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Monday, August 15, 2011

The Elimination Morass

In yesterday's blog entry, Pull the Pocket discusses how exciting the Confederation Cup at Flamboro Downs was, primarily because there is an open draw for the final.  As PTP mentioned as I have previously done, qualifying for the final should be about qualifying for the final and nothing else; certainly not a coronation for an elimination winner.  

The fact is standardbred racing has created its own Elimination Morass.  We have developed such a mess that we don't know how to get out of it.  We have trainers who win eliminations who feel by the nature of them paying to get into the race, they are entitled to select their own post position, yet don't those horses who drew horribly in an elimination pay to get into the race demand the same consideration?  After all, these are the horses who may have drawn post eight on a half mile track who had to bust their chops just to reach next week's finals?

Let’s face it, elimination races are a mess.  Purses are so small in relation to the final, that track operators feel they have to ‘entice’ horses to perform their best by offering winners their choice of post in the final.  If there is no award of choosing your own post for winning, then the effort given may be just enough to qualify and the gamblers get cheated.

 I am not a big fan of byes either.  They also are a travesty.  We are dealing with today's race; not last week(s) races.  Byes should be eliminated and the high purse earners need to get into the race like any other horse with the only exception being possibly to attract foreign horses.  Otherwise, you may not attract foreign horses to ship over the Atlantic if they don't have a chance to win the big money, but that could be handled by making winners of specified races automatically invited to compete in the final.   

The best thing which could be done is minor stakes, like the Oliver Wendell Holmes should just race in divisions.  Big races should be treated like the Battle of the Brandywine; highest money earners qualify with consolations for the others.  All with post positions drawn by an open draw.

 Instead of qualifying for finals, I know this would be rejected by industry insiders, but quite honestly, if there needs to any type of qualifying on the track to qualify for the finals, it would be the fairest.  I would have the horses individually race against the clock in what would be trials (a modified version of the official workout) with the starting order to race in the trials being the lowest money earners trialing before the highest money earners.  The eight, nine, or ten fastest timed horses would advance to the finals.  If a horse goes off stride or leaves the course in the trial, it is automatically disqualified.  Have prize money for where you finish as if you were in a race, meaning all horses who advance earn some type of purse money and have these trials contested during the race card. Then the best horses get in, no shenanigans or gimmicks to encourage the best performance possible , with the fastest horses trialing advancing with an open draw used to select the final.  No lucky trip or bad trip, just raw natural ability deciding who advances.  

Let’s face it, these trials probably would be more exciting than some of our regular races.  If you want, you can offer a proposition bet for the horse that qualifies with the fastest qualifying time. 

I realize trainers and owners, bound to 'that's the way we always done it" will kick and scream, but it could make the racing more exciting.  Depending on how the trials are preceeding, trainers can use strategy as to how fast their charges need to pace or trot.    But at least this way, we would have no complaints about paying to get into a race or coronation finals. 

It's worth considering.  What do you think?

Just in case you have not seen the Conferedation Cup, here is the replay of the race.

Also, another race which got little attention, was the 47th running of the Frank Ryan Memorial Trot at Rideau Carleton which was won by Kashs Caviar in 1:57.2

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