Policy, Finances Reduce 'America's Day' Numbers

Policy issues and financial considerations have reduced the number of tracks participating in America's Day at the Races, which will be held Labor Day. The event, first held in 1997, could be retooled in the future.

The National Thoroughbred Racing Association took over the event from the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association under a one-year arrangement. It was part of an agreement whereby TOBA became a founding member of the NTRA.

Nineteen racetracks participated in America's Day at the Races in 2000. This year, the number is 13: Arlington Park, Bay Meadows, Calder Race Course, the California Exposition and State Fair, Canterbury Park, Del Mar, Emerald Downs, Hoosier Park, Keeneland, Mountaineer Race Track and Gaming Resort, Prairie Meadows Racetrack and Casino, River Downs, and Sam Houston Race Park.

In a change this year, participants must be NTRA members, said Keith Chamblin, senior vice president-marketing and industry relations for the NTRA. That means Charles Town Races, Delaware Park, Meadowlands, Penn National Race Course, and Philadelphia Park, all of which participated last year, could not this year. Chamblin said the members-only policy met with no complaints.

Two NTRA-member tracks -- Ellis Park and Saratoga -- declined because of budgetary reasons, Chamblin said.

"The ones that aren't participating this year are essentially non-member tracks," Chamblin said. "The Meadowlands has asked to do certain aspects of the promotion, and we're working with them on that."

The one-year arrangement will be reviewed for next year, Chamblin said. In addition, there could be discussion with members later this year about moving America's Day to another spot on the calendar.

"From a marketing standpoint, we would like to align it with national television time, and conduct a national consumer promotion along with it," Chamblin said. "Maybe it would be better for the event to lead into the summer rather than conclude it (so people can be enticed to return at some point during the summer)."

On the wagering side, America's Pick-4 is open to any track or wagering outlet that wants to or is able to offer it. The pick four, with a guaranteed pool of $250,000 is made up of the Sea O'Erin Breeders' Cup Mile at Arlington, the Miller Genuine Draft Cradle Stakes at River Downs, the Diana Handicap at Saratoga, and the Miami Mile Breeders' Cup Handicap at Calder.

The first race of the pick four is set for 5:05 p.m. (EDT). Arlington will hub the bet.