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WASHINGTON, PA, Feb. 17, 2017 -- On Saturday, Feb. 18, The Meadows Racetrack & Casino will offer a $20,000 total-pool guarantee for its Pick 5 harness racing wager as part of the United States Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering Initiative. The Meadows added the "instant" guarantee after Wednesday's Pick 5 was uncovered, resulting in a two-day carryover of $7,212.32. In addition, Saturday's card includes a $5,000 total-pool guarantee for the Pick 4, a regular feature of each program at The Meadows. Minimum wager for the Pick 4 (races 4-7) and Pick 5 (races 8-12) is 50 cents. Since Pennsylvania law requires a minimum per-race wager of $2, a player wagering at the 50-cent level must bet at least four tickets. First post for Saturday's program is 1 PM.   The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

ALBANY -- In 2003, New York's racetracks were paying out among the lowest prizes in the nation, and many of the tracks, particularly upstate harness racing facilities, were nearly set to be put out to pasture. Then the racetracks started adding video-lottery terminals. Now, the purses -- the amount paid out to winners in the races -- are among the highest in the nation, and the revenue at the so-called racinos has also soared. With three new upstate casinos opening in recent months, the state's existing gaming halls face new competition after enjoying years of rising revenue for their casino-like facilities and horse-racing operations, a review of records by the USA Today Network's Albany Bureau found. Purses at New York's seven harness tracks have tripled over the past 14 years, creating an unprecedented dynamic: There's nearly no one in the stands, but the prize money is at levels not seen in decades. "I’ve said to many people that if you want to make money in (harness) racing, this is the best opportunity you’ve had in many, many years," said Bob Galterio, the COO at Yonkers Raceway, the state's largest harness track. ►NY just had a record year for its lottery ►With three new NY casinos open, can they succeed? ►House wins big with casino tax breaks Ninety-two percent of the money from gamblers at the state's racetracks with the video-lottery terminals goes to pay the players as prizes. The key figure is the 8 percent that's left: It is split among the tracks, the horsemen and the state. Without the piece that goes to purses and breeders, horse racing in New York would be nearly non-existent, track officials and experts said. The industry is a major one in New York's agricultural sector: It employs 32,000 people, according to its trade organizations. "If the VLTs didn’t come in 2004, I really doubt racing would be here," said Chris Riegle, the president of Finger Lakes Gaming and Racing, the only upstate thoroughbred track outside of the summer meet at Saratoga Race Course. Also, "I don’t think there would be very many harness tracks in New York." Avoiding closures Following the 9/11 terrorist attacks, then-Gov. George Pataki and state lawmakers sought to help the state's economy by allowing the horse tracks to add video-lottery terminals -- the slot-machine-like devices controlled by a central computer system in Schenectady. The move was a way to boost the state's coffers by designating about half of that coveted 8 percent to fund schools. It also was a way to keep horse racing alive after decades of decline in the sport, which was once a major local draw. Batavia Downs in western New York is the oldest nighttime harness track in the nation. Yonkers drew 40,000 people on weekend nights in the 1960s. In 2004, the first VLT facilities opened. It has been a boon to all sides. "It definitely saved racing; it saved the jobs," said Jeff Gural, the owner of Tioga Downs in the Southern Tier and Vernon Downs in central New York. Of the net win -- the money left in the machines after payouts to winners -- 8.75 percent goes to the horsemen and 1.25 percent to the breeders. The rest is split between the state and racinos. The tracks also get 10 percent for marketing and 4 percent for facility improvements -- including hotels that some are building. The money has helped the state's coffers: The racinos contributed nearly $1 billion in 2015 to the state designated for education -- or 48 percent of the nearly $2 billion in net win. Anthony Palermo, of Rochester, plays a slot machine on opening day of del Lago Casino.  (Photo: Jamie Germano/@jgermano1/Staff Photographer)   Soaring purses The purses at the state's eight racetracks and the three tracks run by the New York Racing Association hit $301 million in 2015 -- up 87 percent since 2003. For just the seven harness tracks, purses went from $35 million to $118 million, records from the state Gaming Commission showed. So the average purse per race went from about $4,000 to $11,000 over the 14 years -- putting New York among the top five in the nation. The figures have been extraordinary at some tracks: Batavia Downs' purses grew from $1.8 million to $5.5 million; from $4 million to $18 million at Saratoga harness; and from $20 million to nearly $63 million to Yonkers. Some tracks said they are dealing with a shortage of horses. "If you and four friends had $20,000. The best thing to do is to get together, each kick in $4,000 and buy a $20,000 claimer and race it at Yonkers Racetrack," Galterio said. "The purses are so good. You race every week." Rising racinos