Hollywood Park will hold its final race meet this fall, and there are those who will be saddened to see its demise. However, I will not be one of those people. I sat through so many unplayable races at Hollywood Park this year that when Wednesday rolls around and the Del Mar meet begins I will be like a kid who just got a new Xbox for Christmas. I won’t know what to do first. I will be jumping for joy at all the prospects for wagering.
One of the headlines at Bloodhorse.com today reads, “Split divisions of the Oceanside Stakes and a 10-race card with 98 entries await racing fans July 17 as Del Mar kicks off its 74th summer season in northern San Diego County.” That is what horse racing used to be like at all the major tracks in southern California. Yet we were continually forced to deal with three-, four-, and five-horse fields at Hollywood Park this year. Bettors in southern California should not have to endure such a worthless product.
What I fail to understand is how can Del Mar offer 10 races, and entice an average of 10 horses per race, on opening day while Hollywood Park only managed to card eight races on opening day this year with an average of only 7.5 horses per race. Both tracks draw from the same pool of southern California horses. Maybe it has to do with purses. A Maiden Special Weight race for 2-year-olds at Hollywood Park on their opening day had a purse of $52,000 while a similar race at Del Mar on Wednesday will have a purse of $75,000.
Somehow, though, I think the issue goes deeper than that because anyone who entered a horse at Hollywood Park on opening day was guaranteed $250 just for starting their horse. It seems to me a trainer might find that a way to keep his head above water. Race your horse into shape, and we will pay you $250 to do so. Yet four- and five-horse fields were common throughout the 49-day meet.
I make my living betting on long shots, and short fields seldom provide the opportunities necessary for me to make a wager. The people at Hollywood Park did not seem to care about the bettors, and I felt highly disappointed with the entire meet.