Yesterday at Vincennes,Olga du Biwetz won the $1 million Prix De Cornulier, a race contested at approvimately 1 15/16 miles. This win makes here a favorite to win next week's Prix d' Amerique.
But the point of this article is how North American standardbred interests are missing a potentially lucrative avenue for wagering dollars. Watch the replay of the race and form your own opinon. One thing you will not see in the video is the start. No starting gate, is used. The start is similar to the start used by the steeplechase races; post position really doesn't matter. Once the starter feels the hores are in line, the field is released.
Why may racing under saddle work in attracting new bettors? The lack of the sulky. The horses, while not as close to each other as they are in the thoroughbreds, race tight enough and will help lose the perception people have about horses getting boxed in. Races like this will give thoroughbred horse players another reason to take a look at standardbred racing.
No, I am not suggesting we give up our sulkies, far from it. But we need to take a serious look at racing under saddle, not the half hearted attempt we had before. There we had exhibition races with a few horses quickly trained to race under saddle which resulted in boring competitions in numerous cases. How is that going to excite people into seriously considering RUS as anything more than a novelty? Here is a race from three years ago at Hoosier Park. Five horses entered and they basically stayed clear of each other.
What is needed is a commitment from certain tracks to put on meaningful RUS races on the calendar in 2012 offering respectable money which would make it feasible for stables to train good horses to race under saddle. We could then develop our own circuit of RUS horses to go to various race tracks to compete in races, the same way as the steeplechasers visit running tracks. If our drivers are not experienced enough in racing under saddle, then let's get some thoroughbred jockeys to race in these events to keep the races exciting.
If you look at the French race, how many horses wree in the race? Many horse to make the races attractive to bettors who want larger fields, something possible due to the lack of the sulky. No cecond tier worries either.
We need to take a real look at the possibility of racing under saddle. It may be part of the revenue stream we are looking for.