Welllll if you were holding your breath waiting for racing to return to the Brockton Fair, I'm sorry to say but your as dead as the chance of racing coming back, at least this year. Whatever the intention was for bringing back racing was, it doesn't matter cause the whole thing fell apart. Maybe next year? At least Suffolk Downs ran a few days to keep the thoroughbred pulse beating in New England.

Speaking of the Mass Fairs, I had the opportunity to do a dog show on Labor Day at the Northampton Fairgrounds, it was my first time back in eleven years and it was sad. The old red grandstand is still standing, but it doesn't look like for long. The judges stand is still intact in the infield, but that's about it. The tote board is gone and there was carnage from a demolition derby where the old paddock and betting windows were, even the old tunnel is fenced off.

On a happier note I finally made it to Bangor Raceway for a day of live racing. I have to admit it was hard for myself and the twelve other people there to bet more a race than the casino money they were racing for, but it was fun to see the pacers and trotters go round. I also got to make stops at the Topsham and Union Fairs, no racing just a photo op. From there it was downhill.

On the way out of Maine I made a stop at Scarborough Downs, not knowing if this was the last time it would still be there, place is pretty run down. Then came the crusher, my final farewell to Rockingham Park. This one was especially hard to take, the showcase of New England laying in ruin, the once finely groomed infield now a forest. Check out the Rockingham page for some photos.

On a different trip I had a notion to swing by Green Mountain Park, but I had enough heartbreak for this year, maybe next year.

I may have been a little premature about writing off Calder Race Course or Gulfstream Park West, as it is currently known. It seems the Stronach Group has turned it into the perfect race track of the future. No grandstand, no on track betting, hell no fans! The perfect simulcast experience. I hope the jockeys don't have to go to the bathroom behind the hedge on the turf course!       

I did a lot of work and research on this site last year and it led me to a few observations.

First: I am a hypocrite, I say I pine for the old days, give me one more day at Northampton Fair, hell towards the end I hardly even went, although if Brocton Fair does open this year I will go, they have dates, whether they use them, who knows? As for commercial tracks, I've visited a few in the last year, but hardly ever stayed for more than a race or two, I don't remember the last full card I stayed for, probably sometime during the Saratoga meet in 2004. I don't even go there anymore, kind of a stay at home bet online kind of guy now.

Second: Casinos are not the enemy, at least not yet. A few months back I was passing by Monticello Raceway and decided to stop in. It was a weekday, the parking lot was pretty empty, but more cars than you would find, at say Beulah Park. When I got off the decrepit elevator and stepped out into the fifties, it hit me. I had done dog shows in this same spot in the nineteen ninety's and nothing had changed, forget the fact that there were only five other people there. You can check the photo section of the Monticello page to see what I mean. If there wasn't a casino on the ground floor this track wouldn't be here. Horsemen are racing for more money than they ever did, and Monticello still does a decent handle, thanks to simulcasting, so what's the harm, somebody's gotta pay for the lights. There will come a day though when casino's will eat their hosts, just like simulcasting, racinos will give racing a boost for now, which brings me to my final observation. I hate to pick on Beulah Park, I used to like to go there. Beulah would have trouble getting five horses in a race while it's racino successor Mahoning Valley, in Youngston, is putting 12 horses in the gates a lot of times, I'm not saying more people are in the stands, but the ones who are see more horses. 

Third: What seems like years ago, I read this article that had to be fiction, it told a story of how racing in the future would be held at a handful of tracks in areas with large populations, the secondary tracks and bullrings a thing of the past. Well it doesn't sound like fiction anymore, major tracks have closed in California and Illinois. Racing has all but disappeared in Michigan and New England, there even talk that the new racino at Plainridge is in trouble. Old year round venue's like Mountaineer and Parx, are running fewer dates and looking to drop more. Yes, there probably will always be a Saratoga,Del Mar, Keeneland, Churchill Downs and Gulfstream, places that are more of a happening. As for the rest, just take that elevator ride at Monticello and wait for the doors to open, that's the future. 

Were starting a new year and I just got some comments from a couple of gentlemen and both of them mentioned their feelings on the closing of Atlantic City Race Course. For some reason it started me thinking about being a young lad and led me to this analogy of horse racing. As a youngster I grew up with a pond behind my house, nobody swam there, but you could fish in the summer and it was big enough, that in the winter there could be a couple of hockey games going on, with room for people to ice skate. I first remember it from the fifty's, it was at its most robust then, a shoreline right up the paths that surrounded it and two coves. By the sixties the coves were gone, the shoreline receding. In the seventies it was now about half it's original size. Today it is little more than a giant puddle, it's springs all but dried up, just like us old timers who supported horse racing. It may be that it will always remain a giant puddle, but it will never be that robust pond again.                

California: Looks like Cal-Expo will be in the harness business till 2020, after signing new lease. 

Florida: Calder Race Course most recently known as Gulfstream Park West, has gone out of the horseracing game and is scheduled to be demolished. 

Illinois: Balmoral Park closed at the end of 2015, probably will not return.. 

Kentucky: My apologies to the folks at Thunder Ridge. I buried you too soon, seem your alive and well, well at least alive. 

Maryland: Rosecroft Raceway has been purchased from Penn Gaming by the Stronach Group, which once owned Flamboro Downs. This is seen as a positive sign for the track. 

Massachusetts: Maybe a bright spot, Suffolk Downs will have a few races in 2016 and it Looks like the Brockton Fair is a go for July, construction on the track has begun. 

Michigan: America's newest track in 2008 Pinnacle Park, had an appointment with the wrecking ball on January 25th. The good news a million dollars has been granted for purses at Michigan tracks next year. The bad news is no more betting from home, you have to go to Hazel Park or Northville to wager.

 New Hampshire: It's official Rockingham Park is closing it's doors, August 31, will be it's last day. 

New Jersey: As mentioned above Atlantic City Race Course has moved over to the race track heaven side of the Alphalist.