The International Division of RCI is reviewing their model rules with regards to urging for thoroughbred, quarter horse, and standardbred racing and it is reported that the urging rules adopted by the ORC are under consideration to become the standard.
Let the howling begin.
Some of the old time horseplayers may not be happy should those rules be adopted, but the horsemen are going to be screaming about any change with whipping; after all, isn't that what we always did? Like everything else in harness racing, tradition is held in high esteem, even if it negatively influences the popularity of the sport. Just like the resistance to horses starting in the second tier; who cares if the gambler finds himself looking at five horse fields; we want our nose on the gate.
The Ontario rule with regards to whipping is one of the most strict rules in all the states and provinces, and it may be time for the rule to be adopted on a national level, I must confess, I myself have an uneasy feeling when a horse gets disqualified for certain violations of the whipping rule; I would prefer the driver paying a severe fine for a violation and mandatory days off instead of a disqualification. Better yet, with an Australian study showing whipping does nothing in the later part of a race, perhaps driving without a whip would be a good idea.
People say how can we go without whips? It is easy. The first thing to do is demonstrate how the whip is meaningless; it would require racetracks to statge some non-wagering events for their regular purses during the racing card so people can see for themselves that whipping has no impact. Not just one event; gamblers used to whipping will not be convinced by one race; it needs to be a series of races.
However, I am getting ahead of myself. Harness racing is too conservative to make that big a leap. Let's get a standardized urging regulation in place, perferably the Ontario rule and move on from there.
Jeff Gural and the SBOANJ has shown the first drawings of the new Meadowlands grandstand and the pictures look very good. Modern, stylish and a place that looks more than a typical racetrack grandstand. One thing of interest is the sports bard looks like it is designed for sports betting. However, no lease means no new grandstand, so pardon me if I withhold my excitement for another month.