For photos from the Meadowlands contact

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Who Said This?

Who said the following comments?  They all were said by the same individual.

“I have seen a lot of sport over my career but I’ve never seen a sports industry that is so fragmented”.
“They have to work together. There is not a lot of ‘team’ going on here. It’s all about individuals and individual concerns. But you don’t save an industry by saving your own skin".
“We challenge the industry to work more collaboratively than ever before because, if the same destructive behaviors we have heard about throughout this review persist, then this puts the industry at grave risk at a time when it may be at its weakest.”

You could probably think of several people who may have said this, but truth is while these comments could describe the American (and arguably the Canadian) harness racing industry, these comments were not made by an American, these are the words of Brian Cunningham, the leading administrator for Harness Racing SA (South Australia) in describing the situation facing the industry in his part of the world.
It goes to show you different areas have similar problems.  Whether America, Australia, New Zealand, Italy, .... well, you get the idea.  All areas which have problems with harness racing.  It also makes sense the solutions are probably similar if not the same.  So what are the proposed solutions? 
Cunningham  came up with some recommendations such as having all the tracks fall in line and follow the direction of the governing body (with HRSA having more power than they currently do).  We can go through all the recommendations but this is something you can do at your own leisure.

Yes, racing in the United States is legally framed differently than in Australia, but with some work, we can get close to proposals in the South Australian report.
The point is, there comes a time when horsemen, tracks, and breeders have to give up their provincialism and accept the fact each segment of the industry depends on the other for success; it is time to think in terms of 'we', not 'me'.  
I am not suggesting the USTA commission another study; they have already generated Zielinski Report 1 and the sequel, Zielinski Report #2.  You can see how the recommendations were carried out; very little.  I suggest those in the American harness racing industry read the Australian report and see what parts are applicable (or can be made to be applicable) to the American market.  I suspect a good part of the report applies.  We just need each segment of the industry to have their visionaries work together.

Thursday, April 20, 2017

Friday NightStakes/Road Trip - Fraser Downs

For tonight's inaugural edition of Friday Night Stakes/Road Trip, we go straight across the continent to Fraser Downs in Cloverdale, British Columbia, Canada for the Keith Linton Memorial.

You may be asking why would we do this?  Well, in British Columbia, this is the only unrestricted stakes race open to 3yo pacing colts and geldings the whole year and if we bring attention to racing off the beaten path, why not do it?  The purse is a healthy $75,000, no small change wherever you race.

Anyway, let's analyze the race and see if we can land us a winner.

Friday, April 21, 2017

9th Pace - Fraser Downs - $75,000; Keith Linton Memorial (3yo C&G) Final

1  American Dreamer (Kelly O Hoerdt, 4-1) - Horse started the year of at the Meadowlands where he qualified in 1:56.1 before being sent west.  Won a race at Northlands Park and Century Downs and finished second in his elimination.  Looks like he can improve with move to rail.  One of the main contenders and my pick.

2  Beer O Clock (John D Chappell, 5-1) - Finished 2nd in his elim.  Winner of 3 for 7 this year.  Best efforts have been on the engine so expect this one to try to wire the field.

3  Mateo (James J Burke, 6-1) - Another representative of Alberta, made season debut in his elimination and finished a credible third.  Will need to improve to factor in race.  I will pass.

4  Wonder Bull (J Brandon Campbell, 10-1) - Would be a huge shocker to do something here.  Pass.

5  Senga Nitro (Ryan Grundy, 7-2) - Winner of $74K in last five starts, including his elimination in 1:56.3, his seasonal debut.  Clearly the one to beat on paper.  My concern is most of his action has been in Alberta-restricted races.   Figures to try to track #6.  Will he bounce?  Could be.  Will take a stab elsewhere.

6  Da Magician (Serge Masse, 3-1) - Winner of his elimination in 1:56.2 but show a 1;53.4 victory in non-winners of 6 races lifetime.  Seemingly one dimensional front runner.  Logical favorite.  Can't fault.

7  Milbanks Bar (Rod Therres, 12-1) -  Well beaten fourth.  Another one to toss.

8  Mach Steady (Paul B Davies, 15-1) - Bad form, bad post.  Need I say more?

9  Bakardi Gold (Jim R Marino, 8-1) - Finished third to #6.  Draws poorly but has raced well of late.  Don't ignore in exotics as figures to land share.

10  Fanchastic (Scott L Knight, AE) - Lowest money earner in field.  Nothing to recommend.  If he scratches in, it would be a shocker for him to win.  A toss.

Selection: 1-6-2-5

Thursday, April 13, 2017

Vernon on Ice

News broke earlier today that Vernon Downs will not open their race meet as scheduled on Friday, April 21 in a dispute with the state over taxes, specifically the tax rate the casino pays.  Since the opening of the Yellow Brick Road, Lago, and Rivers casinos, Vernon Downs loses roughly $150K a month when they aren't racing.  With racing a money loser, there is no way Vernon can open their race meet if the racino is already in the red before they start.

The track says they will open once they are given assurances relief is coming, willing not to wait until the legislation is signed but if relief is not forthcoming, it may be the death knell of racing, if not for the entire racino facility.

In a possibly-related subject, there is an apparent shortage of horses already stabled on the grounds.  Were racing to begin on schedule, with the current horse population, it may be hard to get two race cards per week scheduled.  Whether it is a case of horsemen hearing rumors of a stalemate with the state and the related uncertainty surrounding the tracks viability, who knows.  After all it is rumored many trainers, who were dissatisfied with the carding of Miracle Mile races and the way other races were combined to fill fields, are not planning on returning.

Right now Vernon Downs is on ice.  If things don't improve all around, it may be going into the deep freeze.

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Rebate Envy?

Well, the last post had some good comments and then a nerve appears to have been hit regarding the subject of rebates.  There is the argument that rebates are needed to allow big gamblers to 'win' versus the more recreational bettor who resent these players are given an advantage they don't get.

My personal feeling as an admittedly recreational player is offering rebates to whales while the little guy has to play against the full rake is patently unfair.  Yes, I know in the business world volume rebates are0 part of the pricing scheme but it seems to be wrong here.  If tracks can offer rebates to the whales, they should cut the takeout so everyone gets the benefit.  Quite honestly, if it wasn't the fact I enjoy harness racing, I would have stopped playing the horses a long time ago because of the 'unfair' advantage some players are given.  The fact there isn't another gambling game I like is another reason I still play the trotters.

