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Friday, November 1, 2013

The Feel of a Horse a Lost Art?

While Breeders Cup related, there was an article in the Courier-Journal on how racing is suffering from a backlash with regards to the use of the whip.  The article goes on to describe while the veteran jocks seem to look out for the horse's interest and uses the whip selectively, the young turks tend to rely on the whip too much.

Well, I suspect we see the same thing in harness racing although many states have addressed (or attempted to) by modifying their whipping rules yet you always seem to have those drivers who will flail away even if a horse is done, often leaving welts on a horse.  While they are penalized, like many of harness racing's fines, they tend to be slaps on the wrist.

I suspect part of harness racings' problem, though somewhat addressed with rule changes, come from the use of catch drivers.  Now I am not suggesting we get away from catch driving.  However, in the past, a driver was the trainer who got to know the personalities of all the horses and could tell when a horse was done and put the whip away.  With many drivers skipping the training aspect, they don't always know when a horse is cheating or truly done.  Now I realize this is a generalization; there are probably some trainer/drivers who can be hard on the whip and some catch drivers who never trained a horse who use the whip conservatively.  Whatever may be, perhaps it would be good to consider having prospective drivers first hold a training license for a period of time before granting them the license to drive.

Another day in the likely futile effort to get sports betting in New Jersey.  The NJTHA has asked the entire appeals court to hear the case, instead of depending on the three person decision previously going against the sports betting supporters.  Not that it really matters, this case will be heading the the US Supreme Court for the final word.

The HANA Harness Handicapping contest continues and the handicappers are had at work as the contest slowly begins to wind down.  Check out their selections for tonight's Grand Circuit raes at o Vernon Downs and Hoosier Park.

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