Many of the mid-west stakes are bypassed by horses on the east coast due to shipping and the value of the purse. You may get one or two name horses to ship out there at best but this week in the Charlie Hill Memorial Stakes at Scioto Downs on Saturday evening, the race comes up with a pretty solid field; even for the east coast racing fan.
Although Arch Madness, Archanagel, Creatine, Market Share, Modern Family, and DW's New York Yank have made the trip west to compete in the race, the drivers have a definite mid-west feel as the eliminations for the North America Cup and other major races are taking place Saturday evening as well at Mohawk. Despite many drivers heading north, the race should be a good one; one worth your watching.
Ake Svandstedt in a profile in Harness Racing Update has inadvertently summed up the problem with harness racing in the United States. When the article talks about how in Sweden trainers emulated his methods, it goes on to say Svandstedt doesn't believe Americans will do so, as he explains: "They never seem to change anything in racing here. They train the same way they always have. Greyhound, he trained same way modern horse does". The same goes for racing. The big advancement in racing in the States was the elimination of multiple heat races for overnights as was the case when Roosevelt Raceway and other tracks first opened. A race is a mile and to attempt anything different has trainers and owners kicking and screaming as does the thought of racing with a second tier in order to give the customers races they will want to bet on versus unbettable races. While basically a whisper campaign, even the effort to introduce RUS racing is being complained about by some in certain corners. Racing is very slow to adopt to changes. As with any industry, it needs to look around the world and see what the 'best practices' are and adopt them.
As for Svandstedt, I believe his impact on American standardbred racing will be similar to Halkan Wallner, Berndt Lindstedt, and Jan Nordin's influence back in 1975 when they opened Continental Farms.
By the way, NJ-State Assemblyman Ron Dancer has introduced a bill for casino gaming at the state racetracks. Sadly, this much conversation about the bill is probably more than it really deserves as this proposal will meet the same fate as other proposals despite the fact the time is now for action.
Personal congratulations to my friend Suzanne D'Ambrose, winner of the NJ Chapter of the USHWA's Stanley Dancer Award for 2014. Suzanne works endlessly to promote the standardbred, racing, and standardbred retirement. A fine selection by the NJ Chapter if I say so myself.
I know many of you will be looking at the Belmont Stakes and probably be placing wagers. For you, here are Brisnet past performance lines for the Belmont. Yes, I have actually picked a horse for the Belmont though I warn you the methodology is probably only a little better than picking a name out of a hat. My selection is Commanding Curve. Why? He finished 2nd to California Chrome in the Derby after being far back during the early states of the race and he took time off; possibly a sign of trying to wait in ambush (taking a break), waiting for California Chrome. I'll either look like a genius or a fool (I can guess which one).
It looks like harness racing in the Commonwealth of Virginia may be on its way out as the possibility of Colonial Downs surrendering its license to race is being threatened, especially if the racing commission decides to penalize Colonial Downs over the dispute with thoroughbred horsemen.
The thoroughbred horsemen will be more than happy to see Colonial Downs close as their relationship with the owner, Jacobs Entertainment Inc., has become more than toxic. The hope of thoroughbred horsemen is that someone else may take the license on and open in a more populated part of Virginia and have management which is more 'friendly'. The problem there is there is no guarantee that harness racing would find a new home at any future track which may arise.