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Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Eastward Ho!, Westward Ho! - The Standardbred Dispora?

As typical for screwed up Midwestern Politics, the Illinois Legislature played the role of Brutus and stabbed horse racing in the Prairie State by refusing to take up the ADW bill which would guarantee racing in 2014.  As a result of the legislatures decision to take no action, unless the legislature passes the bill on January 29, the harness calendar at Balmoral Park will be reduced to thirteen days and Maywood will be shut out.  The problem with depending on January 29 is the legislature typically convenes only for the purpose of hearing the State of the  State Address and cocktails.

If the legislature couldn't take the time to pass an ADW bill yesterday which had solid support in both houses, what are the chances they will break precedence and actually vote on something before cocktails on January 29?

As IHHA President Dave McAffery predicts, by that time horsemen will have dispersed to other points, most likely to the East Coast and Indiana.  Good luck getting those horses back with a dyfunctional legislature.

Harness racing in Michigan is also on its death bed as both Hazel Park and Northville Downs have made deals with thoroughbred horsemen to offer mixed bred racing in 2014 after 10 day standardbred meets as a result of a breakdown in relations with the MHHA over legislative matters.  The plan then calls for both tracks to drop harness racing in 2015 and become exclusively thoroughbred and mixed bred racing tracks with Mt Pleasant Meadows ceasing operation after 2014.  While Hazel Park has previously raced runners, it would be the first time for runners on Northville Downs half mile oval.

This would leave Sports Creek Raceway as the only pure standardbred track....for now.  Negotiations with the Michigan HBPA are apparently underway for Sports Creek to possibly offer thoroughbred racing in 2015.  Of course, all this requires approval of the MGCB where one can expect a furious opposition presented by the MI HHA.  If the MGCB approves the amendment to the approved schedule, Michigan standardbred horsemen will have 31 days total of racing in 2014 and possibly shut out in 2015.

With no racing available in Windsor Raceway, there is a good chance Michigan Horsemen will be on the road as well.  While they may race at Running Aces, they too will have to become nomads.  Expect many of them to head to the West Coast.

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