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Friday, May 4, 2012

Call in the Feds

Frequent harness racing columnist and Atlantic Contributing Editor Andrew Cohen gives his take on the The Kentucky Derby and the Slow Death of Horse Racing.  The blame for racing's slow death, according to Cohen, lies on the foot of many groups, including the regulators, a group seldom singled out in many forums. While the article is written with a thoroughbred-spin, this article applies to the standardbred sport as well which makes it necessary reading. 

How come do articles like this one and in publications such as The New York Times seem to come out around the Kentucky Derby?  The jaded view may be people have a vendetta against horse racing and/or they want to sell papers.  I have another theory.  For sure, selling papers is one goal (after all we are in a capitalistic society), but it is far from a vendetta.  For sure, if racing didn't give the writers cannon fodder to write about the articles couldn't be written.  Derby week is the time of year the general public gives two hoots about racing, but that's not the only reason.  All these things contribute to these articles being written, but the real reason is the racing industry is very sensitive this time of year about what is being written and these writers are extremely frustrated.  In a way, they are screaming their frustration and feel the only way they can get racing's attention is to kick the powers to be in the gut.  Quite honestly, they are probably right.  Unfortunately, nothing will change because the racing industry can wait this out until the general public shifts their attention (until the next high-profile breakdown) and the industry is unwilling to change with all the different factions having their own agenda.  The only way racing will change is if...

...the Federal Government is to intervene.  At this point, the industry is so dysfunctional and heading to its demise.  Quite honestly, the only way the industry has any chance of surviving and cleaning itself up is if there is Federal regulation, a point discussed in today's Harness Racing Update.  For many of the reasons Cohen mentions in his article the states are unwilling to regulate racing adequetely.  Organizations like the USTA are best able to promote their breeds and be record keepers but when it comes to regulation they are made toothless by state regulators who on the whole provide minimal concern for the gambler and are mostly concerned with the betterment of the horsemen and tracks.  The only way for racing to really clean up its act is through federal intervention. Does it make it easier for anti-racing advocates to try to kill racing?  Absolutely.  However, the racing industry has no one to blame but themselves.  If the industry was willing and able to police itself, we would not be at this point.

I saw a story about one of the greatest standardbreds to have come out of California in this generation, Hi Ho Silverheels.  It is good to see this horse having success in California as a stallion.  I remember him doing very well at the Meadowlands in the top classes; no small feat back then.  It would have been real interesting to see how he would have done as a sire if he had access to some of the east coast broodmares.

Selections for today's Lady Suffolk card at Freehold Raceway by HANA Harness' The Pen vs. The Chip Challenge handicappers are now available.  You may use the same link tomorrow morning for the Dexter Cup card also at Freehold.

Hello....  Saturday marks the opening of the 2012 standardbred meet at Tioga Downs.  As usual, it will be another year of great harness racing at the Nichols, NY facility.  The opening card features prep races for NYSS-eligible horses.

...and Goodbye.  Sunday, the curtain goes down on Hippodrome de Quebec as the Quebec Jockey Club (hey, I don't understand why it is called that either) hosts the final race day before the property is redeveloped, ending 114 years of racing history at the oval.  After this, racing resumes in Quebec at the Hippodrome de Trois-Riveres which has been acquired by the QJC starting in July.  Hope remains for them to build a new track in the Montreal area.  

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