Starting March 20, members of the GSY Amateur Club will be racing Friday nights at the Meadowlands, competing in the second race of the wagering program. While I support amateur racing, truth is the last thing I want to see are amateurs on the wagering card. If there is anything good coming out of this, it is the fact the amateurs will be racing weekly so after a while gamblers should get some idea as to the ability of the drivers. Still, the fact the drivers are getting a regular spot on the race card is a sign of how bad things have become horse population-wise.
Of course, carding a weekly amateur race is a win-win situation. For the drivers, it gives them a place to race on a weekly basis and for the Meadowlands, it is one less race they need to worry about carding as the amateurs tend to control their own horses and where they race. It is no coincidence the amateur series begins the first week the Pennsylvania tracks reopen.
Harness Racing Update reports on the return of Bill Robinson to training after a period of two years; eleven years after WEG showed Robinson the door and serving a twenty-seven month suspension and a $125,000 fine. Of course, the question people will be wondering is when Robinson will return to the States? While certain tracks may not hold the welcome sign out for Robinson, I am sure it won't be long before he appears south of the border.
In a sure sign racing is screwed up; Jockey Roman Chappa has been suspended five years and fined $25,000 for his use of an electrical shock device in a race at Sam Houton. Chappa may appeal, but runs the risk of the fine being increased to $100,000.
My question is does anyone get banned for life anymore? According to sources, within his first year of racing, Chappa served a nine month suspension for his use of a nail on his mount to alter the speed. In 2007, he was cited in New Mexico, also for using an electrical device, and suspended for five years (though he returned early on probation). What does a jockey need to do in order to get shown the door for life? I'm no longer sure there is anything you can do to get a life ban, for if anyone deserves to find a new career, it would appear Mr. Chappa would be the poster child.