A friend of mine is, to put it mildy, livid that some of the drivers missed the Breeders Crown due to the rare snow storm which hit the East coast of the United States. His feeling was if Tim Tetrick, Yannick Gingras, George Brennan, and Dave Miller, along with trainer-driver Jimmy Takter and trainer Trond Smedhammer knew there was a snow storm coming, they should have gotten out of Dodge earlier than wait until their charter flight was cancelled at 4pm in the afternoon. His contention is if you are racing for hundreds of thousands of dollars, you have an obligation to the owners and trainers to be there; in fact you should be there the night before. He contends, you would never see something like this in the Breeders Cup; it wouldn't be tolerated.
My feeling is cut them some slack. First of all, these are not drivers driving in Chicago for $2,400 purses but drivers who are racing for $20,000+ purses at racinos, so missing those drives could cost them serious money. Secondly, when they agreed to drive these horses at the other tracks, the possibility of a major snow fall was not even in their minds. Even, once they knew snow was coming, it took a long time for weathermen to realize this was going to be a big storm (where I live, a winter storm warning didn't go into effect until the evening before the flakes flew). Then there was a question of the fines they would receive for not fulfilling their driving obligations for the day before. Granted, if I was the drivers, I may have gotten a car first thing in the morning and headed up to Canada by car (they could switch drivers) running ahead of the storm, but then again, this was the first White Halloween since 1923. All in all, I say, cut them some slack.
What about the fact this would not happen in the Breeders Cup with the jockeys? This is true as traditionally Breeders Cup jockeys get mounts the week of the Breeders Cup at the host track to get a feel for the track. Secondly, if they are racing up to the last moment at their local track, most of these jockeys are based in California, Kentucky, Florida and perhaps New York; not states that are traditionally hit with snow storms in October and early November.
What do you think? You may have your say here or you can respond to the poll being posted on the blog home page.
While New Jersey tracks are looking forward to the possibility of online gaming coming to the Garden State to help fund track purse accounts, the racing industry on the whole should fear the fact that it is just a matter of time before Online Poker comes to these American shores. Need I say why? Gamblers will be feeling in 'control' of their own destiny (so they think). Whether wrongly or correctly, some gamblers don't feel their destiny is in their own hands when they play the horses so horse racing will find itself facing a new challenge.
An update on a personal matter. Back in October I had mentioned my dermatologist discovered an unusual mark on my back and had it removed. Well, it turns out it was malignant melanoma, but it was caught early enough that excising the surrounding tissue was all that was needed; no further treatment is required other than visiting the dermatologist for more frequent skin exams. Annual skin exams may be an inconvenience; avoiding annual skin exams would have likely resulted in this being a major production if not worse. I can't say it enough, get yourself checked once a year.