In today's Harness Racing Update, Bill Finley unilaterally declared the new triple crowns for pacing and trotting. According to Finley, the Pacing Triple Crown will now consist of the North American Cup, Meadowlands Pace, and the Little Brown Jug. With regards to the Trotters, the Triple Crown consists of the Hambletonian, Canadian Trotting Classic, and Kentucky Futurity.
As much as I love tradition, it is clear the industry has abandoned the current triple crown races, in particular the Yonkers Trot and Messenger. While I would love these races to be in the Triple Crown, one needs to face reality that the big horses are not showing up (you could argue the same about the Little Brown Jug, but how do you eliminate a race where you get 47,000 people in attendance?)
In support of Finley's proposal, I will refer to these races as the 'Real' Pacing/Trotting Triple Crowns. This is not to say the Cane, Messenger, Yonkers Trot can't remain on the schedule; they provide racing opportunities for horses not ready at the moment to race against the top horses so it provides an opportunity for the second tier horses to earn.
I propose all of these races be managed by the Hambletonian Society, even if owned by the local track. With a single entity administering the races, the possibility of getting on Cable television, ADW slates greatly improves. In addition, by being controlled by a stand along group, a marketing program, including possible bonuses for sweeping the crowns may be established.
Traditionally, I have mediocre success at the Delaware County Fair, but this year as you know I was taken out of the running thanks to TVG. However, Garnet Barnsdale had a spectacular two day meet in the HANA Harness contest. Jugette Day showed Barnsdale with a $779 profit and he followed up with a $1,017 profit on Jug Day. It will be interesting to see if he continues on his hot streak as the contest moves on to Hoosier Park and Mohawk Racetrack. If you believe in trends, Barnsdale and other handicappers' selections for tonight are available here.
While it doesn't show up in the contest standings, contestant Gordon Waterstone gets an honorable mention for in the Horsemen and Fair World Weekend Preview for the Jug, Waterstone selected both Pick-4s, one paying $394; the second $250, both based on $1 payoffs. Of course, Waterstibe went deeper on each ticket and the races included non-Grand Circuit races. It goes to show you when you set rules for contests, it may go against a handicapper's strength.