I have heard some comments privately from several individuals about my last column, where they disagree with what I said. That's fine, as I have always said I don't have all the answers, but I hope to get people thinking. Does North American harness racing need to look exactly like French or New Zealand harness racing? Of course not.
But it seems to me while we have this great debate about Yonkers racing an extra 1/16 of a mile in a race handle continues to go down, we lose customers, we deal with real or perceived integrity issues, we become less relevant.
In the scheme of all the problems we have in harness racing, we're getting all up in arms about an extra 1/16th of a mile?
Yonkers had a situation where the seven and eight hole horses were automatic tosses; horsemen were scratching out if they got post seven or eight. Yonkers implements a 15 day penalty for those who scratch out. So we have full fields with two horses going through the motions. Yonkers decides to try 1 1/16 mile races giving outside horses a chance to get involved at the start. The seven and eight horses now come in to win and show up in the top three more often. The seven and eight horses are no longer automatic tosses; the product is better and hopefully handle rises. What is wrong with improving the product? At least they are trying something.
In the meanwhile, while this great debate about Yonkers extra 1/16 of a mile goes on, our proverbial Rome is burning. Does this make any sense? I would suggest we have bigger fish to worry about and a good place to start is by looking at every element of the game; there should be nothing sacred. Maybe we can get this train back on the tracks.
I'm not the only one that feels this way. For another view on this topic, take a look at Trackmaster's David Siegal's comments on Hoofbeats Blogs.