Big Woodbine Handle Monday; Martin On Seven-Eighths Trial

Published: December 23, 2008 01:39 pm EST

On Monday, December 22, the Woodbine Entertainment Group saw its live standardbred card produce the highest Monday handle since May 15, 2006. WEG did offer a 13-dash card, but, nonetheless, the $1,569,322 handle speaks for itself. Today, Trot Insider spoke with Jamie Martin, WEG senior vice president, Racing, about the ongoing seven-eighths mile racing trial.

Martin reiterated that the five-week trial will not continue into January of 2009. He also told Trot Insider that it is possible that another seven-eighths mile trial period could occur at some point in the future, but there are currently no such plans in the works.

Regarding the feedback he and the rest of WEG officials have received since implementing the shortened-distance trial, Martin said, "it depends on who you speak to.

"[WEG] has received quite a bit of positive feedback from our customers. Understandably, given the nature of the move, we have also received negative feedback, as well."

Listed below are some brief numbers regarding Woodbine Racetrack's live Monday cards since the standardbreds returned from Mohawk Racetrack.

• Oct. 13 -- 11 Races -- $1,167,790 (first Monday card back at Woodbine)
• Oct. 20 -- 11 Races -- $1,183,513
• Oct. 27 -- (card cancelled after four races)
• Nov. 3 -- 12 Races -- $1,334,741
• Nov. 10 -- 12 Races -- $1,366,070
• Nov. 17 -- 12 Races -- $1,298,164
• Nov. 24 -- 12 Races -- $1,142,414
• Dec. 1 -- 12 Races -- $1,394,857 (the first card with 7/8ths mile races)
• Dec. 8 -- 12 Races -- $1,139,274
• Dec. 15 -- 12 Races -- $1,139,487
• Dec. 22 -- 13 Races -- $1,569,322

When WEG first announced the move, and after the first card of the trial process, there was much feedback from fans, horsepeople and owners. Many people said they would not wager on the Monday cards.

"So far things have gone okay," Martin said. "It hasn't hurt our bet to this point. I'm not saying that we handled $1.5 million and change on Monday because of the seven-eighths mile experiment; but I'm also not going to say that we would've had that handle if all the races were raced at a mile distance. After next Monday we'll start to analyze the data from the five cards."

To view the charted lines from Woodbine's Monday, December 22 live standardbred card, click here.



I watched two of the 7/8th mile cards, and I found that it only made it easier for the horse on the lead to hang on - since the horse didn't have to negotiate that final 1/8th of a mile where they tend to tire.

I like the Woodbine action, but I would like to see banked turns or something that would improve the cover flow and allow horses to come from off the pace. As people who bet there undoubtedly know, in the great majority of races, if your horse is not on the lead, in the pocket, first over or second over, you have virtually no chance of winning.

Re: 7/8 mile racing: I attended the Boxing day program and noted the large number of races which included horses that had one or more race lines at 7/8. The lines show NR at the head of the stretch and do not show a "last quarter speed", a valuable handicapping tool. Even the section in the program that identifies the horse with the fastest last quarter is displaying the wrong horse as the computer program has not been adjusted to reflect the shortened distance. This four week experiment will have disatrous consequences for any serious handicapper for the next two months .i.e. until all of these distorted racelines disappear from the race programs. This again is an appeal to encourage WEG to recognize that standardbred racing is built around the standard mile. Stick to it.

7/8 mile racing is a detriment to the average handicapper, the average handicapper will look at angles such as barn changes, driver changes, 2nd start new barn, drop in class, etc. However, the most astute handicapper will consider the 3rd quarter vs last quarter to determine if the horse was live. With 7/8 mile racing you lose that handicapping angle and at the same time you virtually eliminate post 8 and 9, which can be a decent post for a live horse at a good price.

Woodbine racing is difficult to watch at the best of times, single file, slow 2nd quarter, large holes opening up and negative flow. From a pure entertainment perspective Woodbine is a bore compared to mile racing at Meadowlands. In the past 2 yrs I have introduced standardbred racing to 3 people at Woodbine, in all cases they said "it is boring as hell" . Perhaps a product similar to Meadowlands would have changed those views. Is it just the track that produces boring racing or is a combination of the track configuration/bias and how the product is governed? Something to consider........

Want to increase the handle? Zero tolerance for performance enhancing drugs. One strike and you are out for life. The distance of the races mean squat.

For those who believe the handle of $1.5 million on monday dec 22nd was in any way connected with 7/8 of a mile racing they are delusional and probably still believe in santa claus. The handle would have been the same or more had it been mile racing. This was the last race card to be offered at woodbine or the big m until friday and this was peoples last chance to bet the ponies for the next 4 days it is that simple. Changing the distance of a race is something you expect of a half mile track who has to offer gimmick racing in hopes of attracting new people.

I am wondering why there is so much negativity towards weg trying this experiment. I am happy someone is trying something new to try and bring the numbers up!, i look forward to things like this happening more often
Good job Weg

I agree with the comments below; it's all about timing and not the 7/8 distance. This is the holiday season and that's why the numbers were higher. I hope they don't run another experiment like this. It was really unfair for the horses starting from the outside. I also agree about Boxing Day being one of the biggest draw. I think the 1:20pm post is the big contibutor. I'm glad to see they're running a survey regarding afternoon racing. I think that's a worth while experiment and doesn't change the distance or hurt punish the outside post positions..

You want to increase the handle? Bring back afternoon brings in the younger fans and families...who later might go out on the occasional Monday evening...Saturday and Sunday afternoons were always a big draw at the old Greenwood...and still are for the thoroughbreds...who we all know get more attention and publicity than us.


The handle tradionally increases around the Christmas Holidays. Our best day is usually Boxing Day. More people have had this week off, more celebrations happen. I love the fact that the handle did increase, We need this to happen. We as an Idustry can not rely on Slots for our entire purse structure.But I do not think that being 7/8 racing has any berring at all with the handle. Yes some people have said they like to bet the inside horses more, but the same people also say they discount the outside ones. I would love to see stats on which posts are winning, are they comparible to the norm, or have they changed.

I think that one of the reasons for the large handle last evening is because you cannot bet Woodbine again until Friday, so more people attended the track and off-track locations last night.