Mind you, the issue of rebates for players involves all forms of horse racing, it is not a unique harness racing issue but one has to wonder with racing trying to attract new horseplayers, what chance does it have to attract knowledgeable gamblers when they find out they are playing against gamblers who get rebates while they get none.


Saturday, April 1, 2017

Time to Close the Passing Lane

Well, if the comments from horseplayers and industry insiders are any indication, it's time to get rid of the passing lane.  Clearly the passing lane has tapped down the number of horses willing to rough it and make moves during the race, being more content to sit in the pocket.  Couple this with the slot-infused purses which make a risky move a potentially expensive risk, the game has become predictable, complete with low payoffs.

Yet, who will be the first track to eliminate the passing lane (the question posed in the other blog entry was prompted by a request of an anonymous industry group)?  More importantly, will even one passing lane be closed?  For an industry which seems to be scared to make any moves, it would be an act of courage to eliminate the passing lane.  The ironic thing, with most tracks now gaining the benefit of slots, what is the real risk of making a mistake with regards  to the passing lane?  If no track will be the first one to eliminate the passing lane, how can we expect the industry to make any significant changes?

I challenge racetracks to close the passing lane.  The physical cost to change the track initially doesn't need to be expense, just buy a bunch of construction cones and put them down along the course where the passing lane would be to close it off and if it turns out getting rid of the lane was a mistake, all which is needed is to pick up the cones; if it is a success, then a more permanent closure of the passing lane can be done.

Let's see which (if) track is not afraid of their own shadow.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Handicappers' Opinions Sought

A discussion is being held whether the inside passing lane attracts or deters bettors. Do you have an opinion regarding the inside passing lane on a 5/8ths mile track?  Do you like it or hate it?

Please provide your responses in the comments section.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Simulcasting Says It All - Part 2

The title of this entry could just as easily been 'Simulcasting Says it All - Mia Culpa' for in my last blog entry, it would appear I lay the whole decline on wagering in harness racing on integrity issues.   This would be totally wrong and doesn't represent my true feelings.

Don't get me wrong, the integrity scandals of my youth have certainly hurt the game.  When I first got interested in harness racing, I heard criticism as to how can I be interested in the trotters as it is all fixed?  The fact is thoroughbred racing has had its own share of cheating so there must be more to the decline in harness racing handle besides integrity issues.

It boils down to the quality of the product.  Gamblers realize harness racing is not a quality game when compared to the runners.  Sure it may be easier to learn but at what benefit?  When you are trying to beat a 18% rake and you run up against a constant parade of low prices, what is the risk/reward ratio?

Newer equipment may have improved speeds in horses but in this case, speed kills the game.  How many races are decided in the opening first half with the front runner taking a tuck and retake with no one willing to be the one to play hardball?  The innovation of the passing lane, which made sense when first implemented is one of the worst things to have happened as it discourages movement in a race.

Thoroughbreds race at varying distances and surfaces while 99% of harness racing is conducted at the mile distance.  The varied distances and changing surfaces allows for a level of intrigue which helps boost prices.  Harness racing for all practical purposes is missionary racing, plain and bland.  A boring game with relatively low prices is not a gaming product attracting gambling dollars.

For harness racing to grow its wagering handle it needs to change the game, accept innovation which makes handicapping challenging and interesting with larger mutuel prices, or stay vanilla and watch wagering continue to decline.  Slots or no slots, handle matters with regards to maintaining casino subsidies.

The sport has approached a crossroad, which way it goes remains to be seen.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Simulcasting Says it All

I can't help but notice all the press releases talking about tracks opening early on Saturday for the Dubai World Cup, finding them online as well as on the Standardbred Canada and USTA websites.  I understand the World Cup is a significant event, especially with Arrogate racing, so it is fair enough to see the tracks sign-on.

However, I can't help but wonder if the harness tracks have given up on harness racing as part of their purse structure.  Sure, the tracks have wagering on harness racing, but how many harness tracks (or their ADWs) have taken wagering on races from Europe or Australasia (there are a finite number of smaller ones which may)?  When did they take wagers on the Prix d' Amerique or the Elitlopp?  The Meadowlands had taken wagers on the Prix a few times, but the handle was so abysmal they couldn't bother doing it again.  The Elitlopp which usually gets a North American horse or two, no wagering.    Heck, even Yonkers Raceway which has a deal with PMU to send their races over to France can't bother taking any of the French races.  How many of us complain about a race at our favorite harness track not being show live on television because of a race of $2,000 claimers at some thoroughbred track in Western Canada?

The fact is those tracks which live on handle depend on thoroughbred signals to keep up purses.  As bad as the Meadowlands purses have fallen, could you imagine what the purses would be like if it depended solely on wagering on harness racing (live and imported)?

Of course, tracks will blame the bettors for abandoning the trotting game for the runners but they would be wrong.  You can't even blame it on takeout rates (though this is a big problem) or the game being stale.  At one time harness racing handle could hold its own to the runners but now, harness racing handle had dropped precipitously compared to the runners.  The blame lies with the industry's cavalier (or non-existent) concern about integrity.

I realize the harness game started as a family business but with the scandals of the past, trainers owning horses and sometimes driving them leads people to some concern, but add to that cousin Joey racing against cousin Ralph, and possibly Uncle Ben as well as horses going to some obscure trainer who runs their way up the standings and people wonder the worse.

What the answer is I don't know, but one thing is for certain, if the industry doesn't get behind integrity big time.  The harness game will all but disappear.

Monday, March 20, 2017

'Knowledge' vs 'Proof'; Bundling to Eliminate Post Time Drag

Last week, Joe Faraldo came out with a proposal to identify the presence of beards.  This week in HRU, one writer questioned why we need to have such a detailed proposal, arguing you know when a beard is being used.  The writer also questions the use of 'beard', as if it may not exist.  Sadly, we know beards do exist, the question is how big a problem it really is.

The problem is while you may 'know' who is using a beard, the fact is once in a while you may be wrong.  Should someone be tossed out of the business when they didn't commit a fraud upon the racing public?  Of course not, this is why Faraldo's proposal is important; it bases guilt on fact.  Sure, a large racing enterprise could conceivably generate false receipts, but when the commission gathers bank statements or goes to the one of the individuals the trainer claims to have paid and don't see the deposit, it becomes obvious an even deeper fraud takes place.

