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Thursday, March 13, 2014

Bad Press in California

Harness racing in California has had its share of problems so you would like to think getting news coverage in 2014 would be a good thing.  Wrong.  The Sacramento Bee reports "Dead Horse Raises Flags at Cal Expo", a story on how Nutmegs Davey passed on Sunday, less than 24 hours after winning his sixth out of his last seven starts (10-6-1-1 in 2014) at Cal Expo and how the deceased horse was transported from the racetrack to a local farm without informing authorities.  

Like most states, California has a rule which requires the death of any horse on racetrack grounds to be reported to the CHRB so a necropsy can be performed.  Hence, not reporting the death and presumably trying to dispose of the body without notifying authorities is a big no-no.  Fortunately, word got out and officials from Cal Expo and the CHRB were able to recover the body of Nutmegs Davey for the required necropsy.

Bad enough, but the story goes on to say the trainer has 29 victories this year thus far, just one behind his win count for all of 2013.  It doesn't take much imagination to come up with what the average person who read this article is thinking, and it isn't, "Gee, I'm going to wager on harness racing".  More likely, preconceived opinions about harness racing just got confirmed.  Though we won't know what happened, if at all, until after the necropsy, I suspect most insiders would draw similar conclusions.     

The owner and trainer of the ill-fated horse have been banned indefinitely from Cal Expo, and they face license revocation and possibly criminal charges for the events surrounding the horse's death.  In the meanwhile, harness racing in the Golden State suffers a black eye.

There are 47 horses nominated to the George Morton Levy Memorial Pacing Series with 10 of those horses coming from the Burke stable, led by the 10 year old Foiled Again.  With only two horses from a stable allowed to race in the final, don't be surprised if  the Burke stable will have a horse or two up for sale in the later part of the series. While it is nice to see so many horses  nominated, let's not kid ourselves, many of the horses are horses looking to cash in big before the big boys return from their winter rest.  For a $200,000 final, wouldn't this race be better if it was a series where there was one preliminary leg at Yonkers with the other preliminary legs at different tracks and the final returning to the Old Hilltop once the better horses returned from their vacation?

Word comes to us that while in France, Yonkers Raceway management along with the SOA of NY have begun discussing plans to ressurect the old International Trot which was contested at the old Roosevelt Raceway.  The return of the International would be a welcomed development and we can only help it returns within the next year or so.  

Here is the latest update on the Monticello Raceway saga.  Things are going nowhere.  It is a question of who is going to blink first and as long as the slots keep running, I would suspect the horsemen will be the ones to blink.  It is just a question of when.

The NYGC has approved a rule allowing the administration of clenbuterol 96 hours out from a race for standardbreds, making it different from the thoroughbred rule of 14 days.  This is a victory for the USTA and the New York standardbred horsemen.  The net result is both breeds will still be allowed ot use the medication but prevent abusing the drug.

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