from here on in.
All one need do is read recovering colleague Ralph Succee’s
expose like revisit to the Castleton dispersal which so
clearly illustrates the feeding frenzy that occurred in
the auction ring that fateful year and how few if any of
the high priced matrons actually validated those lofty price
tags down the road.
Consequently one must at least be moderately attentive
the to following scenarios not all of which are etched in
stone but do tend to occur with noticeable frequency
First and foremost is “she” may be tough to
“get in” and “sustain in” foal at
least early on in her new career. Then there’s potential
buyer skepticism should that first foal fail to measure
up size wise.
Secondly “she” while current to her contemporaries
may not be all that genetically compatible with where the
breed is likely to be at the time her foal hits the auction
Thirdly inherent with her superstar status is the likelihood
that her breeding career will not approximate her racing
career in terms of fiscal productivity.
Fourthly any conformation flaws she herself lived with
will likely be passed on to her offspring who may or may
not handle said imperfections as well as she did furthering
the likelihood that her breeding productivity will not approach
the level of her racing productivity.
Therefore, understand you may be greeted with a slightly
skeptical eye after declaring what you MUST have for the
retiring super girl from those who must now make it work
at the next level.
Yes, you’re a sure fire Hall Of Fame candidate but
you’re approaching middle age and you have questionable
knees at best.