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Monday, June 27, 2011

Monday Notes and a Scapegoat

The first known edict of Jeff Gural since the memorandum of understanding has been signed has come down and starting with this week’s action at the Meadowlands, the Racing Fromthe Meadowlands show returns once again to SNY, a regional sportsnetwork.  Racing FromThe Meadowlands was dropped by the NJSEA as a money savings step at the start of this year’s standardbred meet and as a result, if you lived in the Meadowlands area and didn’t subscribe to TVG which is predominantly thoroughbred racing coverage, you were unable to watch the show.

In the movie Breaker Morant; based on a real story, three Australian lieutenants are executed for killing Boer prisoners that their superior officers ordered.  Such an outrage in diplomatic circles broke out that the high command decided to scapegoat these three soldiers to deflect attention from their own actions.  One problem was the three condemned men put up a good defense that it was obvious what the military high command did.
Well, while not quite the same thing, the Kentucky HorseRacing Commission is looking to ‘execute’ their own steward John Veitch for the Life At Ten debacle at this past Breeders Cup for the Life At Ten incident.  As you recall, the jockey of Life At Ten, Jorge Velazquez, didn’t tell the stewards about Life At Ten’s sluggishness, but told ESPN.   When ESPN allegedly communicated the issue to the Stewards, Veitch didn’t act upon it and when the race went off, Life At Ten was almost immediately pulled up.  Now, Veitch is facing an administrative hearing for the lack of action taken in this incident.  In an effort to placate the racing public, the KHRC is putting Veitch on trial where a person who earns $90,000 a year is may be suspended for five years and fined $50,000.  Were this to happen in a $10,000 claiming race, on any regular race day, nothing would have been done.  However, this occurred in front of a national audience so the KHRC must extract their pound of flesh from their scapegoat.  If Velazquez or the trainer did what they should have done and notified the stewards, this affair would never have occurred.  I doubt in the rulebook for Kentucky it says they must watch the ESPN telecast and take action based on an interview occurring pre-race.  The right thing which should have been done is the KHRC should issue a letter of memorandum to their stewards telling them what should be done in the future should this situation ever occur again; instead of correcting their errors, they have decided to kill the career of their own steward.

So what makes me discuss thoroughbred racing?  First, what they are doing to Veitch is plain wrong and outrageous.  Secondly it is typical of horse racing of all breeds; never get in front of an issue but reacts when all hell breaks loose.  There have been several incidents in harness racing where the potential for a big public relations failure has arisen.  Mistakes shouldn’t happen but they do.  The key is to fix them when it occurs and not wait until it becomes a national issue and to make a victim out of someone for a racing commission’s own shortcomings.

On the Harnessphere, opinion is split regarding the use of an open draws in final of stakes events.  Some feel the open draw is the right way to do things; others feel elimination winners should draw the post of their own choice.  While I can’t be certain, I am pretty sure you can tell who is a horse owner or not depending on their response to this question.  Gamblers tend to like the open draw.  As far as I am concerned if you are going to let heat winners chose their own post positions, why don’t we be honest and skip the other horses and just have the heat winners return for the final; after all, odds are one of them are typically going to win the race anyway.  Let’s avoid the charade and be honest that in most cases letting elimination winner chose their posts basically hand them the race.

In case you missed it yesterday, Monticello Raceway will race their only evening program of the year this Saturday, July 2 which will conclude with their annual firework program.  First race is 7:30pm.  Other tracks may be racing different schedules this weakened so you may want to check with your track’s website.

I would like to know from the judges what the purpose of fines are?  Recently a picture of a horsemen with his foot out of the sulky was shown and he was asked how much it cost him.  The response was basically, a $100 and they laughed claiming it was a cost of doing business.  I suggest if you have driver s laughing about fines as being a cost of doing business, the fines are not serving their purpose.  It is time to fine the drivers an amount so it is an actual deterrent.  Instead of returning the funds to the horsemen at the end of year, let’s use the fines to partially fund racing commissions or to fund health programs for grooms, a group of industry employees who are constantly mistreated.

New Wager Debuts at Meadowlands?  Rumor has it that a fifty cent Pick five debuts at the Meadowlnds this Saturday which comprises of the first five races on the card.  No word yet on any guarantees on the pool.

Don’t be surprised if the state of New Jersey is closed for business at the end of this week due to a budget impasse.   Fortunately for racing, new rules are in place to allow racing to continue for a several days before they would need to shutdown.  Hopefully, state legislators come to a settlement before the end of this week.


harrylare said...

Veitch not reacting to ESPN was the correct decisioin in my opinion. It's hearsay. Jorge Velazquez can convey this to ESPN but NOT the stewards? Velazquez & the Trainer should be in the hot seat NOT Veitch. Kinda reminds me of the arm chair golf fan calling the officials and getting golfers disqualified. INSANE!!! PG as always you hit it right on the head. Racing being it standardbred or T-Breds react and don't act that's why I refuse to post on Harnessphere when the USTA acts instead of blowing a smoke screen maybe they'll be taken seriously.
PG, I'll be at Goshen HOF Day and maybe Fri. or Sat. depending on the races. I'll be looking for you to say hello.

Pacingguy said...

Unfortunately, this year I will be there on Monday only for the county fair stakes. These days can only go when my wife can drive me. I'll be there looking like Ironside (showing my age again).

Pacingguy said...

Unfortunately, this year I will be there on Monday only for the county fair stakes. These days can only go when my wife can drive me. I'll be there looking like Ironside (showing my age again).