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Monday, August 23, 2010

They Don't Stop for Anything Do They?

Updated: Corrected the name of one of the horses and drivers involved in the accident.

There was a bad spill this afternoon during the running of the third race at Monticello Raceway.  Just after the race started, the horse Stormunn fell down only to be run over by Aruba Sunset and Sweety's Finale well before the first turn.  As a result of the accident, horses were down just past the finish line and a loose horse was running the opposite direction on the track.  Yet, the race continued as if nothing happened.  Of course, the horses had to race wide going down the stretch the two times they passed the accident but other than that, it was business as usual, and that is wrong.

It is one thing if the accident occurred late in a mile when the horses would not pass the same point on the track.  It wouldn't be a problem if there was a loose horse going the same direction as the horses in the race.  But this accident was just after the start (track announcer Howard Oil was just about to make his first call in the race), and a horse was going the opposite direction on the track meaning the potential was there for a head on collision between horses twice during the race, putting the remaining horses and drivers in the race at risk. 

How come in Europe they can stop the race and restart it, yet we insist on the race continuing?  Do we value our drivers and horses so cheaply?  Is it we are afraid of having to refund the money for the horses who would not be able to answer the call to post for a restart (as if there is that much to refund)?  I would like to think it isn't those reasons; it just isn't something we have ever done before?

This time there were no consequences for continuing on, but the day may come where we won't be so lucky.  Racing needs to seriously rethink its policy towards race restarts when there is an accident before something tragic happens due to our refusal to address the issue.

As for the three horses and drivers (Rick Harp, Gregory Merton, and James Clouser Jr) involved in the accident, there have been no reports regarding their injuries.  Hopefully,the drivers and horses have come out of the mishap with nothing more than scrapes and scratches.


riceownz2 said...

Totally agree with everything you said. Watched the replay and I still can't believe they finished the race. Bad call by all parties involved.

Documentary said...

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How about the article, is that other, very interesting.Maybe you'd let you comment on my site.
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Scott Jeffreys said...

Dear Pacingguy : Take a slow motion look at the video from that third race. Watch the #2 horse, Aruba Sunset, go down who was not mentioned in your article. Jim Clouser's bike goes flying over the #4, Stormunn's, bike. The result that Aruba Sunset went down sideways at 30 miles per hour. By positioning at the half, I think that it was Aruba Sunset who might have been the downed horse.

Normally, a driver's first reaction will be to secure his/her own safety and then check the status of the horses, holding them down if possible by pinning their next to the ground to avoid their trying to get up. What is goodness sakes was happening in that first turn when the field came to the half? What that Clouser or Merton just standing on the track to deal with the fallen horse?

Where were the track stewards to declare this race no contest? Suppose that wrong way runner nailed one of the front runners. Was that $4300.00 purse worth it?

About $33,000 was bet on the race - that pretty much tells you the price of the horses, drivers, and management at Monticello Raceway.

You want to talk about rule changes for the good of the game. Today's third race should serve as a catalyst.

Pacingguy said...

Scott, thanks for the correction. I have updated the article accordingly.

JLB said...

It is appalling that the race was not declared a "No Contest". If the State Racing and Wagering Board had any interest in regulating this sport, they would start an immediate investigation, and question the racing officials involved.

Anonymous said...

Scott Jeffreys had it right about Aruba Sunset (a horse I just happen to know), but she also got up and was also LOOSE on the track, but going and pacing in the right direction.
Outriders are the main problem at Monticello!! For some reason they can't seem to catch and detain these run-aways. A terrible accident to be sure and I totally agree that the race should have been STOPPED and all bets returned!
Monticello Raceway is in my opinion a disgrace to Harness Racing not only because of incidents like this, but also because of track conditions and overall appearance and upkeep of the facilities themselves.