Tonight is the opening round of Lexington Selected Yearling Sale and people are anxiously waiting to see how weak the market will be for yearlings. While many don't expect the dramatic drops the thoroughbreds suffered at their sale, many acknowledge that the market will be somewhat softer than it was last year. It is just a question of how soft.
The Ontario Racing Commission has modified the urging rules for thoroughbreds and the expectation is the rules will be modified for standardbreds. Speculation is rampant as to what will be changed but many are focusing on the portion of the rule which mandates an automatic disqualification of a horse when a driver whips one handed regardless of the number or type of its used. While this provision may be altered, the provision should be replaced with something stronger than the fine given to jockeys. Under the new guidelines, a jockey in a race with a purse over $100,000 is fined 20% of what the rider makes. If a horse finishes worse than fifth, the rider will be hit with a fine of 20% of what the fifth place finisher earns. A more appropriate fine for this particular violation if the spirit of the original rule is to be preserved would be a fine of what the winning driver would make on the race. After all, if a driver was fined 20% of their earnings, if it is a real big race it might be worth taking the fine. Making sure the driver didn't profit at all would make sure drivers kept both hands on their lines.
Some people are arguing that Ron Pierce's 10 day suspension (being appealed) for violating Kentucky's whipping rules is unfair to the owners as well as the fans. If this line of thinking is correct, then perhaps we should not suspend drivers for interference, or any other racing infraction as it may cause the owner to lose their driver. If this logic is correct, then perhaps we should only fine trainers that violate medication rules because the owner would be punished? If a driver is suspended, there are many competent drivers out there that would be more than capable to drive the owner's horse. For example, let's say Pierce's suspension meant he could not drive Well Said at Lexington or in the Breeder's Crown, I am sure the owners would be able to find a driver with similar ability of Ron Pierce to drive Well Said. Don't we have drivers drive a particular horse through most of their career then take themselves off to drive another horse or to race at another track? Driver changes are part of the sport, owners need to deal with it all the time. As for the fans? They are constantly handicapping races with drivers switching horses. We may disagree with a specific penalty for violating a rule, but a driver suspension being unfair to an owner is not a valid argument.
As a side note, others have indicated with all the different whipping rules how can a driver possibly know the rules? In the case of The Red Mile, the bottom of the condition sheet clearly indicates: Beware of the new whip Rule! See Judges. All a driver needs to do is ask. That being said, perhaps if the USTA at this past annual meeting had revised the whipping rules instead of punting by just toughening the penalties, the states would have had a model rule to adopt instead of going their own way.
There are five divisions of the International Stallion Stakes for 2yo trotting c&g on Thursday. Due to the length of this entry, I will just list my top four horses in each race in order of preference.
3rd Race: 4 - Kash's Caviar; 1 - He's Spooky; 3 - Caviar De Vie; 6 -Olla Podriga
5th Race: 2 - Wishing Stone; 1 - Hard Livin; 8 - Big Stick Lindy; 4 - Sailaway Dream
7th Race: 8 - Winning Fireworks; 1 - Rap's Legacy; 2 - Cuzzin Rob; 3 - Chimon
8th Race: 3 - Jetblue Volo; 4 - Senor Glide; 1 - Priority Photo; 8 - Call the Warden
9th Race: 5 - Temple of Doom; 4 - Shaq Is Back; 2 - Lucky Chucky; 1 - Empire Hanover