Hastings Racecourse in Vancouver, British Columbia, has cancelled live racing for this Saturday due to a lack of entries on Saturday and Sunday, and horsemen will re-enter today for Sunday and Monday’s Holiday Card. Glenn Todd, owner of The Derby Bar and Grill in Surrey, in an email I received this morning, wrote, “I don’t think I can ever remember having to cancel a Saturday card before in all my years at Hastings.”
In February 2012, the venerable Andrew Beyer wrote a piece for The Washington Post from which I quote: “I have been a Tampa (Bay Downs) loyalist for years, and I was one of many horseplayers who eagerly anticipated the winter season that began in December. And I am one of many who have been disappointed and disillusioned by the decline of the track’s product. The fields aren’t as big. The races aren’t as competitive. The betting isn’t as interesting.”
I have been handicapping horse races in one form or another for more than fifty years, and it is sad to watch the industry dying around me. Scrambling to put a complete card together is becoming all too common as the number of foals being born every year has dropped precipitously over the past decade. Hollywood Park recently offered a three horse race because they could not find four horses for an alternate race available that day.
Major racetracks such as Hollywood Park, Pimlico, Churchill Downs, Arlington and Belmont that once raced six days per week now only card races Thursday through Sunday. Nine race cards, with an average field size of nine horses, were once the norm at tracks everywhere, now seven race cards with four to seven entries per race pop up at Golden Gate Fields on Thursdays. Will this downward trend ever cease?
Related blog post: “Shortage of Race Horses a National Problem“