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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Are Trainer/Driver Combinations Hurting the Sport?

With the existence of the Super Trainers, trainers that have powerful stables with regards to depth and quality, does harness racing have a problem with regards to attracting and retaining existing customers?

This thought has crossed my mind often but with Yonkers Raceway's press release regarding the 2013 leading driver (Brian Sears) and trainer (Ron Burke) awards, it has come up again.  Is this success hurting harness racing from the wagering side?  At many tracks, certain drivers are committed to certain trainers so if they get first call on a super trainer's horse, they have a better chance to win in a race.  The result is horses get over bet and produce cheaper prices.

Now this has been the case for years, certain trainers have drivers committed to driving their horses.  In the past, when stables were more even, this was not a problem.  However, these days where most of the fire power exists in certain stables, this commitment is causing a problem, making it hard to attract new gamblers.  After all, if someone has to work hard to handicap a race to nail a $3.60 winner, why wouldn't they head to the mindless slot machines?

Yes, successful gambling on horses requires you to spot the key races to play so you may be able to bypass the cheap payoffs, but new horseplayers are likely to play most races on the card; it's just the natural way to be introduced to the game.

What is the solution?  I don't know.  After all trainers and drivers earn the bulk of the earnings on their commission and any proposal to even out the competition to make the product more appealing to newcomers is certain to cut into the earnings.

If you have ideas, let's hear them.

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