March 31, 2008

Fascinating to see what actually comes out of that Standardbred Wagering Conference slated for the end of April in Montreal though one has to suspect that any conclusions reached will not be flattering to the industry overall.

Scheduled to be addressed is the alarming decline on standardbred wagering in Canada which at last look was down by some 40% since 2002, Undoubtedly comparisons will be made with related thoroughbred wagering trends. In addition, coverage will also include a myriad of related topics some of which may illustrate why the betting handle dwindles as time goes on,

Not sure how the Canadian numbers correlate with those down here but it’s likely they’re in reasonably close proximity. Did notice some published figures that overall horse betting on New Jersey racing declined by some 25% from 1999 to 2006, though the numbers weren’t isolated by individual breed,

Since the purpose is to ascertain just why and where the handle has gone, it is advisable to encourage any players in attendance to testify with total candor. Or don’t even bother. We may or may not be able to specifically address all the dialogue expressed but at least we’ll have some idea where we stand in the grandstand.

Of course there will be a tendency to dismiss much of the banter as mere rhetoric from disgruntled and/or degenerate gamblers. But that would be like the prevailing ostriches pompously dismissing colloquialisms as not credible when offered by acknowledged racketeers in a mob trial
It’s possible the ultimate conclusion for the wagering lethargy will focus upon the basic disparity of interests between those putting on the show and the betting public who finance it via pari-mutuel handle. It could be that this gap will appear so vast as to render it insurmountable since the very nature of contemporary harness racing mandates it as a risky wagering proposition at best and that’s even before the so-called substance abuse issues are considered.

In all likelihood, there won’t be major revelations-especially to those fluent in the nuances of gambling, but the rest of us just might learn a thing or two. Whether we are capable of actually implementing what may be necessary to reverse the trend could be a whole ‘NUTHER story.

Could have said the auctioneer to the bid spotter inquiring about the gent who just spent $90,000 to land the McArdle-Miss Easy filly at the New Jersey Classic last September.

Don’t get the wrong idea now, it was a totally legitimate sale with a very noticeable under bidder though months later it seems there are some rather fascinating questions left unanswered.

First and foremost is what possessed this new buyer to anoint that filly as a “had to have” for he wasn’t even remotely intimidated by one of the known deep pocket bidders who generally gets what he’s bidding on.

Secondly how come we didn’t see this gentleman buying other horses at either Lexington or Harrisburg?

C’mon scribes, there’s a story here!

Always great to read the erudite offerings of Hall Of Fame communicator Dean Hoffman whose piece on elite broodmares was a breath of fresh air.

Dean’s formula for citing elite broodmares is indeed impeccable though on an individual basis there are always things that stand out.

Margaret Spangler may never have had a $250,000 winner but yet she produced four individuals that qualified as sires in Kings Counsel, Chief Counsel, Blackstone and Attorney.

Evensong’s great son Victory Song is the paternal grandsire of Garland Lobell who with Amour Angus has accounted for contemporary stallion sons in Conway Hall, Angus Hall and Andover Hall. Evensong also contributed stallion sons Peter Song, Gay Song, Mighty Song and Flying Song and a daughter Scotch Song who provided Lusty Song. Lest we forget Evensong’s milestone contribution Volo Song, considered an all time great.

Romola Hanover had a quartet of $250,000 winners though three of them qualified as legitimate age group champions in Romeo Hanover, Romulus Hanover and Romalie Hanover. A fourth Nevele Romeo was the founding and namesake stallion for New Zealand’s Nevele R Stud, while a fifth Romaine Hanover produced Rodine Hanover from whence sprang Real Artist, Art Major and Worldly Beauty.

Tarport Cheer produced great fillies in Tarport Hap and Cheery Hello a leading stallion in Tyler B and another whose name appears in many pedigrees in Jamuga.

Then there was Leta Long who had two outstanding racing sons in Tar Heel and Keystoner although the Hal Dale latter was somewhat less than his Billy Direct brother in the stud ranks. An Adios son Meadow Pace may not have been as prominent as the other two on the racetrack though he became an accomplished sire.

Brenna Hanover produced a champion colt in Bret Hanover and superstar filly in Bonjour Hanover. She also had another son in Baron Hanover who himself earned far short of the coveted quarter million level but sired many who surpassed that total.

Thanks Dean!

Bob Marks



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