While the gambling money has throw life preserver to racing, it also boosted the tracks' owners. The money going to the racinos has skyrocketed since they opened. The tracks, after a sluggish start, negotiated lower payments to the state in 2007. At Finger Lakes, the so-called agent commission -- the tracks' main revenue stream -- doubled to $40 million in the 2015-16 fiscal year that ended March 31. At Yonkers, it was up 50 percent to $177 million since 2008, while Tioga Downs' commission grew 59 percent since 2007 to $22 million. So while the purses are up, so too are the tracks' fortunes, said Joe Faraldo, president of the state's Standardbred Owners Association, which represents the harness horsemen. "The horsemen, their purses have gone up dramatically -- the same way track revenue has gone up with these VLTs," Faraldo said. Live harness racing at Batavia Downs. (Photo: Annette Lein)   Subsidizing racing So the situation has created a scenario where purses are up despite fewer people betting on the races. Yonkers stopped publishing its attendance figures in the late 1980s. VLT revenue provides an increasing percentage of the purses: In 2004, 50 percent of the purses came from the VLT revenue; in 2011, it was 71 percent, state records show. At the same time, total handle at the harness tracks -- the amount bet on the races -- dropped 21 percent between 2003 and 2015, hurt in part by the closure of New York City Off-Track Betting in 2010. The on-track betting on the races also fell: It was down 56 percent at Yonkers over that stretch and down from $3.4 million to $1.5 million at Batavia. Most of the betting comes from simulcasting of races around the state, country and internationally, which is a growing business at Yonkers, in particular. "I don’t want to say it’s become a television studio, but it more important to produce a good-looking television signal than to have tasty hot dogs in the stands," Galterio said. Growing competition The reliance on VLT revenue has raised concerns within the racing industry, which fears the tracks will one day seek to drop racing or cut the amount that goes to it. "A lot of these racinos kind of make it difficult to go to the track, because they would rather be a straight casino and not do racing at all," Assembly Racing Committee Chairman Gary Pretlow, D-Mount Vernon, said. Those fears have grown after the casinos opened in recent months in the Finger Lakes and Schenectady, with one set to open next year in the Catskills. At Finger Lakes, it received a lower tax rate last year because of the competition from del Lago, which opened earlier this month in Tyre, Seneca County, 28 miles away. Even with the competition, though, the horsemen will be held harmless. The 2013 law that allowed for four upstate casinos included a provision that requires the new casinos to keep purses at the same level as 2013 -- if the new casinos cut into the racinos' bottom line.  (Photo: File photo)   Negotiating at Finger Lakes That's a current fight: The horsemen at Finger Lakes face a cut in purses if the racino's revenue drops because of del Lago, which is not required to make the track whole. The casinos have to help the racetracks in the zones established by the state: Finger Lakes, though, is outside the del Lago zone. The sides -- Finger Lakes, del Lago and the state -- are now trying to find a solution to help the horsemen. "I’m hopeful we’ll come to a conclusion very quickly," Riegle said. Pretlow said the Legislature has no plans to revisit the split of revenue between the tracks and the racing industry: "Part of this whole thing is to help racing." The tracks said they continue to invest in their racing, saying it is still a viable portion of their business. Yonkers points to expansion in recent years of hosting major stakes races, including the $1 million International Trot each fall; tracks said they have upgraded their racing facilities. But the tracks often seek fewer racing dates each year, despite protests from the industry, and Finger Lakes won't disclose how many dates it wants this year as it negotiates a new contract with its horsemen. "It really boils down to how much purse money you have to hand out and how many horses you have," Riegle at Finger Lakes said. "If you have a respectable amount of both, you can run more." Gaming the future Dave Brown, president of the Finger Lakes horsemen association, charged that the tracks would just as soon drop racing if they could, but they are bound by the state law. "There is no question they’d love to not run. And they make it difficult for us," he said. Riegle rejected that idea, saying it is still "a pretty significant piece" of the business. Gural, a horse owner who also owns the Meadowlands track in northern New Jersey, said he's concerned about the future of racing in New York. The tracks are not required to market the sport to new customers, and its fan base is dwindling. In December, Tioga Downs received a gaming license to turn from a VLT facility to a full-scale casino. "Without the slots or the VLTs, there would be no harness racing. It’s totally dependent on the revenue we receive from the slots," Gural said. He added, "The problem is that most of our customers are older and we have not successfully created an industry for the younger generation. So what happens when all those people die off?" Joseph Spector , Albany Bureau Chief Reprinted with permission of The Democrat and Chronicle

