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Meadowlands talks up TrackMaster

June 27, 2019

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Last week’s editions of “DRF Harness” and “Harness Racing Update” both included well-executed stories about the use of TrackMaster ratings by racing secretaries to create competitive, evenly-matched fields at an increasing number of harness tracks, and while the way the ratings are arrived at might not be clear – or even matter – to most handicappers, the results track managers covet are there.

David Siegel, president of TrackMaster, told HRU that his company examined the racing at Plainridge Racecourse for the 10 weeks since they opened for the 2019 season, and of those 337 races, 164 were for horses with a “TrackMaster rating of xx.x or less” or TM ratings were used as a secondary condition.

In those 164 dashes, field sizes were bigger. Fifteen percent bigger. In 61 percent of non-TrackMaster races, there was an odds-on favorite. In the TM events, there was an odds-on chalk only 35 percent of the time.

While the sampling might be small, the numbers at the Meadowlands back up the theory that the TrackMaster races are more bettor friendly. Over the last four race cards, there have been 14 races at the Big M where the singular condition was for TrackMaster ratings. Those events have seen an average field size of 9.3 and only two odds-on favorites (both lost). While six favorites did win, half of those went off at odds of at least 2-1. In addition, horses at odds of 16-1 or more hit the winner’s circle four times with two of those 30-1 or more.

DRF Harness’ Derick Giwner wrote that “the TM Rating system works very similar to the ‘ABC’ conditions that have been used on and off for many years. … The key difference is that the Racing Office doesn’t need to spend countless hours classifying and re-classifying horses.”

If increased field size and decreased odds-on favorites continue to be the result of using the TrackMaster Ratings system to write races, they’ll be around for a long time to come.

HANDLE STILL TOPS: Even with the Meadowlands’ top-tier drivers at Pocono Downs last Saturday (June 22) participating on the Sun Stakes card, wagering remained solid at the Big M.

In fact, a total of $264,314 was wagered on the first race on the program – one for amateur drivers in the GSY Series – and another $332,762 (for non-winners of $9,000) was put in play in the eighth dash on the way to an all-source total handle of $2,461,122, tops in the sport.

This Friday at the Big M, the usual front-line drivers will be on hand before the Saturday card will see the lesser-known pilots getting to shine. Both programs will get underway at 7:15 p.m. and each will feature 14 races.

Friday’s card will see Caviart Ally go for a third straight score in the Rainbow Blue Series final; Gold Cup winner Jimmy Freight take on Backstreet Shadow – who went the fastest Big M mile of the year of 1:47.4 last week – in one division of the Graduate Series for pacers; and 2018 Meadowlands Pace winner Courtly Choice looking to get back on the winning track in the other Graduate dash.

CAN-AM CANCELED: Due to Woodbine at Mohawk Park starting their race card later than usual on Friday (7:55 p.m.) and the Big M carding an extra race, there will be no 20-Cent Can-Am Pick-4 offered on June 28. The wager, which regularly sees a total pool in excess of $50,000, will return Friday, July 5.

WORTHY OF A HIGH-FIVE: Fans of the 20-Cent Jackpot Super High-Five have much to look forward to this Friday (June 28) evening, as they will be shooting for a carryover of $116,410 in the fifth race. You could walk away with over $100,000 for a 20-Cent bet. (Meadowlands)

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