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Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Naughty and Nice List

It may be a little early, but what would be a blog without its annual naughty and nice list?  As exciting as 2011 has been, harness racing has those people who belong on this list (after all, word has it that Santa reads this column),  Some have been naughty; some nice; perhaps some belong on both sides of the list (we'll let Santa decided how to balance them out).  We present the raw data and let Santa decide:

First the naughty list:
  • All the drug cheats, especially the New York 16 for doing something that harness racing usually can't get; publicity in non-racing media.  Thanks, we needed that.
  • Drug cheats who complain about other drug cheats when they are really upset about being out-cheated.  There is no little cheating, it is cheating, plain and simple.
  • Those who criticized Andrew Cohen regarding his seemingly one person crusade against drug cheats.  Perhaps he did go a little overboard regarding one certain trainer, but didn't you feel foolish when the New York 16 got busted?  Seems like being an owner for five years is long enough to see how dirty the game can be.
  • Track operators who still don't believe a lower takeout can help improve the business.  It may not happen day one, but if you stay the course you will be rewarded.
  • Racino horsemen who refuse to give any of their purse money towards improving the sport.  You remind me of the Bugs Bunny cartoon where Daffy Duck is in a cave full of treasure, fondling the loot screaming, "It's mine, It's mine, It's all mine".
  • Racing commissions for refusing to adopt a Fair Start Rule.  I hope you go to a track in another state and assuming you wager, you get to experience your selections doing their impersonation of Zippy Chippy the moment the starter calls the field.
  • While we are on racing commissions, a double load of coal for being too lazy to revise your fines and suspensions so they are deterrents.
  • The owners of Crys Dream for contesting their horse's suspension.  Not as much for contesting the suspension, that is their right, but having your lawyer argue New Jersey cannot honor a suspension of a foreign country, challenging a rule that has been in place for years (See Canada, at least a few people consider you a foreign country).
  • Owners that act like Sgt Schultze in "Hogans Heroes" and say "I know nothing" when their trainer gets rid of a horse for them and don't ask questions.  You know damn well what is going on.  
  • Horsemen who continue to criticize the USTA for not doing more.  Let's say it one more time, "The USTA is a breed registry agency and are charged with promoting the standardbred sport.  It is up to the individual states to do the policing.  Now, criticize them, they deserve it (in general).
  • Jimmy Takter for whining about drawing post eight after winning an elimination in a final with an open draw.  Someone explain to me how fair it is to the horse that draws post eight in the elimination but not in the final.  Yes, you may have won an elimination but there is a good chance the horse that drew the eight hole in the elimination never had a chance to win.  That being said, to his credit, Takter did race where others would have scratched their horse with a case of eightitis.
  • Horsemen Association leaders who forget why they are there, to represent their fellow horsemen and instead act like Johnny Friendly in On the Waterfront.  You know who you are (and no, I am not singling anyone leader out).
  • Gamblers who object to multi-distance races with more horses in a race.  Be a little flexible.  You were complaining when the Meadowlands opened up about the mile track racing; now you hate the half mile ovals.
  • Those racing message boards which discuss almost anything but racing in graphic terms.  No, I don't care to know who is sleeping with who.  If I want to know that I will read Star Magazine.
  • New Jersey Thoroughbred horsemen who still think we are in pre-Christie era, possibly jeopardizing the Meadowlands Deal.
  • Illinois Governor Pat Quinn for not allowing slots in Illinois.

Now the nice list:
  • Corey Callahan aka Captain America who represented America in the World Driving Championship for the first time, finishing second in his debut.  Corey is also known for being very generous, regardless of the cause.  Be it horse retirement, children needing presents during the holidays, someone needing money for a charity run.  Corey goes above and beyond the word 'generous'; something very important this time of year.
  • Jeff Gural for saving (depending on the Governor) the Meadowlands from closing and for having the foresight to delay his plans to ban the off-spring from 4yo stallions one year.  Better to get it right than fast.
  • Andrew Cohen.  Isn't it ironic his warning to the standardbred industry in Harness Racing Update came just before the New York 16 came to light? 
  • Kate Lockhart, who left the USTA for the benefit of her family.  A nicer person you couldn't find and she is one of the best amateur photographers I have ever seen.
  • Heather Moffett; harness racing's Mrs. Sunshine.  A wish to see her on broadcasts outside of the PA-Delmarva area.
  • Horseplayers Association of North America.  Thank you for forming a standardbred division.  Hopefully, they will be able to become a partner in revamping the racing business.   
  • Ronald Dancer. He may not be active in the sport, but he perhaps the biggest proponent for the sport in the New Jersey Legislature.
  • San Pail, Rapide Lebel, and Commander Crowe for giving us the race of the year.
  • The organizers of the Gold Cup and Saucer.  Can you please come to the United States and show us how to put on a racing event?
  • George Teague for not only going to the Maritimes to talk to the horsemen, but for promising and delivering on his promise to enter not one but two horses into the Gold Cup and Saucer.
  • Greg Blanchard for working hard in his effort to make The Track at the Western Fair District a track with two well known races. 
  • Horse Rescues that work around the clock saving and trying to place retired horses.  Include the Starfish organization with them.
  • The person who said the "USTA has decided that the driver of the horse that pulls first and doesn't clear gets pepper sprayed" on Facebook.  Not only was it funny (and no, we don't encourage pepper spray), but it may make racing exciting again.
  • People who want to bring monté racing to the United States.  In a couple of years it can be big if people are serious about it.
  • To my fellow bloggers, especially those that focus on harness racing (too few of them).  The beauty of bloggers is they can speak their mind and not being dependent on someone for their salary, don't have to tow the 'company line'.  They speak their mind even when things are bad and yet they keep it from being like those message boards.
  • Jason Settlemoir for doing whatever it takes  How much more stuff can he volunteer for is questionable..  He also calls a mean race. 
  • Nick Salvi.  For being a good promoter of harness racing and for being wittier than me when it comes to Facebook.
  • Depending if he lets the standardbred horsemen sign a lease without the thoroughbred horsemen having an agreement if necessary, or at least allows the 2012 Big M meet start on time, Governor Christie.  Hold off on buying that gift yet.  It may need to be one heck of a gift or a lot of coal.

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