Northfield Park is announcing the addition of a $25,000 Pick-5 total pool guarantee on Wednesday (February 8th). Beginning in Race 3, the $25,000 Pick-5 guaranteed total pool includes a carryover of $5,304.95. This wager is being offered as part of the Strategic Wagering Program through the United States Trotting Association. Northfield's Pick 5, Pick 4 and the Pick 3's offer a reduced takeout rate of just 14 percent. Wednesday's post time is 6:00 p.m.

Pompano Beach, FL...January 31, 2017...Pompano Park has set a $25,000 Guarantee on Wednesday night's (February 1) harness racing Pick-5. The guarantee was ignited when Stiletto Jake won the final leg of the Tuesday night Pick-5 at 56 to 1--his first win since January 10, 2015 covering 63 starts--creating a carryover of $8,085. The Pick-5 covers races one through five with post time set at 7:20 p.m. The track's Pick-6 also went untouched on Tuesday and the carryover for that item on the Pompano wagering buffet is $13,553. Finally, Pompano Park's Super Hi-5 finale had multiple winners on Tuesday night and the carryover for the Wednesday program has ballooned to $43,267. To claim the Super Hi-5 finale jackpot, only one ticket must be sold on the winning combination. If there are multiple winners, a portion of the nightly Super Hi-5 pool is shared by the winners with the remainder going into the next racing night's Super Hi-5 pool. by John Berry for Pompano Park    

Pompano Beach, FL...January 24, 2017...Despite the fact that the first four winners in Pompano Park's Pick-5 sequence were 5 to 2, 9 to 2, 3 to 5 and 3 to 1, when Star Treatment won the final leg at 32 to 1, not a single winning ticket was produced and, as a result a $6,217 carryover has sparked a $25,000 Guaranteed Pool for Wednesday night's Pick-5 at the South Florida harness racing oval.   Gabe Prewitt, Director of Racing, said, "with the largest Pick-5 carryover of the season, we have decided to make things even 'better for the bettor' with the largest Pick-5 Guaranteed Pool in track history."   The Pick-5 is conducted on races one through five.   Also, with multiple winning tickets out in the Pompano Super Hi-5 finale, that carryover has ballooned to $24,682 for the Wednesday program.   The entire Super Hi-5 jackpot goes when there is one unique winning ticket. That has happened 12 times thus far in the season, with the highest winning payoff being over $37,000 for the 20 cent ticket.   On Tuesday night, there were multiple winning tickets on the Pick-6, with the 3-3-1-5-2-5 combination worth $7,854.75 for the 50 cent ticket.   Post time for the Wednesday program is 7:20 p.m.   by John Berry for Pompano Park

