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Big M's Zoccali Stresses Field Size

Published: June 11, 2013 4:01 pm ET

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The Meadowlands Racetrack has sent out a press release highlighting the $3.03-million handle it produced on its live card this past Saturday. The handle was reached despite the track's regular drivers being away on the grand circuit where the top stock in the game was in action. The Big M has made the case that its Saturday card is proof that field size is the important factor in increasing handle.

The release states that the Meadowlands program was filled with young and lower-level condition horses, yet the total handle for the card was $3,039,973.

When evaluating the reasons for the success of the Saturday card, according to the release, all arrows point in one direction: full fields. After scratches, a total of 122 horses went to the gate for the 13-race Saturday card, for an average of 9.4 horses per race. While stakes races often provide the most exciting racing of the meet, there are times when those fields are shorter than one would hope. As an example, the first race this past Saturday was a non-winners of 1 race for three-year-old pacers, with 10 horses. The race handled $210,108. One week earlier, the first race was a division of The Golden Girls, featuring the best pacing mares in the country. That stakes event contained a field of six horses, with a handle $195,216.

In addition, this past Saturday the 11th race was the opening leg of the Summer Survivor Series for three-year-old pacers meeting the non-winners of two condition. The race handled $239,844. The week earlier, the 11th race was the $150,000 New Jersey Sire Stakes Final for three-year-old filly pacers, with a field of seven. The race handled $195,236.

“Coming into this racing season, it was a goal of the Meadowlands not only to post strong numbers, but to learn and understand what it is that our customers want the most,” Darin Zoccali, director of Racing Operations for the Meadowlands Racetrack, was quoted as saying in the release. “In a perfect world, every race would be 10 of the best horses in racing. As an example, the Meadowlands Maturity Trot in May handled $375,000 for one race. If we could duplicate that race 13 times, we would handle nearly $5 million per card. On days like Meadowlands Pace and Hambletonian, we will provide a full card of the very best horses with full fields. But it is apparent that 10 horses lining up behind the gate, regardless of class, is the most important factor for our customers, and we thank our horsemen for supporting us and giving us the opportunity to provide these larger fields.”

The releases states that while the Meadowlands Racetrack takes great pride in providing the best stakes program in all of harness racing and recognizes the importance of putting forth such a program, these figures point out the most important factor in driving handle: full fields. The release states that regardless of the calibre of horses, or who is in the sulky, putting 10 noses on the gate is clearly the most important component in driving handle.

The release also states that with the best part of the racing season on the horizon, the Meadowlands is planning on rolling out a combination of both the best horses in training with full fields.

(With files from the Meaodwlands)


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