For photos from the Meadowlands contact Lisaphoto@playmeadowlands.com

Monday, September 5, 2011

Poor Performance On the Track and Off

See You At Peelers raced last night at Toga Downs and while she crossed the finish line first, she was placed second for interference in the stretch for coming in on the second place horse who was coming up the rail.  Clearly See You at Peelers is not herself racing in a class she should have blown away without any trouble.  Before the disqualification, she had to hold on for dear life to cross the wire first ahead of the eventual winner New Album.



Clearly this is not the See You At Peelers we have gotten to know.  The blame some people pinned on former driver Marcuss Johansson clearly was misplaced.  To cross the wire only a head of the eventually declared winner New Again in a NYSS event shows the horse was likely not right in The Nadia Lobell  last week at the Meadows and last night at Tioga.  Hopefully all is well with See You at Peelers and we see her back, if not this year, next year.  I had said it last week and I will say it again, Peelers appears to be off the Little Brown Jug and even the Juggette trail after this performance.

As poor as See You At Peelers performance was last night is what happened after the race.  If you watch the replay offered via Harness Racing Update, it took a full three minutes after the race before the inquiry light was lit.  During this time, track announcer Darin Zoccali was singing the praises of See You At Peelers to the crowd, the filly was lead into the winners circle, and Jason Settlemoir began interviewing Jimmy Takter, all before the inquiry was posted.  This should never have happened.  First of all, if something happened which made the judges look at the video, the inquiry light should have gone up right away.  If after reviewing the replay the judges found nothing wrong, the judges could have turned off the inquiry light.  Instead, Zoccali, Settlemoir, and Takter may have been embarrassed and those holding their tickets on the 1-9 shot (in straight wagers or exotics) were even more annoyed.

Speaking of poor performances, where was the driver's objection?  Nothing from driver Jason Bartlett about being interfered in the stretch?  What does it take to get a driver to claim foul?  The judges may have made the right decision, in the end, but it should not have taken three minutes to even let the public know there may have been a problem.  However, give some credit for Jimmy Takter for describing the race for what it was,  before the inquiry was lit.  See You At Peelers was off and something is clearly wrong.  Hopefully whatever is wrong is not serious.  Even if Peelers is done for this year, the sport needs for her to return to the racing wars next year if possible.

Speaking of poor, Freehold Raceway's Labor Day card fits the bill.  Years ago, the James B Dancer Memorial used to be contested drawing the best three year old colts in the nation to the Monmouth County oval.  Then the Dancer was eliminated and before sending the race to Tioga, the Cane Pace was presented.  Now the holiday card features two divisions of the NJSS Green Acres where horses race for $7,500 purses but the undercard is quite uninspiring.  As poor as the card is, Racing Secretary Karren Fagliarone should be congratulated in the effort taken to get eleven races on the card.  Convincing the trainers of thirty-two horses to drop back in after three days rest, having raced on opening day is no small feat..

But it is not just Freehold Raceway. In the past, tracks used to have some major races as part of holiday race cards to make the day special.  Now, tracks tend to pull out the dredges of their racing colony to put together a card, if they race at all.  True, these holiday cards often don't draw the people who bet the most, but you are getting people who usually don't come to the races.  You certainly are not going to make these people fans if all you are doing is scrounging your racing colony to put on the worst classes of racing you can present.  Monticello, when they raced on Sundays, was another track that put on a putrid race card on holidays when it was an extra day of racing during the week.

Hats off to Plainridge Racecourse for putting on a special holiday card worth presenting.  Including their Invitational Race, they have The Stan Bergstein Pace for 3yo colts by invitation and The Bert Beckwith Memorial.  The Bergstein and Beckwith have only purses of $20,000 but for Plainridge, this is nothing to sneeze at.  Congratulations to Plainridge for remembering what holiday cards should look like.  Kudos also to Chester Downs for having their PASS finals today as well as Running Aces, who is presenting their Minnesota state championships.


There was some good news last night for Jimmy Takter as it was announced that he was elected to the Living Hall of Fame; a well deserved honor for him. For Jean Emerson and Hambletoninan Society's Moira Fanning, congratulations were also in order as they were elected to the Communicator's Hall of Fame at Goshen as well for their efforts in promoting the sport.