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Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Au Revoir to our War Horses; Honoring a Special Kind of Owner

Monticello Raceway pays tribute to our retiring fourteen year old war horses with the Au Revoir Race tomorrow (December 31, fourth race).  This race provides race fans with a rarity.  With permission from the NYSRWB, Monticello is being allowed to race pacers against trotters (the trotters draw inside) in a wagering event.   While trotters and pacers frequently race against each other in qualifiers, they usually don't race against each other in betting races since pacing is a faster gait.  Here are my selections for the $7,500 Au Revoir Race:

6 - Am I Next A  7-2  - Driver change may be key to final victory. 
2 - Numberonefan (t)  4-1 - Maine shipper likely to fall short in the stretch.
4 -  Bonn Star N  5-2  - Lebanon shipper needs early speed to launch closing attack. 
3 - Satin Time N  3-1 - Best efforts been on larger ovals.
1 - I'm Dam Goog (t)  9-2 - Will find it tough against pacers.
7 - Uphill Battle  10-1 - Northfield invader has lacked luck this yar.
5 - Oop's Whatapromise  12-1 -  Don't see at all. 

Andrew Cohen penned a piece for the USTA website where he suggests paying tribute to the owners of some of our most 'underachieving' race horses.  As usual, Cohen's article has drawn some differing opinions.  Some ask why we should reward failure; others wonder what kind of person would keep on with horses that are 0-43 and those that raced numerous times without even picking up a check. 

People are missing the point of this article.  It takes a special kind of person to be willing to keep on with horses like these.  Many people would have cut their losses a long time ago; keeping horses like these does not make business sense.  Are they foolish?  To a degree perhaps, but when harness racing goes through its unavoidable retrenchment and our fair weather owners abandon the sport for more lucrative investments, owners like these will be the ones keeping racing going through the tough times.  That deserves recognition. 



Pocket Up said...

Pacingguy, I am one of those people you mention on the USTA website that had a differing opinion and for good reason I hope. As a former owner, I ask you if you would race a horse that appears to no longer have the drive to race? Especially when wagering involved, why race a horse that clearly is past it's prime and no longer paying it's way? That's what I'm writing about, when is enough....enough?

I believe the owners Andrew is writing about know their horse has little chance of being competitive. I'm not talking about horses that race at the "B" or "C" tracks for that matter, I'm talking about horses racing at the bottom rung, where ever that is.

I quote from JLB in the retirement thread "....but I have seen too many horses race who should have been scratched." He has seen horses that shouldn't be racing. It is also painful for me to watch. Some owners need to be saved from themselves I believe.

Your usually such an advocate for the sport. Racing horses because they (meaning owners) can is wrong in my opinion. Hardly worthy of being recognized as "unsung". Are they foolish? you ask, at what degree then do we ask, when is enough...enough?

So if I am "missing" the point of his article, so be it. Perhaps he should have been more clear?

Pacingguy said...

Pocket Up,I welcome your comments.

If you check the article again, a couple of the horses were coming in the money; just not winning races. Were the owners losing money? Yes, but the horses were on occasion competitive.

As for the others, I didn't check them all, but one of the horses that didn't earn a dime was apparently a 3yo trotter who was showing breaks. Probably a horse that needs time to mature and would benefit from spending the season in a field and return next year.

Horses that are unsound to the point that they can't be competitive should never be raced. They should be given time off or retired if appropriate. I would never suggest anything else.

I believe the original article was written under the assumption that these horses are being well treated and for some reason are not winning; that they are not horses who are racing when they should be scratched and it is in that same context I am opining.

Perhaps by citing these extreme examples it clouded the main point. While we celebrate the owners and trainers of the champions, we give no credit to those connected to the nondescript horses which race nightly at our raceways keeping the sport alive; especially those that lose money. Perhaps the article would have been clearer if it talked about people who were racing horses that were earning more substantial money but still not covering expenses.

Hope that clarifies things. Thanks for keeping me on my toes.