In the Peter Haughton Memorial, Nothing But Class was scratched sick allowing Weingartner to draw into the race off the also eligible list and win, paying a generous $58.60. The problem is Nothing But Class and Weingartner were both trained by Jimmy Takter. Some people are wondering was Nothing But Class really sick or did Takter 'game' the system to get Weingartner into the race? Clearly Weingartner had the ability, despite the two breaks which may explain why Jimmy's brother Johnny flew in from Europe to drive the horse (it should be noted that he was listed to drive both horses), most likely because since all they drive in European mainland are trotters, they figured he would have a better chance to keep the horse flat. I personally tend to doubt the conspiracy theory as it appears there was a different ownership group for the two horses but the question needs to be asked in a situation like this, does it take a phone call to scratch the horse or does a vet need to certify the horse is sick and specify the particulars for such a declaration? If not, it should be required for all races; especially if an also eligible is trained by the trainer of the scratched horse.
For the first time ever, the New Jersey Governor didn't right a welcome letter for the Hambletonian program. Instead, a letter by Jeff Gural alluding to what the future holds was included instead. Curious to know if he decided not to write the letter or was not asked to write the letter. It is sad that the head of the state would not have written the leader of greetings, but for all we know he may not have been invited to contribute the letter, after all who wants an insincere greeting?
In the Tioga Downs-Meadowlands Driving Championship, the field, minus the sponsor's exemption, has been set. The first eight drivers are: George Brennan, Tim Tetrick, Ron Pierce, Jody Jamieson, Brian Sears, David Miller, Yannick Gingras, and representing Tioga Downs in 2011 will be leading driver Ed Hensley who is also a regular driver at Fraser Downs (though that may be changing). I would love to see the sponsor's exemption go to Riina Rekilia. Granted she drives only her own horses and they tend to be trotters, but she is a phenomenal horsewoman. It would be interesting to see how she does catch driving and driving pacers. Plus, it would add a little spice to the event and may draw more attention from the media. That being said, I would suspect the sponsor's exemption would go to John Campbell if he was willing to take it.
Chatnal Sutherland lost the Battle of the Exes at Del Mar Racetrack Sunday afternoon but she is still a drawing card to get people to the track, drawing 4,600 extra people when compared to the same day last year. She gets 3,000 people to show up for Donuts at Del Mar and she goes to a bar and signs autographs, getting 100 people to show up to the track later. Harness racing needs to get more women involved in driving and they need to be promoted. Who does harness racing have with such star power and more importantly, who do we have willing to to do such promotion for the sport?
On Day three of the World Trotting Conference, Jeff Gural spoke to those in attendance in regards to his plans for the Meadowlands. The new grandstand is being built not only for racing, but for concerts and other events. He does acknowledge he needs to tweak his plans as he is able to get people to Tioga, but they have not been able to get them to bet. He repeated his controversial plan to ban horses bred by four year olds from racing in the stakes races at Tioga Downs, Vernon Downs, and Meadowlands and the resistance many other groups have towards these plans. One slight flaw in the program is what about star fillies like See You At Peelers, will they be allowed to head to the breeding shed at four and have their offspring eligible to race or will they be forced to race another year as well? Granted a stallion can cover 180 mares while a mare can have only one off spring in her four year old breeding season, but wouldn't you want see See You At Peelers race as four? For those tracks and organizations who refuse to follow along with the Gural plan, how about doubling nominating fees and other payments for horses sired by four year olds? Of course, if North America adopted the European method of breeding and racing at the same time, this whole thing would be moot.
Here is the video of Gural's presentation (it's is lengthy):
2011 World Trotting Conference -- Jeff Gural from USTA on Vimeo.
There were some complaints about the World Driving Championship in that the horses being used were of widely different levels of ability. At the next competition, horses may be classified and drivers may be assigned post positions in each contest so each driver will get good posts and bad posts as well. In the meanwhile, congratulations to Jody Jamieson and Corey Callahan who finished first and second respectively. In the future, I would suggest having foreign drivers come over ti get used to they type of racing the host country has. Only Dexter Dunn came over early and he finished a respectable fourth.
As a reminder, racing the last two weekend at the Meadowlands goes to a Friday and Saturday schedule. Traditionally, Freehold Raceway would be opening this week, but this year, racing at The Afternoon Delight does not resume until September 1.