When slots were introduced in Delaware during the 1990's they were thought to be the savior of Delaware racing. Now that all of the unintended consequences of that governmental action have been accounted for, the slots have matured into a disease sickening every track on the east coast from Boston to Richmond. The most critical patient is Maryland racing which has been infected from all sides as slot enhanced racing has leached horsemen, horses and handle from its borders into neighboring jurisdictions. Beyer penned a controversial article earlier this week suggesting that Laurel should be shuttered and Pimlico remade as a spring boutique meet. There is virtue in his logic.
The core issue here is too much racing and nil cooperation. Slots propping up an unappealing product is akin to having a braindead patient hooked up to a respirator. The patient is alive but it is no life and he is a burden to all those around him. The surplus of unappealing slot enhanced racing is becoming a burden to the family of racetracks on the east coast and has spread disease throughout all of them.
A circuit including the tracks within DE, MD and VA should be pursued. Overlap of endless, unappealing meets and short fields can and must be reduced. Each tracks strengths could be highlighted. A festival atmosphere will return, instead of a daily grind of endless racing. A spring Preakness at Pimlico which transitions into an early summer of turf racing at Colonial Downs culminating in the Virginia Derby. Then more Summer racing at Delaware featuring well regarded stakes races like the Delaware handicap. Then as the leaves begin to fall a migration back to Maryland for the fall championship races like the DC International, Laurel Futurity and finally the Maryland Million.
The surplus of racing must be addressed. Short fields are spreading like a crisis and have even moved into the midwest. This crisis could be used to spark positive and much needed action. A Mid-Atlantic cooperative of tracks in DE, MD, and VA should be pursued to align racing dates. Cooperation will leave each track collectively strengthened and the racing product improved. It is time for collective leadership beyond the self-interest of each individual track .