The New York Times has published its second article about how slot fueled purses has made racing a much more dangerous game for the horses and jockeys alike. Once again, harness racing is spared from any focus in the article and while it is certainly a relief to the standardbred industry that they don't need to defend themselves against claims of abusive practices to the horses, don't kid yourself; harness racing has also been impacted negatively by slot revenue.
Horses being bought and sold via the claiming route so often you would think these horses were like trading cards. If you have a horse who may be claimed in the next race, how much incentive do you have to keep the horse on the farm if they are sore? In the old days, you were discouraged from racing horses hard each week because you were going to have the horse around for a long time. Now, realizing the horse may not be around next week, most horses are driven with maximum effort because the horse may not be in your barn next week.
Probably the only thing keeping standardbred racing from being as bad as thoroughbred racing is the horsemen's own greed. By insisting to race as many days as possible, purses don't get as ridiculous as they are in thoroughbred racing where they traditionally have shorter race meets. Could you imagine what it would look like if some slot tracks raced only half the dates they currently have? We would be right up there getting the bad press the thoroughbred racing is getting.
UPDATE: People in the industry are complaining about the running of the article during Derby week. Of course if the problem didn't exist, there would be no article to write.
Were there signs that the OLG Slots at Tracks program was in danger as early as last year? According to Cangamble, there was. I realize it is always easy to look back and say 'Now, I see', but if slots is the lifeblood for horse racing, how come no one noticed and started lobbying to maintain the current program at that time?
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Construct the Molson Pace Win 4. The Raceway at Western Fair District are asking HANA members to decide which races will be combined with the Molson Pace to build the $15,000 guaranteed pool Win 4 on May 25. Cast your vote here. While you're at it, if you are a harness racing gambler, consider becoming a member of HANA and specify you wager on harness racing (it's free). Through HANA, harness racing horseplayers, small or large, have an organization representing them.