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Friday, June 22, 2012

A Career Ended Before it Started

On Thursday, a feel good story about twelve year old Joey Chindano winning his first harness race, a matinee at Goshen Historic Track last week, was sent out in a press release.  A potential future star in harness racing who indicated he would like to have a career driving made his debut, partially thanks to his father who trains horses. primarily for the benefit of his son.  What a great story it was, a look at the potential future of harness racing.

On Friday, thanks to Harnesslink, we find out the youngster who could have been the future of harness racing has hung up his silks for good, and a father who was training horses has gotten rid of his racing stock, now out of the business.  From the highs of two Sundays ago to the lows of last Sunday, what happened?

According to Harnesslink, the presiding judge of the matinee racing (a different judge from the grand circuit meet coming up next week) meet, told the twelve year old and father that he could not race his own horse in the three horse matinee race.  Needless to say Chindano was crushed, very well ending a career, nipping it in the bud, and getting a trainer to quit the business.  Something was missing, it didn't make sense that the judge would just ban him from driving his own horse. 

According to Harness Racing Update, there was concern with a twelve year old driving a two year old in a race based on the driver's limited experience.  To be honest, I see the judge's concern and it seems totally reasonable.  However, if there was no rule which stated an inexperienced driver could not race a two year old, the judges should have allowed Chindano to drive the horse after talking to his legal guardian (his father) to ascertain the boy's experience. This apparently was not done and now the youngster is out of racing along with his father.

I must admit to being somewhat conflicted about what happened.  To have any inexperienced driver driving a green two year old is a risky proposition; after all they are more likely to go off-stride and do something unpredictable.  However, it is the family's own horse and there was no stated track rule which prohibited a youngster from driving a two year old in a race, obviously not anticipating a need for it.  What I can say is it was an unfortunate situation, handled badly by both sides. 

The track should have consulted with the guardian of young Chindano to check on his experience with the two year old in question, possibly getting the guardian to sign a waiver when the entry was taken.  The Chindanos' should have given it a day or two before deciding to leave the business, enough time to realize why the decision was made; not allowing the twelve year old to drive the two year old to protect the young man, not to hurt him.  Cooler heads all around could have prevented the whole situation.

Hopefully, the Chindanos will reconsider their decision.  After all the youth is our future.  However, if they don't, the blame should not fall on Mr. Fielding, the judge in question.  Hopefully, Historic Track or the State of New York will come up with a rule regarding this type of situation so this type of situation in the future may be avoided.

Woodbine/Mohawk to Shutter Doors on April 1, 2012? - WEG CEO Nick Eaves is alluding to the potential closure of Woodbine/Mohawk if no new source of revenue comes into the WEG tracks to replace the Slots at Racetracks program.  Yes, there is enough wagering at the track to support much more modest purses, but apparently, there is not enough wagering to cover the operating expenses of the track.  Posturing or a real threat?  Only time will tell.

Casey Back in the Bike?  My call here is it won't be too long until Walter Case Jr. is back in the bike in the state of Massachusetts.  At this week's hearing the hearing officer had one question for Case, whether or not he has been arrested since he had his license restored in 2008?  Case told the officer he has not been.  My argument in this particular situation has always been if Case was fit enough for licensing in 2008, what has changed that the Massachusetts Racing Commission now feels he is no longer fit?  Sounds like the hearing officer was asking himself the same question.  We should know more by the end of next week.   


Anonymous said...

A racing judge in NY absolutely has the authority to prohibit any driver from getting behind a horse. There are multiple reasons listed in the racing rules and one is lack of experience.

It doesn't appear the boy has been refused all driving opportunities, just the one with a similarly inexperienced horse. The judge has an obligation to make racing as safe as possible for the boy, the horse and others in the race.

The family has a right to get out of the business, but father and son should not be surprised by the judge's authority. They had to read the rules to get licenses.

Time will heal the hurt the 12 year old is feeling now. I hope he comes back in a few years to live his dream.

Anonymous said...

Maybe the father is simply full of crap, and simply grandstanding because he didn't get his way? Let's not confuse being granted a USTA matinee license with actually being able to DRIVE safely! The folks at the USTA have never seen this young man in the bike, and are simply rubber-stamping his matineee application -- it's up to the local judges to determine if somebody is "qualified" to drive in actual races. Deciding that a 12-year old should NOT be steering an inexperienced two year old under race conditions seems like a prudent call to me.

Incidentally, don't discount the possibility that the boy's dad is simply living vicariously through his son -- Chindano, Sr. makes the guy you called out at The Meadows look like Brian Sears!

Anonymous said...

As usual an article from Harnesslink that is as fair and balanced as a story on Fox News or CNN.

What would have happened if this kid were allowed to run in this race and heaven forbid and there was an incident? Harnesslink would then be calling for the Judges' heads.

Looks to me like there nothing that anyone that is connected with the NYSRWB can do that will make Harnesslink happy.

JLB said...

I think that the judge acted fairly given the inexperience of horse and driver. And I think the family, while disappointed, could have better served their son by teaching him not to give up, but rather to find a way to get in the bike again.
Off-topic, since you share the reverence many of us have for Historic Track, could you start a campaign to persuade the officials there to move the quarter pole to the correct position (about 10 feet further from the finish line than it is). Having attended the races there over the last 40 years, I notice time and time again that the fractional times are simply wrong, because of the wrong position of the quarter pole. Watch the replay of the Chindano's winning race and note the fractions: 28 and a piece, about 34, appx. 30, then 33. Obviously no horse would be accelerating and decelerating like that, esp. one driven by an inexperienced reinsman. While these times for matinee races are not that important, the fact is that NYSS and Excelsior races are contested there during the 4th of July weekend, and these charted lines accompany the horses to their parimutuel efforts at other tracks.

Pacingguy said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

The quarter pole IS the 3/4 pole...and the half mile pole IS the finish. It seems like you (Pacingguy) are a little confused here ;)

And even if the races are manually timed, the problem is CLEARLY that the distance between the 1/4 pole and the half (or 3/4 pole and finish) is inaccurate -- the placing of the quarter pole is obviously what's causing the times to be off...and always off in the identical manner.

Pacingguy said...

You are so right. Two lashes with a wet noodle for me. I don't know what I was thinking. You are right about the 1/4 and 3/4 poles being the ones which are movable. I will contact the GM at Historic Track and see what he has to say.