Wiggle It Jiggleit was named Pacer of the Year today by the USHWA also named was the Trotter of the Year was Pinkman. The naming of these two horses set up the contest for Horse of the Year which to no one's surprise was Wiggle It Jiggleit. The complete announcement is available here.
RUS Ontario held their annual meeting on November 29 and there was some good news coming out of the meeting. First of all, the average handle in 2015 for RUS events (11) was $13,459 versus an average handle in 2014 of $7,571 for 8 events, representing an increase of over 77%. In all fairness, it needs to be mentioned this past year was the first time RUS was offered with wagering on the WEG circuit for a single race which no doubt contributed to the overall increase in average but make no mistake, the second season shows with a familiarity, people will wager on RUS and as time goes on, increase their wagering. As an example, at Georgian Downs, a single RUS race on an 11-race card represented 10.75% of the handle.
Even some good came out of the not-so good news. RUS Ontario realizes there is a shortage in horses available for RUS racing partially due to the fact some races are not competitive; a problem which comes with all races being 'Open' events. The board realizes a need to offer classified races which may be based on factors such as money earned previous year in RUS or qualifying times and bike times (something I don't favor). I personally would like to see races classified based on number of wins in RUS events. The hope is to offer two different classes of races and only combine and handicap them if the races come up short. With more balanced races, it is likely more trainers will be willing to enter their horses in contests.
There is also consideration to odd-distance races to possibly gain the attention of trainers whose charges may find the mile distance not to their liking. One thing is known, to be successful on a long term, more horses need to be available to race to get through the season. A personal suggestion would be if American RUS racing stagnates, make a conscious effort to recruit horses from the States to race in Ontario.
Standards on getting a riding license is getting a look at by possibly requiring a rider to earn 12 points in qualifiers where a total of 5 points will be available for each qualifying race. This may slow the licensing of new riders, but the goal is to have high quality riders over quantity. In this vein, consideration is being given to require riders earn their licenses before the season starts so a newly licensed rider won't make their debut in the middle of the season.
Unfortunately, while RUS is doing relatively well in Canada, it continues to struggle in the States as some close-minded standardbred people are not cooperating in promoting the sport and thoroughbred interests are gumming up the works when it comes to wagering by wanting a cut, claiming RUS cuts into thoroughbred racing's business while some states require legislative action to get the wagering offered. RUS in New York is doing relatively well thanks to RUS New York and there is now some interest to get more RUS racing in Ohio. Hopefully, more familiarity with the sport will finally get the wagering window open in the States.
Good wagering and racing takes place this weekend with overflow fields and extra races on tab at the Meadowlands. Friday night features a card of 14 races with 5 races with trailers while Saturday's card features another slate of 14 tilts with 6 fields overflowing. The good racing should continue at least through New Years Day weekend as Yonkers is in their year-end hiatus.