How many times do we need to see the situation where a horse, already qualified for a race final, being raced in a manner more consistent with preparing for the upcoming final than in winning today’s race before we do something about it? I understand the rationale behind saving the horse; why gut a horse to win a $26,000 race when the following week it will be racing for $200,000, but isn’t it a case of what is good for an individual horse actually doing harm to the sport? How many potential/novice horseplayers are we loosing when a horse, which traditionally races on or near the front end successfully, is suddenly racing from off the pace never to be heard from at the end of the mile only to revert back to its successful racing style the following week when the money is on the line?
Yes, the experienced handicapper will consider the possibility of a horse not racing aggressively in a particular week realizing it has already secured a berth in the series final, but will the novice realize this? More importantly, do we want them to? After all, what kind of message are we sending when we are rewarding the concept of saving a horse for next week?
While it would be best to eliminate elimination races, in certain events (such as sire stakes races) there is no way to get around eliminations. Instead of determining finalists by dollars earned, award points based on the order of finish. To protect the wagering public’s interests, once a horse is ensured of a position in the series final, it should be barred from wagering and disregarded for purposes of awarding points in subsequent series legs. By barring such horses from wagering, the wagering public will not find themselves wagering on a horse going through the motions and it provides more incentive for those still attempting to qualify for the final to race at maximum effort.
In the New York Times this past weekend, Joe Meagher wrote a column titled A Beautiful Sport, an Ugly Industry where he discussed the ills facing thoroughbred racing and why it is in decline. As I have mentioned many times, the issues facing standardbred racing are the same in all forms of horse racing. The reverse is true. Take a look at Meagher's column and see how many of these issues standardbred racing face.
Chris E. Wittstruck, Esq. offers his opinion on the current controversy surrounding the trainer who seemingly defies logic. While he doesn't mention names, anyone who has been following what is going on in racing will know who is being talked about.