It’s been a while since my last blog post, but I’ve been pretty busy tending to my husband, who has been seriously ill. He spent a lot of time at the University of Pennsylvania in Center City, Philadelphia, which most of us horse lovers know also owns and operates the New Bolton Center in Kennett Square, an excellent veterinary hospital.
Episodes like this can really disrupt the normal flow of daily life, and I had to cancel my yearly trip to Saratoga, which I regretted deeply. Hopefully I can make the trek to the Adirondacks next season with my daughters. My betting has also been limited, generally focused on weekend action at Saratoga and the occasional wager at Monmouth Park if there’s a horse running that I like.
But while the bulk of my time has been spent traveling back and forth to Center City, I have been keeping an eye on what’s been happening in the thoroughbred world. Here are some thoughts and observations as we lurch towards September:
* Parx Casino saw revenues from table game play decline in July, the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board said on August 17, as the Bensalem casino’s 182 table games drew in just under $7.9 million last month, down from $9.5 million from 172 tables during the same period last year. But the Gaming Board was quick to point out that this July had only four full weekends of play, the busiest days of the week, while July of 2011 had five.
There is such an oversaturation of gaming in the Mid-Atlantic region – Atlantic City included – that I’m surprised a decline in revenue, not just limited to table games, hasn’t started sooner. Like Atlantic City, what goes up, must come down, and I predict within five years the Pennsylvania casinos won’t be the cash cows they now are. Thoroughbred racing better focus on promoting the sport and fostering new fans, or else it’s doomed.
* Speaking of doomed, there was a very interesting interview published in today’s Harness Racing Update with new Meadowlands Racetrack owner Jeff Gural.
Gural was refreshingly frank and straightforward when asked whether business at the East Rutherford oval was up or down for the year, and his opinion about the state of harness racing, in general.
“To tell you the truth, I think the industry is headed for disaster,” said Gural. “Maybe the goal is to get the most money you can before the whole things collapses and disappears. I know that I have to make changes and I have to hope that some people will be willing to help us.”
Oh, how I wish all racetrack operators would stop speaking in forked tongues and tell the truth, as Gural did. How about the powers that be at Pennsylvania tracks coming out and saying what they really think about thoroughbred racing?
You can read Gural’s entire interview at www.harnessracingupdate.com, which I highly recommend.
* A life-threatening incident like that which has befallen my husband has a way of really putting things in perspective. One of my other passions, aside from thoroughbred racing, has always been birds, and bird watching. To me, there is something extremely interesting and exciting in seeing the many, many different species of birds that live year-round and pass through the Pennsylvania-New Jersey region, and unfortunately I have not always given that passion the time it deserves, for one reason or another.
But going forward, I intend to give birding as much attention as I do racing. To that end, next Saturday I will be taking a trip to Sandy Hook in New Jersey for an early morning birding trip to see fall migrating shorebirds … and on the way home stop at nearby Monmouth Park in time to catch the bulk of the card. Who says you can’t have your cake, and eat it, too?
Good racing … and good birding!