Good regulation takes time, not snap judgement.  It stinks when racing participants and horse players suffer when people know a trainer is using a beard, but it is a bigger crime when someone is iced without evidence.  This is part of the rules of racing, due process and the ability of someone to defend themselves.  Hence, Faraldo's proposal needs to be seriously considered and implemented as quickly as possible.

The creeping post time, is the bane of most handicappers.  After all, what is more frustrating than seeing the horses come out for post parade at post time, meaning you have another ten minutes until off time?  I understand the reasoning for the post time crawl, it doesn't make it right.  However, for a business hard pressed to earn revenue, especially when a non-slot track is involved, it is hard to lose revenue.  What can be done about this?

Let me once again bring up the idea of a simulcast network.  Not only would it allow multiple signals to be sold and bundled together to racetracks and ADWs, it would also allow a coordination of post times.  For example, let's say a simulcast network of WEG, Meadowlands, Tioga Downs, Vernon Downs, and Northfield Park was created (realizing each track doesn't race every night).  The tracks could set post times with the flexibility to change post times of other races due to inquiries or other unanticipated delays.  Hence, for the simulcast and ADW customer, racing would continue one race to another without significant delays and since multiple tracks are connected via the network, the need to go past post time for wagers would not be as important.

Revisiting bundled signals is something which needs to be revisited.

For those who live in the Harrington Delaware area, RUS MidAtlantic is having a paint night this coming Sunday.  Paint nights are a lot of fun and you can indulge your artistic self at the same time.  For those of you who use Facebook, more information is available below,

Thursday, March 16, 2017

The Passing of the Baton

Hall of Fame Driver John Campbell will take over as President of the Hambletonian Society effective July 1, 2017, replacing Tom Charters who was brought in to run the Society when the Breeders Crown races were conceived.  After 20 years, he has decided it was time to take it easy.  Charters deserves his break and the industry's thanks.

However, the ascension to the Presidency of the Hambletonian Society appears to mark the end of an era, as Campbell has announced he would fulfill all his driving commitments through June 30, suggesting he will be handing up the reigns and retiring from the sulky, ending a career which has resulted in over 10,600 wins and $299 million in purse earnings.  You can read the press release for the rest of his career highlights.

Of course, in picking a new leader for the Society, one can't pick a better person than John Campbell.  Not only is he a respected horsemen, he has a certain gravitas and presence with the media.  There is no better representative of the sport than him among active participants.  Of course, now comes his biggest challenge, the industry itself.

I realize the respect one has in the sulky may not translate to success as the head of a breeders organization, an industry which has had a hard time in recent years but if someone can build a consensus, it is John Campbell.  It isn't as if he is coming into this position cold, he has been the President of the Grand Circuit as well as involved with the Hambletonian Society since being elected a director in 1992.  He has enough time in the industry to know what is happening and he has the leadership abilities to be successful.

The baton is being passed.  I hope it is properly recognized.  I would suggest if anyone is entitled to a farewell tour of racetracks, it is Campbell.  Hopefully it will come to fruition.

Faraldo Takes on Beards

n an open letter, Joe Faraldo, President of the SOA of NY, provides a proposal he sent to the NYGC regarding the problem with beards in harness racing in an effort to bring any such allegations to a 'fact based' test.

All I can say is 'wow'.  To a person who has never operated a racing stable, it seems like a very detailed proposal which can be summed up as 'disclosure and follow the money'.  Trainers will have to document all the parties they do business with and account for the inflow and outflow of funds, accounting for every penny paid out or received by a trainer, making sure money is not being directed to hidden owners or trainers.

Bottom line is if you are a (small) trainer, you better make sure you have a highly competent bookkeeper or CPA doing your books and keep your documentation in order.  These requirements will take the hobbyist trainer out of the equation because the cost of keeping such records will be a deal breaker for them.

This is not to say I disagree with the proposal.  Far from it.  As far as I know, this is the first time anyone has offered a serious proposal for addressing the issue surrounding beards.  For a sport suffering from real and perceived beards, the damage has been done; the loss of support for the betting product is immeasurable.   Something has to be done and Faraldo's proposal must be seriously considered and I would recommend its implementation.  The problem will be as usual, carrying through with the process.

With all the budget constrictions racing commissions have, will racing judges ask for such information when warranted or will it happen only in the rarest occasion fearing the time involved in going over the paperwork or the court fights of trainers refusing to disclose their books?  Will New York adopt such a rule but other states fail to address the bearding problem, resulting in a shift of horses and/or trainers to states with looser rules, the same way trainers who can't get a licensde in one jurisdiction seem to show up elsewhere?

This said, one state moving in the right direction is better than inertia.  If the New York racing product is more palatable to bettors than the product in Pennsylvania or other states because New York takes a proactive step so be it.   This proposal requires serious consideration.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

RIP New Jersey Classic

Finally, the NJ Classic and the Miss New Jersey Stakes are dead, at least for the foreseeable future as a New Jersey Superior Court judge has refused to force the Meadowlands to host these stakes races this year, despite the plea of Attorney Howard Taylor.  Quite honestly, this is case which should never had been filed in the first place.

Stakes races get cancelled in the industry with some regularity; at most distributing payments to all horses which remain eligible is the sole recourse to owners.  Is this good business, especially for those who buy those yearlings?  Perhaps not, but the reality is it is part of the risks an owner takes on when they become race horse owners.  There are no guarantees in life and racing certainly falls into this category.

While the Northeast is getting hit with a snow/sleet storm which the media has over-hyped, winter is in its last legs and one of the most obvious signs of this transition to spring is the kicking off of the Blue Chip Matchmaker and George Morton Levy Memorial Series this weekend at Yonkers Raceway.  Friday night, March 17, bring us three divisions of the Matchmaker as twenty-four aged pacing mares have dropped into the box, featuring local favorite Krispy Apple and others.  In Saturday's Levy, thirty-one pacers comprise the four divisions of the first leg being raced.   Caviart Luca, All Bets Off, McWicked, Wakizashi Hanover will be the ones being watched in week one.

The Matchmaker and Levy Series kicks off this year's 2017 Hambletonian Society Grand Circuit Handicapping Challenge.  With additional sponsorship, the prize fund for standardbred rescue will cross over the $8,000 line this week.  The handicappers have selected their rescues which may be found here.    Thanks to the sponsors and HANA Harness for supporting the efforts of Standardbred Rescue.  You may follow the contest at the contest website the entire year.

