And then there was one! Tuesday's harness schedule originally had just six racetracks open for live racing, but the now-famous polar vortex that has brought frigid temperatures and blizzard-like conditions to much of the continent has forced five to cancel and only one to remain open: Dover Downs in Dover, Del.
"We're racing because we're committed to racing, and we've been advised by our state veterinarians that it's safe to do so. So why would we not?” Dover Downs' track manager John Hensley told harnessracing.com Tuesday afternoon. "We are committed to the sport and we are committed to the owners, trainers and drivers who have horses entered to go today. That's what we do here.”
Besides Dover Downs, The Meadows, Northfield Park, Yonkers Raceway, Monticello Raceway and Western Fair were the only harness tracks on the live schedule for Tuesday. Although TVG originally had Western Fair on their programming schedule, a customer service representative contacted by harnessracing.com Tuesday afternoon said Dover Downs was not added as a replacement, although video streaming will be available via their website to account holders.
"It's not about handle, it's not about us being the only place out here hoping we get a ton of money bet,” Hensley said. "I don't know how much we'll bet.”
Post time for the first race at Dover on Tuesday is 4:30 p.m., with 15 races on the card. Hensley said the predicted temperature at post time is 11 degrees with little variance through the evening.
"This isn't Dover Downs out here on an island making people race,” Hensley concluded. "I spoke to the executive director (Sal DiMario) of the DSOA (Delaware Standardbred Owners Association) last night and he agreed that we should be racing. The commission agreed it is not unsafe to race, so we're racing.”
Things weren't any different Tuesday on the Thoroughbred side as three of five tracks scheduled to race canceled. Beulah Park in Ohio, Parx Racing in Pennsylvania and Charles Town in West Virginia canceled; only Turf Paradise and Sunland Park remained open for live racing.--By Gordon Waterstone