I was watching a TV show the other night and the petty criminal needed to justify a bunch of money in his possession, usually they say they won it at the track. This guy says he hit "the number", does anybody remember the number? I don't know the origin but I do remember it in the fifties and sixties, everybody played the number, usually for a dime. Every place I worked, there was a shop bookie ready to take your bet. So why am I rambling about this on a horse racing site, well horse racing had everything to do with "the number". Local newspaper printed an item usually called mutuals, it was three lines with a variation of certain races at some racetrack totaling payouts for that day, it was printed in dollar format and I think the three vertical numbers before the decimal point was "the number". With legal daily lotteries I can't see "the number" existing today, but you have to wonder why newspapers printed it, it certainly wasn't news worthy but it must have sold papers. Enough of this let's see if we can't get back in the saddle.

Since my last update there have been a few changes to the racing scene, most have headed to the graveyard, some are on life support, a couple even came back from the dead and a few babies were born.

Race Track Heaven

Portland Meadows: Probably the most significant closing of the period. On February 5th, 2019 after over 70 years of operation Portland Meadows ran it's last race. Slated for demolition there's no chance racing returns here.

Hialeah: While never coming close to it's former glory, Hialeah did return for a time with quarter horse racing, that ended in 2016, when they came up with some voodoo to satisfy their casino status without having to run a race. It seems their new plan is a jai-alai fronton, so looks like racing will never return but the grandstand is still there. 

Les Boise: Just kind of sticking a fork in this one, should have moved to race track heaven a while back. Made a brief comeback with instant racing, but that was ruled illegal after one season and that was the end of that. 

Bluegrass Downs: The one time thoroughbred turned harness track in Paducah, Ky closed it's doors in 2019. Was running a short harness meet over the years. No idea on what is planned for now with the grandstand. 

Oxford Fair: Not a biggy, think they only raced 4 or 5 days a year. Part of the Maine Fair harness circuit racing, was cancelled after the 2017 season. 

Suffolk Downs: The East Boston oval has been dead for a few years, but it was kind of laying in state, with a few days of racing a year, but that's now gone and there ready to close the casket. 

Life Support

Northville Downs: The last track standing in Michigan. Opened in 1944, the track has seen better days. In 2018 the track was sold to developers who were going to build houses on the site after the 2020 meet. There was talk of building a new track nearby but that all hangs on a racino license, which Michigan tracks have waited for years but never got.  

Scarborough Downs: I've been trying to put this place into the ground for years, but it's still standing. Another track that's seen better days, the end could be in sight. Scheduled to race in 2020, progress is closing in, the Route 1 entrance is closed and a housing development is being built in that area.  

Monticello Raceway: Unbelievable, there's nobody in the stands, no money in the pools, they ripped the casino out and the place and it's still running. I think it's the first track to lose a casino, Buffalo Raceway was striped of theirs but it was relocated on the same grounds and Blue Ribbon Downs in Oklahoma went totally under, not a good sign for the future. 

Back From the Dead?

Colonial Downs: Might be for real, historic racing machines have become legal (they look a lot like slot machines to me). Track reopened in 2019 and has six weekends of racing scheduled in 2020. 

Sports Creek: The one time harness track has new owners who want to run thoroughbreds there, they have a license to run in 2020 but won't be using it. Same story as Northville, holding out for historic racing machines or better. With Michigan's past record this is probably a longshot. 

Yavapai Downs: Renamed Arizona Downs, the track reopened in 2019 reminiscent of Yavapai Downs the track shut down operations in the middle of the meet. No sign there will be racing in 2020, may not be totally back from the grave. 

New Arrivals

Shenandoah Downs: Don't confuse this with the old thoroughbred track in West Virginia. The only thing new about this track is pari-mutual wagering. The site itself has hosted fair racing for over a hundred years. The track located in Woodstock, Virginia runs five weekends in the fall and doesn't have simulcasting, just old time harness racing.

 Oak Grove: Oak Grove is a new $150 million, Churchill Downs money grab. Located in Oak Grove, Kentucky, it will offer 12 days of harness racing and I'm sure a ton of historic racing slot machines. Located near the Tennessee border a sure draw for the Grand Ol Opry crowd. 

Honorable Mention

Illinois: Finally casinos and sports betting have come to Illinois race tracks. Hawthorne and Fairmount Park are pushing forward with plans. Hawthorne is even eliminating the spring thoroughbred meet to get done ASAP. Arlington Park has not yet committed to any expansion plans.  

Maywood Park: If you put off getting that photo op visit Maywood Park, well your too late. The grandstand and stables are now an Amazon distribution facility.  

Mountaineer Park: Another track I've been touting as doomed, but it's still there. A far cry from the MTR glory days when they were the only game in town, they have been sold for a second time, the new owners Century Casinos are out of Canada. They operate Century Downs and Century Mile race tracks very confusing they seem like the same place but their not. Back to Mountaineer, they will race in 2020, but for a track that once raced year round the calendar keeps shrinking.