Another sign of spring is the opening of Mohegan Sun at Pocono Downs as Saturday night is the first card of the 2017.  With higher purses than the Meadowlands, trying to fill races at the Meadowlands will be a bigger challenge than ever.  Until something changes, either the Meadowlands finding a way to subsidize its purses or Pennsylvania taking a big shave, this is the way it is going to be; the Meadowlands being the child always being picked last.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Looking Forward to Christen Me

Later this year, North American harness racing fans will be watching the latest Australasian wonder doing his thing on our raceways as Christen Me is heading over from New Zealand, seeking to regaining his peak form which allowed him to win $2.4 million (NZ)  and eleven Group 1 stakes back home.

His owners, who plan on selling the eight year old son of Christian Cullen for racing purposes with an eye on his return to New Zealand when he retires from racing, feel Salix will be the key to reviving his career as he suffers from EIPH and the drug is not permitted where he races.  Based on the results of some other horses which have been imported for similar reasons, there are reasons to be optimistic.

Thankfully, this is not being hyped as much as Auckland Reactor's arrival on our shores as that experience can be best described as an unmitigated disaster.  Of course, the Australian pacer was sent over in the prime of his racing career and for whatever reason, he couldn't acclimate to North American racing even after surgery (my suspicion it was partially due to them not allowing enough time to acclimate).  So while, Christen Me will be watched to see if he returns to his stellar form, he will not be looked at as the wonder horse, easing the stakes on his trainer and owners-to-be.

As previously said, he does have some pedigree.  The winner of 32 out of 68 starts, his domestic record of 1:51.5 for 1,609 meters was set at Ashburton as a five year old while his overall record of 1:49.1 (MR) was set in Australia back in 2014.

Here is victory in the Auckland Reactor at Ashburton where Christen Me set a then New Zealand record for the mobile start.

Here is Christen Me's 1:49.1 victory in the 2014 Miracle Mile against Beautide, himself a winner of $2.1 AUS) and 49 wins out of 81 starts and a lifetime mark of 1;50.2.

I for one will be waiting to see how Christen Me does in North America.  It can be an exciting ride.

In France, Timoko has broken Varenne's stake record of 1:52 in the Criterium de VItesse with a 1:51.4 victory in the race at Cagnes sur Mer.  This is the ten year old's fourth Criterium victory and third in a row.

Post Script: I have wondered why we can't have standings starts in the United States?  While the vault starts in France seem to be orderly, if standing starts are like this one where Christen Me was victorious, I know why a standing start wouldn't work in North America, it is like waiting for post time to actually happen.  For the record, Christian Me was the victor in a mile rate of 1:58.5 for the 2,600 meter route.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Only the Good Die Young

The racing industry is mourning the passing of Hall of Fame Track Announcer Sam McKee and deservedly so; being he was well-liked and respected.  To call him one of the good guys would be an understatement.  Sam was generous with his time and supported groups, whether for the Christian Harness Horsemen Association or RUS America.

Other people have written about Sam far better than I can so I won't even try.  All I will say is Sam was one of the 'good guys' and Billy Joel's song title "Only the Good Die Young" seems truer than ever.  He will be greatly missed.  RIP Sam.

The Meadowlands final Thursday night race card is being raced tonight and if you wonder why already, you just need to look at the card;   Three of the nine races are for $7,500 claimers along with an additional race for amateur drivers.  With Pocono Downs opening next week, these horses may be needed on the weekend.

For the first time ever, Yonkers raceway will be carding an all-trotting card on Sunday, March 12; eleven races for trotters.  I don't know about you, but I love trotting races.  With seven of the races at a mile and a quarter with overflow fields, it may be a great wagering card.  Funny thing is while Yonkers can have an all-trot card, you won't see them in Alberta, Canada; any trotting races at all.  You just don't see trotters in the province.

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

A New President is Selected

Congratulations to Russell Williams for being victorious in the USTA election for President.  In an overflow field of five candidates, Williams came out ahead in the second round of voting, defeating Joe Pennacchio who was the runner up.  Jason Settlemoir, Ryan Macedonio, and Fred Husdon were also rans in the contest.

Quite honestly, the outcome of the election didn't surprise me as Williams and Pennacchio both were establishment candidates, Williams likely having a better pedigree coming from Hanover Shoe Farms.  With Williams coming out on top and being establishment, don't expect any significant changes in the running of the organization.  At this point, I will leave it to the reader to decide if this is good or not, I will let the new President develop his own course and be judged accordingly.

The three change candidates ran up the track with Jason Settlemoir doing the best, but realistically he had a tough road to overcome being employed by Jeff Gural.  Like it or not, Gural is a lighting-rod when it comes to harness racing; you like him or not and I am sure that factored into the directors' consideration.

I am sure if the day come when Mr. Settlemoir works for a track other than the Meadowlands or Tioga and Vernon Downs, it will be a slam dunk for him to become President should he decide to pursue it.

It was no surprise the proposal to have 5% of slot revenue diverted to the USTA for marketing on a trial basis was soundly defeated.  While I feel slot revenue should be used for marketing, there was a fatal problems with the proposal, whose 5% was going to be used for marketing?  My understanding is the 5% would have come out of the horsemen's purse account.  Why are the track owners not being asked to contribute?  The proposal should have required the tracks and horsemen to both contribute 2.5% to the marketing effort.

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Best Race of the Year Candidate and a Triple Crown Winner

The best race of the year thus far, and certainly a candidate for a global year end award, occurred Saturday evening in Australia where Lennytheshark was the victor in the $750,000(AUS) Miracle Mile at Menangle Park.  Racing on the outside the entire mile, the Shark was a nose victor in a 1:49.2 (tenths) mile.

What makes this victory so fantastic?  Lennytheshark was parked on the outside the entire mile with Lazurus tracking him going into the stretch with Inter Dominion champion Smolda down on the inside.  When a horse is caught uncovered on the outside in a :24.8 first quarter, one doesn't expect the horse to be around at the end.  At the top of the stretch, one would not have blamed the victor had he spit the bit out but he persevered with amazing determination.

Sweet redemption for the seven year old Shark who was scratched this season from the Inter Dominion due to a foot injury.

