The relocated Interdominions (relocated from Christchurch to Alexandria Park in Auckland due the earthquake that hit Christchurch starts this weekend. The first leg of the Interdominion Trot and Pace will be run Friday evening in New Zealand (early hours of Saturday in North America). While Auckland Reactor was scratched due to illness, the Pace has some perennial favorites like Monkey King, Smoken Up, Mr Feelgood, and of course, Blacks A Fake, aiming for his fifth Interdominion. In the Trot, it will be interesting to see how the Swedish horse Annicka, performs in its New Zealand debut. For more information on the Interdominions, visit their website.
For those who may not know, Woodbine Racetrack is now offering free race programs for their harness programs on their website. These programs are slightly different from the typical programs you get for free or purchase at other tracks. In addition to the standard information, the programs adds a point of call after the first 1/8th of a mile (WEG tracks only); replace the top of the stretch point of call with the position after 7/8th of a mile; using their Trackus system, shows you how many feet a horse traveled (WEG tracks only). In addition, after each race, there are selections and comments about each horse and a chart which shows the statistics for a the particular driver/trainer combinations in the race. You may access these programs at the Woodbine Racetrack website.
Expect a smile on the face of Jeff Gural today. No, it has nothing to do with the Meadowlands but with his proposal that we keep our older horses race longer. Due to the new methodology of allocating purses in Ontario, it is anticipated there will be a $9 million surplus in purse accounts this year. COSA President Bill O'Donnell's suggestion? Take those $9 million and create a series of stakes races for aged horses racing in the province. Perhaps O'Donnell's idea is only for horses owned and sired in Ontario, but it is a step in the right direction.
It may be spring, but there is a deep freeze at Vernon Downs and we are not talking snow. Once again, management is negotiating a contract with the HHA of Central New York. Negotiating with the HHA of CNY is always a pleasure, like getting a tooth pulled as contract time with the Vernon horsemen is another chapter in the proxy war between Jeff Grual and Joe Faraldo; two people with totally different views as to what the future of harness racing should be. Some will try to downplay this proxy war, but how else can you explain Tioga Downs horsemen never have a problem reaching an agreement while securing an agreement with Vernon Downs is like pulling teeth; especially with many horsemen racing at both tracks?
One of the biggest problems is the issue of fractional wagering when it comes to exotic wagers such as those dime Superfectas. Big time gamblers complain about the dime wagers because it allows smaller gamblers to cover wagers they normally wouldn't if they had to pay the full price to play the wager; removing value from the wager. Of course, at some small tracks, if not for the dime wagers, there may be nothing in the pools. Why does each Superfecta have to have a dime option? Say you are a track which offers a $.50 Trifecta and a dime Superfecta in the same race. Why not offer in one race a fractional Trifecta and a full price Superfecta and the next race offering both, offer a full price Trifecta and a dime Superfecta? This way both types of gamblers are given opportunities to play into the type of pools they want.
Layoff's have come to TVG. Ray Paulick tweets that it appears that on-screen talent Bob Baedeker and Chris Kotulak are among the casualties. Now, neither one were harness hosts, but I will miss Chris Kotulak; he was a pleasant presence on the television and I will miss him. No idea if layoffs are signs of financial difficulty or just typical corporate downsizing.