Thoroughbred racing columnist, Vic Zast writes a column talking about thoroughbred racing and identifies things wrong within that industry. You can change "Thoroughbred" to "Harness" and many of the problems are the same. Here are some of Zast's points; do any of this sound familiar?
- A partner that is your enemy?
- When was the last time "the good of the sport" factored in any decision?
- Racetrackss nobody will visit, races no one will bet on, seasons too long?
- Animal rights issues (whipping)?
- Various groups dealing with their own issues instead of the sports overall welfare?
- Failure to eliminate unhealthy practices?
The current edition of TROT magazine has a cover story regarding Finnish Trainer/Driver Riina Rekila who is currently racing her own horses in Canada and the United States. For those of you who don't get TROT magazine, here is a video of a photoshoot done with Rekila to obtain photos for the story.
No, Riina is not just a pretty face. She is an accomplished horsewoman who was a veterinarian back in her native Finland. She's like a lot of women in North America, married with a career and child but in a career perceived to be a man's domain; someone who would be of interest to the general public.
You don't get much interest in stories about owners or your typical trainers and drivers as they tend to fit the common mold of what the public expects, but a story about someone like Riina would attract attention as she breaks the mold of what the public expects. Danica Patrick is a similar story in Indy and NASCAR because she doesn't fit the mold . Does it hurt she is an attractive female? Of course not, but there is more than just good looks in Patrick's story so there is no problem using her sex to get publicity as long as her racing talents are being promoted. If we promoted a Rinna Rekila-type story in the United States think of the options we would have for media exposure. Not just sports-related television, magazines, and newspapers; we could get media exposure in women's magazines touting a beautiful working mother doing what she loves (like Dr. Patty Hogan) in a non-traditional role. Publicity regarding a younger woman being successful in harness racing may help us attract more women to the sport, plus it may attract Generation Xers to show them racing is not necessarily an old man's sport.
The USTA web-site has had stories of the young attractive women making a career in harness racing. If we will profile women like this on a the USTA website, isn't it time we promote stories like this to the general media where we can attract new fans?