It should be noted the winning driver Steve Alford received a $400 fine for excessive whipping in the race.  Would Lennytheshark have held on without the excessive whipping?  Who knows, it is hard to prove something which didn't happen.  The one thing for certain is a $400 fine when the winning horse took down $450,000 is certainly not big enough; it becomes a cost of doing business.

I would be remiss not to congratulate Bold Eagle for winning this afternoon, the French Triple Crown by winning the Prix de Paris in a mile rate of 1:59 for the 4,150 meter (2 5/8 mile) race.  This victory makes the Eagle the first horse since 1976 to nail down the Crown (Prix d’Amerique, Prix de France and Prix de Paris), join horses like Gelinotte, Jamin, and the famous Bellino II.

Here is the history-making race:  If you are in a rush, go to the 4:30 point and look for the driver with the red silks in the outer tier.  

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Mishandling the Glaucine Incident

Upon learning of the NYSGC's rulings regarding the glaucine affair, I initially thought they handled it properly.  They kept track of the positives but did nothing until research was conducted by various groups and the RMTC published standards.  The consortium came up with guidelines of those testing between 100-499 pg/ml having to test below that level before racing again; 500- 999 pg/ml being disqualified; 1 ng/ml or more resulting in a fine and suspension being issued.  Once the standard was published, the commission issued rulings resulting in one trainer being fined and suspended with others being disqualified.

But then, looking back, we see cases in Delaware and Maryland were handled differently.  In those states, the commissions ruled the contamination was environmental, with no penalties to be assessed.  Of course, their ruling came out in June, before the RMTC issued their advisory.

Was New York too harsh on those who came up with the glaucine positives or is it a case of the Delaware and Maryland racing commissions acting too quickly in dropping the positives on those horses which raced in those states?

I would likely side with Delaware and Maryland in this case.  How do you penalize someone whose only crime may have been using the wrong bedding for their horses?  Once it was known that glaucine is produced naturally in shavings from tulip poplar trees, the commission should have voided the positives up to that point and issued an advisory to the racing community advising them not to use those shavings in stalls; indicating penalties will be forthcoming on any future positives.

Regardless of which state you think handled the situation properly or not, it shows the problem of not having a nationalized medication policy.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Drive of the Year - British Style

First, the time-sensitive item.  The British Harnesss Racing Club (BHRC) is asking harness racing fans throughout the world to vote on the best drive of 2016 for their awards night.  Voting ends mid-day on February 14 (remember they are five hours ahead of the east coast.   The BHRC Drive of the Year is being sponsored by Tetrick Racing.  The six drives nominated for the award may be found here.

While I have my personal favorite in the race for USTA President, I won't be naming them in this column.  What I will do is list in alphabetic order the three candidates I feel would best serve the USTA.  My finalists are: Fred Hudson, Jason Settlemoir, and Russell Williams.  Still trying to select your candidate?  Harness Racing Update asks the five candidates five questions.  You may see their answers here.   Only USTA Directors will be able to vote in the election but if you are a USTA member, remember they represent YOU.  Make sure you let your director know which candidate you prefer.

Judging from the coverage in HRU, the Meadowlands is still the number one track in the United States.  Not for the coverage of the racing, but of Jeff Gural.  Clearly if the Meadowlands didn't really matter anymore, Gural wouldn't be getting much coverage (for and against).  I for one would like to read letters about other tracks, for and against, to see what they are doing wrong or doing right.  If you are looking at the short term, other tracks mean a lot if you race horses but if you are a gambler, odds are it is the Meadowlands and WEG tracks which matter.

I read in Friday's edition of HRU Marvin Katz's criticism of the Gural rule, in particular how much money he has lost as a result of 'the' rule.   Quite honestly, I don't buy it.  Yes, maybe he could have made more money if the rule didn't exist, but the rule has been in existence for several years now; it should have been factored in when he purchased (or bought into) these horses.

As for asking would such a rule apply in thoroughbred racing with American Pharoah?  Of course not, but then their problems aren't as bad as harness racing's; they have the publicity machine to make their stars known where even people who don't follow racing have heard of them.  Just look at all the conversations on the web every time California Chrome raced, his final race occurring at the age of six..

Thursday, February 2, 2017

The New Jersey Classic Condundrum

Since I began following the standardbreds, racetracks have always had the ability to cancel stakes due to financial concerns; sometimes the lack of entries would result in cancellations.  Horse owners never liked it, but it was part of racing.  This is nothing new, one could argue it is an understood risk of the horse business.  The industry has a standard in place to refund all nominations and fees to those who had horses still eligible.

The Meadowlands, which has financial issues threatened to cancel a good part of the stakes program this year but thanks to industry 'sponsorship', the majority of the program remains intact.  The NJ Classic and Miss New Jersey being two races which remain on the cutting board.  Yet lawyer Howard Taylor, has gone to the courts seeking an injunction to resurrect these stakes as if this is a new phenomenon; a revelation begging to ask "How could this happen"?  

Taylor claims his partners and him bought a horse specifically because it was eligible to the NJ Classic.  That may be the case.  However, if he has been following the horses since he has been twelve, he has seen stakes cancelled before and considering what has happened at the Meadowlands since the Atlantic City subsidies disappeared, this cancellation should not have shocked him.

Yes, to cancel the races, the conditions should indicate it may be cancelled (the conditions are not available for review) due to unforeseen circumstances.  I imagine if there was an oversight,  there may be a case for action but being races have been cancelled in the past and will in the future, understanding the situation, why would someone bother, especially since there is plenty of time to rearrange a horse's schedule.

All I can say is if I was Jeff Gural and I lost this suit, I would be surrendering the license at the end of the year and let New Meadowlands Racetrack, LLC file for bankruptcy; it would be the final stab in the back.  And no one could blame him.

Monday, January 30, 2017

NJ Historical Wagering?

If you don't succeed in getting slots, what do you do next?

Well, in New Jersey, you attempt to get Historical Racing through the legislature.  Yes, the very same machines which some say look an awful lot like slot machines.  One would think it would be hard to get this approved, but an Attorney General from a previous administration ruled it would be constitutional.  Of course, even if it passes the state legislature and gets signed by Governor Christie, there will be a battle in the courts; both Atlantic City and out of state casino interests will finance the challenge.

Of course, for this bill to pass it would take state legislators a lot of courage to vote for this bill being the casino referendum failed miserably this past election.   So don't count on going to your local racetrack in New Jersey to wager on old races anytime soon.

Yonkers Raceway and NYRA have been conducting the New York New York Daily Double on Sunday afternoons and the pools have been shallow.  The blame lies on NYRA.  While Yonkers' half of the Double has had ten starters, NYRA's kick-off to the wager has consisted of short fields; the bane of serious handicappers.

The idea of a wager from the two tracks is a good idea, but it will never develop further unless NYRA gets more starters in their races.  Perhaps it may work out if the wager kicks off at Yonkers and concludes at the NYRA track with a race with more wagering opportunities.  It's worth exploring.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Bold Eagle Soars Once Again in Prix d' Amerique

Due to injury, I'm limited as to how much typing I can do so I will be brief.  Bold Eagle was victorious for the second straight time in the Prix d' Amerique at Vincennes Racecourse.  The winning mile rate for the 2,700 meter race was 1:54.3 (1:11.2 kilometer rate).  Frank Nivard was the winning driver.e

When watching the race, Bold Eagle is number 17 and Frank Nivard has red silks with a yellow cap.  When he finally gets into stalking position, there was no doubt who the winner was going to be; he's that good.

With his victory, Bold Eagle is automatically qualified for the Yonkers International.   Being he didn't come to North America for the Breeders Crown, I wouldn't count on his showing up but racing fans can hope.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Fair Start Rule (Again) and the Lack of Public Influence on Commissions

In the January 20 edition of Harness Racing Update, Brett Sturman discusses one of my sore points in harness racing, the fair start rule.  More specifically, the lack of a fair start in American racing.

Sturman discusses how the Fair Start rule is an improvement over not having the rule but the ideal situation would be for wagering to cease prior to the field heading to the starting gate.  I agree with him as this would ensure every horseplayer is given a fair chance.  Alas, this will likely never happen due to horsemen and track operators’ objections.

These two parties will object because they fear a drop in handle because the whales like wagering at the last possible seconds to see if they can take advantage of any late clue to a race’s running such as a horse leaving or not, as well as the possibility of a horse going off-stride before the gate.  To be honest, it is a legitimate complaint, assuming these gamblers will not adjust to the 'new normal'.  Quite honestly, the idea of an even playing field with the other gamblers is one the whales/syndicates do not relish as their success is based on having an advantage over John/Jane Q. Public.  Hence, while the proposal to stop wagering before the field heads to the starter is in principle the right thing to do, it will sadly not see the light of day.

At least fans of Canadian racing have an advantage over American punters where there is no such thing as a fair start and it will never happen.  A few years ago in New Jersey there was a proposal for a fair start and while the racing commission agreed to formulate a rule, it took them two years for it to happen (of course, if it was something the tracks wanted, it would have been formulated much quicker), only for the rule change to be rejected at the final hearing despite no objections being raised during the public comment period, no doubt at the urging of horsemen and track operators worrying about the impact to their bottom line, the fear of losing their share of the revenue due to refunding wagers. 

The sad truth is while racing commissions are supposed to protect the public’s interests, their interests lie with horsemen and track operators.  If they are united against a rule change, the racing public has no chance.  This is why each racing commission should have at least one horseplayer on their board to represent the public’s interest.  Would this change things, I don’t know but at least it would be a start.  At least the public's interest would be heard instead of ignored.

Thursday, January 19, 2017

How Would a Pegasus World Cup Work in Harness Racing? Plus a Book Review

The field has been set for the $12 million Pegasus World Cup being contested the end of January at  Gulfstream Park.  The World Cup got me wondering if harness racing could pull something like this off.

Being a smaller sport, it is obvious we could not have a race where each starting gate spot would go for a $1 million entry fee; $250,000 is out of the question too.  A $100,000 fee to reserve a spot where you could enter whichever horse you wanted seems like a reasonable entry point, resulting in a $1 million purse.

The problem is what horses wold you get to race in such an event?  The conditions of the thoroughbred race is 4 year olds and up.  Being the race is contested in January, it means last year's 3 year old stars would be eligible to compete against older horses.  Since the standardbred racing industry basically shuts downs in the winter months (with all due respect to Cal Expo and Pompano Park), a race like this could not be contested in January; most likely needing to be contested in November or December, after the Breeders Crown so the conditions would be three year olds and up.

Now nominations take place a year before the race so the speculators would be able to find a horse to compete in the race, either already owned or acquired via auction or private purchase so finding people to buy slots may not be the issue, assuming you could find horses worth competing.  There lies the problem.

What horses would have been worth entering in the race if contested this past November?  Entering Always B Miki, Freaky Feet Pete, Wiggle It Jiggleit are no brainers with Shamballa and Mel Mara possibilities; that would make five horses.  Which other horses would be worthy of entering?  I checked with a fellow contributor to this blog as to which horses would make up a field of ten and he didn't think it was possible.

So to answer the question as to How would a Pegasus World Cup work in harness racing?  The answer appears to be not well.  That said, if you can think of any other horses which would be able to compete in this race with a reasonable chance of finishing in the top five, let me know.

I just completed the book Murray Brown: Book Full and Closed which was written by Victoria M. Howard and Bob Marks and available on Amazon.  The book is an excellent read, especially if you are interested in harness racing (which reading this blog would be the case). 

In this book, Murray Brown, a harness racing institution in himself, not only goes over his upbringing and how it lead him to Hanover, he provides tidbits of his experiences in the breeding industry and provides insight into some of the individuals he has dealt with in his career. If you are interested in harness racing but don't understand the breeding game, this book is a great introduction into the breeding world. Not in great detail, but it provides you with a sampling; enough to understand what is involved with breeding.

The best thing about the book is it is a light read. It doesn't get bogged down in the nitty gritty for which no doubt there are 'text' books to read. Readers will find the book entertaining and if not interrupted, will most likely finish the book in one session. I highly recommend it.

Friday, January 13, 2017

Friday Briefs

After hearing from fans, the Meadowlands realizes they made a mistake last week when the Pick-5 began with a lot of drivers 'To Be Announced' when certain drivers were unable to make it to the track, including a last minute scratch of another driver.  Fans who wagered the Pick-5 sequence had every right to be upset when in at least one case a 'A' level driver was replaced with a driver of less ability.

As a result, a new policy has been instituted in East Rutherford in that from this point forward, all driver changes in any race which is part of a multi-leg wager will be announced prior to the post parade of the first leg.  In addition, the Meadowlands will attempt to apologize by seeding the Pick-5 with $10,000 this Saturday.

