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Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Disqualifications - In the Public Interest?

One of the things I always liked about harness racing has been its application of the rules.  You cause interference, you get disqualified; no did it impact the outcome of the race or not that the thoroughbreds have.  It made things incredibly simple and this attitude was easy to understand.  Even that time I lost a Trifecta at Monticello years ago when Clint Galbraith went around a horse and came in too early interfering with the second place horse despite the fact he finished twenty lengths ahead of the second place finisher.  I was annoyed, but the rules were the rules and it served the public's interest.

Or did it?  Now I am not sure about that.  Does it make sense to disqualify a horse when it doesn't impact the finish of the race?  Make no mistake, by nature of harness racing, a lot of infractions would still result in a disqualification, after all if a driver comes out and puts a wheel under a horse that is not going backwards you will still have to assume it impacted the outcome of the race, but if a horse is going backwards and a driver squeezes his way out and interferes with the tiring horse and doesn't cause confusion behind, does it make sense to disqualify the horse and annoy those gamblers whose mutuel tickets become worthless over a wrong doing which has no impact on the race?

This is not to say wrong doers should not be penalized, they should be and penalized hard.  However, that could be done in the form of (hefty) fines and suspensions which penalize those who are responsible and not take it out on those whose only infraction was to hold the winning ticket.

One thing the recent HANA survey indicated was the interest in assigning fixed post times and the possibility of intertwining at least two racetrack programs together as one wagering program.  Something like this should not be hard to do; at least as a pilot program.  The key is to find the tracks willing to pilot such a program and develop the metrics to determine what is success; tracks willing to commit to an experiment like this for at least four weeks; to give it a a chance to grow.  It would not have to be every night, just the same night every week.  Is anyone willing to step up and give it a try?  

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