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Sunday, February 28, 2010


What can I say? There are times you just have to scream. I found myself in this position this weekend when I came across comments from a prominent individual within the sport who seemingly has run up the white flag. No, this person is not happy about the current situation, but is seemingly resigned to the fact this is the way it is.

It reminds me of the opening of Annie Hall when a young Woody Allen is being seen by a psychologist, apparently depressed after reading an article which indicated the sun was going to blow up and destroy the world. The psychologist, attempting to comfort the young Woody Allen, explains to the boy that the sun will blow up millions of years from now long after he is gone. To which the young boy shrugged and responded “What’s the use?’

In the comments from this individual was an explanation of why certain suggestions can’t work; they will upset the status quo. Not, how can any of these suggestions work or be modified; just they can’t work. Why upset a perfectly good product?

Newsflash: Our product is broken. Declining interest and less wagering suggests we are producing not only too much product, but a defective product. Keep on feeding the customer the same product is not going to turn things around. Change is needed; some of it may be painful.

Have we gotten to the point where all is hopeless; it’s “As good as it gets”? I certainly hope not. For if this is the case, all is lost; racing’s strategy should remain do nothing, just make as much money as you can while the states are willing to subsidize the industry with VLT revenue and then one day we will just close up shop and go home.

Fortunately, there are those who think there is a future for harness racing. What we need are the “No” people to stand aside and let the “Yes” people lead. If the sport ever does die, let it be said it went out with a fight and not a whimper.


ITP said...

Our product isn't broken....It's shattered into a billion pieces and a steamroller is crushing it daily.

Upset the status quo?.....The status quo doesn't need to be upset.....It needs to be tortured, mutilated, killed and placed in a hole in the desert.

Hopeless.....Hambo Society and USTA give their main event to a track with 35% takeout on tris/supers.....Tracks that are destroying the track that defines the sport of harness racing are allowed to have 35% takeout rates and no wagering handle.....No need to go on and on.

Scott Jeffreys said...

To understand what has happened on the very bottom end of the harness racing food chain, one only need to have heard the interview with Marcus Miller conducted by Bill Finley on Saturday morning's Down the Stretch program on Serius/XM.

Miller, currently attending DePaul during the day and driving the Maywood/Balmoral circuit at night, said that he is seeing horses that win one or two weeks in a row immediately ship out to the east for better purse opportunties. When asked about the situation, Marcus simply said, "it is just sad".

There was no clearer indication that the sport is broken than to hear this young driver talk about the Chicago circuit.

Scott Jeffreys said...

To underscore ignoring the problems in the sport, here is how the USTA web site is handling the current Chicago situation :

Casey Leonard was quoted : "With the purses going so far down we’ve had some drivers leave to compete for better money, and that’s given other drivers like me more opportunities”.

Pacingguy said...

Scott, the article you cited came from the IHHA but appears on the USTA website. I don't think the USTA rank and file and the IHHA thinks this is a good idea. What it is is the half full approach.