North of the border, we see once again the wagering public means nothing to the powers to be in racing. Woodbine Entertainment has reformatted their winter late closing series; eliminating their two weeks of preliminaries and then a final to one week of eliminations and a final. Just what the horsemen wanted; but certainly not what the gamblers want.
Yes, many times the second week of preliminaries, only enough horses would be entered for one division (though this year with the fiasco in New Jersey one has to suspect these late closers will be better subscribed) , but what we also are going from is the top ten money earners in the preliminaries qualifying for the final, to a situation where people will be trying to just qualify for the following week final. Potentially with two weeks of preliminaries, a winner one week needed to be sharp the following week as the potential existed of a horse not qualifying for the final if they earned nothing the second week. Now, unless there are more than two divisions of eliminations, the races primarily become a race to finish in the top five. And to make the final even more one-sided, elimination winners get to pick their starting position in the final, giving them an unfair advantage.
What are we saying to our customer base when we award post positions to elimination winners? "Winning a race is not incentive enough to win a race so we need to let the race winner chose their post position the following week otherwise they may not try to win". Do we wonder why there is an integrity problem in harness racing? We feed the image ourselves.
Should by some miracle Standardbred Canada's Racing Sustainability and Development Program take roots, one has to hope the first rule in the study is to act in the interests of the customers and not the horsemen; otherwise anything done is destined to fail.