Pompano Beach, FL...January 24, 2017...In Pompano Park's "better for the bettor" department, there are three items that fit that mold for the Tuesday night harness racing program.   First, the Pick-6, conducted on races three through eight, has a season high carryover of $8,137. That wager has been unscathed the past two programs.   Next, Pompano Park's Pick-4, on races six through nine, will feature a $10,000 Guaranteed pool.   Finally, the Super Hi-5 finale has a carryover of $21,330 going into the Tuesday program.   Post time is set for 7:20 with the $12,000 Open Trot being the feature.   by John Berry for Pompano Park  

WASHINGTON, PA, Jan. 22, 2017 -- The Meadows Racetrack & Casino has increased -- to $12,500 -- the total-pool guarantee for its Monday, Jan. 23 Pick 4 harness racing wager as part of the United States Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering Initiative. While $5,000 Pick 4 guarantees are regular features of each card, The Meadows sweetened the pot when Saturday's Pick 4 was uncovered, resulting in a carryover of $2,859.87. Minimum wager for the Pick 4 (Races 4-7) is 50 cents. Since Pennsylvania law requires a minimum per-race wager of $2, a player wagering at the 50-cent level must bet at least four tickets. First post for Monday's program is 1 PM. The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

YONKERS, NY, Thursday, January 19, 2017--Yonkers Raceway's Thursday evening's (Jan. 19) harness racing Pick 5, fortified by a spiffy double-carryover of $7,800.95, received its fair share of attention. A brand-new, 17,398 infusion created a total pool (after takeout) of $20,849 and some change. The winning combination was... 2-Diamond Cowboy ($10.40) 4-Santanna One ($9.80) 4-Rock Absorber ($5.90) 4-Analyze ($10.80) 3-Macho Chick ($6.10, Tyler Buter's fourth win in 10-race card) returning $969.50 for every correct half-a-buck wager. The Pick 5 is a 50-cent base investment comprising races 6 through 10 (for programs with 10 races...if more, then it goes as races 7 through 11). It has no consolation payoff, meaning if no one selects all five winners (as was the case Monday and Tuesday nights), the entire pool (minus takeout) moves to the next racing program.   Frank Drucker

Northfield Park is announcing the addition of a $25,000 Super High Five total pool guarantee on Monday harness racing program (January 16th). Offered in Race 13, the $25,000 Super High Five guaranteed total pool includes a carryover of $5,847.88. This wager is being offered as part of the Strategic Wagering Program through the United States Trotting Association. Monday's post time is 6:00 p.m. Ayers Ratlif

London, December 23, 2016 -- Friday night's 16-race Super Card at The Raceway at Western Fair District produced an all-time record handle as harness racing patrons pushed $765,685 through the mutuel windows. That total eclipsed the previous high of $697,000 which was set on December 23, 2014. "A big thank you to the horseplayers who support our product all season and to our horsemen for supporting the entry box the way they did tonight with that number of races," said Director of Racing Greg Blanchard. "Our track crew had the oval in fantastic shape and we couldn't have asked for a better way to wrap things up here before the short Christmas break." The program was bolstered by a trio of $10,000 Guaranteed Pool Pick-4 wagers and an added Super Hi-5. The Raceway will be dark for December 23rd and 24th but will be back in action with the traditional Boxing Day program on Monday, December 26th, beginning at 1:15 p.m. There is limited seating available for the brunch that day and reservations can be made by calling 519-438-7203 (ext. 252). Greg Blanchard

