It has been reported that Scarborough Downs has narrowly avoided a race-date cut for its 2012 season of live racing. "I agonize over making this recommendation," Maine Harness Racing Commission Executive Director Henry Jackson has been quoted as saying. "But every year I sit at this table and outline to the commission my concerns about a depleting horse supply."
An article by keepmecurrent.com has quoted Jackson and has explained that the Maine track has been granted a license for 111 race dates and 1,268 individual races in 2012 starting March 31.
Although the dates and terms were granted, the report explains that many concerns were voiced regarding horse population and handle at the raceway.
Jackson also went on the record as asking, rhetorically, "Are we going to ruin these horses, so that, come August, there is a depletion?" The MHRC's Liason to the State Department Ralph Canney added, "We're pretty near the point of not having enough race-worthy horses to run all of the races you may award this year."
With his comments, MHRC Chairman George McHale sounded an alarm bell of sorts when he referred to the recent negative handle trend. The article states that Scarborough Downs hosted 21 cards of live racing this year through November 5 in which it handled under $10,000 in wagers.
"The handles at some of our race tracks are what we used to do in the [daily] double," McHale was quoted as saying. "I know I'm getting older, but it's pathetic. We're being carried by slot machine revenue at this point, and we're not bringing fans back into the race day.
"My observation also is that when you race short fields, the handle suffers," he said. "People don't like to betting five and six-horse fields."
(With files from keepmecurrent.com)