But to some degree, this is a fantasy world. In general terms, the horses tend to be six figure horses, owners or more typically ownership groups made up of high income individuals, and the horses trained by the crème de la crème of standardbred trainers. There is nothing wrong with this, but it's not reality for harness racing is more pedestrian than a night full of high class horses.
For while the industry dignitaries and well-to-do will be converging on Mohawk Racetrack for the evening, a more realistic scene is playing out at your local raceway. Horses racing in claiming races for more pedestrian if not pauper-like purses; owners of modest means; trainers and drivers looking to make ends meet, driving old used trucks instead of brand new vehicles and trailers hoping to come out ahead at the end of the month. People who love the sport; have it in their blood. For them, North America Cup night is a dream, something they most likely will never achieve. Yet they persevere.
For the average Joe in harness racing, there will be no glory at Mohawk Saturday night and likely never will. They too have achievements, smaller in the grand scheme of things. You won't be reading about their achievement in the industry's journals for they tend to be local stories but to them, it is as big as winning the North America Cup. One such achievement is Tracys Song; a claiming mare who has broken the consecutive win streak record at Monticello Raceway with eighteen consecutive victories.
|Tracys Song picking up win #18 at MR. Photo by Geri Schwarz|
While all the focus of the industry will be at Mohawk, trainer Bob Lounsbury and owner Nancy Fugere will be taking their $7,500 claimer on the road to do battle at Tioga Downs in a Miracle Mile 2 tilt for fillies and mares anxiously wondering if the streak moves on to nineteen wins or comes to an end. After all, there are some question marks. After all, Tracys Song has never raced on 5/8ths oval and while she has been dominating the claiming ranks at Monticello, having risen to the highest claiming tag for fillies and mares, taking on classified horses is a new experience for her.
A win at Tioga not only means the streak goes to nineteen, it also means a significant raise as this race goes for a relatively huge $7,200; a $3,000 increase over the purses she was competing for at Monticello. A victory here may be as good as it gets for Tracys Shadow and her connections.
This is the real story of harness racing, one that goes on daily at North America's raceways; not what will transpire Saturday night north of the border. Rest assured while I will be paying attention to the action at Mohawk, I will also be looking in at the fourth race at Tioga. So should you.