For photos from the Meadowlands contact

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Final Word on the 'Gaffe'

Derick Giwner of the DRF reports on the Bongiorno 'gaffe' and basically comes to the conclusion that 'there is nothing to see here'.  The one thing Giwner mentions which deserves highlighting is instead of the judges changing drivers on the two horses in question, the appropriate thing to be done would have been scratching the two; after all, are we to think the replacement drivers were going to go against the owner's/trainer's instructions?

Some people speculated Bongiorno would be having a visit with the judges after Saturday's interview.  I would certainly hope not for he did nothing wrong besides using a poor choice of terms.  If, and I mean IF, anyone should have a visit with the judges it should be the owners and trainer.  Even then, what would be done.  If you sanctioned every owner or trainer who said for whatever reason they wanted their horse to go an easy mile (or 'on the helmet'), I dare say 85% of the owners/trainers would be sanctioned at any track.  An easy mile doesn't mean the driver shouldn't try to win if circumstances presented itself, it means they don't want the horse gutted or used hard in the race,

That being said, if the judges want to go after anyone, it should be those looking to get money off their card so they can race in an easier condition or class.

The parents/guardians of driver Anthony Coletta have filed their expected lawsuit against Harrah's and various subsidiaries regarding the accident which has left Coletta in a condition requiring assistance to live.  In the complaint, it is alleged Harrah's has been aware for two years that the track is unsafe but didn't want to spend the time or money to fix the track.

If true, it wouldn't surprise me as Harrah's races because they needed to to get a gaming license.  Being it has been known the track would get out of the racing business if they could, not spending money on the track would fit the pattern.  Short of a settlement, this case will go on for a long time.  As for Anthony, it is doubtful he will regain any semblance of his life prior to the accident.

If you think standardbred horsemen had a problem meeting an agreement in Illinois, take a look at the dispute between the Virginia HBPA and Colonial Downs.  There OTB offices which handle thoroughbred races have been closed for an extended period of time as the horsemen and track have a huge difference when it comes to race days.  The HBPA wanted a 28 day schedule over a seven week period and offered to pay $280,000 to the track for expenses while Colonial Downs wanted to race 12 days and was asking for $300,000 from the horsemen to race.  When they went to an arbitrator, the session lasted 45 minutes as Colonial Downs changed their offer to 6 days of racing and $500,000 from the horsemen.  At the next meeting of the VRC, a compromise of 21 days of racing will be discussed.  Failure to do a deal now may result in no thoroughbred meet in Virginia  this year.

What does this have to do with harness racing?  The track claims  they want to put on a quality meet where they can attract horses nationally.  Back in 2004, a $200,000 a day average purse account attracted nationally known horses and stables to Virginia.  In 2014, a $200,000 a day purse account will attract low end local horses.  Since there is no slot money, the only way to increase the per day purse account is to cut racing dates.  According to the track, it is a question of putting on a meet of national importance versus a meet of cheap VA bred horses.  It sounds a lot like what the Meadowlands and other harness tracks without slots have to face.

The track and standardbred horsemen have agreed to a 24 day meet this year with the specific calendar to be set by the track and horsremen.  The problem is if no thoroughbred meet occurs, will there be a track to race at?  My guess is things are dicey on that proposition which is why the Maryland horsemen have thrown a lifeline to Virginia horsemen by adding them to the preference list at Rosecroft Raceway.

No comments: