An under the radar piece of news this week was the permanent closing of Atlantic City Racecourse. This historic track in recent years had conducted a brief turf meet only to maintain its simulcasting license from the state of New Jersey.
Now even that is gone.
This follows closely on the heels of the closure of Suffolk Downs in East Boston, Mass., and Hollywood Park in Inglewood, Calif.
Some have written that the consolidation of horse racing may actually be good for the business in the long run. I can’t see how closing down three racing franchises in about a year could be anything but negative.
The business at Atlantic City spiraled downward with the advent of casino gambling on the Boardwalk. Fast forward to this decade and any sort of gambling in Atlantic City is now getting blasted by intense competition from neighboring states.
Suffolk Downs had been in a dogfight for years for a Massachusetts casino gaming license. When the local license was awarded to Wynn Las Vegas, a Nevada company, Suffolk announced its immediate closing. There is still a minute chance the horsemen there may be able to lease the facility. But Suffolk Downs, as with most racetracks, sits on valuable land that could be converted into a more profitable real estate venture.
That is what actually happened to Hollywood Park. The track was closed for a large commercial real estate complex. Now a big parcel is being earmarked for a football stadium to house an NFL franchise.
The thing with many older racetracks is they sit in urban areas where land is incredible valuable. If the horse racing business isn’t earning much return on investment, or losing money, it doesn’t take a genius to figure out the land could be used for something else. Something a lot more profitable.
Every part of the food chain in horse racing is important and linked together. But if the industry keeps losing racetracks, I’m not sure how that can sugarcoated.
ECLIPSE AWARDS ON HRTV — The 44th annual Eclipse Awards will be televised live on HRTV from Gulfstream Park at 5 p.m. Saturday. Jeannine Edwards of ESPN will do hosting duties once again. There will be an air of intrigue this year. Many categories are too close to call including the Horse of the Year race amongst Bayern, California Chrome and Main Sequence.
QUALIFIER AT THE ORLEANS — There will be a one-day qualifier at the Orleans on Monday for the 2015 Horseplayer World Series. The entry fee is $200. It’s a mythical win and place format. Free entries awarded to the top two finishers and prize money will be paid down to the top five finishers. The Horseplayer World Series is March 26-28 at the Orleans.
TREASURE ISLAND LAST CHANCE QUALIFIER — There will be a one-day, last chance qualifier on Thursday at the Treasure Island for the Daily Racing Form/National Thoroughbred Racing Association National Handicapping Championship. The entry fee is $500. The top five finishers will earn a berth into the NHC that will begin the following day.
RAINBOW 6 WIN — Last week I wrote about the Gulfstream Park Rainbow 6 wager and how I thought it was a good play in the right scenario. Almost as if on cue, the bet was won again on Wednesday. A Lewiston, Maine bettor cashed for $179,140 on a $130 ticket.
Richard Eng’s horse racing column is published Friday in the Las Vegas Review-Journal. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @richeng4propick.