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Old 11-11-2020, 05:00 PM   #31
Jeff P
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Originally Posted by Spalding No! View Post
Wasn't horse racing basically the only form of legal gambling during the COVID shutdown? Does the day-to-day handle match those on "big days" when the top tier horses are running?
If I recall correctly --

For a while, Fonner Park was averaging more than $2M per card.

And Will Rogers Downs was averaging more than $4M per card.

While that may pale by comparison to major race days... Derby, Preakness, Belmont, BC, etc.

But Imo, pretty impressive for those two track signals.



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Last edited by Jeff P; 11-11-2020 at 05:05 PM.
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Old 11-11-2020, 05:06 PM   #32
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This has been a problem for decades. In the 2000s three Derby winners raced at age 4 or older and one of them (Funny Cide) was a gelding. In the 2010s three Derby winners raced at age 4 or older. I guess running fewer races in a season and more big-money races spread out through the fall and winter are causing it to seem like something different, but this breeding vs. racing imbalance is nothing new.
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Old 11-11-2020, 05:19 PM   #33
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This has been a problem for decades.
It has been a problem for quite awhile, but horses like Slew, Affirmed, Alydar, and Bid all made it back at 4 and now with all the spacing and light racing at 2 and 3 a horse like Authentic is retiring 6 for 8.
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Old 11-11-2020, 06:04 PM   #34
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But Imo, pretty impressive for those two track signals.
No doubt, but certainly there was an excess of wagering dollars at the ready with a lot of other sports and forms of gambling on hiatus.

As far as the big days v. day-to-day I meant to compare at the same track, e.g., Santa Anita on a weekday v. Santa Anita on the weekend. Some of the difference has to do with people having more free time on the weekend to attend the races but certainly top quality horses attract more people than normal, especially as there is a certain segment of horse racing enthusiasts who don't bet.
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Old 11-11-2020, 06:46 PM   #35
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The problem is that the older division stakes program has been decimated along with the proportion of the top 3yos that continue on as 4yos and older.

The group of horses you were talking about (horses that missed the TC, the TC also-rans that time off, and the late bloomers) usually targeted the Strub series at Santa Anita (3 top level races at 7f, 9f, 10f) at the end of the year. But the bright folks at SA and the Stronach Group decided to do away with the series so that they could concentrate on making the San Antonio some sort of prep for their fake multi-million dollar race at Gulfstream. In the process they've exposed the Big Cap to a possible multi-level downgrade (it should be a Grade 3).

California has 3 10f stakes spaced about 2-3 months apart over the entire year but all the preps in-between (San Pasqual, San Antonio, San Bernardino, Mervyn Leroy, Californian, Bel Air) are gone or soon to be gone. The only other 2 10f stakes are the Jockey Club Gold Cup and the BC Classic. The Suburban should be up in there, but is starting to run on fumes.

Saratoga has the Whitney and Woodward now but it's starting to appear that those races are "too close together" as many horses skip one over the other. The Jockey Club Gold Cup is starting to look like NY's answer to the Big Cap, and the Kelso moving to the dirt has been a further nuisance to the JCGC, drawing horses like Honor Code, Code of Honor, To Honor and Serve, and Uncle Mo that ultimately ran in the BC Classic.

Churchill has 3 decent stakes (Alysheba, Stephen Foster, and Clark) but Keeneland drops the ball with a couple of Grade 3 races in between CD's meets.

Pimlico Special is ready to disappear for another 50 years like it did before.

A far cry from the American Championship Racing Series which should have been a game changer in terms of keeping horses around.
FWIW the Strub was really not killed by the Pegasus. It was killed by the desires of trainers re: spacing of races.

Santa Anita used to schedule as follows:

Malibu (3yo turning 4)- December 26

San Pascual (4yo and up)- second week of January

San Fernando (4yo)- third week of January

Strub (4yo)- first week of February

San Antonio (4yo and up)- third week of February

Santa Anita Handicap (4yo and up)- first week of March

That worked fine- until trainers started demanding 4 weeks between races. So what they did was move the San Antonio back to the same day as the Strub. But that cannibalized the product, leaving two very week fields in those two races, so they went ahead and got rid of the Strub. The Malibu survives as a vestige of the series.
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Old 11-11-2020, 06:56 PM   #36
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FWIW the Strub was really not killed by the Pegasus. It was killed by the desires of trainers re: spacing of races.

That worked fine- until trainers started demanding 4 weeks between races. So what they did was move the San Antonio back to the same day as the Strub. But that cannibalized the product, leaving two very week fields in those two races, so they went ahead and got rid of the Strub. The Malibu survives as a vestige of the series.
Yes, I was chewing the scenery so to speak (wanted to blame Stronach Group for stuff). There was also a push to change (shorten, of course) the distances which they did starting in 1997-1998 when Silver Charm had a brief rivalry with Mud Route. Then the San Antonio was placed on the same weekend as you said. Later on, the advent of the Sunshine Millions, which had 9f $1 million race in late January didn't help the stakes schedule, either.

And furthermore, Santa Anita management didn't stop at just the 4yo/older horse division. They gutted the La Canada/Santa Margarita series and completed diluted their 3yo stakes by making restricted minor stakes races like the Santa Catalina (now the Robert Lewis) and Bradbury (now the Sham) open races that eventually became graded so that the big barns could keep their horses apart.
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Old 11-12-2020, 11:14 AM   #37
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Racing really is a shell of its former self, and heck that former self is a shell of its former shelf.

The drop-off in quality of the product over the years is hard to quantify.
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