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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tuesday Notes

My apologies for not covering the USTA annual meeting as I normally would.  Hopefully, I will be able to go back and review the video recap of the meeting and opine if appropriate.  Looks like I will be operating out of a alternative location(s) for at least a couple of months, but we will soldier on the best we can.  I beg for your indulgence.

In words which will send shivers down the spines of the harness and quarter horse industries, Ogden Mills Phipps (CEO of the Jockey Club) says the Jockey Club will seek Federal intervention if the drive for uniform drug rules falters.  So far, only four states have adopted them.  If the Jockey Club seeks Federal intervention, rest assured harness racing and quarter horse racing will be dragged into it as well if the thoroughbred industry is successful.  Let's face it, after the runners, the pull of all other racing breeds is negligible.  Personally, I don't think it is a bad idea, but I know the industry doesn't care for it.

I noticed yesterday someone on social media commented on how the Ontario government cancelled subsidies (SARP) only to replace it with $500 million in subsidies.  What this person failed to note is the big difference.  SARP had no limits in the amount given, no say as to how the money was spent, and could have gone on forever.  The current subsidy has the government specifying how it is being split up, limits the amount racing gets and has a five year drop dead date (as of now).  There is a big difference between the new subsidy and old subsidy (as the writer called SARP).  Don't confuse the two.

The USTA took a rule change for timing to change to tenths of seconds and amended it to hundredths of seconds starting January 1, 2016.  Some people were annoyed that the USTA adopted such a rule for various reasons such as, this is the way we always did it; over a decade has been spent on this and for what; it does nothing for the handicappers; there are bigger fish to fry.

Let's deal with the bigger fish to fry argument.  These were proposed rule changes submitted by members.  The USTA had to deal with proposed rule changes as per their bylaws.  If some people thought there were bigger fish to fry, they should have taken time to submit proposals of their own.  It is always easier to do nothing and complain.

You know my feelings regarding the answer of 'this is the way we always did it' so there is no sense discussing this antiquated argument; at one point hobbles were considered blaspheme.  As for the decade spent on changing the timing, I agree it took much too long to address the timing of races, but at least it has (finally) been addressed and with that respect, it is a good thing as we have been an industry resistant to changes of many stripes.

As for what good is changing the timing to hundredths going to do, I will leave it to handicapping 'nerds' (meant in a good way) and software makers to decide.  For the rest of the handicappers, I really don't see what a horse finishing in 1:51.35 versus 1:51.36 means.  I would imagine for breeders looking to advertise a horses' lifetime mark, it may have some value.

One of the arguments for the changeover to tenths was to standardize the timings of harness races globally.  Now, with this changeover in 2016, we still will remain out of sync with the rest of racing in Europe and Australasia by going to hundredths so that argument seems to have been discounted.  For practical purposes of handicappers, if the program doesn't go to hundredths when the changeover takes place it will be foolish to continue to report times in fifths of a second.  Could you see a horse finishing a race in 1:48.32 having its time reported as 1:48 1/5?  If the program adopted tenths of a second, at least the time would be reported as 1:48 3/10; a whole lot more accurate.  Past performance lines should be as accurate as possible. Hopefully, once 2016 comes and if it is decided to report times in the X:XX.X format, we will be using tenths instead of fifths.

While not overly thrilled with the way the rule change ended up, I rather focus on the positive; while not as good a rule change as it could have been, it is better than the way it was.

As for the proposals on using mile rates and having lifetime marks for alternate distance races, I will seek clarification before commenting on them not being passed before opining.

Jay Bergman skewers HRU for a powder puff piece on Jim Morrill Jr being banned from Pocono Downs.  Bergman was not too kind to Morrill as he reminds us he has also been banned from Yonkers for overnight races.  He subscribes to the if there is smoke, there must be a fire theory.

For those who feel harness racing doesn't get any love, we are not alone.  The quarter horse industry in Florida is under siege as well.  Here is an Op-Ed which explains how Florida doesn't share the love for the QH industry.

Pet Peeve:  Don't you hate those advertisements promoting cash back if you join their online wagering service even though you live in a state where you can't take advantage of it legally?  With geo-fencing software available, can't these sites look at your IP address and decide whether or not you are even legally allowed to participate and then decide whether or not to cover your screen with an advertisement which doesn't apply to you?

Have a great Tuesday.

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