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Sunday, April 29, 2012

The Loneliest Week of the Year

If you think harness racing typically gets short-changed and you are a true blue fan of the sport, this is going to be one of the loneliest weeks of the year, especially if you are like me who could care less about the Kentucky Derby.  One reason being I never did very well betting the runners.  I won't even be watching it on Saturday, basically because I don't want to watch any possible breakdowns.  You see, I have seen more than enough thoroughbred breakdowns in my life which is one reason I don't follow the thoroughbreds anymore.  How bad was it?  One day I was at Monmouth and in three of the first four races I wagered on horses that broke down, earning myself the nickname of KOD amongst my thoroughbred friends; a name I am not particularly proud of.

So, it is going to be a lonely week for me.  While everyone will be caught up in Derby Fever, I will be looking forward to the Lady Suffolk and Dexter Cup this Friday and Saturday at Freehold Raceway and writing a few blog entries this week which hopefully will be read by people and not bypassed.  Basically, I am going to feel like the child who knows they are going to be the last person picked for a team; standing around, looking down, and shuffling my feet.  You get the picture.

But I have to hand it to the thoroughbred people.  When you think about it, Derby talk actually started the day after the Breeders Cup was contested and as soon as the Belmont Stakes is over, people start talking about the Breeders Cup races.  Now granted, you have to be someone interested in horse racing, otherwise you probably have only heard about the Kentucky Derby in the last week or two.

That being said, give credit where credit is due to the thoroughbred people.  They managed to make the most of these events for marketing purposes.  It also has something to say about the popularity of harness racing in American culture which is pretty sad, especially when at one time, harness racing was actually the more popular of the two styles of racing.  It begs to be asked what happened to make harness racing so unpopular?  Without going into detail, suffice it to be said our reputation had been tarnished, perhaps overly tarnished, but self-inflicted.

Anyway, I can take solace in knowing the Hambletonian is just over three months away.

No Hambletonian Telecast This Year - Yes, there will be no telecast of the Hambletonian this year on television as Jeff Gural has decided to take the $100,000 (it costs $200,000 to get it on some type of television) the Meadowlands normally spends on the Hambletonian and use that money to market the event in the local market and to get people to come out to the track.  While I would typically be one of the first people hopping up and down mad at such a decision, Gural gets a pass for this year.  With the Hambletonian being during the Olympics, it would be wasting money to televise it as the ratings would be even more anemic than usual.  After all, even the Kentucky Derby would probably get lost if it was contested during the Olympics.

$50 for Falsifying a License Application - I wish someone would explain me why someone would be fined only $50 for falsifying a license application to participate in racing?  I understand some people want a job and figure if they don't put everything down they may be denied, but what kind of message does this send?  Make it a significantly larger fine and less people will falsify their license applications.

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