Do you remember the days when nine-race cards and six racing days per week were the norm at Southern California racetracks? That was fifty-four races per week, and most races had eight to twelve horses entered in every race. Today, we are content with having a four-day race week, and, if the racing gods be with us, thirty-six races on which to apply our craft.
Glen Todd of Hastings Race Course sent out an email today boasting about having put together “Three Seven Race Cards for this Weekend.”
Kudo’s to the horsemen and the racing office as three days of hard work and cooperation from all sides we were able to put together cards for Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
All three days have seven races on the program with a total of 158 horses entered for a weekend average of 7.5 horses per race.
Short race weeks and small fields are the norm these days. Hollywood Park carded nine races on July 4th, one race consisting of only four contenders, one five contenders, and two of them six horses. In contrast, in 1991 Hollywood Park carded ten races, the two smallest fields having had seven contestants, and two of the races featured full twelve-horse fields. There was only one twelve-horse field this year.
4 Jul 1991 (8-11-7-7-8-10-8-8-12-12) Average: 9.1 horses.
4 Jul 2013 (6-6-4-5-10-12-7-7-9) Average: 7.3 horses.
A total of nine races are slated for Hollywood Park today, one with only four horses scheduled to run, another with just five horses, still another with six horses, and that is before the inevitable vet scratches. On the same date in 1991, also a Thursday, Hollywood Park also carded nine races, only two of them featuring six horse fields while most races included seven to nine runners.
11 Jul 1991 (7-8-6-12-7-9-8-6-9) Average: 8 horses.
11 Jul 2013 (6-4-8-7-5-8-7-11-10) Average: 6.6 horses.
Keep in mind that in 1991, just twenty-two years ago, six-day race weeks were already a thing of the past in Southern California, with racing occurring on Wednesdays through Sundays. What will field sizes be like in 2035 if the horse racing industry continues this downward spiral? Will there even be a horse racing industry?