The response regarding RUS racing has been very good for the most part, especially from the fans.
Unfortunately, as with anything new, there are those who object to it, perhaps they fear it will take racing opportunities from them though there is nothing to keep trainers from training their trotters for RUS.
But then, there are probably those who take objection to women being in the saddle; the same ones who object to women in the race bike. Let's face it, while women have been accepted into the training ranks, there is still hesitation to have women participate in races. In this respect, standardbred racing is probably 20-25 years behind thoroughbred racing, a period when jockeys like Julie Krone were considered a freak in the sport. Sure there were female jockeys before her, but they were far and few between and there were plenty of racing participants (and horse players) who felt female jockeys couldn't handle a horse past six furlongs, being the 'fairer' sex. Once Krone was accepted, a few other women got their chance and finally they were accepted. Now at most running tracks, you will see women riders racing with some regularity.
Well in harness racing, despite the success of a few female drivers, women still have a hard time getting drives. Unless they own or train a horse, the chance of a woman getting drives is highly unlikely and unusual at the major tracks. If women aren't as good as male drivers, it is only because they don't get the chance to compete as often as their male counterparts.
The following is a 'draft' promotional video for RUS Ontario. Take a look at this video, and tell me these women lack the physical strength to ride or drive horses in races.
(Video and pictures courtesy of Carrie Clarke Scott)
Clearly, there should be no question about the physical strength of these women. You can be strong and good looking at the same time. I only wish I could be as strong as these women and dare say they can hold themselves against their male counterparts whether driving or riding horses.
RUS is serious racing, not just an excuse for women to get on the track to race. Yes, it may be a way to get women more involved in harness racing, out of the backstretch and onto the track. Perhaps after some more races, those doubters in harness racing will realize women can more than hold their own on the track and not only will RUS be an accepted part of standardbred racing; it may finally be the key to giving women a chance in the sulky as well.
It's about time standardbred racing catches up with thoroughbred racing with regards to accepting female participation on the track. Time to make RUS more than a curiosity and a regular form of racing with additional races in Canada and the approval of the USTA's proposed rules for RUS and introducing parimutuel wagering.