Remember that disastrous race at the Meadowlands when they tried a field of pacers on the turf and the starting case was bouncing around like a lunar rover? Well, it doesn't have to be that way. Yesterday, at the Methven Trotting Club, Ohoka Dallas set a new track record of 1:56.5 on the turf in the Methven Green Mile in New Zealand. If you listen to the race, you will see this was not a field of $20,000 claimers as Monkey King was in the race. But while you watch the race, note the starting gate doesn't bounce and the race was contested without any mishap.
Speaking of races not typically held in the United States, on Friday, Ready Kash won the 2011 edition of the 2,850m Prix du Bourdonnais at Vincennes Racecourse in Paris, France. Yes, it was a long race and there were eighteen horses in the race with a standing start, but the race was exciting. Just what we need in North America. Oh, by the way, the eighteen horse won.
Many of you may be saying sacrebleu, you must be nuts to even suggest that! Well, back in 1976, when the Meadowlands opened up, people were going ballistic regarding how can you have harness racing on a mile track when it was always raced on a half mile or 5/8 mile track. After a little while, gamblers got use to it very nicely. Were we to race events like this, the gamblers initially will have a cow, but you know what? As they got used to mile track racing, they would manage to get used to this style of racing. And who knows, maybe the races wouldn't be so predictable.
The funny thing is it probably isn't the gambler who will kick up the biggest fuss. Horsemen and breeders would probably be the ones kicking and screaming the most as standardbred racing is afraid of any change in the sport. The mile race over the dirt track is sacrosanct. Once in a blue moon, a 5/8 mile race may be okay, but to suggest long races, standing starts, second tiers (actually handicapped by meters; watch the heads explode. All I will say is standardbred racing is doing so well in North America, maybe trying something else may not be a bad idea.