On the web, there has been commentary regarding Jeff Gural's latest Open Letter to trainers and owners. Some are calling the letter naive or ballsy (which probably depends on how they feel about Gural). Others will point out horsemen need to do what they can to maximize their earning potential; striking the anvil while it is hot. There is something to be said about getting the money while you can for one accident can end a driver's career or as soon as the next hot driver shows up, you find yourself on the outside looking in (look at William O'Donnell's return to Canada as an example). No doubt, the business side of harness racing as in all sports is about 'What have you done for me lately?'.
However, horsemen (more specifically trainers and owners) need to know who owns (operates) the football (racetrack). In Gural's letter, he appeals to the horsemen for their support in helping the Meadowlands put on race cards with full, competitive fields by entering their horses at the Meadowlands. Some may laugh at it, knowing horsemen will race where they can earn the most money, especially when the racing may be easier there. Quite honestly, I don't blame them. However, trainers and owners would be well served to note later in the letter, specifically, "Another option that we might consider is a loyalty program whereby we create a
formula that allows preference to those horsemen who support us in the spring
and summer when we are racing the fall and winter meet".
Why should horsemen who abandon the Meadowlands the moment the Pennsylvania tracks open expect to traipse back to the Meadowlands when those tracks close and expect to be able to race as if nothing had happened? They shouldn't, for those who support the Meadowlands during the lean days deserve the ability to move to the head of the line when the entry box is overflowing with horses with nowhere else to race.
This is not to say trainers should race exclusively at the Meadowlands. Race in Pennsylvania if you must, bot make sure you don't forget the track in East Rutherford. Otherwise, it may be a very cold winter when your string of horses are standing in their stalls with nowhere to race.
All I am saying is one hand washes the other.
On another subject, I have noticed short fields in some of the late closing series at the Meadowlands. It seems these days once one or two horses assert themselves, the entry box for those events dry up resulting in short fields. In the stakes races, you often see a consolation race. Maybe it is time to offer consolation races in late closing events as a way to keep those horses who typically bail out of these series trying, knowing there is another chance to earn decent money if they don't get into the final..
As I said, one hand washes the other.
Elsewhere, it's a tough year in another province of Canada which seems to be hitting horse racing badly. While talk is in place for opening a new track in the province of New Brunswick in partnership with the Woodstock First Nations Economic Development Corporation, this year looks to be a lean one in this Atlantic province.
The racing season in New Brunswick will lose one third of their race dates when compared to 2012 and it looks like there will be no Atlantic Sires Stakes (ASS) events in New Brunswick this year, meaning horsemen entered in the ASS will need to go to PEI and Nova Scotia to race (the three provinces combine their sires stakes program). All this the result of the province cutting their support of racing by two-thirds I am hopeful this is a temporary set back.