TORONTO, December 23 - Harness racing horseplayers flooded to the windows and wagered more than $2 million into the Jackpot Hi-5 for the mandatory payout Friday night at Woodbine Racetrack. A significant carryover of $548,396 was brought into Friday's mandatory payout. Horseplayers threw their money down attempting to score a nice holiday payday and wagered $2,081,441 of new money into the Jackpot Hi-5, bringing the total pool, including carryover, to $2,629,837. Six-year-old pacer The Rev and driver Doug McNair crossed the wire first at odds of 3/1 to win the Jackpot Hi-5 race. A $0.20 winning ticket with the correct combination of 6-4-11-7-1 returned $4,842.70. The top-five finishers were: 1st: #6 The Rev (Doug McNair) 3/1 2nd: #4 Electric Western (Mario Baillargeon) 10/1 3rd: #11 Regal Son (Chris Christoforou) 8/1 4th: #7 Half A Billion (Jody Jamieson) 20/1 5th: #1 A Cool Card (James MacDonald) 23/1 The Jackpot Hi-5 requires horseplayers to select the top-five finishers in order. The minimum wager is $0.20 and the takeout is 15 per cent. Friday's mandatory payout on the Jackpot Hi-5 was the first offered since earlier this season on June 18th at Mohawk Racetrack. Outside of the Jackpot Hi-5, horseplayers were active throughout the entire Friday evening card. Multi-leg wagers were popular, as $75,216 was wagered on the Early Pick-4, $62,970 on the Pick-5 and $55,815 on the Late Pick-4. The total handle for Friday's 12-race card was $4,704,527. Live racing resumes at Woodbine on Boxing Day (Monday) with a 12-race matinee card beginning at 1 p.m.   Mark McKelvie

WASHINGTON, PA, Dec. 22, 2016 -- The Meadows Racetrack & Casino has tripled -- to $15,000 -- the total-pool guarantee for its Friday, Dec. 23 harness racing Pick 4 wager as part of the United States Trotting Association's Strategic Wagering Initiative. While $5,000 Pick 4 guarantees are offered each card, The Meadows sweetened the pot when Thursday's Pick 4 was uncovered, resulting in a carryover of $4,186.38. Minimum wager for the Pick 4 (races 4-7) is 50 cents. Since Pennsylvania law requires a minimum per-race wager of $2, a player wagering at the 50-cent level must bet at least four tickets. First post Friday is 1 PM.   The Meadows Racetrack & Casino

TORONTO, December 21 - Christmas will come early for harness racing horseplayers on Friday evening at Woodbine Racetrack in the form of a mandatory payout on the Jackpot Hi-5. The Jackpot Hi-5, which requires horseplayers to select the top-five finishers in order, has a carryover of $548,396.96 heading into Friday's mandatory payout. The current Jackpot Hi-5 carryover has been growing since early-October at Mohawk Racetrack. Horseplayers will have to get creative with their Hi-5 tickets, as the Race Office has put together a field of 12 overnight pacers for the mandatory event. The last mandatory payout offered on the WEG Standardbred Jackpot Hi-5 was on June 18, 2016 at Mohawk. On that evening, more than $1.2 million of new money was wagered into the Hi-5 pool, bringing the total pool to $1,694,983. The $0.20 Jackpot Hi-5 payout on June 18 was $1,307.60. Mandatory payouts on the WEG Standardbred Jackpot Hi-5 have generated total pools of more than $2 million on multiple occasions. A mandatory payout on October 24, 2015 at Woodbine generated a total pool of more than $2.2 million, with $1.6 million of new money wagered into the Hi-5 that evening. The $0.20 payout was $12,746.60 On August 30, 2014 at Mohawk, the Jackpot Hi-5 total pool was $2.5 million, while a mandatory payout on May 17, 2014 at Woodbine had a total pool of $2 million. A $2 million total pool is a strong possibility on Friday's Jackpot Hi-5. The Jackpot Hi-5 has a $0.20 minimum and a low takeout of 15 per cent. The mandatory payout on the "Hi-5" is Race 12 on Friday's card. Post time is 7:30 p.m. A free program for Friday's card can be downloaded by clicking here.   Mark McKelvie

