For photos from the Meadowlands contact

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

A Franco-American Agreement in the Works

Kudos to Yonkers Raceway and the SOA of NY for the upcoming signing of an agreement to simulcast Yonkers Raceway races in France as well as importing French trotting races in return.

Lord knows I have had voiced my criticism of SOA leadership in the past, but in this case they are dead on right.  Harness racing is a global sport, albeit a niche in North America, and it is time we act like a global sport.  Besides opening up breeding, perhaps the most important thing which can be done is offering racing from other countries as well.  After all, a wager on a harness race, be it domestic or imported results in increased revenue for both track and horsemen.

Of course, to be successful, there is a need to standardize to a degree past performance data between the two countries.  This is why there is a need to adopt certain changes such as the mile rate and timing races in tenths.  In Europe with their policy of different distance races, they report race times in kilometer rates; a way to standardize finish times to make it easier to handicap and allow horses to earn lifetime marks where the distances vary.  While there is no need to go to kilometer rates, adoption of a mile rate would allow handicappers the ability to handicap races easier and allow horses to earn lifetime marks in non-mile events.  Of course, with the North American propensity for the mile distance, the mile rate would be the same as the actual final time of the race [for those unfamiliar with how the mile rate is calculated, it simply is taking the final time and extrapolating it to the mile distance.  The way envisioned, the past performance line will still show the actual win time but the horse's individual time would be reported in the mile rate (to save space on the cluttered program page).  If room could be found, the actual final time and mile rate could both be reported.

For those unfamiliar with how the mile rate is calculated, here are a couple of examples.

A horse races in a 5/8th of a mile dash timed in 1:19.  You divided the 1:19 by 5 (eighths) and then multiply it by 8 (8 eighths in a mile).  1:19/5 = 15.8 sec per 1/8th of a mile, 15..8*8 (eighths) =  2:06.4 mile rate.

A horse is timed in a 1 1/8 race as going in 2:02.  You divide the 2:02 by 9 (eighths) and then multiply it by 8 (8 eighths in a mile)   2:02/9 = :13.55 sec per 1/8th of a mile; 13.55*8 = 1:48.4 mile rate.

As for reporting times in tenths of a second, that is an easy change and is also how times are reported in every country but Canada and the United States.  It also provides for a more accurate past performance line.  Instead of giving a horse that is half a length behind the winner the same final time as the winner, the horse would be listed as a tenth of a second behind the leader while a horse a full length behind being listed as 2/10ths of a second behind.

Both of these proposals are to being voted upon at the annual USTA meeting.  Hopefully in light of the Yonkers agreement, the USTA board of directors will approve these proposals.

Just a brief reminder that the Meadowlands is racing tonight (1/22), the last card until after the Super Bowl.  Racing is set to resume on February 6.

Harness interests are putting up the good fight to uniform drug rules in New York.  While thoroughbred horsemen had no comments in opposition to the proposed rules, standardbred interests were sure to make their opposition known.  The big problem is the rules are written in mind of thoroughbred interests with little regard for standardbreds as the RMTC had little standardbred representation.

There is nothing wrong with standardized rules within each breed, but to paint all the breeds the same is foolish.  Yes, a horse is a horse but the demands of racing a standardbred versus a thoroughbred are totally different based on their racing schedule so a drug like clenbuterol which has a legitimate use in standardbred racing but is abused by thoroughbred horsemen should not be banned for use in standardbreds.

"We will continue to do whatever we can to make things better for horses", sounds like something I would say, right?  Actually, the quote is from Sue Wallis, a Wyoming state legislator and CEO of Unified Equine. a pro-horse slaughter group.  This is what George Orwell in 1984 would have called doublespeak.  As much as  I find slaughter highly distasteful (I am a vegetarian by choice), it would be one thing if a horse was raised as a cow is for food, but to take an animal raised for other purposes such as racing or pleasure riding is a betrayal of an implied code of horse ownership (and this is ignoring the fact the drugs given to horses is not intended for feed animals).  Apparently what is needed are laws that codify the responsibility of horse ownership and hold horse owners' feet to the fire.

The Horse Rescue United January auction is underway and you can bid on I Luv The Nitelife's shoes as well as other neat items.  Just like Horse Rescue United on Facebook and look for their January Auction album and get in on the bidding.  

Have a great Wednesday.

No comments: