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Monday, November 23, 2009

Protecting the Local Horsemen

In the last column about the Meadowlands, I had mentioned how the New York harness tracks may be inadvertingly helping the Meadowlands with their horse population problems during the winter by introducing a new condition to their condition sheet.  With the approval of the NYSRWB, it is anticipated that once 2010 rolls around, New York harness tracks will be able to write race conditions with the additional restriction "For horses that raced in New York six of their last eight starts" provided the same exact race condition without the restriction is offered on the same condition sheet.  While each harness tracks is not required to card races with these restrictions, it is clear as soon as it is allowed, Yonkers will adopt it. 

No doubt there will be horsemen from outside of New York who will not be pleased with this change.  Up to now, New York has been an open state; overnight races have been open to all.  With this new rule, out of state horsemen will be having a hard time getting their horses raced now that their local tracks have closed for the season.   

Personally, I don't have a problem with this rule.  During the winter months last year, you had over two hundred horses being dropped into the entry box at Yonkers on a daily basis.  As a result, New York horsemen, who have been supporting the racing program all year, were sometimes lucky to get their horses raced once a month.  This new rule should help the New York horsemen keep racing during the winter with greater frequency.  Also, it is kind of hard to deny New York horsemen this type of protection.  After all, don't other states write conditions for state owned or sired?  At least these conditions don't give an unfair advantage to New York residents who raced elsewhere all year who return home for the winter.

If we had meaningful racing circuits, there would be no need for these types of rules as horsemen would have a place to race all year with the same horses going from track to track.  Until then, you will find the need to protect the local horsemen. 

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