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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Are My Eyes Deceiving Me?

Standardbred Canada and the ORC's joint feature "From the Stand"" this week features two incidents at Rideau Carlton where they discussed driver's objections and the rulings the ORC judges made. Wait a minute. Two separate driver objections? I must be reading the column wrong. Two objections? Don't the drivers in Canada realize filing an objection violates the first commandment in harness racing"?

"Thou shalt not lodge a claim of foul against a fellow driver."

Clearly these Canadian-based drivers must be heathens unlike our American-based drivers. Our drivers clearly know if there is one commandment you never, never think of violating, it is this one. You never, never place an objection against a fellow driver in a race. After all, you don't want to responsible for them having to serve a suspension do you? After all, you know what it is like to serve a suspension and heaven forbid a driver rats you out and you get an unplanned vacation.

Oh, you mean drivers should be claiming fouls?  Well of course they should.

I know the arguments. It is the judges responsibility to light up the inquiry sign; not the drivers. Don't you understand being a driver is a fraternity? To claim a foul against a fellow driver for an infraction is like betraying your fraternity brother; you just don't do it.

Memo to Drivers: Judges are human. They don't see everything. More specifically, they can't catch every little thing. As much as they may try, there is plenty of action going on during a race and sometimes, things are going to get by them. However, you as a driver can't help but notice if a driver interferes with you. No one disputes the driving colony is a fraternity (except if you are a driver trying to break into the local colony); you know what it is like to risk your life out there every day trying to eke out a living earning 5% of the purse money you win (especially at non-racino tracks). You are there when your fellow driver gets hurt and that is great.

There is only one thing. You are driving for the few remaining fans/gamblers out there investing their hard earned money, wagering on the races. If not for them (and slot revenue) you would not be able to earn a living driving horses. You owe the fans not only to drive a horse the best you can in any given race, but you owe it to the person wagering on your mount to claim a foul if a fellow driver causes an infraction against you; not leaving it to the judges to protect the bettor's interests. Drivers are professional. They should understand when an objection is claimed against them it is "nothing personal; it is strictly business".

No one is suggesting a driver claim an objection for really questionable instances, but when you know a driver has caused an infraction against you, it is your responsibility to claim a foul, even if the judges didn't see it. And who knows what may happen when the fans actually see drivers protecting their interests by claiming a foul? Some may actually come back.

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