For photos from the Meadowlands contact

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Mishandling the Glaucine Incident

Upon learning of the NYSGC's rulings regarding the glaucine affair, I initially thought they handled it properly.  They kept track of the positives but did nothing until research was conducted by various groups and the RMTC published standards.  The consortium came up with guidelines of those testing between 100-499 pg/ml having to test below that level before racing again; 500- 999 pg/ml being disqualified; 1 ng/ml or more resulting in a fine and suspension being issued.  Once the standard was published, the commission issued rulings resulting in one trainer being fined and suspended with others being disqualified.

But then, looking back, we see cases in Delaware and Maryland were handled differently.  In those states, the commissions ruled the contamination was environmental, with no penalties to be assessed.  Of course, their ruling came out in June, before the RMTC issued their advisory.

Was New York too harsh on those who came up with the glaucine positives or is it a case of the Delaware and Maryland racing commissions acting too quickly in dropping the positives on those horses which raced in those states?

I would likely side with Delaware and Maryland in this case.  How do you penalize someone whose only crime may have been using the wrong bedding for their horses?  Once it was known that glaucine is produced naturally in shavings from tulip poplar trees, the commission should have voided the positives up to that point and issued an advisory to the racing community advising them not to use those shavings in stalls; indicating penalties will be forthcoming on any future positives.

Regardless of which state you think handled the situation properly or not, it shows the problem of not having a nationalized medication policy.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Drive of the Year - British Style

First, the time-sensitive item.  The British Harnesss Racing Club (BHRC) is asking harness racing fans throughout the world to vote on the best drive of 2016 for their awards night.  Voting ends mid-day on February 14 (remember they are five hours ahead of the east coast.   The BHRC Drive of the Year is being sponsored by Tetrick Racing.  The six drives nominated for the award may be found here.

While I have my personal favorite in the race for USTA President, I won't be naming them in this column.  What I will do is list in alphabetic order the three candidates I feel would best serve the USTA.  My finalists are: Fred Hudson, Jason Settlemoir, and Russell Williams.  Still trying to select your candidate?  Harness Racing Update asks the five candidates five questions.  You may see their answers here.   Only USTA Directors will be able to vote in the election but if you are a USTA member, remember they represent YOU.  Make sure you let your director know which candidate you prefer.

Judging from the coverage in HRU, the Meadowlands is still the number one track in the United States.  Not for the coverage of the racing, but of Jeff Gural.  Clearly if the Meadowlands didn't really matter anymore, Gural wouldn't be getting much coverage (for and against).  I for one would like to read letters about other tracks, for and against, to see what they are doing wrong or doing right.  If you are looking at the short term, other tracks mean a lot if you race horses but if you are a gambler, odds are it is the Meadowlands and WEG tracks which matter.

I read in Friday's edition of HRU Marvin Katz's criticism of the Gural rule, in particular how much money he has lost as a result of 'the' rule.   Quite honestly, I don't buy it.  Yes, maybe he could have made more money if the rule didn't exist, but the rule has been in existence for several years now; it should have been factored in when he purchased (or bought into) these horses.

As for asking would such a rule apply in thoroughbred racing with American Pharoah?  Of course not, but then their problems aren't as bad as harness racing's; they have the publicity machine to make their stars known where even people who don't follow racing have heard of them.  Just look at all the conversations on the web every time California Chrome raced, his final race occurring at the age of six..

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The New Jersey Classic Condundrum

Since I began following the standardbreds, racetracks have always had the ability to cancel stakes due to financial concerns; sometimes the lack of entries would result in cancellations.  Horse owners never liked it, but it was part of racing.  This is nothing new, one could argue it is an understood risk of the horse business.  The industry has a standard in place to refund all nominations and fees to those who had horses still eligible.

The Meadowlands, which has financial issues threatened to cancel a good part of the stakes program this year but thanks to industry 'sponsorship', the majority of the program remains intact.  The NJ Classic and Miss New Jersey being two races which remain on the cutting board.  Yet lawyer Howard Taylor, has gone to the courts seeking an injunction to resurrect these stakes as if this is a new phenomenon; a revelation begging to ask "How could this happen"?  

Taylor claims his partners and him bought a horse specifically because it was eligible to the NJ Classic.  That may be the case.  However, if he has been following the horses since he has been twelve, he has seen stakes cancelled before and considering what has happened at the Meadowlands since the Atlantic City subsidies disappeared, this cancellation should not have shocked him.

Yes, to cancel the races, the conditions should indicate it may be cancelled (the conditions are not available for review) due to unforeseen circumstances.  I imagine if there was an oversight,  there may be a case for action but being races have been cancelled in the past and will in the future, understanding the situation, why would someone bother, especially since there is plenty of time to rearrange a horse's schedule.

All I can say is if I was Jeff Gural and I lost this suit, I would be surrendering the license at the end of the year and let New Meadowlands Racetrack, LLC file for bankruptcy; it would be the final stab in the back.  And no one could blame him.

Monday, January 30, 2017

NJ Historical Wagering?

If you don't succeed in getting slots, what do you do next?

Well, in New Jersey, you attempt to get Historical Racing through the legislature.  Yes, the very same machines which some say look an awful lot like slot machines.  One would think it would be hard to get this approved, but an Attorney General from a previous administration ruled it would be constitutional.  Of course, even if it passes the state legislature and gets signed by Governor Christie, there will be a battle in the courts; both Atlantic City and out of state casino interests will finance the challenge.

Of course, for this bill to pass it would take state legislators a lot of courage to vote for this bill being the casino referendum failed miserably this past election.   So don't count on going to your local racetrack in New Jersey to wager on old races anytime soon.

Yonkers Raceway and NYRA have been conducting the New York New York Daily Double on Sunday afternoons and the pools have been shallow.  The blame lies on NYRA.  While Yonkers' half of the Double has had ten starters, NYRA's kick-off to the wager has consisted of short fields; the bane of serious handicappers.

The idea of a wager from the two tracks is a good idea, but it will never develop further unless NYRA gets more starters in their races.  Perhaps it may work out if the wager kicks off at Yonkers and concludes at the NYRA track with a race with more wagering opportunities.  It's worth exploring.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Bold Eagle Soars Once Again in Prix d' Amerique

Due to injury, I'm limited as to how much typing I can do so I will be brief.  Bold Eagle was victorious for the second straight time in the Prix d' Amerique at Vincennes Racecourse.  The winning mile rate for the 2,700 meter race was 1:54.3 (1:11.2 kilometer rate).  Frank Nivard was the winning driver.e

When watching the race, Bold Eagle is number 17 and Frank Nivard has red silks with a yellow cap.  When he finally gets into stalking position, there was no doubt who the winner was going to be; he's that good.

With his victory, Bold Eagle is automatically qualified for the Yonkers International.   Being he didn't come to North America for the Breeders Crown, I wouldn't count on his showing up but racing fans can hope.