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Friday, December 17, 2010

Large Fields - A History Lesson reports that some of the regular drivers at the Meadows are refusing to drive in the seventh and fifteenth races on Monday, December 20, citing the races may be unsafe.  I can understand Aaaron Merriman's concern just coming off a major accident but large fields have happened before.

An eleven horse field was scheduled to meet the starter
in the Hudson Filly Trot back in 1987.
 Back in 1987, if not for the scratch of Icefolly, eleven three year old trotting fillies were due to meet the starter in The 1987 Hudson Filly Trot at Yonkers Raceway.  The exact year, I can't remember but I recall seeing sixteen two year old colt and gelding trotters meeting the starter at the Meadowlands during Historic week; a time when these horses were extremely green and surprise surprise, perhaps a breaker or two but nothing out of the usual.

At one point the USTA rules allowed twelve horses to start on half mile tracks; fourteen on a 5/8th mile tracks; sixteen starters on a mile track and the world was fine.  Yes, the USTA has reduced the number of starters in the second tier so not as many starters can begin in the second field buts second tier horses are still allowed..

For those drivers who fear a twelve horse field at the Meadows, think about what your predecessors had to face in the 1980's; fourteen horses.  It can be done, safely.  As long as the horses are safe, there should be no problem with races like this.  Perhaps if anything, a rule should be made that if a horse is deemed somewhat unsafe, it must draw into the second avoid interfering a majority of the field; this is a prudent proposal (something done down under).

1 comment:

Greg Reinhart said...

There was one elimination for the Breeders Crown in the three-year-old filly trot division in 2003 with 14 horses, so you don't have to even go back to two decades ago to find a large field, and in an elimination for one of the biggest races of the year, to boot.