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Yonkers To Remove Passing Lane

Published: December 15, 2017 10:03 am ET

Last Comment: December 21, 2017 8:39 am ET | 3 Comment(s) | Jump to Comments

Less than a month ago, Yonkers Raceway announced that Cammie Haughton would serve as the track's director of racing. Haughton dropped a bombshell on Thursday regarding some upcoming changes to the New York half-miler including a decision to remove the track's stretch-drive passing lane.

Haughton was discussing some of the challenges facing Yonkers and changes he plans to implement at the track during an interview with Post Time With Mike and Mike. He mentioned the need to keep tracks from running races simultaneously in the simulcast market, and also giving horseplayers and fans more time to see the horses before the start of a race. More time for post parades, and better post parades so that off-track bettors have a better look.

"These guys [drivers] are going to do as I say, and if they don't like it they can drive somewhere else," said Haughton. "But we have to buckle down and turn things around, and I'm going to do that."

The former presiding judge at Yonkers as well as The Meadowlands went on to reveal a major shift with the decision to remove the track's passing lane.

"With the thanks of Mr. (Tim) Rooney and Mr. (Bob) Galterio, I got rid of the passing lane. There's going to be no more passing lane...we're going back to basics. These guys (drivers) are going to pull, they're not going to sit in anymore and wait for the passing lane to go up through."

Haughton noted the change could be in effect as early as the new year when Yonkers returns from its holiday break on January 7, 2018.

"We're working on that. We sent a letter up to the Gaming Board for permission to get rid of it."

The passing lane was introduced to Canadian harness racing 25 years ago, with Flamboro Downs becoming the first add the feature in April 1992. Since that time, many tracks have added passing lanes with mixed reactions from fans, horsemen and horseplayers.

In September, The Raceway at Western Fair District openly solicited feedback on adding a passing lane to London's half-mile oval that would span half the length of its homestretch. Hoosier Park added a passing lane in 2016 to, in the words of the track, provide a better racing product.

“We are committed to making Hoosier Park harness racing one of the most competitive racetracks in the country,” said Jim Brown, Centaur Gaming president and COO. “This enhancement will not only stand as the longest passing lane in North America, but will be sure to bring even more excitement, amplify the driving strategy involved, and ultimately make for an even greater racing product that our fans are sure to enjoy.”

John Campbell, president and CEO of The Hambletonian Society, has gone on the record saying he believes passing lanes should be eliminated at all tracks.

"I made suggestions to people in Pennsylvania and at Yonkers that I thought they should be eliminated," Campbell told "Racing has become too predictable at tracks with passing lanes. I just don't see any risk with making this move."

December 21, 2017 - 8:39 amSpoken like a Gambling Man

Spoken like a Gambling Man Ron. This idea of removing the passing lane may be a great one on behalf of the Gamblers/Patrons that support this industry. But its an equally bad idea for the Owners that support this industry just as much if not more than the Patrons.
Pick you poison.

Health & Prosperity to All for 2018

December 16, 2017 - 11:56 amIt will improve racing by

It will improve racing by removing it. Rarely do you see 2 horses leaving from the gate push each other to the quarter and beyond anymore. It is better to let them go and tuck in behind or let the horse on the rail go and then tuck in behind. Then it is sitting, especially if it is the better horses near the top. They can wait that whole time for the stretch with no fear of getting boxed in. The only time you see them pull early is when it is a longshot on front as the educated driver feels the horse may fade and take them back with them.

I stand corrected, it doesn't ruin racing, it changes it. Bettors have to take the lane into consideration and it changes the way a person bets. Without it you have to consider getting hooked, boxed in, pushing too hard and fast to maintain the lead to not have the fight at the end. Many more decisions, and in my opinion I think better racing because of it. Compare to overseas racing where they often go longer distances and slower times but almost every race has horses 2 and 3 wide, and drivers strategizing what they think is their best option. It creates racing and excitement, which creates FANS.

I will admit that I love to see the speed and world records challenged, but rarely are they set when its all one horse doing it all. Look at all the 146.4 previous records. Every race, except SBSW, had incredible action and results.
Compare that to the thousands of other races where we see Hanalore Hanover or a top colt or filly get the top and not challenge for records but sit. Smart on the drivers part but boring. The horse in the second position doesn't push as they have a guaranteed suck along trip or the passing lane. Then it continues all the way back.

What happens --> The favorite/best horse backs off a little bit and has plenty left coming home and wins.

That won't create fans/bettors in today's world. They want action.
Our 3 year old crop this year had way more action and was more excitable. Same as the open pacers. All drivers felt they had a decent chance of winning or top 3 position and pushed the action. Simply put, it was better racing for the FAN/Bettor.

December 15, 2017 - 12:23 pmVery good decision Mr.

Very good decision Mr. Houghton, the passing lane removes the real racing effort. The sport is called racing not sitting. Very good move.

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