East Rutherford, NJ - Live racing returns to The Meadowlands on Thursday evening (Dec. 22) evening, and brings with it a $25,874.24 carryover buoying the Pick-5 sequence, which spans the first five races of the harness racing program. It is not unrealistic to expect the total to exceed six figures with new play added to the pool.   Get the jump on handicapping the carryover with free program pages courtesy of The Meadowlands and Trackmaster.   The entry box was overflowing for the Thursday and Friday card with right at 500 entries, affording Racing Secretary Pete Koch and his staff the chance to put together a deep and competitive twelve race puzzler.   New shooters 22 year old Drew Monti (just in from Batavia Downs) and 23 year old Tyler Smith (a top Hoosier Park driver) join a very young and hungry driver's colony featuring east coast based gunslingers like Marcus Miller, Joe Bongiorno and Vinny Ginsburg.   Brett Miller won an all-time Meadowlands record tying eight races last Friday and will join John Campbell, Andy Miller, Steve Smith and Jimmy Marohn, Jr representing the established core.   Speaking of drivers, the opener and first leg of the aforementioned Pick 5 is the GSY Amateur Series Winter Final where ten of the best in the division face off for a $12,500 purse. Hannah Miller's star has shone brightly in amateur completion over the past few seasons and she has a live mount here in Mark Ford's Dream Rocker.   Looking ahead, now's the time to make those dinner reservations for the gala New Year's Eve celebration in the track's tiered dining room Pink featuring a special buffet and fireworks after the races.   Racing again is confined to Thursday and Friday this week with Saturday Christmas Eve. Next week it's three live racing days; Thursday, Friday and Saturday.   Post time is 7:15 p.m. Meadowlands Media Relations

The number "9" seems to be a very troublesome number in the world of etymology.   The phrases "cloud nine," "whole nine yards" and "dressed to the nines" are just a few including the number "9" and, Tuesday night at Pompano Park, the number "'9" proved to cover the entire rainbow of these meanings.   First off, the number 9, Bistro, driven by Aaron Byron, took the first race at 64 to 1 odds, providing a $131.60 win payoff, keying a $1,175.80 exacta and a $2 trifecta payoff of $9,018.60.   A few races later, Stache, leaving from post 9 with Rick Plano in the bike, scored a 9 to 1 upset win, keying a Pick-4 payoff of $13,798.80 for the 50 cent ticket.   Then, in the Super Hi-5 finale, number 9 was scratched and one very fortunate player is on :cloud 9" this a.m. after taking the "whole nine yards" in the Super Hi-5 finale--$37,814.92--for that winning 20 cent combination.   Gabe Prewitt, Director of Racing, said, "We have had very competitive and exciting racing here and we believe it is only going to get better from here.   "Racing Secretary Greg DeFrank and Assistant Joe Frasure have put together great cards night after night and fans are noticing.'   "These drivers are going for everything they can get on the racetrack and that is what this sport is all about--competition!"   Racing continues on Wednesday night with a Pick-6 carryover followed by a short holiday respite. Racing then continues on Monday night, December 26 with the normal mid-season five night per week schedule.   Post time is 7:20 p.m.   by John Berry for Pompano Park    

The Meadows Standardbred Owners Association reminds all harness racing horseplayers that handicapping help is available on the group's website,   The Dean is a veteran handicapper that provides insight, analyzing charts and providing an in-depth view of each and every Meadows race. The Dean specializes in following every horse throughout the race and spotting items that some handicappers may miss. His detailed race chart comments are available each day along with "outsiders to watch," which are noteworthy horses that may provide some value in their next start.   The Dean's goal is to educate race fans and allow them to gain better insight into what happens on the track, in order to assist their handicapping.   If you are looking for straight handicapping numbers, the MSOA's resident handicapper, The Professor, provides a traditional daily tip sheet. The Professor is another veteran horseplayer, and provides selections for every Meadows race, every day, along with a list of horses to watch, provided by a third party, "The Capper."   These services are provided free of charge by the MSOA.   To access our handicapping pages, visit: by the MSOA  

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