Some punters may still be sore about what happened this past Saturday.  Will this placate them?  I am sure some will still be upset, but the track is doing what it can reasonably be expected to do to make up for the mistake last time and more importantly, is instituting controls to make sure this doesn't happen again.

Congratulations to Doug McNair for winning the Miami Valley Driving Championship.  The final was marred with horrible track conditions which resulted in a one hour delay between races and the defection of a driver over what they perceived an unsafe surface.  I hope Miami Valley repeats this competition in the future, albeit at a different time in the year when one doesn't have to deal with a track thawing and other winter racing concerns.

I had came across an article where they talked about the 'defunct' Thunder Ridge Raceway.  According to the KHRC commission website, Thunder Ridge Raceway has dates assigned for this year.  Other than this article, there is no mention of the track closing.  You would forgive the paper if they are incorrect because it is almost impossible to find any current news on Thunder Ridge.  Yet, we learned Thunder Ridge will be racing this year starting April 12.  Sadly, other than horsemen, no one probably cares one way or the other.  My suspicion is the track will continue to operate at least until a decision is made by the Kentucky Supreme Court as to whetehr Keenland can apply for the final racing license in state to operate a quarter horse track in Corbin County or if their path to quarter horse and historical racing machines is through buying Thunder Ridge's license and the $2.2 million in debt.  Regardless of the decision, Thunder Ridge is operating on borrowed time.

You may have heard about the flooding out in California.  Some horsemen from Cal Expo were called out to save some standardbreds from the flooding waters at a farm near Sacramento.  Kudos to Nathalie TremblayDave KuriKimberley Schneider, Quentin Schneider,and Kennedy Lindsey for their efforts.  All the affected horses are now resting comfortably at Cal Expo.   

Up in Maine, the harness racing industry has been getting hammered by opponents of racing.  Now, a harness racing participant gets to have his say.  

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Walk in Our Shoes (AKA What Driving Championship?)

Pull the Pocket wrote a great piece yesterday on how people involved in racing should be required to play the horses for a period of time to see what the racing public deals with.  Quite honestly, it is a great idea for it seems these people don't have a clue what the racing public goes through to play the horses; my topic today is a case in point.

Unlike driving championships where we typically see of the same old drivers racing for a bonus as at Harrah's Philadelphia this year, the driving championship at Miami Valley Racing this week is a great idea.  No, it isn't your regular top drivers racing for a pot of gold at their home track, this is a case where drivers through out North America could nominate themselves by putting up a $300 nomination fee with the top thirty drivers (forty drivers nominated themselves) selected.

The drivers competed over two days in a sufficient number of races where everyone competed in eight qualifying races.  After the two days of races, the top ten drivers by points earned advanced to the final which is being contested today.  The drivers selected (in order of points earned) are: Sam Widger, Tyler Smith, Doug McNair, John DeLong, Tony Hall, Trace Tetrick, Marcus Miller, Jonathan Roberts, Ronnie Wrenn Jr., and Randy Tharps (who was tied with Simon Allard but won the draw to secure the final spot).

Anyway, excited about this contest, I planned to play the races on Sunday so I did all my handicapping and was ready to make some wagers on the event.  So, I logged on to my ADW account and saw a message 'Live video not available' (later finding out CHDN doesn't play nice with TVG or anyone else for that matter).  Really?  I could wager on the races but it would be blindly.  What to do?  Quickly I went through my options:

  1. Go to the Miami Valley Gaming website and watch the video there?  Nope, I can watch the previous day's replays but no live feed.
  2. Use another ADW which carries Miami Valley?  No.  In my home state it is illegal to wager using another ADW (a state agency owns the ADW though it is managed by TVG).  I do things legally, so I wouldn't set up another account claiming I lived in another state.  Besides, why should I have to?
  3. Use my Racetrack Television Network account?  Well, truth be told, I don't have RTN at home.  As a matter of principle, I shouldn't have to use RTN; if my ADW takes wagers it should provide a signal as well.  After all, am I in a NYC OTB parlor in 1971?  (Note to RTN, I'll be subscribing once you are available on Fire TV.)
  4. In frustration, log off.  No Driving Championship for me.  I guess Miami Valley is off of my radar until the day comes when someone lets me know their racing signal is available.

Miami Valley, I hardly know you.  I guess this is the way it is going to be.

Yes, people involved in racing should have to become gamblers first and learn how it is to be in our shoes.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Racing in the Field of Dreams

Here at VFTRG, we try to show harness racing, while small in size compared to our running cousins, has a global presence.  Today we go South to Argentina, where on New Year's Day, the Gran Final Premio Nacional Productos (the National Product Grand Prix) was contested at the Hip√≥dromo de Navarro.  

The winner of the Grand Prix was Chucaro Arts Surco (Daniel Brandalise) who navigated the 1,650 meters in a track and national record of 1:57.01 (1:10.9 kilometer rate) for two year olds,  Money earned is not readily available but the two year old has won 17 of 19 starts this year.  It should be noted, unlike the Northern Hemisphere, the universal birthday for horses is July 1.

When you watch the race, it will make you feel like you went to harness racing's "Field of Dreams", the racetrack seemingly built in the middle of a field.

Quite honestly, given a choice of watching a race at a metropolitan racetrack or in a minimalist setting, give me the minimalist setting and not just for harness racing.  When you think about it, it makes sense, after all when the horse was king, a good percentage of Americans lived in rural areas,  This rural setting, allows the racing fan to go back to those days and fall in love with horses all over again.

Yes, some states have nice fair circuits, but in some states it is the steel and glass physical plant which greets the punter.  I know we can't go back home again, but in the future, if there can be an appropriate blending of the rural feel into modern racetrack construction or even the resurrection of fair circuits, I think everyone involved will benefit.

A documentary on Roosevelt Raceway is in production and is expected to be completed by the Fall or 2017.  A trailer is now available  for viewing.

Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Gural Rule 2017

The Gural Rule, which places restrictions on the progeny of healthy stallions that do not compete at age four, was born back in 2011. It covered the foals of 2014 racing at Jeff Gural’s three tracks as well as foals of 2015 and 2016, on an experimental basis, on the WEG circuit, and those staked to Hambletonian Society events beginning with those born in 2015.

Horses that did not receive physical exemptions needed to start six times after April 1, unless they failed to earn $500,000 at three, failed to start at least a half dozen times at three, or did not start after August 1 of their sophomore season. 

