It's a good thing most horseplayers don't follow harness racing outside of their immediate area of interest; their favorite tracks and maybe the big races in North America, for if they followed what is going on abroad, the trotting sport would have been given a gut check.
I am talking about the reports of French trainer Fabrice Souloy having four top trotters testing positive for high levels of cobalt. You may be wondering who Souloy is. Over here, he is known as the trainer of the fabulous trotter Commander Crowe. One of his horses who tested high for cobalt raced in the Elitlopp and the Oslo Grand Prix, Grade 1 events in Europe. We aren't talking slightly over the permissible level, but way over the limit.
What makes this so bad? As one racing insider said, while you may expect to see this in the lower rent district of racing, you wouldn't expect to see this at the top classes of racing. Unfortunately, it appears the temptation to cheat is universal.
Well, I recall rabbits, birds, and deer interfering with harness racing, but I think the runners have one over us, at least in England.
Golf anyone? More specifically a golf ball. Over at Sandown Park a horse kicked up a golf ball which hit a jockey in the helmet which then ricocheted in front of another one to spook it; causing the jockey to fall to the turf. Fortunately, no one was hurt in the incident.
Let this be a note to anyone considering building a race track in the future. Being next to a golf course may not be the best thing.
Of course, in last night's finale at the Meadowlands, the local wildlife once again raised its ugly head. Certainly not in a colorful encounter such as above or in causing an accident, but one where Kiwi Ideal N was credited with an interference break, the result of an opossum which ran right in front of him around the first turn as well as running underneath two other horses which either didn't see or have fear of the marsupial mammal. This after a skunk crossed the track earlier in the evening but fortunately missed the field of race horses which was a good thing because let's face it, any contact between skunk and equine may have been a smelly affair. But alas, you build a racetrack in former swampland and you are bound to get these visitors every so often.
And yes there was some racing from last night to discuss. What is there to say about the Ewert Memorial at Scioto Downs where Always Be Miki went a brutal trip and yet managed to beat Wiggle It Jiggleit in a track record (tied world record) 1;47 mile? WIJI may have lost the race in not being able to catch the lead early, getting parked out the first quarter in :25.2 but make no mistake, Always Be Miki didn't see the rail for a half mile on the lead so he had every excuse to falter. You can see the video here, starting at the 3:50 mark so you can get right to the race.
While I still give the edge to WIJI, it looks like Miki and WIJI will be the main contenders in the upcoming stakes.
Earlier in the evening, Homicide Hunter continues his mastery when under Chris Oakes' tutelage going wire-to-wire in the Chip Noble Memorial in a track record 1:52.1.
I assume it is due to a short two week meet with two year olds featured and the stakes action out of town but for the last two nights, the Meadowlands didn't break the two million dollar mark with $1.7+ and $1.8+ million dollar handles; something which I don't recall seeing in a long time. These two weeks are excusable but when the fall meet begins, such a continuation will be problematic.
For those curious, in broadcast and major cable channels, the anti-North Jersey Casino forces are winning the battle of the airwaves. Of course, their ads are being sponsored not only by South New Jersey interests, but by existing casinos in New York and Pennsylvania who don't want their share of NJ gaming money to disappear. Perhaps highlighting where the funding for the anti-gaming forces is coming from may help the pro-gaming forces prove their argument. We don't know the advertising plans for pro-gamng forces, but it would appear they have a lot of catching up to do unless they have polling which suggests otherwise.