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Wednesday, July 13, 2011

The Moment Harness Racing Began its Decline

I know whenever the next great horse shows up, memory starts to fade on the previous great horses.  Now, I won't speak of the horses that came before I was aware of harness racing, but to me the greatest horse of all time was Niatross.  Courtesy of the Post Time show hosted by Heather Moffett is a video of Niatross winning the $100,000 Battle of the Brandywine from 1980 at the old Brandywine Raceway.

Others have come since him; the closest to his greatness in my opinion being Somebeachsomewhere. However, we can't forget Niatross was the first horse to break the 1:50 barrier and he raced all over; not just sitting at the Meadowlands. Perhaps most importantly, he was the last horse who was raced for the sake of racing and not worry about syndication. Yes, he was syndicated but Clint Galbraith maintained control of the horse through his three year old campaign. There was a big court fight when Galbraith wanted to race him at four but Lou Guida insisted his career come to an end after the three year old campaign. Galbraith and Elsie Berger looked forward to racing Niatross. Now a days, people can't wait to get their horses into the breeding shed to make the big bucks. Niatross being forced into stud duty at the age four was probably the moment when harness racing began its gradual decline. Of course, 31 years later the gradual decline is pretty deep and for that the USHWA inducted Lou Guida into the Hall of Fame?  Yes, he owned the big horses via syndication deals but he commoditized the horses; something which has contributed to racing's decline.   Now, I am sure the result was unintended, but history will note that this period started the decline of racing. Rest assured if I had a vote, at tthe time, he would not have been on my ballot.

I know I have showed this music video once before, but I just love it.  So courtesy of the Post Time show, I give you the musical styling of Steve Warrington.  See if you can find Heather Moffett in the video.  No, Steve did not give up his racing career for Nashville; while he does not drive much anymore (and he was pretty darn good at it winning over 5,000 starts and over $31 million in purse winnings) he is training horses on the Delmarva circuit.

1 comment:

JLB said...

Found it interesting in watching the race that there were no early courtesy tucks. Joe Marsh Jr. left hard from the outside and drove on to close a hole in case Niatross, parked third, chose the rail. Then he tried to keep Billy Haughton out, but the latter rammed his way on his second try after hesitating at first approaching the quarter. These days, I think Niatross would be accorded an easy lead, with the others tagging along hoping for second.