The pacers that fell under the mandate after the 2012 season—Thinking Out Loud, Sweet Lou, A Rocknroll Dance, Heston Blue Chip, Pet Rock, Bolt The Duer and Time To Roll—all raced the following year. They are all standing stud in North America in 2017.

Eight trotters qualified for sanctions if they ran afoul of the rule that year. Little Brown Fox and Knows Nothing were exported; Archangel received a medical waiver and stood in New York for a year before returning to the track; Prestidigitator was on the shelf for an extended period until a failed stab at racing again led to stallion duty in 2016; Market Share, Guccio and My MVP raced on; and Googoo Gaagaa started three times before being retired to injury. So, as with the pacers, there were no issues.

The 2013 Pacer of the Year Captaintreacherous was the first major star to get ensnared by the Rule. He only won twice in seven starts at four, after which he was promptly retired to Hanover She Farms. The other four pacers were Sunshine Beach, Surefire Blue Chip, Twilight Beach and Fool Me Once, all of whom raced but none of whom were going to put any fannies in the seats.

The qualifying trotters that year were Creatine, Smilin Eli and Corky, all of whom were exported, and Hambletonian winner Royalty For Life, who was retired to injury after two starts at four.

The 2014 sophomore pacing group contributed McWicked, JK Endofanera, All Bets Off and Always B Miki, all of whom raced on, and Pace winner He’s Watching, who qualified in the spring at four but was retired to injury in July.

On the 2015 trotting side, Trixton was retired after exacerbating an ankle injury in the CTC in September of his sophomore campaign. His book was full by March. I believe he got a medical waiver.

 Father Patrick, on the other hand, was the second big fish to be caught up in the web that was the Gural rule. He bred mares in New Jersey and made five starts for Jimmy Takter. Like The Captain, his four-year-old racing stint was disappointing, as he won one time in those five starts. Patrick is now back at Diamond Creek in Pennsylvania. Nuncio was exported while Harper Blue Chip was hurt.

So, in the first three years of the program the Rule essentially kept Patrick and the Captain on the track. Together they went 3 for 12 and earned less than $300,000 at four, so neither one was much of a draw for the fans. Both suffered a hit to their reputations, the extent of which is difficult to gauge. The Captain maxed out at 140 mares in both 2015 and 2016, while Patrick bred an abbreviated book of 73 mares in conjunction with training and racing in 2015, and he handled 136 mares in 2016.

The Western Ideal stallion Artspeak, who stands at Hanover for $5,000, was the only pacer in the 2015 sophomore class to have his offspring subject to sanction under the Gural rule. At three he picked up the scraps leftover after Wiggle and Wakizashi Hanover got theirs; Artspeak won the Tattersalls Pace and the Simcoe that year. Still, the drop-off in production from his freshman campaign and the restrictions his offspring faced under the Rule didn’t dissuade many from sending their broodmares to him. Artspeak bred 109 mares in 2016. Freaky Feet Pete, Dude’s The Man, Lost For Words and In The Arsenal all raced on.

Three of the qualifying trotters from that class—The Bank, Habitat and Uncle Lasse—wound up in Sweden, while Crazy Wow came back at four.

Four pacers fit the stallion rule profile in 2016. Check Six will apparently race on, while Control The Moment was retired due to injury the first week of September. He’ll stand in Ontario at Tara Hills, and I assume he’s been granted a medical waiver. The other two, Racing Hill and Betting Line, will retire, to Ohio and Pennsylvania, respectively, and both will apparently suck it up and deal with the consequences of the rule. Being shut out at The Meadowlands, Tioga Downs and Vernon Downs would certainly matter in the case of Betting Line, not so much to Racing Hill or Control The Moment, however, as they probably aspire to be regional stallions.

On the trotting side, Marion Marauder was pointed to a stud career but failed his fertility test, so he’ll race on. Bar Hopping and Southwind Frank, both of whom will stand in Pennsylvania, will apparently flaunt the rule. Ron Burke agonized over not being able to get Frank right throughout much of the season, but I don’t think it was anything that rose to the level of applying for a retirement waiver.

Who is in and out and when gets confusing, but it seems WEG has opted out of the Gural Rule beginning with horses bred by a four-year-old stallion in 2017, while the Hambletonian Society will restrict the foals of 2015 and 2016. Essentially, Artspeak, Racing Hill, Betting Line, Bar Hopping and Southwind Frank will be punished primarily by Gural. Their get will not be allowed to qualify or baby race at The Meadowlands, Tioga Downs or Vernon Downs. Actually, they will be banned from racing at all at those tracks, as Gural has increased the penalties in response to being abandoned by WEG and the Hambletonian Society.

The Graduate Series, Kindergarten Classic, William Haughton Open, Golden Girls, US Pacing Championship and TVG Series are all owned, serviced and sponsored by The Meadowlands. The inability to gain casino status has limited the track’s ability to fund some of these stakes so outside sponsors have been recruited, but you can be sure that will not diminish the scope of the Rule. The two Hanover stallions, Betting Line and Artspeak, would find their get conceived in their four-year-old form ineligible to these races.

Southwind Frank and Bar Hopping would be in a similar squeeze with regard to the Cutler Memorial, Graduate Series, Kindergarten Classic, Stanley Dancer Memorial, Del Miller Memorial, Cashman Memorial, Fresh Yankee, Peter Haughton, Jim Doherty and TVG. These stakes are also owned, sponsored and serviced by The Meadowlands. This would certainly be a problem for those stallions.

Thoroughbred racing is beset with the same issue of horses retiring to stud before their time, only they don’t have a figure like Jeff Gural who has taken a drastic step to address the problem. A recent Standardbred Canada poll showed that a healthy majority of those responding agree with what Mr. Gural is doing, but with the WEG tracks and the Hambletonion Society opting to convince owners to keep racing their high profile charges by promoting more four-year-old restricted stakes, as opposed to punishing them for retiring their stars, the movers and shakers in the sport are obviously not on the same page. Jeff Gural has also gone this route by sponsoring the Graduate Series, but he believes it will take more than an offering of honey to get the job done.

Artspeak sells his first crop in 2018, while Southwind Frank, Bar Hopping, Betting Line and Racing Hill will sell theirs in 2019. Mr. Gural believes the restrictions will have a profound effect on the desirability of these yearlings to buyers. Time will tell.

Joe FitzGerald