Driver/Trainer Jay Picianno, who recently was training for Trond Smedshammer and Chuck Slyvester passed away over this weekend at the age of 56. I remember see Jay drive at The Red Mile and from what I remember about him was that he was a man who had the talent to drive. Jay got his start break working for George Sholty. Perhaps in recent years he was working behind the scenes, but he was a credit to the sport. If any of you had been interested in learning how to drive, there is a good chance you had purchased the DVD/Video "Driving the Trotter and Pacer". Even if you weren't interested in driving, you may have purchased this video like me to get a better understanding of what is involved in driving the race. The DVD is still available from some outlets.
The other bad news is the hope that Larry Lederman would be returning to the track announcer's booth for the Fall/Winter meet at Freehold has been dashed as the initial treatment did not accomplish what was desired and he will undergo another round of chemo/radiation. With luck, we will see Larry back in the booth for the Spring meet. We wish him well.
On the good news side of the equation, USTA Executive Vice-Pressident Mike Tanner, appeared before The Horse Racing Study Committee of the Georgia legislature to discuss the possibility of introducing pari-mutuel horse racing, including standardbred racing to Georgia. Other speakers were from the quarterhorse, and steeplechase/hunt, paint racing breeds. The thoroughbred industry was unable to attend this particular session. Tanner discussed were the economic benefits of horse racing to the agricultural sector and the fact racing is already in the state at Hawkinsville where there is a harness festival each year.
The focus appears to be on Atlanta and one of the questions raised was about transforming the racetrack for standardbred racing with the opinion extended if you are going to build a track these days it would best to build one facility with separate tracks for standardbreds as with Woodbine. The question about racinos was raised several times because it seemed to be a concern of the committee. Mike feels Georgia can race without racinos as there is no competition in the state with alternate forms of gambling. The committee while seemingly not interested in racinos, wanted to know what the state traditionally gets from racinos, anticipating the horse racing industry may come back five years later to the state saying they need slots to survive. From the feeling expressed by the committee leadership, the committee seems to be receptive to a referendum for parimutuel racing.
The question is, with all types of racing breeds (well, by the time I got off the presentation, the mule racing industry didn't speak). looking to get into Georgia, will any racetrack in Georgia be a multi-breed track with all breeds welcome or will certain ones be left out?