For photos from the Meadowlands contact

Monday, November 7, 2011

What is the Definition of the Word Declaration?

The year 2011 is going to shape up as the year of lawyer in harness racing as once again we have a situation where the entries of a couple of horses into the Valley Victory Trot is being denied apparently by the track and the PHRC.  Howard Taylor, Esq., once again gets the call.  If he is more successful than he was in Canada with Buck I St Pat is not so clear; it literally falls on what the meaning of the word declaration means.

The problem is Little Brown Fox and Power Play appeared to qualify for the final.  However, for Jimmy Takter's Little Brown Fox, he broke for the second time in a row in a race and Steve Elliot's Power Play, he broke off a qualifier.  The state presiding judge denied their entry as a result of Chester Down's track rules; in particular the following two rules:

27. The Judges may place a horse on the Judge’s List for poor performance at any time. Horses breaking on a Fast or Good track in their first start after a qualifying race must re-qualify.  After two consecutive scratches, a horse must qualify.   

Scratched horses may not race or qualify for a minimum of five (5) days, starting the day after the race date. Any horse placed on either the Vet’s or Judge’s List will not be allowed to enter in any race unless released by the Vet or Judges.

28. Horses making breaks in two (2) consecutive races on a Fast or Good track will be required to re-qualify.  Horses making breaks in three (3) consecutive races, regardless of track condition, will be required to re-qualify. 

If this has been regular overnights, the situation would be clear; the horses would need to qualify before re-entering.  However, being this is an early closing event where the qualifying horses would automatically be entered into the final (as done at other tracks), the question according to Howard Taylor, is not being eligible to race, but when a declaration is made.  When the original declaration to start in the elimination was made, the horses qualify.  Does automatically being entered into the final count as a declaration being entered on behalf of the owner, or is the entry into the elimination and hence the final count as a single declaration?

The drawing for this $575,000 race is on hold depending on the definition of the word Declaration and when it is given.  If the track steward's definition that a declaration is made each time a horse races even if the track automatically enters the horse is upheld, a field of five will race for $575,000.  If the PHRC decides that a declaration occurs only when you enter into an elimination

If Chester Downs  didn't automatically enter the horses into the final, the case would be over before it started, but unfortunately, with too many cases of horses using eliminations as a prep race for a more lucrative stakes race elsewhere the following week, tracks started to automatically enter the horses into the finals in an effort to keep that horse racing at their track.

In one way, the track can't win in this dispute.  If the current track rules win out, Chester is spending $575,000 for a five horse race.  If the owners win out, Chester is stuck with a six horse race with two horses of dubious quality racing.  Certainly not the marquee event they were hoping for.

So let's see.  This year, we had the Crys Dream case in New Jersey.  The Buck I St Pat case in Ontario, and now the case of these two horses trying to get into a lucrative race.  Have I missed any other cases?

No comments: