Jay Bergman in the DRF claims in his latest column, that this is the best time for harness racing. He claims the good old days were not so good; reminding us that the good old days were full of racing scandals. He's right; just Google race-fixing and see the list of race-fixing scandals, not limited exclusively to harness racing. A thoroughbred scandal at Pocono Downs resulted in the eviction of the thoroughbreds as did problems in quarter horse racing which eliminated them from Pompano Park.
For the most part I agree with his column except where it comes to the style of racing in the good old days and our modern form of racing. I like the horses closing from last and winning races. I find the typical type of racing we have now to be boring. No, I don't expect us to be racing two minute miles any more, but perhaps with purses now being infused with welfare (slot) revenue, drivers are playing it too safe, looking to pick up a certain second or third place check instead of going for the win and risking running out of the money. There was nothing better than half mile racing where there was action all throughout the race including those bold three wide moves in the backstretch. Drivers took chances and risked a sure check to win a race. The way we are racing now, where we have races where drivers are clearly racing for second, why don't we just have a one mile straight track and have the race become a purse speed duel?
Removing the hub rail was a great step towards driver and horse safety. The passing lane allowed racing to become boring. Race along the rail and wait for the passing lane to make your move. It makes for a boring product. Does anyone consider the reason we don't see new people at the track also includes races looking alike. Maybe the whales like the style of racing we have now, but when you are trying to attract new customers, they want excitement which comes from races with constant action.
No, the good old days were not necessarily as good as we remember, but don't discount everything from the past.
Follow up on my Wendy Ross blog entry. While not in the blog, I got responses from people regarding my support for Wendy Ross. As you recall, I indicated Wendy Ross' introduction to the in-house and replay show is an attempt to get younger people interested in harness racing. Isn't it funny how everyone argues the sport needs to attract a younger audience and when someone makes such an attempt, such outrage breaks out? Making changes means everyone has to make changes.