Even though Del Mar is in the midst of their 8 week summer season, 1st Racing and Santa Anita have to have their name in the news. Part of this I like and part of it I don’t. The part I like is that they will do away with the Rainbow pick six starting with their fall meet and go back to the original pick 6 offering, only making it a $1 wager instead of $2. This way the pick six will be paid out each day, whenever it is hit, and there will be consolation payoffs for those that have five. This keeps more money in the players pockets and gives the track the “churn” that they desire to keep money flowing for the average race goers.
The pick six is a foolish bet to begin with, unless you are part of a large syndicate that can afford to spread in many different races. Let’s face it, it’s hard enough to find one winner, let along six in succession. That’s to say nothing of the humongous take out percentage of the wager.
Part 2 of this segment has to do with the changing of the Triple Crown. As most horse players know, 1st Racing owns the two tracks in California, one which will shut down in December, and three on the east coast, i.e. Laurel, Pimlico, and Gulfstream. Pimlico is the home of the Preakness stakes, the second jewel of the Triple Crown. And you may remember this past year, after having 18 runners line up for the Kentucky Derby, only one of them returned for the Preakness, and that was the winner, Mage. The two week turnaround just doesn’t get it with today’s race horses, and that I get. But 1st Racing wants to move the Preakness out two additional weeks to attract more horses from the Derby to their race.
Well, unless NYRA moves the Belmont stakes out further, that would only leave one week between the Preakness and the Belmont, and you know that’s not going to happen. And NYRA flatly states they are not moving the Belmont stakes from their original dates, which is five weeks from the Kentucky Derby. 1st Racing states that safety is more important than anything else, and this would give more horses time to recover from the Derby, but that’s not really what it’s all about. 1st Racing just wants more of those Derby horses, plain and simple. And when the Derby gets 20 horses, and the Preakness only has 7, like they did this year, 1st Racing does have a point.
Many owners and trainers purposely skip the Derby for various reasons, i,e, they don’t have enough points to get in, and/or they don’t want to be part of a 20 horse field where luck is more important than skill. It does make some sense if there were four weeks between races for each of the Triple Crown races. This is not 1930 where a horse would race on Monday and then come right back and race on Friday. Thoroughbred race horses aren’t built that way anymore. The use of medication over the years since 1970 has really taken its toll on the breed. But I can’t see NYRA completely overhauling their stakes schedule just to accommodate 1st Racing. Right now things are at a stalemate, but it should be interesting to see how all of this shakes out.