Thursday, October 8, 2009

Saratoga Expansion

It’s just been announced by the NYRA that the 2010 Saratoga meet will be expanded by 4 days, creating an additional weekend of racing. The Coaching Club American Oaks will be moved from Belmont Park to opening weekend at Saratoga.

I’ll spare the PR speak given about the decision but the bottom line is there is more money to be made at Saratoga rather than Belmont.

Of course I thoroughly disagree with the decision. As I’ve harped since the inception of this blog, racing needs less days not more. You increase quality by decreasing quantity. The quality of the Saratoga meet has gradually declined as the meet has shifted from its original 24 day meet, to the now ever bloated 40 day meet.

Yesterday I posted a breakdown of the Saratoga money flow (With the second part of that post coming tomorrow) and if you click here, you can see a day by day breakdown of the purses on offer in 2009.

As you can see the average race card at Saratoga has drastically declined. While Saratoga still boasts one of the best stakes schedules in the sport, the quality of most cards is really lacking. Now to be fair, a weak card at Saratoga is a strong card elsewhere, but some people like me hold Saratoga to a higher standard.

Also, a troubling theme is developing with the way the NYRA is structuring stakes races. The Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama are now essentially the same race. Much like there is no difference between the Whitney and Woodward. While it is obvious more people watch the Woodward at Saratoga and more will wager on the CCAO at Saratoga, the race will be degraded as they will be run over identical configurations by largely the same fields.

Why we can’t follow the European model, which focuses on short(er) meets of extremely high quality is beyond me. You won’t see a card filled with claimers in Europe, but get ready for them at the Spa; they’ve got a foothold and aren’t going away any time soon.

1 comment:

The_Knight_Sky said...

Good points on the Whitney-Wooodward and the Coaching Club - Alabama.

Instead of trying to advance the Fall Championship meet, they're devaluing it. A few years from now another notice of expansion of a "couple of days" will make it as long as the Del Mar meet.

Those planning on a meet-long assault at the windows will need extra stamina in the future.

How's your dosage?