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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Beating a Dead Horse, Oh Maryland...

A study in Australia shows that whipping a thoroughbred in the later stages of a race is a waste of time; you can call it beating a dead horse.  The study shows by the time the field gets into the stretch, the horses muscles are so tired that the whip is useless.  According to the study, jockeys would be best concerned with getting their horse into a place to win and let 'er go, sans whip.  Needless to say, the thoroughbred interests are screaming bloody murder over this study which was financed by the RSPCA and through the cooperation of Racing New South Wales.  Ironically, one of the biggest objectors to the study in Racing Australia of which Racing NSW is part of.

So if this study on thoroughbreds shows the use of a whip late in a race is worthless with results to the outcome of a race, could the same logic apply to standardbreds?  Pull the Pocket goes into this line of thinking and believes the same logic applies.  At this point, let's assume this study is correct.  How do we educate our industry participants and horseplayers to accept the study?  We will need to address this as the industry has nothing to gain by continuing to beat the proverbial dead horse.

We have had for roughly a year the new whipping rules in Ontario and with the exception of some outrage over changing the official order of finish, the rule has worked pretty well.  I am not aware of any accidents caused by the new rules, only fines and imposed vacations for those who refuse to adapt.  Speed records in Ontario are continuing to be set.  One could argue using the whip is more dangerous; after all, how many times do you see a tiring horse go off-stride when being whipped, possibly causing an accident?

Penn National is the apparent winner in the Rosecroft Sweepstakes, winning the rights to the now shuttered racetrack.  With Penn National owning already 49% of the Maryland Jockey Club, one has to wonder what their real motive is for purchasing Rosecroft.  Are they truly looking to restore harness racing to the half-miler, or could they be purchasing the track to keep it closed down?

Elsewhere, there have been some early revues of Ocean Downs on the Eastern Shore of Maryland, and at present, the only parimutuel track in Maryland with pari-mutuel wagering.  Early reports indicate the grandstand has become a casino with the clubhouse providing limited seating opportunities.  One report suggests there are a total of three mutuel windows on the grrandstand tarmac with no protection from the rain for horseplayers.  There is still a clubhouse of 30 tables which has not bee n updated  While things may not be as bad as being reported at Ocean Downs, the MRC should be making sure enough attention is beting taken to provide for the horseplayers.  After all, it is easier to fix the problems now than during the racing season.

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