The ugly affair of the Bee A Magician's race on opening night has opened a whole Pandora box of issues. For anyone who has been away for a few days, it appeared to many that in the final preliminary leg of the TVG series for Mares at the Meadowlands on opening night, Be A Magician went for a ride around the track at 2-5. An uproar ensued, Jeff Gural held a mandatory horsemen meeting the following night explaining horsemen are to provide trainer's comments for all horses entered starting this week (delayed until a SBOANJ/Meadowlands meeting is held). In the meanwhile, after a meeting with the judges, driver Brian Sears got a 15 day suspension for an unsatisfactory drive.
Let's talk about the immediate impact of what has transpired. Brian Sears received his 15 day suspension at the Meadowlands, which may be all it takes to make Sears a permanent resident of Yonkers Raceway, unwilling to return to the mile track in East Rutherford as he may perceive himself as a marked man. In addition, it may give pause to horsemen from others parts of the country who had an idea of trying to break in at the Meadowlands.
Now, what about the longer term impacts? Once again, it brings to head the problem of horses using betting races as tighteners especially when the finals of big races are held the following week. Yes, Magician had issues with tying up and the trainer asked the driver not to race the horse up front. Sears obliged the trainer, perhaps a little too much. The fact is if a horse has been tying up and the horse needs to be raced easy, by all means race them easy, in a non-wagering event.
If a horse is in a betting race, they should be raced with the intention of winning. This doesn't mean a horse needs to be raced bravely; it may be covered up hoping for a break from the racing gods to allow them to find the winners circle. Out of respect to the customers, the ones who support racing, a training mile should never occur when there is wagering on the line.
Of course, if you subscribe to this theory, you better expect shorter field.s
While not an elimination race, it brings up the issue of horses not trying to win eliminations; just to advance to the following week. There should be no need to offer a reward for winning in the form off a favored post position come the final. If you are going to accept just qualifying as an acceptable drive, I suggest track management race these eliminations before the wagering card takes place.
Lastly, where are the judges? Except in Indiana, where unsatisfactory drives are penalized with some frequency, it took an uproar for the New Jersey judges to hand it to Brian Sears. What about the other drives where unsatisfactory drives go by without a visit to the judges? Any time an odds on favorite finishes out of the money, a routine visit to the judges should be mandatory. Nothing may come of it, but it will let everyone know the judges are watching. Where appropriate, the the judges should have no qualms about handing out unsatisfactory drive penalties.
The games people play in racing has to stop. The public deserves an honest effort each time a horse steps onto the track. There are other places people can gamble; there's no need to push them to those other options.