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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Get ready for even more six-horse fields!

Unless something pokes it in the eyes the horse racing industry will not blink.  The same problem that has plagued the industry over the last few decades is still lingering and it seems nothing is being done to help it.  Thoroughbreds continue to make less and less starts in their careers and with the sharp recent decline in the foal crop, it is going to be very difficult to have as many races as there are today.

Recently, we have seen race tracks card 12 and sometimes 14 races a day.  I would be very surprised to see that again over the next two years as the foal crop from 2012 has dropped 36% since 2007 with a total of 21,725.  

Race days for 2014 have mostly been set across the country and there has not been a large cut back in racing days.  Will there be less races carded per day or will days be cut on a day-to-day basis?

This past winter we witnessed Aqueduct go from five days to four days a week for six straight weeks.  Many tracks have already moved to a four day a week schedule and with this news about the sharp decline in the foal crop, it would not be surprising to see both Aqueduct and Belmont move to four days and Saratoga moving from six to five.

A typical race week in Southern California consists of eight races on the two weekdays and nine races on the two weekend days for a total of 34 races.  What may need to happen to keep race days up is to card six races on weekdays and eight on weekend days which will cut six races a week which equals about 17% less.  More than likely, though, is that the amount of races will remain the same with an average of 4-6 horses per race.

In Northern California, the situation is already on the ropes as they have cut to seven races on one weekday a week and it is not like they are exactly bragging about their field sizes.  

As one that works in the industry, I do not want to see a cut back in race dates as I will lose days of work.  I'm sure there are plenty of other people who feel the same way yet it seems as if the industry has no plans to attack this upcoming situation.  I'm always optimistic that things will work out and that life goes on, but it is difficult to have the same attitude when it comes to the horse racing industry as it continues to show that it lives for today and not for the future.

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